Could Electrifying Motorbike Taxis in Kampala, Uganda Ease Air Pollution Problems?

In a new study from the University of Michigan, researchers decided to understand the impact of pollutant emissions on the electrification atmosphere of motorcycle taxis in Kampala, Uganda.

The results show that electrified motorcycles can reduce emissions from global and some local air pollutants, giving global and potentially local sustainability benefits.

Air pollutants harm human well-being and the climate. Those living in low- and middle-income countries, or in low- and middle-income countries, in particular, face poor air quality due to rapid urbanization.

There are millions of motorcycles in low- and middle-income countries, but little research has been done on the effects of their electrification. A team of researchers led by Michael CraigAssociate Professor of Energy Systems at the School of Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development UM, decided to fill this gap.

Their study is published in the journal Transport Research Part D: Transport and the Environment.

“The transport sector is a major emitter of global and local pollutants in low and near road countries, and motorcycles make up a significant portion of the transport sector in those countries,” Craig said.

“Electrification is a key decarbonisation strategy for transport, but small studies have looked at how electrification of motorcycles in the CIS will benefit sustainable development locally or globally. To understand how we can achieve these benefits, we teamed up with Zembo (a taxi company on electric motorcycles) to fill that gap ”.

In Kampala, Uganda, hundreds of thousands of motorcycles are on the roads, tens of thousands act as taxis, or “boda bodas”. These motorcycles contribute to dangerous levels of air pollution that often exceed levels that the World Health Organization considers safe for humans.

In response to growing concerns about air pollution in sub-Saharan Africa, the use of electric motorcycles has been pushed, and Rwanda has even considered banning petrol motorcycles.

In this study, UM researchers combined real travel and charging with a motorcycle taxi in Kampala with computing models of Uganda’s power system. Thanks to this empirical approach, the researchers quantified emissions from conventional and electric motorcycle taxis and then compared the two to quantify the benefits of electrification.

The results show that replacing traditional gas-powered motorcycles with electric ones reduces some of the pollutant emissions into the air and increases others due to the fuel used to generate electricity in Uganda.

However, electrification can benefit health by moving emissions from human settlements. Although the impact of emissions will vary depending on hydroelectric production during the year, the study found that electrification of motorcycle taxis reduces annual emissions of carbon dioxide by 36%, carbon monoxide by 90%, nitric oxide by 58% and hydrocarbons by 99%.

Conversely, electrification increased annual emissions of sulfur oxide by 870%, particulate matter 10 (PM10) by 109% and particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) by 97%.

“The SNSD must be part of the solution in the fight against climate change,” Craig said. “Our study shows that electrification of motorcycle taxis in Uganda can bring global climate benefits and possibly improve air quality locally. Better understanding of global and local benefits related to transport electrification in Kampala and other low and medium countries. income, is crucial for directing investment ”.

Help: Vanatta M, Rathod B, Calzavara J et al. Impact emissions from electrification of motorcycle taxis in Kampala, Uganda. Transp. Res. D. Transp. Environment. 2022; 104: 103193. doi: 10.1016 / j.trd.2022.103193

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