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US Smart Grid to Lead World by Example − if Global Recession Doesn't Halt
NEW YORK (GBI Research), 13 April 2012 - The US and the EU plan to coordinate
the development of smart grid standards, if financial frugality can be overcome,
according to a new report by business intelligence expert GBI Research.
The new report* states that the US plans to implement smart grid technology to
reduce the national energy demand by 20%, improve system efficiency by 40% and
incorporate 20% renewable sources into the total electricity capacity by 2030.
However, these impressive aims may not be met if plans fail as a result of the
In 2011, the US Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST) and the EU's Smart Grid Coordination Group (SG-CG) agreed to
collaborate on smart grid standards development, joining smart grid standards
between the two continents to ensure that smart grid devices and systems can be
used together globally.
However, the economic crisis in the US may negatively impact upon smart grid
development. The US's sovereign credit rating was reduced by the Standard and
Poor's rating agency last year from `AAA' to `AA+', which will affect government
loans from the World Bank or International Monetary Fund (IMF). High levels of
interest will be demanded until economic stability returns to improve the US's
credit rating. Long-term borrowing will therefore prove difficult, and a lack of
investments required for power infrastructure may lead to risks of delays and
Successful smart grid pilot projects are hoped to encourage future investments.
Various ventures have been initiated in segments such as cabling technologies,
sensing and measurement technologies, and customer interface technologies, in
order to aid the development of smart grid. The US first showcased smart grid as
a solution for energy issues, and other countries, including Brazil and India,
are looking to the US before initiating their own smart grid deployment.
Power system upgradation is a long-term process, and will require significant
investment from private and government sectors. If such investment is achieved,
the cumulative number of units installed in the US smart meter market is
expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.6%, from 13.47 million units in 2010 to 74.38
million units in 2020.
*Smart Grid Market in the Americas to 2020 - US-EU Collaboration on Standards to
Solve Interoperability & Data Security Issues to Encourage Innovation
This report gives an in-depth analysis of the North and South America smart grid
market, covering the three major technologies: smart meters, synchrophasors and
in-home displays. The report provides information on the cumulative installed
units and revenue for 2010-2020 for the three technologies for the US, Canada,
Brazil and Mexico. It also details smart grid policies and regulations in the
four countries, and provides global smart grid market analysis, technology
analysis and technology deployments for the four major technologies. The
American smart grid market drivers and restraints have also been discussed.
This report was created using data and information sourced through primary and
secondary research, and in-house analysis conducted by GBI Research's team of
-ABOUT GBI RESEARCH-
GBI Research is a market-leading provider of business intelligence reports,
offering actionable data and forecasts based on the insights of key industry
leaders to ensure you stay up-to-date with the latest emerging trends in your
The clean tech meltdown
By Juliet Eilperin
09 February 12
This article was taken from the March 2012 issue of Wired magazine.
John Doerr was crying. The billionaire venture capitalist had come to the end of his now-famous March 8, 2007, TED talk on climate change and renewable energy, and his emotions were getting the better of him.
Doerr had begun by describing how his teenage daughter told him that it was up to his generation to fix global warming, since they had caused it. Doerr, who made his fortune investing early in companies that became some of Silicon Valley's biggest names, exhorted the audience to band together and transform the nation's energy supply. "I really, really hope we multiply all of our energy, all of our talent, and all of our influence to solve this problem," he said, fighting back tears. "Because if we do, I can look forward to the conversation I'm going to have with my daughter in 20 years."
As usual, Doerr's timing was perfect. Just weeks earlier, Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth had won an Oscar for best documentary. (Gore is now a partner in Doerr's green-tech team at the VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.) As the economy recovered from the dual shocks of the internet bubble and 9/11, Doerr's fellow Silicon Valley VCs were already looking to clean technology as the next big thing. What followed was yet another Silicon Valley gold rush.
In 2005, VC investment in clean tech measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The following year, it ballooned to $1.75 billion (Ł1.13bn), according to the US National Venture Capital Association. By 2008, the year after Doerr's speech, it had leapt to $4.1 billion. And the US federal government followed. Through a mix of loans, subsidies and tax breaks, it directed roughly $44.5 billion into the sector between late 2009 and late 2011. Avarice, altruism and policy had aligned to fuel a spectacular boom.
Anyone who has heard the name Solyndra knows how this all panned out. Due to a confluence of factors -- including fluctuating silicon prices, newly cheap natural gas, the 2008 financial crisis, China's ascendant solar industry and certain inescapable technological realities -- the clean-tech bubble has burst, leaving us with a traditional energy infrastructure that is still overwhelmingly reliant on fossil fuels. The fallout has hit almost every niche in the clean-tech sector, but none more dramatically than solar.
Doerr's Ted talk wasn't the start of this VC-fueled drive for a new-energy economy. Many of the investors and entrepreneurs who had ridden the internet bubble to various levels of success had already started pouring money and ideas into clean tech.
One of the first to bet big was Martin Roscheisen. He sold his email-management firm eGroups to Yahoo! for $450 million, and in 2002 he cofounded Nanosolar, a panel manufacturer. Vinod Khosla, cofounder and former CEO of Sun Microsystems, moved his VC firm, Khosla Ventures, heavily into biofuels and other renewables. Andew Beebe, cofounder of the dotcom-era darling Bigstep.com, a web-hosting company, helped start the solar panel maker Energy Innovations in 2003. Arno Harris, who had helped steer what he now calls an "Amazon-Kleiner Perkins online wine store that left a big hole in the ground", worked with Beebe at a subsidiary of Energy Innovations before founding Recurrent Energy, a company that develops utility-scale solar projects, in 2006. PayPal cofounder Elon Musk has put $96 million of his own money into Tesla Motors and was joined by VCs Steve Jurvetson and Nancy Pfund.
In 2008, by which time Kleiner Perkins had allocated more than $300 million to clean tech, the firm launched a $500 million growth fund that it said was "intended to help speed mass-market adoption of solutions to the world's climate crisis". Doerr, who told Forbes that curbing climate change was "the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century, and a moral imperative", helped direct money to everything from solar to smart meters.
These investors were drawn to clean tech by the same factors that had led them to the web, says Ricardo Reyes, vice president of communications at Tesla Motors. "You look at all disruptive technology in general, and there are some things that are common across the board," Reyes says. "A new technology is introduced in a staid industry where things are being done in a sort of cookie-cutter way." Just as the internet transformed the media landscape and iTunes killed the record store, Silicon Valley electric-car factories and solar companies were going to remake the energy sector.
In the US, energy bills passed in 2005 and 2007 provided tax credits and loan guarantees for clean tech, and gave investors further confidence. Venture capital in solar alone rose from $32 million in 2004 to nearly $1.85 billion in 2008. Investment in battery tech rose more than 30-fold during the same period. Around the same time, in 2007, the European Union set a target of making 20 per cent of its energy supply come from renewable sources, spurring further investment in wind-turbine technology in the UK.
Other clean-energy sectors were thriving as well, buoyed not only by VC money but by the fact that the average price of electricity in the US had shot up 35 per cent between 2002 and 2008. At the end of 2006, the total capacity of all the wind turbines installed in the US was 11,468 megawatts, enough to power 3.2 million homes. By 2010, it was nearly four times that much. In the UK, there are currently 3,506 turbines, generating some 5,953 megawatts. "As more entrepreneurs and innovators saw there was capital available in the clean-energy sector, you saw more folks looking into developing solutions and business around that," says Joshua Freed, vice president for clean energy at the think tank Third Way.
One of these was Chris Gronet, a Stanford PhD in semiconductor processing who had been general manager of the thermal processing group at Applied Materials, a firm that provides equipment and software to semiconductor and solar companies. He had come up with a design for a new solar module (a module is a light-gathering photovoltaic cell with all the attendant structural hardware and circuitry) that he believed would be more efficient than the flat-panel modules that had dominated the market for more than three decades.
Conventional photovoltaics are tricky things to install. Under the best conditions -- when their surfaces are clean and aimed directly into the Sun -- they generally operate at no better than 20 per cent efficiency -- just a fifth of the energy striking them is turned to electricity. But an immobile flat surface faces the Sun head-on for only a brief period each day, at best. And simple dust can reduce the efficiency by five to ten per cent.
Gronet's design used a grate made of rows of cylindrical cells rather than a single panel of flat cells. The Sun tracking across a cylinder will always be shining directly on part of it. That meant Gronet's modules could be mounted parallel to a roof and out of the wind, rather than angled up into it. As an added bonus, the tubular cells would gather not just direct sunlight but also ambient light reflected off of the rooftops on which they were mounted.
At around this time, investors were searching for an alternative to the crystalline silicon used in photovoltaics, which was skyrocketing in price. Increased demand had driven the price of processed silicon from around $50 per kilogram in 2004 to well above $300 by 2008. When the higher production costs were factored in, the price of electricity from solar firms was 17 to 23 cents per kilowatt-hour, even after subsidies. That was about twice the average price of conventionally produced electricity at the time.
Gronet's design instead used a mix of copper, indium, gallium and selenium, or CIGS. Though slightly less efficient than silicon in direct sunlight, CIGS performs better under cloud cover and in variable light. The technology had been around for several years but was too expensive to be practical. That changed as soon as silicon climbed above $200 per kilogram. Suddenly CIGS could compete. Gronet incorporated his company in 2005, first calling it Gronet Technologies but quickly changing the name to Solyndra.
Gronet and his chief financial officer, Jonathan Michael, set out to raise capital for a factory. By 2007, they had $99 million from sources including RockPort Capital Partners and Argonaut Private Equity and were busy renovating an old Hitachi building in Fremont, California. In 2008, Virgin Green Fund, an investment arm of business icon Richard Branson, chose Solyndra as the only solar company that it would put money into, out of more than 100 that applied for funding. By the end of that year, Solyndra had raised $600 million, boasted more than 500 employees, and had two major orders -- $325 million from Sacramento-based Solar Power and $681 million from a German company called Phoenix Solar. "Everyone was pretty optimistic," recalls Lindsey Eastburn, who was designing factory-automation software for Solyndra. "We were making product, and we were selling it."
Just as Solyndra was starting to take off and needed more money for expansion, the venture-capital climate began to cool. The 2008 financial collapse erased a quarter of the gains VC firms had made between 2003 and 2007, and venture investments in clean tech fell from $4.1 billion in 2008 to $2.5 billion in 2009.
There was an additional factor at work: impatience. Consider a recent analysis by Matthew Nordan, a venture capitalist who specialises in energy and environmental technology. Of all the energy startups that received their first VC funds between 1995 and 2007, only 1.8 percent achieved what he calls "unambiguous success", meaning an initial public offering on a major exchange. The average time from founding to IPO was 8.3 years. "If you're signing up to build a clean-tech winner," Nordan wrote in a blog post, "reserve a decade of your life."
The truth is that starting a company on the supply side of the energy business requires an investment in heavy industry that the VC firms didn't fully reckon with. The only way to find out if a new idea in this sector will work at scale is to build a factory and see what happens. Ethan Zindler, head of policy analysis for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, says the VC community simply assumed that the formula for success in the internet world would translate to the clean-tech arena. "What a lot of them didn't really understand," he says, "is that it's almost never going to be five guys in a garage. You need a heck of a lot of money to prove that you can do your technology at scale."
Luckily for the clean-tech industry, a much larger investor stepped in to replace the retreating VCs -- the federal government.
In 2005, the US Congress created a federal loan guarantee programme as part of the Energy Policy Act, which initially was authorised at $4 billion. Ostensibly set up to promote nonpolluting energy sources, its focus on then-unpopular nuclear power resulted in the money going more or less untouched. Applications from other clean-energy sectors suddenly had an opportunity.
Solar projects would ultimately receive more than three-quarters of the programme's financial support, but the list of recipients included everything from a wind farm in Oregon to a cellulosic ethanol plant in Kansas. But by the time GW Bush left office, not a penny had been distributed. Most of the applications, including one from Solyndra, were still wending their way through the approval rounds at the US Department of Energy (DOE). There were only 16 employees tasked with sorting through the applications.
Then Barack Obama took office, and the loan programme suddenly had an administration committed to using federal dollars to stimulate what it referred to repeatedly as "the clean-energy economy".
The DOE, which for decades had focused on managing nuclear waste and doling out subsidies to the fossil-fuel industry, had a new leader -- Steven Chu, a physicist and Nobel laureate.
US government money dwarfed what VCs had put into clean energy. The loan guarantee programme alone provided more than $16 billion for 28 projects. An additional $12.1 billion went into the sector via tax credits. Federal subsidies for renewable energy nearly tripled between 2007 and 2010, rising from $5.1 billion to $14.7 billion.
Solyndra's $535 million loan guarantee closed in September 2009. The firm began construction on a second factory, expanded its workforce to 1,100 employees and paid millions for a custom machine designed to put the finishing touches on the cells at a rate of 60 per minute. Obama even visited the Solyndra factory in May 2010.
Yet by autumn of 2010, Solyndra had scuttled plans for a $300 million IPO and was still waiting to hear back on an additional $469 million loan application to help finance its second factory. Although the company's solar modules were working as planned, Solyndra needed to increase its production capacity to get per-unit costs down. The custom machine had turned out to be a dud. A Solyndra module cost at least 30 per cent more per watt than a traditional photovoltaic -- and the gap was growing.
Given the concerns about Solyndra's financial viability, the company dropped the request for a second loan. Yet in early 2011, despite further warnings about Solyndra's cashflow, the DOE restructured the original loan, guaranteeing that private investors, not the federal government, would be repaid first in the case of a default.
The financial models that had justified the massive investments in clean-energy sources were built on assumptions that the price of fossil fuels, in particular natural gas, would continue to rise. However, a natural-gas boom transformed the energy landscape.
As with the internet bubble and the more recent housing bubble, there were signs of trouble. In fact, in the weeks and days leading up to Obama's visit to the Solyndra plant, officials at the Office of Management and Budget were issuing warnings that his endorsement could be premature and eventually embarrassing.
In fact, though Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison painted a rosy picture for lawmakers in July 2011 -- boasting that revenue "grew from $6 million in 2008 to $100 million in 2009 to $140 million in 2010" and would nearly double in 2011 -- the truth was laid out in an internal White House memo obtained by The Washington Post after Solyndra filed for bankruptcy. The August 2011 memo, written days before Solyndra went bankrupt, stated simply that "the company has had 0 per cent sales growth since [autumn] 2009".
Perhaps clean energy's biggest problem is this: because natural gas has gotten so cheap, there is no longer a financial incentive to go with renewables. The controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has opened up reserves so massive that the US has surpassed Russia as the world's largest natural-gas supplier.
The price of natural gas peaked at nearly $13 per thousand cubic feet in 2008. It now stands at around $3. A decade ago, shale gas accounted for less than two per cent of America's natural gas supply; it is now approaching one-third, and industry officials predict that the total reserves will last a century. Because 24 per cent of US electricity comes from power plants that run on natural gas, that has helped keep costs down to just ten cents per kilowatt-hour-and from a source that creates only half the CO2 pollution of coal. Put all that together and you've undone some of the financial models that say it makes sense to shift to wind and solar.
Another blow to the US clean-tech industry was a glut of processed silicon that sent prices back down below $30 a kilogram. That price, combined with the technological simplicity of manufacturing conventional solar panels, opened the door to relatively unsophisticated operators. For example, in 2007, a Chinese textile manufacturer approached Arno Harris, CEO of utility developer Recurrent Energy, to see if he'd be interested in buying solar panels that they hoped to begin making.
Understandably, American firms have struggled to remain competitive. In 1995, more than 40 per cent of all silicon-based solar modules worldwide were made in the US; now it's six per cent. China accounts for more than half of global photovoltaic output, and Chinese-made modules are up to 20 per cent cheaper than American ones.
Wind has also taken a hit. Not only can the turbines not match the current costs of gas-fired plants, the flood of cheap Chinese solar panels can make them less attractive as a green option, too. The pace of new wind-turbine installations in the US has declined by more than half since 2008. This past October, Cliff Stearns, the Republican chair of the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, admitted to National Public Radio what had by then become obvious: "We can't compete with China to make solar panels and wind turbines."
The boom has gone bust.
And yet, clean tech is far from dead. Certain companies and technologies will emerge from the ruins.
Electric cars seem like a relatively safe bet, spurred by both rising oil prices and international standards requiring greater fuel efficiency. As it has with solar, China has pushed into the battery industry. As a result, prices for the lithium-ion battery modules in electric cars -- which can cost more than some gas-powered cars -- are coming down. Tesla started out making 600 sports cars a year, priced at $109,000 each; within five years, the company says, it will be producing 100,000 cars annually and charging just $30,000 apiece.
Distributed-generation businesses -- the firms that install solar systems to power individual homes and offices -- are thriving because of a financing model more akin to an office leasing a photocopier.
A decade ago, a rooftop solar array for a 280m2 home would have cost the owner about $45,000. The price can now be less than $20,000 -- but instead of having to pay it up front, homeowners can lease the systems from companies such as San Mateo, California-based SolarCit for $119 a month -- less than many electricity bills.
But there is still an investor: the taxpayer. US government coffers have been compensating for a number of market challenges solar faces, including the incumbency advantage of the fossil-fuel industry. In the UK, homeowners who install solar panels are paid 43p per kilowatt-hour they generate; however, the government is attempting to cut this by half, making domestic solar far less attractive.
Even solar's biggest allies on Capitol Hill -- people such as Edward J Markey, a top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee -- fear the industry's oil and gas foes may have gotten the upper hand. "The fossil-fuel industry and its allies in Congress see the solar and wind industries as a threat and will try to kill these industries as they have for the preceding two generations," Markey says. "They want this to be a five-year aberrational period."
John Doerr may once again have a good reason to shed a tear.
Juliet Eilperin is the national environmental reporter for The Washington Post and the author of Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks
Ancient Tomorrow Documentary
A Documentary project in Santa Barbara, CA
by JJ Yosh
About this project
WHAT IS ANCIENT TOMORROW?
Ancient Tomorrow is a 2-hour documentary that follows real investigators on an actual expedition around the world to investigate the mysteries surrounding an ancient energy technology to build a better world for tomorrow.
This documentary is crucial and timely – it must be made now.
Especially, as we approach 2012, now more than ever we have to ask ourselves, will we live beyond 2012? 2012 isn't the end but the beginning...that requires all of us to step up, relearn our past, and work together to create a more sustainable world.
We believe this documentary has the potential to expose millions if not billions of people to the truth of humanity’s long lost past, inspire people to the beauty of earth, and discover eco-friendly solutions for the future.
WATCH THE TRAILER
It is a real life Indiana Jones adventure shot in a movie-like way to grab the attention of everyone, because this message isn't just for science buffs but for EVERYONE!
WATCH OUR SPECIAL MESSAGE VIDEO
Our team has created this special message video to share our vision of the world beyond 2012.
OUR INVESTIGATION TEAM
OUR REWARDS TO YOU
Your donation will enable us to not only create this documentary, but help us awaken humanity.
This documentary is being 100% privately funded by our friends, family, fans, and sustainable businesses. This is a total grass roots production!
In exchange for your amazing help we are offering exciting benefits associated with each pledge level. From awesome special edition tee-shirts, to face to face skype chats with our investigators, to tickets to our premiere. See all the rewards to the left.
Visit us at
Karl Grossman: Is Brookhaven National Laboratory the appropriate site for an “Earth Summit?”
Sun, Apr 8, 2012
Is Brookhaven National Laboratory the appropriate site for an “Earth Summit?”
No, says Long Island environmental educator and activist Peter Maniscalco. “Holding an Earth Summit at Brookhaven Lab is a tragic comedy. The lab has poisoned the Peconic River and is still doing nuclear power research despite the Fukushima nuclear power disaster in Japan. Should we laugh or cry?” asks Maniscalco.
BNL will soon be getting national attention for its pollution with the release of a documentary which recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, “The Atomic States of America.” It is based on the book “Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town” by Kelly McMasters. The book and film allege widespread cancer in neighboring Shirley because of radioactive releases from BNL.
Nevertheless, on April 17, an “Earth Summit” is scheduled to be held at BNL. BNL has partnered with Citizens Campaign for the Environment, based in Farmingdale, to hold it.
“The Earth Summit will combine good science with good advocacy to advance a 2012 Earth Agenda for Long Island,” they say in a joint statement.
The “Earth Summit” will include a tour of the solar energy installation at BNL, a “Green Vehicle Expo,” and a workshop on energy with Gordian Raccke, executive director of East Hampton-based Renewable Energy Long Island, and Gerald Stokes, associate director for Global and Regional Solutions at BNL.
There’ll be workshops on “Drinking Water Threats and Solutions” with Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and on “Smart Planning: Preserving Open Space, Our Natural World, and Growing LI” with Eric Alexander of Vision Long Island and David Calone, chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission.
There’ll be a panel discussion on Long Island’s “greatest environmental challenges” with Alexander, Calone, Stokes and also Neal Lewis, executive director of the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College and Peter Scully, regional director of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. And there will be a keynote address by Ellen Pikitch, executive director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University.
Maniscalco, of Manorville, scores BNL’s record of contamination and its continuing “culture.” Says Maniscalco of Renew Community Earth: “The Brookhaven scientific culture still doesn’t understand the interrelationship between humans and the natural world and the lethal consequences their work in nuclear technology imposes on the population and environment of the world. They still don’t understand that nuclear power is a polluting, deadly technology,”
“The Atomic States of America” premiered at Sundance to strong reviews. The review in Variety notes that McMasters’ hometown of Shirley “was in unhappy proximity” to BNL “around which skyrocketing cancer rates were written off as coincidence or an aberrant gene pool.” It tells of the appearance in the documentary of Alec Baldwin, “a lifelong Long Islander,” who calls BNL scientists “liars and worse.” The review says that “in following McMasters’ work, the film builds a convincing case about cancer and nukes,”
The film returns regularly to BNL while also examining other nuclear issues including the Fukushima disaster. “Located at the intersection of U.S. nuclear amnesia and the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima plant in Japan, ‘The Atomic States of America’ takes a fairly objective approach to an emotionally volatile topic, offering an examination of nuclear power that could convince its supporters to think otherwise,” says Variety.
The Hollywood Reporter calls the film “stimulating, well-made.”
After BNL’s two nuclear reactors were closed by the Department of Energy when found, a decade ago, to have been leaking radioactive tritium into the groundwater for years, BNL focused on activities not linked to nuclear power. But in 2010, BNL, established by the since disbanded U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in 1947 with a key mission of developing civilian uses for nuclear technology, set up a new Department of Nuclear Science and Technology with an $18 million annual budget.
BNL’s announcement at the time quoted Stokes, who will be speaking at the “Earth Summit,” as saying: “BNL’s long involvement and considerable experience in nuclear energy make it a natural place to create such an organization.”
Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at SUNY/College of Old Westbury, has covered Long Island politics for 50 years. He is the chief investigating reporter for Long Island’s WVVH-TV and host of the nationally-aired television program Enviro Closeup
April 13, 2012
How Green Are Electric Cars? Depends on Where You Plug In
By PAUL STENQUIST
IT’S a lot like one of those math problems that gave you fits in sixth grade: a salesman leaves home in Denver and drives his electric car to a meeting in Boulder. At the same time, a physicist driving the same model electric car sets out from her loft in Los Angeles, heading to an appointment near Anaheim.
For both, the traffic is light, and the cars consume an identical amount of battery power while traveling the same number of miles. Being purely electric, they emit zero tailpipe pollutants during their trips.
The test question: are their carbon footprints also equal?
The answer may be a surprise. According to a report that the Union of Concerned Scientists plans to release on Monday, there would be a considerable difference in the amount of greenhouse gases — primarily carbon dioxide — that result from charging the cars’ battery packs. By trapping heat, greenhouse gases contribute to climate change.
The advocacy group’s report, titled “State of Charge: Electric Vehicles’ Global Warming Emissions and Fuel Cost Savings Across the United States,” uses the electric power requirements of the Nissan Leaf as a basis for comparison. The Leaf, on sale in the United States for more than a year and the most widely available electric model from a major automaker, sets a logical baseline.
The California part of the story is upbeat: a hypothetical Los Angeles Leaf would be accountable for the release of an admirably low level of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, about the same as a gasoline car getting 79 miles per gallon. But the Denver car would cause as large a load of greenhouse gases to enter the atmosphere as some versions of the gasoline-powered Mazda 3, a compact sedan rated at 33 m.p.g. in combined city and highway driving by the Environmental Protection Agency. In simple terms, the effect of electric vehicles on the amount of greenhouse gases released into the environment can span a wide range, varying with the source of the electricity that charges them. California’s clean power makes the Leaf a hero; the regional mix of coal-dependent utilities serving Denver diminish the car’s benefits as a global-warming fighter.
The U.C.S. report, which takes into account the full cycle of energy production, often called a well-to-wheels analysis, demonstrates that in areas where the electric utility relies on natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric or renewable sources to power its generators, the potential for electric cars and plug-in hybrids to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is great. But where generators are powered by burning a high percentage of coal, electric cars may not be even as good as the latest gasoline models — and far short of the thriftiest hybrids.
With gasoline hovering around $4 a gallon and mass-production E.V.’s like battery-powered versions of the Ford Focus and Honda Fit (as well as plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius PHV and Ford Fusion Energi models) either on sale now or coming soon, the report arrives at an ideal time. Its analysis can help shoppers make informed decisions.
It also fills a gap: many of the existing studies on electric-car efficiency were completed before models like the Leaf came to market; others have expressed their results in science-lab terms like pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year, not especially useful to consumers. Automakers have not always helped their customers understand the issues, either, typically painting electrics and hybrids with a green brush and an idealistic setting.
The attempt to forge a simple message has created mistaken impressions, too. During a discussion with business leaders and journalists at the French consulate in New York early this month, the chief executive of Nissan and Renault, Carlos Ghosn, doubled down in declaring an environmental edge for electrics over the best gasoline models.
“Even if you could use electricity only from coal,” Mr. Ghosn said, “you’re still better off using an electric car than using gasoline.”
It is a position that Nissan says it has held since the Leaf program began, yet the studies that the company offers in support of its position show electrics outperforming only vehicles with fuel economy ratings from about 27 to 36 miles per gallon.
Assembled over nine months in 2011, the U.C.S. report provides clarification in several ways, examining charging costs under various conditions and offering comparisons among the Leaf, the Mitsubishi “i” electric and the Volt plug-in hybrid. Most revealing, perhaps, is the geographical breakdown of electricity generation.
In a worst-case situation, with electric power generated from a high proportion of coal — as it is in a wide swath of the country’s midsection — an electric car or a plug-in hybrid will generate slightly more full-cycle global-warming emissions, as the report calls the greenhouse gases, than the best gasoline-engine subcompact. In areas where the cleanest electricity is available — regions served by hydroelectric, natural gas or nuclear generating plants — greenhouse gas emissions may be less than half that of today’s best gasoline-engine vehicles.
Put another way, for 45 percent of the United States population, an E.V. will generate lower levels of greenhouse gases than a gasoline-engine vehicle capable of 50 m.p.g. in combined city-highway driving. Cities in this group include the predictable — Seattle, for example — as well as the less obvious, like Buffalo or New Orleans.
About 37 percent of Americans live in regions where a Leaf’s greenhouse gas emissions would equate to a gasoline-powered vehicle rated at 41 to 50 m.p.g. Some 18 percent of the population lives in regions with a comparatively dirty power supply, where the well-to-wheels carbon footprint of a Leaf would be the equivalent of a vehicle rated at 31 to 40 m.p.g., typical of models like the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra.
Here’s another way to look at it: if one region were completely dependent on coal for power, its electric cars would be responsible for full-cycle global-warming emissions equivalent to a car capable of 30 m.p.g. in mixed driving. In a region totally reliant on natural gas, an electric would be equivalent to a 50 m.p.g. gasoline-engine car.
The report divides the United States into 26 regions. Each region comprises a single interconnected electricity grid, though several utility companies may operate within a region. Because the utilities sell power among themselves, the emission levels for one city or utility cannot be pinpointed for every hour of every day, but regional analysis provides an approximation of average emissions over time.
The report’s analysis is based on the E.P.A.’s 2007 Emissions and Generation Resource Integrated Database, the most recent compilation of data available. For each region, the average amount of global-warming emissions generated to produce a kilowatt-hour of electricity was calculated, taking into account emissions resulting from the transportation of fuel to the power plant.
To convert those power plant emission levels to an m.p.g. figure, calculations were based on the power draw of the Nissan Leaf: 0.34 kilowatt-hours per mile. The Volt, which draws 0.36 kilowatt-hours per mile, requires slightly more power.
The report makes it possible to compare electrics with conventional hybrids that rely solely on a gasoline engine to charge their battery. In the dirtiest regions of the country, the hybrid would generate lower levels of full-cycle emissions than the electric car, but a breakdown of the data shows that more than half of Americans live in regions where an electric car has lower well-to-wheels carbon emissions than today’s best full-hybrid vehicles, while 17 percent live in areas where they would be equal.
Of course, conventional gas-powered vehicles are getting cleaner as engineering advances improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. On the other hand, electrics and plug-ins will become cleaner without technology changes as coal-burning power plants are replaced with natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, wind or solar facilities.
Don Anair, a senior engineer in the U.C.S. clean vehicles program, said utilities in the dirtiest electric-grid regions of the United States generate 2 .5 to 3 times more global-warming emissions than those in the cleanest regions, so there is much room for improvement. But he sees the industry trending in the right direction.
“A number of old coal-fired power plants are now being retired,” he said. “Given emission standards recently introduced by the current administration, any new coal-fired plants would be far cleaner than their predecessors.”
According to 2010 data from the United States Energy Information Administration, 45 percent of the country’s electricity is generated by burning coal, the dirtiest fuel. Natural gas, a much cleaner fuel, accounts for 24 percent of electricity production, a figure that is shifting rapidly with price swings. Nuclear plants generate 20 percent of the nation’s power, while wind, solar and geothermal sources provide 3 percent.
While the report puts hard numbers on the current situation, it also points out the need for fundamental changes.
“To prevent the worst consequences of global warming,” the report concludes, “the automotive industry must deliver viable alternatives to the oil-fueled internal-combustion engine — i.e., vehicles boasting zero or near-zero emissions.”
Leading the charge: GoE3 to develop first coast to coast interstate EV charging network
March 29, 2012
By Amir Iliaifar
Arizona-based GoE3 is entering the growing EV charging station market, and will become the first coast-to-coast EV charging station infrastructure in the U.S with its planned 500 stations along America's interstates.
The electric charging station business is no lame duck. Research suggests that the electric vehicle charging market will grow from $776 million in 2011 to a $4.45 billion industry by 2016. Naturally, companies want to get in on the action, and now it looks like another has thrown its hat into the electrical ring.
GoE3, an Arizona-based company, has announced plans to build a network of coast to coast Level 2 and Level 3 charging stations that will aid in making interstate travel a reality for EV owners. According to GoE3, the stations will be placed at 50 to 75 mile intervals along I-10, I-20, I-40, and I-70, with the first stations openings to coincide with an unnamed rally and reality show being produced this summer.
One of the main issues plaguing the electric car industry is a lack of infrastructure. While vehicle range is a concern for many current and potential EV buyers, that anxiety would be greatly lifted if the proper infrastructure were in place to support all these new-fangled EVs on the road.
GoE3 will roll out the route of its first 50 planned locations by April 21 with the remaining 450 in the next 18-36 months. Of course what good is access to all these charging stations if you have to wait hours once you’re plugged in? Thankfully, with the inclusion of Level 3 chargers in GoE3’s plans, drivers will be able to charge their EVs in as little as 10 minutes, depending on battery level, although it will cost $12.50.
Figures from the United States Department of Energy show there are about 2,600 EV charging stations accessible to the public. With the government’s EV Project that number is expected to grow to 14,000 in the coming years.
According to GoE3 founder and CEO Bruce Brimacombe the responsibility of increasing charging infrastructure needs to be a collective endeavor. “If the national goal is having one million electric vehicles on American roads by 2015, we must all work harder to shift perceptions on how useful, practical and affordable electrical vehicle travel can be” Brimacombe says.
For those of you sitting on the electric fence over purchasing an electric car, what are some barriers holding you back? And does the growing electric charging infrastructure alleviate any of those concerns?
Alex Jones comments about the soon-to-be-released movie, "Prometheus":
Alex gets it right with one exception. We are facing "off world genetic
engineers" and their return to rule over this planet AGAIN! That's the
whole idea behind the return of the Anti-Christ and Christ. We talk
about this subject all the time on our radio show, VNN. It's not a
question of if, it's a question of when. When will they return and what
are the necessary world circumstances requiring "them" to return, which
is what the film is about.
Here's a breakdown of the world religions:
What's interesting about this chart is how it will dramatically change
when these Gods return and setup their "kingdom" on Earth.
And that day is coming very soon...
William S. Alek, Chief Director, President
PROGRESSIVE TECH CENTER, INC.
10645 N. Tatum Blvd., Ste C200-436
Phoenix, AZ 85028
Deputy Assistant Secretary
UNITED STATES NAVY
Powering America’s Defense Sustainably
Tom Hicks was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy in March 2010. Mr. Hicks serves as the Secretariat focal point on all matters pertaining to the Department of Navy’s energy conservation, energy efficiency, energy sources, and green initiatives.
Mr. Hicks joined the Department of the Navy from the U.S. Green Building Council where he held several executive roles. As Vice President of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system, Mr. Hicks led the development and implementation of all LEED rating systems. During his tenure, he led the three-fold growth of LEED activity as well as the expansion of the LEED family of rating systems from four to ten unique rating systems. As Vice President for International Programs, Mr. Hicks led the development of USGBC’s international enterprise quadrupling global activity in LEED in two years. Most recently, he spearheaded a new strategic venture on behalf of USGBC – the Building Performance Initiative – to ensure that all green buildings meet or exceed their energy and environmental performance goals.
From 1996 to October 2004, Mr. Hicks was a Senior Program Manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency within the Energy Star for Buildings program. In this role, Mr. Hicks served as the principal architect of the Energy Star commercial building rating system, the nation’s largest and best-known energy efficiency initiative which has been utilized to assess the energy performance of over 70,000 buildings totaling over 10 billion square feet of floor space nationally.
From 1992 to February 1996, Mr. Hicks led the formation of the energy efficiency program for the U.S. Navy Public Works Center Washington. In this capacity, Mr. Hicks created and led the team which performed energy audits on over 15 million square feet of floor space and completed energy efficiency upgrades totaling more than $50 million in value at various U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps installations.
Mr. Hicks received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland.
Bill Clinton Offers 3 Big Energy Ideas at ARPA-E
Posted on March 1, 2012
President Clinton told a standing-room-only crowd at ARPA-E that American citizens have a responsibility to increase their knowledge about green house gas issues and to show their passion.
Last year, private equity invested $56 million into sustainable energy.
Clinton laid out a number of practical steps that the government could take to support sustainable energy in a cost efficient way.
Katherine Tweed of Geentechmedia has more:
Former President Bill Clinton stepped onto the stage at ARPA-E’s third annual Energy Innovation Summit to a standing ovation. He started off by reminding the tech-savvy crowd that he was “famously technologically challenged.” He then reflected on his position of being a former president, adding, “One of the saddest things about being a former president is no one might care what you think.”
For Bill Clinton, that statement couldn’t be further from the truth. The ballroom was packed with a receptive crowd of innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists and policymakers. Everyone wanted to hear what he had to say.
Despite his technological handicap, Clinton delivered. He echoed the upbeat vibe that has permeated EIS 2012, but he was honest in saying that despite the exciting work being done by those in the room, there was a gap between the trendlines of moving toward cleaner energy at lowering costs and the headlines that play into partisan politics.
He didn’t just wax poetic about the state of the energy economy — he also offered concrete solutions, including one to finance and build interstate transmission, capturing rapidly dispersing greenhouse gases for energy, and tips on how to move forward to grab the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency.
Like Bill Gates the day before, Clinton called for far more money for ARPA-E for developments in solar, batteries and electrofuels that are being financed by the young agency.
His most novel suggestion revolved around transmission, another sticky issue for the federal government that Bill Gates brought up the previous day at the conference. There are more than 300,000 megawatts of wind power waiting to come online due to transmission constraints, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Clinton suggested the best way to finance transmission was to build an infrastructure bank, an idea that he said once had bipartisan support. He suggested the government put in a small (for the government) amount of money of a few billion dollars and have corporations match the funds or exceed them to get future returns on the investment.
Clinton argued companies could invest money if they are allowed to repatriate money from oversees. If they don’t put it into the infrastructure bank, where companies will certainly earn a return, they would have to pay taxes on it at the long-term capital gains rate.
After solving the transmission financing issue — although he did not touch upon the 800-pound gorilla of siting these energy highways — Clinton moved quickly on to the issue of greenhouse gases, such as methane. “This is not rocket science,” he argued. “We need a system in America to more rapidly disperse greenhouse gases.”
He noted that there was no reason the U.S. shouldn’t have a federal finance model for capturing GHG from landfills and agricultural waste. A successful model could also be an example for the rest of the world. Unlike transmission, Clinton did not offer an example of what that might look like, especially with low natural gas prices. One firm that was at ARPA-E, FlexEnergy, can work with low-quality methane, making the payback potentially achievable for municipalities with landfill gas that is currently being flared. The technology, however, is still young and is in pilots.
In Orange County, the FlexEnergy system of eight power stations is expected to pay for itself in five to six years based on the revenue from the gas, as well as from the money that will be saved in fees to monitor and maintain the flare that currently burns the methane at the landfill. Theoretically, a federal policy that regulated the treatment of landfill gas could help scale methane capture and processing technologies.
Another area that the former president argued needs a more cohesive federal policy is energy efficiency, the energy issue he is most closely tied to. The Clinton Foundation helped build the framework for Obama’s Better Buildings Initiative, which will provide $4 billion for commercial building energy efficiency retrofits.
He pointed to the most oft-cited retrofit, the Empire State Building, which has cut its energy use and utility bills by about 40 percent. The upgrades — which included custom windows for the Art Deco masterpiece — will pay for themselves in five years.
Of course, the average building owner does not have the cash reserves of the landmark building, nor will the average school building or small office employ the likes of Honeywell, Siemens or Johnson Controls to do the upgrades.
“This is a huge deal for America’s unemployment problem,” said Clinton. Instead of the largest building companies, non-college-educated, middle-aged people could do the work if they were trained as assessors or even contractors for many retrofits. The problem, however, is that “there’s no national ‘Say Yes’ system here.”
A ‘Say Yes’ system could include decoupled utilities that offer on-bill financing. The United Kingdom will implement a system along those lines later this year with its Green Deal, which will pump $20 billion for retrofits into the market. Private capital has put up the money and billing will go through the utility, but all upgrades will be done through companies approved through one federal system.
Clinton argued for PACE financing to not only come back to California, but be implemented nationally. He argued against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which claim it drives down the value of mortgages. “This sterile and meaningless debate has kept Congress from doing this nationwide.”
Even if PACE financing does not come back or go nationwide, Clinton offered a call to arms. “Focus on being more systematically effective in energy efficiency,” urged Clinton. “Once people know the facts, no one is against this, but there are too few non-college-educated people that understand the huge impact this could have on their future.”
New York Times, GE Throw Energy Industry a Party; You Were Not Invited
Posted on April 16, 2012 by Gregg Levine
Those with a nose for dead trees might recall a scandal from the summer of 2009 that sullied the reputation of the Washington Post. Back then, the Post Company sent out fliers touting exclusive dinners at the home of Post publisher Katharine Weymouth that “offered corporate underwriters access to Post journalists, Obama administration officials and members of Congress in exchange for payments as high as $250,000.” When word got out, the Post cancelled the dinners, initially blaming the company’s marketing department (though later reporting showed Weymouth and WaPo’s executive editor Marcus Brauchli knew more about the confabs than they initially let on). The White House also claimed that it had not authorized any officials to participate in these “salons.”
Remember? If you were a critic of the “leftwing media,” this was proof positive of the cozy relationship between the new Democratic administration and the Beltway’s company newsletter; if you were suspicious of the establishment media for its close corporate ties and naked attempts to curry favor with political elites, these planned dinner parties had it all, from aperitifs to the final bill. It really was a fetid swamp, even for swampland.
Flash forward a few years, grab a Metroliner north, and behold this:
U.S. Secretary of Energy, energy economist Daniel Yergin and former Petrobras CEO Jose Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo are among the speakers at tomorrow’s (Wednesday’s) The New York Times Energy for Tomorrow conference. The conference has been created in collaboration with Richard Attias and Associates.
More than 400 corporate and political leaders, as well as NGOs, academics and energy experts will debate the most pressing issues and opportunities facing the energy sector today. GE is the founding sponsor of The New York Times Energy for Tomorrow, with BMW and Louisiana Economic Development as supporting sponsors.
Gerald Marzorati, editor for The New York Times who is responsible for creating The Times’s conferences, said: “With rising prices, energy is at the top of the agenda – both economically and politically – around the world. The supply picture is changing in the United States, with new sources of oil and natural gas.
“There is also the debate over the environmental impact of energy extraction and production, and the role of efficiency in making sure there will be enough energy to meet growing global needs.”
(That was last Wednesday, April 11, by the way.)
This was an invitation-only event. What, you weren’t invited? Well, then, who was?
Yes, there was Obama’s Energy Secretary, Dr. Steven Chu–he got to have a special chat with Times columnist and human carnage unit Thomas Friedman. And Pulitzer Prize-winning author Daniel Yergin was there, fresh off his role as a member of the Presidential Shale-Gas Advisory Commission (spoiler alert: Yergin concluded that fracking’s environmental problems can be managed and that shale gas drilling is here for the long run). And Jose Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo, who was the head of Petrobras (the name sort of says it all, but if you are still wondering, it is a Brazilian energy giant–the largest company in the Southern Hemisphere), but is now chief planning officer for the state government of Bahia, Brazil. . . but who else?
To be fair, here’s the entire public list:
Lester R. Brown, founder and president of Earth Policy Institute;
Carol Browner, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and former ‘energy czar’ to the Obama administration;
Lee Edwards, president and chief executive of Virent, Inc.;
Marvin Fertel, president and chief executive of the Nuclear Energy Institute;
Jochen Flasbarth, president of the German Federal Environment Agency;
Robert A. Hefner III, founder and owner of the GHK Company;
Amy Myers Jaffe, director of the Energy Forum at the Baker Institute;
John Krenicki Jr., vice chairman of GE, and president and chief executive of GE Energy;
Michael Levi, Senior Fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and director of the CFR program on energy security and climate change;
Dave McCurdy, president and chief executive of the American Gas Association;
Steve Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy;
T. Boone Pickens, chairman of BP Capital Management;
Jim Prendergast, executive director of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE);
Phil Radford, executive director of Greenpeace;
Jim Rogers, chairman, president and chief executive of Duke Energy;
and Manuel Camacho Solis, Mexico’s former secretary of Urban Development and the Environment, and former mayor of Mexico City.
Impressive, no? Impressive, yes. . . if you are into energy industry bigwigs. Why, there’s the head lobbyist for the nuclear energy industry, Marvin Fertel, and there’s his good pal, John Krenicki, CEO of GE Energy. Then there’s Jim Rogers, the head everything at Duke Energy, the North Carolina-based utility that is responsible for something like 36,000 megawatts of electrical generation, mostly from its fleet of aging coal and nuclear plants. (I wonder how he, the leader of America’s 13th largest air polluter got on with Carol Browner, who was head of the Environmental Protection Agency when it brought suit against Duke for its coal plants. Probably not so bad, seeing as Browner was until recently the director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, and they were fine with Duke building two new nuclear reactors in South Carolina–the license for which was just granted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.)
And look over there–why it’s Amy Myers Jaffe, big proponent of oil and gas for the James Baker Institute at Rice University. And there’s the president of the American Gas Association, and there’s the head of GHK, the oil and gas company that proudly touts itself as a pioneer in deep gas well drilling in Oklahoma. And ooh, oil man T. Boon Pickens, who now likes to talk wind, but not without talking about the real estate needed for the transmission lines. . . which also would do quite nicely for moving water, by the way. . . oh, and he still likes oil, too.
By the way, that Lee Edwards, the one at Virent, a big player in biogasoline, that’s not the Heritage Foundation Lee Edwards, that’s the Lee Edwards who used to be at BP.
But it was not an all pro-gas, pro-oil, pro-nuke, hydrofracking hydrocarbon love fest. No! Look closely, there are two–not one, but two–conference attendees that can squarely be called environmentalists: the esteemed Lester Brown of EPI, and Phil Radford, who has headed Greenpeace for the last three years. Both those men are solidly anti-nuclear and openly concerned about climate change. . . and there are two of them!
But these people probably get to see each other all the time. The New York Times wanted to mix it up with some of their staff–you know, reporters and columnists. To that end:
New York Times moderators will include:
Richard L. Berke, assistant managing editor;
Helene Cooper, White House correspondent;
Thomas Friedman, Op-Ed columnist;
Clifford Krauss, energy correspondent;
Joe Nocera, Op-Ed columnist;
Ashley Parker, Metro reporter;
and Jeff Zeleny, national political correspondent.
Now if all of this sounds to you a little like, oh, say, the World Economic Forum–you know, Davos–that is probably not a coincidence. Richard Attias–the guy that put this Times conference together–he used to run the events company that organized Davos. . . and the Clinton Global Initiative. . . and the Dalian Economic Summit in China. . . the list goes on.
But more importantly–maybe–it sounds an awful lot like the Washington Post’s mixers of industry powerbrokers, government officials, and newspaper reporters. No, it is not “off the record,” as the Post’s parties were advertized, and instead of soliciting payment for a seat at the table, the Times just pulled together major corporate “sponsors”–so perhaps it feels less hush-hush, less pay-to-play–but this was not a public party by any means. It was by invitation only. . . and you were not invited.
That special feeling
But don’t feel left out. You may not have gotten to have lunch with the giants of energy on Wednesday–but for $2.50 (or $3.75/week if you prefer the digital subscription), you could read the special Energy section in that day’s New York Times. And really, isn’t that just like being there?
Well, sadly, kind of.
The inclusion of the special section on the same day as the Times Forum was not some lucky coincidence. Instead, it read like a 10-page welcome mat for the energy executives and policymakers who made it up to Times Center. It was as if to say, “Your time here will not be wasted. We hear you. Behold, the power of synergy!”
Though reporting on the content of the forum has been surprisingly scant–what there is focuses on Secretary Chu’s story about manure and the conference’s general support for the Obama “all of the above,” uh, well, it is called a “strategy”–the Wednesday special section is chockablock with tasty stories, with headlines such as: “Fuel to Burn: Now What?” and “Natural Gas Signals ‘Manufacturing Renaissance,’” and who can resist “Renewable Sources of Power Survive, But in a Patchwork”?
But of special interest here is Matthew Wald’s piece, “Nuclear Power’s Death Somewhat Exaggerated.”
Now, Matthew Wald is not mentioned in the press release about the Times‘ Energy for Tomorrow Conference, so it is not clear if Wald got to have coffee with the powers behind our power, but his presence was hardly necessary–Wald already writes like he lives in Marvin Fertel’s hip pocket:
The [nuclear power] industry’s three great recent stumbling blocks, the Fukushima accident of March 2011, the exceptionally low price of natural gas and a recession that has stunted demand for power, mock the idea that dozens of new reactors are waiting in the wings. But in an era of worry over global warming, support is plentiful for at least keeping a toe in the water.
“Even if global warming science was not explicitly invented by the nuclear lobby, the science could hardly suit the lobby better,” complained a book published last month, “The Doomsday Machine,” a polemic on the evils of splitting the atom. In fact, the industry continues to argue that in the United States it is by far the largest source of zero-carbon energy, and recently began a campaign of upbeat ads to improve its image.
According to the authors of “The Doomsday Machine,” Martin Cohen and Andrew McKillop, “In almost every country — usually for reasons completely unrelated to its ability to deliver electricity — there is almost universal political support for nuclear power.”
That is probably an exaggeration, with Japan leaving almost all of its 54 reactors idle at the moment because of the Fukushima Daiichi triple meltdown, and Germany promising to close its fleet. But China and India, two countries with enormous demand for electricity and not much hand-wringing over global warming, are planning huge reactor construction projects.
Admittedly, there is much to debate in Cohen and McKillop’s book (and debate it we will when I chat live, online with the authors of The Doomsday Machine during a Firedoglake Book Salon I am hosting on Sunday, April 22, at 5 PM EDT/2 PM PDT), but to quickly dismiss it as a “polemic” is to ignore hundreds of footnoted, glossaried and indexed pages on the history of the nuclear industry’s many near-death and rebirth experiences. It is, in many ways, the kind of story that fits quite nicely with Wald’s narrative, for while Cohen and McKillop are clearly not fans of civilian nuclear power, it is hard not to take from The Doomsday Machine a grudging admiration for the industry’s powers of mythmaking and influence peddling.
Take, for example, Wald’s unexamined–and oft-repeated–regurgitation of the nuclear sector’s claim that atomic power is “zero-carbon energy.” As is spelled out in The Doomsday Machine, and as has been detailed on this site, as well, nuclear power is quite the opposite–from uranium mining to fuel refining, from transport to waste storage, nuclear power models a carbon footprint that brings to mind Bambi Meets Godzilla. While many will likely be uncomfortable with the Cohen-McKillop approach to climate change (again, more on this during the April 22 book salon), Wald’s work itself stands as testament to the nuclear narrative’s ability to morph from “too cheap to meter” to “zero-carbon energy.”
As if to underline this point, Wald writes, without any apparent irony, that the reason America is now burdened with a fleet of 104 aged nuclear reactors that have not been upgraded since the 1980s is because “competition from other sources of electricity is strong.”
One wonders, too, about Wald’s take on climate change when he characterizes China and India as doing “not much hand-wringing over global warming.” Does Wald believe that the reaction in most of the rest of the northern industrialized world is just so much hand-wringing?
The blips about Japan and Germany are not smart or informative explanations, either. The tradition in Japan is that local governments have a say on whether reactors can restart, and while, yes, 53 of Japan’s 54 reactors are now offline as a result of either the Tohoku quake, the ongoing Fukushima crisis, or other maintenance concerns, the government of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is pushing hard to ignore precedent and bring nuclear plants back online over the objections of local residents.
In Germany, as has been observed here many times, the particulars of their parliamentary system left the previously pro-nuclear government of Angela Merkel looking for a new coalition partner in advance of the coming national elections, and the bargaining chip to potentially bring the Green Party into the next government was a change in nuclear policy. This is not a bad thing, mind you–the commitment to phasing out nuclear power in the next decade has allowed Germany to seize the moment and rocket to the forefront of nations gearing up for the next technical revolution (the post-hydrocarbon, renewable-energy revolution)–but it is not the same as the simple refutation in Wald’s story.
And the problems in Wald’s reporting extend beyond a mischaracterization of one book’s argument. Running throughout articles like this one, and throughout the New York Times’ energy coverage, in general, is the “gone native” taint of access journalism.
Boldfaced names impart authority, not just to the point in the story, but also to the journalist who got the quote. The higher up the food chain, be it in government or the corporate world, the more impressive the “get.” Having a senior administration official or a top industry spokesperson or CEO lends a shorthand gravitas to the story, and lends even more to a journalist’s “rolodex.”
To take the piece in question as one example, why waste precious column inches on explanations from any number of available engineers, experts and activists on why the AP1000 reactors just Okayed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would actually not have prevented a Fukushima-like disaster, and, quite possibly, could have made things worse? Instead, just get Jim Ferland, the recent president and chief executive of Westinghouse Electric, to say, “If an AP1000 had been there [in Japan], we wouldn’t be having this discussion today; that plant would be back on line.”
In fact, as readers of this space learned last year, the most exciting thing about the AP1000 reactor to the nuclear industry is that is uses less concrete and rebar, and lots of theoretically “off the shelf” parts, so that construction promises to be cheaper than it was for previous generations of light water reactors. The “passive” safety of the design is a nice story, but it has no real-world case study to add to the narrative. (Indeed, fears about what might happen to the skimpy containment of the AP1000 during a quake or explosion long ago earned it the nickname “the eggshell reactor.”)
That the real excitement here comes from cost savings and not safety is actually backed up by the penultimate paragraph of this same Times article. Wald again goes to Ferland, who says that because similar reactors have already been built in China, it will now be easier and faster (and, thus, cheaper) to build them here.
Funny enough, that very argument is debunked, and at great length, in The Doomsday Machine. Maybe Wald didn’t get that far, but the book details how France attempted to standardize and routinize its nuclear plant construction, and not only were no savings seen, the price of the facilities–and the price of the electricity they delivered–actually went up.
But again, that is another wordy explanation for why nuclear continues to fail to fulfill its promise, and not a pithy quote. Much more impressive, it would seem, are the assurances of a current member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission:
“It seems like every time something happens, you always get these prognostications this is the end, the nuclear industry has come to a halt,” said William D. Magwood IV, one of the five members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a former assistant secretary of energy in charge of promoting nuclear power.
. . . .
Mr. Magwood argues that the situation is not so dire, though, because the “renaissance” was never as big as some people assumed. He said he calculated in 2008 that of the 23 or so projects that were under discussion, only 12 were actually under development, and of those, only 10 faced no real licensing or technical hurdles. But only five of those had clear sources of financing. He assumed three would be in the first wave; now it is two. The industry insists that even its small-scale rebirth is a step forward. Those two pairs of reactors could lay the groundwork for more.
Wald does point out Magwood’s position on the NRC, and his former role as a promoter of nuclear power in the Department of Energy. It would probably break up the flow of the article to mention that Magwood has been embroiled in a power struggle with the Chairman of the NRC, Gregory Jaczko, in part because Jaczko has expressed slightly more concern that US nuclear facilities make safety upgrades to reflect lessons learned from the Fukushima crisis. (Magwood and three other members of the NRC have consistently opposed Jaczko on mandating any post-Fukushima reforms.)
But, as “bold” a “get” as Magwood might be, his argument, as relayed by Wald, folds in on itself. Forget that Wald starts this article with Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander’s call for 100 new reactors, and forget that the much pooh-poohed “polemic” by Cohen and McKillop recounts the history of promises many times this size (not to mention current assertions that hundreds, if not thousands, of new reactors are “essential” to either meet growing demand or mitigate climate change), Magwood’s own quote pretty much spells it out: the industry talks big, but they have little to really deliver. They call it a “renaissance,” but they hope that getting a pair of reactors up and running (in five to seven years, and at a cost of $14 billion or more, mind you) will “lay the groundwork for more.”
Hating the game–and its players
There is a funny parallel between the stories of two second-millennium industries trying hard to stay relevant in the third–how can they change to meet evolving needs, overcome economic challenges and adapt to technological revolutions? The difference, of course, is that while news reporting has served us well in the past and can continue to be necessary and important if done right, nuclear has only been a burden–ecological and economic–and has yet to demonstrate what “done right” actually means.
Working as a reporter in the post-millennial media environment is in many ways an unenviable task–demands for content rapidly increase while bureaus and support staffs are cut way back. You want to hate the game, and not the player, but it is hard when the players blur the distinctions between the sports.
Rubbing elbows at exclusive, industry-sponsored “forums” might make sense for corporate bottom lines, and it might make life a little easier–or at least a little more fun–for stressed-out scribes, but it does nothing, really, for the consumer. And that would be for the consumer of the energy product or the news product.
Perhaps access journalism seems like a natural consequence of the corporatization of media, but there is still enough good reporting out there to say that it doesn’t need to be. Inserts like the New York Times‘ special “Energy” section, however, are a logical outgrowth of corporate/government/fourth estate salons like Times Forum. Corporate underwriters want something for their investment of money, just as corporate and government big shots want something for their time. To the writers at a place like the Times, it might not feel like arm twisting or pay-to-play, but it is human nature to warm to those in the noblesse who convey a bit of oblige.
The dire problem here, of course, is that when it comes to matters as urgent as energy and climate–or as hazardous and costly as nuclear power–one reporter’s warm fuzzy becomes thousands or millions of people’s overheated and pointedly dangerous world.
If inviting everyone at every level to the highbrow hobnob might make it, shall we say, too “hot, flat, and crowded” at Times Center, then it is up to those lucky enough to be on the inside, those like Matt Wald, to stray beyond their comfort zone and question the powers-that-be a little harder about what they plan to use for power. Bite the hand that feeds you–as hard as that might seem when you are all sharing a box lunch.
As for a corporate media megalith like the Times, maybe this is what they do now–maybe, like the scorpion that can’t help but sting the frog, it is in their nature. But the consumer–of both news and energy–would be the frog in that analogy, and so it is all of our responsibility to make some pointed demands before blithely trusting that articulate arthropod. We want to be invited to the party, or at least get to see what goes into the cake before we are told to eat it.
ASHLAND, Ore., April 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Brammo, Inc., the designer and
manufacturer of world leading electric motorcycles today announced details of
its much anticipated Empulse and Empulse R electric sport bikes.
Both models utilize the world's first drivetrain that has been designed and
built for a production electric motorcycle. It features a water-cooled permanent
magnet AC motor, IET 6 speed gearbox and Brammo's unique BPM 15/90 battery
modules. This drivetrain package endows the Empulse and Empulse R with rapid
off-the-line acceleration, sustained high speed and industry-leading range.
Unique for a production electric motorcycle, both Empulse models also have J1772
Level II on-board charging system, allowing riders to easily take advantage of
the growing number of charging stations being installed in cities around the
world. The Empulse and Empulse R can be totally recharged in just 3.5 hours and
every 10 minutes of casual charging adds 5 miles of range. With a little
planning, a day's journey of 200 miles or more can now be achieved.
Craig Bramscher, Founder and CEO of Brammo, stated, "The Empulse and Empulse R
are a milestone for Brammo and the new electric benchmark for the motorcycling
industry. I know when I reveal the bikes on May 8th people are going to be blown
away by the integrity of the design and the focused presence this motorcycle
commands." Bramscher continues, "When we first revealed the Empulse prototype,
our customers had some very clear feedback for us and that feedback has inspired
much of what you will see in the production version."
Brammo will be revealing the Empulse and Empulse R in Los Angeles on May 8th,
2012. The launch event will be webcast live to all pre-order customers. Those
viewers will not only get to see the new bikes, they will get to hear what it's
like to ride one, straight from the mouths of Brammo's development riders, two
of which happen to be well-known motorcycle racers. Electric motorcycle racing
is an integral part of Brammo's mission, and its experience and championship
record on the track has played a critical role in the evolution of the Empulse
from concept to production. Professional racers have had a hand in the
development process and they will be sharing their riding experiences and
impressions at the reveal on May 8th.
A video interview with Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher will be released on Thursday,
April 19th 2012 – http://www.brammo.com/video-ceo
Brammo, Inc., is a leading electric vehicle technology company headquartered in
North America. Brammo designs and develops electric vehicles including the
Encite, Enertia, Empulse and Engage motorcycles. Brammo is the current TTXGP
eGrandPrix champion of North America. Brammo is an OEM supplier of its
innovative Brammo Digital Drivetrain systems including the Brammo Power battery
pack and Brammo Power vehicle management system. Brammo has vehicle distribution
and marketing operations in North America, Europe and Asia. To learn more, visit
The following are trademarks of Brammo, Inc. in the United States or other
countries or both; Brammo®, Enertia®, Empulse®, Empulse R®, Engage®, Encite®,
Brammo Digital Drivetrain®, Brammo Power®, the Brammo logo and bulls head
2012 Brammo Empulse R Specifications
Motor Type Permanent Magnet AC (PMAC) - Water Cooled
Motor Controller Sevcon Gen 4
Peak Motor Power 40kW, @ 8,200 rpm (54 hp)
Peak Torque 63Nm (46.5 foot pounds)
Final Drive Direct Chain Drive (14/48) 520 O-ring chain
Transmission IET 6 speed gearbox with multi-plate, hydraulic activated wet
Battery Type Brammo Power™ BPM15/90 Lithium-Ion ( NCM Chemistry)
Battery Pack Capacity 9.31 kWh (nominal), 10.2 kWh (max)
Battery Pack Voltage 103.6 V (nominal)
Recharge J1772 Level I maximum charging time: 8 Hours. (0 – 99% SOC, no cell
Level I and II Level II maximum charging time: 3.5 Hours. (0 – 99% SOC, no cell
110V AC to J1772 Level 1 Adapter included Every 10 minutes of Level II charging
adds up to 5 miles of range
Battery Cycle Life 1,500 cycles to 80% capacity (100% DOD)
Max Speed 100 + mph (160 + km/h)
Driving Range City: 121 miles* (195 km)
Highway: 56 miles** (90 km)
Combined: 77 miles*** (124 km)
*SAE City Riding Range Test Procedure for Electric Motorcycles (variable speed,
19 mph / 30km/h average)
**SAE Highway / Constant Speed Riding Range Test Procedure for Electric
Motorcycles (70 mph / 113 km/h sustained)
*** SAE Highway Commuting Cycle (.5 City weighting, .5 Highway weighting)
Operating Modes 2 Operating Modes selectable through the handlebar switch:
1. "Normal" - limits acceleration by reducing maximum current delivered to the
motor through the motor controller in order to maximize driving range.
2. "Sport" - provides maximum performance in both acceleration and top speed.
Regenerative Braking Under deceleration, energy is returned to the battery
system to both extend driving range and provide familiar rider feedback.
Operating Cost Assuming 13 cents /kWh for electricity:
1 cent per mile around town
2 cents per mile on the highway
Approximately 400 miles for every $4.00 of electricity (city)
Data Collection Brammo DDC™ (Dynamic Data Collection) records key motorcycle
parameters at 1Hz (1 sample/second) for analysis and service support.
Frame Brammo E-Beam™ Aluminum, Fabricated by Accossato in Italy
Suspension / Front Fully Adjustable 43mm Marzocchi Forks
Suspension / Rear Fully Adjustable Sachs Shock
Triple Clamps Forged Aluminum
Swing Arm Tubular Steel, Fabricated by Accossato in Italy
Sub Frame Tubular Steel, Fabricated by Accossato in Italy
Brakes / Front Dual 310mm Brembo floating disk with twin four piston Hydraulic
Brembo Brake Calipers, Radial Mount.
Brakes / Rear Brembo single disk with dual piston Hydraulic Brembo Brake Caliper
Wheels- Front / Rear 17"x 3.5" Marchesini / 17" x 5.5" Marchesini
Tires- Front / Rear 120/70-17 AVON AV79 / 180/55-17 AVON AV80
Instrumentation LCD display; speed, tach, odometer, gear position, energy
consumption, battery status, estimated range and system status
Wheelbase 58.0" 147.32 cm
Seat Height 31.5" 80.0 cm
Width 31.8" (bar end-to-bar end) 80.77 cm
Height 42.6" (highest portion of the dash) 108.2 cm
Length 81.3" 206.5 cm
Ground Clearance 7.3" 18.54 cm
Rake / Trail 24 degrees / 3.8"
Storage Capacity Optional Brammo hard saddle bags and top trunk.
Fuel Economy 485 mpg-e 206 km/L-e
Vehicle Weight 440lbs. / 200kg
Carrying Capacity Cargo Capacity 365 lbs. / 165.6 kg
(805 lbs. / 365.1 kg total combined motorcycle, rider, passenger and cargo)
2 Years (Limited Factory Warranty) 1 year Fender-to-Fender Limited Warranty, 2
year Limited Powertrain Warranty (Batteries and Motor)
Colors True Blood Red, Eclipsed Black, White Noise
All specifications subject to change without notice.
Inside Mother Earth News' "Guide to Green Cars," on newsstands May 1
TOPEKA, Kan. (April 10, 2012) — Mother Earth News, the longest-running
publication dedicated to sustainable lifestyles, will release its 98-page "Guide
to Green Cars" on newsstands May 1.
The Guide names the Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius C, Toyota Prius V, Nissan Leaf,
Volkswagen Passat TDI and Mitsubishi i as the best green cars in the 2012 model
"As a relatively new market, green cars are still surrounded by a lot of mystery
and misinformation," says John Rockhold , managing editor of Mother Earth News.
"This primer will help buyers clearly understand their options and the issues –
without the jargon that scares many people off."
In addition to its 54 green car reviews, the Guide covers hybrid, plug-in
hybrid, plug-in electric and diesel technology in layman's terms; an
introduction to biofuels; whether green cars provide a return on investment; how
safe electric cars really are; tips to maximize mpg in any car; and more.
About Mother Earth News
Mother Earth News (www.MotherEarthNews.com) is the Original Guide to Living
Wisely. Topics include organic gardening; do-it-yourself projects; cutting
energy costs; using renewable energy; green home building; and rural living.
About Ogden Publications
Ogden Publications Inc. (www.OgdenPubs.com) is the leading information resource
serving the sustainable living, rural lifestyle, farm memorabilia and classic
motorcycle communities. Key brands include Mother Earth News, Natural Home &
Garden, Utne Reader, Capper's and Grit. Ogden Publications also produces
environmentally friendly housewares through Natural Home Products LLC, and
provides insurance and financial services through its Capper's Insurance Service
One of the First Solar Installs in the NKC Metro Area, Local Solar Integrator
Brightergy completes 50.76 kW roof-top project
North Kansas City, Mo., April 20, 2012 – In an effort to bring down costs while
keeping its corporate commitment to sustainability, FUJIFILM North America
Corporation, Graphic Systems Division has selected Conergy's PH 235P panels to
install on its North Kansas City, Missouri manufacturing facility. One of the
first solar construction projects installed in this part of the metro area, the
installation was completed by local clean-energy integrator Brightergy this
winter. With 216 modules, the solar installation will produce about 60,000 kWh
annually, which is equivalent to taking 600 cars off the road for a year.
With this installation, Fujifilm will realize a substantial cost savings on its
current energy usage. In addition, the company will be able to take advantage of
the utilities net energy metering program, which will provide ongoing benefits.
Globally, Fujifilm has a Greenhouse gas target set at 30% reduction in CO2
emissions by Fiscal Year 2020, as compared to 2005.
"Conergy recently supplied its premium module panels at Fujifilm's facility in
Hawaii last year, and this installation in North Kansas City marks the second
solar project for Fujifilm in North America," said Ray Hosoda, President and
CEO, FUJIFILM North America Corporation. "This solar panel project will help
play a role in Fujifilm's corporate mission of energy conservation and
Greenhouse gas reduction. The combination of Conergy's PH-Series modules, along
with Brightergy's unique efforts to bring us an affordable, clean, and renewable
energy solution, will continue to help us make strides toward our energy goals."
The Fujifilm installation is the first project with Brightergy. "Fujifilm's
choice of this location was a good one due to the excellent economic incentives
in the state of Missouri," said Susan Brown, principal, Brightergy Solar
Solutions. "And Conergy's PH series panels, matched with our talents and
resources as a solar energy integrator, will not only help Fujifilm reach its
sustainability goals, but it is a fantastic financial investment for them as
Simone Baeurer, Conergy's Regional Account Manager, added, "Fujifilm and
Brightergy made a great choice when they selected the Conergy PH 235 module for
this installation. The PH module offers an excellent balance of reliability,
efficiency and value. The Conergy modules have a long service-life design and
are a highly-cost effective solar energy solution - a perfect fit for this
View an image of the 60kW roof-top installation
Conergy delivers solar energy systems from a single source. As a system
supplier, Conergy produces all components for a solar installation and offers
all services under one roof.
With its modules, inverters and mounting systems, the solar expert creates
Conergy System Technology, which is efficient solar energy systems for private
or commercial rooftops, as well as for multi-Megawatt Parks. Conergy System
Services deliver a "Worry-Free Package" for Conergy solar installations – from
"A" for architectural planning to "Y" for yield insurance and "Z" for zero
trouble. Conergy's experts not only install on-site turn-key solar projects, but
they also manage the planning and financing, project implementation, system
monitoring, operation and on-going maintenance of the project for maximum
performance. With this comprehensive technology and service package, Conergy
offers yield insurance for its installations. Conergy System Sales brings
Conergy premium products to nearly 40 countries. From "A" for Australia to "T"
for Tunisia – the solar expert supports homeowners, installers, wholesalers and
investors in their efforts to "go solar". With sales activities on five
continents, Conergy has close relationships with all its customers. In 2010,
more than half of Conergy's sales were generated outside of Germany.
Listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange, Conergy employs more than 1,500 people
worldwide. Since Conergy's founding in 1998, it has produced and sold more than
1.6 GW of clean solar energy. Thus, in 2011 Conergy solar installations have
generated almost as much power as a nuclear reactor.
Senator Sounds Urgent Alarm About Imminent Nuclear Disaster
Posted by Alexander Higgins - April 17, 2012
After touring the devastation of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown Senator Wyden is raising the alarm that we can no longer ignore the threat of an imminent nuclear disaster.
Senator Wyden just returned from a tour of the cleanup, or lack thereof, in Japan following last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Upon return he went on television to raise the alarm that Fukushima disaster is by no means over and it has the potential become exponentially worse at any given moment.
Moreover, he is sounding the alarm that the US can no longer continue to duck the real and present threat such and impending disaster will occur here in the United States, just as it has in Russia and in Japan, unless we stop ducking the issue and act quickly to prevent it.
There is group off online activists working fervently to post the information below on all government officials’ pages and to spread the word as far and wide as possible. Please pay attention to the information below and join us in helping anyway you can to spread this information to anyone and everyone so action can be taken before it is too late.
April 17, 2012: Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), appeared on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown to discuss a recent onsite tour of what remains of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facilities decimated by last year’s earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
Wyden, a senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, sent a letter to Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki looking for ways to advance and support clean-up and recovery efforts. Wyden’s principal concern is the relocation of spent fuel rods currently being stored in unsound structures immediately adjacent to the ocean. He strongly urged the Ambassador to accept international help to prevent dangerous nuclear material from being released into the environment.
Please take the time to read/watch what the experts are saying about the danger of SPENT FUEL POOL 4!!!
Senator Wyden: –v
Arnie Gundersen: –v
Nuclear Expert: Spent Fuel Pool No. 4 likely to shatter or collapse onto its side in a M7.0 quake (A
Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds Associates: In a severe earthquake M7.0 or better, i…See More
Helen Caldicott: –v
Caldicott: If Spent Fuel Pool No. 4 collapses I am evacuating my family from Boston (VIDEO)
From Monday: Mainichi Expert Sr. Writer: Gov’t sources say No. 4 pool a grave co…See More
Former Japan Ambassador Warns Gov’t Committee: –v
WATCH: Japan lawmakers warned about Spent Fuel Pool No. 4 during testimony of former ambassador (VID
Follow-up to: Former Japan Ambassador Warns Gov’t Committee: “A global catastrop…See More
Akio Matsumura: –v
WATCH: Japan lawmakers warned about Spent Fuel Pool No. 4 during testimony of former ambassador (VID
Follow-up to: Former Japan Ambassador Warns Gov’t Committee: “A global catastrop…See More
Yukitero Naka, Nuclear Engineer: –v
German TV: Armageddon if Spent Fuel Pool No. 4 collapses and melts down — Could change the world — M
Title: The Fukushima Lie Source: ZDF (German TV) Author: Documentary by Johannes…See More
Summary of above sources: –v
The Top Short-Term Threat to Humanity: The Fuel Pools of Fukushima – Washington’s Blog
We noted days after the Japanese earthquake that the biggest threat was from the…See More
Ex-Prime Minister Kan said if plant had become out of control they would have evacuated Tokyo:–v
“In the days immediately after the crisis began at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the government received a report saying 30 million residents in the Tokyo metropolitan area would have to be evacuated in a worst-case scenario, former Prime Minister Naoto Kan revealed in a recent interview. [...]”
Japan cut in two? Prime Minister Kan: 30 million in Tokyo faced evacuation scenario — “I wasn’t sure
In the days immediately after the crisis began at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear po…See More
[If spent fuel pool 4 breaks, now, workers will have to abandon the plant. Workers will not be able to withstand radiation with protective gear. Machinery fails, at such high radiation levels. This would leave the current 3 out of 6 reactors to meltdown and 6 spent fuel pools, which are currently cooled, would not be maintained. Potentially 195 reactors worth of radiation would burn into atmosphere.]
Maggie Gundersen explains spent fuel pools contain the approx. equivalent of 32 reactors worth of radiation, each, at Vermont Yankee…still trying to verify exactly how many reactors worth of radiation are in each of the spent fuel pools at Fukushima–but if we use the spent fuel pools from Vermont as a guideline (because they were manufactured in same design as Fukushima)–that’s a lot of radiation.
Watch @ 7 min, mark & @ 52 min. mark : –v
Maggie Gundersen speaks at UVM regarding similarities between VY and Fukushima Daiichi
Maggie Gundersen, founder and president of the Burlington, VT-based Fairewinds A…See More
“The pools at each reactor are thought to have contained the following amounts of spent fuel, according to The Mainichi Daily News:
• Reactor No. 1: 50 tons of nuclear fuel
• Reactor No. 2: 81 tons
• Reactor No. 3: 88 tons
• Reactor No. 4: 135 tons
• Reactor No. 5: 142 tons
• Reactor No. 6: 151 tons
• Also, a separate ground-level fuel pool contains 1,097 tons of fuel; and some 70 tons of nuclear materials are kept on the grounds in dry storage.” –v
A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima – Washington’s Blog
You already know that Fukushima’s fuel pool number 4 may be the single greatest threat, but that pool number 3 is very dangerous as well.
BREAKING: US Senator issues press release on Spent Fuel Pools — Urges Japan to accept international.
Title: After Tour of Fukushima Nuclear Power Station, Wyden Says Situation Worse…See More
Immeasurable radiation at Fukushima
THIS WILL TAKE TOO LONG!!! A “COVER” AND A FEW REINFORCEMENT BEAMS WILL NOT PROTECT US FROM AN EARTHQUAKE CRACKING SPENT FUEL POOL AND STARTING A FIRE, WHICH CANNOT BE CONTAINED. WE MUST EXPEDITE THIS PROCESS!!!
Please follow the latest developments on this situation here:
Wyden Discusses a Recent Onsite Tour of Fukushima, Japan & Recovery Efforts
~ Solar industry innovator selects SolarWorld as supply partner ~
Melbourne, Fla. – National Solar Power Partners has reached a major milestone in
its plans to build solar energy facilities totaling 700 megawatts (MW) in
Florida by completing an agreement to acquire several million advanced solar
panels from SolarWorld, the largest solar-technology manufacturer in the
Americas. The projects in Gadsden, Hardee and Liberty counties will showcase
National Solar's renewable-energy leadership by enabling institutions and
investors to help establish U.S. renewable-energy infrastructure.
In partnership with Hensel Phelps Construction Co., National Solar signed a
purchase order with SolarWorld, a vertically integrated U.S. solar manufacturer
for more than 35 years, following lengthy review that included a tour of
SolarWorld's manufacturing facility in Oregon. National Solar chose SolarWorld
based on the high quality of its products and its corporate culture focused on
sustainability and community partnerships.
"We're very excited about this partnership, which is a great cultural fit
between our companies," said James Scrivener, CEO of National Solar, based in
Melbourne, Fla. "We are committed to helping make the United States the world
leader in renewable energy, and this partnership gives us the building blocks to
produce clean energy domestically. Best of all, we will be using U.S. technology
that will create thousands of jobs for Americans and help ensure U.S. energy
security and independence."
Harnessing the unlimited energy source that gives the Sunshine State it
nickname, the company eventually will generate 400 MW of power at its Gadsden
County facility, 200 MW in Hardee County and 100 MW in Liberty County. Combined,
the projects are an integral part of an investment and deployment paradigm shift
that is taking place as solar becomes an essential and economical part of the
nation's energy mix.
"SolarWorld looks forward to being a partner in this far-reaching and visionary
project," said Kevin Kilkelly, president of SolarWorld Americas, the company's
commercial unit. "National Solar Power is a recognized innovator, and its
projects in Florida are truly exciting developments in the renewable-energy
supply for our nation."
The solar farms will be built out in segments of 20 MW on about 200 acres each.
The first 20 MW segment alone will utilize more than 100,000 solar panels, and
the entire project will require millions of SolarWorld panels. National Solar is
on track to begin construction of the first farm, in Hardee County, later this
year. Hensel Phelps, a world leader in construction that remodeled the Pentagon
after the 9-11 attacks in 2001, will design, build and operate the solar farm
projects for National Solar.
SolarWorld develops all phases of the manufacturing value chain, from raw
materials through turn-key solar systems of all sizes. The group's largest
production facilities are located in Hillsboro, Ore., and Freiberg, Germany.
SolarWorld employs about 3,300 people worldwide, more than one-third of them in
As part of the effort to fund its renewable-energy projects, such as the solar
projects in Gadsden, Hardee and Liberty counties, National Solar recently
announced the creation of Green Infrastructure Partners LLC. Green
Infrastructure offers a platform for institutions and accredited investors to
participate in the inevitable transition to a renewable energy infrastructure in
the United States, while enjoying competitive risk-adjusted returns on their
capital. Green Infrastructure is externally managed and advised by Solar Capital
Management LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of National Solar Power Partners LLC.
National Solar has executed power supply agreements for more than 3 gigawatts of
solar farms in the U.S. Southeast. National Solar anticipates much of the power
produced by its solar farm projects, particularly energy production during the
summer months, will be used to shave peak requirements for power generated from
fuels such as coal or gas.
A market leader in utility-scale solar power solutions, National Solar is
uniquely positioned within the marketplace to offer cost-effective solar power
solutions on the utility scale. With more than 30 years of industry experience,
National Solar's founders have been involved in the solar and utility energy
marketplace and have witnessed renewable energy gaining in popularity and
affordability. Learn more about National Solar at www.natlsolar.com.
Green Park & Charge Taps Latest in Smart Parking Technology to Help Electric
Vehicle Drivers Find EV Charging Stations
BOSTON and FOSTER CITY, Calif., April 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Finding an
electric vehicle charging station in Boston will soon become easier. Today,
Dinosaur Capital Partners LLC, a Boston-based real estate development and
investment firm, and Streetline, Inc. announced plans to deploy Streetline's
industry-leading smart parking technology at "Green Park & Charge," Boston's
first fully dedicated electric vehicle charging and parking facility.
Located in the Bulfinch Triangle area in downtown Boston, one of Boston's
busiest areas, Green Park & Charge will transform a former gas station into an
eco-friendly facility. Using patent-pending sensor technology from Streetline,
motorists will have the ability to access real-time information about open
parking spaces available at Green Park & Charge, including information about the
real-time availability of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.
"Electric cars are gaining in popularity," said Scott Oran, a founding partner
of Dinosaur Capital. "With Green Park & Charge, we are not only transforming a
brownfield gas station site into an eco-friendly facility; our goal, working
with Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the Boston
Transportation Department, is to encourage green driving alternatives. We are
pleased to be collaborating with Streetline to tap the latest in smart parking
technology to provide real-time parking availability to Boston
motorists...particularly those looking to find available EV charging
"Green Park & Charge will be a state-of-the art parking facility that will
become a showcase as other developers across the country look to build
eco-friendly parking facilities – and help the U.S. reach its goal of becoming
the first country with more than one million electric vehicles on the road by
2015," said Zia Yusuf, CEO of Streetline, Inc. "Streetline is the leader in
smart parking and we're pleased to be working with Dinosaur Capital Partners to
make finding an EV charging station easier for Boston motorists."
Streetline's patented smart parking platform detects the presence of a car
through a network of ultra-low power wireless sensors located in each parking
space. Information from the sensors is then delivered to a suite of web and
mobile applications, including Streetline's free smartphone application,
Parker™, to help motorists easily find parking. Once parked, motorists can use
the app's built in timer to help keep track of how much time is left for
charging, or access walking directions to help find their parking space when
they need to return to their vehicle.
President Obama has announced a goal of becoming the first country to have one
million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. Recently, Obama reinforced this
goal with the "EV Everywhere" plan, which the White House described as, "a clean
energy grand challenge to make electric-powered vehicles as affordable and
convenient as gasoline-powered vehicles for the average American family within a
decade." The White House says driving electric will save the average driver $100
For more information on EV Everywhere, visit:
Parker™ is available as a free download at iTunes and the Android Market.
About Green Park & Charge
Green Park & Charge will be Boston's first electric vehicle charging station and
parking facility. Located in the Bulfinch Triangle at one of Boston's busiest
corners, Green Park & Charge will be located between the Financial District, the
TD Garden, Fanueil Hall, the North End, the West End, and Government Center and
directly across from the Edward Brooke Courthouse. According to the Boston
Transportation Department, over 35,000 vehicles and pedestrians pass by the site
daily—more than 9,000,000 people per year.
Green Park & Charge will replace a petroleum-based 20th century filling station
with an environmentally-conscious, 21st century electric vehicle charging
station. Pricing policies are designed to encourage green driving alternatives
so drivers with electric vehicles or hybrids receive a 10% discount on
competitive parking fees. Drivers of SUVs and "gas guzzlers" (vehicles with EPA
mileage rating less than 15 miles per gallon) pay a 10% parking surcharge.
Vehicles requiring charging park in any available parking space and are plugged
in during their stay. There is no fee for charging; motorists pay only for
For more information on Green Park & Charge or Dinosaur Capital Partners, please
About Streetline, Inc.
Streetline's mission is to make smart cities a reality through the use of
sensor-enabled mobile and web applications. As the leading global provider of
smart parking solutions for cities, airports, universities, private garages, and
consumers, Streetline's pioneering technology connects citizens with critical
information to improve the way they live and work, while making cities more
efficient and lessening their environmental impact.
Streetline is a privately held company headquartered in Foster City, Calif. with
smart parking deployments in California, Indianapolis, Maryland, Michigan, New
Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington D.C. The
company was recently named one of Fast Company's 10 Most Innovative Companies in
Transportation, as well as IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year.
Uploaded by GO100PERCENT on Dec 4, 2011
Chairman, Product Architect and CEO | Tesla Motors,
CEO and CTO | SpaceX, Chairman | Solar City.
Thoughts on transitioning to 100% renewable energy Is solar really part of the solution? Are batteries really sustainable?
What We Are:
Go 100% is a global community which is proving that being powered by 100% sustainable renewable energy is urgent and achievable. Anyone curious about, striving for, or who has achieved this aim is welcome. Join the community.
What We Do:
We aim to inspire each other and others to reach the 100% renewable energy goal locally and globally by
- building an interactive map of 100% renewable energy-related projects and goals around the world.
- publishing relevant news and editorials.
- providing educational tools Learn more
- catalyzing a virtual discussion where the Go 100% community can help develop best practices, forge partnerships, and build strength in numbers.
Why We Are Doing It:
The conventional fossil and nuclear energy system has led to multiple convergent existential crises, including climate change, air and water pollution, destruction of the oceans, the threat of mass extinction, water and food shortages, poverty, nuclear radiation problems, nuclear weapons proliferation, fuel depletion, and geopolitical problems.
The world's leading scientists have issued a mandate that we must change this energy system to a sustainable one based on conservation, efficiency and renewable energy in the near future or risk losing planetary habitability.
Gloom and despair are not healthy options. Focusing on solutions is. Without turning a blind eye to the problems, it's time to widen our view, see what works, and make the necessary changes. For the sake of our kids, future generations, and the many who are already suffering the impacts of fossil and nuclear fuel dependence.
phone: +1 310 463 1355
How Big Oil Controlled the U.S. Photovoltaic Industry
By Tracy Emblem
We could have been steadily weaned off of oil consumption by now through solar technology development in the United States. Instead we are facing the worst environmental oil spill in history. In 1974, Congress enacted the Solar Energy Research Development and Demonstration Act to stem the nation’s dependence on oil. In the following years, the government spent $6 billion to improve photovoltaic production levels, reduce costs and stimulate private sector purchases.
So what happened to deter progress?
Big Oil bought and controlled the alternative energy business because Big Oil’s main business is and has always been oil, gas, coal and petrochemical profits first. The “private sector” stimulated was the mergers and buy-outs of smaller photovoltaic research and development companies by Big Oil companies. The plan was simple. Big Oil seized and took control of the research and patents – if you control the market – you control the development of a product. Here’s the time line:
In 1973, Karl Boer formed Solar Energy Systems to market photovoltaic cells and then transferred the majority of his stock to Shell Oil Company.
Around 1974, Mobil Oil joint ventured with Tyco Laboratories and created Mobil-Tyco Solar Energy Corporation.
In 1975, Exxon assumed Solar Power Corporation as a wholly owned subsidiary.
In 1977, Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) invested in a photovoltaic company in Camarillo, California and began manufacturing solar cells and panels.
In 1980, ARCO Solar was the first company to produce more than 1 megawatt (a thousand kilowatts) of photovoltaic modules in one year.
That same year in 1980, British Petroleum (BP) entered the solar market when it bought out Lucas Energy Systems.
In 1982, ARCO Solar completed the first megawatt-scale photovoltaic power station in Hisperia, California.
In 1983, ARCO Solar dedicated a 6-megawatt photovoltaic substation in central California.
Around 1983, AMOCO Solar Company, a subsidiary of American Oil Company (AMOCO) acquired the Solarex factory in Frederick, Maryland.
In 1986 ARCO Solar built the first utility-scale photovoltaic generating facility in Texas and also introduced the first commercial thin film photovoltaic module.
Then in 1987, Solarex, AMOCO’s subsidiary, sued ARCO Solar for patent violations, effectively halting ARCO’s Solar’s photovoltaic business.
In 1993, Solarex sued United Solar, a joint venture of Energy Conversion Devices and Canon of Japan, for patent infringement practices.
During the same year, Mobil Oil closed its 19-year solar demonstration plant in Billerica, Massachusetts. The New York Times reported that Mobil stated that although it had developed more efficient, less expensive solar cells, “the electric utility industry market for solar energy is small and is unlikely to grow to large-scale demand in the near term.”
In 1995, Solarex changed its name when Enron Corporation of Houston and AMOCO/Solarex entered into a joint venture and merged into Amoco/Enron Solar, each of the corporate partners owning 50-percent interest in the photovoltaic company.
In 1998, in the world’s largest industrial merger, AMOCO merged with BP. In 1999, BP AMOCO purchased Enron’s 50-percent share and created BP Solarex, and in 2000, BP acquired ARCO now officially known as BP West Coast Products LLC.
BP Solar is now one of the largest solar manufacturing companies in the world. In March 2010, BP announced it will close the Frederick, Maryland manufacturing plant and move its business into facilities in China, India and other countries.
For years, Big Oil controlled much of the photovoltaic technology while pushing oil on consumers and telling the public that solar technology was not “market ready” and “too expensive.” During the same time, Big Oil joined the “Global Climate Coalition” an industry effort to debunk the growing scientific evidence of global warming caused by too much oil consumption.
The drilling continues with tens of billions in tax breaks and a royalty waiver program established by Congress in 1995 for off shore drilling in “deep waters.” Thirty-six years later, America is still dependent on Big Oil’s control of the environment and global economy. As a recent television commercial reminded about our failure to wean our nation off Big Oil, if not now, when?
November 16, 2010
This Document I found while surfing the net from a site Free Energy Truth
ARMED SERVICES PATENT ADVISORY BOARD
PATENT SECURITY CATEGORY REVIEW LIST
PREPARED BY ASPAB SUB-COMMl1TEE
CHAIRMAN: H.L. MOURNING, AMC
J.C. MORRIS, AF
BERT CONVEY, NAVY
[Originally classified Confidential - Now Unclassified)
Document here: http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/invention/pscrl.pdf
This document list what technologies should be swept under the rug and not
known to the public.
The technologies listed are mostly Military and are kept secret for defense
reasons, until you get to ˇČEnergyˇÉ (page 14)
Item 8. Solar photovoltaic generators (AMC)- if > 20% efficient
Item 9. Energy conversion systems with conversion efficiencies in excess of
Using Solar power has been around since the 1800ˇěs but the
CellˇÉ was first invented in 1954, 56 years later and we are still only
sitting around the 20% efficiency and this may be the reason why.
What other technology has made next to no progression since its debut.
Imagine if TVˇÇs, Computers, Mobile Phones were exactly the same today as
when it was when the first one came out?
I am not saying Solar panels are the same today as they were 56 years ago
but there has been very little improvement and they still have not surpassed
a 20% efficiently when they have had 56 years to develop it???
A new report released today by the Energy Department analyzes the potential to
generate clean hydroelectric energy at existing dams across the United States.
Harnessing the tremendous power of the nation's waterways could help increase
the supply of clean energy for American families and businesses.
Thousands of dams across the country are not currently equipped to produce
power. Today's report finds that if fully developed, these existing dams could
provide an electrical generating capacity of more than 12 gigawatts (GW). This
amounts to increasing existing U.S. conventional hydropower capacity by roughly
The majority of potential resides in the country's workhorse waterways – like
the Ohio, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas rivers. Eight GW of capacity is
concentrated in just 100 facilities, 81 of which are owned and operated by the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The report, titled An Assessment of Energy Potential at Non-Powered Dams in the
United States, analyzes more than 54,000 specific sites that could be developed
to generate power. The results indicate that, if fully developed, the nation's
non-powered dams could provide enough energy to power over four million
It was funded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and
produced by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in partnership with Idaho National
This study is one of a number of nationwide resource assessments being conducted
by the Energy Department. The preliminary results indicate that by 2030, 15% of
the nation's electricity could come from water power – including hydropower and
marine and hydrokinetic energy sources, like waves and tides.
Hybrid Drivers Don't Always Buy Another Hybrid
Michael Graham Richard
Transportation / Cars
April 11, 2012
Does It Matter That Much?
A new survey, which is summarized by our colleagues at Discovery.com, found that "only 35 percent of hybrid vehicle owners bought another hybrid when purchasing a new vehicle in 2011." This leads some people to wonder: Were hybrids just a fad? Is the technology losing steam? Is fuel-efficiency not important anymore? Etc.
Some of that might be true in some cases, but I think there might be other explanations.
Timing matters. If you buy a hybrid during the gas price spike following hurricane Katrina and then you buy another vehicle during the lower prices of the past few years (though recently it's been going back up), you might make different decisions.
It's also worth nothing that when the first wave of hybrids came to the US, it was still the land of the gas-guzzling SUV and there were almost no good choices of fuel efficient vehicles. Since then, there's been a big improvement in small and mid-sized cars, with many of them getting almost hybrid-like fuel-economy on the highway and decent MPG even in the city. For that we can thank the arrival of some European models (like the Ford Fiesta/Mazda 2), downsized engines (4-cylinders are now much more common), direct-injection, better transmissions (dual-clutch, 6-speed, etc), more aerodynamic bodies, etc. Non-hybrids still don't match hybrids, but hybrids don't quite stand out as much anymore.
But I think the bottom line remains that there's a much bigger pool of non-hybrid drivers that are converting to more fuel-efficient hybrids than there is of hybrid-drivers converting to non-hybrid. Proof of that is that hybrids are breaking sales records and plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars are slowly becoming more mainstream (it'll take a while, like it did for hybrids a decade ago -- but they'll get there).
Of course it would be nice if more hybrid drivers stuck with hybrids for their new purchases, because if they're going to drive a car, hybrids are still the best choice short of going plug-in. But what matters more in the big picture is that transportation is moving away from fossil fuels and becoming electrified, in parallel with the power grid becoming cleaner. It's not moving fast enough for me, but at least it's moving.
In the meantime, it's still best to walk, bike, or take transit. But if you're going to drive, get the most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets your needs.
Abu Dhabi Sells 7% Stake in Tesla, Makes $113 Million Profit
Michael Graham Richard
Transportation / Cars
April 10, 2012
We reported a few years ago that Abu Dhabi's investment arm had bought 7% of Tesla Motors (part of it from Daimler). After holding on to these 7.3 million shares for a few years and transferring them to Abu Dhabi National Energy (TAQA), which is 3/4 owned by the government, they have decided to sell them, making a profit of $113 million in the process.
According to Automotive News a spokesperson for TAQA said that it had “admiration for Tesla’s vision, technology and products,” but that the carmaker was a “non-core investment," despite the highly-anticipated launch of the 2012 Tesla Model S sedan later this year.
We can wonder if this is truly just a quick profit taking on a non-core position or if the fossil-fuel city-state suddenly feels less bullish about electric cars... We'll probably never know.
Based on today's price, Tesla's stock is up 68% from its IPO in July 2010.
Via BBC, Green Car Reports
Black Solar Cell Absorbs 99.7% of All Light
Jerry James Stone
Technology / Solar Technology
April 10, 2012
© Natcore Technology
Scientists over at Natcore Tech have created what is now the "blackest" solar cell to date. While that might sound as trivial as creating a white iPhone, this is a fairly huge advancement in the world of solar technology. With an average reflectance of 0.3%, these black silicon wafers absorb more light than any other out there, which means more of the sun's energy is actually converted into energy.
By the way, reflectance is the ratio of reflected light to that of which actually hits the surface. So a reflectance of 0.3% means that only 0.3% of all light is reflected from the solar cell's surface and that the remaining 99.7% is absorbed.
© Natcore Technology
This breakthrough makes industry standards such as anti-reflective coatings now obsolete. Those coatings perform poorly anyway, especially during morning and afternoon hours when the sun is at an angle. The black solar also outperforms standard cells on cloudy days.
“One of the ways this matters,” said Chuck Provini, the company’s CEO, “is that there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the electricity you get on a sunny day vs. a cloudy day. Diffused light won’t matter that much.”
Its higher energy output, combined with a lower cost using Natcore's patented process, could quickly make black silicon the global solar technology of choice.
© Natcore Technology
Of course, with every new solar breakthrough comes the promise of grossly affordable solar cells and the clean tech utopia we've all been hoping for. I don't think this totally changes the game but it could lead to advancements that might. So I am hopeful.
One thing is for sure, this is the one instance where black is...the new black.
Solar Battery Thinner Than Human Hair Is World's Thinnest and Lightest
Technology / Solar Technology
April 4, 2012
A battery with a thickness of just 1.8 micrometers could be a solution for ultra-thin, ultra-light energy storage for small devices. At 1.8 micrometers, it is thinner than a strand of spider silk and is one tenth the thickness of the thinnest solar cells available. It is also elastic, similar to spider silk.
The device is not just a battery but an incredibly thin solar cell as well, which means it can gather its own charge.
Smart Planet writes, "In order to create the battery, the scientists applied ink containing an organic semiconductor to plastic film that measures 1.4 micrometers in thickness. According to the researchers, the thinnest battery to date was 25 micrometers. One gram of the solar battery produces 10 watts of energy. The efficiency of conversion from solar power to electricity is 4.2 percent, substantially lower than typical solar panels. However, the new battery can function without conversion rate drops when folded or bent. According to the team, the spider-silk soar batteries can also be made cheaply."
According to the researchers, this miniscule solar cell and battery could power small personal devices such as air quality sensors. Or perhaps, larger versions could be used to power electronics in remote or hard-to-access places such as sensors on bridges or towers. Additionally, it is a durable battery.
Tsuyoshi Sekitani from the University of Tokyo states, "Power generation by solar cells increases with their size. As this device is soft, it is less prone to damage by bending even if it gets bigger."
The researchers hope that within the next five years, they will be able to increase the solar cell's efficiency to a rate that makes it competitive in the market.
Meet the G-Electric, an Experimental Electrified Mercedes Monster for the Dutch Ministry of Defense
Michael Graham Richard
Transportation / Cars
April 13, 2012
G-Electric Website/Screen capture
The Mercedes G-Wagen, which is used by some military forces, is one tough and powerful vehicle. It can be had with a 5.4-liter supercharged V8 that produces close to 500-horsepower and is to fuel what a frat boy is to alcohol... But that's not true for all Mercedes G-Wagens. There's one exception: The G-Electric is powered by 92% efficient in-wheel electric motors that generate a tremendous amount of torque (a combined 3,688 pounds-feet, or 5000 Nm), probably making the G-Electric the most powerful EV that isn't a huge industrial equipment. The battery is of the lithium-ion chemistry and it's packaged under the passenger compartment, leaving more space under the hood for future experiments.
"e-Traction is designer of this one-off vehicle. It has been realized to serve the research needs of e-traction and the Dutch Ministry of Defense. Watch the Dutch city of Apeldoorn, where this car can be spotted." Check out the Antony Ingram. Check out the official G-Electric website for more details.
You can see it (briefly) in action in the video below:
Via G-Electric, Green Car Reports
Q&A With Carlos Ghosn on the Future of Electric Cars
Michael Graham Richard
Transportation / Cars
April 16, 2012
Very Bullish on Electric Cars
As was obvious in Revenge of the Electric Car (which you can now see for free on Hulu), Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Renault and Nissan, is both very bullish on electric cars and has the ability and determination to make it happen. I'd much rather have him on the side of EVs than on the side of the status quo...
Consumer Reports (What an amazing bunch! Get yourself a subscription) did a quick interview with Mr. Ghosn. Here are some highlights:
On prices for the LEAF coming down:
When we planned for the electric car, with the yen at $110 to the dollar in 2006, we couldn't imagine [a] 30-percent change in the value of the yen. At the moment, the yen at $82 to the dollar has been a real headwind to the sales of the car. [...] We are going to lower costs, particularly with the yen at 82 yen to the dollar. Lowering the cost by switching to a U.S. base is very easy when the Japanese base is as cost-ineffective as it is today. Consumers should see the benefit of this cost reduction. Now it's not automatic, it's not, the day you localize the price comes down. But you're going to have a trend toward the car becoming much more affordable, little by little.
On whether high gas prices are necessary for electric vehicles to succeed:
We did not develop this strategy only speculating on the gasoline price. We still have the emissions problem, which is serious. There is still a regulation going forward as far as fuel efficiency, and you're going to have a gasoline price that will be unmistakably on a trend going up.
When we planned the whole strategy, we were positioning the price for a barrel at $80. As you know today, we are at more than $110. It may go even higher than this. So this is not the only reason for which people move to an electric car, but this is certainly one of the reasons for which some people move.
On hybrids and PHEVs vs purely electric cars:
Fundamentally, I'm seeing really everything pointing to the direction of having a good segment of the market in the U.S. evolving toward the electric car, or I would say [the] mostly electric car. When I say mostly electric car, I'm not talking about hybrids. I'm talking about cars running mostly on electric mode and eventually we install gasoline support. But zero-emission cars, [with] no exhaust pipe, [where] you don't have to go in any way to a gas station, etc., are going to be in my opinion, the core, the heart, of the demand.
And if you want more, you can read the whole thing here.
See also: Electric LEAF was Nissan's Top Priority After Japan Earthquake, Says CEO Carlos Ghosn
Electric Vehicles a Good Environmental Choice Everywhere in US, Study Finds
Michael Graham Richard
Transportation / Cars
April 16, 2012
And They Should Get Better As the Grid Gets Cleaned Up
This is the important conclusion of a new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists and it deserves to be put right on top: "No matter where one lives in the United States, electric vehicles (EVs) are a good choice for reducing global warming emissions and saving money on fueling up." That's compared to gasoline-powered cars, of course.
We always knew that the environmental performance of electric vehicles was going to vary by region depending on what the local mix of electric sources is (ie. not the same where there's plenty of wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, etc.. than where there's only old coal plants). Of course, another big environmental goal is to clean up the power grid, so as time goes on and EVs become more mainstream, they should also become cleaner. But the regional variation still matters, and some people have long wondered if in some regions EVs made sense at all.
The UCS report, “State of Charge: Electric Vehicles’ Global Warming Emissions and Fuel Cost Savings Across the United States,” is a first-of-its-kind analysis of the emissions EVs create from charging on an electric grid and how the cost of that charging compares to filling up a gasoline-powered vehicle.
Broken down by category and divided by electric grid regions, the analysis concludes that in every part of the country, EVs outperform most gasoline-powered vehicles when it comes to global warming emissions. The analysis breaks the country into regions that are ‘good,’ ‘better,’ or ‘best’ for an EV.
In fact, nearly half (45 percent) of Americans live in ‘best’ regions where an EV has lower global warming emissions than a 50 mile per gallon (mpg) gasoline-powered vehicle, topping even the best gasoline hybrids on the market. In places like California and most of New York, EV’s environmental performance could be as high as an 80 mpg gasoline-powered vehicle.
“This report shows drivers should feel confident that owning an electric vehicle is a good choice for reducing global warming pollution, cutting fuel costs, and slashing oil consumption,” said Don Anair, the report’s author and senior engineer for UCS’s Clean Vehicles Program. “Those in the market for a new car may have been uncertain how the global warming emissions and fuel costs of EVs stack up to gasoline-powered vehicles. Now, drivers can for the first time see just how much driving an electric vehicle in their hometown will lower global warming emissions and save them money on fuel costs.”
The report also found that wherever EV owners charge their vehicles, they will also save money: "Based on electricity rates in 50 cities across the United States, the analysis found drivers can save $750 to $1,200 dollars a year compared to operating an average new compact gasoline vehicle (27 mpg) fueled with gasoline at $3.50 per gallon. Higher gas prices would mean even greater EV fuel cost savings. For each 50 cent increase in gas prices, an EV driver can expect save an extra $200 a year."
As I say, it's always better to walk, bike, or take transit. But if you are going to drive, an electric car is the best choice right now.
Check out the whole thing at the UCS.
The Cars of the Green Living Show
Transportation / Cars
April 16, 2012
Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0
Whether on the road or at a show, cars take up a lot of space. At Toronto's Green Living Show they were up front and center, a collection of the latest. I am not a car buff and didn't ask a lot of questions, but was intrigued by a few. Mike has covered many of them so enjoy the link bait.
We have devoted a lot of pixels to the Toyota plug-in electric Prius. It seems like a lot of car and a lot of weight for city cruising; it only goes 15 miles in all electric mode and then turns into a regular Prius. I don't get the point. Read more:
Toyota Unveils 2012 Prius Plug-in (87 MPGe, $32k)
Test Driving the 2012 Plug-in Electric Prius
Toyota Predicts Plug-in Prius Will Get 95 MPGe
Lloyd Alter/CC BY-NC 2.0
I do get the point of this, and am considering buying one: the new baby Prius C. It is smaller and cheaper (C$ 24,000 loaded). Toyota described it as "a "city"-centric vehicle, will appeal to young singles and couples who want an eco-sensitive, high-mileage, fun-to-drive Prius." However I think it looks middle aged boring. My wife thinks that the trunk is too small. More from Mike:
Baby Prius: The Smaller Prius C Concept (2011 Detroit Auto Show)
The Prius C is Coming to U.S. this Spring, Priced Below $19,000
Meet the 2013 Prius C Hybrid (50+ MPG in City Driving)
Lloyd Alter/CC BY-NC 2.0
What is it with the hoods being up? It's an electric car, not a Corvette, there is nothing to see. But the Mitsubishi MiEV looked "right-sized" to me for an urban runabout. I can't believe we first covered in in 2005.
MIEV: Mitsubishi Electric 4-wheel Drive Concept Car
Mitsubishi i-MiEV Electric Car Survives Crash Test (Video)
Robert Llewellyn's Gearless Update: Reviewing the MiEV and Much More (Video)
Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0
Project Eve's Kestrel is Canada's contribution to the electric fleet, a bit late to the party given that there are real electric cars that you can buy off the showroom floor now. It's a one-off prototype from a consortium of suppliers and is a real smoker, with a body made from hemp. It can fetch munchies 210 kilometers away, at 115 Km/hr.
High on Electric Cars: Canada's Cannabis Cruiser
Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0
I am sorry, but I did not think this car was pretty at all. But we have a lot of coverage of the Fisker Karma:
Fisker to Make Electric Cars in Old GM Plant (Now That's Recycling!)
Fisker Automotive Raises $3 Million Despite Recession
Bad Karma as Tesla Sues Maker of Fisker Karma
Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0
Then there is the image that says it all, two bikes on the top of a car that starts at C$90,000, takes 10 litres to go a hundred kilometres (23 MPG) and bikes don't make it better, either. This is not Green Living.
Tags: Electric Cars | Prius | Toronto
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