- Revenge of The Electric Car: Interview with Director Chris Paine
- 10 Cleantech Consumer Products & Services
- Fun, Green Vehicle from Top Formula 1 Designer (VIDEO)
- iPhone App to Help You Save Energy at Home
- $500 Billion in Fossil Fuel Subsidies; Removing Them Would Boost Growth & Revenues, Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions: OECD
- World Bank Bringing Solar Power to Over 1 Million Homes, Shops in Rural Bangladesh
Posted: 17 Nov 2011 03:33 PM PST
Environmental filmmaker Chris Paine has documented much of the modern history of electric vehicles in America. Five years ago, his film "Who Killed the Electric Car" accused U.S. automakers of killing EV development in the 1990's by declaring them unprofitable and stifling battery development.
But now EVs are showing up on roads across the country, and Paine is out with a new movie declaring them back from the dead. Anchor Thalia Assuras interviewed Paine at his home and to hear about "Revenge of the Electric Car" and the future of EVs in America. You can watch the full interview below:
Paine had unprecedented access to auto manufacturers and their CEOs, including General Motors' Bob Lutz, Nissan's Carlos Ghosn, and Tesla's Elon Musk. Much like consumers, Paine thinks the shift in automakers' attitudes toward EVs has more to do with economics than with going green. "The core reason of the electric car has nothing to do with the environment, it has to do with not importing oil," said Paine.
Paine thinks that as oil prices have risen, consumers have sought more affordable transportation options. In his view, automakers made their u-turn toward EVs when they saw a market opportunity. "Carlos (Ghosn) is not an environmentalist," he said. "He's about the spreadsheet and the numbers."
Even though Big Auto has gotten involved in the EV business, industry can't succeed on its own, says Paine. "You have to have the government leading this," he said. "You're talking about…trying to break into a monopoly industry that's a hundred years old – you've got to incent this technology or it won't happen."
Federal tax credits make it possible for EVs to compete with gasoline-powered cars while automakers work to bring down battery and technology costs, said Paine. "The Leaf is $32,000, and there's a $7,500 tax credit, and in California, there was a $2,500 to $5,000 credit," he said. "The Leaf we have, and I paid full retail price for it, ended up costing about $24,000."
Another hurdle to consumer acceptance of EVs, range anxiety, will soon be a speck in the EV rear-view mirrors, says Paine. He points to the Chevy Volt's ability to run on battery power with a gasoline backup as a way to alleviate driver anxiety, and thinks charging infrastructure will continue to spread like it has in Europe, where companies are building parking meters that double as charging stations.
While Paine is an unabashed EV booster, his positive outlook toward the technology comes from his personal life. He owns three EVs (a Tesla Roadster, Nissan Leaf, and Chevy Volt), and charges his home and vehicles with rooftop solar panels. His solar system provides 100 percent of the juice he needs for his cars, hot water, and home in the summer, and 60 percent in the winter.
Even though solar charging is key to realizing the environmental potential of EVs, says Paine, they're still an environmental asset even if charging with electricity from the grid. "The issue is the word zero emissions – that's the ideal of what they can be, if you have solar power," he said. "I think the fact that you're guaranteed 50 percent less emissions is, 100 percent improvement."
Posted: 17 Nov 2011 10:00 AM PST
Some more cool cleantech consumer products or news about consumer products:
Photo Credit: Dartz
Posted: 17 Nov 2011 07:30 AM PST
Below is the last “Energy Opportunites” video I’ve been meaning to share. This one is of Gordon Murray. Gordon was a “car designer and winner, with McLaren, of five Formula One championships and 50 Grand Prixs.” No small feat. He was McLaren’s F1 Head Designer, but he’s turned to creating greener cars and features the T27 in the video below. His T25 (designed first, of course) was gas-powered, but achieved nearly 100mpg on the Brighton to London future cars rally. The T27, which is apparently featured for the first time in the video below, adds an electric motor, is cheap, and is green in a number of unique ways. Check it out:
Posted: 17 Nov 2011 07:00 AM PST
Envirolytics, a Canadian mobile software company with a green vein, has created a pretty cool-looking iPhone app that helps you to save energy (donate an iPhone and I’ll be happy to test it out for you).
The iViro Home Energy Analysis Tool helps you to conduct your own home energy analysis, gives you a breakdown of your home's energy consumption, and list the most profitable energy saving retrofits you can conduct. The iPhonne app gives you actual savings estimates for implementing those retrofits, as well as emissions reductions estimates.
“iViro uses advanced cloud based home energy modeling software to accurately calculate energy usage and cost estimates based on the user provided information,” the company stated in an email to CleanTechnica. “The system is designed to be used by people with no prior technical background in order to appeal to a large audience.”
Posted: 17 Nov 2011 01:39 AM PST
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Doing so would also give a big boost to financially strapped governments at a time when many are in dire, or near dire, need of improving their finances.Removing fossil fuel subsidies would boost economic growth and make energy markets much more efficient, not to mention all the good that would result in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study and policy report from the
In order to realize this aim, the OECD has published a groundbreaking report based on International Energy Agency (IEA) data that for the first time provides detailed information on more than 250 fossil fuel subsidy mechanisms. Entitled, “Inventory of Estimated Budgetary Support and Tax Expenditures for Fossil Fuels," the publication will be update regularly and expanded over time to cover additional countries and subsidy mechanisms.
At Least Half a Trillion Dollars of Fossil Fuel Subsidies
Some $500 billion of government and taxpayer funding went to subsidize fossil fuel production and consumption in 2010, according to the OECD. That’s despite G-20 leaders pledging in 2009 to phase-out energy subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption, reduce our energy security and undermine efforts to deal with the threat of climate change,” according to an OECD press release. Reform efforts have been hindered by a lack of information on the amount and nature of fossil fuel energy subsidies, particularly in developed countries that make up almost all of the OECD’s 34-nation membership, the organizations noted.
Moreover, fossil fuel subsidies often fail in achieving their touted benefits, noted OECD Secretary-General and IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven. Rather than alleviating energy poverty or fostering economic development, they often result in wasteful energy use, add to volatility in energy and fuel prices, cause extensive environmental damage, encourage fuel smuggling and stifle competition from cleaner, renewable energy alternatives.
Removing Fossil Fuel Subsidies: Benefits Abound
The OECD’s latest analysis shows that phasing out subsidies to fossil-fuel consumption alone could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6% in 2050 compared with a business as usual scenario, while at the same time increasing economic efficiency.
Doing so would also stimulate renewable energy and energy efficiency investment, growth and job creation, while also providing a big boost to public finances, as governments across the OECD, and wider world, struggle to support economies wracked by the latest financial crisis and recession, as well as the sharply rising costs of more frequent extreme weather.
The OECD provides a country-by-country breakdown of fossil fuel subsidies included in its report. An interactive map shows fossil fuel consumption subsidy rates as a proportion of the full cost of supply as of 2010.
Progress and Keys to Successfully Phasing Out Fossil Fuel Subsidies
Thankfully, there are some signs of progress, the OECD notes: nearly half of the countries identified by the IEA as artificially lowering the price of energy to below the full cost of supply have taken steps since the since the beginning of 2010 to rationalize energy prices.
"While this is an encouraging start, much work remains to be done in order to realize the full extent of benefits. It is crucial that countries follow through on their commitments by implementing reforms that are well-designed and durable," IEA executive director van der Hoeven said.
The OECD reviewed some of the strategies that governments are using to successfully phase out fossil fuel subsidies. They highlight key elements that are keys to their success:
• Available and transparent data are essential to inform objective discussion.
"For this to succeed, we need well-targeted, transparent and time-bound programs to assist poor households and energy workers who might be adversely affected in the short-term. OECD and IEA data and analysis can help guide the process."
Posted: 16 Nov 2011 10:35 PM PST
Only around 1/3 of rural residents in Bangladesh have access to electricity. Some 16 million homes have yet to be connected to an electricity grid. That’s changing fast with help from the World Bank.
On October 4, the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) approved a $172 million credit facility to support installation of solar power and other renewable energy ‘mini-grid’ systems for as many as 630,000 more homes in rural Bangladesh.
The funds add to the IDA’s Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development Project (RERED) in Bangladesh, which aims to install solar power systems on more than 1 million rural Bangladeshi homes and businesses by 2012. This latest financing follows an additional $130 million the World Bank awarded RERED in December, 2009.
More than 300,000 solar home systems have already been installed via the IDA’s RERED program. The latest IDA credit facility has a 40-year term to maturity with a 10-year grace period and carries a 0.75% service charge.
RERED in Bangladesh, and Around the World
On the ground in Bangladesh, the program’s being carried out by the Infrastructure Development Co. (IDCOL), a financial institution owned by the Bangladeshi government. Partner organizations, primarily non-profit NGOs, install the solar power systems.
"More than a million homes and shops in remote areas have installed solar home systems with support from the World Bank and other development partners. Such systems are the most suitable for remote and dispersed communities which the grid connection cannot reach." said Ellen Goldstein, World Bank country director for Bangladesh in a press release.
"The solar home systems have already improved the quality of life of millions of people in Bangladesh and provided opportunities for new village enterprises.''
The IDA’s RERED program is helping bring clean, renewable energy and rural economic development Afghanistan, Cambodia, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Yemen, as well as Bangladesh.
The IDA program’s been up and running for a decade in Bangladesh. In addition to financing installation of solar power systems, it funds grid connection efforts.
It’s also helped design and implement an energy efficiency program, the Efficient Lighting Initiative, that set set a one-day record by distributing 5 million compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) in a single day, potentially reducing electricity demand by 50 megawatts (MW). The IDA helped Bangladesh obtain Carbon Financing for the project and is working with the government to build CFL manufacturing facilities to meet replacement CFL demand.
For more on growing use of solar power and renewable energy around the world, check out:
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