A Solar-Electric Bus For Adelaide

AutoBlogGreen has a post on a New Zealand manufactured electric bus (with a solar power "refuelling" station) being piloted in Adelaide. Like the electric truck example, this is a great niche for fully electric vehicles to occupy - a vehicle in frequent use that is contantly returning to its base and has no need to make longer journeys.

Where might you go if you were the world's first solar-powered electric bus? Somehow, the Adelaide City Council has convinced Tindo, which is that bus, to make Adelaide, Australia its home. Not only is the bus powered 100 percent by solar energy (from a BP Solar-sourced photovoltaic station), but people can also ride it for free. The bus has room for 42 passengers.

The Tindo is made by Designline International, a New Zealand company. This is not a hybrid, but a fully-electric vehicle. At least, I think so. The Adelaide City Council website certainly makes it seem so, but the Designline page only talks about hybrid buses, not pure EVs. The Council claims that:

The solar electric bus and the recharging system at the Adelaide Central Bus Station represent a significant investment by the Adelaide City Council into a sustainable future for the City of Adelaide, while providing leadership in sustainable public transport options for cities around Australia.

According to the "A New Life Down Under" blog, the Tindo (which is the Kaurna name for Sun) arrived in Adelaide today and was officially launched by the Lord Mayor in Victoria Square/Tarndanyangga just before noon.

A spokesman for Adelaide City Council comments:

I can assure readers that the electric bus - named "Tindo", which is the local Aboriginal word for "sun" - is a pure EV. It will be recharged using a unique solar PV system installed on the roof of the new Adelaide Central Bus Station.

This system generates 70,000 kilowatt hours of zero carbon emissions electricity per year - which makes it the largest grid-connected solar system in our City.

"Tindo" has an operational range of 200 kilometres between charges under typical urban conditions, and as it doesn't have a combustion engine, it operates quietly and effectively with zero tail pipe emissions.

It uses 11 Swiss-made Zebra sodieum/nickel batteries, giving the bus unprecedented energy storage and operational range. And the batteries are not affected by external temperatures.

If anyone would like further information about the Adelaide City Council's world first 100% solar electric bus, please contact me at D.Heath@adelaidecitycouncil.com

A solar bus is a really good idea.

But air-powered buses also should be considered. I strongly believe a system of wind turbines and air-powered city buses could be a good solution for the Brisbane CBD. We could have a site with wind turbines powering air compressors, and underground storage for compressed air. The storage system would be insulated, so the heat created during compression would not disipate (which is the main efficiency issue with the compressed air transportation), plus the air could be used for air-conditioning inside of the busses (as we know, expanded air gets cooler).

We could also use wind turbines to power our city trains. Wind power is competitive to coal if produced locally and consumed locally. This is exactly the case - there is plenty of free land along the railway, that can be used for wind turbines. They would be producing electricity for trains, almost without any loses.

Noise? Well, if you already have trains, that make noise, a wind turbine more or less would not make much difference.

A good example is the Beenleigh - Gold Coast train line. There is lot of flat, unused land between stations and suburbs. And there is plenty of wind. It would work well.

I have done some rough calculations, and it seems like we would need to have one wind turbine per train. There is usually up to 3 trains in one direction. Six, in both. Therefore we would need 6 pretty big turbines to power all trains between Beenleigh and the Gold Coast. Feasible? Why not.

Of course, the project would start with only one turbine, that would participate 10% or so (and 90% of power would be from the grid). If everything goes well, there would be more and more turbines along the railway, until we reach 100%. Naturally, there is a lot of variations when it comes to the wind power, so, sometimes we would have to borrow from the grid, and sometimes we would have a surplus that would go back to the city grid.

Zero coal, zero CO2 emissions, zero pollution, and very cost competitive and attractive (remember, the Gold Coast is one of main tourist areas in Australia).

Not a new idea, of course.

In September 2001 the City of Calgary announced its decision to use commercial wind energy as the primary source of the C-train's electricity. The program is called "Ride the Wind" because people using the C-Train would actually be traveling with the help of energy captured from the wind.

Before the switch to wind power, the C-Train's energy supply accounted for about 20,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases and other air pollution every year, less than 1/10 of the pollution that would have resulted if all C-Train passengers had driven in their own cars. Under the Ride the Wind program, these emissions are reduced to practically zero. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from this change is like taking another 4,000 cars off the road for a year. This makes the C-train one of the most environmentally friendly forms of transportation you can use.


Great idea to electrify transport and this bus idea makes a whole lot of sense on a circular and regular route.

Electricity however is ubiquitous. It doesn't matter if it is produced by coal, solar wind or hydro, what comes out of the generator or inverter is exactly the same: Electrons moving in AC sine wave form.

This means that the bus can be charged up from anywhere really and just needs to access the electricity grid. The Solar panels really don't run the bus, they are just ofsetting the power drawn down by the bus when it plugs in.

This is important to understand when it comes to siting wind or solar panels. They should be placed in the area where they will operate most efficiently. Solar would be very inefficent on the Gold Coast (I jsut spent two weeks there in November and most days were overcast).I don't know about the wind profile but I imagine that the top of the Gold Coast Escarpment would be the best place on the coast but may be not the best place in QLD. I also think that NIMBY would stop a wind farm pretty quickly on the escarpment.

The point is that any renewables will generate electricity and this energy must be used instantly or stored either in batteries, reverse hydro, compressed gas or even chemical electrolysis.

The problem with renewables is thay are sporadic and unreliable. Wind and solar cannot provide baseload yet so we are left with "averaging out" the contribution these inputs make vis-a-vis the baseload coal stations. But that implies that the coal fired station is indespensible which should make us stop and think about the wisdom of adding a new technolgy when it does not repalce the old one and only serves to entrench the perception of "clean" electricity when the truth is somewhat different.

It might be OK to run one bus with an acre of solar panels but it is relly just a gimmick unless it can be shown that it can be scaled up and run a whole cities buses this way.

The only way I could see this operationally practical is to have standby batteries being charged and quick changeovers of battery cells for example when the bus stops to take passengers (think grand -prix type tyre swap outs). This would require at least two sets of batteris per bus and probably more. It really depends on if the batteries can be charged at the same rate as they are being discharged in the buses.

I suspect probably not, which means that an even larger solar array charging larger banks of batteris would be required. An assembly line of batteries at various charge stages would need to be built big enough to ensure 100% availability when each bus demanded a top up. The efficiency of this type of arrangement would be extremely low and this would make it very expensive.

I am also very sceptical of the zero emissions argument about solar and wind. Photo voltaics especially have very intricate manufacturing processes which use enormous energy inputs, and wind turbines are built from steel towers and copper generators.

The materials in these renewable energy harvesters have already created huge amounts of GHG before they generate one watt of power. We must take into account the manufacturing cost in energy terms and balance that out against the energy that will be harvested.

We also have to ask how the net energy, after the payback of manufactuing energy, will be used? I don't really know but my guess is that by the time you reach the profit point, electricity demand will have grown to the point that both the CFE and the RE will be used to the max and not one tonne of GHG will be saved. The only thing RE's might do is slow the growth of CFE generated GHG.

"The only thing RE's might do is slow the growth of CFE generated GHG."

- There. You said it. That's the point exactly!

As far as Energy Balance, this has been reintroduced here regularly, so you can look it up yourself (Google NREL), but Solar Electric {PV) HAS been evaluated as recovering its Embodied Manufacturing and Materials Energy within the first year or three, depending on the panel type, while continuing to be productive for two to three DECADES afterwards, and being highly recyclable thereafter. No moving parts, can sit on the rooftops or BECOME the rooftops, which were expensive to build in their own rights.. and not bother anybody. As 'imperfect' and 'mortal' technologies go, PV has a lot going for it.

Finally, you said;

"The Solar panels really don't run the bus, they are just offsetting the power drawn down by the bus when it plugs in."

What's the difference? This is misleading. If these panels are Grid-tied, they are putting watts into the grid and the bus is taking them back out.. not the 'same watts' per se, just like the dollars you put into the economy are not necessarily the same ones you get back when you are paid for your work, but what's the difference? You seem to be implying that the inputs from this system 'aren't really' covering the draws on it, or at least your statement could easily be read that way..

The point is that PV panels (or Wind, etc) CAN run a bus, provided you've installed enough of them. The details of Charging, Battery Transfers or whatever is done to get that charge onto the bus is worth knowing, but is not such a dramatic challenge as you suggest. Even the transfer of a New Battery Pack every few hours (the article said the Zebras give them a 200km or 120mile range), while cumbersome would hardly have to be an extreme engineering challenge, though I would expect that the future really will lie with Trolley Buses as Alan Drake includes in his 'Light Rail Now' plan for transp. http://www.lightrailnow.org/features/f_lrt_2006-05a.htm .. but that said, the solutions will take on many varying forms, and Battery Buses can certainly have a place in that.

Bob Fiske
Snowed in in Maine!

"The only thing RE's might do is slow the growth of CFE generated GHG."

- There. You said it. That's the point exactly!

The point I ws trying to make here is that it will slow the growthreduce green house gases. Waht usually happens when extra generating capacity comes online is that we find new ways to use it and the economy grows. While grid comnected buses may be a good thing for an oil constrained world, they will do absolutley nothing to reduce green hosue gases and could even make us more dependent on coal and natural gas as tehse systems will be required to provide 100% redundancy to renewables if and when they are ever able to provide baseload. The chances of anyone investing billions of dollars in FF electricity generation just to see it sitting idle is nil.

This so called solar powered bus is a feel good project. It is sexy and makes good headlines and gives the politicians something to pat themselves on the back for. But it is not scalable in any meaningful way and ultimately is a sistraction from what the reall point is and that is why hordes of people need to be moved each day anyway!

If this thing is done on a larger scale it could be possible to average out even long-term fluctuations of renewable power.

If the recharging station for example keeps an array of standard battery packs for say 50 buses and 200 NEVs the amount of energy stored would probably be enough not to need a grid backup.

The real problem with such schema is that it would be very hard to implement. Swapping batteries would be a very cumbersome operation, and batteries themselves are yet too expensive and quickly degrading toys.

I have seen a suggestion that could help such schema though - if the battery is using liquid electrolyte which participates in the charge-discharge process (e.g. lead-acid), one could just leave the battery pack intact, while draining and "refueling" just the electrolyte liquid. However I can imagine the safety issues of changing the sulfuric acid in a lead-acid batteries, so it must be some other battery chemistry allowing for this.

P.S. I have repeated the point you made many times (falling of deaf ears unfortunately) - while renewables require considerable fossil fueled backup it is dubious to promote them as their replacement. If you need to add one coal power station after you build 100 wind turbines, how exactly are you helping the environment? Of course while penetration is low this problem is not so significant, but expecting a 30 or even 20% renewable powered grid is a pie in the sky (to counter the Denmark example which usually pops up - they are doing 20% wind using their heavy interconnections with other grids - not many places have this luxury).

A range of 200km will be enough for the day. Here in Melbourne buses have an average speed, what with traffic, no dedicated bus lanes, and stops, of about 20km/hr. That lets the 200km range bus travel for 10 hours, and the things only run from 6am to 11pm at most. In practice about half the buses run all day, and the other half run in the peak times (7am-9am, 4pm-6pm). So buses are constantly being shuffled in and out of depots anyway to cope with varying timetables throughout the day. It'd be trivial to turn those into recharging times; when the driver finishes their shift, they plug the thing in.

Placing batteries in busses is a silly idea!

The first busses to go electric should be on the bussiest lines, and since busses run the same route most of the time, overhead cables is the way to go.
We should choose the bussiest lines to get most busses to use the same wire.

We had some electric busses in Copenhagen a few years back, and I never understood why they got rid of them.


What about the oil, coal, and natural gas used to manufacture and maintain all of this. No one has calculated this and it is enormous in energy used and emissions.

And what about the oil, coal and natural gas used to manufacture and maintain fossil-fuel burning buses... and cars.

A vehicle which can carry 50 people and usually carries 10 is almost always going to use less resources per passenger-kilometre than one which can carry 5 people and usually carries 1. Economies of scale and all that.

I wonder if this is also an RIP on extending the O-bahn concept http://www.railpage.org.au/tram/obahn.html
whereby the bus is guided by rails. Perhaps that approach needs too much land. Perth's hydrogen fuel cell buses have gone I believe, having spent $50 per kilometre to run. Let's hope the sodium battery doesn't get ruptured in a prang.

In some ways Adelaide is the Las Vegas of the Southern Hemisphere, living on borrowed time. They need stuff to work soon.

Aren't Perth's buses (at least the inner city ones) gas powered ? That was the direction they had headed last time I looked.

Driving back up the coast (to Perth) today, I see that Alannah MacTiernan's Mandurah train line has opened at last...

Adelaide will build a nuclear plant if worst comes to worst for them - but hopefully they realise they have as much renewable energy that they could ever want within the state already...

Not only has Perth dropped the buses but also Beijing, Hamburg and Amsterdam

Also there are problems with Zebra batteries I hear. It always seems to come back to the stalwarts of coal, nukes and conservation with coal winning so far.

Rather than a battery powered bus where the batteries have to be replaced after a couple of thousand charges why not get the electricity straight from the grid and have a trolley bus?

The technology is proven. And then why not lay rails and have a tram? Much more efficient.

Would like more details, e.g. is 70000kwh from large rooftop PV installation just for one bus?

If we can crack the "Hyper-Capacitor" it would be possible to top-up/recharge these trolley buses during the 30 seconds or so they stop to pick up. That way you wouldn't need to lay any exposed power lines -just have a safely shielded charging point at every stop with smaller buried cables linking them... (Remember after PO steel, etc. is going to get expensive to manufacture so you need to look at 'least cost per mile').

I think the grid will be the last part of civilisation to go, literally.


I don't know for sure but I would have thought that steel rails, copper cables would be cheaper over time than replacing batteries, rubber tyres etc. and also inherent efficiency of rail over road would swing the balance to electric rail.

I am suspicious of answers that rely on cracking new technological breakthroughs. Hitler was hoping for new technology to win the war as his 3rd Reich crumbled about him. I think we should look for answers from existing technology and at the same time commit as much as we can to research into new stuff.

We don't have much time left to muck around.

I think this is an excellent idea!

And there is no need for any new technology, the hyper capacitors are already here. I couldn't dig out the link, but I met a 2kWh supercapacitor already offered on the market - it weights about 3 tons, but shouldn't be a problem for large enough bus.

A car uses about 200Wh a mile, let's say a bus uses 500Wh a mile. This means 4 miles between stops maximum distance - more than enough for urban environments, so we could use even smaller capacitor banks.

IMO the real problem would be recharging on these interim stops - 2kwh for 30 second would draw 240kW - a respectable power equipment would be needed (but not nearly prohibitive).

No Need To lay tracks. I was born and lived in Sao Paulo Brazil where they had a very good system of electric buses that ran off the grid and they had regular air filled tires, nicer softer ride than steel on steel.

People always want to invent something new. It seems to be in their genes. Some sort of 'Not-Invented-Here' syndrome.

To tell you the truth: Those sunpowers busses are actually a stupid idea (pardon my french)

Install the PV panels and feed the lot into the grid. Feel good about your green behind and be done with it.

Next thing: buy a trolly bus. They are extremely reliable, cheap and the technology has been around for more than 5 decades (!)

Agree, agree, agree, but I still think rails are more efficient than tyres, and the latest trams are very smooth, but the difference is so marginal we should be more concerned with efficiency than comfort.

I still think rails are more efficient than tyres

That could very well be, I don't know.

But then you have to build rail, and that makes it all very expensive.

But even that is not so important. My point is: All these ideas are available in large volumes with technology which has been around for decades. You don't need to invent a new solar-powered bus. It's absurd.

[...] a significant investment by the Adelaide City Council

This is just burning taxpayers money. 'Lets be green and get reelected!' It has nothing to do with providing solutions to any other problem that 'How to keep my seat at City Council'.

Colin Powell: "Throughout history, people have had difficulty in distinguishing reality from illusion. Reality is what happens, whereas illusion is what we would like to happen. Wishful thinking is a well-worn expression. Momentum is still another element: we tend to assume that things keep moving in the same direction.

The world now faces a discontinuity of historic proportions, as nature shows her hand by imposing a new energy reality. There are vested interests on all sides hoping somehow to evade the iron grip of oil depletion, or at least to put it off until after the next election or until they can develop some strategy for their personal or corporate survival. As the moment of truth approaches, so does the heat, the deceptions, the half-truth and the flat out lies."

Chris Shaw: In the (alas, too few) years to come, we will see great argument over the proper allocation of dwindling oil reserves. It will be realised that other sources of energy cannot deliver sufficient surpluses to replace the potent portable energy we know as gasoline and diesel. It is not generally understood that poorer quality energy sources can be critically dependent on oil for their extraction, processing and distribution. In other words, oil is the precursor for other sources of energy; gas, coal, nuclear, solar, hydro, because these require oil fuel to create and maintain infrastructure. It also gives them the illusion of being profitable.

There are fantasies off both the front and the backsides of 'Reality', Clif. The Angels are up ahead Beckoning, while the Demons are grabbing at our heels.

Antidoomer pushes those 'Vaporware' links with evangelical zeal, and you tell us EVERYTHING hangs on an Oil-suspension system, and is not worth investing our time and thought into..

The question for me is what portion of our machining, our forging, our metallurgy, our electronics design, ceramics, plastics, chemistry, printing, telephony and radio, medicine (and stepping over the countless others..) in short, which of our fundamental technologies are simply and unequivocally dependent upon an Oil-rich infrastructure, and which are sitting with us on the Oil-barge merely because that is where EVERYTHING is, and that they can come along with us and be part of our lives as that tide rolls out?

The copper, aluminum and steel will still be all around us. We'll have decades of retired electronics to feed back into that materials-loop. Our ability to work it may be massively reduced, but it won't be gone, and we'll long-since have started realizing that what we build with it had better last this time, unlike the 'disposable culture' that appropriately disposed of itself. Reminds me of the Pink Panther cartoon where the vacuum cleaner sucks itself into oblivion.

Good to see you keeping up the fight!
"Never let go.."
-Rose 'Titanic'

Merry Christmas!

The parts for that bus and all of the techno-fix solar stuff come from all over the world. You should take every part of everything that is a part of your Rube Goldberg solar dream and see how you are going to manufacture it, and how that will be done and all of the parts needed for every process. Start with the batteries, list every part and component, acid, etc. and how it is made and stored. How are the plastic storage jugs are made, what they are made of, etc. Remember, this won't be like the old days of the 1880s when the railroads tied everything together. Electric trains you say. I don't see any on the drawing board and no government plans to do that. The take every part in a solar panel, every ingredient and process and explain how it will be done without coal, oil, and natural gas. How are you going to mine surface coal without diesel fuel. A battery powered earthmover, the battery would have to be as large as a house.

'Only a Sith deals in absolutes.' Obi Wan Kenobi

OK, you can let go now, that's hurting my foot.

Hey, when you've thrown out all your tools that were made with oil, hence-unsustainable and hence useless for building the future 'Post-oil' tools.. are you going to ask me to borrow mine, when you see that they still work, years later? My surprisingly rust-free handsaws that I keep well-(ahem)oiled, or the Band-saw that was my Grandfathers, and the other tools that were HIS dad's? I could spin the bandsaw wheel with pedals/flywheel or Wind-lofted weights, if it came to that, but the oil that was spent casting those parts is still showing it's worth, and such tools persist.

Clif, you just say no. It's ALL you say. The ONLY thing I heard you actually ADVOCATE for was Horses as a car substitute in Minneapolis.(!!) But Great. Get the Horse thing going. Draft Horses, Riding Horses, Carriages. Design Systems that will help phase in Riding in the kinds of communities where it might actually fit.

It's like this Natural foods guy I know.. he's telling me to eat less sugar, and I report in (we're friends, he's not my doctor or anything..) that I'm doing it, eating more fruit, less processed sugar. "What Fruits?" he asks. "Well, Apples, Oranges, Bananas, Melons" I go through the list, and he's just shaking his head, telling me what's wrong with each of them, still too sugary, has a toxin, etc etc.. I patiently ask what a GOOD fruit might be, and he says 'Watermelon is OK' .. Great, I tell him I'll make sure to never pass up watermelon when it's offered .. etc. Valuable Health tips are mentally noted.. A while later, his kid hops into the car with an Orange Soda, and asks if we can go to McD's. Waaah!

Whatever. You're immune to this.

Bah Humbug!

Not so, I say yes to conservation, yes to passive solar, and yes to Australianuts: http://www.australianuts.com/

and yes to Maya nuts:


and maybe yes to oilgae:


and that stuff in this press release was covered in The Wall Street Journal 12 December 2007:


But, the solar nuts on TOD pay attention mainly to their solar toys.

And, I say yes to relocating myself.

And, I say yes to renaming TOD "The Solar Power" TSP.

So, stuff that in your stocking. :)

And Merry Christmas Robert! And, I say yes to stop by here in Manchester NH or visit me in Mexico, and share some wine. And, I say yes to wine therapy, the more I drink, the less I worry about Peak Oil. :)

Likewise, Clif.

'Strive mightily, as lawyers do in law, but eat and drink as friends!' - Shakespeare

And just so you know, many of my projects are 'Direct Solar' as well. Daylighting, Ovens, Hot Air Collectors, Fridges leaning on the winter 'coolth' outside, Pedal-powered shop tools and kitchen appliances, bikes, trikes, sneakers for local travel.

Solar PV and Wind can be used to build more of itself, but I advocate it because the initial buildout is, I firmly believe, one of the best uses of the energy we still can be tapping from our Misunderstood Friend, crude oil. It will not allow a continuation of this 'lifestyle', but it can help keep a lot of people 'living', who will also be working hard in the coming transition. It certainly can support Agriculture, Transportation, Manufacturing and the very essential Communications that will be involved in keeping things together in any way possible.

Alas, time for a beer. I'm back to my workshop, to string together the rest of my 'Wreath', which is a 4 foot wire loop (made from scavenged Political Campaigning Signs), and it will cycle it's multiple LED strands from 'GREEN WREATH' to 'BLUE PEACE SIGN' to 'RED HEART', and sit high atop my roof so all the Monster Pickups coming over the Casco Bay Bridge can steer clear of the 'Hippy Part of Town' (Never drawing more than 20watts at a time!)

Blessed are the Geeks, who are generally too preoccupied to appreciate JUST how uncomfortable they make a lot of other people feel.


..battery powered earthmover

A lot of mining machinery is powered by live electricity or compressed air. The Adelaide connection is that Olympic Dam 600km to the NW needs huge additional electricity from the same State grid to operate machines to expand the mine.

The way green PR works is people see the solar bus and don't see increased industrial electricity use orders of magnitude greater.

Well, I've been test-driving a Zap Xebra electric utility truck for about a week up here in the cold context of a Minneapolis winter. Not really subzero this winter so far but temperatures ranging from zero to 20 most days. (Farenheit)

The little three-wheel truck seems to be made for the kind of short-haul stuff I've been doing on my pedal trikes!

I do wonder about how I will be able to source all of my electricity in sustainable ways -- maybe put an array on my garage if I can afford it....?

We'll see -- I may be prevented from sustainable electricity sourcing if the economy in the USA continues to unravel. Who can afford solar panel installations in a depression?

Of course, if we got a worldwide "Marshall Plan yo build sustainable infrastructure, I might be able to install solar/wind even with economic woes.

We do of course always live in a managed market, but right now it is obviously being mismanaged for the supposed benefit of a relatively few pirates.

At any rate, keep an eye on the Zap Xebra truck -- and the car, too.

Test drive one if you can!

I don't have much cash for Solar at this point, but every time I get a birthday check or equivalent drops of gravy, it goes to the PV Pot. I try to buy for under $5/watt.

I'm also building a Vertical Windmill for the peak of my roof. Virtually all recycled parts, 90vdc motor from a 'Freecycled' treadmill, Wheel ends from a 36" cablespool in a construction dumpster last month, big bearings from American Science and Surplus for pretty cheap.. I just want to have the grim satisfaction of taking that bitter wind that is chilling my house and using it inside for light, heat, tools, etc..

So there are SOME cheaper sources of Electr that could be drizzling some power into your batteries, and they're all additive! Shouldn't be much challenge for a Carpenter/Handyman..

Great to hear your little bus is working out!


Here we have a bus that can run an 8 hour shift on a single charge. Just a WAG but the PV array is 25 kw covering about 200 sq mtr. The most cost effective way to use this bus is oddly on an evening run (4pm to midnight) so the batteries can be charged directly from the PV during the day.

Yeah and there will be no service on overcast days. "Sorry guys, you have to walk the last couple of miles, 'cause it rained this morning."

Running anything solely on solar or wind power is yet a mere fiction. We obviously wont get away from it soon.

Every seat can come with a stationary bicycle hooked up to a generator for the battery, and that way the riders can get aerobic exercise while riding to or from work. Crank that baby up and get home all the quicker! :)

This may amaze you, but Australia is actually quite a large country. The chances of all 7.6 million square kilometres of Australia being both overcast and still at the same time are not very great. So a combined solar and wind system would work very well, provided that it was distributed over a large area to make up for the differences in wind and sun.

While this would have to be a national grid system, with careful management so that a surplus in one area could make up for a deficit in the other, we already have this; Tasmanian hydro supplements Victorian coal, which supplements South Australia coal, and so on. We already manage the grid to make up for localised ups and downs in supply and demand. A national solar and wind network would just be an upgrade of the same thing.

Tasmanian hydro supplements Victorian coal
You must have read the sign at the Strathgordon visitors centre. Technically it might be true but I think the reverse flow is greater. So far I haven't been able to get data. Here's a couple of truisms
..picnics attract ants
..HVDC attracts lignite.

It does, but it need not be so.

The point is that the blabbing about "renewables can't supply reliable power" ignores the fact that we already use the grid to balance strongly fluctuating supply and demand in different geographical areas.

If we were living on Nauru, it would be true that we couldn't get reliable electricity supply from wind and solar alone. But we're living in a big country, and as I said, it's fucking unlikely that all 7.6 million km2 of the country will be overcast with still air at the same time.

Hi Kiashu, keep your eye on the donut. Chris Shaw: "In the (alas, too few) years to come, we will see great argument over the proper allocation of dwindling oil reserves. It will be realised that other sources of energy cannot deliver sufficient surpluses to replace the potent portable energy we know as gasoline and diesel. It is not generally understood that poorer quality energy sources can be critically dependent on oil for their extraction, processing and distribution. In other words, oil is the precursor for other sources of energy; gas, coal, nuclear, solar, hydro, because these require oil fuel to create and maintain infrastructure. It also gives them the illusion of being profitable." http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=3837

Well good for Chris Shaw. If you believe him, glass, iron, coal, silicon and so on were not used by society before the Pennsylvania oil drill in 1859.

My argument has always been that we need to get renewable energy going right now. So if oil were absolutely necessary for the extraction of other resources - which it's not, it just makes the extraction easier - then that'd just reinforce my argument, it'd just be saying, "well shit, we better get on with it." You don't wait till you're thirsty to dig a well, and you don't wait until the fossil fuels have run out to build renewable energy plants.


But in any case it's not true; fossil fuels don't enable use of other resources, they just make it a lot easier. But then, a guy who thinks that without oil nobody will produce or dink milk wouldn't understand that distinction between enabling and making easier.

Running anything solely on solar or wind power is yet a mere fiction.

For an individual Concentrator/PV Panel/Turbine, this is true. Fortunately, we have stacks of otherwise unused land available to plant a widely distributed network on. Turbines et al spread in small (or large) farms across the length and breadth of the country would suffer from far less variability in supply than a single farm or point-source would.

It would be interesting to colate figures from BoM stations around the country and see if we could supply Base Load (as it stands today) for the country on just a distributed array of Turbines.

Failing that, I'd like to see a study on the feasability of overbuilding (daytime) capacity so that we can generate Hydrogen (to be stored locally) which would be burnt/recombined overnight to augment/supply Base Load. Pumped Storage is also an option.

Also, we have Tides twice a day on the North Coast of 10 metres, just waiting for 'exploitation'.

As far as tidal goes (and I've mentioned this one before), how much energy might be involved in lifting a retired Oil Tanker ten meters in six hours? and then doing that 4 times a day (Lift and Drop) .. I have to imagine that it wouldn't take a PhD to design some ways to extract that energy.

Go get em, somebody!

Just Cross out the 'Condoleeza' and write "Jokuhl", and send me a snapshot, (on the back of a Trillion Dollar Bill..) and I'll be satisfied.


ps.. I just parrotted your number..

You have ~30ft tides in North Australia?!


North West Australia seems to have the largest tidal variation on the globe - see the graphic here :


10m is a number quoted for various fjord like inlets in the Kimberly region - there have been giant tidal power projects proposed for that area from time to time, but nothing has ever come of them - the distance to the rest of the country is too vast, for now.

If we ever get a national energy grid, this would be a critical source to develop.


The key to getting around the intermittancy issue is to have large storage batteries at the garage. This of course would add to the system cost. Even without extra storage batteries this bus does not need to run for 8 hours every day. On cloudy days it could be used for shorter peak hour runs of 2 to 4 hours.
Ideally large utility scale solar thermal powerplants with large underground heat storage systems would be better than small PV systems. It's not like Oz doesn't have the land and climate for such systems. It is possible that Aussies could eventually export large amounts of electricity to their northern neighbors like Indonesia, Singapore, and even China via HVDC lines. Such exports could dwarf the energy content of the coal they export now.

PRT as opposed to buses and rail has the potential to replace a significant percentage of cars.




The A123's Li-Ion phosphate appeared to be the most commercially viable
springboarding from the Dewalt and black & decker drills to EV's.
electric vehicals
A123 cells were and may still be made off shore.
Most of the powder battery technologies have OSHA safety issues re:
breathing the powder and contact with the skin which they can't afford to
meet in the US so that had to outsource to China for cost issues.
Isn't it imparative for our national energy security that we start making our batteries in the United States ?
"Tindo" has an operational range of 200 kilometres between charges under typical urban conditions, and as it doesn't have a combustion engine, it operates quietly and effectively with zero tail pipe emissions.

It uses 11 Swiss-made Zebra sodieum/nickel batteries, giving the bus unprecedented energy storage and operational range.

And the batteries are not affected by external temperatures.
These batteries need to be preheated before being charged ? Liquid salt.
Chicago I was told by cta that the hybrid bus trials are still ongoing. this is beweeen Allison and ISE thundervolt ISE uses maxwell capacitors, When the mayor had the olympic commitee on a tour their hybrid bus broke down. ISE has recently made a hybrid bus with two turbines.
from green chip review
That's why I'm pleased to announce Daimler Buses North America has just received orders for 1,052 Orion VII Next Generation diesel-electric series hybrid transit buses.
Using BAE System's HybriDrive -
l an in-line six, 5.9 liter Cummins diesel that produces 260 hp
l a 120 kw generator
l a 32 kWh battery pack from A123Systems
l and a 250 hp traction motor that pushes out an incredible 2,100 1b-ft of continuous torque with a 2,700 lb-ft peak - these Orion VII buses reduce emissions considerably.
Using this system, the city operators can expect 90% less particulate matter, 40% less NOx and 30% fewer greenhouse gases.
Of those 1,052 buses, 850 are going to New York by 2010 and the remaining 202 will be sold to the City of Ottawa.
Hybrid Bus Revolution
As we've discussed before, hybrid buses are really starting to take off. From municipalities across the country to major delivery companies like UPS and FedEx, diesel/electric hybrids have significant benefits over other "green" buses, like compressed natural gas.
By using proven diesel powerplants, such as the Cummins found in the Orion VII, normal maintenance procedures can be sustained and fleet mechanics will keep their jobs.
Not to mention, taking the strain off of the engine and eliminating the transmission, the hearty electric motors take the brunt of the work and need next to no maintenance.