Carbon Taxes & Low Carbon Cars

In between job hunting and reading the news I came across these two articles, one about France instituting a carbon tax and the other about how the UK should seek to further develop low and ultra-low carbon vehicles. I, and I’m sure many others, have long argued that Bermuda is a perfect location for changing over to electric and other ultra-low carbon vehicles. While the carbon tax being proposed by France, and even the implementation of low/ultra-low carbon cars in the UK are not without their problems, I definitely think that we should seriously look to implementing a similar system in Bermuda. A strong carbon tax, complemented with the subsidisation of these alternate technologies is something that could facilitate the transition to a more sustainable transport network for our country.

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17 thoughts on “Carbon Taxes & Low Carbon Cars

  1. Jonathan,

    I don’t believe we are yet suited for changing over to electric vehicles. We simply don’t have the power generation capacity at present without changes to our infrastructure to support electric vehicles.

  2. I don’t believe we are yet suited for changing over to electric vehicles. We simply don’t have the power generation capacity at present without changes to our infrastructure to support electric vehicles.

    Could you please be more specific. I am not sure what you mean about power generation capacity? Thanks in advance.

  3. Sara, there’s enough hot air ‘there’ to runn things for a few hundred years.

    Just needs to be harnested…….and thats in all respects.

  4. As well as a green transportation network it’s important for Bermuda to pursue green electricity as well. Both for enviromental reasons and because as the price of oil rises as it inevitable will in the near future Bermudians are going to be suckered out of every penny BELCO can get in the name of fuel price increases.

  5. Mr. Pitcher,

    Just repeating my question so in does not get lost in the shuffle.
    Could you please be more specific. I am not sure what you mean about power generation capacity? Thanks in advance.

  6. Denis has an excellent grasp of these issues, but I reckon he is arguing that Bermuda’s current electricity generation capacity is not enough to accomodate the full conversion of our transport vehicles to electric. We would need probably two more generators at BELCO, at least under the current model. I suppose if we could exchange current technologies across the country to more efficient ones, as well as install solar and wind power on individual houses as well as convert water catchements to solar panels as well, we could indeed cover the extra energy costs required. Electric cars still require fossil fuels as long as our main energy production system is based on fossil fuels (as BELCO is), but they are more efficient and would reduce our total importation of fuels, which would have a benefit both in terms of air pollution and the risks of an oil spill in our waters.

  7. Jon, Sara, et al.

    Belco lost 14MW of capacity earlier this year when one alternator failed. This dropped their total capacity to approximately 160MW, assuming all generators are operational. Our peak daily load is approximately 110MW, so there is very little excess capacity to account for maintenance or failures. Adding additional load such as charging electric vehicles from the grid would surely overload what is already stressed.

    It’s not about the fossil fuel use either. If all vehicles moved to electric, and Belco still used fuel oil for generation and could meet the demand, our overall use of fuel would still drop significantly, as would our costs. Belco is slightly more efficient than your average internal combustion engine, as strange as that sounds.

    There are myriad problems with the move to renewables. It’s not at all the neat solution proposed at this time. Have a read of the energy green paper, or talk to the staff at the department of energy, to get a feel for the various options.

  8. The alternator is getting repaired. It is a huge device, weighing over twenty tonnes IIRC. This is a specialty unit and had to be shipped to the manufacturer for rebuilding. These units costs millions of dollars as well. It should be back on island in January.

    BELCO has recently placed an order for some gas turbine engines to meet the increased load.

    I know a lot of people are angry at BELCO, and I don’t agree with everything they do either. However, I do know what running a major utility entails, and the so-called armchair experts should cut BELCO a little slack (only a little, mind you), seeing as they have apparently all stayed in a Holiday Inn Express recently…

  9. @Sara

    Why can’t Belco repair or get a new alternator

    It’s not just the generation capacity, too. To ship the extra power out to all the various places around the island that would need it, there’s a good chance you’d need to upgrade transmission infrastructure (power lines) to carry more power. I’d have to have more detail on their infrastructure, and on the increased power needing to be shipped around, to give a better estimate.

    To the extent we started installing solar/etc, that would help, as it’s generated close to where it would be used. But then you get a whole bunch of other issues, like night-time (people would want to charge their vehicles at night, I assume), so now it has to include on-site energy storage. And I did some back-of-the-envelope math a while back on how much power we’d get out of solar, and even if covered every roof with solar, it’s still only a fraction of what we use today – although it might be enough for cars, I don’t know how much they’d take.

    There’s a reason engineers are somewhat nerdy – lots of pesky little details you have to be aware of. Hence the old saying ‘an engineer is someone who can do for $.10 what any fool can do for $1’.

  10. These units costs millions of dollars as well. It should be back on island in January.

    Millions, funny, we all know this is a drop in the hat for Belco.
    Considering they made record profits last year while we were all struggling to pay their hefty fees they claimed they HAD to charge.

  11. Sara, again I must point out that running a utility is not half as easy as people make it out to be.

    During a typical summer day, when load is at 100MW, BELCO burns 150 liters of fuel PER SECOND. Have a look at the pump price of diesel and reconsider your statement.

    Much of what BELCO does is indefensible, but running a utility is a major undertaking. Hundreds of millions of dollars in installed plant alone, not including running costs.

    There are options to BELCO, but capital costs have to be met first before those can function locally.

  12. With a view towards easing up on demand why doesn’t BELCO actively encourage consumers (via a reverse/net metering program) to seek/install alternate sources?

    They seem to want to have their cake and eat it too.

  13. Solar on appearance seems like a great solution, but in my experience the only significant use for solar panels on houses, for example, is for water heating. Sure, it saves on the electricity bill but you’re going to need a whole lot of panels if you want to harness enough power for other tasks.

    However I’m definitely deferring to the engineers and those with knowledge of the process.

  14. 32n64w,

    If you are interested in energy systems, you may PM me at BIAW. I have many years of research and teaching in the field.

    FWIW re reverse metering, you are exactly right on BELCO’s approach to date. The average user would spend a huge outlay on PV and see minimal return. It’s better to go completely off-grid, and do a mix of solar thermal (hot water), photovoltaics, and wind.

    Tryangle, it would take approximately 160 square feet of solar panels to generate 2kW of output. The average house would need between 5 and 10kW.

    The biggest obstacle to adoption of renewables is because people will not change their energy use to accommodate them. They all just expect enough power to be at the socket whenever they want.

  15. That’s true. We simply *must* have our a/c on, our DVDs and stereos on and running, etc. Wonder if that does make any efforts to promote solar panels and wind-based solutions a non-starter because individuals wouldn’t be interested in something that would only reduce a fraction of the cost of their electricity bills.

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