Thursday, April 11, 2013

Platform For The Electrification Of Surface Transport

We are indebted to our transport geeks for this:
The European Commission’s 2011 Transport White Paper lays out the stark challenges facing the transport sector: it depends on oil and oil products for 96% of its energy needs and has contributed negatively, so far, to climate policy goals. Taking these challenges into account and recognising the importance of a competitive European transport equipment industry, our organisations are convinced that substantial electrification of the transport system is essential.
[snip]
Electrification of surface transport is achievable with existing technologies using electrified railways. In the urban and sub-urban context, an expansion of electrified public transport services, including light rail, metro, and trolleybuses, and the successful deployment of light-duty electric road vehicles, buses and other captive fleets as well as electric two-wheelers are within reach now.
See the complete report, dated January 2013, here.
Morris Hickey said: “Air pollution and traffic noise, and their effects upon general health, are matters of great concern and have been for some time. The proposals made here, if brought about, would contribute significantly to improvement. WE HAVE TO CHANGE OUR WAYS.” 

Precisely. We have the second most polluted roundabout in London on our doorstep, surrounded by several schools where children spend their day time.

Simple Simon said: "Dare one hope that this will mean more trams and trolleybuses and fewer diesel buses here in Britain, even in London (in spite of what London's transport planners want)? As we know, British towns and cities continue to breach air quality regulations, and electrifying the public transports (especially buses) would represent the easiest and most financially beneficial way to help reduce urban air pollution - as well as 'add value' to ordinary people's lives, rather than imposing restrictions on travel which lead to people avoiding the affected areas & disinvestment (ie: road tolling and / or traffic zone restrictions) or financial penalties (ie: higher taxes) which just empty wallets. To source the energy without adding to pollution (of any kind) we could perhaps look to sources such as geothermal, tidal and other renewables.”

Well, yes we can, if we really want to. The problem is that there are powerful vested interest lobbies who don’t want us to, notably the Oil industry, who are major financial backers of political parties both in the US and Europe and who are able to fund negative publicity in the mainstream media.

Seventeen years ago, electric cars were reborn, then killed, in California. They were killed by the oil companies as we learned at a film screening of “Who Killed the Electric Car” back in March 2009 when a certain Ed Miliband came to visit us at Fairlop Waters.

 Since then the producer, Chris Paine, has made a sequel called “Revenge of the Electric Car” which I have not seen. But I did spot this on Sourcewire: “1,000 mile electric car to hit UK market next year”. As you will see that report is no longer there and the Future Drive Motor Show due to take place next month has been cancelled. This may well be due to the poor financial conditions at present and that piece on Sourcewire was not all it seemed at first. Some really dodgy reporting there …

You can see it for yourself on Google Cache here. The important bit is this:

"If I have to forecast where we're going to be, right now we're at 200 to 250 miles without too much trouble. We will be at 400 to 500 miles within two or three years.
"Have no fear. Battery-based energy storage for electric vehicles will be capable of delivering everything that a tank of petrol or diesel can deliver within two or three years."

20 comments:

  1. "We have the second most polluted roundabout in London on our doorstep,......".

    And Deadbridge Council wants to add to this noxious presence by flogging off much of Oakfield at some time in the future for housing development. If they had the slightest notion of what is required for the health and well-being of residents - particularly the young - then the only development on Oakfield would be directed at sport and recreation. But we all know it won't happen because Deadbridge lacks the Vision.

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  2. assuming that the extension on of KS school will contribute even further to the roundabouts problems.the fact that there are schools near probably contributes to the bad pollution too.would be interesting to see what the levels are a few weeks into the summer holidays, i do fear the roundabout car park will one day be built upon, and also the new primary school previously IJPS that will have pupils from all over the borough attending, i think that the levels will get alot worse i have no answer but i do think this should be thought about when planning is discussed.

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    1. 691 trolleybus fan7:50 pm, April 11, 2013

      Transport for London must carry a significant degree of responsibility for air pollution. If they take that seriously then there is a radical way in which they can contribute towards a reduction.

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  3. NeighbourhoodWatcher2:47 pm, April 12, 2013

    The challenge for providers of electric vehicles - private and public - is not so much in the technology of the vehicles but in the infrastructure required for the generation and supply of the electric power.

    Trams and trolleybuses have been largely phased out over time because of the maintenance and replacement costs of power supply. Railways are in a slightly different situation because they do not generally compete for track space with road vehicles that can cause damage to track and overhead wires (though this does happen of course). Electric-powered vehicles are usually more expensive to build than fuel-powered vehicles but tend to last longer.

    Batteries need recharging, although battery technology is improving, and electricity supplies to tracks and wires often depend on non-renewable fuels for power generation.

    I would love to see electric transport back in fashion but the money for infrastructure needs to be found from somewhere and we are all short of money, are we not?

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    1. So how do you suppose the City of Salzburg manages to increase its network from 5 lines to 9, with significant route extensions, a tenth route on the way, a programme for conversion from diesel buses to electric, and now operates more trolley vehicles than diesel powered ones?

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    2. So there are no maintenance and replacement costs with diesel fuel then? Physical delivery of the fuel, storage, machinery and safety aspects, staffing costs [and time] to refill the buses and indeed maintenance of the buses which are five times greater than electric vehicles. Furthermore the fuel is a finite resource which will be all but exhausted in a couple of decades. Grid feed buses can use a variety of different fuels some of which have green credentials from source to use; something a diesel bus can never achieve. So what's your beef about overhead wiring? Funny how that never enters the equation with electric railways.

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    3. Modern well-designed overhead wiring is nowhere near as heavy or as intrusive as that which we once knew in London and other UK cities. It is a myth expounded by the diseasel lovers who hate the thought of quiet, clean, modern electric street transport.

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  4. The main stumbling block appears to be the high initial cost of the infrastructure required by trams and, to a lesser extent, trolleybuses.

    We have seen that very recently in Redbridge with the much vaunted East London Rapid Transit System - the tramway that was going to run down Ilford Lane. Then, to save money, it was downgraded to a trolleybus route but finally emerged as a new fleet of diesel engined buses ...

    However, if we convert lots of our surface transport to electric power, where will we be getting the energy from?

    We are in the process of closing down a lot our coal fired power stations on EU orders (while Germany ramps up its lignite fired stations with even higher pollution levels) which would be fine if the replacement power stations built by the previous administration were coming on line now, as they should be. Unfortunately, though, as energy policy seemed be passed around like hot potato that nobody wanted to hold, they didn't build any - not a single one ...

    We've got heavily subsidised windmills, of course but, as I write, 80% of them are doing absolutely nothing, much as they have been for over a week - in fact our imports from France and the Netherlands are more than double the amount we are getting from wind ...

    Wind and imports versus total energy demand, Fri April 12th @ 19:45

    Of course it isn't as if we are on our uppers yet as far as energy is concerned - we do have some plant sitting idle 'just in case' and it pops up in the stats every so often, just to prove it works - but the problem is it is by far the most expensive plant to run ...

    Oh and did I say it runs on oil ...?

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    1. in fact our imports from France and the Netherlands are more than double the amount we are getting from wind ...
      So we need more windmills!

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    2. No - we need to be pragmatic: we need more nuclear power.

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    3. We already have more nuclear power than we are ever likely to need and the reactor is at a reasonably safe distance.

      It's called the Sun and I think we should leave it where it is.

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    4. And very true! Where do you think the energy stored in coal, oil and natural gas came from? Magic?

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    5. In the many meetings that I had with TfL trams were never really contemplated for East London Transit. Trolleybuses were mentioned briefly, but very quickly dismissed by TfL. Far from "improving" public transport in Ilford Lane, ELT has actually made it far worse than even Baarkingside High Street.

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  5. Of course if we can develop a bus that runs off a battery with sufficient distance per charge then the infrastructure problem changes from overhead wires to charging points.

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    1. except that after about 7 years the batteries will be spent and have you seen the cost of new batteries???

      Simon

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    2. Volume brings down prices. All new technology is expensive but once the market wakes up ...

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  6. I stand by what I said then...

    Of course if former Prime Minister Jim Callaghan's idea had come into fruition we'd now be using wave power. But as we know, a certain Mrs. T won an election and junked the concept in favour of the 'cheap' oil and gas which we've now used (squandered) so much of that we are running out.

    I am very wary of nuclear power, especially of the type that is currently used, which I see as being just too dangerous. The mess that has been caused by the meltdown of the Japanese nuclear power facility at Fukushima is not talked about very much in our media, but if it was you'd be truly horrified - and never want to eat anything from the now radioactive Pacific Ocean.

    As I understand it Thorium represents a cheaper and safer form of nuclear energy, although its use would upset those with financial interests in the present Uranium power plants.

    Whilst we would still need overhead wires to power our transports there are new energy storage technologies coming which could be more environmentally sound than the noxious concoctions that represent present-day batteries.

    There are also more powerful forms of solar panels than those which use silicon. so micro-generation of energy would generate much more power - during the hours of daylight.

    Both of these nascent technologies use graphene.

    http://www.activistpost.com/2013/04/can-graphene-provide-free-energy.html

    As for funding everything, well no doubt if the EU was to fine us for our air pollution then the funds to pay the fine would be found. So, I am willing to wager that the funds to electrify our buses (especially, since more can be converted for less money) could be found. The savings to the NHS from less pollution derived ill health would soon make further conversions self-financing.

    Leeds has received govt. funding approval for Britain's first modern trolleybus system. It was supposed to be opening circa 2018 but it seems that every possible planning and logistical obstacle is being thrown in its path and the date has slipped to 2020. Landskrona in Sweden built a short trolleybus line in just one year, I feel sure that if there was a will and our planning systems were not designed to create paralysis by analysis so the Leeds system could be open much sooner than 2020. The rapidity with which the Millennium Dome was built shows what can be done when national politicians so desire it. The biggest hurdle we here in Rebridge face is that our beloved transport Czars - the venerable "Trafficjams For London" (aka: TfL) so love their diesel hybrid buses that to avoid people getting ideas about alternatives which can out-perform diesel buses they will only look at alternative solutions which are less robust, use smaller vehicles and cannot provide a full day's service.

    Simon

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  7. Simple Simon ain't so simple then.
    If it is in fact a shortage of cash which which is preventing the intelligent use of our resources and the consequent reduction of killer pollution then we are all subscribing to a political myth. There IS no shortage of cash! Just because we are constantly told by our politicians that this is so, just does not make it true, any more than anything else is necessarily true which emanates from Westminster. In a single flash, with absolutely no reference to the electorate at all, they decided to chuck away at least ten million quid of our money on the deification of Saint Margaret of Grantham. And that is just school dinner money compared with many other examples of government profligacy. It matters not who is apparently in power, the purse strings of all administrations are held very tightly by the cartels, the monopoly industrialists and the other big commercial players, and the most influential of all, of course, are the oil barons. If they do not want electric buses - and they won't unless they can get a finger in the pie - we will never get them. End of.

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    1. Alfred,

      I agree with everything you said.

      smile

      Simon

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