My grandchildren were too young to go to the ‘school strike’ last Friday. But on Saturday they experienced the excitement and reality of a zero carbon future at the Electric Vehicle Expo.
My grandchildren, 5 and 8 years old, were too young to go to the climate demonstration last Friday. But on Saturday they experienced the excitement of a zero carbon future, at the Electric Vehicle Expo, run by community group Renew.
Their mouths were wide open as they watched a solar car from the Darwin-Adelaide race zoom past at incredible speed. The older one had his first chance to ride an electric bike, and loved it. The younger one rode in the ‘box’ of an electric cargo tricycle pedalled by his grandfather. We almost kept up with his older brother. Adults test-drove electric cars and thousands of people wandered around displays of various electric vehicles and solar products.
The demonstration model solar car zipped around its track. The boys were able to choose a solar powered boat to race in the water tank. They were amazed that the propeller kept spinning, even when the solar panels were in the shade. These model vehicles are the focus of the Model Solar Car Challenge that attracts hundreds of school children to annual races at Scienceworks every October to race the cars and boats they have built. This year will be its 30th anniversary.
My ‘old-tech’ hybrid car looked a bit boring after all that.
The challenge we face as we move into a renewable-electric world is to emphasise recognition of the importance of maximising energy efficiency. It is actually the most efficient solar car that wins the race. A home with efficient appliances and building fabric makes the most cost-effective use of renewable energy and energy storage, while capturing many other benefits such as improved comfort and productivity. The International Energy Agency calls energy efficiency ‘the first fuel’ for good reason.
Alan Pears AM has worked on clean energy and climate policy for several decades. His work spans all sectors of the economy, ranging from practical site-level projects to program development and implementation, policy analysis and education, particularly energy efficiency.