Eco-friendly vehicles have come a long way from simply being prototypes. Manufacturers have been ambitious with emissions-free cars, even attempting to assemble them using resin. However, for big names in the industry, keeping it simple is key. Known for its funky appearance, the VW Beetle is getting another makeover — this time, it’s going electric.
“If we wanted to do a Beetle, electrically it would be much better than today’s model, much closer to history, because it could be rear-wheel drive,” said [VW chairman Herbert] Diess.
It may still be in the talks, but VW already has its hands full with an electric version of its classic microbus. Despite their overflowing to-do list, it seems fans of the Bug are on their toes. Thrilled prospective customers have been pleading with the chairman to follow through via letters and e-mails.
VW is aiming for a massive revamp of its vehicles by 2030. While that may seem a long ways away, its $24 billion budget speaks volumes about the group’s potential.
As a solar-powered train, it may not be the first, but Byron Bay’s eco-railway is completely emissions-free. Carrying up to 100 passengers, the refurbished antique-on-wheels is a breakthrough in clean commuting.
“Of course the major difference is it’s got solar panels on the roof so it can recharge itself. For those cloudy days we’ve also got 30 kilowatts of solar panels in this [station’s] roof here so we can also plug it in.” [says mastermind and businessman Brian Flannery.]
The resort-owner-slash-techie hopes the train will also draw in tourists. Still, the project itself is a giant leap towards greener transport systems. The “red rattler” is also bringing disused tracks back into business, drawing old and new together.
“I think everyone knows that Byron’s very conscious about anything to do with the environment,” [Byron Bay Railroad Company’s Jeremy Holmes] said. It’s really nice to be able to run a train that’s zero emissions and powered by the sun.”
Running on a three-kilometer track, the solar train has (literally) a long way to go. But I can’t say I’m not impressed with where it stands.
The rapidly increasing climate problem has many depending on carbon calculators and cooling white paint. While quick solutions beget temporary relief, temperatures continue to rise. Instead of working against fossil fuels, startup Net Power is attempting to work with it. The energy group is running a traditional factory that produces zero-emissions.
There are only 17 large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) plants in operation today, and, annually, they stop less than 40 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. That’s less than 0.01% of the 40 billion metric tons we emit each year.
Despite the technique’s obvious success, it still lacks the financial backing it needs. So far, only two CCS fossil fuel plants are up and running in Canada and the United States. To offset its own carbon byproducts, Net Power is teaming up with various companies that benefit from CO2.
Net Power will also have customers for the carbon dioxide it captures: oil companies looking for enhanced oil recovery. To get the fossil fuel out of the ground, oil companies pump water into the fields to push out the oil.
Net Power’s pilot plant hardly surpasses the size of a football stadium, but will power up to 40,000 homes. Talk about tiny dynamite!