Energy Demand For Transport In The Uk Engineering Essay

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Giving a thought to the future energy demand for Transport, DECC has made reasonable projections that there might be an increment in the transport energy demand from 2010 (59Mtoe) onwards until 2025 (c.62Mtoe), [3] in contrast to relatively slight variations and\or decline in the rest of the sectors like domestic, industrial and services that'd remain more or less constant on an average in the coming decades driven by energy efficiency measures and economic recession. Transport remains as the sector primarily responsible for the maximum environmental pollution. Infact, it's the only sector in which the CO2 emissions were higher in 2005(c.35MtC) (Million tonnes Carbon) than in 1990(31MtC).While in the year 1970, the industrial sector remained the prime accused of emitting maximum CO2 (c.59MtC), it dropped to a little over 25 MtC in 2005, whereas transport sector got its emissions increased from a mere 19MtC to a high of 35MtC during the same period. [4] Another crucial GHG emission from this sector is N2O from tailpipe emissions of cars having catalytic converters; CFCs and HFCs, that are leaked and vented from air-conditioning; and NOx emitted by aircraft near tropopause (where the O3 generated by NOx is a very potent GHG).[5] Emissions from journeys in the UK have increased by 12% since 1990.Today, transport accounts for 22% of the UK's total greenhouse gases.[4]

To conclude, the reasons - tremendous rise in demand and use of energy in a short span along with the forecast increase in the energy demand for transport and high level of generated emissions, make it clear why the transport sector has had and will have, the biggest impact on the total energy produced and hence why transport and energy should emerge now as the two inseparable sides of the same coin.

To discuss the comparisons between road and air transport with respect to the relative energy use let's consider these facts:

According to the DTI statistics, the largest increase in energy use under transport sector has been from air transport, which nearly tripled since 1970 (from 4Mtoe till 12Mtoe in 2001), whereas consumption from road transport just doubled (from 21 Mtoe to 42Mtoe). Energy consumption by air transport increased due to improvements in airline design & technology, the continued growth of trade, and the rise in leisure travel. There has been a 73 % growth between 1990 and 2000 in total passengers lifted by UK airlines. Air transport accounted for 21 % of all energy consumed in the transport sector in 2001. Between 1990 and 2001, energy consumption increased by 56 % in the air transport sector and by 7 % in the road transport sector. The air transport sector in the ten years after 1990 has seen an increase in energy intensity, although not at the same rate as the increase in the distance travelled due to improvements in aircraft technology. Longer flights require less energy per Km than shorter flights since most energy is consumed during take-off and landing. However, the figures should be treated with some caution since the fuel consumption figures relate to fuel that is bought in the UK rather than the fuel consumed to travel these distances. Similarly, the amount of freight moved by road, measured in tonne-Kms, increased by 86% between 1970 and 2000 while that by air increased by 83% since 1979. Freight moved by rail has decreased by 39% hence increasing the pressure on roads and aircrafts.

Of the 41,451 Ttoe consumed for road transport in 2001, it is estimated that 66 % was from road passengers and 34 % from road freight. Since 1990, road freight energy consumption has increased by 17 % whereas road passenger energy consumption has increased by just 1 %. A total of 220 billion tonne-Kms of freight were moved by road, rail, air and pipeline in 2000, half of which were met by road. Between 1970 and 2000 the amount of freight moved by road rose by 86 %. The increase has been driven by increased economic activity (GDP rose by 98 % between 1970 and 2000), and has been enabled by an improved road network that can accommodate larger and heavier vehicles. The number of articulated trucks over 33 tonnes rose from 63,000 in 1991 to 91,000 in 2001.[6]

To put it in a nutshell, there has been an alarming increase in the energy consumption in the road as well as the aviation sector, whether it is for human or freight transport and instead of considering railways or other greener and better option, we are increasingly becoming dependent on the non-renewable and highly emissive resources like cars, two wheelers, buses and jets and aircrafts.

The future savings plans could be added on top of the options currently available but need to be implemented on larger scales and seriously in the future. They are discussed in the points below:

1. Currently commercially available

- More fuel efficient, electric vehicles, Hybrid vehicles, Cleaner diesel vehicles - Electric vehicles for instance are 2-3 times more efficient than their internal combustion counterparts.

- First generation biofuels - Made from ethanol, vegetable seeds and animal fats. They are limited in their production and utilization currently but provided 1.8% of the total world's transport in 2008.

- Non-motorised transport (walking, cycling) - Public awareness and campaigning is the key.

- Eco driving - saves 10% fuel consumption. Includes optimal gear change, driving within maximum and minimum speed limits, avoiding sudden brakes application, ensuring appropriate tube pressure etc.

- Proper Taxation - Polluter pays principle to be implemented, fuel taxes, parking charges, congestion charging, road user charges etc to be fully utilized for revenue generation.

- Car pooling or trip sharing - Could be used for local everyday purposes like office or school travel or weekend trips and longer official tours.

- Modal shifts from road to rail and public transport - use of public conveyance on a more frequent basis, promoted by subsidizing the bus, tram and train fares and making the journeys comfortable. [7a]

2. Projected: to be commercialized in decades to come.

- Second generation biofuels - derived from lignocellulosic crops and better than their 1st generation counterparts as there is no theoretical threshold above which they cannot produce enough biofuels without threatening food supplies and biodiversity.

- Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles developing - Hydrogen could be used in modified ICEs but is more efficient in fuel cell vehicles since they convert the energy of hydrogen into electricity to run engines and emit only heat and water as exhausts.

- Electric and advanced hybrid vehicles with more powerful and reliable batteries - achieve higher fuel economy and lower emissions and with nickel metal hydride or lithium ion batteries, they'd no longer pose environmental threat.

- Air passenger duty and VAT on aviation fuel and aircrafts - charges levied for environmental purposes (to cover GHG emissions) and landing fees etc for aircraft noise levels.

- Fuel duty - fuel duty raises revenue to help fund public services and also incentivises fuel-efficient purchases

and encourages more fuel-efficient behaviour. [7b]

According to this IPCC report, the biofuels in the year 2050 should contribute almost 700 Mtoe as compared to hardly 20Mtoe in the year 2005. This means that Electric and fuel cell cars will become common. Biofuels will be needed both for road transport like in heavy trucks and for aviation.

Sources Used:

[1] DTI 2001c taken from the book: Energy systems and sustainability - by Boyle, Everett, Ramage, OUP, 2003 - In this book, the data has been given only till year 2000 but it's well presented and a complete book to understand the basics, although Transport sector is reviewed briefly but seems accurate and apt. I'd still call it the Bible for Sustainable studies. Ref Pg: - 39, 116, 117. Pie charts and graphs and comments.

[2] Classroom notes from the lecture - "Personal mobility and energy demands", by Dr Jillian Annabel of The Centre for Transport Research, University of Aberdeen. Very concisely put data and an alarming yet interesting presentation focused on past, present and future of transport, its social, environmental impacts and remedial measures and our responsibilities. Ref Pg: 3, 5. Transport's growing share of CO2 graph and pie chart.

[3]Data on projections from DECC website (June 2010), the conclusions of study on updated energy and emissions projections and also the policies and uncertainties ruling it. The DECC Energy and Emissions Model takes into consideration the policies announced by the Government and uses a projection from independent consultants AEAT. Ref Pg: - 34, Chart 7.2 Final energy demand by sector. /Projections/67-updated-emissions-projections-june 2010.pdf

[4]Sourced from the DECC website - this report represents the National strategy for climate and energy and was presented to Parliament pursuant to Sections 12 and 14 of the Climate Change Act 2008. It discusses the changes over the next 10 years and transition, transformation as well as carbon budgeting in detailed 220 pages. Ref Pg -137, Pie chart showing Transport's share of green house gases. Source: Estimated emissions of greenhouse gases by National Communication source.

[5] As mentioned: IPCC technical paper, Transport Sector, Introduction, Ref Pg-1 Sec 3.1. Author's comments

[6] Energy consumption in the UK, a 47 page report taken from the national archives, presents statistics and data. DTI Ref pg: 16, 17

[7a] IPCC report: The IPCC scientific perspective: Policies, Instruments and Co-operative Arrangements for

Mitigation. Key mitigation technologies and practices: Pg: 18, [7b] Pg 29 Biofuels in 2050 - IEA "ETP" scenario - graph depicting the projections on amount of biofuels produced.