Recently in infrastructure Category

Eco-Xchange's ComOOt plan to offer commuting alternative

David Bicknell | 1 Comment
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The Government's new Carbon Plan has insisted that if we are to see large-scale
take-up of electric vehicles as a major form of road transport, developing charging infrastructure will also be vital and the Government has committed to mandating a national recharging network. By June 2011, the Government will produce a strategy setting out how it will promote the provision of nationwide recharging infrastructure.


The reality is that travelling into and around towns has never been more expensive or congested. Fares are increasing three times faster than inflation on public transport that is overcrowded and unreliable. Electric and hybrid cars will reduce emissions and pollution, but issues of congestion and parking in urban conurbations will prevail.


Public transport can be modernised and capacity increased to a point, but this will demand massive investment and space within cities is already at a premium for houses and office space, without additional demands from the transport infrastructure.


A new paper from the influential Eco-Xchange group, which sets out to look at green 'in black and white'  argues that a different approach is needed that looks at the complete picture and provides a solution that is cost effective, flexible, environmentally responsible, and takes into account the specific issues of inner-city travel.


 The paper, 'Why Commute When you can ComOOt', argues that two wheels are better than four when it comes to getting from A to B in over-crowded city environments. By providing a range of electric powered two-wheelers from pedal bikes to motorbikes aimed specifically at getting the workforce to work, Eco-Xchange  argues it will be possible to save on public transport subsidies, reduce congestion and lower carbon emissions.  The ComOOT plan also includes secure parking and charging facilities, and the maintenance services needed to keep the wheels of business turning.


There is evidence that Olympic organisers and Transport for London are increasingly worried about the demands that the Games will place on London's transport infrastructure and have suggested that visitors should not rely on public transport to get them to the Games' venues in a timely fashion. At the same time, City businesses are also concerned that the additional demand on, already overcrowed, roads and rail services will lead to severe problems for their workforce and disruption to their business.


The average range of the bikes proposed would allow a comfortable return journey from the West End to the main Olympic site near Leyton. 


There is an element of social enterprise to the scheme too because Eco-Xchange argues that ComOOt  will provide a wide range of jobs covering everything from general servicing and support to general operational management, set up on a social enterprise basis, under a  Community Interest Company model.  The focus will be on offering a range of apprenticeships and vocational training as well as operational jobs at local and national level. 


According to Eco-Xchange, ComOOt is an ongoing project and will require R&D in all areas to improve the system over time. This will particularly suit those just starting out in the workplace who will benefit from  gaining qualifications and training on an ongoing basis in the new and growing industry sectors in the Cleantech and Greentech economies. 


What Eco-Xchange is looking for now is a founding partner and sponsor to support the development of ComOOt to deliver low carbon personal transport schemes to large organisations, local workforces and visitors in the Capital,  in time for the Olympics. 



IT: succeeding where government fails

David Bicknell | No Comments
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I wrote yesterday about business's failure to lobby government on climate change. It would be wrong, however, to tar everyone with the same brush. The IT industry - IBM, Microsoft and Google - are all leading their own initiatives. IBM is delivering on Smart Planet; I'm looking forward to meeting up with Mary-Anne King, Microsoft's Head of Environmental Sustainability, at Green IT Expo next month; and Google too has been involved in a number of headline-grabbing developments.

This excellent piece by Andrew Winston in the Harvard Business Review blogs about how the IT business is driving development of a $5 billion "transmission backbone" for offshore wind farms along the US East Coast.


Getting smart on smart metering

David Bicknell | No Comments
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The national roll-out of smart meters in the UK is being seen as a significant development in critical national infrastructure, enabling greater efficiency in the energy industry and more accurate bills. 


I've just received a note from Andy Slater, a director of utility infrastructure specialist Sensus, who argues:


"As the UK makes its transition to a low carbon economy, smart meters have a vital role to play in enabling it to hit targets for carbon reduction.  Smart meters are also critical to help balance the demand for electricity with the use of renewable energy and enable consumers to save energy and lower their bills.


The smart meter roll-out will be driven by three key factors; the Carbon Reduction targets set out in European legislation for the UK, utilities working in more efficient ways to read our meters, and consumers making more informed choices on how to use and save energy.


There is no doubt that smart meters can help the UK reduce its carbon footprint, making businesses and individuals more energy efficient, however, these potential benefits could be eroded by the government unwittingly choosing a network solution that is not robust enough to support the roll-out effectively.


A key requirement of whichever communication network the Government selects for the UK roll-out, should be to economically connect the vast majority of meters, with high first-time meter connectivity targets set.   The Government should make the Data Communications Company (DCC) responsible for end-to-end connectivity to actual meters, not just homes, so metering data is reliably transported from the meter to the utility providing the service. 


This is not currently the thinking in Ofgem which is leading the working groups looking at the new smart meter network. If a network type is selected which is unreliable and does not connect to a very high percentage of meters, any environmental benefits of smart meters could be lost."


There's more on Smart Metering, this time from the US, courtesy of the Harvard Business Review blogs. It's a nice piece by Dr Peter Fox-Penner called 'The Smart Meter Backslide'.

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