TransportationSystems

TransportationSystems - 7 3/8 x 9 1/4 Technical Energy...

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7 3/8 x 9 1/4 Technical / Energy Systems Engineering / Vanek / 0071495932 / Chapter 14 CHAPTER 14 Systems Perspective on Transportation Energy 14-1 Overview This chapter uses the understanding of transportation energy technologies from the previous chapter as a basis for studying overall energy consumption and energy effi- ciency of transportation from a systems perspective. There are a number of possible factors that mitigate the ability of technological interventions to affect energy efficiency, and even ways in which technological changes can be undercut by the “rebound” effect. For many different categories of transportation system, the past several decades have seen a mixture of positive and negative effects at a systems level. Given the pressing energy and climate change issues of the twenty-first century, and the prominent role of transportation as a contributor to those problems, it is of growing importance to use systems tools to improve the energy efficiency and environmental performance of the transportation sector. Two possible tools for this purpose are (1) shifting transportation to more environmentally friendly “modes” (i.e., types) of transportation, and (2) ratio- nalizing the system so that it uses fewer resources. The chapter concludes with a discus- sion of issues related to making a transition to a more sustainable system in the future. 14-2 Introduction By its essential nature, transportation, and in particular the use and conservation of energy in service of transportation, lends itself to taking a systems approach. All energy applications interact with each other to some extent as they function in their surround- ings; for example, they compete for finite resources, and they emit wastes that the natural environment has a finite capacity to absorb. In the case of transportation systems, how- ever, these interactions take on a special importance, because the sharing of common infrastructures (e.g., roads, railroads, seaports, airports, and so on) leads to the various units in the system influencing each other’s function and performance—sometimes sig- nificantly—whether it is motorists on an urban expressway, passengers in a train, or freight shipments moving through a distribution center. These interactions in turn affect how much energy is required to meet the needs of the system, as dictated by the level of congestion, the quality of maintenance of the system, or other factors. Over time, trans- portation system users make changes to the vehicles or the infrastructure in order to adapt to changing conditions in the network. Here again, systems effects will influence how well these adaptations work. Therefore, a systems perspective on transportation 421 Vanek_ch14-p421-464.indd 421 4/3/08 7:57:51 PM
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422 C h a p t e r F o u r t e e n 7 3/8 x 9 1/4 Technical / Energy Systems Engineering / Vanek / 0071495932 / Chapter 14 energy use is a necessary and useful complement to the consideration of transportation technologies in Chap. 13.
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