Byron Bay leads Australia in solar electric vehicle use
It could happen, soon.
The Echonetdaily article on Friday (April 15) was timely. Australia could lead the world in solar-powered electric vehicles, although the headline is a bit of a misnomer because the vehicles we currently know and use cannot be directly powered by the sun.
Solar powered vehicles designed by researchers and students are run every year in a race from Darwin to Adelaide, but these are not your everyday commuter cars, they are purpose built, ultralight, wind-resistant, experimental, single person ‘frames’ with a small electric motor powered by solar cells which are plastered on every square nanometre of the vehicle.
Australia is undertaking considerable research in battery powered vehicles, and two organisations stand out from the many that are driving this idea forward.
Melbourne is the Australian headquarters of Chinese company Brighsun Electric and in December 2015 company engineers fitted lithium batteries to a tourist bus which ran from Melbourne to Sydney without recharging.
The journey was completed in a little over 13 hours.
EV Works in Perth began operations in 2009 and fits electric motors to a range of family cars, even older models such as a 1990 BMW 318 and a 1995 Volvo 960.
The company recently completed a corporate order for converting 11 Ford Focus cars to electric use, and the RAC (Western Australia’s equivalent to the NRMA) has installed charging stations between Perth and major towns in tourist region of the south west.
Present technology allows an electric car to reach speeds of 120 kilometres per hour, run about 200 kilometres on a charge, and recharge in as little as 30 minutes.
This is fine for local travel, and with solar charging, costs of owning and running an electric vehicle are very reasonable.
Byron Bay TramLink (of which I am the proponent,) plans to run trams and light rail vehicles on portion of the disused north coast railway.
It would have been a simple matter to clean up the tracks, run an overhead wire, put the trams on the tracks, plug into the mains and Byron Bay has a tourist transport service.
With changes in battery technology and the need for sustainable energy it would have been negligent to overlook the possibilities of battery power for the Byron Bay TramLink operation.
A United States engineering company which specialises in light rail and tramway construction has fitted a former Melbourne tram with lithium batteries and during trial runs the tram carried a full load of 76 passengers at speeds of up to 40 kilometres per hour for 10 hours.
Electric transport is here, let’s all enjoy the benefits and get on board to help clean up our planet.
Peter Finch, Byron Bay Tramlink