Planes, Trains & Automobiles – Part 2

Last week we talked mostly about electric cars but this week lets delve into the bigger gear available with electric storage.

 

Having more people in the same vehicle makes when heading in the same direction makes sense. One of the most efficient ways of doing this is using a bus. China is all over this. Did you know that they have over 400,000 electric buses?

 

That’s a lot of buses and given the phenomenal population of china I suspect they are going to need a lot more. It cost around $400,000 – $600,000 to buy and electric bus. It sounds like a lot but it costs around $200,000 to buy a diesel bus but when you factor the running costs of a large bus I suspect they both would be on par in regards to costs over their serviceable life spans.

 

So battery powered buses do exist

 

Mining is another area that has a high fossil fuel dependency for their big machines and there is now battery electric versions of those for underground mining. Underground loaders, scalers, drill rigs are becoming more main stream. Saves them on operating costs but being underground not having to deal with the exhaust fumes is a huge bonus. I used to work in underground mining for many years and people used to ask me want it was like. I used to say if you ever wanted to experience it just lock yourself in your wardrobe with a light stuck on your head with a sprinkler and Victa Lawnmower going at full noise and you won’t be too far away from what it’s like. But breathing the exhaust fumes also stuck in my mind as what I disliked most. Here is a financial reason why electric is most likely glowing to dominate underground mining. In one mine if they had diesel equipment it was going to require a 30MW power plant to ventilate and cool the mine. An all electric mine was only 15MW which over the life span of the mine would be millions and in this example at least $6.5m saving per year and if a remote mine were using diesel power plants, it would be double that.

 

Then we have battery electric trucks. Their biggest issues are range. This though just requires a rethink on how we shift freight. Using electric trains to do the long haul sections to distribution hubs and then the short hop final deliveries are done by electric trucks. This is looking to be one of the European models moving forward and would be the only one that could ever work here with technology as it stands today. Diesel being such an energy comprised liquid hydrocarbon means it will have the advantage over most energy forms for a while. Though a new technology (or is it old) works a lot like the old trams but on a highway. Large sections of the highways have a catenary or overhead power cables that the electric trucks use to power their motors and charge their batteries for the long distance bits. Then they use their batteries when they need to come off the main routes and deliver into towns and then hook back on to replenish their batteries when they jump back onto the highway. Trials are under way in Rotterdam and Germany.

 

Lastly for this segment electric planes. Gravity and friction are the big issues to overcome here and on a plane you don’t want gravity to win.

 

But there are electric planes available. The biggest is about the size of Lear Jet but once again range is the biggest limiting factor but this is the interesting bit. Over half the world’s aeroplane trips are under 500km which technically is well in the range of an electric plane and the running costs would be around half that of a fossil fuel powered plane. So I don’t think I will be around to see myself ever boarding an all electric along haul flight to the other side of the planet it is though potentially possible I might jump on a small plane with electric powered turbines for the short hop over Bass Strait to Melbourne.

 

This week just to jazz things up a bit we are introducing a weekly renewable energy or energy efficiency interesting fun fact. Something to you can slip into the conversation at your next BBQ or gathering and make you the coolest cat in the room. So this weeks dinner party delicious diatribe is:

 

“More solar energy hit the earth’s solar in just one hour than the entirety of humanity consumes in one whole year”.

 

DMS Energy is an electrical contracting company that operates on the North West Coast. From commercial to domestic electrical work, heating and cooling and we specialise in supply, design and installation of solar systems of any size and type. 13 years strong. You are in safe hands with DMS Energy.