Dick Smith visits Newcastle CSIRO centre

AS an avowed skeptic, entrepeneur and philanthropist Dick Smith says renewable energy is a good thing whether climate change is real or not.

"While I think we could be altering our climate, I think most business people like me are climate change deniers and I think we could be affecting the climate but coal and oil are going to run out one day," Mr Smith said in Newcastle yesterday.

With his business partner Simon Nasht, Mr Smith was at the CSIRO Energy Centre at Steel River, Mayfield, to film for a documentary on renewable energy called, tentatively, Ten Dollars a Litre.

When the Newcastle Herald caught up with Mr Smith yesterday afternoon, he was about to test drive the CSIRO's battery-powered electric car - a Blade Electron, made in Victoria from a retro-fitted Hyundai.

For Mr Smith and CSIRO energy researcher Glenn Platt, cars such as the Blade Electron are very much the way of the future.

Dr Platt said that by 2020 he hoped that 10 per cent to 20 per cent of Australian cars would be running on electricity rather than fossil fuels.

Even more interestingly, the CSIRO test car is designed in such a way that it can be used as a household power source, feeding electricity back into the 240-volt grid, and being charged up again at night when power demand is low.

Mr Smith and Mr Nasht said their "dick-umentary" would take a month to shoot between now and October and would screen on ABC-TV next year with Tony Jones hosting a debate afterwards, as had been the case with Dick Smith's Population Puzzle and I Can Change Your Mind About Climate Change.

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