In a world where the urgency to address climate change is ever more apparent, there are individuals who stand out as beacons of hope, leading the charge towards a more sustainable and eco-friendly future. One such individual is Paul Martin, whose journey towards advocating for a fossil fuel-free future has been nothing short of inspiring. From his early days as a university student in the 1980s to his pioneering electric vehicle conversion projects and outspoken support for clean energy solutions, Paul Martin's story encapsulates the transformative power of personal conviction and hands-on experience.
In this exclusive Q&A session, we dig deeper into Paul Martin's journey, his perspectives on the electric vehicle landscape, and his unwavering dedication to a fossil fuel-free future. Join us in exploring the mind of a true visionary, and discover how one individual's commitment can spark transformative change for generations to come.
#LEVS: What was the turning point in your life that made you realise the importance of carbon emission free mobility and you chose to be an advocate of a fossil fuel-free future?
Mr Paul: I realised that we needed to stop burning fossils as fuels all the way back in the 1980s when I was in university. The evidence was clear enough to me at that time. And while I was initially seduced by the simpleminded notion of using hydrogen as a fuel, and worked earnestly on that in the late 1990s, it was my purchase of a Toyota Prius mild hybrid in 2008 that convinced me that electric vehicles were the way forward. I converted a 1975 Triumph Spitfire to fully electric with my son as a project in 2014, because the only EVs available at that time were very expensive and of questionable quality, and I really wanted to learn more in the way that a do it yourself project can teach you. That project was so successful, and so informative, that I realised EVs were the future of transport, and it was also clear at that time that hydrogen was no longer a viable option.
#LEVS: What are the key factors that make electric vehicles a more effective solution for reducing fossil fuel emissions compared to other alternative vehicles in the market?
Mr Paul: EVs offer the chance to use our future source of energy, which is wind and solar electricity, in a way that is very efficient. This efficiency, arising from the incredible invention of the lithium ion battery, means that we don't need to convert electricity into a fuel. The storage efficiency of a lithium ion battery is greater than 90%, even including the heat losses of the electronics in the charger. In contrast, hydrogen's best case storage cycle efficiency is 37%, because the first step (electrolysis of water to make hydrogen) is a huge step backward in exergy, i.e. the potential to do work. Converting pure exergy (electricity) to a fuel (which is a proxy for heat) is a fundamentally inefficient process for thermodynamic reasons. And whereas we tolerate poor efficiency when it gives us greater effectiveness (i.e. we tolerate the poor efficiency of a gasoline engine, because gasoline is very energy dense and easy to transport and store), hydrogen will never be EITHER efficient OR effective. Battery EVs in contrast are more than adequately effective, and VERY efficient, giving their owners not only low GHG and greatly reduced toxic emissions from driving, but also a benefit in reduced cost of energy per distance driven. My Model Y for instance is currently costing me only $0.64 CDN per 100 km for energy- tire replacements will cost me more than "refuelling". And as grids become greener, EVs become an environmental no-brainer choice.
#LEVS: Why do you believe that electric trucks will be the future of freight transportation despite their high power consumption, and how does this technology address the challenges associated with traditional fossil fuel-powered trucks?
Mr Paul: Freight truck companies understand that energy cost is a significant fraction of the price they must charge their customers. 75% of freight loads are limited by vehicle volume, not total gross vehicle weight. Accordingly, 75% of loads can tolerate a heavier tractor full of batteries, without affecting how much cargo they carry. In return, due to the higher efficiency of the electric drivetrain, their cost for energy per distance driven will DROP, even relative to fossil diesel. The cost per tonne of CO2e emissions mitigated is therefore NEGATIVE to the owner, and they will make this change to BEV trucks even if they don't care about the environment at all. Furthermore, BEV trucks will have considerably less maintenance and will be easier to drive than diesels. It seems obvious to me that any company which CAN tolerate the implications of installing fast chargers or doing slower overnight charging at the depot, will do so for cost reasons only. Their competitors who don't do so, will make much less money!
#LEVS: In what ways do events like the London EV show contribute to promoting and advancing electric vehicles and encouraging their adoption among the general public?
Mr Paul: Fear of change and of new things is quite normal for people. Many people are afraid of the transition and want to convince us that the only alternative to burning fossils for energy is freezing and starving in the dark, and they spread a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) about all matters related to the transition. They claim that EVs don't last long, take too long to charge, are constantly catching fire, are made out of rare materials that cannot possibly be supplied in the quantities necessary, or don't save any GHG or toxic emissions etc. etc. These FUD and nirvana fallacy claims are all false and proving so is rather easy, and it is important that ordinary people become familiar with BEVs so they are de-mystified. People will lose their fear as they become familiar, and will put aside the misinformation when they are given the facts by credible people. Soon it will be so uncool to drive a vehicle with an engine that it will be like smoking in public, and as more BEVs become available, the transition will happen faster than many people think. But if the public remains fearful and ignorant, the transition will be slowed more than necessary, and the planet will suffer and more people's lives will be needlessly shortened by vehicle exhaust. This would be a tragedy, and we can avoid that tragedy by providing information- so we should do it as much as we can!