French virtue signalling

Seen today whilst passing through Gare de Lyon;

Look closely; the chaps who are recharging their mobile phones are having to pedal for the electricity.

Bear in mind the following;

– France has the lowest priced electricity in Europe at €0.15 per kilowatt because they heavily rely on the very sensible method (if you don’t like carbon) of generating energy: nuclear, and

– It takes about 1 kilowatt to fully charge an iPhone, and

– A static exercise bike costs about €200, probably triple that once it’s been integrated into a seat, table and charge station, and there are three of them, and

– The maintenance costs are likely to be the equivalent of a couple of hours of labour a month plus parts, so perhaps €100.

Therefore (and if someone can check my calculations, I’d be grateful), over 12,000 phones would need to be charged a year for this station to make economic sense. So, an average of 33 a day, including Christmas.

Except… an efficient bike generator produces about 100 watts an hour, so there’s absolutely no way these three machines would get even close to a 10% ROI, even if they were fully-utilised around the clock.

Bill’s Opinion

Dear railway travellers of France; the Gare de Lyon station management think you’re a bunch of fat lazy bastards and are therefore happy to spend money in a completely inefficient way to make you change your ways.

Oh, and to the bloke wearing sunglasses indoors at 4pm on a January afternoon; you’re a twat.

8 Replies to “French virtue signalling”

  1. This recharge station has a severe image problem. You can’t vur-chew signal in the company of a pair of unimpressively ordinary slobs. One of the seats has to be occupied by a studmuffin or a chicklet.

    You omitted to mention what the charge per hour is to use the recharge station. €0.15 (€50 amortisation plus €100 R&M per month divided by 1000 users) does appear to be on the low side and to make it a Giffen good for yuppie elites you couldn’t charge under a Euro fifty per hour.

    1. Ah, I didn’t check to see if they charge, as I was fully charged for free from the previous train journey. I assumed it was “free”.

      I also assume that anyone who uses it who didn’t have a completely empty battery and an important call to make is a a total fool.

  2. According to Wikipedia (so it must be true) an iPhoneX battery stores 10.35 Wh, so (if you meant 1 kilowatt-hour to charge an iPhone) you are off by about two orders of magnitude. At 0.15 Euro/kWh the charge for the phone is worth ~0.002 Euro. Pedalling really hard, I can generate ~200 Watts, so I could charge an iPhone in just over 3 minutes. These guys don’t look like they are pedalling hard, and given clothing / overheating issues, you may be right that they could provide half that power or less – let’s say it would take ten minutes for them to connect, get going, and then clear out. That gives us 6 charges/hour/bike – for a saving of 0.028 Euro for each bike, or 0.084 Euro for the station. Over a 24-hour, 100% utilization day, that’s ~2 Euro.

    1. “Pedalling really hard, I can generate ~200 Watts, so I could charge an iPhone in just over 3 minutes.”

      Something’s not right about this, but (as you’ve realised) electrical calculations are not my forte.

      If one could charge an iPhone in 3 minutes on a bike, rather than the ~2 hours when plugged in to the mains, these charging stations would be selling like fidget spinners in 2017 on Amazon.

      1. Yes – I was thinking about that. My phone takes 45 to 90 minutes charge – maybe longer, but the electrical outlets in my house can deliver ~1800 watts (15A @ 120V). Obviously the charge rate is much lower than the available power would dictate. I suspect they limit the current into the battery due to heating issues, so the little wall-wart draws 3-4 watts instead of 200W (or 1800W). It would make the pedalling easier, but would take longer – probably the one to two hours that it takes on mains current. That reduces the number of charges available (say by a factor of six to ten) but doesn’t change the energy savings per charge, and makes the economics even worse.
        My understanding of battery charging is pretty limited, but I believe that fluctuating voltage / current during charging is hard on them. I don’t think Mr I-wear-my-sunglasses-inside looks like the kind of trained athlete that can sustain a consistent (even if low) effort for two hours, so goodness knows what these stations due to battery life. Not that the guys installing them (or indeed, those using them) give a fig about increasing the load on battery recycling – it’s all about virtue-signalling.

  3. Ooopsie

    Unfinished thought – if they can get 2 Euro/day in energy savings, but spend $100 Euro/month on maintenance, the ROI is… err… umm… well… we can all do the math.

  4. “Oh, and to the bloke wearing sunglasses indoors at 4pm on a January afternoon; you’re a twat.”

    He’s a regular. His eyes are bloodshot and he’s got dark bags under them because he’s been pedalling for eight hours just to make a complaint call about the hourly charge rates.

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