Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Go ‘green’ in a Hummer

I know it sounds like a contradiction in terms, but yes, you really can go green in a big ol’ Hummer! Who says saving the planet means driving a small eco-car? Certainly not SAE Energy of Wichita, Kansas. SAE Energy are headed by Johnathan Goodwin and Larry Urry, who together founded the company to convert ordinary diesel and petrol cars to use alternative fuels and run more efficiently to reduce harmful emissions, oh and increase horsepower too.

What sets these guys apart is the fact that they take big traditional American fuel guzzling cars like the ubiquitous Hummer and other 4x4’s and convert them to run on various combinations of alternative fuels mixed with petrol or diesel using software and systems they perfected themselves. They use mostly standard factory produced parts and combine them with their clever in-house technology. Their incredibly innovative approach is getting them noticed, with an upcoming series on the Discovery Channel and a project for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, their star is definitely on the rise.

Talking of Hummers, they are working on a 2005 H3 Hummer that will be dual-engined. One engine will be electric, the other will act as a turbine. Now here’s the clever bit, when the batteries are running low, the turbine will kick-in for a few minutes and recharge the batteries. The turbine will run on biodiesel, so the emissions are lower. In total, this particular Hummer will have twice the horsepower and yet it will get 60 miles to the gallon. Can you imagine, a 5,000 pound Hummer with 600 horsepower going from 0-60 in around 5 seconds? Hope the brakes are good! For us mere mortals, SAE Energy have developed a $5,000 add-on kit that can convert any diesel powered car to use 50% less fuel and produce 80% less emissions. –

I find it pretty amazing that these two guys working with limited finances and facilities are doing something the major US car manufacturers with all the money, staff and resources available to them have so spectacularly failed to do. SAE Energy has shown it is possible to make big powerful cars that are fuel-efficient and less polluting, so why aren’t the car makers doing it? I suppose it comes down to consumer demand, if consumers want greener cars and are prepared to put their money where their ethics are, then manufacturers will have no choice but to meet this demand.

ExxonMobil accused of ‘misleading advertising campaign’

Friends of the Earth (FoE) has just launched an online video called ‘The Exxon Files’, an animated spoof of the X-Files that gives the low-down on ExxonMobil’s funding of climate change deniers. There have long been suspicions, and even evidence of ExxonMobil giving millions of dollars to a variety of thinktanks, scientists and lobbyists to rubbish the science underpinning the human impact on global warming. FoE Europe campaigner, Christine Phol, said: "ExxonMobil invests millions of euros funding thinktanks and lobbyists committed to blocking internationally agreed policies to combat climate change whilst at the same time spending major sums on advertising designed to present itself as an environmentally responsible company." You can help the FoE campaign by watching the video and registering your support for their planned complaint to the Belgian authorities over ExxonMobil adverts at Brussels airport.

The adverts say that ExxonMobil is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, but the company’s corporate citizenship reports shows an increase of 8.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions between 2003 and 2006. Paul de Clerck, another FoE Europe campaigner, described the adverts as just one example of ExxonMobil's "deliberately misleading advertising campaign". He went on to say: "The 'greening' of oil giant Exxon is nothing more than a slick public relations exercise… Instead of spending millions (of euros) on manipulating the facts, they should make real efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." Of course ExxonMobil denied the claims, their spokesperson said: “The recycling of this type of discredited conspiracy theory only diverts attention from the real challenge at hand: how to provide the energy needed to sustain and improve global living standards while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions” ExxonMobil’s response would be laughable if the issue of global warming wasn’t so serious.

[Via The Guardian]

UK power companies fail to tackle climate change

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has claimed that the UK’s biggest power companies are failing to deal with climate change. In its annual survey, the WWF rated the UK’s top six energy companies in order of their attempts to tackle climate change. Top of the league came Centrica (owner of British Gas) for tackling carbon emissions and promoting energy efficiency followed by Scottish Power for having the highest investment in renewable energy resources. They were followed by E.ON UK, Scottish and Southern Energy, EDF Energy and finally RWE Power. EDF Energy and RWE Power had demonstrated the least progress in tackling climate change, but even the companies at the top of the list still lacked the vision necessary to combat climate change.

WWF’s head of climate change, Keith Allott said: "If you combined the best elements of Centrica's and Scottish Power's strategies, you might begin to see a real leader pushing towards a green and efficient power sector… The power sector's emissions have been rising in recent years and many companies are focusing on building new fossil fuel or nuclear stations rather than providing efficient energy services and clean renewable energy." For all their ‘green’ claims, the power companies are still not doing enough. Maybe consumer pressure would spur them on. If enough consumers changed suppliers to the ‘greenest’ companies, the rest would soon change their attitude to climate change.

Via The Guardian]