The UK budget airline easyJet has announced it will be the first carrier to trial an electric taxiing system to try and reduce fuel consumption and emissions on runways. The airline said in a blog that the “electric green taxiing system” (EGTS), which is being developed with Honeywell and Safran, will allow its jets to power motors in the main wheels without using the aircraft’s main engines.
EasyJet says around 4 per cent of total fuel consumption occurs when taxiing. Its aircraft average 20 minutes of taxi time per flight – the equivalent of 5.5 million kilometres a year. Trials will begin in 2013 and could be offered to new aircraft or as a retrofit to existing aircraft by 2016. easyJet says the system could also reduce, if not remove altogether, the need for tugs to manoeuvre aircraft in and out of stands.
UK aims for 22GW solar
As many people from the Australian solar industry gather in Canberra this morning to learn more about the planned reverse auction for a large scale tariff in the ACT, designed to build 40MW of utility scale solar, they may reflect on the fact that cloudy, bleak, cold UK has set a 22 gigawatt target for solar energy by 2020. The UK currently has around 1 gigawatt of installed capacity, a shade short of Australia’s estimated 1.4GW, but under a plan unveiled by Climate Change Minister Greg Barker overnight, it plans to increase that 20 fold over the next 8 years.
However, the government’s plans for a rapidly declining scale of feed-in-tariffs has created concern in the industry and led some to question if the target will be met. The government has proposed automatic cuts in six monthly intervals to reflect the anticipated slump in the price of solar modules, but left open the possibility of even more cuts through a contingency measure. The industry says the tariff could fall to as low as 12.9p/kWh by October, after interim cuts in April and July, and will not provide the stability needed to grow the industry.
Barker told the industry to “get real”, and said it should allow 650,000 micro-plants to be added at a third of the cost of the 220,000 already installed. “Never again should we have a fixed price tariff that allows a bubble to grow and offer unduly large rewards,” he told a briefing. “What we have to do is capture these falls in prices for the consumers so they get better value and we put the solar industry on course to becoming a mass market competitive alternative to fossil fuels.”