Carbon and Energy Transition in 10 years?

Transition Engineering


Professor Susan Krumdieck

Transition Engineering

University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Heriot-Watt University, Scotland


Engineering New Zealand Webinar

29 September 2020


One thing is certain, the future is not going to be like the past. 100 years ago, only a few people had personal vehicles, and they had to carefully navigate the street where people were travelling, socializing, and doing business. Your town did not have a supermarket or a department store. Last century cities had to manage continuous growth in population, building of infrastructure, pressures for sprawling housing developments and demand for mobility. The trams were removed in the 1950’s, and the streets were cleared of human activity to make room for unlimited mobility. The steel shipping container and the supermarket consolidation systems were invented in the 1960’s. And the internet hasn’t slowed down the commuting congestion, jetting off for holidays or the globalization of stuff.

Continued growth of consumption is unsustainable not just because the vehicles run on fossil fuel, but because we have far overshot the benefits and don’t account for the externalities and future costs. Overshoot economics is falling over, thanks to a push from a little virus. 

Over the next decade, the steep downward trend of fossil fuel emissions will create pressures for transition of everything. The shift projects will generate economic growth and wellbeing while reducing the need for personal vehicles, freight miles and stuff. 

Engineering that transition InTIME is an interesting new interdisciplinary partnership between researchers, council, community, industry and consultants. This presentation explains how the future we want happens as described in her new book, Transition Engineering, Building a Sustainable Future

Susan Krumdieck was born and raised in a remote village in the mountains of Colorado. Susan went into Mechanical Engineering because she wanted to work on sustainability and especially sustainable energy. She got her Masters in Energy Systems Engineering, and earned her PhD from University of Colorado at Boulder in 1999. She took an academic position in New Zealand in 2000 and was the first woman promoted to full professor in Engineering at the University of Canterbury. Susan’s research experience has been wide ranging with more than 160 peer reviewed papers in subjects like energy and transportation adaptation, renewable energy including geothermal, hydrogen and fuel cells, demand side participation and energy for remote communities.