Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

November 2nd, 2011:

When the air is not so clear look to the government’s coffers

South China Morning Post – Nov. 2, 2011

Readers will be aware that we have long been wondering why the government has been so reluctant to commit to implementing new air quality objectives. These have been agreed on and are supposed to replace the current outdated ones established in 1987. But while the government pays lip service to the idea of better air quality standards it has proved exceedingly reluctant to say when it plans to introduce them.

The reason for this reluctance becomes a lot clearer on reading an article by the Civic Exchange’s Mike Kilburn on the CleanBiz Asia website. He makes the point that under the terms of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Ordinance, air quality objectives act as an absolute standard. They are the air quality benchmarks for environmental impact assessments that have to be done for all big projects. At least in theory, as there are ways of getting around this. The model for assessing predicted air quality is a black box with no need to state input data, assumptions or margins for error. “Any project that breaches the standard cannot legally be approved.” A further complication is that the government’s proposed new objectives would reduce permissible levels of nitrogen oxides by half, by the end of this year.

This, he says, has serious implications for the plan to build a third runway. “Given the additional emissions from the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, the fact that emissions of key pollutants – nitrogen oxides (NOx) and ozone – continue to rise across Hong Kong, and that proposed control measures to reduce this pollution have been largely unsuccessful, there is a strong likelihood that an EIA for the third runway would show that emissions, especially of NOx, will exceed the air quality objectives and would not therefore be approvable.” He cites the preliminary report on air quality impact from the third runway by the Airport Authority’s consultant Ove Arup which shows that failure to meet these new standards is a real possibility. The report says that, “emissions from aircraft can only meet the standard by reducing the capacity of the new runway by some 60 per cent”.

The authority claims the new runway would bring economic benefits of HK$132 billion in contracts and is projected to generate HK$900 billion in overall economic benefit to Hong Kong. It is not hard to see why the government would not want to jeopardise a project of this value by making the air quality objectives harder to meet.

Brammo scores Hong Kong government deal

Electric motorcycle maker Brammo says it’s scored a deal to supply the Hong Kong government and police force with its electric motorcycles. Brammo says the Hong Kong government will replace its existing gas-powered motorcycle fleet with Brammo’s Enertia (see my test drive of the Enertia below).

Hong Kong’s Water Supplies Department will use the Enertia Plus, while the Hong Kong police department will use the 2012 Enertia Plus “LE,” or the Law Enforcement edition, which has features for police. Brammo’s exclusive dealer in Hong Kong is JCAM Advanced Mobility Company.

I’m not sure how many electric motorcycles the deal entails, but I’ve asked the company and will update this when I know more. It’s gotta be sizable, particularly for Brammo, which is a small company based in Ashland, Oregon.

Two-wheeled EVs in China

The electric vehicle market is being driven by sales of electric scooters, motorcycles, and e-bikes sold in China, as the Chinese government has banned gas-powered motorcycles in some places. According to Lux Research, sales of batteries for electric bikes and scooters will grow from being a $6.4 billion market in 2010 to a $10.9 billion market in 2015 (11 percent growth), led by the Chinese market. According to some statistics the market for electric motorcycles in China is expected to grow 11 percent per year through 2014 to 31.6 million units.

All the electric motorcycle, and scooter startups are angling for deals like this one, including firms like Mission Motors, Vectrix, Zero Motorcycles, and KLD Energy. Focusing on the U.S. market alone isn’t enough for these companies.

Brammo’s plans

Just last week Brammo announced it has raised another $28 million, and no doubt securing that funding had something to do with this deal. The funding was led by Polaris Industries, which makes sporting vehicles like ATVs and snowmobiles. Brammo is also backed by Alpine Energy; NorthPort Investments; the venture arm of Best Buy, Best Buy Capital; and Canadian investment firm Chrysalix.

The Enertia electric motorcycle has a 60–70 mph max speed,40-mile range and roughly $8,000 price tag. But Brammo has been planning on building higher-end bikes, including its Empulse, which has a new battery pack, a power management system and a water-cooled motor. The Empulse has a 100-mph top speed, an average range of 60 miles per charge and an estimated starting price of $9,995.

Brammo is also building four new, 6-speed models that are using a transmission system that enables higher speeds and the equivalent of the performance of a traditional gas-based motorcycle. The transmission tech — called the Integrated Electric Transmission (IET) — will come from partner SMRE Engineering, and the prices for these motorcycles clock in around $10,000 to $12,000.