Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Night train to Brussels

Posted: January 20, 2020 by oldbrew in climate, Emissions, Travel
Tags: ,

Austria’s ‘nightjet’ train


All aboard the virtue signallers’ express! In nuclear-free Austria that is – possibly the only country to fully build a nuclear plant and never operate it.
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The first night train to set off for Belgium in 16 years departed from Vienna Sunday, carrying Austrian and European politicians who hope the new route can set an example as the continent tries to meet its climate targets, reports Phys.org.

The carriages of the “OBB Nightjet” pulled out of Vienna’s main station punctually at 8:38 pm to the strains of a live band playing the EU anthem “Ode to Joy”, the slogan #loveyourplanet emblazoned along their sides.

Scheduled to arrive in Brussels at 10:55 am on Monday, the rail journey emits less than a tenth of the CO2 per passenger than the equivalent flight.

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So what’s new? Nothing really, but these issues show few if any signs of being resolved in the near future. Governments intending to pressure or force people to buy EVs are going to be unpopular with millions of car users, it would seem. Woolly climate propaganda isn’t impressing many buyers.

Ipsos, the global research and insights organization, says it has uncovered the thoughts of consumers regarding BEVs, Green Car Congress reports.

These new findings are released in the second module of the Ipsos Global Mobility Navigator Syndicated Study, in which 20,000 consumers worldwide shared their opinions on alternative engines and what it would take to get them to consider one.

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There goes the notion of a zero-emission vehicle. The chief suspect is vanadium, which ‘was the only metal that interacted with the macrophages and was also present in both brake dust and diesel exhaust particles’.

The harmful impact of air pollution caused by diesel exhaust fumes on our health is well known, says The Conversation.

It’s responsible for causing everything from respiratory problems to dementia and even certain types of cancers.

But what most people don’t realise is that exhaust fumes aren’t the only cause of air pollution.

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Cardiff trolleybus, 1969 [image credit: David Stowell @ Wikipedia]


They’re certainly quick off the mark and quiet. As with trams the initial costs would be significant, but they do have their advantages.

They were the original electric buses but 50 years ago today saw the plug pulled on the last trolleybus in Wales, says BBC News.

Environmentally friendly and cheap, they finally succumbed to car ownership and fossil fuel on 11 January 1970.

Yet half a century later – almost to the day – local councils now see electric public transport as an answer to congestion and air pollution.

Some experts and enthusiasts even believe that shift could spark a revival for the forgotten trolleybus.

Known as the “trackless trolleys” when they first appeared on UK streets in 1911, trolleybuses became the workhorses of the public transport network.

Freed from the restrictions of tracks, taking their power from overhead cables, they provided clean, affordable and quick transport for the masses.

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Tesla Model 3 [image credit: Vauxford @ Wikipedia]


Of course he could have removed the heavy battery pack altogether and replaced it with an equivalent car engine, in theory at least. But he didn’t, so on with the report…

An engineer from Austria has recreated an even cheaper Model 3 by converting Tesla’s flagship electric vehicle into a hybrid by adding a two-cylinder gasoline engine and “downgrading” the battery pack, reports OilPrice.com.

Frank Obrist from Lustenau, Austria, founder of engineering company OBRIST Powertrain, wants to make EVs more affordable.

OBRIST Powertrain claims that the hybrid Tesla would have twice the range compared to the fully electric vehicle as designed and manufactured by Tesla.

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Typical electric car set-up


Welcome to the EU’s plan to strong-arm its way to victory in the electric car game, in the name of imaginary climate benefits. What happens if the manufacturers all start posting heavy losses due to poor EV sales, as a result of this coercion, is not yet clear. As the article says, tens of billions of euros are at stake.

Long-awaited light-duty vehicle emission rules will hit light-duty vehicle makers working in EU member countries on January 1, and automakers will soon have to deal with the consequences, says OilPrice.com.

Vehicle manufacturers will have to sell many more hybrid and electric vehicles or pay costly fines, a situation similar to China’s rules.

For automakers with product lineups with few EV offerings, they’ll need to sell lots of conventional cars and trucks, and use the profits to pay the fines.

Industry analysts expect plug-in hybrid, battery electric vehicle, and hybrid vehicle sales to soar in the near future.

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‘Carbon’ means the harmless but vital trace gas carbon dioxide, of course. By showing fake climate virtue they may be hoping to keep hot-headed climate protesters off their backs, while selling a few more tickets to gullible travellers.

The boss of British Airways has declared “our future has to be sustainable” as the airline begins offsetting carbon emissions from domestic flights, reports ITV News.

Chief executive Alex Cruz said a “multifaceted response” is required to tackle climate change.

BA is making all its flights within the UK carbon neutral from Wednesday.

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Davos


Many of the usual suspects of high finance and politics will be flying in by private jet to scope out the financial opportunities and rub shoulders with fellow power brokers. More hyped-up climate fear equals more potential profit, and never mind the ’emissions’.

An impatient demand for the world to work harder to counter “climate change” will top the agenda at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting next month in Davos, Switzerland, says Breitbart News.

Organizers expect some 3,000 corporate and government representatives to fly in from around the world to broach climate issues at the luxury ski resort, with a squadron of some 1700 private jets providing transport for the bulk of the attendees.

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What could possibly go wrong? The German Economy Minister described the 3.2 billion euro handout as “a great success for Germany and Europe”. But what else could he say, as such a vast sum of taxpayer cash disappears in the name of climate ideology?

The EU’s powerful anti-trust authority on Monday approved billions of euros in subsidies from seven member states as Europe seeks to make up lost ground in batteries, reports TechXplore.

The EU’s powerful anti-trust authority on Monday approved billions of euros in subsidies from seven member states as Europe seeks to make up lost ground in batteries.

The move is part of a big push led by Germany and France to prepare Europe for the emergence of electric cars, as gas combustible engines are phased out over climate change concerns.

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Whichever way you look at it, so-called climate policies usually lead to massive costs which few are willing to pay – as mass protests in France and Chile have recently shown. Germans have a choice to make: bet the entire economy on hoped-for, but marginal, climate effects – or not.

A position paper by Germany’s environment agency UBA calls for a drastic increase in fuel prices in order to bring about emissions reductions needed in the transport sector to help meet climate targets, reports Clean Energy Wire.

The internal UBA paper, which was obtained by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, says that the price for one litre of petrol should increase by 47 euro cents and for diesel fuel by 70 percent per litre, correspondent Michael Bauchmüller writes.

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Electric SUV concept car [image credit: motorauthority.com]


The report headline also claims this ‘is terrible news for the planet’, because they are obsessing about harmless trace gases in the atmosphere. But the motoring public don’t seem to share their misplaced concerns, as ever-popular SUVs outnumber electric vehicles by about 40 to 1 worldwide.

Sales of hefty and heavily-polluting SUVs have doubled in the last decade – outweighing the progress made from electric vehicles, says WIRED. Can cleaner SUVs offer a way out?

The phenomenal rise of the SUV all started with a squabble over chicken.

It was 1963 – the height of the Cold War – and US president Lyndon Johnson was fuming over a tax that France and West Germany had imposed on cheap, intensively-farmed US chicken flooding European supermarkets.

In December 1963, after months of failed negotiations, Johnson retaliated.

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Teslas in Norway [image credit: Norsk Elbilforening (Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association)]


EVs are looking like yet another ‘save the planet’ fiasco in the making. Some of the points made here were already known, but these studies reinforce them. As many EVs on the road are still relatively new, the full extent of any problems may not yet be clear. With the help of large subsidies and other incentives they sell well in Norway despite the cold winters there.

According to recent studies, cold temperatures significantly reduce the performance of electric cars, especially when it comes to battery life.

One study by AAA suggested that cold temperatures can reduce the range of the batteries in most electric cars by over 40 percent, reports Anonymous News.

It was also noted that the performance can be even worse when the interior heaters are used.

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Solar train – OK for millionaires?

Posted: December 1, 2019 by oldbrew in innovation, Travel
Tags: ,

A bit of fun for tourists, but an electric bus would have been a lot cheaper.

Typical electric car set-up


Critics of fuel power speak of the finite nature of oil and natural gas discoveries. A reminder here that resources are far from unlimited for EVs, in the short term at least. No sign of much appetite for switching to smaller cars either, with SUV demand rising fast.

The current production of a number of critical metals is insufficient for the large-scale transition to electric vehicles.

This is the conclusion of a report by environmental scientists Benjamin Sprecher and organisations Copper8 and Metabolic, reports TechXplore.

As a solution, they advocate more electric car-sharing, cars with a smaller battery and improved recycling.

Small country, big impact

The Dutch Climate Policy aims for 1.9 million electric cars in the Netherlands by 2030, compared to 171,000 at this moment—a growth of more than 1000 percent in less than 11 years.

But according to the report “Critical Metals Demand for Electric Vehicles’ – which looks at critical metals needed for this growth—it would be better to limit this growth, so that there will be a maximum of 1 million electric cars in 2030.

The authors assume a fair distribution: each country is entitled to a certain share of the global production of important critical metals, such as lithium and cobalt, in proportion to its population.

With the current plans for electric cars, the Netherlands would need up to 4 percent of the global annual production, while the Netherlands only has 0.2 percent of the world’s population—an ‘unfair distribution,” according to the report.

Less is more

“Let me start by saying that we are definitely not against the introduction of electric cars,” says Benjamin Sprecher, researcher at the Centre for Environmental Sciences Leiden.

The transition to electric transport is important,” says Benjamin Sprecher, a researcher at the Institute of Environmental Sciences. “However, we must be aware that this policy is not without consequences.”

He explains, for example, that a greater demand for critical metals—which are also needed for solar panels and wind turbines—can be disastrous to nature. “Increased demand inevitably leads to the construction of new mines. In order to prevent inconvenience to humans, these will be located in remote areas, at the expense of already scarce nature reserves. We must be aware of this and ensure more sustainable mining.”

But that’s not enough, says Sprecher. “We consume an awful lot, so much so that it is no longer enough for us to have just one Earth. In the case of electric cars too, it is important that we look at ways to reduce the number of cars. For example, shared cars and improved public transport.”

Other solutions, such as new technologies that are less dependent on critical metals or the use of smaller batteries, are less effective (see figure 2) but also easier to implement.

Finally, the report recommends the development of a stronger European critical metals recycling industry.

Full article here.

Credit: Railfuture


Well, 10% solar-powered – that’s the target. Of course solar has its variables, mainly weather conditions and hours of daylight. So is this ‘solution’ worth the bother and cost, or not? The era of batteries on train locomotives has also arrived – see ‘Adding a third dimension – battery power’ here.

How many times have we looked at clever innovation and wondered why on earth no one thought of doing it before?

Often the simplest of ideas seem to lead to the most elegant of engineering solutions, says RailEngineer.

The truth is, of course, that invention is only half of the story. Sometimes the right meeting of minds must happen before a bright idea can become a reality.

To the best of our knowledge, the direct supply of solar power to rail traction systems has never been done, anywhere in the world.

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Bristol’s urban area population of 724,000 is the 8th-largest in the UK, says Wikipedia. Diesel owners don’t have long to get rid of their cars, convert them to another fuel or find another method of transport if they need to get into town to work, shop or anything else during the day, after March 2021 – unless the next government decides to step in and save them.

Under the plan, all privately-owned diesel vehicles will be banned from entering it every day between 7am and 3pm by March 2021
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Bristol is set to become the first city in the UK to ban diesel cars as part of its efforts to improve air quality, reports Energy Live News.

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The two Voyager space probes, launched in 1977, are still delivering tales of the unexpected.

The boundary region between the sun’s sphere of influence and the broader Milky Way galaxy is complicated indeed.

Humanity’s second taste of interstellar space may have raised more questions than it answered, writes Mike Wall @ Space.com.

NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft popped free of the heliosphere — the huge bubble of charged particles that the sun blows around itself — on Nov. 5, 2018, more than six years after the probe’s pioneering twin, Voyager 1, did the same.

The mission team has now had some time to take stock of Voyager 2’s exit, which occurred in the heliosphere’s southern hemisphere (as opposed to Voyager 1, which departed in the northern hemisphere).

In a series of five papers published online today (Nov. 4) in the journal Nature Astronomy, the researchers reported the measurements made by the probe as it entered interstellar space.

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At least they won’t need to make the bus trip from Rio to Santiago – if Spain is confirmed as the new venue. The best laid schemes of mice and men…and all that.

News of Santiago summit’s cancellation reportedly came as heavy blow but youngsters decide to push ahead with boat trip, reports Jonathan Watts for The Guardian.

Chile’s decision to withdraw as host of the Cop 25 UN climate conference has prompted tears and frustration from a group of school-strike activists sailing across the Atlantic to attend the talks.

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Global EV sales in September 2019 drop down 8%

Posted: November 1, 2019 by oldbrew in News, Travel
Tags:

Chinese electric car [image credit: scmp.com]


Sales of expensive electric vehicles predictably misfire as short-term subsidies inevitably slip. No signs of mass take-up despite endless climate hype.

Global sales are lower than a year ago because China lost incentives, while the U.S. is trying to overcome high Model 3 sales in 2018, reports Inside EVs.

The global plug-in passenger car sales were affected in September by a decrease in sales in China and in the U.S. Only the European market brings significant growth among the three biggest markets.

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Somewhere has got about a month to arrange to receive 30,000 unexpected climate tourists – or whatever the absurdly bloated figure is. Sounds unlikely, so postponement beckons.

Chile has pulled out of hosting two major international summits, including a UN climate change conference, as anti-government protests continue, reports BBC News.

President Sebastián Piñera said the decision “caused him a lot of pain” but his government needed “to prioritise re-establishing public order”.

The COP25 climate summit was scheduled for December, while the Apec trade summit was due next month.

The UN said it was now “exploring alternative hosting options”.

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