Parking – tracking emissions for cleaner, healthier and more livable cities
There is a lot of discussion in the public and private sector about the environmental impact that society is making and how this will impact future generations. Sustainability measures are being driven through recycling efforts, protecting and improving open spaces and wildlife, and promoting sustainable infrastructure.
Leveraging environmental policy to make differences at a local level helps chip away at the sustainability challenge – one area, overlooked by some, which can have a substantial impact is how we move around cities.
Ultra-low Emissions Zones – a trend that is hard to put into practice
In 2019, London was the first city to implement an ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) across the city. At the time it was hailed as a “world-leading” vehicle pollution restriction and since enforcement it has been deemed a success. Drivers who are in cars and vans that do not meet the ULEZ emissions standards are being charged a daily rate. However, the headlines covering how successful London’s ULEZ has been, encouraging other cities to follow suit, often leave out some key points.
As many cities have recently experienced, introducing a ULEZ can be a costly and time-consuming undertaking, to the extent that many cities have had to push back launch dates because of delays with the emissions tracking technology and the supporting infrastructure. Not only this, the technology can be difficult to implement and at the speed technology moves, it is likely to be obsolete within the next 10 to 20 years, rendering the millions that local councils have spent on it a waste. Additionally, ULEZs have not been shown to fundamentally discourage drivers from using higher polluting vehicles as drivers may be inclined to drive more within these zones to justify the charge they have to pay.
Emissions-based parking – an effective alternative
On top of implementing a ULEZ, some London Councils have also invested in some easier to implement, cheaper alternatives that also help to encourage environmentally friendly driving. An example of this is emissions based parking (EBP), which was first implemented by Westminster City Council in June 2017.
In a similar vein to ULEZ, EBP uses technology to track and target higher polluting vehicles but specifically when they park instead of as they are driving around. Low emissions vehicles – such as electric or hybrid vehicles – can pay less to park while the most polluting diesel vehicles pay more. Although both ULEZs and EBP ultimately impose a higher charge on drivers with less environmentally friendly vehicles, each solution tackles driver habits from a different standpoint. While the ULEZ works to discourage driving within a city, EBP instead incentivises motorists to make more environmentally friendly choices around the vehicle they drive.
EBP falls in line with the European Commission’s Euro 6 standard which directs that environmentally-friendly cars should pay less; newer, cleaner petrol and diesel vehicles should pay a standard rate; and the most polluting vehicles paying the highest price.
As most local councils have already migrated the majority of their parking payment systems to cashless app-based systems, EBP can be an easy and cost-effective implementation process. The application that enables parkers to pay for parking can be provisioned to also automatically assess the car, based on real-time data, the vehicle CO2 fuel emissions and the year of manufacture. Tariffs can then be automatically applied based on level of emissions within pre-defined brackets set by the council.
This technology can also be used to target specific sites or areas under the purview of a local government without any additional infrastructure implementation. EBP technology is also agile, so it can constantly be adapted and improved to meet the needs of the local area. Additionally, as it is implemented as part of a phone parking solution the technology will constantly evolve to take advantage of the latest developments without costing local councils large sums of money.
EBP parking schemes are already making an impact. Within a year of trailing the solution, Westminster City Council saw a 16% reduction in the most polluting vehicles driving and parking in the city, without any obvious displacement to nearby parking zones.
Making an impact one car at a time
Parking may not always be the first thought people have when it comes to environmentally conscious policies and it also may not be an industry that you think is technology infused, but think again. The parking industry is leading the charge in helping to provide cleaner, healthier and more liveable cities through technology solutions such as EBP.
Peter O’Driscoll is Managing Director at RingGo
AES Corp seals 10-year carbon-free energy deal with Google
The AES Corporation has struck a 10-year supply contract with Google to provide near-carbon-free energy to power its Virginia-based data centers which will start later this year.
Claiming the first clean energy procurement deal in the world of its kind, AES will help ensure that the energy powering those data centers will be 90% carbon-free when measured on an hourly basis.
AES will become the sole supplier of the data centers' carbon-free energy needs on an annual basis, sourcing energy from a portfolio of wind, solar, hydro and battery storage resources to be developed or contracted by AES.
The agreement marks an important step in meeting Google's previously announced goal to run its business on 100% carbon-free energy on an hourly basis by 2030.
"Last year, Google set an ambitious sustainability goal of committing to 100% 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2030. Today, we are proud that through our collaboration with Google, we are making 24/7 carbon-free energy a reality for their data centers in Virginia," said Andrés Gluski, AES President and CEO. "This first-of-its-kind solution, which we co-created with Google, will set a new sustainability standard for companies and organizations seeking to eliminate carbon from their energy supply."
"Not only is this partnership with AES an important step towards achieving Google's 24/7 carbon-free energy goal, it also lays a blueprint for other companies looking to decarbonize their own operations," says Michael Terrell, Director of Energy at Google. "Our hope is that this model can be replicated to accelerate the clean energy transition, both for companies and, eventually, for power grids."
AES assembled the 500MW portfolio from a combination of AES' own renewable energy projects and those of third-party developers, which were selected, sized and contracted to meet Google's energy needs across a number of considerations, including cost efficiency, additionality and carbon-free energy profile.
The portfolio assembled by AES is expected to require approximately $600 million of investment and generate 1,200 jobs, both permanent and construction, in the host communities. These efforts will greatly simplify Google's energy procurement and management at a competitive price while decarbonizing Google's load and the broader PJM grid.
This supply agreement follows on the strategic alliance AES and Google formed in November 2019 to leverage Google Cloud technology to accelerate innovation in energy distribution and management and advance the adoption of clean energy. AES is pioneering greener, smarter energy innovations, with the goal of expanding the services available to large-scale corporate customers.
The Google.org Impact Challenge on Climate commits €10M to fund bold ideas that aim to use technology to accelerate Europe’s progress toward a greener, more resilient future. Selected organisations may receive up to €2M in funding and possible customised post-grant support from the Google for Startups Accelerator to help bring their ideas to life.
Last year it issued $5.75 billion in sustainability bonds to fund ongoing and new environmentally or socially responsible projects. To read its 2020 Environment report, click here.