Could the latest record-high oil prices have a hidden upside? Yes, says Robert Safian, the editor of Fast Company, who argues (quite persuasively, we think) that higher oil prices are beneficial in the sense that they will help make renewable and efficient energy technologies more economically viable. Noting that market forces had previously inhibited their widespread adoption - oil being much cheaper - Safian explains that new elements in the market are making a serious push for alternative energy solutions. The first step will bridging the gap between older, conventional technologies and some of the new, cleaner ones by creating new applications and synergies.
The magazine's cover story this month focuses on Johnathan Goodwin (whom we've previously mentioned here), a gifted car mechanic who has combined his love for fast, powerful vehicles with his passion for the environment to build a number of low-emission, fuel-efficient big rigs that take elements from both worlds.
The key to his green retrofits: pairing diesel- or biodiesel-based turbine engines with electric motors to turn even the most gas-guzzling truck into a clean vehicle. Some of his recent standouts include converting his original H1 Hummer into a hydrogen/biodiesel-fueled power rig (a single tank of hydrogen lasts 700 miles and cuts diesel consumption in half) and doubling a '65 Chevy Impala's original mileage (up to 25 mpg) - while almost quadrupling its horsepower (250 to 800). He's widely been featured on MTV's Pimp My Ride and counts Arnold Schwarzenegger and Neil Young - whose '60 Lincoln Continental he plans on turning into a biodiesel/electric hybrid (with a 100 mpg target) - as fans of his work.
That's not to say we think Goodwin's (amazing) work should be used as an excuse to buy more gas-guzzlers. However, for those who just can't live without them (and can afford the steep installation prices), this type of modification offers a nice alternative.
Via ::Fast Company: Crude Ideas (magazine), ::Fast Company: Motorhead Messiah (magazine), ::WSJ The Informed Reader: Can Cars Be Made to Go Fast and Burn Clean? (blog)