Electric cars

November 24, 2008

I see Australia is the latest country to start the switch to electric cars and wean its population off dependence on oil.

It follows Denmark and Israel’s lead.

New Zealand has already clinched a deal with Mitsubishi for a fleet of electric cars to be introduced in 2009. And in Japan, Japan Post is replacing its vehicles with electric equivalents.

In England, London has already been at the forefront of electric car usage and Boris Johnston has given a grant for the scheme to be extended across the boroughs of the city.

Now Brighton and Hove are planning a similar system. They successfully secured a £2.2 million grant from the EU for their project. Their 10 charging points will cost £30 000 altogether or £3000 each, quite a bit cheaper than the London counterparts.

The Australian model will be powered by renewable energy. The recharging stations will be powered by wind turbines.

Project Better Place will raise $1 billion to provide 250 000 recharging stations in the east of the country.

This works out at $4000 per recharging station.

Thats a lot cheaper than the £7000 it takes to install a recharging station in London, but I guess the price difference is down to the sheer massive scale of the Australian project.

The similar Danish system is also run by wind turbines. Around 20% of Denmark’s electricity production comes from wind, but the fact that the car batteries are traded in to charge – and they store electricity from the grid – with a number of batteries charging at any one time means that wind power can provide base load even when the wind is not blowing.

In fact, 2 million electric cars in circulation would provide Denmark with a standby capacity of electricity over 5 times its needs.

Project Better Place are in discussion with another 30 countries keen to implement the system. The mayor of San Francisco wants electric cars there.

The same company has already done the same in Israel.

Norway has about 50 recharging stations, but plans to have 400 on the go by 2011. The Norwegian Car company Think currently makes around 10 000 electric cars a year and can’t up with demand but does plan to open new factories to increase production.

Not to be left behind the Swedish Government are planning to provide a network of recharging stations across the country. It plans to be oil-independent by 2020.

The Finns seem to have taken a different approach. They have started a scheme where they convert your existing car to electric using lithium ion batteries. They claim that the top speed of your car will be a little less but the acceleration of the car will be better.

Even the Icelanders – slated by new Secretary of State for Scotland Jim Murphy as being in an ‘Arc of Insolvency’ – have just shook hands on a deal with Mitsubishi to fleet test their electric cars in the country in 2009, similar to the New Zealand deal.

Another country in Murphy’s ‘Arc of Insolvency’, Ireland, will shortly announce plans to have 10% of all its cars powered by electricity by 2020. Project Better Place are already in talks with the Irish Government. Its predicted around 50 000 jobs could be created in Ireland with the establishment of such eco-friendly policies.

So much for the environmentally aware Scandanavians and the forward thinking Irish in their Arc of Prosperity you might say. What about Scotland?

Until recently Scotland had only one electric car. That was a G-Wiz, the electric car much used in London, with a slightly dodgy safety record. It also had only one public recharging station, in the Braehead Shopping Centre.

Clydebank Housing Association has provided electric cars for its tenants at Radnor Park. They are recharged at the local power station that provides electricity for the flats.

Its been funded by a £37 000 Community Scotland grant.

The Department of Transport is also planning to pilot a ‘green van’ scheme in various locations in England from Newcastle, Gateshead, and Liverpool to Leeds and Coventry. In Scotland only Glasgow has been selected.

James May, of BBC’s Top Gear, is not a fan of the Westminster Government’s ‘green transport’ policy:

‘People think it’s about style or performance, but it’s down to the science. There has to be a hydrogen infrastructure in place to provide the energy to make electric vehicles work properly. We are nowhere near that point.’

Far from ‘kick-starting’ the revolution, May says the Government is simply ‘window-dressing’. ‘There’s a feeble bit of Congestion Charge relief if your drive an electric vehicle. This is no more a Green-vehicle strategy than my cat,’ he says.

Newer electric cars like the Smart Fortwo Electric can plug into a mains socket, has a top speed of 70 mph and can travel for 75 miles without a recharge.

The new Tesla Roadster is an electric sports car, assembled by Lotus. It can do 0 – 60 in 3.9 seconds and can travel 244 miles on a single charge of its battery. Of course it does cost 99 000 euros or around £84 000.

Tesla Roadster

75% of Scots in a recent survey said they would consider changing to an alternative powered car if they became readily available.

The Scottish Government has planned a consultation exercise on electric cars this Autumn. But there are already calls for the SNP Government to try and get Project Better Place’s network in Scotland.

But if it doesn’t act soon Scotland could be the poor relation of Europe in electric car takeup.

Spain has announced a target of 1 million electric cars on its roads by 2014.

Germany is launching its own network of electric car recharging stations.

Portugal is also announcing its own network of recharging stations. It will build 1300 stations by 2011.

France has recently announced a $549 million investment in electric and hybrid cars.

With the SNP Government’s commitment to renewal energy surely the Danish model based on wind turbines is the way forward? The combination of providing much more base load than we need and have the rest exported, the reduction of carbon emissions and the prospect of being oil independent when the oil finally runs out must be the favourite way ahead.

Back to James May:

‘The wind blows, the waves roll, the sun shines. The moon in the sky plucks at the sea to makes the tides, and Tennyson’s wild cataract leaps in glory. And he wasn’t talking about an eye infection. All of this will go on for as long as there is a world, and we need convert only a very tiny amount of it to electricity to keep driving until the sun goes out.’

add to del.icio.usadd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vinepost to facebookAdd to Technorati Favoritespost to NowPublicpost to googleadd to Yahoo! add to Live Favourites

Advertisements

Yes We Can: Lessons from Obama

November 8, 2008

More thoughts on the Glenrothes by-election.

It was strange. The SNP ahead in the polls, a short Labour surge to level, before the SNP went once again ahead.

The SNP confident, Labour overly pessimistic.

Pundits predicting a narrow SNP win.

Since I wrote yesterday about the Obama effect on the by-election, the parallels between the Glenrothes by-election and the New Hampshire Democratic Primary came to my thoughts.

An election which Obama was widely predicted to win.

The polls were good; pundits were agreed. Hillary Clinton seemed resigned to the loss.

But Hillary Clinton took the state’s nomination.

Of course, later Barack Obama went on to defeat Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic Presidential nominee.

And went on to win the U.S. Presidential election in an historic victory.

Obama used the lessons in the New Hampshire election to spur on his support, warning them of the dangers of complacency:

“For those of you who are feeling giddy or cocky or think this is all set, I just have two words for you: New Hampshire”

In the middle of October when things were looking rosy he reminded his campaign staff:

From Ben Smith’s blog:

‘On a conference call with his campaign staff just now, Barack Obama delivered the same message he’s been telling donors: Don’t get cocky.

‘Obama got on the staff call with campaign manager David Plouffe to praise his staff, but also to tell them not to become overconfident, because — in my source’s paraphrase — “too many people are counting on us not to screw this up.’

‘Eighteen days, he reminded them, is a long time, and he told them to “run scared,” run as though they were 10 points down, and “remember New Hampshire.”

Glenrothes is the SNP’s New Hampshire.

And like Barack Obama’s ‘two words: New Hampshire’, Glenrothes should sound as a future warning to complacency.

As people depended on Barack Obama; Scotland’s future depends on the SNP.

add to del.icio.usadd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vinepost to facebookAdd to Technorati Favoritespost to NowPublicpost to googleadd to Yahoo! add to Live Favourites


Barack Obama: President of the United States

November 5, 2008

Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States.

Obama - Hope

The first black man to have that honour.

In 1964 the U.S. passed the Civil Rights Act giving blacks the same rights as whites. In 1965 the U.S. passed the Voting Rights Act. It finally gave Black Americans the right to vote – in every state, without obstacle – and America finally became a true democracy.

The passage for Black Civil Rights campaigners has not been an easy one. At one time or other, blacks had to contend with race riots, lynchings, and the assassination of their charismatic leader Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968.

2008. Just over 40 years later from that Voting Rights Act and America elects a black President.

An incredible achievement and one which Americans should be rightly proud.

Its a glowing example of the American dream finally working.

In 2004 Barack Obama delivered his keynote address to the Democratic National Convention. It was just before the Bush – Kerry presidential election of that year. He talked about his hopes and dreams for America, and then added another:

“The hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.”

He had hope in America.

Now America has their hopes in him.

Obama continued that speech:

“Hope — Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope!

“In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead.”

Here’s to those better days ahead for all of us!

add to del.icio.usadd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vinepost to facebookAdd to Technorati Favoritespost to NowPublicpost to googleadd to Yahoo! add to Live Favourites


Obama’s Negative Flakeage Rate

November 4, 2008

I thought I’d heard a lot of political doublespeak in my time.

But this ‘Negative Flakeage Rate’ is a new one on me.

What that means is instead of people promising to volunteer (and then not bothering), instead people are volunteering and persuading friends to volunteer too.

This guy is Obama’s National Field Director, Jon Carson, and he’s pretty happy with the Obama campaign especially in the marginal ‘toss-up’ states.

It just makes me wonder about the Glenrothes by-election.

Will Labour or the SNP be wondering about their flakeage rates among their voters?

add to del.icio.usadd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vinepost to facebookAdd to Technorati Favoritespost to NowPublicpost to googleadd to Yahoo! add to Live Favourites


U.S. election 2008 prediction

November 3, 2008

OK here’s my U.S. election prediction for tomorrow’s poll.

U.S. election 2008 prediction

Obama to win by 200 electoral college votes; 369 to McCain’s 169.

Though I’d dearly love Obama to take Arizona too – McCain’s home state – I just can’t see him manage it.

I’ve went with North Carolina for Obama, even with the ballot snafu that will probably hinder the Democrats vote.

I’ve went with McCain for Missouri. Apparently Missouri has a reputation for picking the winner, or going with the favourite, but I can’t see McCain winning it this time.

add to del.icio.usadd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vinepost to facebookAdd to Technorati Favoritespost to NowPublicpost to googleadd to Yahoo! add to Live Favourites


Sarah Palin’s prank call

November 2, 2008

In all the furore over the BBC Radio 2 prank call from Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross to Fawlty Towers’ actor Andrew Sachs, a brighter type of prank call was played on Sarah Palin by two Quebec DJs Marc Antoine Audette and Sebastian Trudel Audette.

The Masked Avengers, as they are known, phoned Sarah Palin pretending to be Nicholas Sarkozy.

‘Nicholas Sarkozy’ talked to Sarah Palin about hunting, killing baby seals and his wife being so hot in bed! And from his house he could see Belgium!

A transcript of the prank call can be found at Daily Kos.

Eventually the Masked Avengers owned up it was a prank.

It was a prank call in a much better spirit than Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross’ effort to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs. For Jonathan Ross to tell a 78-year old grandfather that Russell Brand had ‘f**ked his granddaughter’ was in poor taste. Even if the grand-daughter, Georgina Baillie, is in a Burlesque group called The Satanic Sluts.

I don’t so much blame Brand and Ross for their call; sometimes comedy does go over the edge.

I blame the producers putting the show on air. Even after Andrew Sachs complained to the BBC that the call was offensive, it was still put on air.

If the call was pulled from the show and Sachs given a personal apology then all of this hoopla wouldn’t have begun.

Now Russell Brand has resigned, the Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas has resigned, and Jonathan Ross has a 12 week suspension.

Jonathan Ross is an experienced broadcaster and one of the BBC highest earners. His indiscretion, I felt, was worse than Russell Brand’s. Does his £18 million contract intimidate radio producers?

That’s the only thing I can think of why this call was aired.

Brand and Ross may have overstepped the mark. But they were doing their job. The producer wasn’t.

The BBC have now lost Brand and may still lose Ross.

They could probably do worse than give the Masked Avengers a shot.

They can see satire from their house.

add to del.icio.usadd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vinepost to facebookAdd to Technorati Favoritespost to NowPublicpost to googleadd to Yahoo! add to Live Favourites


Glenrothes by-election campaign warning

November 1, 2008

OK – the headline is a bit of a tease. The story is somewhat tangential but stick with it.

Just surfing the net I found this incredible story of a baggage handler in Atlanta opening up the cargo hold of a plane and coming face to face with a live cheetah!

Obviously the flight was delayed (whilst they wrote the sequel to Samuel L. Jackson’s Snakes on a Plane, I imagine):

‘”They told us a large animal had gotten out of a container in the cargo hold and they were having to send someone to tranquilize it,” said one passenger, Lee Sentell of Montgomery, Ala.

‘He said luggage was delayed, but baggage handlers promised to send his bags to him in Alabama.

‘The good news for passengers: The escaped cheetah didn’t damage any of their luggage.’

So I got to thinking? What if this had been Scotland?

Would John Smeaton have wrestled the big cat into submission?

“Aye. Cheetah’s may be fast, but they’re no match for Glaswegians. We’ll just set about ye!”

It prompted a bit more internet surfing.

And here’s where the Glenrothes by-election campaign warning comes in:-

Apparently there is a big cat prowling around the constituency!

Here’s a photograph from an actual sighting in Methil, from ScottishBigCats.co.uk:

Methil Mauler

They say:

‘We revealed in last week’s edition that the organisation Big Cats in Britain was keen to set up webcams around Fife in a bid to prove the existence of big cats once and for all – but for Ms Miller there’s no question.

‘”They definitely exist,” she says, “I think there’s more than one around here to be honest.”‘

So watch out they may be a Big Cat in Glenrothes.

So that’s the reason why the Labour minders operate a ‘shoot to kill’ policy!

And the reason why Gordon Brown hardly ventures far from his campaign headquarters door!

Black fur. No doubt yellow eyes. The cat must be an SNP supporter!

add to del.icio.usadd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vinepost to facebookAdd to Technorati Favoritespost to NowPublicpost to googleadd to Yahoo! add to Live Favourites