Forward is the only way to go. You might have to go back a bit to find a better path to come forward. But still, forward is the only direction to go. And to achieve that, you must know the history. Something that some people seem to forget.
There is only one way
Diesel or electricity? Pure electricity or hybrid? How do we produce enough electricity to feed all electrical machines and cars? How shall we get enough batteries (in a politically correct way, without using cheap labor (children?) in poor countries)? What do we do with all worn-out batteries? How do we solve all the problems, like exploding batteries, battery fires, and dangerous gases?
I don’t know. Most likely no one knows for sure, but there are lots of theories.
What I do know is that the first steam engine didn’t just work from day one. A lot of them blew up before mankind learned to control the power of this then-new technology. The same goes for petrol and diesel engines and other power sources. It was not like anyone pushed a button and then it just worked. All kinds of power must be learned how to control. I guess a few cars went “flying” before anyone could drive safely. Not to mention “normal” breakdowns.
Combustion engines have had over 100 years to develop. Today they don’t explode as they did at the start. Electrical cars first turned up already by 1890. But due to the low top speed, short range of the batteries, and political decisions combustion engines took over. Lately, electrical engines have become interesting again for environmental reasons. And the development goes fast. Within construction machinery, it’s already common.
Is electricity the solution?
I’m not an engineer. I know very little about how things work, I just want them to work. But it seems to me that we are solving one environmental problem by creating another. Ok, technical problems with electricity supply, burning batteries, and too short range will be solved. Maybe even the problems of getting raw material for the batteries in a politically correct way will be solved eventually. But is electricity the only solution?
15 – 20 years ago ethanol was the solution. The Swedish car manufacturer SAAB, then owned by General Motors, believed so hard in ethanol that they didn’t develop any other solutions. SAAB does not exist anymore (as a car). However, ethanol is still available in most gas stations.
Biogas is also still in use here in Sweden, but also that fuel now must make way for electricity.
So, do we really know that electricity is the only way forward?
Forward is still the only way to go
We will know in some years, hopefully. But for the moment it seems that electricity rules. One sign of that is that no less than two forest machine manufacturers have presented electrical solutions this summer. At the Elmia show in June, Malwa presented their fully electrical prototype, and on the 17th of August, Ponsse presented their solution that also will be displayed at the Metko show in a couple of weeks.
But Logset had its hybrid-electric machine ready already in 2016. And when looking at chainsaws, the development has come far by now, compared to the forest machines anyway. In arboricultural operations, battery saws are dominating today. But in the forest, gas is still preferred, mainly for practical reasons due to the number of batteries to bring to the forest.
Here to stay?
Whether we like it or not, or believe in it, it’s here. Maybe even here to stay. Before the final decision is made, we must solve the rest. Like how to produce all the electricity needed.
“Forward is all there is” was sung by a Swedish rock artist in the 70s. He was referring to a 4-wheel drive car that he had to sell because of the high fuel consumption. I wonder what he drives nowadays …