Heating up the capital / Columns / The Foreigner

Heating up the capital. As Norway settles into the chill of another winter, we are fortunate that some streets have heated pavements to prevent us slipping on ice. Or does that make us 'unfortunate'? The advantages of heated pavements are clear. No worries about breaking a bone because you did not see that patch of black ice. No trudging through wet snow. No costs or environmental impacts from spreading gravel or salt. One Oslo city guide even encourages shopping along the heated pavements of Bogstadveien which permit 'shoppers to leave their snow boots at home in favour of more fashionable footwear'.

oslonorway, climatechange, globalwarming



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Heating up the capital

Published on Saturday, 15th December, 2012 at 12:35 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

As Norway settles into the chill of another winter, we are fortunate that some streets have heated pavements to prevent us slipping on ice. Or does that make us 'unfortunate'?

Non-warmed pavements near Bogstadveien in Oslo
Non-warmed pavements near Bogstadveien in Oslo
Photo: Ilan Kelman


The advantages of heated pavements are clear. No worries about breaking a bone because you did not see that patch of black ice. No trudging through wet snow. No costs or environmental impacts from spreading gravel or salt.

One Oslo city guide even encourages shopping along the heated pavements of Bogstadveien which permit 'shoppers to leave their snow boots at home in favour of more fashionable footwear'.

Strangely absent from this promotion is the cost of the energy. In an era where we strive for energy efficiency and lower taxes, it is not transparent who is paying how much so that the shoppers do not slip.

Then comes the social cost. It seems odd to prioritise shopping strips when there are many elderly care homes around Norway deserving ice-free paths to public transport.

In any case, it could be troublesome to leave your winter footware or anti-slip add-ons at home because you do not need them on Bogstadveien. You could end up flat on your face on another street that lacks heating.

So what are the alternatives? Many North American jurisdictions require the property owner to keep clear the pavement in front of them during winter. It is labour intensive, but good exercise.

Monitoring and enforcing cost time and money, however. Not every property owner is physically able to clear the ice and snow. People travel, and might not be available to shovel immediately after a snowfall or freeze.

Geothermal heat could be piped underneath pavements and then reused in buildings if it were available. The renewable energy systems of heat pumps or using waste heat might work too.

Any approach has advantages and disadvantages. These must be weighed up and compared amongst solutions.

That goes for slippery pavements too, especially the 'slippery slope' of assuming that electricity-heated pavements are best.

Dr. Ilan Kelman is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO).



Published on Saturday, 15th December, 2012 at 12:35 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

This post has the following tags: oslonorway, climatechange, globalwarming.





  
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