Showing posts with label car. Show all posts
Showing posts with label car. Show all posts

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Electic Cars Spreading Faster Than Ebola

There are now more than 100,000 electric cars on America's roads. Two and a half years ago that number was just 345. That's an increase of 28,986% - a faster growth rate than Ebola which is currently doubling every 2-3 weeks.

This is a game-changer for transport and for electricity generation. Suddenly everyone realises that Elon Musk isn't in the transport business - he's in the battery business. His Tesla car was just a stepping stone to a much bigger idea - the idea that storage is the holy grail of clean energy.

Canny financial analysts can see this coming. Elizabeth Fry writing for Platinum Asset Management, says
Elon Musk’s plans to develop the Gigafactory are one of the most exciting stories around. He's putting himself front and centre of this move to use solar as a reliable source of power for everything from cars to aircraft. Everyone is going to need batteries. Tesla's plans to disrupt a trillion dollar car industry as well as a trillion dollar electric utility industry, stops and starts with producing cheap battery packs that allow solar energy to be discharged at night. No question, Musk has his eyes on more than cars. The car market is just the first hurdle.
Until now, discussion about the transition to clean energy has mostly been locked up in the domains of environment or science/technology, so it's great to see it spreading to the area of finance and investment. Now I want to see these discussions spread further and occupy space in domains like health, justice and economics.

As they say, the Stone Age didn't end because they ran out of stones. Right now the Age of Coal is ending - and it's not because we've run out of coal. It's because something better has come along.

How do we stop things that spread exponentially? Governments are committing a lot of resources to stop the spread of Ebola. Similarly, incumbent industries are trying to hold back the flood of clean energy technology. Smart governments need to prevent this.
The US government worked with the car industry to announce policies that will limit CO2 emissions from cars. With the car industry onside and sensible policy settings, electric vehicles are thriving in America.

In Australia it's a very different story. Australia's clean energy uptake is struggling against the headwinds created by incumbents supported by national and state governments that prefer to stay in the Stone Age.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wuthering Heights – love is not a rational activity

Our enduring love affair with oil means that pain and punishment don't diminish our affection for the beloved. Even catastrophes like the Gulf oil spill haven't dented our passionate dependency on oil.

It's hard to comprehend this kind of irrational behaviour. Science has its logical explanations, but no one has shone a better light on irrational love than Emily Bronte in Wuthering Heights where destructive forces are unleashed when Cathy and Heathcliffe can't be together. This kind of love is a force of nature not to be argued with. It makes absolute sense on an emotional level, and, after all, love is not a rational activity. 

It seems that we'll put up with a lot of abuse from oil and still keep loving it, but that is not the case with nuclear. When nuclear treats us badly, we're outa there! Japan closed 50 nuclear power stations after the Fukushima disaster. And half way around the world, Germany pulled the plug on its nuclear plants, closing eight immediately and phasing the remainder out by 2022.

Given the destructive force of carbon emissions, we better hope that our love affair with oil tapers off into a cooler and more pragmatic business relationship, similar to our feelings for nuclear.

If we think back, perhaps we can see some signs that this is happening. Cars have lost their place as fetish objects in popular culture. Increasingly, young people are choosing not to drive at all. In the US, the percentage of people younger than 35 without a driver’s license has risen to 26% in the past decade.

Our new fetish objects are mobile phones, ipods, ipads and e-books. They are all powered by electricity.

Perhaps we see emerging signs of love for renewables in growing affection for solar power, the teddy bear of renewables, and appreciation of wind generators for their majestic beauty.

Let's hope this early affection flowers into full blown obsessive passion—a Cathy and Heathcliffe kind of love that let's nothing get in the way.

Kate Bush captured the wild irrationality of Cathy-and-Heathcliffe love in her song, Wuthering Heights. Check out this fabulous version by Hayley Westenra who can really sing!


News of the day on the Transformations menu tab.

India takes up solar power. Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd. (KREDL) has embarked upon a Public-Private-Partnersip project for a 1000 hectare solar park at Mannur village in Bijapur. KREDL has already commenced projects to generate 80 MW of solar power in Bijapur and Gulbarga districts, and is working on increasing solar power generation by 40 MW every year. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Putting on the brakes

When you're driving a car, you can slow down in seconds. When you're driving a truck it takes longer, and when you're playing with the planet's atmosphere, you need to start putting on the brakes decades ahead.

Today's greenhouse gases will affect Earth's climate for another hundred years. We're committing ourselves to a long, hot future. How hot depends on how quickly we put on the brakes.

According to UCAR:

Some say that as well as applying the brakes, it would be good to take the foot off the accelerator!

According to International Energy Agency (IEA) research, 37 governments spent $409bn on artificially lowering the price of fossil fuels in 2010. Critics say the subsidies significantly boost oil and gas consumption and disadvantage renewable energy technologies, which received only $66bn of subsidies in the same year.

The IEA demonstrates that phasing out subsidies to fossil fuels, if well-executed, can generate important economic, energy security and environmental benefits. About half the identified countries have begun measures to withdraw subsidies from fossil fuels.

It's a start.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Safe driving

It is difficult to know whether the car in front of you is going to slam on its brakes. Once it does, you are in crisis mode and your options are limited.

It is far better to practise safe driving and pay attention to what's up ahead. That way you can take evasive action in time to avoid it altogether, or to minimise the damage.

All the best scientists agree that there is a big problem ahead – the planet is warming and the consequences will be catastrophic for human society.

James Hansen, NASA climatologist, warns us, here,  of the dangers of exploiting Canada's tar sands.
Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now.

Matthew Huber, a Purdue climatologist, says that a 10°C temperature rise is definitely too hot for humans. He also thinks that 2°C  is a lost cause.

What happens if we ignore the problem that lies ahead and we're forced to cope in crisis mode? How can humans and animals adapt to catastrophic high temperatures? 
Burrow. Be active at night. Stay near bodies of water. Reduce activities to a minimum. Lower birth weight.
 Matthew Huber

Matthew Huber used this analogy in this interview.
Image is of a Volvo XC60 with sensor system to prevent rear impact collisions at city speeds.