TCD Best of: Lisbon’s trams green upgrade, plus Bogota’s solar-powered gondolas. Israel and Jordan’s “Prosperity Green/Prosperity Blue”, and Black STEM engineer of the year!
TCD Best of: Lisbon’s Trams Green Upgrade, Bogota’s Solar-Powered Gondolas, Israel and Jordan’s Prosperity Green/Prosperity Blue, Black STEM Engineer of the Year!
PORTUGAL CUTS TRANSPORTATION EMISSIONS WITH HELP FROM LISBON’S SOLAR-POWERED TRAMS
During the first half of the last century in Europe, most tram networks were scrapped in favor of pro-car policies. But now this century-old technology is getting an upgrade and making a comeback as a way to reduce transportation emissions. For example, last year, Lisbon Mayor Fernando Medina announced that approximately $47 million USD would be spent to buy 15 new trams for the network. About 48,000 commuters in Lisbon use the trams.
Lisbon Mobility Alderman Miguel Gaspar explained, “We want cut down the 54% of commuters who come into Lisbon in private vehicles.” He went on to say that by making the tram network greener, Lisbon hopes to reduce Portugal’s transportation sector’s 26 % contribution to the country’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions.
Making the tram system even greener, Lisbon will use a 2 MW solar farm to power one-fifth of the city’s public transit system. On average, 2MW of solar power generates enough electricity to power around 328 typical U.S. homes.
Why does it matter to us? Innovation for reduction of greenhouse gasses doesn’t have to be a new invention. As we’ve explored over the episodes, there are plenty of technologies or discoveries humanity has made, from ancient farming techniques to these tram systems, that will do the trick. What’s the saying: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
BOGOTA’S SOLAR-POWERED GONDOLA
Colombia aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 51% by 2030. So to contribute to the overall goal, Bogota looked up, literally. In 2019, the city installed a 2-mile solar-powered cable car system called “TransMiCable”. The solar panels atop each cable car enable it to operate for five or six hours a day without using any other source of electricity.
The system is capable of transporting around 20,000 residents a day. The cable car journey is about 15-minutes from the top to the bottom of the mountain near the Ciudad Bolivar, a neighborhood in the South of the city. Normally you will see buses spewing planet-warming emissions all around the streets of Bogota. But, the brief gondola ride is important because it’s cut some residents’ work commute time in half, which cuts down traffic congestion and air pollution.
The “TransMiCable” project came about through funding from the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC). Why does TransMiCable matter to us? Worldwide, cities account for about three-quarters of carbon emissions. So more green infrastructure means a reduction in greenhouse gasses, helping us, globally, meet our CO2 limits.
JORDAN AND ISRAEL LINK TO FORM PROSPERITY GREEN, PROSPERITY BLUE
During the Dubai Expo in November 2021, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) facilitated the signing of a letter of intent between Jordan and Israel to start a green exchange program. UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed expressed his country’s pride in facilitating a partnership between Israel and Jordan “that reinforces both countries’ climate security and common interests.”
The programs are “Prosperity Green” which is the construction of photovoltaic solar generation and storage facilities in Jordan and “Prosperity Blue” which is the establishment of a new desalination facility in Israel. Former Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar explains, “Jordan, which has an abundance of open spaces and sunlight, will help advance the State of Israel’s transition to green energy and to achieve the ambitious goals we have set, and Israel, which has excellent water desalination technology, will help tackle Jordan’s water shortage.”
The UAE wasn’t just the facilitator, the UAE government-owned renewable energy firm Masdar is set to build the solar farm in the Kingdom of Jordan. Why does Prosperity Green and Prosperity Blue matter to us? It’s a message to the whole world about how countries can work together to combat the climate crisis and move beyond historic fueds to design a new green and peaceful future.
RECIPIENT OF THE BLACK ENGINEER OF THE YEAR STEM AWARD–RODERICK JACKSON
Roderick Jackson is the 2022 recipient of the Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA). His area of focus in innovative building research is with an eye toward climate solutions from energy efficiency of building materials and practices.
Jackson’s innate love of science and technology was buttressed by his mom’s participation for justice during the Civil Rights Movement. He recalls, “She had a particular influence on my perspective of social justice, so that’s why I bring that lens to my work in buildings, science, and engineering. We can address climate change and also ensure we’re not increasing social energy injustices.”
Professionally, he’s been influencing the STEM space since 2002 when he became involved with the FIRST Robotics Competition in Mississippi. In the middle of his career he honed his approach to innovation and renewable energy working for Oak Ridge National Laboratory. During that time he led the effort that established a project called Alabama Power’s Smart Neighborhood. It was the first project in the southeastern United States to provide power to high-performance homes through a community microgrid.
Jackson was also honored as an Innovator of the Year at the Young, Gifted & Empowered Awards for his groundbreaking work in building-energy-efficiency innovation. Associate laboratory director at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Johney Green recalls, “Although I was initially a mentor for Roderick, he has taught me a great deal, not only about building science and impactful research, but also about solutions for a just energy transition. We are very fortunate to have such a champion for making this world better for all.”
Why does Roderick Jackson matter to us? Every climate champion makes a difference. Whether it be supporting kids in STEM programs or giving testimony during a congressional hearing on Building Technologies Research for a Sustainable Future, Jackson’s work could help the United States move toward a more equitable energy future.