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New wind powered speed record for Ecotricity Greenbird

by Madeline Carroll 27 Mar 2009 15:06 GMT 26 March 2009
The Ecotricity 'Greenbird', driven by British engineer, Richard Jenkins has smashed the world land speed record for wind powered vehicles ©

British engineering propels man to new world wind powered speed record

On the morning of March 26th, on the 'dry' Lake Ivanpah, a British man became the fastest naturally powered human on the planet.

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.

The futuristic Greenbird is the most advanced wind powered vehicle on Earth. 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 record speed was reached in winds of just 30mph! The chosen name is a nod to Donald Campbell’s all-conquering Bluebird, The Bluebird achieved incredible speeds in a golden age of fossil fuels - when oil was cheap and no one had thought that one day it would run out. Fast forward to today and we are coming to the end of the age of fossil fuels and the dawn of the age of Renewables. Ecotricity’s Greenbird triumph in America symbolises this historical watershed better than anything else by demonstrating how cutting edge British technology can harness the power of the wind.

And Ecotricity are already working on their next innovative wind project. Ecotricity is working with a team of highly skilled engineers to create a 2nd generation wind powered which will be a real and practical alternative to petroleum, diesel and hydrogen fuelled vehicles; powered using electricity generated by the wind.

Dale Vince said: “today’s record is an amazing achievement. It shows what is achievable with great British engineering and the power of the wind. In the next twenty years I firmly believe that wind power will be our main energy source and wind-powered cars will no longer be the stuff of dreams. At Ecotricity we are dedicated to making this a reality which is why we were behind today’s new record and why we will soon be revealing a wind-powered super car for everyday use. We want to change the world and create a very real solution to transport in a post-oil economy.”

The Greenbird is the fifth generation in a line of vehicles designed and built by Richard Jenkins on his ten year quest to break the world speed record. Testing has been carried out in the UK, Canada, America and Australia, in an attempt to track down the rare set of weather and (natural) surface conditions required to achieve maximum speed, but it turned out to be Ivanpah, 35 miles SW of Las Vegas, on the border between California and Nevada, that provided the opportunity almost exactly ten years after the old record was set there.

"It has been an incredibly difficult challenge" commented Richard. "Half the challenge is technical, having to create a more efficient vehicle than the previous record holder, then the rest is luck, being in the right place, at the right time, to get the perfect conditions, with the right people watching. I must have been on record standby at some remote location around the world for at least two months of every year for the past ten years. Today, everything came together perfectly and the Greenbird stepped up to the mark and performed amazingly. I am absolutely delighted".

In a north westerly wind of around 30 mph, the Greenbird was able to use the maximum distance available on the lake, of almost 2 miles, to accelerate from rest up to record speed. Watched by over 100 land sailors, during the 'Americas cup' (land sailing) regatta currently taking place at Lake Ivanpah, the Greenbird became the fastest wind powered vehicle on the planet in spectacular fashion, beating the old record by ten miles an hour.

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