Air Quality Today – The Cost of Doing Nothing

All around the world, our air is literally killing us. According to a report from the World Health Organization, polluted air accounted for seven million deaths globally during 2012. To put that in perspective, this is the entire population of Hong Kong.

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Not surprisingly, the developing regions were hardest hit, with 5.9 million air pollution-related deaths in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific alone. In India, a generally heightened reliance on oil has combined with increased coal consumption to trigger a 4.4 percent rise in CO2 emissions, leading to pollution that’s eating into crop yields. In China, cities such as Beijing, where air quality index (AQI) readings commonly exceed levels that the WHO considers unsafe, have at times been declared “almost uninhabitable.”

But dangerous levels of air pollution aren’t limited to the developing world. In London, nitrogen dioxide pollution in the Oxford Street shopping district reached its legal limit for the year just four days into 2015, and the London Mayor is under pressure to “reduce pollution a lot sooner than 2020 and cover a wider area,” said the London Assembly. In Japan, CO2 emissions reached a record high of 1.2 billion metric tons released during the year ended in March 2014. Even the tiny Persian Gulf island nation of Bahrain, one of the world’s richest, was among the 10 countries with the most polluted air in the world during 2014, according to the WHO.

One of the greatest hopes for reversing this alarming trend rests with alternative energy sources, and that’s why we at Intelligent Energy believe we’ll be able to help take a bite out of this problem during 2015 and beyond.

Our business in India aims to bring reliable and cleaner energy solutions to more than 10,000 of the country’s diesel-reliant telecom towers. We believe we can help those partners reduce the diesel consumption of each tower while also increasing uptime, and we’re aiming to replicate this activity across more towers during the year.  Our own fuel cell initiatives are obviously a key part of this.  Such efforts dovetail with the Indian government’s commitment to alternative energy sources.

On the vehicle emissions front, governments in France, Germany, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. are drawing up plans to introduce hydrogen refueling networks to support a new generation of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Meanwhile, Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London has gone so far as to mandate that all new taxis must be zero-emission capable by 2018. In concert with efforts such as these, leading automotive manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda and Hyundai have announced their intentions to make FCEVs available to global markets, and this has already begun, with Toyota’s Mirai FCEV for example, already being available to consumers in Japan and expected to hit the roads in the U.S. and the U.K this summer.

It’s clear that the world is waking up to this important issue, and Intelligent Energy is well positioned to make important contributions to the cause. Our fuel cell technologies for the consumer electronics, distributed power and generation and motive markets, are precisely what government and industry around the world need to reduce emissions to safe levels. Working with organizations in the private and public sectors around the globe, Intelligent Energy can help make our air safe to breathe again. If that isn’t important work, then we don’t know what is.

Video: see the fuel cell electric taxi in action

A fleet of five fuel cell electric taxis, powered by Intelligent Energy fuel cells, are on the streets of London during the Olympic period, transporting visiting VIPs around the capital. In this video, our drivers give their view on the hydrogen taxis.

Cleaner Air for London

You’ve probably seen the phrase “Cleaner Air for London” on the side of our five fuel cell electric taxis, either here on the blog or out on the streets of London, so we wanted to give you a little more information about air quality and why the move to zero emission transport is so important.

Our aim is to demonstrate what could be achieved if zero emission hydrogen fuel cell technologies powered the entire London taxi fleet – that’s 23,000 taxis. Although taxis account for just one percent of all public transport journeys within the capital, they are responsible for a massive 25 percent of all particulate (PM10) emissions.

Particulates are very small particles (of soot and other combustion compounds) which contribute to air pollution and can harm the body when inhaled. So it’s clear that the more we can reduce to reduce the amount of particulates, the better our environment and health will be.

We all know that air pollution is a big issue, especially in big cities, but you might not be aware of a recent House of Commons report on air quality that estimated air pollution could contribute to as many as 50,000 deaths in the UK each year.

In London, the first city to see our fuel cell electric taxis in action, around 4,300 deaths per year are partly caused by long-term exposure to air pollution. Let’s also not forget the economic cost of poor air quality, which the UK Government estimates is around £15 billion for the nation, and as much as £2 billion a year for London alone.

The good news is that replacing all 23,000 London taxis with zero emission alternatives would reduce annual CO2 emissions and dramatically reduce particulate emissions by 25 percent. It would bring about a huge improvement in air quality, benefitting all those living, working and travelling through London.

This transition to cleaner electric vehicles is already taking place in other many cities around the world. It’s time for London to make the change, and with the help of the Greater London Authority and our other partners in the HyTEC programme, this is becoming a reality.

First VIP guests travel to City Hall with fuel cell electric taxi

After years in planning and development, and weeks of preparation to make sure the fuel cell electric taxis are in tip-top condition, we had our first VIP passengers on Friday, ahead of the Opening Ceremony.

Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of London for Business and Enterprise and Chair of the London Hydrogen Partnership hailed our zero emissions fuel cell electric taxi for its first job of the day, travelling from City Hall to Guildhall.

Kit (second from the right) was extremely enthusiastic and eager to make the first journey in the fuel cell electric taxi, describing the taxi as a smooth and quiet ride. Kit was travelling with Munira Mirza, Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture (centre) and other Greater London Authority colleagues to attend a pre-Olympics opening event ceremony at Guildhall.

Kit and Munira were introduced to the taxi by Dennis Hayter (second from left), VP of Business Development at Intelligent Energy (the company which has provided fuel cell systems and led development of the taxis), who explained how the fuel cell electric taxis work.

Cleaner Air for London

Hello!

This is our blog about five fuel cell electric taxis which will be on the streets of London during the Olympic period, transporting visiting VIPs around the capital.

Designed with taxi drivers in mind, the fuel cell electric taxis are capable of a full day’s use, with the same range, refuelling time and improved performance, compared to conventional taxis, but with zero emissions.

Phil Davis, one of our five drivers and a London cabbie with over 30 years behind the wheel, said that, “It drives very well, and is quiet to drive with no polluting emissions from the exhaust – all that comes out is pure water!”

We’ll be hearing more from Phil, and the other drivers, over the next few weeks. Read the blog to find out what goes on with the taxis and who they are ferrying around. You’ll also meet the people behind the scenes who have made it happen.