One of the characteristics and attributes of the Renewable Green Energy Community, RGEC, is the existence of Energy Efficient Transportation. Energy Efficient Transportation, EET, is a key element for a community to be called or rather for a community to gain the characterization of being a renewable energy community.
Energy Efficient Transportation involves
- The introduction and use of advanced vehicles, vehicles that are hybrid, electric or run on alternative fuel
- Energy efficient transportation such as mass transportation and car sharing
It should be noted that a basic design factor of a Renewable Green Energy Community, is the proper design and layout of the community so that the need of transportation would be reduced and that the same time the use of bicycles and/or walking is properly facilitated thus reducing the consumption of energy for transportation. There are steps and actions that are easy to be implemented and others that seem more futuristic and more costly, at least for the time being.
One energy efficient transportation technology which is a promising technology for vehicles is the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, PHEV, technology. The PHEV is basically a Hybrid Electric Vehicle, HEV, with a more advanced and longer lasting battery which is powered at home by plugging it on electricity, electricity which is generated from renewable green energy sources. The same plug-in can be used at the office or community parking places and when there is a need the HEV can be fuelled with ethanol or other alternative fuel. The PHEV is designed to consume less fuel and at the same time it will transmits less CO2 emissions.
The ideal and future development on PHEV technology would be the two way connectivity to the grid or as otherwise known Vehicle-to-the Grid, V2G. This technology is such that the vehicle would store electricity and return it the grid at peak demand when the vehicle is parked or not in motion. This off course implies the design of a smart and efficient grid in the RGEC community.
Energy efficient transportation solutions involve the use of car-sharing and mass transportation in an aim to reduce the CO2 emissions, traffic jams and waste of productive time. There are several and productive schemes that have been employed by communities around the USA and other parts of the world so that they would provide their residents and visitors transportation alternatives. Such options are:
- Car sharing: Car sharing is a network of privately owned cars that are rented either by the day or by the hour and are used by people to move within a city or a community. Communities facilitate car sharing by providing specific and central parking locations and by enabling the renting mechanisms
- Mass transport: Big cities started giving incentives and promote mass transportation in an attempt to reduce CO2 emissions and air pollution. Mass transport has other side benefits such as reduced accident costs and lower energy requirements,
- Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles, NEV: these are electric vehicles that are either privately owned or community owned, connected to the grid at home or at public parking places and are used for city travellers within the city or community. In some cases these electric cars are located at car pool parking places outside the cities or outside parking places.
- Community Bicycles: In certain European cities like Barcelona and Rome, there are community bicycles rented by visitors and free for residents that are used for short travelling within the city. The bicycles can be picked and dropped at any place within the city thus facilitating their use.
Energy Efficient Transportation is an essential and integral element for the building and sustainability of a renewable green community that aims in benefiting in full from renewable green energy sources and providing a quality of life for its residents. Once the goals are set and the mindset exists then the target is achievable with the right incentives from governments.