Green technology to the resue?

As recession really takes hold, Peston offers a magisterial macro-view.

Arguably the crisis will turn out to be more significant for us and other developed economies than the collapse of communism

At the big -micro end, the terms of bail-out for the US auto giants are awaited.

“..it could mean that the government would mandate, or at least heavily influence, what kind of cars companies make, what mileage and environmental standards they must meet and what large investments they are permitted to make — to recreate an industry that Mr. Obama said “actually works, that actually functions.”

Does a clue to the future lie in that little stunt by the car makers who this time trundled down to Washington is a hybrid rather than private jets? So far hybrids being more expensive are no easy sell. But here’s hoping technology can come to the rescue and leap a generation to produce the attractive long distance, fairly speedy electric or hydrogen car – great for employment, great for a green future. I have this feeling that it’s on file somewhere, hidden by bosses who saw it as the enemy. Now’s the time to surface it guys, for your lives. Or is this just a recession-crazed fantasy?

  • 6countyprod

    Toyota and Nissan are already away out in front of the Big 3 with greener cars. Poor management, poor quality and aggressive union demands will ensure that the US car industry will never be able to catch up.

  • Damien Okado-Gough

    Voila! The water powered car. It’s a reality.

    http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=CrxfMz2eDME

    Apparently the technology is cheap enough for these to go into mass production and for them to be as cheap as current vehicles.

  • Mack

    “I have this feeling that it’s on file somewhere, hidden by bosses who saw it as the enemy. Now’s the time to surface it guys, for your lives. Or is this just a recession-crazed fantasy?”

    Brian – there are people working on hydrogen fueled cars, but they’re not being surpressed becaused they’re an threatening alternative. An alternative fuel such as hydrogen requires a huge investment in the refueling network. You’ve also, simultaneously got to sell enough cars to make this cost effective. When both the cars and the refueling network are rolled out, there will be a massive spike in demand for the fuel, requiring a huge number of additional processing plants of various hues. With oil relatively cheap the economics of alternative fuels didn’t make sense.

    Now (prior to this bust) we have returned to an exponential growth path in Oil consumption – peak oil production looms closer so closer examination alternative fuels will become increasingly economically viable.

    This is an interesting graph on the four main bear markets in US stocks of the last century. Notice, we have recently overtaken the great crash of 1929 in our descent!

    (via big pitcure / Barry Ritholtz)
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/four-bears-large.gif

  • 6countyprod

    Is today poisson d’avril?

  • Mack

    Damian – believe it or not water is also in short supply (relative to exponentially growing demand). Water shortage is a major concern for China and India as their economies and populations grow.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_water_crisis

    http://sempreavantinz.typepad.com/green_is_good/2008/06/peak-water-bigger-than-peak-oil—water-the-new-black-gold.html

    Even in rainy old Ireland there is talk of raiding the Shannon to quench Dublin’s thirst.

  • 6countyprod

    **BREAKING NEWS**

    It’s too late! Forget all that environmentalist stuff. Let’s all eat, drink and be merry and enjoy our last moments.

  • 6countyprod

    Poor Old Europe, still lagging behind the US.

    According to this chart, in ten years, European carbon emissions have increased by 5%, while US emissions have dropped 9%, making China the greatest polluter. And we have the impertinence to criticise America.

    Well done, George Bush!

  • The Reincarnation of Paul Revere’s Horse

    I think the car of the future will be the electric car like what Tesla motors are working towards.

    http://www.teslamotors.com/

    Which is all well and good we just need to change how we produce our energy.

    If you look at Nanosolar who are producing solor panals that are at the moment cheaper than fossil fuels PerWatt produced. They dont use silicon and come off the production line a lot quicker.

    http://www.nanosolar.com/

    http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1852747_1854195_1854153,00.html

  • OC

    We’re in a mess, with no easy answers.

    It is my understanding that European laws allow higher levels of pollution from cars than allowed in the USA, driving up costs.

    Is the “water powered car” real, or a hoax?

    Speaking of unit costs, some kind of national health insurance not funded directly by the car makers would lower unit costs.

    The thought of millions of additional folks out of work, and an industry extinct, is foreboding.

    And as mass production requires mass consumption, mass unemployment not only screws the economic pooch, but the social fabric becomes rent by the now unemployed.

    This will only exacerbate chronic unemployement caused by laying-off citizens in favor of cheaper labour available from several sources, a paradox of efficiency which antithesis is symbolized in the spinning wheel still emblazoned on India’s national flag.

    The real culprit in global warming? The mass use of vaccines, and anti-biotics.

    We’ve too many people alive. Maybe it’s good that global warming is opening up more arable land. The end of last ice-age was actually warmer than it is now.

    I’m not saying that I deserve to continue to live more than someone else: just stating the obvious.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Brian,

    So far hybrids being more expensive are no easy sell.

    There’s one reason why hybrids are no easy sell – they’re bollocks. You’ll get almost equivalent fuel economy from a good diesel-based car, and the emissions are broadly similar. A lot of the reason for this is that the fuel economy provided by the motor and regenerative braking is paid back by the fact that you have to carry a heavy battery and other gubbins that normal cars do not have. It’ll cost you more to fix and maintain, too – diesel engines these days are reliable (simpler than petrol engines) and there are plenty of people who can maintain them. The batteries in hybrid cars are specialized, and they’ve a short working life relative to an engine. Hybrid cars, right now, are a scam.

    If the government was serious about getting people to use less fuel, they’d start basing the tax bands on the car mpg ratings as well as the CO2 emissions.

    But here’s hoping technology can come to the rescue and leap a generation to produce the attractive long distance, fairly speedy electric or hydrogen car

    Hydrogen is, of course, not an energy source but an energy storage medium. And once you realize that, the next question is, why should we bother storing highly explosive hydrogen in a car, and provide a suitable combustion engine, when we can simply provide a car whose drivetrain consists of an electric motor, a battery and a gearbox ?

    Electric-power cars with electricity provided from solar, wind, and nuclear energy sources is the way forward. It’s simple, well-understood, and it won’t blow up at any given provocation.

    – great for employment, great for a green future. I have this feeling that it’s on file somewhere, hidden by bosses who saw it as the enemy.

    Nonsense. We have plenty of independent-minded entrepreneurs around the place who would happily build it if it could be done. People like Soros, or Branston. Or the Tesco group. The car companies are in trouble because the countries where most of the cars are sold are no longer the countries that can control or secure the supply of their fuel. The car industry, therefore, has no reason to take orders from anyone.

    Damien,

    Voila! The water powered car. It’s a reality.

    I can’t believe that people are still falling for this bollocks. The car does not “run on water”, it uses a battery to release hydrogen from the water (an energy intensive process) and then burns the hydrogen. It is effectively an electric car, except it’s less efficient as it has a hydrogen-burning combustion engine in it. People who circulate these stupid hoaxes – and the stupid reporters who mindlessly repeat them without asking the fucking obvious questions such as “what happens when you take the battery out?” – should be taken out and shot.

  • Comrade Stalin

    6countyprod:

    According to this chart, in ten years, European carbon emissions have increased by 5%, while US emissions have dropped 9%, making China the greatest polluter. And we have the impertinence to criticise America.

    Yes, because there are less than half the number of people in the USA than there are in China. So the per-capita pollution is more than double. Nice try, though.

  • 6countyprod

    CS,
    Actually China has about 4 times the population of the US, but you got to give it to the Americans for at least improving their numbers, and they are just getting started on recycling!

  • 6countyprod

    Oh no, it looks like the Germans are jumping ship!