Tuesday, May 27, 2008

World's first wind-powered mobile billboard and people-mover

Yarra Trams, in partnership with Pacific Hydro's southwestern Victorian Yambuk Wind Farm and Sustainability Victoria, has secured enough GreenPower 'to supply a 5-carriage tram until the end of 2008.'

This mob is switched on. Even their integrated marketing campaign is sustainable. Design it once, and run the campaign 24x7, for no extra cost.

The wind-powered tram will run along Route 96 (East Brunswick -St Kilda), which is not only Melbourne’s busiest line carrying 12 million people each year, but was recently ranked by National Geographic as one of the world’s top 10 tram rides.

The campaign incorporates a tram fully wrapped in an eye-catching wind farm design and interpretive materials on climate change and GreenPower on the interior.

I've squished down a shot of the tram, follow the above link to see it fully blown.

wind powered tram

Very creative. Is this product marketing of the future? Here we have a consumer need for mass transit being met by a company that shows demonstrable emissions reductions as an integral part of it's product offering. After catching the tram, and reading the
interpretive materials on climate change and GreenPower on the interior, you would learn something new, and travel in good conscience.

I wonder who their market is though? We're not talking organic yoghurt at the supermarket. I can't see eco-consumers conscientiously choosing the
7:21 GreenPowered over the 7:15 coal-powered one if they risk running late for work. Regular commuters would catch it anyway. But perhaps enough of the streams of tourists, among the 12 million people each year travelling Route 96 from St Kilda to East Brunswick, will seek it out as an experience to keep it well patronaged in between regular hours. Especially since making National Geographic’s top 10 tram rides ranking. Then there's your tramspotters....

It's interesting to see how the pressing problems of climate change force creative market solutions. That's a theme I'll pick up more often on Global Warming Watch.

I also wonder about the economics. The cost per MW for wind must be higher, than from coal-fired. The Yambuk project cost $50 million. But when the carbon price signal eventually kicks in these guys will be sitting pretty. Upon breaking even, every time the wind blows, pure profit trickles into the bank accounts of the investors.

The other thing to consider is the actual carbon saving. The zeitgeist is also ripe for green-wash marketeers. How does Yarra Trams' energy source really stack-up?

The wind farm contributes up to 30MW of clean electricity to the national grid, enough to supply the annual electricity needs of 18,000 Victorian homes.

Yambuk displaces up to 130,000 tonnes of global warming pollution produced by traditional power generation methods each year.

That’s like removing 30,000 cars from our roads.

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