By Atty. Gilberto Lauengco, J.D.
“You must be relentless in the pursuit of your goals…” Steve Garvey
In a recent trip to Taiwan, I was able to meet several officials from companies producing and operating electric buses and charging station systems. I could not help but notice the increased pace and energy in their factories and offices. Apparently, all the buses operating in the urban areas of Taiwan will no longer be using fossil fuels by 2030.
The Taiwan government, through a joint effort of its Ministry of Transportation and Communication, Ministry of Economic Affairs, and the Environmental Protection Administration have ramped up their joint efforts to ensure their goal of going 100 percent electric when their target day arrives. By ensuring that only electric buses ply their streets, Taiwan is getting closer to reaching its goal of reaching zero emission status by 2050.
It is undeniable that the eventual widespread use of electric powered public utility vehicles will produce several positive effects. As shown by the experience of other countries, utilizing electric buses help reduce air and noise pollution. Reducing the pollution in turn help improve public health and quality of life. Lessening the dependence on imported fossil fuel will also have economic benefits. Unfortunately, the use of electric buses has always presented planners with its set of technical, economic and institutional challenges. First of all, electric buses have range and battery charging issues. Second, cost issues also hound any program meant to promote the use of electric vehicles. Third, several external factors, such as heat and flood, contribute to the challenges of promoting this program.
True to their nature, this set of problems just spurred the Taiwanese to develop their own unique set of solutions or work around to the said stumbling blocks. In terms of range, Taiwan engineers in several companies have produced various battery systems that have increased average range three to four times. They are confident that they can eventually stretch that range even further. Insofar as battery charging issues are concerned, they have now produced a battery charging station that can charge a 45-seater bus in only 15 minutes thus reducing queue volume problems. Their batteries are now also sturdier and last longer. Some of their batteries can last without repair for 25 years. The problem of water seeping into the battery pack has been partially solved by placing the battery on top of the buses and crating motors that are unaffected by water. By having the battery last longer and by reducing maintenance cost, the problem of cost acquisition has been offset to a degree.
The engineers and officers of the Taiwanese electric buses are continuously pushing the envelope and spending time and funds on research and development in their ceaseless pursuit to solve the aforesaid problems. You can see the relentless focus in their eyes and actions as they strive to overcome the obstacles to their program.
In our country, we have our own program of promoting the use of alternative energy in our public utilities. Unfortunately, the stumbling blocks have been stymying the efforts of both public and private stakeholders. Perhaps, we need more people with the same relentless focus to lead the charge to fulfill our electric dreams.
This is my oblique observation.
Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.
About the Columnist
ATTY. GILBERTO LAUENGCO, J.D. is a lawyer, educator, political strategist, government consultant, Lego enthusiast, and the director of CAER Think Tank. He is a Former Vice Chairman of MECO, Special Assistant of NFA and City Administrator among others. His broad experience has molded his unique approach to issues analysis which he calls the oblique observation.