Pena: Going electric

ELECTRIC vehicles (EVs) are becoming popular. I don’t see many of them here in the Philippines though, except for public utility vehicles and e-bikes. Probably because the prices are not yet competitive and we lack charging stations and other infrastructure to support them. In other countries, however, EVs are slowly replacing conventional cars. Even pick-up trucks, like the Ford F-150, are now going electric. Tesla is even coming up with an electric farm tractor.

The main driver for the switch from gasoline to electric is pollution and climate change. Burning of fossil fuel releases pollutants into the air like Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Particulate Matter (PM) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that contributes to smog. The use of fossil fuel for vehicles is also one of the big contributors to greenhouse gas emissions like Carbon Dioxide (CO2). EVs have zero-emission.

Some countries, cities and states have already passed legislations allowing only EVs in the near future. In the US, California and New York are banning the sale of new internal combustion engine light-duty vehicles by 2035.

Countries with proposed bans or implementing 100-percent sales of zero-emissions vehicles include China, Japan, the UK, South Korea, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Slovenia, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Sri Lanka and Costa Rica.

It is not just passenger cars, trucks, buses and boats, even airplanes are going electric. Cargo company DHL Express has ordered 12 fully electric planes from Eviation, a Seattle-area-based global manufacturer. The electric aircraft is called Alice eCargo plane, which is said to be the world’s leading fully electric aircraft. Eviation expects to deliver the Alice electric aircraft to DHL Express in 2024.

The Alice eCargo plane can be flown by a single pilot and can carry 1,200 kilograms or about 24 sacks of rice. It will require 30 minutes or less to charge per flight hour and have a maximum range of up to 815 kilometers, roughly the distance from Clark to Cagayan De Oro.

Alice’s advanced electric motors have fewer moving parts to increase reliability and reduce maintenance costs. Its operating software constantly monitors flight performance to ensure optimal efficiency. The aircraft is ideal for feeder routes and requires less investment in station infrastructure. The Alice can be charged while loading and unloading operations occur, ensuring quick turnaround times that maintain DHL Express’ tight schedules.

Another e-plane I saw on the internet is Bye Aerospace’s eFlyer 800. This one is expected to have a range of up to 575 miles, with 45 minutes of reserve battery charge for its motors, and an operational ceiling of 35,000 feet. More importantly, it will be flown at only one-fifth the cost of a comparable aircraft running on fossil fuel.

But electricity generation still uses fossil fuels. Thus, to make EVs truly emission-free, they should be charged with power sourced from clean energy.


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