Our zero-emissions future

Dear Beagle Editor Your correspondent Damien Rogers expressed concern that the phasing out of fossil fuels might prove a problem for long-distance trucking, heavy earth-moving and other similarly power-hungry applications. I write to reassure him and others that all is not lost. Indeed, just like in other energy fields, there are great benefits around the corner. Just around the corner, as we will see.... Firstly, to the construction industry. Norway intends to become "climate neutral" by 2030 and that means no emissions. Earthmoving and other construction machinery represent about 20% of the emissions from Oslo, Norway's capital, so that means they have to go, and soon. A local company, seeing the opportunity this raises, has just released a battery powered version of the CAT 323F digger which they've called the "Z-line". It's a 25 tonne machine! "The machine can operate for up to seven hours on a single battery charge under nominal load. The electric excavator is zero emission, and significantly quieter than the former diesel machine, which makes it ideal for use in urban areas with noise restrictions." They add that their "EDITRON powertrain systems are rugged and compact, with smart software controls that are suitable for hybrid and electric applications within the power range of 30kW to 2,000kW." Woah, that's up to 2 Megawatts! That's 2681 Horsepower in the old money. They add further that "Electrifying the excavator brings multiple benefits for our customers: lower vehicle emissions, safer and more reliable operations and shorter payback time. The first commercialized unit is now in production; we have already received seven orders from customers in Norway and Scandinavia, as well as interest from Germany, France, Holland and the UK.” Stunning, eh? A 25 tonne digger, run on batteries! And goes all day. And is quiet and clean. And is cheaper to run. What's not to like? I think what we overlook is the far greater efficiency of electrical motors over ICE (Internal Combustion Engines). And when the machine is temporarily idle, say while other workers are clearing the tree you've just knocked over, it consumes no energy, while your diesel sits idling, using fuel and emitting pollution. And of course an electrical motor generates peak torque at zero revs (like a steam locomotive), unlike the IC engine which needs to rev up, so the electrical motor is ideal for heavy grunt work like digging. And on to Damien's second concern, heavy duty trucking. Maybe a picture tells a 1000 words....

(Now, keep in mind that Australia could become a massive exporter of hydrogen, made cheaply using renewable energy. All it needs is a bit of leadership from the Federal Government. Instead of passing lumps of coal around in Parliament....) Terry McGee, Malua Bay


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