Electric vehicles complete round-the-world tour

Feb 24, 2011
Members of Swiss team Zerotracer in front of the United Nations (UN) offices in Geneva, after they completed a 27,000 km round the world trip. Electric vehicles from Australia, Germany and Switzerland completed a pioneering 27,000 kilometre "emissions free" round-the-world trip on Thursday, after 188 days on the road and at sea.

Electric vehicles from Australia, Germany and Switzerland completed a pioneering 27,000 kilometre "emissions free" round-the-world trip on Thursday, after 188 days on the road and at sea.

The three-wheeler dubbed "TREV" from Adelaide, a German electric scooter and a "Monotracer" high-tech motorcycle glided silently into the UN's European headquarters about six months after they headed eastwards around the world.

Organiser Louis Palmer, a Swiss schoolteacher who made headlines with his 18-month pioneering world tour in a solar-powered "taxi" three years ago, said the three experimental vehicles spent 80 days on the road.

"We made it around the world in 80 days, we made it back here after 17 countries and 29,000 kilometres. We can't believe it," the clean car champion said.

The UN-backed "Zero Race" stopped off at the World Climate Conference in Cancun, Mexico last December, after touring through Europe, Russia, China, Canada and the United States, before heading back through Morocco and Spain about a month behind schedule.

"This shows what we are trying to preach, that it can be done. Cars powered by clean renewable energy can be as effective as petrol-driven vehicles but without emissions," said Sylvie Motard of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

However, the crews admitted they sometimes had trouble charging the vehicles even if they avoided major breakdowns.

"It was very hard in some places, certainly for our team members in Russia China," said Alexandra James, one of the 12 volunteers who took their turn driving the bright green Australian two-seater TREV.

"They were wiring straight into the power supply in certain situations because it was the only way to get a reliable power source -- it was a challenge," James, a manager at the South Australia Technology Industry Association, told AFP.

"We had to visit a lot of interesting places -- the fire stations have been fantastic."

With some grid supplies on their way potentially being generated by high carbon sources such as coal, each team bought as much power as they consumed from renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric power, to claim an emissions-free tour.

TREV -- also Two Seater Vehicle -- was built by students at the University of South Australia and will carry on as an education tool.

James and Christine Haydon, an electronics teacher at Tafe Regency Park college, took on the last leg from Morocco, six months after 57 year-old Adelaide electrical engineer Jason Jones and his son set out from Geneva.

"We all work full time, so we had to take on legs with a team of 12 people. That way everyone got to drive," said Haydon.

One of the biggest problems turned out to be the South Australia licence plate - just TREV -- especially with Russian border guards.

"We had a lot of trouble with the number plate because people around the world want to have numbers and when we didn't have numbers it was a problem," said James.

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User comments : 8

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Eikka
not rated yet Feb 24, 2011
each team bought as much power as they consumed from renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric power, to claim an emissions-free tour.


And this is the flaw of the system.

The actual consumption is being met by fossil fuels, and the greenwashers sell indulgences and not a single fossil fuel powerplant has been replaced by renewable energy.

Because they can't.
kaasinees
not rated yet Feb 24, 2011
@Eikka fuel powerplants are atleast more efficient than fuel cars.
Eikka
not rated yet Feb 24, 2011
@Eikka fuel powerplants are atleast more efficient than fuel cars.


Add in transmission losses, and charging and conversion losses, and it's pretty much neck and neck. Electric cars use slightly less energy, petrol cars make slightly less CO2.

It's a complete fraud, because buying renewable electricity doesn't actually give you any. It gives you a promise that someone somewhere will some day produce this and this much energy CO2 free, so you can now pump this much CO2 into the atmosphere.

For all you know, they could be dumping the energy into the grid and letting it vanish in the losses. The grid frequency creeps up a notch, lights turn ever so slightly brighter, and the government pays them tax money for every kWh dumped.
kaasinees
not rated yet Feb 24, 2011
How about the new nuclear power plants and the upcoming bioreactors? And ofcourse more efficient use of the grid could add some efficiency...

It's a complete fraud, because buying renewable electricity doesn't actually give you any.

That is true.. but you can choos an electricity provider that invests alot in renewable energy.

For all you know, they could be dumping the energy into the grid and letting it vanish in the losses.

Why would they want todo that?
Eikka
not rated yet Feb 24, 2011

Why would they want todo that?


Two reasons: they can't control when they can produce energy, so they kinda have to push it into the grid whenever it comes, and governments are paying them to do so.

Of course, you can't push a lot of extra power into the grid because that would throw it off balance, but as long as you're a small time player, it's just noise as far as everyone else is concerned.

If you feed 1 MW extra into the grid, it takes a while before it shows up as increased frequency, and by the time the utilities have to adjust to compensate, most of the energy has already gone to waste. There is a constant up-down swinging going on anyways, so they don't really bother to jump every time there's a little extra or slightly too little power.
Eikka
not rated yet Feb 24, 2011
Besides, if the power being pushed into the grid is very choppy, the utilities may choose not to compensate, because when the wind dies down or clouds gather over the solar panels, they'd have to crank it up again. Fast adjustments to the grid cost them more money because they have to use more expensive fuels and less efficient powerplants to do so.
Eikka
not rated yet Feb 24, 2011
In fact, when you do push wind power into the grid, and the power companies take care to adjust for it, they have to reduce the amount of baseload power in the grid and replace it with a larger buffer of load following plants, a "spinning reserve" that can answer to the variance in production and demand.

A gas turbine waiting for the wind to die down wastes fuel. These plants can't be used to provide district heating either because of the choppy output.
antialias
5 / 5 (1) Feb 25, 2011
It's not a fraud because with electric vehicles you have the option of being fully green (by getting your energy from a green source) with regular cars you don't have that option.

Yes you need BOTH: a supplier of green energy and a vehicle that can use it. This article just goes to show that one of these two issues can be met in a reliable way.

If you think that electric cars don't have the potential to transform our impact on the environment then you haven't understood the first thing about the energy economy we live in.