Monday, March 16, 2015

Electric dreams

Whilst channel surfing yesterday I stumbled across a televised race of "Formula e", it's a new category of motor sport that features electric vehicles that look just like Formula 1 cars and I'd never seen it before. It's like watching a Grand Prix with the sound on your TV turned off! Like the original, the format of the race follows a familiar pattern, as batteries run down the drivers have to pit their cars to get a re-charge and energy management is a massive factor; the balance between going hell for leather and draining your battery quickly or going steady and playing the longer game made for good (geeky) entertainment where team strategy was just as key as individual driver skill.

It's good to see people getting enthusiastic about new technology via sport; especially technology that might just help our species avoid buggering up the environment of only place in the solar system we can actually live (always a bonus!) As ever, entrenched attitudes may well be the hardest thing to change, by comparison the technology looks like it's progressing nicely and will only get smarter the more people invest their time and energy into it.

I was put in mind of a disheartening conversation I had with mate of mine earlier this year on this subject; he works for a big oil company (so obviously has bias) and his view was that since the oil price was now so low (comparatively) technology firms were no longer interested in alternative energy research, "what's the point" was his conclusion. My own view is different, the point as I see it is not to (only) make a fast buck but to invest in the long-tail, i.e. that portion of curve where oil becomes so expensive and unpopular (because it's changing our climate!) that alternatives will become an imperative, this isn't a matter of speculation or opinion, it's just a simple matter of running the numbers. Either we (i.e. the industrial West) will lead the world in such replacement energy technology or we will follow, I'm pretty sure which will turn out to be more lucrative in the long run.

No comments: