Brexit: What is the Future of Renewable Energy Now?

Brexit renewables

It’s been called the most seismic political event of the last 40 to 50 years. We went to the polls on Thursday 23rd June, voting whether to stay within or leave the EU. Most pundits, bookies and pollsters said the result would be close but that remain had the edge. Many of us were expecting to wake up the next morning with little having changed. There was nothing to worry about. Really.

By mid-morning, however, David Cameron had resigned and Brexit had pinched the vote by a couple of percent. While half of the nation were rejoicing, the others were staring gloomily into their morning coffees wondering what the future held. We are in unchartered territory. We don’t even have a real Prime Minister to lead us through the coming months of turmoil.

But what does Brexit actually mean for the renewables industry? In a week when the first solar powered plane crossed the Atlantic under the power of the sun, Britain decided to cut political ties with the continent that had helped us bring together a coherent plan to grow the renewable energy industry and reduce our catastrophic impact on the environment. Before you begin to contemplate the UK becoming less involved in the environmental changes that are needed to save our planet, you might like to consider a few things.

First of all, the current Government had already introduced measures that set back the renewables industry in recent times, not least the slashing of Feed in Tariffs for solar. Secondly, the confused strategy in respect of our energy in the UK, as well as the uncertainty that has been created since the referendum was announced, has led to a reduction in investment in this area. Most of our woes to date have been the result of local initiatives, not the EU itself. Coming out may not have that big an effect, at least not in the way we think.

Having said that, nearly three quarters of the legislation for renewables and protecting the environment (including waste disposal and recycling) has come from EU directives. Whether these are part of the ‘unnecessary red tape’ that leavers complained about is difficult to assess. There are certainly those on the Tory side who are not only Eurosceptic but are climate change sceptic as well.

Could we see more focus on fracking? Well, again, that has little or nothing to do with the EU – the Government has been trying to push forward with it against public sentiment for a while now. What might change is if the legislation for objecting to or stalling such projects is tweaked to make it easier to get a licence or comply with new safety regulations.

Should we be fearing the future when it comes to renewables and other environmental protections? Actually, the UK has often gone a lot further than some of our European counterparts to make our world a better place. In fact, we have often led the arguments to get EU legislation and directives in place. The problem we have is that the current Government only wants this to happen if the ‘market allows’.

We probably need to avoid a certain degree of hysteria, stay calm and keep a stiff upper lip and all that British stuff. After all, we are not giving a blank cheque to our leaders and there are plenty of people in the UK to fight the good fight. But it doesn’t help when our media start producing headlines that suggest industries such as fracking are now going to be given free reign. As The Independent wrote recently:

“The current government has repeatedly suggested that it thinks regulation on fracking is too restrictive and has looked to influence Europe to allow oil and gas companies more freedom to undertake the controversial technique.”

So what about solar, wind and other renewable technologies? Much will depend on a lot of other factors which will affect every aspect of the UK. If the stock market does badly, if interest rates rise, if exchange rates crash, if house prices come down, if jobs are lost…of course, that’s looking on the most pessimistic side.

We could, of course, actually be entering a new and more fruitful period of UK history. Climate change and the renewable energy is not just a left wing utopian world view. There are plenty in the centre and on the right who believe that energy security, if not a low carbon future, are key in the next ten to thirty years.

For the moment, until we come out on the other side of this momentous decision, we’re not really going to have a certain idea of what is going to happen. All we can hope for is that our leaders will come together, make the right decisions and lead us towards the light. Nothing much, in that respect, has really changed.

One thing that might give remainers a little cause for optimism is what happened right after the result was announced. David Cameron had said that he would stay on as PM to see the Brexit through and that he would immediately implementing Article 50. He did neither. Instead, he resigned and said that implementing Article 50 would be a job for the next PM. This leaves the decision to quit the EU kicked into the long grass until the end of the summer. That means there could be a few more twists in the referendum plot before we are actually finished.

Wind Powered Cars: A Possibility or Crackpot Philosophy?

Wind power has become a popular form of renewable energy, alongside solar power. Transportation and what powers it, is something that has long been in debate. There are questions about what it should run on and which fuel would be most efficient. There are some who thought that a wind powered car might be the answer to problems regarding transport and the pollution it causes.

 

The Ventomobile

In 2008 a group of German students built a wind powered car known as the Ventomobile. It carried a two meter wind turbine with two blades on the top for extra power. It had three wheels and a design that was more similar to a bicycle than a car. While it could not reach great speeds it worked surprisingly well. Many consider this build to be the first wind powered car as it runs soles on the energy generated by the wind.

Ventomobil
Ventomobil

 

Lotus Nemesis

Lotus Nemesis
Lotus Nemesis

Argued to be the first official wind powered car, it is actually a hybrid and uses electric power as well as a turbine that has been placed outside of the car. The turbine will produce wind energy to help supply the car with energy, especially if the battery starts to run low. It was found to be more effective when the turbine was placed on the outside as opposed to the inside of the vehicle.

In Fact, Lotus are so determined to create a more environmentally friendly world that they have started to incorporate wind power into their entire factory so that it can generate electricity to the machinery that assists in the building of the cars. Lotus have really proved themselves as a company that care about renewable energy and the environment.

At the age of 90, Tang Zhengping decided to create a car that was more environmentally friendly to help reduce the amount of smog in his country, China. The car can reach speeds of up to 90mph, and has a fan in the front of the car to help generate power. It also runs on batteries, and the wind generated from the fan helps to charge them and keep the car running.

There are also two solar panels on the little wings’ on each side of the car which allows for more power to be generated and higher speeds to be reached. The batteries only need to be recharged every two or three days, which makes them very efficient. Of all the wind powered cars this one is definitely one of the more advanced, even if the Nemesis does look better.

Formula Zero

Mercedes Benz has recently come up with a prototype they call Formula Zero. A car powered by the wind and 4 electric motors on each hub. The aim of this being that the race is based upon energy efficiency and utilizing natures resources to win the race. Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design of North America has developed this lightweight racer with a huge aero-efficient fin that combines:

“the thrill of Formula One, the track dynamics of the bobsled or luge, and the grace and efficiency of yacht racing”

Either way it looks good and should prove an interesting watch, albeit a while away from mainstream development.

Formula Zero
Formula Zero

Are they in our future?

Wind powered cars are certainly a possibility in our future, even if they are hybrids and use electric power as a second source. Large steps in renewable energy are being made more and more frequently, and with electric cars already well established, there is no reason why we cannot have cars that implement, or even run completely on, wind power. When it comes to transportation running on renewable energy, the future is looking incredibly bright.