Researchers have advanced understanding of how wireless charging roads might influence driver behaviour.
By applying statistical geometry to analysing urban road networks, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) researchers have developed city planning in a future where electric vehicles (EVs) dominate the car market.
“Our work is motivated by the global trend of moving towards green transportation and EVs,” says postdoc Mustafa Kishk.
“Efficient dynamic charging systems, such as wireless power transfer systems installed under roads, are being developed by researchers and technology companies around the world as a way to charge EVs while driving without the need to stop. In this context, there is a need to mathematically analyse the large-scale deployment of charging roads in metropolitan cities.”
Many factors come into play when charging roads are added to the urban road network. Drivers may seek out charging roads on their commute, which has implications for urban planning and traffic control. Meanwhile, the density of charging road installations in a city, and the likely time spent on and between the charging roads by commuters, could influence the size of batteries installed in EVs by car manufacturers.
Calculating the metrics that could be used to analyze a charging road network is very significant, as Kishk’s lab colleague, Duc Minh Nguyen, explains.
“Our main challenge is that the metrics used to evaluate the performance of dynamic charging deployment, such as the distance to the nearest charging road on a random trip, depend on the starting and ending points of each trip,” says Nguyen.
“To correctly capture those metrics, we had to explicitly list all possible situations, compute the metrics in each case and evaluate how likely it is for each situation to happen in reality. For this, we used an approach called stochastic geometry to model and analyze how these metrics are affected by factors such as the density of roads and the frequency of dynamic charging deployment.”
Applying this analysis to the Manhattan area of New York, which has a road density of one road every 63 meters, Kishk and Nguyen with research leader Mohamed-Slim Alouini determined that a driver would have an 80 percent chance of encountering a charging road after driving for 500 meters when wireless charging is installed on 20 percent of roads.
“This is the first study to incorporate stochastic geometry into the performance analysis of charging road deployment in metropolitan cities,” Kishk says. “It is an important step towards a better understanding of charging road deployment in metropolitan cities.”
Africa has the world’s fastest urban growth rates; by 2050, its cities will be home to an additional 950 million people, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
More than 40,000 people in Africa are expected to move into its cities every day for the next 20 years.
Unfortunately, however, African megacities such as Kinshasa, Cairo and Lagos are well known for poor planning and functioning and are already unable to accommodate their existing citizens in an orderly fashion, creating the urgent need for new cities to see the light.
“Two-thirds of Africa’s cities are yet to be built,” according to the London-based think tank International Growth Centre (IGC). The need for modern, as well as extensive urban infrastructure in a continent known for depleted government budgets and little access to international funding naturally, creates a void that several private and land developers are already filling.
“Africa has a fast-growing middle class and many dynamic people would prefer to live in a well-planned and well-organised city,” says Yomi Ademola, Nigeria country head for private land and property developer Rendeavour.
An estimated $100bn of public and private investments are planned in new city projects across the continent, according to IGC figures. Nigeria is leading the way, with five new city projects covering 25 million sq m.
Nigeria’s biggest initiatives include Eko Atlantic in Lagos (with a planned investment of up to $60bn), and Centenary City ($18.7bn) and Asokoro Island ($900m) in the capital, Abuja, according to the research company Estate Intel.
“Most African cities have not built infrastructure as quickly as their populations have grown. Our model is to decongest these crowded cities by situating our projects 20km to 30km away from city centres and building infrastructure that matches the needs of the people within and around the cities,” Mr Ademola says. “We put a great deal of emphasis on efficiency.”
Rendeavour — whose biggest investors include Stephen Jennings, the founder of Renaissance Capital, and Frank Mosier, the founder of Kazimir Partners, an emerging markets investment firm — is developing seven new cities across the continent: two in Nigeria (Alaro City and Jigna), another two in Ghana (Appolonia City and King City), and individual cities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia and Kenya. Overall, they cover 120 million sq m in total.
“The new cities are often in high economic growth areas, close to new airports, new seaways and new highways, or located in special economic zones,” Mr Ademola says.
New cities are developed as private plots of land offering residential, industrial and commercial infrastructure, and often regulated by special rules introducing incentives to investment, like in the case of Rendeavour’s Alaro City, which has been developed within the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Nigeria’s biggest city Lagos.
As the developer of the masterplan, Rendeavour is responsible for providing a city’s vital infrastructure so that individuals can build their homes and companies can construct and run their businesses. It also provides the infrastructure to specialist developers of schools and hospitals, and of residential, commercial, retail and industrial properties. It can also offer ‘build-to-suit’ lease agreements.
“Our utilities are regulated. We have public roads that cross through our land. So, our relationship with policy-makers is focused on creating policies that attract and enhance investment, whether this be through a special economic zone or working with governments to upgrade existing infrastructure,” Mr Ademola says.
“We do not believe completely private cities could or should emerge, because it is impractical to be an ‘island’ separate from the surrounding environment. New cities need to be integrated with their surroundings.”
Eko Atlantic is one of the continent’s most ambitious privately developed projects, covering an area of 10 million sq m — roughly the size of Manhattan’s skyscraper district — including 5.6 million sq m of reclaimed land off Victoria Island, the leading financial district of Lagos. The total envisaged built-up area could add up to 26 million sq m, involving a total investment of up to $60bn. However, the average price of an apartment to purchase in pre-sale is $415,000, according to the portal Nigeria Property Centre — significantly outside of the budget of the average Nigerian, who earns $2200 a year.
By 2040, Eko Atlantic’s developer South Energyx, a subsidiary of the Nigeria-based Chagoury Group, expects 300,000 people to be living in the city and a further 250,000 people commuting to and from it.
The project’s original concession agreement dates back to 2006 and land started to be reclaimed in 2008. It is privately funded by South Energyx.
“Our vision has evolved from a new financial centre for Lagos to a new business centre for the city,” says Ronald Chagoury, vice-chairman of South Energyx Nigeria. “Not only do we now expect many financial institutions to locate in the city, but also multi-national and Nigerian companies seeking to set up a new head office.”
However, some experts believe that new cities for the continent’s rising middle and upper classes could be a distraction for national governments, as they could channel scarce economic resources to Africa’s elites.
“Building new smart cities in the hope people will follow may be a high-risk gamble that most African governments cannot afford,” says Astrid Haas, policy director of the IGC. “A surer bet is to study where people are already moving, which means where future urbanisation is likely to happen. Laying the foundations for this urbanisation to happen in an orderly and well-managed fashion, such as delineating basic road systems and investing in basic infrastructure before settlement takes place, will go a long way to harness the potential of Africa’s urbanisation.”
Mr Chagoury, however, believes the benefits of projects like Eko Atlantic can spread across the board.
“It is true that some of the independent property developers in Eko Atlantic have decided to construct luxury apartments, but we do not regard our city as ‘elitist’,” he says.
“Over a 25-year period, we envisage up to 2 million people living and working in the city. Other property developers plan to construct smaller apartments at a lower entry price that can be financed by low-cost mortgages. We believe Eko Atlantic has immense potential as it caters for the Nigerian market, which has the continent’s biggest economy.
“Multinationals that want to penetrate the Nigerian market must have a local head office and our city offers a good location for them.”
With thousands of people across the continent moving to urban areas daily, the need for functioning urban infrastructure has never been greater. New cities and their private developers will help meet some of that demand, provided their projects do not become wishful thinking for a limited elite.
MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — Anan Yasoun rebuilt her home with yellow cement slabs amid the rubble of Mosul, a brightly colored manifestation of resilience in a city that for many remains synonymous with the Islamic State group’s reign of terror.
In the three years since Iraqi forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, liberated Mosul from the militants, Yasoun painstakingly saved money that her husband earned from carting vegetables in the city. They had just enough to restore the walls of their destroyed home; money for the floors was a gift from her dying father, the roof a loan that is still outstanding.
Yasoun didn’t even mind the bright yellow exterior — paint donated by a relative. “I just wanted a house,” said the 40-year-old mother of two.
The mounds of debris around her bear witness to the violence Iraq’s second-largest city has endured. From Mosul, IS had proclaimed its caliphate in 2014. Three years later, Iraqi forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition liberated the city in a grueling battle that killed thousands and left Mosul in ruins.
Such resilience is apparent elsewhere in the city, at a time when Baghdad’s cash-strapped government fails to fund reconstruction efforts and IS is becoming more active across the disputed territories of northern Iraq.
Life is slowly coming back to Mosul these days: merchants are busy in their shops, local musicians again serenade small, enthralled crowds. At night, the city lights gleam as restaurant patrons spill out onto the streets.
The U.N. has estimated that over 8,000 Mosul homes were destroyed in intense airstrikes to root out IS. The nine-month operation left at least 9,000 dead, according to an AP investigation.
Memories of the group’s brutality still haunt locals, who remember a time when the city squares were used for the public beheading of those who dared violate the militants’ rules.
The Old City on the west bank of the Tigris River, once the jewel of Mosul, remains in ruins even as newer parts of the city have seen a cautious recovery. The revival, the residents say, is mostly their own doing.
“I didn’t see a single dollar from the government,” said Ahmed Sarhan, who runs a family coffee business.
Antique coffee pots, called dallahs, line the entrance to his shop, which has been trading coffee for 120 years. An aging mortar and pestle, used by Sarhan’s forefathers to grind beans, sits in his office as evidence of his family’s storied past.
“After the liberation, it was complete chaos. No one had any money. The economy was zero,” he said. His business raked in a measly 50,000 Iraqi dinars a day, or around $40. Now, he makes closer to about $2,500.
But even as Sarhan and other merchants are starting to see profits — despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic — ordinary laborers are struggling. Sarhan employs 28 workers, each getting about $8 a day.
“It is nothing … they will never be able to rebuild their homes,” he says.
Since the ouster of IS in 2017, the task of rebuilding Mosul has been painfully slow. Delays have been caused by lack of coherent governance at the provincial level; the governor of Nineveh province, which includes Mosul, has been replaced three times since liberation.
With no central authority to coordinate, a tangled web of entities overseeing reconstruction work — from the local, provincial and federal government to international organizations and aid groups — has added to the chaos.
The government has made progress on larger infrastructure projects and restored basic services to the city, but much remains unfinished.
Funds earmarked for reconstruction by the World Bank were diverted to help the federal government fight the coronavirus as state coffers dwindled with plunging oil prices. Meanwhile, at least 16,000 Mosul residents appealed for government cash assistance to rebuild their homes.
Only 2,000 received financial assistance, said Zuhair al-Araji, the mayor of Mosul district.
“There’s no money,” he said. “They have to rebuild on their own.”
Mosul residents eye government policies with suspicion and suspect local officials are too corrupt to help them.
“Whatever funds are provided, they will steal it,” said Ammar Mouwfaq, who spent all his savings to re-open his soap shop in the city last year.
A photo of his father hangs inside the shop, which he took over in the 1970s. Neat stacks of the region’s famous olive oil soap, imported from the Syrian city of Aleppo, tower above him.
“What you see now, I did alone,” he added.
On one thoroughfare the ruins of cinemas bombed by IS — the militant group’s strict interpretation of Islam banned such forms of entertainment — are a stark contrast to the shops and restaurants abuzz with customers.
The Old City, with its labyrinth of narrow streets dating back to the Middle Ages, now serves as an eerie museum of IS horrors. Misshapen iron rods jut out of what’s left of houses they were designed to fortify. Smashed pieces of alabaster stone and masonry, once extolled by historians for architectural significance, lie among the debris. Signs of a former life — a pair of women’s shoes, a notebook covered in hearts, shells from exploded ammunition — are untouched.
“Demolition is forbidden” reads a graffiti written on a slab of wall surrounded by rubble, a testament to Mosul’s unwavering dark humor.
The Mosul Museum, where IS militants filmed themselves smashing priceless antiquities to dust, partially re-opened in January. But apart from occasional contemporary art exhibits such as that of Iraqi sculptor Omer Qais last month, there is nothing to see.
On the other side of town, Sarhan, the coffee trader, invites anyone who cares to see his collection of antique swords, plates and bowls he painstakingly hunted down. In the 12th century, Mosul was an important hub for trade; a century later, its intricate metalwork rose to prominence.
“This is our history,” said Sarhan, holding up a rusting bronze plate, engraved with 1202, the year it was made.
UAE FIRST NATIONAL RAIL NETWORK TO ‘TRANSFORM THE ECONOMY’ AND KEY ROLE IN REDUCING CARBON FOOTPRINT
Engineers in the Hajar Mountains between Dubai and Fujairah are making way for 16 Kilometers of tunnel, which will one day see trains shooting through it on a journey that stretches from coast to coast, and even possibly further afield.
The UAE is known for its love of cars as well as its strategic ports and airports, but now is betting big on its first national rail network. The 1,2000-kilometre artery will connect the Gulf of Oman to the Persian Gulf, down through the emirates, into Abu Dhabi’s interior and to Ghuweifat on the border of Saudi Arabia, a key step in a long-mooted rail network crossing the Arabia peninsula.
“The top line implication … is that it has the potential to transform the UAE economy — and not just the UAE, but potentially the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council],” says Richard Thompson, editorial director of the Middle East Economic Digest.
GOING GREEN WITH SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT
But the move also signals the country’s green ambitions. The UAE has one of the world’s largest footprints per capita, according to the World Bank, and sustainable transport is one way the government plans to reduce it.
The diesel rail line could save 2.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year through its freight capacity alone, says the developer. That’s equivalent to taking 375,000 vehicles off the road and even has the potential to electrify in the future, which would massively benefit the environment by cutting emissions further by using renewable energy.
“I think rail has a huge role to play in helping the UAE reduce its carbon footprint,” says Thompson. “Rail can provide a much more efficient mode of transport for goods and people movement around cities; it can help your cities function better.”
Led by Etihad Rail and funded by the UAE Ministry of Finance and the Abu Dhabi Department of Finance, it has been designed first for freight, and passenger capacity to follow. There is no completion date announced just yet, through “the network is growing as planned” with all contracts awarded, Etihad Rail told CNN.
The network will include links to Jebel Ali Port, Khalifa Port and the Port of Fujairah and industrial hubs in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah. The route across the UAE, according to Thompson, when connected to an in-progress Saudi network could create a direct link from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea across the peninsula, bypassing the Straits of Hormuz to the north and the Horn of Africa to the south, with big repercussions for the movement of international cargo.
“You have a more efficient mode of transport, linking ports with each other and removing congestion on the roads and contributing to decarbonization,” he explains.
The executive director of commercial at Etihad Rail, Ahmed Al Musawa, expects 60 million metric tons of freight will move from road and sea to the rail network annually.
Beyond consolidating the UAE’s position as an international transport hub, there will be benefits at a national level too, Al Musawa says. Stage one of the network in Abu Dhabi has transported 33 million metric tons of sulfur since 2016 and has turned the UAE into the world’s largest exporter of the element, he says. Sulfur is used in the manufacturer of everything from fertiliser to paper.
Stage two, which stretches 367 miles began constructions earlier this year, could have even wider benefits.
Kevin Smith, the editor in chief of the International Railway Journal, identifies the railway as a “key strategy … to diversify (the UAE’s) economy slightly away from oil and gas.”
“I think the steel industry, oil and gas industry, then the mining and quarrying industry, should be the main beneficiaries,” says Thompson. “(The network) has the potential to integrate the northern emirate economies much closer into the national economy and accelerate growth and investment in those places.”
OFF THE ROADS TO THE RAILS?
It’s still unknown how the rail line will change the daily lives of the population. Passenger trains running at 124 miles per hour are touted by Etihad Rail – but no date has been announced. If the network follows through, it could change commuting forever.
“When you have direct, fast access, naturally that does change the way we perceive (distance), or we select where we live or work or study,” Al Musawa says. “The access to materials, services and markets can evolve around such a network.”
But will it convince Emiratis to swap their cars for trains? Thompson says there are some obstacles, including the “last mile problem” — getting people from their homes to train stations.
Walking in the summer sun isn’t an attractive option, but Al Musawa says ride-sharing and “other micro-mobility solutions” may be the answer, adding Etihad Rail is learning from other countries’ experiences.
“I think there’ll be great demand,” Smith argues. “Their whole cities are built around the car, but I think the popularity of the metro (in Dubai) has shown that people will use it if it’s there.”
Reducing the environmental impact of the global built environment sector by Chalmers University of Technology enlighten us on we currently stand in terms of reducing or lowering all built environment related human activities from impacting the Earth’s climate and how “powerful, combined efforts are absolutely crucial for the potential to achieve the UN’s sustainability goals.” and as a consequence, ‘The global built environment sector must think in new, radical ways, and act quickly’. The above feature picture is only for illustrative purpose.
The construction sector, the real estate industry and city planners must give high priority to the same goal—to drastically reduce their climate impacts. Powerful, combined efforts are absolutely crucial for the potential to achieve the UN’s sustainability goals. And what’s more—everything has to happen very quickly. These are the cornerstones to the roadmap presented at the Beyond 2020 World Conference.
Today, 55% of the world’s population lives in cities. By 2050, that figure is estimated to have risen to 68%, according to the UN. Cities already produce 70% of the world’s greenhouse gasses. Buildings and construction account for 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Rapid urbanization is bringing new demands that need to be met in ecologically, economically and socially sustainable ways.
“If we continue as before, we have no chance of even getting close to the climate goals. Now we need to act with new radical thinking and we need to do it fast and increase the pace at which we work to reduce cities’ climate impact. We must look for innovative ways to build our societies so that we move towards the sustainability goals, and not away from them,”
says Colin Fudge, Visiting Professor of urban futures and design at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.
As an outcome of the Beyond 2020 World Conference, Colin Fudge and his colleague Holger Wallbaum have established a “Framework for a Transformational Plan for the Built Environment.” The framework aims to lay the foundation for regional strategies that can guide the entire sector in working towards sustainable cities and communities, and the goals of the UN Agenda 2030.
“The conference clearly demonstrated the growing awareness of sustainability issues among more and more actors in the sector. But it’s not enough. Achieving the sustainability goals will require a common understanding among all actors of how they can be achieved—and, not least, real action. That is what we want to contribute to now,”
says Holger Wallbaum, Professor in Sustainable Building at Chalmers University of Technology, and host of Beyond 2020.
Chair of Sweden’s Council for sustainable cities, Helena Bjarnegård, is welcoming their initiative.
“We are aware that we have to deliver change to address the climate, biodiversity, lack of resources and segregation. We need to develop sustainable living environments, not least for the sake of human health. The framework of a transformational plan for the built environment provides a provocative but necessary suggestion on concrete actions to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for one of the most important sectors,”
says Helena Bjarnegård, National architect of Sweden.
In the framework, Wallbaum and Fudge have added a detailed action plan for northwestern Europe that contains 72 concrete proposals for measures—intended as an inspiration for the rest of the world.
The proposals cover everything from energy efficiency improvements, research into new building materials, digital tools and renovation methods, to free public transport, more green spaces and cycle paths. They involve all actors from the entire sector—such as architects, builders, real estate companies, material producers and urban planners.
Several of the high-priority measures in northwestern Europe are under direct governmental responsibility:
Higher taxes on carbon dioxide emissions and utilization of land and natural resources—lower taxes on labor
State support for energy-efficient renovation works
A plan for large-scale production of sustainable, affordable housing
Increased pace in the phasing out of fossil fuels in favor of electric power from renewables
“Here, governments, in collaboration with towns, cities and other sectors, have a key role, as it is political decisions such as taxation, targeted support and national strategies that can pave the way for the radical changes we propose. But all actors with influence over the built environment must contribute to change. In other parts of the world, it may be the business community that plays the corresponding main role,”
says Holger Wallbaum.
Wallbaum and Fudge are clear that their proposed measures are specifically intended for the countries of northwestern Europe, and that their work should be seen as an invitation to discussion. Different actors around the world are best placed to propose which measures are most urgent and relevant in their respective regions, based on local conditions, they claim.
“Key people and institutions in different parts of the world have accepted the challenge of establishing nodes for the development of regional strategies. From Chalmers’ side, we have offered to support global coordination. Our proposal is that all these nodes present their progress for evaluation and further development at a world conference every three years—next in Montreal, in 2023,”
says Colin Fudge.
A thousand participants followed the Beyond 2020 conference, which was arranged by Chalmers 2-4 November in collaboration with Johanneberg Science Park, Rise (Research Institutes of Sweden), and the City of Gothenburg. As a result of the Corona pandemic, it was held online. The conference discussed methods for reducing climate footprints, lowering resource consumption, digital development and innovative transport. Among the speakers were authorities in sustainable construction, digitization and financing from around the world.
Beyond 2020 has the status of a World Sustainable Built Environment Conference (WSBE). Organizers are appointed by iiSBE, a worldwide non-profit organization whose overall goal is to actively work for initiatives that can contribute to a more sustainable built environment. The next WSBE will be held in Montreal in 2023.
More about: A roadmap for the built environment
In their newly established framework, Wallbaum and Fudge establish a general approach that each individual region in the world can use to identify the measures that are most urgent and relevant to achieving the goals of the UN Agenda 2030, based on local conditions. They identify the key questions that must be answered by all societal actors, the obstacles that need to be overcome and the opportunities that will be crucial for the sector over the next decade.
More about: Action plan for the built environment sector in northwestern Europe
Wallbaum and Fudge have specified 72 acute sustainability measures in northwestern Europe (Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, Belgium, Switzerland). A selection:
Establish renovation plans which focus on energy efficiencies for all existing property by 2023. Avoid demolition and new construction when it is possible to renovate.
Halve emissions from production of building materials by 2025. The transition to greater usage of materials with lower climate impact needs to accelerate.
Accelerate the phase out of fossil fuels in the transport sector in favor of electric power—with, for example, a ban on new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
Double the amount of pedestrian and cycle paths in cities by 2030.
Offer free municipal public transport for all school children and for everyone over the age of 70.
Introduce the climate perspective as a mandatory element of the architectural industry’s ethical guidelines.
Increase the proportion of green spaces by 20% in all cities by 2030.
Concentrate research on the development of new building materials with lower carbon footprints, digital tools for the built environment and new energy-efficient renovation methods.
Read the entire action plan on the pages 20-23 in the Framework document on a Transformational Plan for the Built Environment
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