Extreme E’s Pioneering Shift to Hydrogen Fuels Climate Action


Extreme E’s Pioneering Shift to Hydrogen Fuels Climate Action

Motorsport has traditionally been a hotbed for technological innovation, driven by the relentless pursuit of speed. However, the impact of on-track advancements is now being channeled into a broader purpose — combating climate change. While Formula 1 has contributed to innovations like hybrid cars, Formula E and other electric-only racing series have further accelerated developments in electric batteries, aligning with the push towards Net Zero.

Extreme E, a unique all-electric racing series, takes this commitment to environmental sustainability to new heights. Unlike other series, it places the fight against climate change at its core, using its global platform to educate and inspire change. One of the notable criticisms of motorsport’s sustainability credentials is its extensive global travel, but Extreme E has turned this challenge into an opportunity for education.

For instance, during the Island X Prix in September, Extreme E utilized the St Helena ship to transport teams to South Sardinia, a region grappling with severe heatwaves and wildfires. This approach integrates education into the series, emphasizing the impact of climate change on different regions and proposing solutions.

Molly Taylor of Veloce Racing highlighted the significance of the education component, stating that it not only addresses sustainable practices in the paddock but also extends to the legacy projects in each region. By showcasing the challenges and solutions, Extreme E aims to engage a broader audience, leveraging the power of sport as an educational tool.

Individual voices within the sport also play a crucial role in inspiring change. Prominent figures like Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, and Nico Rosberg, all former Formula 1 world champions, own teams in Extreme E. Their involvement provides a platform to advocate for climate action and sustainability.

Nico Rosberg, the owner of Rosberg X Racing, stressed the importance of balancing Extreme E’s races in extreme locations with events held closer to home. He sees the potential to raise awareness about climate-related issues in regions affected by flooding and droughts, urging the series to go to locations where it can make a significant impact.

The commitment to innovation is central to the DNA of motorsport, and Extreme E is pushing the boundaries further. The series is set to transition to hydrogen, becoming the first hydrogen-powered motorsport series, labeled as “Extreme H.” Hydrogen technology, still in its early stages, poses a challenge for implementation, but Extreme E sees this as an opportunity to drive innovation.

Rosberg highlighted the interest generated by this shift to hydrogen, with sponsors and car manufacturers expressing newfound enthusiasm. The championship’s role in advancing technology by putting it to the test in high-performance racing cars aligns with the ethos of motorsport — rapid innovation to solve complex challenges.

The Extreme E Science Committee, chaired by University of Oxford Professor Richard Washington, guides the series’ climate initiatives. The committee emphasizes the need for fast-paced innovation to address the climate crisis. Prof. Washington sees the adaptation happening within Extreme E as essential to combat climate change, drawing parallels with the biological concept of species’ ability to adapt.

Extreme E’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond the racing itself. The series has taken steps to reduce single-use plastics on-site, adopting environmentally friendly practices, such as the “bring your own bowl” policy. These initiatives, both large and small, contribute to increased sustainability, demonstrating the potential for change in major sporting events.

In essence, Extreme E’s existence as a high-intensity racing series symbolizes its proactive approach to tackling the climate crisis — taking action rather than avoiding it. The series seeks to educate and inspire individuals while setting an example for other major sporting events. Prof. Washington emphasizes the importance of doing things differently, both on a large scale, like driving electric cars, and on a smaller scale, like using sustainable practices on-site.

Extreme E has successfully connected climate science messages with fans of off-road racing, creating an alliance that pioneers change in a manner akin to the speed of an Extreme E SUV. The series recognizes that while the changes needed to combat the climate crisis are substantial, it starts with individual actions and a collective commitment to doing things differently.

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