Introduction is here

I used to be like everyone else I know, having a job to earn money to buy stuff, run a car, fly on holiday and all the rest. Now, after looking behind the curtain, I have become so concerned about the increasing problems I see with the environment (particularly accelerating climate change, reducing food production and increasing drought) and our fragile economy that I have changed to a more sustainable lifestyle and now have solar panels and an electric car, and am starting to put my energies into growing and storing food, harvesting and storing water, and planning for a low energy future.

The start of my change of viewpoint from a typical consumer to someone who wanted to be self-reliant is quite difficult to pinpoint. I could start with 2010 when I installed solar panels on our house, but if I’m honest I know that was largely done back then for the economic rather than environmental benefits.

I do know that by the end of 2011, and particularly early in 2012, I was reading a lot of reports online on climate change, renewable energy, electric cars, and so on. While my opinions developed fairly gradually over that period I can say with some certainty that a particular article on climate change definitely had a strong impact on me, as we know it did on many others, and that was, of course, the well known Rolling Stone article by Bill McKibben.

Although I was reading a lot around the subject, that article certainly stood out: Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math. If you haven’t read it yet, you certainly should.

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

Image: E. Rodriguez

Meanwhile I was becoming increasingly interested in electric vehicles. In May 2012 I had my first chance to drive an EV at the EcoVelocity show. In July I went for a test drive locally in the Renault Fluence and Twizy.

It’s interesting now to look back and realise that I ordered my first electric car, a Renault ZOE on 1st May 2012 – so it was actually before I’d seen any EV ‘in the flesh’ and certainly before I had driven one – so definitely a leap of faith! I was already an enthusiast, though, and in August 2012 I started the MyRenaultZOE website, dedicated to the ZOE in particular, electric cars in general, and related topics. In fact my ZOE was a pre-release order and it wouldn’t actually get delivered for nearly another year. From the start a key focus was climate change and one of the first posts was about the McKibben article.

Me and My ZOE

Me and My ZOE (Image: T. Larkum)

2013 was an interesting year. In February my interest in renewables took me on a visit to a wind farm. In May we installed a second lot of solar panels on the house. In July we had a charge point installed and then at the end of the month the ZOE finally arrived. It was as good as I’d anticipated, apart from its range being a little shorter than I’d hoped (80 miles rather than 100). That didn’t stop me taking it on loads of long trips outside of its official range, starting on the first day I got it. That started me on the path of trying to break range records with the ZOE, such that I believe I have the UK ZOE range record. I also kept my eye on other EVs, though, including attending the launch of the BMW i3, ironically in the ZOE.

Meanwhile things had started to change significantly in my work life and in my industry, and that is the subject of my next post.