By: Lesley Brown
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Bertrand Piccard & Solar Impulse
The 6 October 2017 meeting of Futura-Mobility (on ‘shifting user behaviour towards responsible innovation’) wrapped with some inspiration from Bertrand Piccard, psychiatric doctor and co-pilot/founder of Solar Impulse, followed by open questions and discussion. Although not behaviour-specific, his insight touched upon topics that resonated with all present.
Concerning the carbon tax, holding up Sweden as an example, he clearly believes it forces energy efficiency and makes industry more competitive. “Carbon is a factor that flags up the inefficiency of industries.”
On biofuels, he didn’t mince his words, qualifying the performance of the 1st generation as “rubbish”; of the 2nd as “bad”; and the 3rd as “better”. “Potential may well lie in algae and biogas produced from waste matter,” he suggested.
Two points well worth bearing in mind – one of the benefits of hydrogen is faster recharging compared to batteries; another is that this energy source is taxed at the same rate as conventional fuels. “If we want a win-win situation whereby the tax man is happy, the consumer is happy,” said Mr Piccard.
Fly electric. “Everyone is thinking of doing electric aircraft today. We should never laugh at anyone with ambitious goals.” Mr Piccard described the recent news of easyJet’s collaboration with Wright Electric as “advertising gold for the carrier”; on Wright Electric he enthused: “they are just brilliant, they’ve crossed the Rubicon!”
What about the environmental impacts of battery components? “We must minimise the impacts. Batteries are about local pollution; fossil fuels, global pollution.”
Why no solar cars? “Largely because of the surface area of the roof needed to meet the energy requirements of the vehicle, plus driving in the rain!”
To conclude, Mr Piccard encouraged everyone to adopt a more positive attitude towards the current and future clean tech situation.
The World Alliance for Efficient Solutions, which already has Futura-Mobility member Air Liquide on board, seeks to demonstrate which clean tech solutions are available to deliver on environmental and health targets
Cover photo: Solar Impulse Foundation