Electric Energy For Climate Solution.
The transport sector is predominantly based on the combustion of fossil fuels, making it one of the largest sources of both urban and regional air pollution.
While newer vehicles produce fewer greenhouse gases, a recent study on used vehicles and the environment released by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), shows there is a strong correlation between the age of a vehicle and the rate of emissions.
The study found that the older the vehicle, the less the fuel efficiency, the higher the greenhouse gas emissions, and the more environmental pollution. Unfortunately, Kenya imports 97 percent of her vehicles from the international market, specifically Japan.
Lucy Mugala is a Kenyan lady who now wants to change the narrative by saving the climate through designing and developing electric motorcycles for the Kenyan market.
The research and development engineer at Opibus has also been at the forefront in the development of electric conversion systems for fossil-powered vehicles in the country.
According to her, in collaboration with her team members, they have already designed 50 electric motorcycles, piloted 300 charging systems, and converted 10 diesel-powered vehicles to electric automobiles.
This is with an aim of reducing emissions hence speeding the pace of climate action. Her desire is to work around the world to cut emissions, pursue nature-based solutions, extend sustainable and environment-friendly energy.
“We have piloted 300 energy systems in Kenya, 50 motorcycles in Western Region, and 10 conversion systems,” Says Lucy the mechatronic engineer.
“We are targeting the matatu industry and we are now working on the first pilot bus that will be rolling out fully by the end of the year,” adds the mechatronic engineer.
“At least 10 such vehicles are in use at Maasai Mara National Park and Amboseli with more tour vans lined up for conversion”, she adds.
“We have been replacing the fossil fuel components (engines and tanks) with electrical kits. They comprise a mortar, a controller and a battery pack and other electric components,” she says.
Ms. Mugala aims to manufacture fully electric vehicles for the market. While Opibus’ mission of “electrifying Africa, one vehicle at a time” may seem simplistic, it speaks volumes for environment and climate change.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), human-induced global warming is increasing at 0.2°C per decade.
Global warming is caused by increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels, generate these gases which include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons. Deforestation and farm activities are also to blame for global warming.
To reduce the effects of global warming, nations have committed to lower the production of greenhouse gases by going green.
Going green in the transport sector is one of the steps Kenya has adopted.
The sector is one of the highest contributors to greenhouse gases, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
As the globe becomes warmer, nations are in a race to attain zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050 and limit warming to 1.5°C.
According to the International Energy Agency, electric vehicles account for five percent of global automobile sales. But, in order to achieve zero emissions by 2050, electric vehicles will need to make up 60 percent of new automobile purchases by 2030.
The United Nations encourages people to collaborate, be ambitious, and take the actions required to limit global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The United Nations also stands behind a transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy that is just and beneficial for all people. It also advocates for initiatives such as this of Ms. Lucy and the team hence unlocking the potential of nature in climate action.