…May worsen oil slump
From Ikenna Emewu in Beijing
One of the commonest sights in the streets of Beijing are the long public transport buses with two antennas like those of the snail at the back of the roof.
The buses are peculiar in some ways, and one of them is that they have designated tracks in the broad highways of Beijing at the extreme right of the lanes.
As they run along, their two antennas are hooked to the electric power lines overhead. And their movement is just along the electric power grids specially provided for them.
They make up, at least, 30 per cent of the volume of public transport buses in the city and could be next to the subway trains in volume of commuters transported everyday.
Another peculiar quality of those buses is that when they leave the power tracks or their antennas go down for long, their movement might also stop because they draw the power that moves them from the electric grid, reason their antennas stick to the power lines at all times.
The antennas are held in place by two cables, each drawn from a little reel or drum casing. From all indications, the drum casings should have some pulleys and motors in them and possibly power transformers that convert the electric power they tap from the grid into the energy of motion that enables them to move.
Those buses have nothing to do with the fossil fuel or petroleum. They are the darling of the city and the country’s policy of green transportation to reduce carbon dioxide emission, reduce pollution and save cost in fueling automobiles.
But they are just a species of the larger teams and designs of non-fuel consuming buses in Beijing. They all run on electric power, either internally installed through their batteries or from the power they draw from the grid above.
Other electric buses dominate public transportation in Beijing, including some double deckers and a long fused bus. Most of the buses have capacity to take, at least, 50 passengers at a time, reason they are reputed for moving a great percentage of the city’s commuters.
The electric bus rave in Beijing started about 12 years ago when the city in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games rolled out the plan.
Three years ago, the city announced another plan that by the end of 2017, at least 80 per cent of the buses in Beijing must have been electric.
The city has a long history of foul air and foggy overhang of polluted air from excessive fumes and decided to phase out the buses that use fossil fuel.
That might surely entail bad business for the petroleum business. Beijing, a city of about 22 million people would have about 30 per cent of the population relying on bus transit everyday, and slashing the number from the petroleum market is serious bad business.
The China media had reported in 2013 that in 2017, there would be “a total of 13,825 buses, including 4,058 electrically powered and 7,185 running on natural gas. The state-owned Beijing Public Transport Holdings will replace more than 10 routes operated by diesel-powered buses with more than 4,700 electric buses by 2017.”
“Nan Tao, head of the bus company’s service bureau, said replacing traditional buses with clean-energy vehicles would reduce fuel consumption by 150,000 tons a year.”
Two weeks ago, Daily Sun was at the Suzhou plant of Higer Bus Company, the largest bus maker in China located in the large city of 13 million people in the Jiangsu Province.
One striking point the company made to Nigeria was when the tour guide in the company pointed at one of the buses outside and said it was an electric bus and they are fast designing and making more of them. He even admitted that thousands of them were already on the roads. Funny enough, he listed Nigeria as one of the places they sell their buses and plan to mobilise the market heavily to switch over to the electric buses and save energy and make the environment pollution-free.
As the world researches in this direction and a sure drop in volume of oil consumption, the alarm it rings to Nigerians is worse market for the crude oil with steadily dropping demand.
In late March, Daily Sun was also part of the tour of the Hainan Province of China. One of the places of interest visited was the Yingli Solar Energy plant in Haikou. The plant makes solar panels and is fast becoming one of the largest makers in the country and in the world.
On its own ingenuity, Yingly has in display at the factory, a car it designed that runs on solar power. The company explained that the entire roof of the car is a solar panel that draws solar energy and converts into use by the car.
However, the solar design is for now meant to power only the electrical functions of the car, such as light, horns, etc. but they promise and assure of further plan to stretch the design in time to when the solar panels of the car would power the entire function of the car and thereby eliminate fuel use entirely.
So far, with the solar panel, powering part of the car energy system, the fuel consumption is cut by 35 per cent. That also means further slump in the demand and consumption of fossil fuel. The lesson to oil producing countries is already clear – that worse business beckons. And for a country like Nigeria that has not started acting towards diversification of the economy away from the mono stand on oil, there might be worse times ahead.
Last week, US President, Barack Obama, visited Saudi Arabia and agreed to a loan deal to the country. That development reverberated all over the world, as the first time the country is taking any loan from any nation. Saudi is one of the richest oil nations and one of the highest exporters of crude. It had always lived in surplus, but not any longer. With the bad business in crude oil arising from certain factors, Saudi is feeling the heat of hard economic times and a lean purse. And if Saudi could shed tears because of the oil market situation, then Nigeria should expect to bleed to death unless a rescue comes.
An expert in China economy told Daily Sun that the trend in electric powered automobile is not going to stop because it is cheaper and more affordable.
For instance, the Beijing electric buses run on a single charge for up to 300km, and the charge is just about two hours. Yet, for those that run on the power grid, there is no limit and no discharge, as it continuously charges as it runs along.