In the last 15 years, worldwide air transportation has grown at an average yearly rate of 4.5%. Forecasts confirm that this could be the average increase rate for the next 20 years, although recent oscillation of oil price translated into a slowing down of such a trend, with several air companies forced out of business. Within this framework, low cost airlines keep increasing their market share, in so making airplane to compete with terrestrial transport modalities, not only for medium and long distance, but also for short trips. This is because air transport is obviously faster than transport by trains and cars, and most often it also is a cheaper option in money terms. In spite of its apparent success, air transportation is a source of concern for many analysts, because it is considered as the more energy intensive and polluting transport modality. In order to explore the correctness of such an issue, we compared air transportation to high speed trains and other modern terrestrial modalities, by using a ‘‘whole-system’’ approach. The present study applies an LCA-like approach, by taking into account all the energy and materials directly and indirectly required to make and operate infrastructures (i.e. tunnels, railways, highways) and vehicles. Efficiency and environmental loading are assessed by means of Material Flow Accounting, Embodied Energy Analysis and Emergy Synthesis methods. Results point out that the gap among the environmental performances of air, road and railway modalities is significantly narrower than expected. The thermodynamic and environmental costs of road and railway infrastructure cannot be disregarded as negligible. In a selected number of cases these transport modalities perform even worse than the air transportation mode, where infrastructures play a much smaller role.
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|Titolo:||Air versus terrestrial transport modalities: an energy and environmental comparison|
|Citazione:||Federici, M., Ulgiati, S., & Basosi, R. (2009). Air versus terrestrial transport modalities: an energy and environmental comparison. ENERGY, 34, 1493-1503.|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|