Monday, January 4th, 2010
There has been a great deal of talk and excitement about the electrification of transportation that is expected to occur over the next few years. The Prius proved to everyone that electric technology can work as well as or better than only gas power. Now, companies such as Tesla and Mission Motors are proving that high-performance and electric not only belong in the same sentence but that these terms are increasingly becoming synonymous.
How far along are we? Its already common to see Teslas’ quietly cruising around many parts of California and partially electric bicycles are becoming an increasingly regular sighting.
Thursday, December 31st, 2009
In October 2009, Skyline Solar announced that the company will employ an auto-manufacturing supplier, Cosma International, to manufacture and assemble large portions of its High Gain Solar (HGS) system. Over the past few years, we’ve seen other endeavors meant to stimulate the automobile manufacturing industry while accelerating energy independence. For example, the Cash for Clunkers program, encouraged new purchases of fuel-efficient cars, a way to reduce carbon emissions while stimulating the auto industry.
Another example, the V Vehicles plant in Louisiana, shows how existing factories can be used to generate renewable energy products: An out of operation auto plant in Monroe, Louisiana, will now be used to produce electric vehicles, providing about 1,400 local jobs.
Thursday, December 24th, 2009
Since 1981, France has had a true high speed rail service, the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse). We here in the US are only about 30 years behind the French in the regard…and counting. As US politicians continue to dither on high speed passenger rail, throwing loose change at development, the French corporations like Alstom have perfected this product for export to its former colonies in the developing world making big profits. Since the US is on par with developing world rail infrastructure, we may be best served by swallowing our pride and purchasing this technology from French post haste.
The TGV’s maiden voyage was between Paris and Lyon on September 27th, 1981. Ridership is expected to hit the 2 billion mark in 2010. It is a smashing commercial success, but goes further than that as a symbol on national pride and technological prowess. It is a cornerstone of European integration as it connects France to the UK and her continental neighbors with speed and dependability. Let us parse out the credit for this success to everyone, but one small group of people deserves a mention: the riche.
Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009
The US EPA has finalized a rule setting tough engine and fuel standards for large US flagged ships, a major milestone in the agency’s coordinated strategy to slash harmful marine diesel emissions.
The regulation harmonizes with international standards and will lead to significant air quality improvements throughout the country. “There are enormous health and environmental consequences that come from marine diesel emissions, affecting both port cities and communities hundreds of miles inland. Stronger standards will help make large ships cleaner and more efficient, and protect millions of Americans from harmful diesel emissions,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Port communities have identified diesel emissions as one of the greatest health threats facing their people — especially their children. These new rules mark a step forward in cutting dangerous pollution in the air we breathe and reducing the harm to our health, our environment, and our economy.” (more…)
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
“Absolutely awesome!” is how Jit Bhattacharya the COO of Mission Motors based in San Francisco, CA described a recent test run of their Mission One electric motorcycle. With Tesla already proving that an electric sports car can outperform its gas-powered predecessors, Mission Motors is seeking to show that electric motorcycles are every bit as capable at high-performance endeavors as their four wheeled counterparts.
Monday, December 21st, 2009
Nissan is on tour promoting its upcoming electric vehicle, the Leaf, in select cities across the U.S. The 5-passenger EV will become available in December 2010, and faces many challenges in fostering a supporting vehicle charging infrastructure and creating consumer-friendly financing options, but thus far they seem to have a well-conceived plan. During an event in Portland this week I spoke with Nissan senior manager for corporate planning Brian Verprauskus about the Leaf launch plans.
Ensuring that consumers will be ready to charge on the day that they bring the vehicle home is a new challenge for Nissan and the other EV manufacturers. Nissan plans to partner with a nationally known company to provide the wall box for plugging in the vehicle and to manage matching vehicle owners with electricians. Nissan will choose a company that has experience going into consumers’ homes, and will likely announce the partner in early 2010. Consumers will need to connect the box to a dedicated circuit for EV charging, which requires carefully managing the process to reduce risk of a customer improperly plugging in a vehicle and causing damage to the vehicle or property. Nissan’s plan is smart because many consumers will need hand holding to understand the issues of EV charging, and a company with adept at customer relations will be key.
Monday, December 21st, 2009
Authors Andres Duany and Jeff Speck, renowned city planners who brought the issue of suburban sprawl to the forefront of the national debate, have come together again with The Smart Growth Manual, which details the path to creating better, greener and environmentally-friendly communities.
CleanTechies caught up with Speck for three questions on better living through planning.
CleanTechies: When you hear the term smart growth, what does it mean to you?
Jeff Speck: It’s the opposite of sprawl. And sprawl is identified as growth that spreads out at low density, separates uses and relies on automotive transportation and has a concomitant disinvestment in city centers. So smart growth is the attempt to reverse those trends, or to continue the momentum that’s already been begun toward reversing those trends.
I have a specific message for CleanTechies: Sustainability is about systems. Unless we approach our footprint systematically, we’re just kind of nibbling around the edges. And I think almost all of the gizmo green solutions to climate change and post-peak oil challenges are nibbling around the edges without getting to the meat of the problem.
Thursday, December 17th, 2009
Speaking to a gathering of mayors in Copenhagen, London Mayor Boris Johnson announced plans to add 25,000 charging stations for electric cars across the city by 2015, turning London into a center of plug-in vehicle technology.
By creating the right conditions, Johnson said the city can encourage a “golden era” of electric cars, and he predicted that every resident will be within a mile of a charging point.
Johnson said the challenge of reducing carbon emissions is urgent, but should not require “hair-shirt abstinence.”
Tuesday, December 15th, 2009
CleanTechies sits down with John Viera, director of sustainable business strategies for Ford Motor Company, for three questions.
CleanTechies: What are your day to day duties and the big picture of your job?
John Viera: Basically, my responsibilities are two-fold. My organization is responsible for our sustainability strategies and also responsible for environmental policy for the company. So, when you think about those two pockets – the sustainability strategy, you can think about it in a couple of different buckets. Everything we do from a sustainability strategy standpoint has to have economic goodness to it. I say that because when we talk about doing things that are environmentally friendly and whatnot, we say that it does need to have a good business case. We’re not the philanthropic arm of Ford. There is a philanthropic arm. It’s called the Ford Fund. And what we do is we set up strategies that make business sense.
Friday, December 11th, 2009
PARIS (Reuters) – The Paris city hall and local authorities in several surrounding districts on Thursday called for bids to run a self-service electric car hire scheme modeled on the “Velib” bike rental system.
The “Autolib,” which is scheduled to start in September 2011, would consist of 3,000 vehicles at 1,000 rental sites in Paris and neighboring communes, the city’s town hall said on its website.
Four thousand battery-charging stations are also planned.
A candidate to run the Autolib service will be chosen by the end of next year. The Velib scheme is run by JCDecaux.