Blog: Simon WarburtonOpel lines up battery of doctors

Simon Warburton | 8 April 2011

Opel is devoting huge resources to hydrogen

Opel is devoting huge resources to hydrogen

Up early this week for Opel's EV and alternative energy briefing in Germany.

That 04:15 start didn't look quite so thrilling when Eurocontrol yet again deemed there wasn't enough airspace to let our Boeing 767 through, so - again - we went and found a spare piece of tarmac at Heathrow - there isn't much - and tried to catch up on a bit of kip.

Finally arriving at Frankfurt Airport - that mad 40ft tall statue of a giant Euro is still there - perhaps the Portuguese are now the latest to hurry by it? - and out to Opel's test track at the very-German sounding Dudenhofen that still er, sports the Saab logo among the rest of the GM empire.

Opel lined up a battery of doctors for us - all replete with a vast amount of qualifications. Germany seems to take the issue of qualifications extremely seriously. Just look at the furore surrounding its - now-ex - Defence Secretary Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg who got in a bit of a lather about his doctoral thesis.

A large part of the day's debate - apart from Opel's sterling work in the hydrogen fuel cell field - centred around Germany's apparent decision to decommission a whopping seven out of its 17 nuclear power stations.

With a stroke of the pen to wipe out almost half your nuclear energy programme, well that's quite something and the country has clearly been spooked by events in Fukishima.

Opel has thought long and hard about alternative energy and to that end, one of the good doctors startlingly produced a map showing North Africa with a smallish shaded area - tactfully put in Algeria and not Libya - that he claimed could power the entire globe's energy needs from the sun.

Extraordinary stuff and while extremely challenging - how do you extract and supply such vast amounts of energy, let alone divvy up the spoils financially and politically - it is theoretically possible.

Opel has turned its attention to more practical solutions to energy supply, particularly with regards to its future automobiles, although it needs a raft of current energy suppliers, regional and national governments as well as infrastructure providers to come on board.

While the issue is clearly no walk in the park, the automaker has made its intentions very plain and now needs the rest to show the same drive.


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