Making city districts work efficiently

Today we have Dr Christoph Mazur from the Centre for Process Systems Engineering. Christoph is well known here at Energy Futures Lab and is one of the people behind the Energy Futures Lab funded documentary Powering the top of the world, on the energy system in Nepal.

The world’s population is increasing; more than 50% of will live in urban areas, and this number is expected to increase. Understanding the way cities work, treating them as one integrated system, and applying the obtained findings to other cities worldwide will be essential to reach high efficiency for waste, water and energy while sustaining our current standards of living.

Christoph Mazur

I am a Research Associate in the Centre for Process Systems Engineering at Imperial College London. I have just finished my Climate-KIC PhD working with the Grantham Institute, also at Imperial. Before I came to London I studied Engineering and Economics at RWTH Aachen in Germany and Design Management at Ecole Centrale Paris in France. This led me to working for Daimler Buses North America (Canada), and conducting research on Fuel Cells at Imperial. Through this I got interested in how the world could speed up the move away from fossil fuel powered cars to a cleaner transport system. That brought me to my PhD topic, where I looked into how policy makers can influence the transition to electric cars in such a way that environmental as well as industrial targets are achieved.

Using insights from Innovation and Transition Sciences I have looked at transition pathways that could lead to a future road transport that satisfies environmental targets as well as creates jobs and prosperity in related industries, such as the automotive industry or industries supplying related new technologies. Having conducted case studies on the UK and Germany, we concluded that the measures introduced by policy makers, in both countries, support pathways that could successfully reach environmental and industrial targets.

2014-09-10-12.46.38Furthermore the incumbent car industry has to play a crucial role. Although governments have been able to effectively incentivise the industry to work on suitable solutions, they are incapable of forcing them to work on a specific technology. Furthermore, while current policies are steering in the right direction, the quantitative study of the UK measures shows that current financial incentives for electric mobility will not be sufficient to reach diffusion targets. Nevertheless, focusing on customers’ expectations could increase the diffusion of electric vehicles significantly. To obtain these results we used a mix of qualitative (Transition Science) and quantitative (System Dynamics) methodologies.

With my new research I am going beyond the boundaries of transport and looking at whole city districts such as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park here in London or the Utrecht city centre in the Netherlands. As part of Climate-KIC’s Sustainable urban environments programme our team will be working on a variety of projects to test smart, sustainable systems for replication in other urban areas world-wide.

In this research we conduct with the different districts project that aim to improve the way the districts function. Doing so we try to work on solutions that integrate the different on-going types of stocks and flows, for example heating, cooling, energy, transport and material flows and different venues such as domestic buildings, industrial buildings, energy production and transport. In the long-term we aim to create processes and methodologies that can be applied to any city district in the world in order to provide such improvements.

P1150188You can read of some of the reports I have already contributed to including a joint Grantham/Energy Futures Lab one on Halving Global CO2 by 2050: Technologies and Costs, The New Climate Economy Report 2014 and AVOID II, where I mainly focused on the transformation of transport. I have also written a POSTnote on Electricity Demand-Side Response for the UK Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology.

Furthermore, I really enjoy teaching and education activities. Apart from my research I am heavily involved in such activities. I supervise Master projects for the Energy Futures Sustainability Master as well as the Centre for Environmental Policy Master, as well as give workshops on various topics in the above mentioned topics. I am giving workshops for Climate-KIC as well as work as coach on various NERC/Grantham Institute schools (NERC Grantham Environmental Challenge).

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