A review of the latest news from the world of renewable energy makes for sobering reading, for those of us who continue to suffer at the petrol pump.
It seems that there is a world beyond the internal combustion engine.
And the sheer diversity of the efforts to find an alternative to fossil fuel shouldn’t appeal only to academics. If this is about making yourself less beholden to the petrol and diesel confederacy - the extractors, the refiners and the the taxers - then these arguments should by rights find a broader reception,
From left field comes the news that aligator fat is supremely suitable for the production of biodiesel . Yes, that’s aligator fat, fifteen million tonnes of which are sent to landfill anually, a bi-product of the industry in aligator meat.
According to Science Daily:
‘Labratory experiments [showed] that extracted oil from aligator fat can easily be converted into biodiesel. The oil was actually more suitable for biodiesel production than oil from some other animal fats [and was] similar in composition to biodiesel from soybeans, and met nearly all the official standards for high quality biodiesel.’
This may not satisfy environmental commentators, despite their generally being in favour of the use of waste products on the grounds of environmental sustainability. As with BMW offering leather seats in their new electric vehicle range, there is certainly a disconnect somewhere.
But then it appears that the fledgling renewable energy sector needs to build in all of the diversity it can manage.
A similarly left-field application of renewables can be found in the work of the Australian military and the The Australian National University Center for Sustainable Energy Systems.
These bodies are looking at ways of integrating effective solar panels into clothing worn by soldiers. This will allow the military to use high-technolgy devices over sustained periods of time in the field, without them having to resort to cumbersome battery packs.
What use is this development to the car industry? The development of lighter and more efficent solar technology can only benefit an industry cyring out for a more joined-up approach to energy production.
And yes, solar pannelling has already been tried as a roofing material for cars. This supplementary feature will combine with standard EV technolgies to increase the range of new electric cars.
The spread of solar is incremental but has been bouyed recently by the news that a number of major consumers of electricity are willing to invest in these technolgies.
IKEA for one have recently purchased a 12 Megavolt windfarm in Scotland. They are concerned on a business level about energy volatilty. Which, to you and I, means that they’re scared of the price of running their operations in the long term being tied to a single power supply. By investing in wind power IKEA keep their options broad and open.
The moral of this story is that diversity is the future. And in motoring terms that’s why the Vauxhall Ampera is such a good bet. Like the Nissan Leaf the Ampera offers dual-fuel tecnology, giving you options as to how you run your car.
Environmental commentators have a hopeful interest in these technologies working out and are always on the look out for signs that the green revolution is coming.
And one piece of news which will cheer them comes from the UK and the Crown Estate. The fitting of a single solar roof to a single Crown facility (a stone factory in Portland) may not look like the gesture to begin a revolution. But if you understand that the Crown is still by far the largest single landowner in the UK you get an idea of the potential of this single move.
The eccentricity and pure capital muscle provided by the Crown may just be the tip that the renewable industry needs to get itself onto its feet. Clean energy enthusiasts nationwide will be watching their next move with interest.