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Preparing airports,maritime sector, logistics hubs and heavy goodsvehicles for Net Zero

Exclusive interview with Prof. Henry Tse, Director of New Mobility Technologies at Catapult Connected Places in the UK. At the upcoming Africa’s Green Economy Summit from 22–24 February in Cape Town, he is a panellist in the innovation discussion in the session on “Mobility for Social Inclusion and Economic Opportunity”.

Please give us some background on yourself and the organisation that you work with. Thank you for the opportunity. I am the programme director at Connected Places Catapult. I am also a fellow of the Institution of Engineering Technologies and adjunct professor for Southampton University to support research and realise and commercialise technology. For those of you who don’t know us, Connected Places Catapult is a research and technology organisation which is part funded by the UK Government and where our mission is to accelerate innovation for cities, transport and place leadership. We work with cities across the UK and around the world in places such as Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. I'm here in London, where the temperature in the summer can be over 40 degrees, but in the winter it is extremely cold. In our country’s history, this unprecedented weather has been challenging to our country. And this is just one example of the way in which the world is changing. And your specialty is in mobility? Yes, my specialty is in mobility, and I look at all sorts of areas of transportation improvement. That includes from the use of drones in aviation and how we improve decarbonisation in airports, and we’re also starting to look into maritime and port improvement, and then how the maritime sectors achieve decarbonisation. At the same time, in reference to this conference, we look at the challenges of the introduction of electric vehicles, and how alternative energy sources support that new mode of transport on the road as well as autonomous vehicles and the implications to how we work, live and travel. Whilst national governments have set decarbonisation goals, it is cities that find themselves on the front line of implementing sustainability, resilience and climate change solutions. However, they often struggle to create the investment business cases that will provide the funding and facilitate the delivery mechanisms to make these goals and solutions a reality. Any specific and ground-breaking projects in the mobility space relating to the African situation that you would like to share with us? I have the privilege to be working between with the UK government and industry on a number of initiatives. As we all know, the popularity of electric vehicles is on the increase. But so too is the demand for public charging points for EVs. The UK government has pledged to have 300,000 of them by 2030, and we have been looking at where should they be and how will they work, such as what will the balance be between the use of home, on street and ‘destination’ charging points, such as those in car parks? How could people be encouraged to use destination charging? So, we have been working with industry and academia looked at the situation in great depth. o How the fees are collected o The commercial benefits and attractions to the organisations that should be considered o Faster charging points o Also we are working with the University and spin out company to look at how AI can support the deployment and demand of charging points. Further on to that, there are only so many charging points for electricity on the grid, we have been looking at an adjacent market and area. So, in the last year or so we've been working on supporting the UK’s Transport Ministry in rolling out the Zero Emission Road Fright Demonstration programme, with £200M from the government to launch the world’s largest fleet of zero emission heavy goods vehicles, with match funding from the industry, accelerating plans to decarbonising road freight, and how we plan to eliminate the fossil fuels for heavy goods vehicles voltage with a mix of battery electrics and hydrogen fuel solutions. In parallel to that, we are also thinking about how to get the infrastructure and airports ready for the shiny new heavy goods vehicles. So, during the last two years, we launched a called the Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure in preparation for UK airports for zero emission aircrafts, exploring the impact and requirements for the fuelling infrastructure to introduce hydrogen and electric aircraft into airports and airfields. Last year, we had the first of its kind in the UK focusing on Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure to support all UK airport and airfield in the technology development. We have the first of its kind in the UK testing a solar-charged electric aircraft can take off and land (see video here). We have also been looking at how hydrogen pipeline refuelling infrastructure can work across between the ground site and to their site, and also been looking at high pressure refuelling in an airport environment (see video here). And at the same time, we are currently working on the demand, how it's doing scaled up, and the cost to support the investment case for both airports, logistic hubs or in the maritime port sector, as well as road service stations. What in your view are the main challenges to the adoption of e-mobility, particularly on the continent? Firstly, mobility and the need to transition to cleaner, more inclusive options. Cities are creating multi-modal solutions that span the transition to electric vehicles, seamless public transport and micro-mobility. Similarly, across the world places like India and Indonesia are working on two-wheel battery supply chain development, and in Brazil, improving access to and customer satisfaction with bus rapid transit lines. Creating these types of multi-modal e-mobility suggests that cities need to create more horizontals between their departments. Which leads me to my second point: data and integration. Cities of today are trying to create fully integrated systems to improve efficiency and services provision to meet the increasing demand placed upon them. However, cities often have too much data or the wrong data. Not understanding the type of data or the way in which it can be used to drive policy and develop innovative solutions can often inhibit the pace of change. One example of how data can be used to drive a carbon reduction agenda is land-use planning. Data integration provides an opportunity to change the way we plan, design and manage our places, and could lead to the following benefits: • The demand and stress placed on the grid. • Where the charging points and infrastructure to support the demand. • Clarity on trade-offs and co-benefits of interventions. • Efficiencies in ways of working, especially in Africa, where some places are especially dense or extremely rural. But, even with the right data, cities lack the capacity and funding to scale and replicate sustainable investible propositions for Net Zero. Which brings me to my third point, who can pay or who should pay ? You’ve got people adopting the electric vehicles but the infrastructure to support this with the demand, the grid and not enough charging time may not have the capability to support e-mobility, and alternative energy sources might need to be considered. But the context is different in South Africa. I can also see the advantages in Africa. The sun and wind provide increased opportunities for green energy production, lending itself well to micro-grids. On the other side, there are significant challenges with the ability of the grid to manage an increase in EVs and dependency on electricity for transit. That is why in the UK, we are looking at alternative energy such as hydrogen. What is your vision for this sector? There is a lot we need to do about collaboration between countries. I don't think anyone in the world can work on this agenda alone, such as supporting green economic zones and the just energy transition partnership, I think is crucial that we work together. While we are looking at the increase in EV and hydrogen vehicles, we need to look at the scalability of it, looking at the current grid limitations, the micro grid solutions, alternatives for fossil fuels, low hydrogen etc., I think that is fundamental for how we improve the world in the future, and the use of data and technology to integrate and communicate. One of the key points is, I think, cross-modal collaborations. We always think about how we can improve and decarbonise a certain mode of transport, like here, we talk about the adoption of electric vehicles. But, I think fundamentally the key question we need to ask is, how we utilise the cross-modal to improve the movement of people and goods? Because we are driven by the commercial demands of life, producing more vehicles and more people buying, but fundamentally, is how people and goods can move more efficiently, effectively and across different modals? How can we optimise the existing and new infrastructure? One of the key points I have been pushing quite a lot in UK at the moment is how we do the scalability of it, there is like domestic adoption at scale. But also more importantly, is transport hubs, such as airports, maritime shipping ports, railway stations and logistic hubs. They can play a key role of where the most heavy, complex vehicles are going in and out and if we transition these transport hubs to become energy hubs, that can support all the most polluting vehicles in a greener, newer way. At the upcoming summit, you are part of an expert discussion on e-mobility in terms of social inclusion and economic opportunities. What will be your message? I'm so looking forward to the summit in Africa, working with all the experts, internationally and locally in Africa, to understand the opportunity of e-mobility around us, the key characteristics of different countries, different cities, different places that have different challenges to the deployment of e-mobility. But by us working together creates such a big commercial opportunity, understanding the infrastructure, and considering alternative energy sources, and working together to influence the adoption of it by pushing the understanding of policy and what is required by the regulations. Also the different cultures and changes in the way of working imply that e-mobility should work around how we live and work. A strong collaboration is necessary between countries and internationally, looking at cross-modal integrations and transition planning to ensure minimum disruption, but rather providing us with growth and opportunities in the future

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