An inventor who plans to convert the Isle of Man’s steam railway to run on green hydrogen says the island can no longer ignore climate change.
Dr John C Taylor OBE filed a planning application for a building in Ballawoods to be turned into a green restaurant, but in it he mentioned his plans for the railway.
The steam trains, which have been in operation for just under 150 years, currently run on high quality Welsh steam coal, but the pit in Wales which produced the coal is now closed.
With the UK having pledged to stop all coal burning by 2024, Dr Taylor said the island would ‘likely follow this lead’ and talks were continuing over where a museum could be located. the locomotives of the Victorian era, because they will not be. able to operate without coal.
Dr Taylor is currently building a team to redesign locomotive boilers to run on green hydrogen.
The 85-year-old said: ‘I would like to inspire young people that to eliminate greenhouse gases we are going to have to change things like our steam railway from coal to hydrogen.
“It’s easier to introduce the concept to young people who are open to learning, whereas the majority of people over 30 just say, ‘I’m not doing anything because nobody else is doing it, so it’s not doesn’t matter”.
Dr Taylor stressed that converting the trains to run on green hydrogen would not change their look or sound.
The Santon resident said in the planning application: “To my knowledge there is no green hydrogen production at present on the Isle of Man – hence the need to collect solar energy and wind turbine to generate green electricity to run the green restaurant and turn any spare green energy into green hydrogen to run the steam locomotives.
“The crisis in the use of oil and gas from Russia has confronted Europe in general and the Isle of Man in particular, making it even more important that the Isle of Man becomes self-sufficient as far as possible. The use of solar and wind green energy would help us do this.
Dr Taylor said coal burning was polluting the atmosphere and now that the island could no longer have the Welsh coal it used to use, it was a good opportunity to revolutionize the way it mines the path of iron.
“You can’t ignore climate change,” he said. “Somebody has to start saying, ‘you can’t run a steam engine unless it’s green’ and the only way to run a steam engine that’s green is to supply hydrogen green.
“Green hydrogen is made by electrolysis of water and using green electricity, and green electricity comes mainly from photovoltaic generators in wind turbines and hopefully in the future from tidal generators.
“At the moment they’re talking about having a new museum to put the trains in until they can get battery-powered locomotives.” In other words, “we don’t have to bother, we’ll just stop them.” We want to preserve our heritage.
Dr Taylor added: ‘Some ask ‘why can’t you run it on wood pellets? Wood pellets are stored carbon, which you will then burn and turn into carbon dioxide. Just because it’s wood and you can grow more wood doesn’t mean it doesn’t help the planet.
‘This is absolute nonsense. You can’t do anything halfway – you have to go completely green.
The Isle of Man is a UNESCO Biosphere, which means it is a site for sustainable development, and will be subject to a UNESCO inspection in a few years to check if it still meets standards .
“They will find out that we have a gas-fired power station which pollutes with CO2 and that there is hardly any green energy on the Isle of Man,” said the inventor. There is no encouragement to do anything.
“If you burn coal in a steam engine, you can imagine protesters coming to the Isle of Man and seeing that we are still burning coal. Aren’t we terrible?
“And so rather than waiting for something like this to happen, why not convert the steam locomotives here to run on hydrogen?”
“As I say, we could use wind and tides, there are huge tides around the Isle of Man – but there’s very little work going on.”
The government has responded and outlines the ways in which it encourages the use of green energy, including the Climate Change Act, DEFA’s Energy Efficiency Scheme, Green Living Grants Scheme, Energy Savings Scheme. business energy saving, etc.
Dr Taylor added: ‘I’m not a Manxman but I’ve lived here most of my working life.
“I noticed it’s great to say ‘we’re a small island so it doesn’t matter’ but if everyone says that then you’re not going to do anything about the huge producers of carbon dioxide.”