Monday, May 3rd, 2010
Last week electric vehicle services company Better Place demonstrated a fleet of electric taxis that will operate in Tokyo and have batteries that can be replaced in about two minutes. The taxis will utilize Better Place’s battery swapping stations, which today cost around $1 million each for the equipment to automate the process.
Urban taxis are a suitable application for battery swapping because they:
a) Take frequent short trips.
b) Don’t often stray far from a geographic area.
c) Need to be kept on the road for as much of the time as possible.
d) Idle frequently (when stopped, or running the engine in between customers to control the vehicle’s temperature). (more…)
Monday, May 3rd, 2010
Two Tales of Ocean Energy: Major events in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico laid out the U.S.’s energy choices in stark contrast. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill made landfall in Louisiana, a week after the offshore rig caught fire and sank. Oyster beds and wildlife are at risk, and the spill may grow to be one of the largest in U.S. history. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gave the green light to the Cape Wind installation, the first offshore wind farm to be approved in U.S. waters. Its 130 turbines, projected to be up and running by 2012, will provide 75 percent of the electricity needed on Cape Cod and the islands of Nantucket Sound.
Climate Bill Stalls: The U.S. Senate’s version of a climate bill was yanked at the last moment when Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Republican co-sponsor of the legislation, withdrew his support to protest the Democrats’ sudden crusade for immigration reform. No definite plans for a new bill have emerged. (more…)
Thursday, April 29th, 2010
The European Union has unveiled a strategy to become a world leader in the green vehicle market, including a framework for common standards for electric cars across Europe by 2011 and the development of a network of charging stations continent-wide.
Calling this a defining stage for the automotive industry, E.U. leaders outlined steps to promote the adoption of fuel-efficient vehicles, boost low-carbon technologies, and increase the manufacturing of low-emissions vehicles in Europe.
The plan includes maintaining existing regulations to reduce carbon emissions, initiatives to encourage new innovations and technologies, and the standardization of electric car technologies across the continent so that drivers can recharge their vehicles in any E.U. country. (more…)
Thursday, April 29th, 2010
Dick DeBlasio is a senior life member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and is the principal laboratory program manager for electricity programs at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which include electric distribution and interconnection research and development, thermal systems integration, thermal storage systems, and high temperature super-conductivity programs in support of the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.
We asked him for his assessment of the current state of energy storage.
CleanTechies: How important is energy storage? (more…)
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
Israel, a global cleantech powerhouse, is now attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in cleantech investment every year.
The country gets more from its soil, water, air, and sunlight than most other nations on earth.
Why has such a small country been able to position itself a world leader in cleantech?
The answer, I believe, is a combination of many factors: its history, attitude of the people, ingenuity, and challenges to survival.
According to my research, the following are major highlights of Israel’s cleantech leadership to date in 2010: (more…)
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
(Reuters) – Europe took the first steps toward a massive roll-out of electric vehicles on Wednesday, backing up past rhetoric with plans for pan-European standards that the industry has cried out for.
“Without strong standardization work, I think it will be difficult to develop a market for electric cars,” European Union industry commissioner Antonio Tajani said as he launched his E.U. green vehicles strategy.
“This is not an abstract concept, it’s a set of 40 practical actions,” he added.
French carmaker Renault has joined forces with California’s Better Place in a project to put electric cars and their charging infrastructure on the roads of Denmark and Israel by 2011.
But critics question whether common standards will be ready in time, or whether investors risk laying down infrastructure that will later have to be torn up and replaced. (more…)
Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
CleanTechies caught up with Maurice Gunderson, senior partner of energy and materials at CMEA Capital, for some energy storage perspectives.
CleanTechies: You were an investor in A123 Systems. When will bulk storage arrive?
Maurice Gunderson: Bulk storage needs a little bit of definition. The kind of thing that A123 is doing is here now, and that’s a very high power storage for grid stabilization. And that makes sense in a lot of parts of the country. I make a distinction between that and very large bulk energy storage, which is intended to store power for very long periods of time, such as from wind turbines, and then release it over relatively long periods of time.
So the answer is there’s no real good battery solutions yet, but there’s a lot of smart people and a lot of money working on the problem and we’re going to see things emerging here within the next few years. The really practical ways to do very large storage right now come down to pumped storage. If nature gives you a canyon and environmental considerations don’t stop you from damming it up, you can make a very nice pumped storage facility. But that only exists when it occurs naturally. So there’s not a lot of places where you can count on building out new capacity of that type. (more…)
Monday, April 26th, 2010
Hear Ye, O Haters of Styrofoam: United Parcel Service now gives businesses a little credit for shunning the dreaded packing peanut. Shippers who demonstrate that they regularly send packages in a thoughtful way — subbing shredded paper for styrofoam, using snug boxes, and padding items so they don’t arrive damaged — can get a special label affixed to the box.
Us vs. the Volcano: Boxes and people lurched back into the troposphere this week as the Eyjafjoell volcano stopped spewing and gave planes the chance to fly again from European airports. Eyjafjoell issued 150,000 to 30,000 tons of CO2 per day — as much as a small European country — but its carbon footprint was offset by all those canceled flights. Anxious eyes remained on the skies for another eruption, or perhaps an interruption of another kind. After all, the U.S. military fears massive oil shortages by 2015.
Solar on the Go: Seiko unveiled a series of wristwatches powered by photovoltaic panels built into the face. After getting a full suntan the watch will keep on ticking for six months, at a price of $215 to $283. This summer, Samsonite will roll out a line of luggage embedded with solar panels that transmit enough juice to power mobile devices.
This Time We Mean It: Energy Star, the international standard for energy-efficient appliances, has been stung suckered of late by manufacturers that lied about their specs. As of 2011, makers of fridges, washers and water heaters will need to submit to independent testing in order to win the coveted EnergyStar label. (more…)
Saturday, April 24th, 2010
The first regional Wind Energy Conference, sponsored by the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association, took place in Detroit April 20 and 21. Bringing together for the first time under one roof, the major players from government, utilities, universities, and private enterprise everyone had a chance to focus on what the experts had to say about the state of the art in wind energy production and the role it will play in the transformation of Michigan’s economy.
A highlight of the intensive two-day Michigan Wind Energy summit, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm stated in a keynote speech that the goal of her efforts was to make Michigan the “Saudi Arabia of wind energy.”
In her enthusiastic ‘let’s get serious’ attitude about making change, Gov. Granholm reiterated that no one is hungrier for change and the jobs that ‘going green’ will create than Michigan. (more…)
Friday, April 23rd, 2010
Is efficiency worth the bother if you save only $5 to $10 per month on your energy bill? Many homeowners think not. One dad told us his family would rather save money by just skipping a pizza order once a month. That sentiment is not unusual.
But it is hard to negate the economic value of efficiency if you spend $20 billion per year on energy, as does the U.S. military, our government’s largest energy user, responsible for nearly 80 percent of the government’s total energy consumption.
“Re-energizing America’s Defense,” a recent report by The Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate, looks at how profoundly our energy mix affects the military.
The military has great motivation to make our energy supply more efficient and less oil-dependent. For every $10 per barrel increase in oil prices, the Defense Department’s energy bill increases more than $1.3 billion. That is a lot of pizza. (more…)