The government’s announcement of the future of the petrol and diesel car in Britain is a step towards a revolution. It will come about a time when the western world would have given up the petrol pump for eco-friendly cars. Not just electric cars, but all forms of eco-power like hydrogen fuels, solar power, hydro electricity and biofuels. It is a great time for me as a prospective scientist. In the future there will be opportunities in an industry that will be the motor of the world’s people. But what is unusual is how and why this kind of change has never come a lot sooner.
In 2006 a documentary called ‘Who Killed the Electric Car’ highlighted the progress of electric cars in the automobile industry. What it showed was that the progress was stifled by a combination of lack of investment, protectionism, lobbyists from the oil industry, climate change scepticism, misleading data from government scientists and expensive costs of development.
The environmental activists are celebrating a great change that is yet to come but what do we do in the 23 years until 2040? Although the government is pressing ahead with this motorists are deeply distrustful of environmental initiatives from politicians. For years they have had to endure endless taxations and fines for driving their cars that pollute the air. This is a burden on business and it’s hitting their pockets. What has led to this confusion and delay is propaganda from the motoring industry and government ministers that is undermining it’s own cause.
The problem with the fight against climate change is that it’s aiming at the wrong target. The global warming saga has been swindled to fit political agendas and it is creating more pollution than actually solving the problem. Instead of focusing on investment in eco-technology the governments and environmentalists are putting pressure on people to cut back on energy consumption. The eco-activists are only adding fuel to the fire of this mismanagement. They are romanticising the idea of reverting to a peasant’s existence free from fossil fuels and capitalism. What they should be doing is speaking up the for the creative scientists and the automotive industry to have the freedom to create and develop the technology for emission free motors.
We need to focus on inventing the new motor that the common people can use in their freedom. These eco-activists need to realise that in order to make Britain capable of giving up fossil fuels it needs to thinking creatively and innovatively. That requires support for investment in eco-technology. Just simply taxing people for using petrol cars in cities will only make them dismiss climate change as a means to bleed them dry of their hard earned wages. How do you even expect them to go for electric cars when the technology is still experimental and there are few models to choose from?
But the ban on petrol and diesel cars won’t be a big win for everyone. One of the reasons why we are still behind the cessation of the oil fuelled motor is because of the protectionism and lobbying from the oil companies. They have a multi-billion dollar industry that has thousands of jobs and revenue from production and sales. When John Rockefeller refined oil in the 19th century his biggest product was kerosene which fuelled oil lamps across the country. When electricity went mainstream in the 1880s he lost thousands of customers and almost lost his dominance of the energy industry. Rockefeller even tried using scare tactics to try and stop people from switching to electricity to save his company. Today’s oil companies and energy ministers are using tactics very similar to that. The moral of that story is you can’t make a change in the way people live without destroying a major industry. If the oil industry lost the automobile as it’s biggest customer it will suffer heavy losses. In which case the oil industry had better look for another big customer.
However electricity is only one of a dozen types of eco-friendly fuels that provide an environmentally friendly future. There are concerns about how the National Grid will cope with the surge in the amount of plug in vehicles. They estimate that by 2040 when the ban takes place the number of electric cars will be nine million. Current owners have specially adapted pillars fitted in the driveways which allow them to be charged quicker than from a wall socket. So it will put a very big strain on the electricity networks. The best to get around this is to provide a variety of fuel sources for the cars.
Hydrogen fuel celled power cars are a very good choice. Hydrogen is a fuel that will never run out and it can be mass produced like petrol but in a localised way. The way the engines work is based on technology that has been perfected by the space industry and it has been available in parts of the USA. I once had a debate with someone who disagreed with hydrogen powered vehicles because of the association with the Hindenburg Airship. That story has been blown out of proportion and it’s been used by members of the oil industry to scare the public into rejecting hydrogen fuel. The Hindenburg was an airship filled with hydrogen that caught fire because of a coat of highly flammable substance that was coated on it’s skin that was ignited by static spark from the lightning as it landed.
Hydrogen fuel cells do not behave or spontaneously combust in this way. The hydrogen in a fuel cell car is in liquid form, not gas. It reacts with oxygen in the engine by a process known as electrolysis which generates electricity and produces water vapour as exhaust. The hydrogen revolution has plenty of potential should it go mainstream alongside all electric power and biofuels. It will lead to a competitive market that will create thousands of jobs and make Britain independent of foreign produced fuels. At the moment the eco-car economy is a cottage industry, but within 10-20 years it could become a big business. Not just a green revolution but a thriving enterprise.