Day 3 of 100 – Revenge of the chocolate mini-rolls

Day 2 saw a couple of laps of Brockwell Park, which despite having lived only a short distance away for the last 7 years or more, I have never been in before. It wasn’t a huge run, the two laps being just over 3.5 miles/5.75 km in 30 minutes, but it was a good start to the day in the sunshine.

Food wise, things weren’t so bad. I ended up having a cheese and ham toastie in Cafe Nero as a snack, which was yummy, but I should probably have taken some fruit out with me. I also found myself encouraging others to make stir fry as a relatively easy dish to cook, and then tried a new combo myself of putting madras curry powder in a chicken, rice noodle and veg stir fry.

This morning, I woke up at 6am and did my first trial run of getting to the gym before work. I managed 30 mins on the stationary bike plus a good bit of stretching, although possibly not enough as my legs are still killing me. I’d made my usual veggie omelette before leaving, and put a chicken salad plus shit loads of fruit in my bag. I probably started to crack at about 8.57am when someone sat next to me and started going on about their laptop. I was somewhat perplexed. The ago old question, “Haven’t you read your email?” came up. “No” I said, obviously omitting that it’s not even 9am yet, I’m still settling in for the day, and as it happened was just writing the first draft of how Day 2 went.

As the day wore on, more and more things cropped up, and my stress levels slowly but surely rose. I caved at somewhere around 3pm I think and started eating biscuits in the office. I think this put me on the inevitable path to a detour via M&S on the way home to get my daily favourite, a pack of six chocolate mini-rolls. My usual frustration bore out, they weren’t quite as big or as chocolatey as they are sometimes, their production process seems to have a very high standard deviation when it comes to this.

Calling it “comfort eating” is pointless. I get no comfort from it. Of late, eating excessively is something I’ve been doing as the pressure mounts. There is a good mixture of stress and anxiety floating around, the latter being particularly novel and a notable development of the last couple of months. Too much caffeine doesn’t help either. I know all of this to be true. I suppose I keep skirting around in terms of being powerless over food, and not putting in other right actions to help with this such as exercise and meditation. At least I have started on the former, although that leaves me wondering where I can find the time to jam in the latter.

As I type, I’m tucking in to another portion of last night’s stir fry. It’s yummy! A very simple taste explosion resulting from the use of madras curry powder. Perhaps I should take a spice rack into work and find ways of making my daily snacking more adventurous…

Day 1 of 100

Just a brief update, again, keeping things public to help me keep the goal in mind. Saturday 31st May was day 1 of 100. I managed not to buy additional junk, despite going to the supermarket twice, and believe me, avoiding my favourite triple chocolate cookies in Sainsbury’s is a feat in itself. My junk items for the day were the two chocolate mini-rolls left over from Friday, and a bagel as a bed-time snack. I didn’t manage to exercise in the end, but I will concede a small victory on the food front. I still need to get some pictures so I can do the before and after shots. Hopefully I’ll catch my flatmate at a suitable time once he’s woken up from his night shift.

100 Days of Not Being a Fat Bastard and Eating Everything in Sight

Not exactly the catchiest title, but it’s a starting point, and as my blog page hasn’t been used in a year, this is as good a place as any to start writing. Of course, I have procrastinated somewhat in working out whether I can set up a separate blog on my hosting platform, using a different URL or a sub-domain of some sorts, but I’ve given up.

Yesterday I posted the following on Facebook:

I’m thinking of trying 100 Days of Not Being a Fat Bastard and Eating Everything in Sight. What do you think?

I’m your typical guy who isn’t entirely happy with his body and comfort eats when under stress. I have yammered on about getting a beach body for my trip to Australia in September, I have re-joined a gym, managed the Paleo diet for a few days, and generally made all the appropriate noises about wanting to get fitter and healthier without actually doing very much about it in practice.

Last night, as was the case the previous night also, I stopped off at M&S on the way home to get some dinner. I bought spring rolls, egg fried rice, beef in black bean, and a pack of mini-chocolate rolls. As I was away last the weekend, I’ve pretty much eaten out of the supermarket for most of the week. So, once again, my eyes were bigger than my stomach, although in the end, I managed to eat it all bar two of the six chocolate rolls. Oh, and I finished a tub of Ben & Jerry’s too. Part of me wanted to get through all the food so that it wasn’t there in the morning.

I know that I’m not “fat” by convention definition, and I’m certainly not obese. At my medical last year, I was advised to drop a few pounds and get my cholesterol back in check given family history of heart disease. Regardless of what anyone thinks, I, like many guys I know, am just not happy with my body, yet find doing anything about it very difficult. As a gay guy, I don’t think we’re necessarily any more or less insecure than any other person when it comes to body image, although it is quite hard to escape various stereotypical images of “hot” gay guys. They typically have muscle definition to one degree or another, whether it’s massive bulk, or a svelte figure with a six pack and bull horns.

I’ve thought about it, and talked about it, and know that of the various body shapes to obtain, an athletic one would be easier to maintain. Huge amounts of muscle mass take huge amounts of work. I had a bit of muscle bulk in my mid-20′s, but then injured myself and it pretty much all turned to body fat. So, this shouldn’t be so hard to acheive, basically I need to eat well, and do some exercise. I love fresh food, especially fruit, so it’s not like I find eating healthy food difficult. I’m just prone to eating the healthy food, then bingeing on junk afterwards. It’s even worse when I’m under stress, which over the past month or so describes pretty much every day.

Apparently the way to achieve goals is to state them publicly. So, here is my statement, I’d like a slightly more athletic body shape by the time I go to Australia in September. It just so happens that this is just over 100 days away, and since everyone seems to be doing “100 days of something” (my favourite still being 100 days of moaning), I thought perhaps I’d jump on a similar band wagon.

I weighed in first thing this morning, the scales tipping at 79.0kg (12.5 stone), with somewhere in the region of 13.5% body fat and a waist measurement of 86.0cm (33.9″). I have body stats going back to 2006 when I was about 70.0kg (11.0 stone), although the first waist measurement I have is at the start of 2009 of 80.5cm (31.7″) when I was 72.5kg with around 13.0% body fat. My target is to be back at 72.5kg which according to the ideal weight/height charts is pretty much in the middle of where I need to be, and no more than 13% body fat.

I’ve just put myself for kickboxing starting on the 23rd June, so will no doubt need to find more ways to exercise between now and then. Thankfully I still have a gym membership, and even bought myself a copy of Men’s Health so I could stare and feel that bit more self-conscious about not being one of the ripped model guys. The one suggestion I did pick up which was useful, was that lots of different types of exercise, along with a good diet, is how to achieve the more athletic/defined figure.

So, my goal is out there. I don’t feel overly confident about meeting it, but I’ll try, for the millionth time, to give it a go!

Climate Talk Hot Air

The title of this post is taken from a letter, written by Robert Walkley my Mum forwarded me which appeared recently in the Townsville Bulletin on 23rd April 2013. Unfortunately, I can’t make a direct link to the letter, but the Townsville Bulletin can be found here. My Mum’s question was as follows:

I found this letter in the local rag and wondered if it was false or true?

I spent a fair chunk of time writing a response, so I thought I’d post it here on my blog too:

… climate modelling is a very complex business. And while the “reality” lines [see here] are pretty far from the central trend of the models, they are not that different from some of the low end models which can be seen in the background. As I understand it, the work on aggregating the models has largely been done for two reasons (1) to see if they are generally in agreement, which would indicate that climatologists themselves are working with similar data and assumptions (2) to be able to ask questions about the differences between models and what causes them. One of the big issues is that the very early models are large scale, and it is taking increased mathematical complexity, plus increased computing power, to be able to model the specific effects of different variables, e.g. what covers the land being a prime example, grass, sand, water, etc, at much smaller levels. In addition to this, new variables are being incorporated all the time as models are refined.

Personally, my thoughts reduced to this. If you don’t believe in climate change, perhaps you can consider the merit of putting so many pollutants in our atmosphere in of itself. We’re not just talking carbon dioxide here. The Kyoto basket is made up of various carbon equivalents including methane, CFCs and their HFC and HCFC replacements, plus others. In addition to this, there are sulphurous and nitrous oxide pollutants which acidify rain, PM10s (large particle pollutants) which cause lung diseases, and so on and so forth. The obsession with carbon, while I believe important, often leaves the others out of the popular discussion, although not always out of related policy measures, particularly in the case of the Kyoto basket of CO2 equivalents. Your southern neighbour (New Zealand) for example, may pay a lot of attention to methane emissions based on its high levels of agriculture, particularly sheep farming as those lovely fluffy lambs produce a lot of it.

Finally, as for a carbon tax, pollution control measures have to start somewhere. There has been much action around CFCs which were quite successfully banned under the Montreal Protocol when the hole in the ozone layer was discovered. Nitrous and sulphurous oxides have also received attention, with typical measures either being of the cap and trade variety, much like Europe’s carbon dioxide policy, or gradual emissions reductions policies. Arguments for unlimited pollution, to my mind, tend to derive from two positions. The first is the capitalists position, that the resources of the world are their to be consumed and turned into money. Mass consumption is key to a burgeoning economy, and costs that a dollar figure can’t be put on simply don’t appear on the balance sheet, which is great for business, but bad for society and the planet, but hey, who cares about them when your making profit. Such people/industries, are often strong, with a lot of money to spend to sway government policy. The second argument is that man has dominion over the Earth because the bible tells us so. We were made to be the superior species, dominant over all others. Thus, the planet will always cope with what we do to it because it’s our God given right. This doesn’t appear quite so much in popular discussion, but it often pervades thoughts on the matter, if not quite so clearly from a biblical perspective.

Most developed nations are heading towards carbon reduction policies. They may not be the most effective, and America largely remains on the side lines, but even China has committed to reducing its carbon emissions per unit of output. In sum, that might mean that their carbon emissions continue to grow, but one has to ask whether the rest of the world has the right to demand that China follows a different development path to the one most of the industrialised West has already done. The same can be said for other major developing powers. Their carbon emissions may be increasing, but they aren’t generally doing it without a second thought. The UK and EU are involved in many projects that include developing countries in efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

So, that was a rather long answer, one I think I’ll actually stick on my blog. In short, I’d support a carbon tax as I believe carbon emissions have to be reduced, and a tax simply attempts to put a dollar value on something which is currently a cost to society.

The economics of doing

Last weekend I attended three days of conferences with the Green Economics Institute, the first two on methodology, and the last on transport. Since I stopped reading New Scientist some months ago, one of the most important points made was that climate change is now even worse than we thought. This echoes the recent World Energy Outlook from the IEA which suggests that limiting warming to two degrees is now highly unlikely, save for massive investments in energy efficiency.

In some sense, I feel it is a shame that the number of attendees at these two green economics events was relatively small, essentially made up of people who need no convincing that there is a need for immediate change, though the debate on how to change the world was lively as ever. For me, this is perhaps the crux of the matter, that we continue to debate, not just among ourselves as green economists on the nuances of what should be done, but more generally in the wider world. Green economics is the economics of doing, not just talking. Slowly but surely, the case for change is being understood. As the Institute’s Co-director Miriam Kennet told us, governments around the world are interested. However, being interested still falls far short of acting.

I would love to write more, but am as always pressed for time. What I would like to say is that after almost a month of being a bit and commuting to the office by public transport, I finally got back on my bike this morning. The crazy thing is that cycling is more convenient, and a lot nicer than being stuck on the train, tube, or bus. I had the idea that I would start reading again on the train, but all I did was browse the internet, so that was pretty much a waste. So, this is my act of doing for this week. What will yours be?

You have to give it time in tech development

As I continue to write the results up for my fuel cell firm case studies, I am reminded of something which is hardly novel to anybody who knows anything in the grand scheme of developing Earth changing technologies. Most of the firms I am studying have been around for well over a decade, and as has been the curse of the fuel cell industry, the product has always been five years away. I can see this in action, as problems arise which could have easily been accounted for, deadlines and targets slip, and the vaunted position of a commercially feasible product remains ever on the horizon.

So, why do I bother to write in order to state the obvious? I suppose it is to add evidenced-based weight to the likelihood that it doesn’t matter how many ground breaking technologies are on the horizon which will transform the fossil hungry world economy into a low carbon one. As UK planning departments continue to work out whether they’re going to permit another onshore windfarm, often facing local NIMBYism, they forgo one of the cheapest sources of renewable energy, which as I understand it, is cheaper than coal if one takes into account all forms of subsidy for coal and wind powered generation. Admittedly, we face in the not so distant future the question of how best to balance the grid in the absence of storage technologies if we are heavily reliant on intermittent forms of generation. However, high voltage connections to mainland Europe may help to mitigate some of this risk due to the more varied portfolio of generation technologies used across the continent.

To say no to wind power, a relatively inexpensive and proven means of renewable generation, and instead hang our hopes on a new generation of nuclear and the development of coal CCS, continues to put the UK at serious risk of being able to simultaneously secure and decarbonise our energy supply. This isn’t to say that currently nascent technologies may one day be both technologically and economically feasible. However, if there is one story that we see time and time again when it comes to new energy technologies, it is that they take time to develop. One cannot simply throw money at the problem as a substitute for the learning which develops over time. Wind energy is a case in point and a classic story for those of us who study low carbon power generation.

The use of wind as a source of energy goes back well over a thousand years, to the early use of windmills in Persia. Jump back forwards by a millenium or so, and wind was first used for the generation of electricity in 1887. The oil crises of the 1970′s brought much experimentation with wind power, especially in America. However, the approach of the Danish, of starting small and making slow and steady progress, won out over the US approach of throwing big money at big turbines. Essentially, it took about 120 years to make wind power commercially feasible, although it is likely that some of that gap was due to a lack of political need (i.e. up until the 1970′s, fossil fuels were running practically on tap).

Fuel cells aren’t so dissimilar. The principle electrochemistry was first demonstrated in 1839 (which makes it older than electricity generation from wind), and while they have been used since the 1960′s in space exploration, much of the focus on their development for more general purposes didn’t begin to appear until the 1980′s and ’90s. There are many promising applications for fuel cells. Indeed, I can see how a fuel cell CHP boiler will be exceedingly useful in cities where the options for renewable generation are minimal due to the complications of a shortage of space and living in shared property. But as has been the case across the board, be it in CHP, buses, or automobiles, achieving the necessary price and performance characteristics is an evasive problem. I am confident that it is solvable, but it will take time to build experience, go through multiple iterations of the technology, and ultimately build up production volumes to make manufacture cost-effective.

Despite all evidence to the contrary that we cannot wave a magic wand at low-carbon technologies, there continues to be much focus on large-scale generation projects using unproven technologies, or alternatively hanging our hopes on a new generation of nuclear which continues to appear politically unfeasible, not to mention unresolved issues regarding the storage of nuclear waste.

As a consumer of energy, I hardly feel any pressure to reduce my domestic energy consumption other than that self-imposed by my own green credentials, which I can admit perhaps aren’t as green as they should be. But if energy efficiency were combined with proven and relatively inexpensive technologies which are available now, not in two years, not in five, ten, or twenty, we would be making significant inroads into our carbon emissions. And I implore people to ignore the rhetoric espoused by some tabloid newspapers that it is renewable energy forcing the price of your bills up; it is, always has been, and will likely continue to be in the future, the fossil fuel prices which cause significant inflation in our bills.

So, if a wind farm is to be built near you, support it. If it’s a micro-hydro plant, support it. If its a field of solar panels, support it (these too are now very price competitive due to the surge in demand and production). Such projects are far more likely to lower the pressure on your energy bill and reduce the need to build one or many stations with CCS. And down the line, if you have the chance of getting a fuel cell CHP boiler, then why not, I will certainly be on the waiting list!

 

I am truly a London 2012 Olympics convert

Wow, just wow!

I have never been to watch a live sports event in my life and to cut a long story short, I ended up forking out at the last minute for a ticket to see the Men’s Artistic Gymnastics Finals. The ticket I secured was pricey to say the least, but worth every single penny in my opinion.

As it turned out, I was in the front row. What made this even more memorable was that I was sat with some of Kristian Thomas’s family and friends, so as you can guess, the shouts of support were coming thick and fast for Kristian and his team mates. I have never experienced the feeling before that I got from being there, willing Team GB to do their very best, which they absolutely did. As we got to the sixth round, we were fourth, but by only 0.25 points. The gut wrenching feeling went up a notch as Team GB was up second in the sixth rotation, so we already could see the scores of the preceding four teams.

When the final scores came in, it looked like we’d secured a Silver, but then the story took a turn as Japan called for an inquiry into one of their scores. The tension rose yet again. The inquiry was ruled in Japan’s favour, so the end result was that Team GB secured bronze. As a newcomer to watching this sport, I was told this was nonetheless history in the making as we’d never even made it to a team finals before.

Every single gymnast did their absolute best, as I’m sure every Olympian is doing. There were spectacular displays all-round, but I’m no sports commentator, so I will leave that to the professionals. China, as they often, were of course as outstanding as they needed to be to secure the gold, and they did it with marks to spare.

I felt bad for the judges who were booed as they exited the arena due to the decision in favour of Japan, this was poor form really, they were doing their job. If my heart went out to anyone, it was the Ukrainian team that thought they’d secured a bronze before the inquiry.

As for being a “convert”, I can honestly say I was pretty cynical about the London 2012 Olympics until fairly recently, mostly by virtue of being a Londoner and therefore in the thick of something I wasn’t entirely bothered about. It eventually dawned on me that there was nothing to be gained from being negative, and everything to be gained from joining in with the spirit of the games. Any “inconvenience” I might suffer was in fact easily workable with a bit of planning.

What has turned out to be more difficult is finding the time to watch my two chosen events: Men’s Artistic Gymnastics and Men’s Diving. I’m having to work out how to fit this television viewing into my day, but it’s well worth it. I am genuinely glad of my change of heart as it has allowed me to feel fantastic things I’ve never really felt before, not being a sporty person so much myself and therefore never much of a viewer either. So just think how awesome it must be to actually be competing.

For those who bemoan the cost of the games, remember firstly that we won the bid in a time of plenty. Once we’d won, there was no backing out. If you’re not familiar with accounting, the Olympics became a sunk cost, i.e. money spent that we could do nothing about, other than make the best of it. So, moaning get’s you nowhere, and the only person who suffers is you in your negativity. I’d highly recommend turning on the television, and watching the Olympians perform. Put your spirit behind them, wish them the best, and celebrate their success with them in whatever way you can. These guys work damn hard and deserve to have their nation behind them.

I wish the Olympians my very best in the coming days, especially Team GB of course, and look forward to watching you compete.

Recession, or structural adjustment?

I pretty much stopped reading newspapers when I switched to cycling in to work. On the whole, I don’t think I have lost much out of my life in doing so, it’s so damn miserable reading/watching the news. So, the extended drama of the double dip recession almost passed me by, had it not been for a sideways glance at what the person sitting next to me was reading yesterday.

Today I was waiting at a medical appointment, and so I had occasion to pick up the Metro, to see that there were calls for George Osborne’s resignation on the basis that he was a “work experience” Chancellor, by virtue of a lack of an “real world” work and a life solely dedicated to politics. And of course, one of Vince Cable’s close friends, Lord Something-or-other was quoted as saying that Cable should have the job ( no cronyism at all there of course).

My training in mainstream Macro-economics isn’t great, forming as it did part of a double module in my Bachelor’s programme (the other part being Micro-economics as I was studying for a Management degree). So, my thoughts on the “recession” could easily be considered poorly informed or ill-educated. I do of course have a much greater interest in green economics, yet even there, I know little of dealing with the macro side of things.

Nonetheless, I will say my piece. I believe that all this talk of recession, be it double-dip or otherwise, glosses over a great denial in the Western/developed world. My thoughts, and I’m not the only one I know, is that we are in the middle of a structural adjustment, from West to East, developed to developing. And if this is indeed the case, how can the West ever hope to achieve the kind of growth it has in past decades? In the UK, much of our manufacturing economy has gone elsewhere, notionally to the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, and China for those unfamiliar with the acronym). This is where the real growth is in the world, and like it or not, that will continue to be so for some time, with the CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa) following behind. Little old Blighty is unlikely to get much of a look-in for the foreseeable.

I am largely an apolitical animal, so it’s also difficult for me to talk of the varying impacts of each government and the style with which they rule the country and indeed the economy. On the whole, I believe that Labour left the UK bankrupt, and you can’t keep spending money when there’s none to spend. However, this isn’t the same as saying that Osborne’s austerity package is the whole, right, or even appropriate solution. But I am certainly shy of continuing to extend public borrowing as the burden for paying this lies on future generations, and we cannot expect our children and our childrens’ children to pick up the bill for our mess (and I say our with somewhat of a feeling that it belongs mostly to the generation ahead of me).

What I will say is that the lack of consistency on green/environmental policy, including its impact on industrial policy, is harming the UK. As a nation with a strong background in science, we are well placed to develop and deploy much of the technology that the world’s common future will depends upon. Yet the government can’t even steer a straight line on something as simple as domestic solar panels, which incidentally had a drastic impact on the domestic solar industry.

At the same time, the endless obsession with GDP misses out many aspects of growth, something that green economists recognise all too clearly. From reductions in environmental degradation to parents taking time out of work to bring up their children, there are many aspects of a non-destructive/productive economy, which could move us out of a notional recession if they were counted. But even so, this would not make up for the fact the Western economies are no longer the powerhouses of the world which they once were. While the BRICs, CIVETS, and indeed all developing countries industrialise, they will produce ever more significant proportions of the world’s GDP. In the meantime, it is the responsibility of the developed countries to look for ways to green their economy, and freely assist the developing world to do the same in every way which is possible for the benefit of the world as a whole.

Speedy second-hand sales

This year, due to constraints on both my time and budget, I only managed to make one day of the Annual Green Economics Institute Conference. I picked Friday as my cousin, Emma Waight, was presenting her work on Second-hand Cultures. I was very please to bring Emma into the fold, so-to-speak, as a fellow researcher looking at just one of the myriad of issues which relates to a green economy. One could easily argue that first and foremost, we must reduce consumption in the first place. But Emma’s current work on the second-hand sale of nearly new items of babywear and toys struck a note as I remember buying a good few T-shirts for my nieces and nephews due to their ability to do one of the things babies do best, i.e. be sick on their own clothes. But they grow out of these T-shirts so quickly that they hardly get their wear. I also had to question how supermarkets were able to sell clothes that were so cheap, which I’m sure are of great benefit to new parents who are already under considerable financial strain, but perhaps are of questionable providence. So the next best thing is to re-use said clothes.

Being an academic, I see a parallel with university course texts, although the problem is that many of us hold on to our text books just in case we need them somewhere down the line. Eventually, I remember giving all my text books to the local British Heart Foundation bookshop in the vague hope that they would be useful to somebody. In all likelihood, the books were one or two versions out of date, and probably not all that useful at all.

The question perhaps becomes one of speed here. How quickly can you pass on your second-hand goods? Indeed, do you need to pass them on quickly for them to be of greatest value? Anything which dates easily, be it toy or text book, is likely to rapidly decrease in value to the point at which it is unsaleable second-hand. Yet we mostly cling onto our possessions, storing them in cupboards, the loft, the cellar, and so forth, until our home is bursting at the seams with items we haven’t used in years.

Or even more to the point, should we be thinking about how long we expect to use a possible purchase for before buying it? How many things do we buy which are used once and never again. Can we buy these items second-hand to start with? Or can we find an immediate market for them directly after use? I guess that the difficulty may be that whilst many of us in developed countries are money-rich and time-poor, in combination with so many single- or short-term use consumer goods being relatively inexpensive (no doubt with considerable externalities that we aren’t aware of), that we will prefer to buy things new with the minimum of effort, and then similarly dispose of them as quickly and easily as possible.

So, in future, put a bit of thought into purchasing items that may have re-use value. Can you buy it second-hand already? And if you’re buying it new, can you sell it again quickly?

Hydrogen on the road in London

Catching up on the news in the energy sector this morning, courtesy of the National Energy Research Network Newsletter, I saw the Accelerating the introduction of fuel cells and hydrogen energy systems press release from the Technology Strategy Board. The bit that peaked my interest about this forthcoming project was this,

The creation of the UK’s first end-to-end, integrated, green hydrogen production, distribution and retailing system, centred around a fully publically [sic] accessible, state-of-the-art 700 bar renewable H2 refuelling station network across London.

This part of the project will be carried out by Air Products Plc, and no doubt will help with the continuing chicken-and-egg problem for fuel cells and hydrogen, i.e. do we need deploy fuel cell vehicles in order to make it worth installing refuelling stations, or do we wait until the refuelling stations have been installed before deploying the vehicles?

Air Products already has experience of delivering hydrogen in London as it provides fuel for the existing five fuel cell buses which have been in service up until the Olympic Games. However, the irony of the “greenest games ever” being the very reason that the buses have been taken out of service due to a stipulation in the planning permission that no hydrogen would be delivered during the Games is surely lost on our somewhat misguided government.

In an ideal world, the hydrogen would be generated by renewable means, i.e. powering electrolysis of water with renewable electricity to generate hydrogen. This would make foremission free transport. However, it is likely that the hydrogen provided by Air Products in the TSB project may come from the steam reformation of natural gas as this is the technology it currently markets on its website, and thus would still result in carbon emissions, although not at the roadside.

At the moment, it doesn’t get much greener than fuel cell buses when it comes to public transport. Companies such as Hydrogenics and Proton Motor have both developed triple-hybrid fuel cell drive systems which incorporate a battery and a regenerative braking/ultra-capacitor system for capturing braking energy to be re-used in acceleration. Yet in London, I feel that we could do so much better. Boris Johnson’s New bus for London is a diesel-electric hybrid, and while the intention was to provide a competitively priced diesel-electric hybrid which the bus operators would buy, the project could have gone so much further. Whilst pricey, fuel cells aren’t unreasonably so in the case of buses due to the higher overall cost of the bus. The five which are currently running in London hardly make a dent in the overall road emissions, and as has been noted by others such as Jenny Jones and the Sack Boris campaign (which ran before the recent Mayoral elections), Johnson’s record on air pollution is poor.

So, as a cyclist in London, I’m hoping that the project with Air Products is a step in the right direction and that we’ll begin to see more hydrogen vehicles on the road. Again, I’m not saying that fuel cells are the be-all-and-end-all, but they’re certainly a very big step in the right direction, providing the necessary versatility needed for a vehicle which is in constant use. The sooner that this is recognised and receives strong support from government, both local and national, the better.

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