A note from Robert Llewellyn
Eleven years have passed since I launched my YouTube channel Fully Charged, exploring and championing electric vehicles. Back then there were doubters – people who felt cars you couldn’t fill up at a petrol or diesel pump were a bit niche. Some thought this was technology better suited to Berkeley, California than Berkeley, Gloucestershire.
Today, it feels like that fight has been won. We have better electric vehicles and many more of them. No one really wants to watch a happy EV driver gliding past a filling station full of queueing vehicles, but we can safely say the recent fuel crisis prompted a fresh flood of interest.
VW emissions scandal
What drove the change? The scandal around diesel emissions at Volkswagen saw a leap in awareness, and helped sell Teslas, but there was no single tipping point.
Instead, many drivers slowly came to share a simple opinion: the combustion era was ending. It was time to stop burning stuff. Once they reached that view, they changed the way they drove.
Lessons to be learnt from EV
Transforming the way we live, or at least the way we heat the homes in which we live, is a different challenge. But there’s a lot to learn from electric cars.
For a start, we need to realise that when we turn on the radiators of an autumn evening in most homes, we are burning stuff. The boiler and flue in the upstairs bathroom aren’t front of mind like the vehicle on the street outside, but they matter. Consumers will notice soon enough.
As with cars, the tech to provide greener buildings will get better, and more popular, and cheaper. By 2030 we will be in a very different place.
Becoming common place
Between now and then there will be plenty of converts to modern heating technology for homes, but we won’t need to convince everyone in one go. When I began Fully Charged eleven years ago, electric cars were driven by pioneers, then after a while by early adopters. Now we’re into what you could call the early mainstream. They’re commonplace.
It may be a while yet before the late adopters buy them but that shouldn’t worry us. In the early stages, champions of greener homes needn’t waste energy arguing with people who are outright opponents of their ideas. Far better to bring on board those who are tempted but unconvinced. That’s where we should focus our efforts. And we should never forget of course that for some buyers, electric cars or the greenest home technologies are not within easy financial reach.
The tech is there, we just need to use it
Politicians of all stripes, hues, and affiliations will have a view of course. They can also be gently encouraged to reach a simple conclusion: that the fundamental technology that we need is with us today. Heat pumps, solar panels and turbines all exist. They can be improved, but they are here. So, we don’t need to focus all our energies on ground-breaking new developments. We can start by just putting in place the tech that we already have.
At times creating greener homes might seem a difficult job, a tougher one perhaps than flogging nice, sleek Teslas. But burning stuff isn’t going to come back into fashion. The message from the electric vehicle experience is that change is possible. In fact, it’s inevitable.