Good Energy

The guys at Good Energy have been really supportive and excited about the expedition, so much so that they have made a contribution which allows me to keep the blog regularly updated during the expedition, so they and everyone else can follow the journey. Good Energy supplies 100% renewable electricity sourced from wind, water, sun and sustainable biomass. CO2 from coal-fired electricity generation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Switch your electricity supply to Good Energy using this link and not only will you be supporting the pioneering community of independent green generators, but for every sign up they get they’ll make another donation to help get the bus around the world. It helps you cut your personal CO2 emissions, helps them grow a great business, and helps me get round the world.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Something Ventured, Nothing Gained.

I’ve just spent the evening driving around Van, from one industrial estate to the next in search of a catering factory which might have used oil. I found 5 but the closest I came to any oil was 150 litres of lard frozen solid in the cold winter air.

At a corn chip factory I was proudly shown the manhole cover down which they pour 80 litres a week. “Direct to the lake” explains the manager. I explain that doing that in London would result in a fine. “It’s no problem in Turkey” Later over a tea, I try in vain to persuade them they could use that oil to run their staff bus. I’m met with that patronising smile I give people when I think they are idiots, but am afraid to say so in case they might also be violent.

I show them some Turkish press cuttings and suddenly the atmosphere changes. The manager asks if he can have his photo taken with me. The factory boss insists on personally inspecting the bus. Reverential bows are bestowed on me. I wonder exactly what it says in the press cuttings. Presumably not “Croydon Cheapskate Avoids Paying for Fuel” which is what I’d assumed. It seems I am described as a saintly planet saving hero.

“I think what you do is fantastic” says the manager, almost kneeling before me “because I too like...” there's a long pause as he searches for the right word and I'm expecting something profound “Trees!” he announces triumphantly.

“Is there anything we can do to help? Do you need money?” I ask for a covered shelter to park the bus to fend off the worst of the night frost, but they don’t have one. Later I think I should have tried to get 100TL (50Euros) out of him, as a fine for polluting the lake. But perhaps the goodwill I leave behind will be more effective in stopping the weekly visits to the manhole cover.

50km later I have no new fuel to show for my efforts and the corn chips I was plied with are repeating on me. The restaurants and baklava places that use oil just chuck it down the sink when they are done. There is no private or city run collection service, as far as I can tell. What a waste.

I’ve spoken to a paraglider pilot in Iran who tells me Tehran is full of fast food restaurants. By now I’ve learnt that there are plenty of reasons why the path between oil being available and me getting it is a long and winding one, usually with unexpected impasses. At least Iran would be a cheap place to fail with their cheaper-than-water diesel prices, but that’s not the attitude now is it!

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