||SHIFT 2007 at Oxford - sponsored by SEEDA
A Conference Expo on Sustainable High-Innovation Fuels and Transport
Summary of discussion and talks at SHIFT07
Technology will not be the limitation to vehicular impact on climate change. It will rather be the reluctance of the individual to accept his global social responsibility. That reluctance transmits through to the car industry, which will follow a path of least resistance, rather than actively make change happen (i.e. they will fulfil customer demand, rather than provide the alternative vehicles).
People's behaviour needs to change as regards transport and their future expectations.
Smaller, lighter (not made from steel), more aerodynamic (underside too) vehicles needed, improving safety (this is possible and it needs to be explained to large-car owners), but reducing fuel/energy consumption (petrol/diesel/gas or other).
Future car business model may be via a leasing of 'wheels' or 'personal transport', so that the ownership of the vehicle remains with the brand owner or manufacturer. This aligns interests of car makers and drivers, and reduces tendency to waste and turnover fleet. The model works better when direct taxation of people and companies is reduced and the tax burden is transferred to use and waste. I.e. we move from pay-as-you-earn to pay-as-you-go and pay-as-you-throw. This makes labour cheaper (i.e. for remanufacturing and recycling work) relative to making new products with virgin materials. Overall, there is little doubt that this would be good for the economy good for employment, and good for the car industry, which is struggling to make profits from ever larger, heavier, more complex, and some would say, unfit for purpose, vehicles.
Hydrogen/fuel cells would need a lot of infrastructural development.
Advances in hydrogen/fuel cell systems continue. (Ed in 2008: But there seems to be a move away from hydrogen and fuel cells in 2008 and a general move in favour of the much lower infrastructural and running costs of electricity-based vehicles. The technical issues of hydrogen storage are enormous compared with those of batteries. Some people in these industries are voting with their feet and moving on in the belief that the technologies will never become competitive.)
Battery/electric vehicles increasingly seem the way forward. These could provide solutions to many particular types of journey undertaken commonly by motorists. For example, the vast majority of journeys are short enough to be provided by battery vehicles, for which the only infrastructure needed for recharge is a plug socket and electricity, and which is far cheaper and simpler than petrol, which adds to factor-of-ten power-per-passenger-kilometre efficiency gains and reduction of (complexity in and number of moving) parts. Brands such as NICE, G-Wiz (London), Think (Norway, US, UK) and the Fish (California) are offering cars now.
Gas-to-liquid and biofuels could play a role, but it is clear that fossil fuel improvements won't solve the carbon emission problems and that fuel poverty issues around using land for fuel make first generation biofuels generally unacceptable. Some non-land-using second generation (by-product) biofuel options are not yet well understood.
We need to reduce average speeds to give further fuel savings. (This runs counter to the 'image issue' that sells cars). Alternative fuelled and battery vehicles are more efficient in acceleration from lower speeds than combustion engines, and indeed make no noise and waste no fuel when stationary, a wonderful benefit for urban driving and for roads like the M25 and A14.
Programme and Proceedings
Past HVM Conferences - Programme Talks and Video Podcasts
Forthcoming Conferences - Programme Outline