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.’

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Atheist buses

October 22, 2008

I see that there is a campaign to put atheist slogans on London’s buses.

An atheist bus

The slogan reads ‘There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.’

Its a pity they use the word ‘probably’. Its not an agnostic campaign. But I understand its due to British law not wanting to offend religious groups.

I preferred the slogans offered on Blood and Treasure.

Personally I think the campaign is a little misplaced:-

I think London Buses are the wrong place for the advert!

The British Humanist Association should instead have targeted Rangers and Celtic football clubs.

Both clubs with a history of sectarian troubles.

Imagine the strips:

atheist celtic strip
atheist Rangers strip

Now wouldn’t those make a concerted campaign against sectarianism?

Given that they started the campaign this morning and got enough funds by 10.06am they should now really go for the Old Firm!

It’s backed by well known evolutionist Professor Richard Dawkins:

“Religion is accustomed to getting a free ride – automatic tax breaks, unearned respect and the right not to be offended, the right to brainwash children.

“Even on the buses, nobody thinks twice when they see a religious slogan plastered across the side.

“This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think – and thinking is anathema to religion.”

Is thinking anathema to religion?

Stephen Green, of pressure group Christian Voice:

“Bendy-buses, like atheism, are a danger to the public at large.

“I should be surprised if a quasi-religious advertising campaign like this did not attract graffiti.

“People don’t like being preached at. Sometimes it does them good, but they still don’t like it.”

With no hint of irony either.

Amazing!

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Lord Coe: Scots and Welsh; F**k ’em!

October 1, 2008

The Campaign for an English Parliament has handily printed off Lord Coe’s outburst regarding his attempts to create a British National Football Team at the 2012 Olympics.

(Its just as well because the online version of The London Paper it seems has removed the story. If anyone has the printed edition its on Page 5.)

The key quote is:

But he said the BOA, which selects teams for the Games, has decided to press ahead with a football squad despite the opposition.

When asked last night about the opposition from the Welsh and Scots, Coe replied bluntly: “F*** em!

Thanks, Seb!

How much are the Scots and Welsh taxpayers paying into the London Olympics bid again?

As I mentioned in a previous post, a joint GB football team would endanger the survival of all the Home Nation football teams. That’s precisely why Lord Coe’s plans have met with such opposition.

Lord Coe also confirmed that Alex Ferguson, the current Manchester United manager, has assured him he will be managing the side.

The London Paper reports that Lord Coe has obviously now changed Ferguson’s mind on the matter, who was initially reluctant.

He might be even more reluctant now.

As for Sebastian Coe? Can’t say I’m surprised. I always preferred Ovett anyway.

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England v Australia Olympic battle

August 29, 2008

While politicans try to make political capital of the Olympics it seems that a spat has developed between England and Australia over the medal tally.

It started when The Sun drove mobile billboards around London and Sydney saying ‘Where the bloody hell were you?’ and pointing out Team GB’s superior gold medal tally to Australia.

Now the Australians have hit back saying that Australia have 14 gold medals compared England’s 13.

The Australian Daily Telegraph have now performed a similar stunt.

‘Above you in the medal table’ the Aussies claim.

I’m just waiting for the Australian Government to publicly endorse the SNP and Plaid Cymru and demand Scottish and Welsh independence!


Home Nations Olympic teams in history

August 25, 2008

My previous post described how the 1908 Great Britain Olympic football squad was in fact the English national amateur team.

One other thing of interest in that Olympics was that the Home Nations representated themselves in some sports.

For example, in Hockey there was a English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh side. (This before before the independence of Ireland and the partition of Northern Ireland.)

They competed with France and Germany to get the medals.

England won gold. Ireland won the silver. Scotland and Wales shared the bronze, as there was no 3rd place play-off.

Scotland beating Germany 4-0 at hockey in the 1908 Olympics

England and Ireland representated themselves at Polo.

The IOC rules about countries competing only if they have an IOC committee in place where enforced at these London games.

This was a British ploy to prevent the situation that had happened two years previous in the 1906 Intercalated Olympics – basically a mid term Olympics between 1904 and 1908.

Peter O’Connor, an Irish long jumper, high jumper and triple jumper, was sent to Athens by the GAA and the IAAA, Irish sport authorities. Of course, Ireland at the time was not independent from Britain and hence Peter and other Irish atheletes found themselves listed as representing Britain.

In a controversial long jump competition, Peter came second, but as the Union flag was raised to represent his silver, Peter climbed the flagpole and waved his Irish flag instead.

He later won the gold medal in the triple jump.

That’s why the IOC ruling was enforced in 1908 by the London Olympics, to try and stop any such political statements. However to primarily appease the Irish they allowed the Home Nations to represent themselves at some sports; particularly in those sports where Ireland had a good chance to win a gold medal.

A knock-on effect of this ruling was that Finland – at the time ruled by Russia – was listed as Russian. This was particularly upsetting for the Finns as Russia had not even bothered to send a team.

They decided to have no flag instead.

The official report on the London games stated “it might on another occasion be better to consider separate entries from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales…as well as from both New Zealand and Australia”

Even in the imperial mood of 1908 came the realisation that separate teams were the way forward.

One hundred years later and we’re still having the debate in the UK!


UK Olympic football team

August 24, 2008

There have been UK football olympic teams in the past. Indeed the UK team won gold in the first football tournament in 1908 – the UK also won when football was a demonstration sport in the 1900 Olympics in Paris – although only five countries competed at the time. This UK team however was the England national amateur team. The UK won again in 1912 and again the team entered was the England national amateur team.

London 1908 English amateur national football team at the Olympics

In fact all the subsequent entries of the UK team were amateur teams predominately based on the English national amateur team.

The politics of football is completely different today than it was in the early 20th century with few teams taking part, and even in the early seventies when an English based UK amateur side was competing in the 1972 Olympics.

The UK has not fielded an joint footballing team since 1974 when the English Football Association scrapped the distinction between professional and amateur.

As football has grown around the world, becoming a truly global game, other nations having been looking at the UK and asking why have they four teams representating the UK, each with a vote in FIFA.

So any suggestion of a UK Football Olympic team would only provide weight to their argument and threaten the existence of the Home Nations teams.

That is why it seems that there is a remarkable weight of opinion that the UK should not enter a joint football team in the 2012 Olympic Games:-

Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA:

“If you start to put together a combined team for the Olympic Games, the question will automatically come up that there are four different associations so how can they play in one team.

If this is the case then why the hell do they have four associations and four votes and their own vice-presidency?

This will put into question all the privileges that the British associations were given by the Congress in 1946.”.

Gordon Smith, Scottish Football Association chief executive:

“We don’t want anything to do with a British team and made that clear from very early on.

“I have met Gordon Brown, but our position remains the same. A Team UK would raise questions in terms of our future as an autonomous footballing nation.

“Right now we have our own association, league and national team and that is not something we are willing to compromise.

“I don’t see a change of heart on this. There’s no backing for this from our administration or our supporters.”

Alan Duncan, from the Association of Tartan Army Clubs:

“When is Gordon Brown going to realise that nobody wants a Team UK, a position that could threaten our own independent national side?

“To be honest, nobody up here takes anything that Brown says seriously anymore.

“He has proven time and time again that he is more interested in being English than Scottish. He even admitted to supporting the England team.

“Scotland is focussed on trying to qualify for World Cups and European championships.”

Craig Brown, former Scotland manager:

“In my opinion, it would be axiomatic that such a ‘temporary’ merger could lead to the eventual permanent combination of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales into a single footballing entity in future major tournaments such as the World Cup and European Championships.”

Malcolm Clarke, Football Supporters Federation of Engand:

“The FSF is opposed to a single UK team in the Olympics.

We believe that such a team would be an entirely artificial entity given the existence of separate teams from each of the 4 countries in the UK in all other forms of International football, which is a tradition of very long standing which fans from the 4 countries wish to retain.

We share the fears of fans from the other UK countries that this precedent might be used to challenge the separate existence of those teams in the future, notwithstanding the assurances given by FIFA that this will not happen.”

Philip Smyth, Amalgamation of Official NI Fans Clubs :

“The Amalgamation of Official NISCs is opposed to the concept of a United Kingdom representative team participating in the 2012 Olympic Football Tournament.

We feel that such a move would undoubtedly lead to increased lobbying for an end to the present individual representative status of the four British Associations, a scenario which International fans throughout the Home Nations would be opposed to.”

Paul Corkrey, Football Supporters Federation Cymru :

“The Olympic side has our best wishes but it could mean the death of a country’s football team and the Welsh should not have to pay that price.”

Why then does Gordon Brown seem ‘determined’ to have a UK Olympic football team in the 2012 Olympic Games?

Only the government and the English FA are in favour.

Now it seems the Prime Minister is having talks with Sepp Blatter on the matter.

Is he mad???

Is his Britishness agenda so important that he risks the national teams of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Sepp Blatter has taken the view that if the UK was insistent on entering then:

“They should enter only a team composed of players from England”

That view is probably why the English Football Association itself seems in favour of a UK Football Olympic team.

As in the past, any UK team will be an English team, in all but name.

If Gordon Brown is really serious about a UK Olympic football team, I suggest the Home Nations play off for the right to represent the UK.

A joint team will be the beginning of the end for the Home Nations. The other nations just won’t stand four separate teams in FIFA if a UK team was submitted.

Wouldn’t the best way forward be the Home Nations representating themselves at the Olympics?

That makes much more sense.