DecarboN8 has funded the following projects from our Seedcorn Fund. For information about future calls and how to apply visit our funding page. To find out about other funding opportunities subscribe to our newsletter.
CARGO PEDAL: Harnessing the potential of e-cargo bikes for urban sustainable transport
Dr Luke Blazejewski, University of Salford
As cities respond to pressures of development, the reduction of carbon emissions in non-commuting transport continues to pose many logistical challenges. It is essential to understand mobility technologies and practices as well as their societal readiness.
Urban expansion has led to increases in freight and in car trips that are primarily taken because of the need to transport loads considered difficult to carry by public transport or non-motorised modes. One solution may be found on two wheels. Electric cargo bikes, or e-cargo bikes, provide a means of sustainable transport operating within the compact confines of city centres, often congested spaces. Alleviating stresses on these freight flows can have a positive impact on productivity, congestion, health and wellbeing, and carbon management.
Cargo bikes are already being used to a small extent in some cities. This study aims to understand the potential of introducing more substantial schemes. Focus groups will be carried out to identify and evaluate the potential uptake of cargo bikes across different business sectors in the city-region. The results will provide new knowledge that is valuable to both academic study and urban practitioners, planners and decision makers with a remit to reduce carbon-intensive travel and boost healthy active transport.
Leading the way to lower carbon transport: how, when and why do older, more experienced drivers make a change?
Dr Julie Clark, University of the West of Scotland
This proposal aims to support a fair and socially acceptable transition (Newell and Mulvaney, 2013) towards the early and substantial reduction of carbon emissions from transport in the North of England. In preparation for a larger funding bid, the project will identify and test which policy interventions might be most acceptable to older, long-established drivers, in order to generate a robust and place-sensitive methodology for reducing levels of car ownership and use. It will create a dataset to inform policy-makers by evaluating the design of place-sensitive, demographically appropriate measures to achieve rapid and lasting reductions in vehicle use, whilst maintaining wellbeing and inclusion into later life (Musselwhite et al, 2015). Additionally, it will investigate the potential for successful reductions in mobility to act as an exemplar to others in society more broadly, scoping how a narrative of collective action to manage the carbon transition according to the principles of inter-generational justice might be achieved in the UK (see Jones et al, 2018). It builds on previous research undertaken by the PI into transport, policy and social inclusion (Clark and Curl, 2019; Clark and Curl, 2016; Minton & Clark, 2016).
Hydrogen for Sustainable Waterways
Dr Dénes Csala, Lancaster University
The Hydrogen for Sustainable Waterways (H4SW) project aims to investigate the techno economic case for converting diesel powered light watercraft to zero-carbon (fuel cell) or low-carbon (combustion) hydrogen powered units. This is a pre-feasibility study for underpinning a pilot case for submission for future funding to UKRI councils or Innovate UK. There are approximately 82,000 motorboats and 38,000 canal boats registered in the UK, all powered by diesel, making this sector an ideal candidate for decarbonisation using hydrogen as a fuel. As well as decarbonisation, a fuel cell power train has zero ‘tailpipe’ emissions addressing both water and air quality issues in the sensitive and fragile environments these craft operate in. In the seed phase, it will focus on two types of craft: firstly, a small ferry operating in the Lake District National Park and secondly a passenger canal boat operating on the Lancaster canal. This will serve as a steppingstone towards a larger proposal for implementing the pilot conversions and to extend the use cases for other waterways across the country. If successful, the project has a strategic significance, as it will position Lancashire and Northern England on the forefront of applied hydrogen transportation in inland water environments.
Understanding and modelling electric vehicle charging behaviour using choice modelling
Dr Trivikram Dokka, Lancaster University
How we charge our Electric Vehicles (EV) has substantial impact on electricity transmission networks and on electricity demand forecasts. Electricity network reinforcements are extremely costly and disruptive. Hence unnecessary network capacity will be both costly and inconvenient. Similarly, electricity generation is costly. In a scenario with many more people owning EVs, current low voltage (LV) electricity networks may not cope with large number of EVs charging simultaneously. However, the solution is not simply to add more capacity to LV networks but to manage the demand in more efficient manner. More specifically, spreading the demand across various times of the day. This is referred to as managed charging or smart charging where sophisticated load balancing algorithms are used to spread the demand across the times.
For this smart charging to become efficient and applicable on a mass scale and be fair, proper understanding of charging choices and preferences is required. Understanding the factors that form the basis for charging decisions in terms of time and place will prove extremely useful in better forecasting of EV electricity demand, which in turn enables smart demand management. In this project, we will use choice models to analyse these factors.
Integrating embodied carbon emissions into northern transport infrastructure scenarios
Dr Jannik Giesekam, University of Leeds
Transforming the North of England requires increased investment in new transport infrastructure whilst meeting ambitious national carbon reduction targets. Data on the carbon emissions from construction and maintenance of infrastructure assets (’embodied emissions’, ‘capital carbon’ or ‘CapCarb’) are routinely gathered during construction projects but not incorporated into the long term modelling and scenario analyses that inform strategic plans as there is no comprehensive single data source for modellers to reference. Embodied emissions in infrastructure already exceed 10 MtCO2e/yr and are likely to increase with future infrastructure development. Under highly decarbonised, net zero, scenarios such embodied emissions increase in significance. Therefore, quantifying their scale and potential for mitigation, is an important, but currently poorly understood, component of scenario analysis. This project will develop the prototype of an open extendable tool for the modelling community, including a database detailing the capital carbon embodied in different construction materials, products, components, projects and asset types. The research team will use this data to estimate the impacts of future scenarios for transport infrastructure in the North, including both the construction of new assets and maintenance of existing roads and railways.
Serious Games for Serious Energy Solutions: A Case Study of Diversity for Innovation in Bradford
Dr Zoe M Harris, Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London
More diverse groups result in more innovative solutions. Innovation is necessary for decarbonisation, and diversity begets innovation; hence diversity should be integral to decarbonisation goals. Homogenous teams lead to homogenous thought processes and solutions. This is detrimental in the policy arena wherein one size fits all policies translate very differently across diverse populations living in the same place. Central to pathways required to decarbonise is creative thinking, and diverse teams are better equipped to deliver decarbonisation pathways. Following this stream of research, we argue that diversity in decision-making surrounding decarbonisation enhances innovation efficiency through generating significant benefits throughout the innovation process. The resultant innovative ideas can be synthesised into economically viable pathways to decarbonise the UK transport sector.
The purpose of the study is to develop the methodology for a larger bid to understand ‘what is the baseline level of diversity required to effectively decarbonise the UK energy system?’ We will use the transport sector in Bradford as a case study to test our methodology, and further develop the proposal to cover the whole UK energy sector. Using a ‘serious game’, we will develop and test a methodology to assess the impact of diversity on problem solving and solution innovation.
Decarbonising Transport with Neighbourhood Plans in Northern England
Dr Caglar Koksal, University of Manchester
Transport is now the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the UK, with 55 per cent coming from passenger cars. Road transport causes air pollution in urban environments and contributes to traffic congestion, which costs approximately £7.8 billion per year to the UK’s economy. This research uses Carnforth, Lancashire, as a pilot, to establish how the development of planning policies in its neighbourhood plan can contribute to the decarbonisation of local transport. Neighbourhood planning, introduced by the Localism Act 2011, gives communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and shape the development and growth of their neighbourhood area. In spite of being compact and having an accessible railway station, Carnforth suffers from congestion in its town centre and large volume of car-borne commuting trips. This research, therefore, aims to contribute to the development of planning policies and an evidence base for the Carnforth neighbourhood plan to decarbonise travel choices and transport infrastructure. This can be achieved by collaborative knowledge co-production with different transport providers and key stakeholders via roundtable discussion sessions. The engagement with providers and consumers will help to explore alternative options and approaches of developing a neighbourhood plan that has a sustainable transport focus.
Development of a co-designed zero-carbon urban freight system
Dr Daniela Paddeu, University of the West of England
By 2050, 70% of the world population will live in cities. This will generate an increased number of people and freight movements in, between and intro urban areas, resulting in increased carbon emissions. Therefore, city-logistics will play a key role in reducing carbon emissions due to urban goods distribution.
The project aims to explore stakeholders’ perspective towards freight systems in order to co-design a series of scenarios to reduce carbon emissions in the North of England, identifying potential drivers and barriers to their implementation. Stakeholder engagement is a key element to maximise the effectiveness of the co-design scenarios, as these will respond to different needs and expectations of all the parties involved (e.g. logistics/freight operators, receivers, citizens). The focus on the North is important because despite only 24% of the total UK population lives in the North, one third of UK road, rail, port and logistics activities happen in this area. The main output of the project will be a system-level-solution to decarbonise urban freight based on a co-design approach. The project represents a pilot for a larger study that will allow the North to design an integrated zero-carbon governance for transport.
Local Government Association: Policy Briefings
Stakeholder workshops held in London and Leeds earlier this year helped us to identify topics that will be most useful for local authorities working to establish climate action plans to lower transport carbon emissions in their areas.
The briefings are due to be launched in summer 2020.
Department for Transport: Secondment
As the UK prepares to host COP26, this project brings Richard H. Walker, an experienced Department for Transport transport planning and policy specialist to the University of Leeds, to bring together a series of high-profile transport and climate change project findings to produce a new approach to accelerating decarbonisation.
The secondment provides an in-depth understanding of the policy process at a national scale to be integrated with the place-based and research-led findings of DecarboN8 and CREDS at the University of Leeds. It will identify effective, equitable and implementable policies for demonstration and implementation, creating a new path from research to action in the transport sector.