E-Mobility for the Pacific
E-Mobility is ideal for the Pacific except for the simple fact that we are not ready for it. Planning is required for its deployment as rapid advancements in E-mobility are now happening in most parts of the world especially in Europe, Asia and North America. These continents also happen to be the major manufacturers of vehicles, vessels and aircraft thus advancements in these countries would of course reach and affect our shores sooner rather than later. So the need to plan for e-mobility is becoming rather urgent. This has not stopped one entrepreneurial company from pursuing production of e-vehicles and e-vessels in Fiji. However there are hurdles in the way that would need to be addressed if we are to promote this kind of entrepreneurship.
Of course the one area where immediate benefits would be felt is in the maritime sector, particularly with outboard motors. Motorised boats are a common mode of transport linking the water ways between the islands across the Pacific. A study suggested that each diesel outboard engine could produce GHG emissions equivalent to 30 cars. Diesel engines of course have other impacts on the marine environment as this report from NIWA clearly highlights, impacts that will be eliminated with a transition to electric motors.
There are today a number of options to choose from such as Ray Electric Outboards, Torqeedo, ReGen Nautic’s E200, KARVIN, Pure Watercraft, Elco, ePropulsion, Yamaha and AquaWatt. Two videos on this page deal with two of the products available. (Note we’d be happy to add other products here – just contact us).
Domestic E-Aviation is also quite a promising sector. Rapid progress in the production of electric engines for planes will make E-aviation (at least for the short haul domestic sector) a very viable solution in a few years. We will keep updating these pages with advances in the sector as they come about.
The car market is an even more diverse one. Many of the most popular car manufacturers now have electric models on their portfolio and further more are coming out each year. With the decision taken by many leading economies to phase out internal combustion engine vehicles by the 2030’s and 2040’s, car manufacturers are reading the writing on the wall and shifting production to electric and hydrogen fuel cells.
In the Pacific we need to take advantage of these developments. Some basic infrastructure needs to be in place. In discussions we have had with both car import agencies (who we’d like to see importing electric vehicles) and fuel service stations (who we’d like to see installing electric car charging stations) we have found ourselves in a classic chicken – egg situation. The car importers are not willing to import electric vehicles if the charging infrastructure is not in place and the fuel service stations (and others) are not inclined to invest in electric chargers if there are no electric cars to charge. There is of course a simple solution for governments to this seeming impasse, that is, start with those land transport sectors one can control. These would include the government’s own car fleet, the car-hire fleets, fire-engines, garbage collecting vehicles, ambulances, police cars, taxis and of course buses. If one adds all these up, there would be a critical number of vehicles to make electric car chargers an attractive investment.
Fiji, for example, has chosen to target Buses as the first land transport sector to electrify. This is important as this may also address another critical issue in the country – road congestion. The biggest environment benefit to be derived in land sustainable transport is through a well organised, comfortable, reliable 24 hr. public transport system to make owning a private car unnecessary. There are many advantages to a dependable public transport system that will be dealt with separately in this portal.
Finally, although there are many advantages to e-mobility (including financial savings, reduction in dependence of fossil fuels in our nations, pollution reduction in our streets and homes, noise pollution reduction and associated health benefits) the case would be stronger from a climate change perspective if the electricity that charges the batteries it is based on, is derived from renewable energy. A heavy investment in Electricity production through renewable energy needs to go hand in hand with investments in E-Mobility.
Additionally, we must not lock ourselves in thinking that e-mobility is the all-encompassing solution for sustainable transport. We need to embrace a mix of technologies that will make the sector both dynamic and exciting for many years to come, driving innovations as we explore the most sustainable ways to deal with our transport needs.
E-mobility also gives us new opportunities in designing our cities. With vehicles being non-polluting, there would be no reasons to keep vehicles at a distance from human spaces. See video below.