On the morning of March 26th 2009, on the ‘dry’ Lake Ivanpah, The Ecotricity Greenbird driven by British engineer, Richard Jenkins smashed the world land speed record for wind powered vehicles.
The Greenbird clocked 126.1 mph (202.9 km/h), eclipsing the old, American-held, record of 116 mph, set by Bob Schumacher in the Iron Duck in March 1999 at the same location.
Greenbird is a glimpse into the future. A vehicle with no engine, no fuel and no pollution - but very fast. With it we intend to set two new world speed records powered only by the wind. Our aim is to demonstrate, through a speed challenge, the potential of wind energy to drive cars of the future. A future when there's no oil left to burn.
The Greenbird is a highly-evolved vehicle that uses a combination of technology found ordinarily on aircraft and Formula 1 cars to achieve staggering speeds - with no engine in sight. The chosen name is a nod to Donald Campbell's all-conquering Bluebird. Campbell made his record attempts in what historians will look back on as the golden age of fossil fuels - they were abundant, cheap and powerful, and nobody dreamt they might one day run out.
He achieved incredible speeds in that golden age, using energy stores laid down by nature over millions of years. Fast-forward 80 years to today, and we are coming to the end of the age of fossil fuels and the dawn of the age of renewables - nothing less than a second industrial revolution. The Greenbird symbolises this historical watershed better than anything else.
Cars of the future won't be running on fossil fuels: they will be running on renewable sources of energy like the wind. And with today's technology we can achieve incredible speeds, using only wind power. Campbell had his massive cubic capacity engines and energy dense fossil fuels - we have just the wind. But the wind will still be with us in a hundred years and more.
There are three really big issues we have to face up to, to live post oil - how we power our homes, travel and feed ourselves. Three huge challenges for mankind in fact. We've done a lot of work in the field of renewable energy, founding the world's green electricity movement and pushing the concept of wind energy over the last decade and a half. It's an issue with momentum now: not enough is being done, or fast enough - but it's got a foothold in our national consciousness. It's on its way.
We thought we'd look at transport next. Half of all the oil produced today is burned in ‘transportation' and three quarters of that by road vehicles (the rest by planes and ships) - that's an incredible amount of fuel for something we take so much for granted; the ability to hop in a car and go pretty well anywhere, very quickly and relatively cheaply. How we get around post oil is one of the really big issues we have to face up to. We think the answer is wind-powered cars! We like to push boundaries. We love innovation and wind energy in all its forms. Greenbird to us is a serious message wrapped in something quite fun.
Now we've got the land-speed record under our belt we plan to take the ice record! You can find out more on the Greenbird website.