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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has launched Yoogo Share, claimed to be the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest deployment of pure battery electric cars and largest pure EV car sharing model.

A new initiative adopted by the Christchurch City Council, Yoogo Share will see a pure EV fleet of 100 cars, 10 hubs and 100 chargers made available around Christchurch. The program is expected to deliver positive health benefits for Christchurch, with zero tail pipe emissions and resulting in less congestion.

Twelve key businesses with 3000 drivers are already working with the Yoogo Share cars, removing 115 combustion engine vehicles from their fleets. Membership is now open to private users.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern cuts the ribbon alongside Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Yoogo Share GM Kirsten Corson.

“While electric vehicles are increasing in popularity, they can be challenging to adopt because of the extra cost of the vehicles, not to mention costs for chargers and installation,” said Yoogo CEO David Jenkinson. “Sharing is a great way to enable the benefits of an EV without the hassle or cost.

“Imagine landing at Christchurch airport on business, just one minute walk to your Yoogo Share car which you access via your membership card or phone. At less than $15 an hour to drive a new BMW i3 or Hyundai Ioniq, it’s a no brainer.”

Jenkinson believes Yoogo Share’s technology is powering the fleet of the future, as it provides a cost-effective alternative to company cars, rental cars, taxis and even private ownership. It is particularly appealing to millennials such as Canterbury University student Matthew Knight, who are increasingly choosing public transport and rideshare services over car ownership.

“As a student, the last thing you want is to have to fork out for a car that’s going to need costly maintenance,” said Knight. “We still want the freedom to get around — and with Yoogo Share we’ve got access to a cool, new and sustainable option that’s more cost effective than taxis or Uber.”

Yoogo Share’s 100% electric car.

Business and private users simply sign up at www.yoogoshare.co.nz and book a vehicle. Rates are based on the minute, hour or day — whichever is cheapest. Users of the service can pick up a car at a Yoogo Share hub, drop it back when they are finished and plug it in to charge.

Yoogo Share has active hubs at Christchurch Art Gallery car park, West End car park and Christchurch International Airport. Fendalton, Papanui, Lyttleton, the University of Canterbury, Ara Institute, The Crossing and The Terrace are set to join over the coming weeks and months.

Top image caption: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel next to a Yoogo Share 100% electric car.

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The International Energy Agency (IEA) has commended Australia’s commitment to affordable, secure and clean energy, though it suggests the federal government could ramp up its ambitions.

The publication ‘Energy Policies of IEA Countries — Australia 2018 Review’ acknowledges that Australia’s energy sector is undergoing a significant transformation, with South Australia in particular introducing higher shares of variable wind and solar power into the power system.

But this is putting the energy market under pressure, with growing concerns about affordable and secure energy following several power outages, a tightening gas market in the east coast and rising energy prices. Furthermore, while Australia’s carbon intensity is in decline, it is still the highest among IEA countries.

The Australian Government asked the IEA to assess the country’s progress since the previous review in 2012, as well as to suggest how Australia can use global best practices in transitioning to a lower-carbon energy system. In this context, the IEA also contributed to the Finkel Review.

The report commends the government’s efforts to implement reforms to foster reliability and security of supply, prompted by the South Australian blackout of September 2016 and the Finkel Review. However, it states that a consistent energy and climate framework up to 2030–50 is needed at the Commonwealth level to ensure continued and adequate investment in the energy sector.

“The government’s efforts to ensure energy security and move ahead with market reforms have been impressive,” said IEA Executive Director Dr Fatih Birol, who presented the report’s findings this week in Canberra. “Australia can develop its vast renewable resources and remain a cornerstone of global energy markets as a leading supplier of coal, uranium and liquefied natural gas (LNG), securing the energy for growing Asian markets.”

The report notes that Australia is leading the next wave of growth in LNG, and that the sustainable development of new gas resources is critical for natural gas to play a growing role in the energy transition. It calls on Australia to continue efforts to improve transparency of gas pricing, boost market integration and facilitate access to transportation capacity.

The review also welcomes the government’s energy security focus, including the creation of the Energy Security Board and Energy Security Office as well as Australia’s plan to return to compliance with the IEA’s emergency stock holding obligations. The IEA recommends regular and comprehensive energy security assessments to identify risks early on, and foster the resilience of the energy sector.

In terms of power system security, the report offers recommendations on how to improve the market design of the National Energy Market (NEM), already one of the most flexible power markets in the world. To accommodate higher shares of variable renewables, the IEA recommends that the NEM prioritises measures to safeguard system stability, enhance grid infrastructure, including interconnections, and regularly upgrade technical standards. As consumer choice and prices in retail markets are liberalised across Australia, the government needs to focus on wholesale competition and demand-side flexibility, in recognition of the changing ways energy is produced and consumed, thus contributing to reducing peak demand.

Other recommendations include the following:

  • Work with experts to drive big energy efficiency improvements in existing buildings.
  • Reintroduce a program that supports big industrial energy users to improve their energy efficiency.
  • Adopt ambitious fuel efficiency standards for the transport sector.

Ultimately, the review finds that Australia should rely on long-term policy and energy market responses to strengthen energy security, foster competition and make the power sector more resilient. According to Dr Birol, “A comprehensive national energy and climate strategy is needed for Australia to have a cleaner and more secure energy future.”

The Energy Efficiency Council (EEC) has welcomed the report, with CEO Luke Menzel claiming it confirms that Australia is behind the eight ball when it comes to energy efficiency.

“Whether it’s buildings, industry or transport, the IEA has found there is much more we can do to slash energy costs and reduce carbon emissions through smart energy efficiency policies,” he said.

Menzel said the report confirms the view of local experts, claiming that Australia is “missing the boat when it comes to energy efficiency policy … despite the fact that it’s the cheapest and quickest way of slashing energy bills and reducing carbon emissions”.

“We have a good framework in the National Energy Productivity Plan,” he said. “It’s time for the Turnbull government to put some meat on the bones of that plan and drive the kind of step change in energy efficiency that will get us back in the game.”

Image caption: Australian Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg with IEA Executive Director Dr Fatih Birol. Image credit: IEA.

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Under strain from urbanisation, pollution, climate challenges and poor governance, could a ‘saviour sibling’ be a remedy for our sick cities? Could an ill, dysfunctional city be ‘treated’ through the creation of a ‘digital twin’ as a test bed to prototype urban ideas in a low-risk environment?

Testing the twin

A digital twin is a virtual model of a city; a digital model of the physical world. Digital twins can be developed for a range of ‘applications’ such as products, buildings, a process, factories, cities, and even people. But the real value lies in the potential of a digital twin to save its real-life ‘sibling’.

If we created a digital twin of our existing cities, could we contemplate ways to improve them; apply those improvements in the digital version and then track the responses? The opportunity would then exist, of course, to carry these lessons over to ‘real world’ applications so that our reality would be made more resilient, more responsive, and less exposed to physical, social and economic challenges.

The birth of digital twins is on the increase…

Digital twin technology was ranked Number 5 in Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2018, with predictions that billions of things will have digital twins in the next few years. NASA was using digital twin technology for decades before the term ‘digital twin’ was coined. They use virtual models to develop and maintain systems they can’t physically monitor in space, including running complex simulations of spacecraft responses. What it offers are dynamic, rapid, low-risk, real-time diagnostic and problem-solving capabilities.

Driving the growing application of the digital twin concept in cities will be an enormous number of interconnected Internet of Things devices with real-time, cost-effective data feeds. A surprising number of everyday devices are already connected to the internet — including digital assistants such as Siri, Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Right now, you can digitally connect to your home heating, your car, your front door, your fridge… and your heart. These all provide a ready database of cause-and-effect responses which are the foundations for the development of a representative digital twin. An environment is fast emerging that will enable digital twins to flourish, connecting the physical to the digital world in ways previously unprecedented; not only device-to-device, but the physical world to the digital one.

Singapore’s digital twin is due in June 2018

Under development in Singapore right now is a digital twin called ‘Virtual Singapore’. Virtual Singapore is described by technology partner Dassault Systèmes as “the world’s first digital twin of an existing city state and will provide Singaporeans with an effective way to engage in the digital economy. It will be both a collaboration platform for city departments and businesses, and a communication platform between the city and its citizens.”

The digital twin differs from other modelling approaches in that it can be designed to monitor and model multiple elements and the interactions between each — elements such as population density, transport, water, weather, energy transmission, energy consumption, waste management, security, people movements, and consumer purchasing… all manner of activity in a city.

Our cities can be reimagined by changing variables and understanding the impact. A virtual twin will help urban planners and policymakers visualise the responses from various sensor networks and intelligent systems deployed now and in the future — and they will use them to make informed decisions, using the twin environment as a test bed for innovative urban ideas.

Sibling rivalry

The power of a digital twin city will be in how it strategically uses technologies like the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data. Feeding the sibling will be multiple streams of data, both historical and in real time.

Those cities that are able to leverage this technology and harness the benefits will be the communities and cities that prosper — they will become more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

But are we really ready? The sibling could well become an intelligent counterpart — trying to compete or to even make decisions for us. And, as with all ‘operating rooms’ where we monitor, diagnose and treat the sick, we’ll need skilled doctors. Will they be real or virtual? And, are we ready for them to alter the DNA of our cities… what ethical framework will these doctors use?

Enabling these ‘digital twins’ will involve the labour pains of ensuring our governance, as well as ethical structures, are ‘birth-ready’. There’s also the question of who owns the data — the government, the private sector, the digital twin platform, the autonomous vehicle that creates the data, or the citizen who is feeding data into the twin model?

It will also be crucial to ensure the accelerating pace of technology does not move faster than our ability to understand the consequences and plan how best to use digital twins for the benefit of all. If we can do that, we may just be able to create our own ‘saviour city’.

Matt Coetzee and Jacob Lindsay.

This article was first published in Aurecon’s Just Imagine blog. Just Imagine provides a glimpse into the future for curious readers, exploring ideas that are probable, possible and for the imagination. Subscribe here to get access to the latest blog posts as soon as they are published.

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Container Deposit Systems Australia (CDSA), which harnesses technology to improve productivity within recycling depot facilities, recently approached SAGE Automation with an unusual automation challenge.

Recent environmental legislation has seen many recycling plants face reduced efficiencies and increased costs due to the purchase of expensive sorting machines from Europe, coupled with expensive, unreliable labour. With these sorting machines relying on barcodes, waste is of major concern as damaged products cannot be read.

The NSW Environmental Protection Authority’s Return and Earn scheme in particular has come under fire for accepting only ‘perfect rubbish’, with the Return and Earn website saying “containers should be empty, uncrushed, unbroken and have the original label attached”. All of these factors put a strain on CDSA’s customer satisfaction.

“We position recycling facilities to realise significant productivity gains, improved customer relationships and highly secure and auditable product management,” said CDSA Executive Chairman Brett Duncanson.

“Priding ourselves on customer satisfaction, the issues that we were facing were hindering our business and we were turning customers away rather than making them want to take on the task of recycling and collecting money.”

SAGE Automation worked closely with its automation partners, such as drive technology supplier NORD DRIVESYSTEMS, to improve efficiencies through better accuracy. The company developed a range of counting and sensing technologies to determine the container types being retained — even when containers were not in their original condition. Answering to the calls for IoT technology, the system provides valuable data which is delivered into the cloud and used for reporting.

At the heart of the machine is the vision system, provided by the University of South Australia (UniSA). The camera uses an algorithm to identify what each item is and sorts them into the correct skid. This includes not just identifying cans and bottles, but also colour.

“SAGE incorporates various component suppliers into an integrated solution for customers,” said SAGE Automation general manager of operations Paul Johnson. “The challenge with CDSA’s request was that the plant was already operational and the customer required that the solution be installed easily and very quickly on-site. It also had to require minimal maintenance and provide intelligence about the facility operations.

“We looked for ways to simplify the installation. Five skids with 26 conveyors needed to be installed within a day, so we looked to a ‘plug and play’ solution to get it up and running as fast as possible.”

Paul Johnson, General Manager of Operations at SAGE Automation.

A distributed drive solution was used to achieve the brief. It required a 240 V drive which used EtherCAT and could be Beckhoff integrated. SAGE partnered with NORD DRIVESYSTEMS, the only company it found that could provide this solution.

“We hadn’t worked with NORD previously and we were really impressed with the way that the team listened to what we wanted,” said Johnson. “They understood our needs and their engineering team configured the unit to ensure seamless integration with Beckhoff — literally overnight!

“The solution was exactly what we wanted and the local stockholding, price point and engineering expertise sealed the deal. The products used were of the highest quality and latest technology. The motor gearbox drive is distributed so that the inverter sits on top of the gearbox and it is neatly daisy-chained together.”

In the end, SAGE Automation was able to install 26 conveyors with five skids in just one day.

The CDSA vision and sorting machine.

With the second prototype underway and recognising the formation of what hopes to be a fruitful and strengthened partnership, NORD DRIVESYSTEMS Sales Manager for the region Vinod Pillai looks forward to more exciting projects with SAGE Automation.

“It’s an honour to be associated with a South Australian-founded company such as SAGE Automation,” said Pillai. “SAGE is known across the industry for its expertise and quality, and we hope that this is the beginning of a very successful partnership.

“NORD’s decentralised solution looks to modular assembly for ease and reduced downtime during component failure. It also offers a decentralised inverter which is economical and robust. The site did not have access to three-phase power, and as such the project made use of a Nordac base — a single-phase input supply option for 0.25 to 1.5 kW.”

The Nordac Base (SK180) decentralised inverter.

NORD also managed to engineer plug connector solutions for both power supply and EtherCAT connection.

“In keeping the footprint compact, the Nordac base offers assembly of an internal EtherCAT fieldbus card,” said Pillai. “The flexibility of being able to assemble dual plugs on the Nordac Base for both power supply connection as well as M12 connectors that enabled fieldbus communication in turn allowed for simple daisy-chain topology to be realised for the inverter modules.”

The new development comes just ahead of the national legislation rollout of the new government recycling program. It places CDSA in the position of being able to help recycling plants to be up and running and ready for the new program in no time.

“We are more than pleased with the solution and are currently busy with the second prototype,” said Duncanson. “What we do is extremely important to both our customers and the environment. The solution supplied by SAGE Automation and its partners will make a big difference to our customers by helping to improve productivity.”

Top image caption: Vision camera identifies product.

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Energy and intelligent home start-up Wattcost has become one of the first companies to settle into the Sydney Startup Hub, opened yesterday by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Deputy Premier John Barilaro.

Spread over 11 floors above Sydney’s Wynyard Station, the new facility attracted a cash injection of $35 million from Jobs for NSW last year. Anticipated to create thousands of job opportunities across metro and regional NSW, it will also be one of only eight locations worldwide to host Microsoft’s ScaleUp program for start-ups.

Barilaro said it would not have been possible to attract a program of Microsoft’s calibre without the NSW Government’s investment in the Sydney Startup Hub. “There is enormous competition to secure Microsoft ScaleUp for different countries,” he said, “so it’s an incredible result to see Sydney chosen as the newest location to host this sought-after and highly acclaimed program.”

“Microsoft launched the ScaleUp Program in 2012,” said Microsoft Australia Managing Director Steven Worrall. “Since then, close to 650 start-ups have raised around US$3 billion in funding after graduating from programs run in Bangalore, Shanghai, Beijing, London, Berlin, Seattle and Tel Aviv.”

On top of Microsoft, the Sydney Startup Hub has secured a list of tenants including Stone & Chalk, Fishburners, Tank Stream Labs (TSL), The Studio, Westpac’s FEULD, H2 Ventures, Slingshot, Transport for NSW’s Future Transport Digital Accelerator, the Department of Finance and Services, and an innovation team from Caltex’s C-Lab. Wattcost recently relocated to TSL from Fishburners’ old address in Ultimo and will be one of the first to occupy TSL’s hardware prototyping and testing lab at the hub.

Wattcost claims that its award-winning intelligent home solution is poised to transform how people think about, buy and consume energy in the future. Launching in May this year, the solution collects and crunches data on energy usage, identifying specific home appliances while recommending efficiency measures, suggesting genuine carbon offset options and increasing the ROI of residential PV solar and storage systems.

“At the core of what we’ve built is a system that ‘humanises’ energy data to help households continuously save money, improve occupant safety and take control of their carbon footprint,” said Wattcost co-founder and CEO David Soutar.

“It’s a concept we have termed the ‘intelligent home’, and in the next few years we will see the average household take control of their energy data and costs leading to vastly more efficient and environmentally friendly choices.”

The system comprises a self-powered wireless ‘beacon’ designed to monitor entire home energy use non-intrusively from the electricity meter. Real-time data is fed into the Wattcost cloud platform with an app, giving consumers clear visibility and control over their energy costs.

Wattcost estimates that the average household could cut its annual CO2 emissions by almost a tonne annually by utilising the intelligent beacon, AI system and app. It hopes to sign up 500,000 households in the next five years.

“Wattcost understands the crucial role of government in supporting early-stage technology companies in Australia that can make a difference,” Soutar said. “We look forward to seeing the benefits of further state and federal government contributions as the country’s innovation sector embarks on a new phase of development and growth.”

Image credit: ©Sergey Nivens/Dollar Photo Club

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The LR 2018 Technology Radar — Renewable Energy study, published by Lloyd’s Register, asks the question: when will renewable energy become the dominant source of energy? The study also examines which technologies are likely to have the greatest impact in different countries and the key drivers and inhibitors for success.

The report analyses the impact of renewable energy in the next five years and beyond, providing answers from industry experts on their optimism, concerns and investment outlook on tomorrow’s energy mix. The research sought the insights and opinions of leaders across the sector, as well as a survey of 800 professionals and experts around the world.

Key findings include:

  • Respondents expect grid parity for solar to be achieved first in China (2022), followed by Spain and UAE in 2024, and by Australia and the US in 2025. For wind power generation, grid parity is expected in Germany and UK by 2024, USA and Denmark in 2025 and Sweden by 2033.
  • Although a minority of respondents (10%) believe that renewables have already overtaken fossil fuels in their country, or will do so in the next two years, 58% believe that this milestone will not be reached until after 2025.
  • Renewable economics are improving, but 62% of respondents say that high development costs remain the primary argument against pursuing renewables in their country. However, the cost of building solar capacity for utility-scale generation has more than halved in the past 10 years, which has helped to fuel the rapid expansion of solar capacity worldwide since 2014.
  • More than 45% of the surveyed executives (including 55% of those based in Europe) say that resistance to onshore wind turbines in their countries is too strong to enable significant growth from this source.
  • 71% agree that technology advances will do more in the next five years to improve the economic case for renewables than policy or regulatory changes. However, 36% identify policy inconsistency as an inhibiting factor.
  • 37% of respondents indicate the slow development of storage technologies as the most important factor inhibiting the growth of renewables in the energy mix. Utilities need to be able to call on energy producers for additional power whenever it is required, whether for load balancing or meeting surges.
  • 42% of respondents agree that reaching grid parity will not be enough to cause a sustained increase in investment in renewables. Subsidies are critical to support developments in most markets.
     

“I am heartened by the optimistic outlook and by the measured and realistic approach that is displayed throughout the results and insights in this year’s research,” said Karl Ove Ingebrigtsen, director of LR’s Low Carbon Power Generation business.

“It illuminates the outlook for renewable energy — and highlights the technologies that are expected to deliver the greatest impact, especially in grid transformation which must be based on a sound understanding of each country’s individual ecosystem; it is clear that this is advancing alongside technology, policy and investment.”

This is the fourth year LR has conducted its Technology Radar research and the first time it has concentrated on the renewable energy sector. The research delivers insights that will help to inform industry debate and energy policy across the world, and may help to raise further discussions on areas such as standardisation and putting a price on carbon that treats all carbon equally.

“We are seeing a real shift in thinking by the oil and gas majors as they increase their renewable energy portfolio and diversify their offering in the market,” said Ingebrigtsen. “The halcyon days of high oil prices scuppering renewable energy growth and development is a distant memory; the energy industry is on a new low carbon growth and efficiency drive which will change the source of our energy supply forever.”

To download the 2018 Technology Radar report, visit https://www.lr.org/techradar.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/vectorfusionart

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Global environmental leaders have named 2018 the International Year of the Reef, in an effort to protect the planet’s coral from the effects of rising water temperatures and ocean acidification. As part of this initiative, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has announced the nomination of large portions of Fiji’s Great Sea Reef as a Ramsar site, designated under international treaty as a wetland important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life.

“We are engaged in a battle for the future of these reefs,” Bainimarama said, claiming that threats to the reef include climate change, chemical and wastewater run-off from neighbouring urban settlement, and industry.

“We approved the nomination of large parts of the Great Sea Reef as a Ramsar site to protect it for future generations.

“Today I appeal to every single person on Earth to help us. We must replace the present culture of abuse with a culture of care.”

But winning the battle for the future of the reefs is not quite so simple. While healthy coral reefs can exist over a wide range of natural nutrient environments, the heat and light stress tolerance of corals — and thus their bleaching susceptibility and recovery after bleaching events — is adversely affected by high dissolved inorganic nutrient loads.

Higher than normal inorganic nutrient loads disrupt the finely balanced environmental conditions necessary for coral to thrive via multiple pathways. Increased phytoplankton loads can supply more food for the larvae of the crown of thorns starfish, limit light penetration and cause an abundance of filter feeders. High algal growth, fuelled by the unnatural abundance of inorganic nutrients, meanwhile outcompetes and smothers both live and bleached coral, releases algal toxins and depletes oxygen, inhibiting growth and recovery.

Inorganic nutrients make their way into the coral reefs from a wide variety of sources, including fertiliser usage, deforestation, land use for grazing, urban stormwater pollution and lack of sewage treatment or poor nutrient removal in sewage treatment plants. Even mobilisation of sediments via trawling and dredging increases the levels of nutrients. Making matters worse, nutrient stress on coral reefs often occurs a considerable distance from the source, via the movement of the increased phytoplankton loads.

Hydroflux Pacific, Hydroflux’s latest addition to its environmental group, is located in the heart of Fiji’s capital of Suva, and has already started helping with the battle for the future of the reefs. Bringing global technology to the country along with the necessary local support, the company is helping Fiji treat wastewater from both industry and resorts, all of which potentially makes its way into the local coral reefs.

The Hydroflux Group has a number of major projects underway in the region. This includes the provision of a wastewater treatment plant at the Musket Cove Island Resort, located in the remote Malolo Lailai, and several more packaged sewage treatment plants under construction for other major resorts in Liku Liku, Malolo and Matamanoa in the Fijian Mamanuca group of islands. Hydroflux’s range of packaged sewage treatment solutions treat wastewater generated by guests, in addition to that from the laundry and the kitchens, to a standard suitable for re-use in irrigation, thus ensuring the environmental sustainability of the resort and helping protect the fragile neighbouring coral reefs into the future.

Hydroflux Industrial is currently constructing a wastewater treatment plant for a multinational food and beverage company in Suva, taking significant pollutant and inorganic nutrient load off the local municipal sewage treatment plant. The plant incorporates the Hydroflux Group’s HyDAF Dissolved Air Flotation, Hydroflux HUBER Screening and HUBER QPRESS dewatering, as well as Hydroflux HySMART SBR technology, all designed to treat high-strength industrial wastewater so that the discharge complies with Fiji’s National Liquid Waste Management Strategy.

Hydroflux Pacific fully supports Prime Minister Bainimarama and his appeal to every single person on Earth to help save the coral reefs of the world.

Image caption: Musket Cove Island Resort, located in the remote Malolo Lailai, Fiji.

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The Queensland Government has committed $4 million to a power-slashing, job-boosting project being run by start-up company Redback Technologies and its partners Springfield City Group, Microsoft, Energy Queensland and The University of Queensland.

“The $4 million Advance Queensland Platform Technology Program grant will lead to the development of a smart energy monitoring platform that will give customers the ability to instantly analyse and control energy consumption,” said Queensland Minister for Innovation Kate Jones, who announced the investment last week.

“This technology helps people intelligently manage their power usage and cut their bills by identifying power-hungry devices and systems in their homes and businesses.”

Redback Managing Director Philip Livingston said the platform will enable home owners and businesses to understand and control their energy usage and will help networks to more efficiently manage the grid, allowing for increased penetration of renewables.

“The support of the Queensland Government will enable Redback and our partners to create a platform ecosystem, using big data to drive better outcomes for energy users and energy businesses,” he said.

“This technology will benefit industries beyond energy.”

According to Minister for State Development Cameron Dick, Redback is set to employ “up to a further 109 technical and professional staff at its University of Queensland St Lucia laboratory, adding to its existing workforce and through expanding its existing facility, which would see more jobs and opportunities trickle down through the local economy”.

“This operation will put Queensland further in the lead for energy research and development, building on our growing hub of research facilities and driving innovative solutions to market,” he said.

Energy Queensland Executive General Manager Asset Safety and Performance Peter Price said the project will ensure Energy Queensland continues to develop new technology solutions that will transform the existing network to an intelligent grid and deliver safer outcomes for the customer.

Springfield City Group Executive General Manager Dr Richard Eden added that his company is “driven strongly by innovation”, including “exciting developments in solar and storage” and is thus “delighted to be helping to lead the way with the Queensland Government and other innovative partners in the energy sector”.

Jones concluded that it is important for the state government to support local technology companies doing great things, backing industries that will support Queensland jobs in the future. “Not only will this initiative create jobs,” she said, “it will have a real impact on the lives of ordinary Queenslanders, helping them save on their household power bills.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/gmstockstudio

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The stakes for change could not be higher. Based on historical rates, growth in global urbanisation will be largely over in a few decades. How that plays out is of profound consequence to the future of humanity and the planet, but many cities are grossly unprepared for the overwhelming number of environmental, economic and societal challenges associated with this process.

City leaders urgently need to address these challenges, but to do so they must first confront a more fundamental one — recognising the dynamic nature of cities so that they are able to better deal with the problems of cities.

Cities as complex adaptive systems

Over the past few years, new insights coming from the study of complex systems have begun to shed light on the nature of cities.

Cities are complex adaptive systems with unique characteristics and dynamics. Cities have a networked and emergent quality, where things are always in a state of flux and where an understanding of the individual parts does not convey an understanding of the whole. This dynamic nature of cities tends to make many of the policy problems that governments are tackling today resistant to simplified analysis and resolution.

If we are to create cities that encourage the full potential of human creativity in a sustainable way, then we need a new approach that draws upon the lessons learned from the emerging science of cities — one that acknowledges and responds to the complex and highly adaptive nature of cities.

Seeing complexity through the lens of resilience

‘Resilience’ is a term that emerged from the field of ecology in the 1970s to describe the capacity of natural ecosystems to maintain or recover functionality in the event of disruption or disturbance.

Resilience in the context of cities refers to the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt and grow no matter what kinds of stresses and shocks they experience. Cities begin to lose their resilience when the multiple networked and interacting elements do not keep up with growth and change, such as those that deliver energy, mobility and information.

Improving urban resilience involves building redundancy into networks — by adding more and more links so that it becomes harder to disrupt them. This way, if some links break down, others will come into effect. A good practical example of this is a city that incorporates flexibility in travel patterns across its transportation network to account for sudden increases in demand, or failure, in one or more parts of the network.

Principles for future cities

Taking a whole-of-system approach to city planning and management will lead to improved diagnosis of urban problems, enable the development of policies and plans to address them, and improve urban resilience. The following five principles provide a framework for city leaders that acknowledge the complex dynamics that enhance the resilience of cities.

  1. Maintain diversity: Systems with many components are more resilient than those with fewer components. In cities, resilience is enhanced through diversity of multiple systems — multiple industries, businesses, transport modes, housing types, ecological species, water sources, energy sources, institutions and social groups.
  2. Optimise networks: Networks and connectivity can influence the resilience of systems in a range of ways, safeguarding cities against shocks by enabling recovery or by preventing the impacts from spreading. At the same time, highly connected systems can spread disruption faster, as is the case with highly communicable diseases.
  3. Foster systems thinking: Thinking of cities as complex adaptive systems means acknowledging that there are multiple connections occurring at the same time on different levels. This requires city decision-makers to accept unpredictability and uncertainty, and acknowledge that that there can be no one-size-fits-all solution to a problem.
  4. Engage in broad collaboration: In order to better understand and engage with complex urban issues, decision-makers need to be able to examine the whole city through a systems lens. To do this, comprehensive community perspectives are needed to galvanise ideas about how cities emerge, evolve and are structured.
  5. Learn through disruption: Resilience is all about adapting and transforming in response to change. Disruptions and stresses should be seen as opportunities to enhance knowledge and to build a better understanding of the nature of cities. Learning occurs through experimentation and experience — by taking risks, testing out alternative responses to shocks and constantly revising and changing strategies.
Actions for city leaders

When considering these principles, it is essential that city leaders understand their resilience objectives in terms of where resilience efforts should be focused and in response to what. Priorities will range across industries, transport modes, housing types, natural environments, water and energy sources, institutions and social groups.

Because cities are dynamic and their context ever changing, resilience efforts will require ongoing adjustment. This means constantly rethinking, testing and reworking practices and providing flexibility in urban ‘solutions’.

Finally, to keep cities functioning optimally, city leaders must increase their understanding of the way in which different social and physical networks relate and evolve. Resilience strategies should focus on maximising social networks and social processes, to keep people at the centre of our future cities.

Adam Fennessy, EY Oceania Leader – Future Cities

Top image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Bits and Splits

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The Dow Chemical Company has announced the call for entries for the 2018 Awards for Packaging Innovation, said to be the longest running independently judged awards program in the packaging industry.

Originated by DuPont in 1986, the Awards for Packaging Innovation honours innovations in packaging design, materials, technology and processes across the entire packaging value chain. This tradition of excellence is now continued by Dow, welcoming brand owners, retailers, packaging designers, converters and technology providers around the world to enter and be recognised.

“In its 30th year, the Awards for Packaging Innovation celebrate innovation and collaboration in packaging throughout the entire value chain,” said Diego Donoso, business president for Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics. “The awards recognise companies that promote technological advancement, enhance customer product experiences and demonstrate responsible packaging, and winning products demonstrate how they truly have the power to change lives.”

This year, applicants can utilise a streamlined entry process with a simplified online form to complete, submit and track entries, as well as upload accompanying images and videos. Entries will be judged by an independent panel of international packaging judges from a variety of disciplines, to provide the awards with a global perspective across design, engineering, retail, converting and academia. All products must be commercially available when they are entered.

The deadline for entries is 12 April 2018, with the winners to be announced in the third quarter. For more information and to enter, visit www.DowPackagingAwards.com.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/quaddplusq

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