Electric scooters alone won’t solve the problem

The Royal Gazette has an interesting article on the island’s oil reliance due to the heavy rise in inflation, something I touched on only weeks ago.

The article focuses on things we can do to reduce our reliance on oil with one mention being acquiring an electric scooter.  Unfortunately while purchasing an electric scooter seems like a great idea, it really accomplishes little as long as the electricity to power it still needs to come from Belco which burns diesel fuel to generate it.  It does however identify the need for other means to reduce our consumtion through the encouragement of and elimination of duty for solar water heaters and solar panels, as suggested by local environmental group Greenrock.

There are many other things that could be undertaken to reduce our overall carbon impact along with our oil consumption.  As one example, government could be banning the importation of incandescent light bulbs.  According to a lab test conducted by Popular Mechanics, Compact Florescent Light bulbs “use about 70 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs.”  Imagine what kind of impact such a ban would have on our overall electricity consumption.  Such bans have already taken place in Australia and California and is something I covered briefly back in February.

Individuals and even storeowners could be doing their part as well.  Each could also consider the acquisition of an eCube to reduce refrigerator consumption.  In a traditional refrigerator, whenever you open and close the fridge, the cool air in the fridge is released as warm air from the room rushes in.  This despite the fact that your items still such as your milk or beer still remain cold.  This is due to the temperature sensor in most fridges which measure air temperature as a means to decide when the fridge should be cooling or not.  When the door opens, the fridge thinks it needs to turn on and thus kicks in the condenser unit, often far more often than it truly should and especially in the case of stores.  The eCube acts to simulate the temperature of the stored products rather than the air around them and thus ensures that the fridge does not run unnecessarily and could serve as a great means to reduce refridgerator consumption.

Belco could be doing more of it’s part as well.  The proposed underwater turbine is a good first step, but it’s largely untested and unproven.  It also will only supply a small portion of the islands overall needs.  Another consideration would be to offer the ability for people with solar panels and other home oriented power sources to contribute excess electricity into the grid in times that their home consumption is low.

Belco could also be looking into other technologies besides the underwater turbine.  One thing that I’m keen on are algae bioreactors.  A company called GreenFuel technologies produces a bioreactor that works to extract carbon dioxide, a key contributor to global warming, from smokestacks and subsequently uses it to grow algae.  Algae can then be used to create biofuels such as biodiesel or hydrogen to power hydrogen fuel cells.  Rather than releasing carbon dioxide in the air from the Belco and Tynes bay smokestacks, we could be working with companies like GreenFuel to not only reduce our carbon impact but also produce fuel which can be used locally.  Further, we could be trying to invest in the development of algae (or seaweed) farming locally in order to boost our abilities to produce fuels locally and become more foreign oil independent. 

Another key step is that we could be looking to better utilize the ash created by the Tynes bay smokestacks.  Rather than sinking it into cement blocks, we could instead be using it as a fertilizer to improve our ability to create produce locally.  Ash when mixed with soil actually works as a great fertilizer and the ash produced from the incinerator could be investigated as a source.

There are a great many activities we could be undertaking to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and reduce our carbon footprint.  We simply need to start thinking out of the box and ensure that we have a government who is willing to put more emphasis on our future rather than only focusing on the past.



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3 thoughts on “Electric scooters alone won’t solve the problem

  1. Thanks Morgan, thats good to know.
    That raises another question. If the ash is toxic, what are the emissions from the plant like? What exactly are we spewing into the air that we drink from?

  2. The engineering adage holds true. The solution to pollution is dilution.. The real problems arise when the leaching toxins polute Castle Harbour with its shallow waters and fairly low flow rates. The scrubbers use static electricity to remove the ash from the hot gas but do not , to the best of my knowledge, have any impact of toxic gases. The engineering calculations rely of prevailing wind direction & speed, smokestack height and allowable toxicity concentration standards. The question then becomes whether or not the standards that are allowable elsewhere are good enough for Bermuda or do we demand a higher level of care. In theory the gases are mostly simplied down to CO, CO2 and various other organics, the ash is the prime offender with the heavy metals which are both toxic and robust.

  3. Its more likely that the standards would be surpassed due to additional sources of polutants. ie operating alone it may be fine but given the other sources in the area such as Belco, traffic, etc there may be compounding effects.
    The standards as I am familar with them, simply give the allowable concentrations. It is up to the engineer designing the stack to take these other factors into consideration.

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