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Hyperloop to boost profitability of transportation sector

by Fatima De La Cerna on Nov 27, 2017

Bibop Gresta, chairman and co-founder of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, was a speaker at The Big 5 2017's Excellence in Construction Summit.
Bibop Gresta, chairman and co-founder of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, was a speaker at The Big 5 2017's Excellence in Construction Summit.

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Hyperloop technology, unlike traditional transportation systems, has the potential to generate profit, according to Bibop Gresta.

The chairman and co-founder of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) was among the speakers at the Excellence in Construction Summit, which was held on the opening day of The Big 5 2017.

Profitability is an unfamiliar concept within the transport sector, said Gresta, pointing out that the “entire industry” runs on government subsidies.

He said: “The real question is not how much [Hyperloop] will cost, but how much time it will take to recoup the investment.

Read: No timeline for hyperloop in Dubai, says RTA chief

“In transportation, it’s not a familiar concept because very few transportation systems make money. The entire industry is subsidised by state government help. We are building a system that can be profitable within seven to 10 years, depending on where you are building.”

He noted that this estimate even goes down when it comes to “super high-density megacities” like India, where HTT is looking “to be profitable in three years”.

Gresta explained that there are several factors that would drive the system’s future profitability, including the use of renewable energy.

He told Construction Week: “We decided the entire design of the Hyperloop has to be sustainable, must be profitable, and must put together the best technologies to create an excess of energy. We’re talking about abundance instead of scarcity.

“That was the aim of our scientists from the very beginning, and what we have now is the first version. This system, which only uses solar panels, can produce 30% more energy than the technology will consume.

“But when you look at the graphs, it demonstrates that solar panel efficiency will go up and the cost will go down. So there’s a breaking point where the production of energy could actually subsidise the entire development. It’s amazing to think of a future where the infrastructure doesn’t cost anything,” he added.

Gresta also revealed that HTT’s Hyperloop system will feature window-less capsules. Instead of windows, the capsules will be installed with “high-definition screens”.

He said: “You will have a high-definition screen that will allow you to see outside. Or [would you rather see] Paris? Do you want to see [old] Dubai? We can bring you back in time or to the future, or underwater, or in space.”

This feature would not only “redefine the user experience”, but also make Hyperloop a profit-generating system. According to Gresta, operators would have the opportunity to monetise the screen feature.

“At off-peak times, you can [offer] it for free, but during high- peak time, you can charge small. So you can adapt dynamic pricing to the capsule experience,” he said.

Read: Abu Dhabi government enters Hyperloop agreement

With offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies worked with the Abu Dhabi government on a feasibility study concerning the development of a high-speed, net-positive-energy transit system that would make use of passive magnetic levitation.

“In Abu Dhabi, we conducted the most extensive feasibility study ever done [on Hyperloop technology],” added Gresta. “We’ve done incredible work with the Department of Transport and our partner. Atkins.

“This was a very challenging project, because we looked at its feasibility not only from a technical point of view. We also analysed other aspects, such as its impact on the economy, the environment, and the UAE Vision 2030.”

“Be ready because we will be announcing the results of our feasibility study very soo,” he concluded.