China urban transport energy activity adaptation potential model: an application of transition engineering methodology for Beijing’s sustainable transport development
Thesis DisciplineMechanical Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
In response to climate change and fossil fuel shortages, many countries, including China, have committed to a clean and resilient economy and sustainable development. There are a variety of approaches to addressing energy issues ranging from technological improvement to policy adjustment. Although much attention has been paid to decarbonisation in terms of technological transformation, such as electric cars, renewable energy resources, vehicle emissions controls and so forth, the large scale implementation of these new technologies is still far away from reality. In order to deal with these tough issues, it is necessary to focus on reducing motor vehicle dependence in transport networks through urban redevelopment and travel behaviour change. Actually, China has a good foundation for achieving sustainable transport in terms of old urban forms and flexible non-motorised travel modes, which need to be re-examined to investigate its anti-risk ability and adaptive potentials to deal with a possible energy crisis.
Krumdieck has founded a new methodology called Transition Engineering for addressing wicked problems in complex systems. Following this way, the AEMS (Advanced Energy and Material Systems) Lab has already developed a series of metrics for measuring urban transport energy adaptation. Although these approaches have got fruitful deliverables in the context of New Zealand, there is no application of these approaches to the adaptation potential analysis of a metropolitan city, especially in the Chinese context. In view of the difference of national conditions, some Transition Engineering methods cannot be applied to Chinese cities directly, as they require modifications in some inputs and variables.
This study is the first trial to apply the methodology of Transition Engineering, with new contextualised metrics, to a specific city in China. After the introduction and reviews on background, literature and relevant methodologies, the model is elucidated in the successive chapters following the rationale of Transition Engineering. Through historical investigation, the work unit (Danwei) is found to be of interest for future sustainable development in China. However, due to the difficulty in obtaining detailed travel surveys of current travel patterns of Beijing, much effort was made to the travel activity modelling to characterise current transport energy performance. Analogous to the conventional work unit design, a new “urban village” with multifunctional land use for employment and shopping is proposed as the ideal model for a future car-free urban form in China after 100 years. Some new measurements for back-casting analysis are devised to find the most sustainable areas and most vulnerable areas for future development. Based on the strategic analysis tool, a quantitative activity adaptation model was developed and implemented in a GIS-enabled computer program in order to analyse transport adaptive capacity in the current urban form, and also as a result of re-development options in the urban environment. The approaches are applied in two case studies on Beijing with six different scenarios to compare their relative merits. After comparison, the best opportunity for shift project is proposed as either the ‘electric bike penetration’ development or the new “urban village” housing development form with cycle path enhancements and government support of electric cycle ownership. This research demonstrates the new Transition Engineering approach to sustainable development that results in actionable property and infrastructure development with financial and social benefits which are clearly communicated to all stakeholders.