Hubville – an Arena for Entrepreneurship
An objective for this project is to create an arena for inventions, entreprenueurship, and visions and a hope for the future. Hubville will show it is actually possible to transform society in the near future. And it will be a desirable transformation.
The solutions below are just a few things. During the existence of this project, and the more people getting involved, the number of solutions will multiply.
Energy from the sun
Greenhouse gas emissions can be divided into four sources: Transportation, Living, Eating and Shopping. All these areas consume energy, and a large part is fossil fuel. Hubville shall be completely self reliant on energy, probably with solar as the dominant energy source.
Hubville solar power can be harnessed in local solar parks, building roofs and facades as well as roads and vactrain tunnels covered by PV.
Another solution is that Hubville runs its own solar park in deserted areas, like Sahara in Africa. There are several arguments that solar power from Africa is the best main source of solar energy. Find more info at the end of this page.
Transportation is normally the most difficult part of the carbon footprint. People want to travel, and especially Swedes want to visit distant warm countries – places where the only means of travel is by airplane.
But, what if travel between Sweden and for instance Thailand becomes more comfortable, cheaper, quicker, and without greenhouse gas emissions. An international vactrain network would enable passengers to travel in a smooth way.
Transportation is also goods, and most imports and export of goods would be by vactrain. In addition to a decimated energy use, transportation by vactrain would be very much quicker. As a bonus for a Hubville resident, it would be possible to eat exotic fruits picked the same day in the Mediterranean or the Far East.
Most car-commuters are one person per car. To make them shift to collective transportation is difficult. However, within Hubville, as well as for those commuting to Stockholm, Malmo and Gothenburg, public transportation has improved significantly. It is more comfortable, accessible, quicker, and energy minimizing, According to the Hyperloop video, a vactrain consumes 5% of the energy of a 2 passenger car ride. And based on renewable energy self sufficiency, it is completely free from greenhouse emissions.
For local transportation, an electric monorail train would be utilized, both for public and individual travel. Although transportation from monorails will not have the same energy savings as a vactrain, it will be very much more efficient than a car, and without using fossil fuels. Through the use of smart technology it should be possible to make local transportation very smooth from a passenger perspective. A possible solution is the NASA funded Skytran project for individual monorail travel. In the Hubville video it has been extended to include public transportation on the same railway.
The two significant parts are food consumption and food waste. Transportation and packaging are also important.
The carbon footprint for a vegan is 2.5 times lower than the footprint of a heavy meat eater, and beef protein has a 10-15 times higher carbon footprint than vegetarian protein. Hubville is not a vegan project. However, it can be argued that the price of food should reflect its carbon footprint.
One solution to influence diets is the use of different VAT levels on groceries, based on its carbon footprint. Groceries would be clearly labelled with its VAT level in order to help the buyer making informed decisions. Publically funded institutions such as schools should not serve carbon heavy food such as red meat.
The total food waste in Sweden is approximately 40%. It should be possible to decrease the food waste significantly, using the methods below.
If groceries are sold in recyclable containers, it is possible to adapt the quantity for each consumer to her respective need. In addition, there would be no packages to throw in the waste. An interesting side-effect of such brand free packaging, is that food companies would need to find new ways to brand their products. Perhaps they would arrange social events in the supermarket where people can try their products. Maybe that would be a new way of socialising.
There are other ways to reduce waste, for instance, if there are leftovers, it would be great if the consumer could store the leftover in food containers which are scanned and date marked before they are put in the refrigerator. Such a system could be connected to the smartphone, and to a recipe database, in order to make sure the food will be eaten.
Another way to reduce waste is that the supermarkets will have to pay a fee for everything they throw away. Then it would be in the supermarkets interest to make sure everything entering the supermarket is sold to the consumers.
Restaurants are regularly advised against for people wanting to reduce their carbon footprint. But it could be the other way around. Since a restaurant operates on scale, it can, based on improved routines, be very energy and food efficient.
One part of the carbon footprint, in addition to the transportation of groceries to the supermarket, is transportation between home and the supermarket. Since there are no cars in Hubville and there are smart ways of distributing food, transportation between the supermarket and the home would be neglectable.
Generally, greenhouse farming increase the carbon footprint, since they need energy to heat. However, there are exceptions. The double skinned Plantagon greenhouse is an energy efficient vertical greenhouse. It can also be integrated with regular buildings. Such greenhouses would enable farming of almost any fruit or vegetable, locally. A globe shaped vertical farm, with the diametre of 100 metres could cover the consumption of vegetables and fruit for 100,000 persons. For a city like Hubville, three of these Plantagons would be sufficient. Pumice would be used as a growing medium, to avoid the hassle of soil transportation. A bonus with local fruit is that it can be harvested when it is ripe, as opposed to fruit and vegetables which ripen during lengthy ship transportation.
Of course there will still be some household waste, and still some plastic, glass and metal waste. However, the current way to throw away household waste is outdated.
Instead of having wet, smelly waste bags which have to be carried away, a smarter and more sustainable way is to use a kitchen disposer, where the waste is grinded and then sorted in different containers based on their character; edible food waste, which can be used for animal food, in one container, food waste for compostation in another, paper in a third etc. When full, the waste containers are sent to different waste stations to be taken care of.
Living includes home appliances, water heating, and regular heating. Heating is quite easy to lower with improved insulation and all the newly built Swedish apartments and villas are several times more energy efficient than those built a few decades ago.
It is actually quite easy to lower the Living part of the carbon footprint, especially when building new apartments and houses. Hubville buildings shall meet the requirements of energy passive houses.
Appliances and behaviour are two other important factors. Everything electronic; refrigerator, oven, tv, has become very much more efficient the last few years, and of course the most energy efficient appliances shall be installed.
The behavioural part is for instance to turn off the lights when leaving a room, and a cautious use of water; some of which can be assisted with technology, such as new smartphone apps, others which are pure behavioural changes. In a city where sustainability is fundamental, such behavioural changes is a no-brainer.
It can also be products, which improve the current experience and at the same time minimise energy. What if the energy and water consuming bathtub is replaced with a bath suit, like a dry suit for diving, which instead of keeping the water out, keeps the water inside. It could have a constant water temperature, and only use a few litres of heated water. In addition, it could improve hygiene. Other things to use are efficient shower heads, and water taps.
In order to maximise the level of recycling, a system of automatic pickup of recyclable containers are connected to each household. In apartment buildings there is a shaft, to which every apartment is connected. When moving the recyclable containers from the kitchen to the shaft, it is automatically picked up and re-used. Through the same system it should be possible to have grocery delivery.
Part of shopping is transportation, which has been covered previously. Another part is the consumption of resources, when shopping.
The single largest greenhouse gas emitting posts are clothes, electronics and beauty products.
In addition to each household having a waste sorting disposer according to its origin, manufacturers and retailers should provide a collection system, where each recyclable product shall have a recycling fee at the time of purchase. The consumer is refunded with the recycling fee when the product is returned to the retailer. For each received product there is a producer’s liability to make sure the product is recycled.
Clothes are nearly 100% recyclable. Sweden generates 128,000 tonnes of textiles per year, equal to 13.1 kilos per Swedish resident. From that, 8 kilos (61%), are thrown away. When clothes are returned to the retailer, the fee would be paid back. Perhaps clothes with certifications like GOTS should be encouraged.
Swedish residents, in average, throw away 1.3 kilos of electronics in the regular, non recyclable waste. Some electronic waste can be sent to recycling stations through the household disposer, and some (for instance smartphones and computers) are returned to the retailer.
All packaging material shall be recyclable.
Emissions - building a city
The building of a city generates a lot of emissions. One main source of carbon emissions is concrete.
In Hubville, wood is a preferred building material. It can be used for building six or seven storey buildings. Glulam (wood) is a great framework material; it is actually safer, from a fire perspective, than steel.
When building the foundations of a house, usually vast amounts of concrete is used. There are, however, other, environmentally friendly methods, to minimise or even entirely avoid concrete.
Another factor of environmental concern is insulation.
Wood binds carbon. This means that the wood in itself can be carbon negative.
Further reading, sources and arguments about solar
Low carbon diet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_carbon_diet
Solar road http://www.wattwaybycolas.com/en/
HVDC cable http://www.nature.com/nchem/journal/v6/n3/full/nchem.1853.html
Monorail trains http://www.skytran.com/
The diets impact on the carbon footprint https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_carbon_diet
Supermarket without packages http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/sep/16/berlin-duo-supermarket-no-packaging-food-waste and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cranetv/original-unverpackt-zero_b_7808228.html
Statistics on waste http://www.naturvardsverket.se/upload/sa-mar-miljon/mark/avfall/kvalitetsdoku.pdf
Statistics Sweden, environmental statistics http://bit.ly/1Q1B0Wj
US statistics for clothes waste http://www.weardonaterecycle.org/about/issue.html
Solar irridance in Sweden and Africa http://www.3tier.com/en/support/solar-prospecting-tools/what-global-horizontal-irradiance-solar-prospecting/
The Desertec project – harvesting the African sun
HVDC-cable from Africa to Sweden: http://stratresearch.se/en/research/ongoing-research/energirelaterade-material-2011/project/5134/
160616: In a phone call with KTH scientist Richard Olsson, he estimates the total energy loss between Africa and Sweden to be 10%.
Cost for cable https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-voltage_direct_current
Cost for cable in relation to total project cost https://www.ea.govt.nz/dmsdocument/179
HDVC project http://new.abb.com/systems/hvdc
Energy consumption (Swedish) http://www.energikunskap.se/sv/FAKTABASEN/Energi-i-varlden/
Solar from Africa
It would probably be more efficient to build solar parks in Sahara than in Sweden. The annual insulation is 3 or 4 times higher in Sahara, and using solar power in Sweden would require batteries, or other forms of storage, during winter, which would be inefficient and expensive.
Novel insulation materials for high-voltage direct current (HVDC) cables, which allow a more efficient long-distance transmission of electric energy, reduce energy loss with 60%, compared to previous cables. In a 900 Millions USD (7.4 Billion SEK) project, ABB connected Germany and Norway with HVDC cables. The total distance was 623 kilometres. Parts of the project was outside the scope of ABB’s part of the project, suggesting a total project cost of 10 Billion SEK. The kilometre price would be 16 Million SEK. The XC from the suggested location of Hubville to Africa (Algeria, 600 km south of Alger) is approximately 3,000 kilometres, with a total cost of 48 Billion SEK (5.8 Billion USD). The cable would be a 1,400 MW cable, with the capacity of 12.3 TW/H per year, which is the total energy comsumption for 430,000 Swedish residents. With more than one 1,400 MW cables or cables with a higher capacity, the marginal cost for a higher capacity would decrease substantially. In a similar project in New Zealand the cost for cables was only 17% of the total project budget, which implies that it would be financially wise to have higher capacity cables, than necessary for Hubville, and sell the excess electricity.
Of course a cable does not transfer at its maximum capacity, and the cable would not operate at maximum capacity.
A Hubville resident, in average, will consume a fraction of the energy compared to an average Swedish resident.
Solar energy could be CSP (Concentrated Solar Power), which is mirrors or lenses concentrating a large area of sunlight, onto a small area, heating up water, making turbines create electricity; or it can be photovoltaics which create electricity directly, photovoltaics. A few years ago, CSP was cheaper than photovoltaics, but now photovoltaics have become a lot cheaper. In a 2009 study, Google found out that a 250 MW CSP station would cost 600-1,000 Million USD. Since prices are falling, let’s calculate using the lower number in the interval. 1,400 MW could require 6 CSP 250 MW stations at a total cost of 3.6 Billion USD or 30 Billion SEK.
The total cost for CSP stations with cable would be 78 Billion SEK, excluding costs for maintenance, land and energy storage, in order for electricity to be transferred at night as well (through silicon sand). However, this is just an indication of the price for energy. 78 Billion SEK divided in 430,000 persons is 182,000 SEK, or 500 SEK per month, based on a 30 year depreciation with a 0% interest rate. Although some costs are disregarded, the final cost per resident might as well be lower than the estimate above, since the cost for leading electricity will probably be significantly lower with higher capacity (more cables). Also, based on the lower energy need of the Hubville residents, the monthly cost would be even lower.