Energy Use

Quite pretty really....

Quite pretty really....

We’re in a recession. Fair enough. Businesses will go bust and that is the way of the world, sad though that is. Different businesses ones will spring up to replace them. However, one closed yesterday which on top of the tragedy of 400 lost jobs in Wales, it could have an enormous impact on the environment.

Anglesey Aluminium, which opened 40 years ago, announced in August that it would cease smelting work, where the raw materials are heated up to create aluminium. The UK government had offered a £48m rescue package over four years but this was rejected by the plant’s owners because it was “not enough to break even”.

But Aluminium demand is on the rise, so the smelting will be done, but elsewhere in the world.

Energy GenerationSo what you ask? Well, the kicker is that plant on the outskirts of Holyhead, used 12% of the total electricity in Wales. Yes, that is not a misprint, 12% of the total electricity supply of a whole country. For one plant. Crikey.

Now this electricty has to come from somewhere, and AA has been pretty much linked to the nuclear power station at Wylfa, 14 miles away. One of the main issues was that it was due to be decommissioned, and other options were more expensive.

Estimates give the consumption of the plant as about 2,200 Million Kwh per year. Or if it came from the normal UK grid (at 544g/kwh), a footprint of 1.2 million tonnes of CO2. However, its from Nuclear, and the best research available ( quotes the g/kwh figure as 16g/kwh. So the footprint of the plant is more like 35,000 tonnes of CO2, just 3% of a non-nuclear power source.

So what happens when the slack in Aluminium production is taken up by India or China and fueled by a gas or coal? Well, the table below (using UK figures which are probably very optimistic) shows Anglesey Aluminium’s closure is likely to cause between 750,000 and 2,000,000 tonnes of extra CO2 in the atmosphere every year.

Makes you think doesn’t it?The impact

A low carbon Segway user yesterday

A low carbon Segway user yesterday

So we have finished our real world testing of the Segway PT, and we have made the following observations:

1 – The average footprint has increased from 16.6 to 24.9 g/km with more data points.
2 – We have also calculated figures for other large industrialised nations – e.g.: Italy is 21g/km, and the US is 30 g/km based on their standard electricity generation figures.
3 – Clear would suggest rider experience has a large impact on the footprint. Experienced riders were likely to be between 16.6 and 20.9 g/km, whereas beginners create between 26.1 and 40.1 g/km. It appears from the data that beginners use significantly more power to travel a given distance – I would suggest this is as a result of more energy being used for balance as opposed to forward motion.
4 – The Segway PT is still the lowest carbon motorised method of getting from A to B in the UK.

The link to the whole document is below:

After the previous revelation that the Cheeky Girls are going to save the earth due to Segway PT’s, their head of marketing for Europe called me up at the Clear office, and asked if I’d ever tried one. Rather sheepishly I had to say I hadn’t, so he put me in contact with arguably the keenest owner in the UK. Isidore Margaronis is a great chap who commutes from Notting Hill to Piccadilly every day on his Segway.Isidore on his Segway

Putting a staggering amount of trust in a complete stranger, Isidore gave me a quick lesson, then let me loose on his Segway i2. Even though I’d probably feel less self-conscious walking across the pitch at Wembley stadium wearing a chicken suit, it was a lot of fun. Extremely easy to ride, very smooth and a bizarre but very intuitive design. Lean forward, go forward. Lean back, go back. Simple as that.

Anyway, I was interested to validate the manufacturer’s claims for the battery performance / range to confirm it’s environmental credentials, and Isidore kindly took some measurements for his, and from this we’ve created a White Paper, which you can download here and gives all the justification and some comparisons with other modes of transport. Although our original figure of 13 g/km was slightly optimistic, a “real world” figure of 16.6 g/km is still highly impressive, especially when you consider taking the bus is about 94 g/km.The off road Segway

What’s also interesting is that the DfT are still maintaining that the Segway is technically illegal to use other than on private land under section 72 of the Highway Act 1835 (yes, that is 1835). Sutton Police are also trialling them (for use on patrol and I’m told that initial feedback is good. There is also a very active group
pushing for their legalisation and you get the feeling they’re not going to give up without a fight.

So will we one day see hordes of Segways prowling the streets? It’s hard to say. I suspect the DfT will eventually come to their senses, and class them as bicycles / electric bicycles and allow their use on the road / cycle lanes, as they are the most comparable form of transport.

I’m also glad to say that this story does not quite end here, as Clear are being lent a Segway i2 in the next month or so to further test and validate it’s environmental credentials (although we really fancied the off-road version the x2). So thank you Cheeky Girls, you may save the environment after all….segway_co2_white_paper_v12