Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Suburban sprawl to power cities of the future

Date:
July 30, 2013
Source:
University of Lincoln
Summary:
A city’s suburbs could hold the solution to dwindling fuel supplies by producing enough energy to power residents’ cars and even top up power resources, pioneering new research has found.

A city's suburbs could hold the solution to dwindling fuel supplies by producing enough energy to power residents' cars and even top up power resources, pioneering new research has found.

It is commonly assumed that compact cities, with built-up central business districts and densely-populated residential areas, are more energy efficient than the low-density suburban sprawl that surrounds them, which are dependent on oil for high levels of private transport use.

In a future with photovoltaic solar panels on suburban roofs and increasing use of electric vehicles however, experts have predicted that suburbia will adopt a valuable new role -- transforming from a high energy consumer into a vital power provider for the city.

Newly published research, conducted by Professor Hugh Byrd from the University of Lincoln, UK, and collaborators including Professor Basil Sharp from the New Zealand Energy Centre and experts from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, challenges the conventional theory that compact urban form offers the best solution for a sustainable city.

Instead, the team of researchers highlight the potential of suburbs for harnessing solar energy, with detached suburban houses capable of producing ten times the amount of energy created by skyscrapers and other commercial buildings.

The findings also reveal that lower density housing in suburbia not only has the greatest capacity for collecting solar energy, but also the greatest surplus after its own energy uses have been taken into account to help out city centre peak electricity loads.

Professor Byrd, from Lincoln's School of Architecture, said: "This study challenges conventional thinking that suburbia is energy-inefficient, a belief that has become enshrined in architectural policy. In fact, our results reverse the argument for a compact city based on transport energy use, and completely change the current perception of urban sprawl.

"While a compact city may be more efficient for internal combustion engine vehicles, a dispersed city is more efficient when distributed generation of electricity by photovoltaic installations is the main energy source and electric vehicles are the principal mode of transport.

"However, if this energy contribution is to be effective, controls of new suburban development may be needed that require the installation of photovoltaic roofing, along with smart meters and appropriate charging facilities for vehicles. City planners will need to make the changes necessary to control suburban development."

Funded by the University of Auckland under the "Transforming Cities" initiative, the research was conducted in Auckland, by evaluating the energy usage and potential for power generation across typical cross-sections of the city. However, the findings are also applicable to energy systems across 'new world' cities, designed and developed around the growth of the motor vehicle.

Professor Byrd said: "This research could have implications on the policies of both urban form and energy. Far from reacting by looking to re-build our cities, we need to embrace the dispersed suburban areas and smart new technologies that will enable us to power our cities in a cost-effective way, without relying on ever dwindling supplies of fossil fuels.

"It is more a case of building for the future -- when the climate will be warmer, harvesting solar energy will be cheaper than the grid and emerging technologies will replace the internal combustion engine. Particularly for city centre travel where longevity isn't an issue, electric vehicles will become increasingly more attractive as their price drops with mass production and the cost of fuel continues to rise.

"Photovoltaics on rooftops of course also have all the advantages of renewable energy systems, such as reduced carbon emissions, offsetting dependent on the electricity grid and long-term energy security, all of which will only become more important in cities of the future."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Lincoln. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hugh Byrd, Anna Ho, Basil Sharp, Nirmal Kumar-Nair. Measuring the solar potential of a city and its implications for energy policy. Energy Policy, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2013.06.042

Cite This Page:

University of Lincoln. "Suburban sprawl to power cities of the future." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130730091150.htm>.
University of Lincoln. (2013, July 30). Suburban sprawl to power cities of the future. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130730091150.htm
University of Lincoln. "Suburban sprawl to power cities of the future." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130730091150.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Driverless cars could soon become a staple on U.K. city streets, as they're set to be introduced to a few cities in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins