Saturday, January 14, 2012

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Europe’s Largest EV Fast-Charging Network Gets Green Light

Posted: 13 Jan 2012 12:58 PM PST

Europe's biggest network of fast-charge stations for electric cars will be built in Estonia by the end of 2012. The charging station model chosen for the project, the Terra 51 DC fast charger, can fill up an electric vehicle in 15-30 minutes. Estonia's plan is to space these fast chargers a maximum of 50 kilometers apart along main roads to eliminate drivers' concerns about the maximum range of their electric cars.

The growing number of electric vehicles is driving a global market opportunity for charging solutions, including sophisticated monitoring systems and software to support the electric grid. Earlier in the year, the Estonian government started its push for a better EV charging network, providing 507 Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric cars to social workers around the country. In addition, Estonia offers subsidies of up to 50 percent for private EV purchases.

"The Estonian government would like to ensure that driving an EV in Estonia is as comfortable and safe as driving any other car," said Jarmo Tuisk, director of the Innovation and Technology Division at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, which offers more information about the Electric Mobility Programme for Estonia.

Investments in Estonia's electric mobility are financed by the Green Investment Scheme, funded by the export credit agency KredEx as part of the national government's plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

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Lufthansa Declares Biofuel Trials Successful, Ceases Using Biofuel

Posted: 13 Jan 2012 12:53 PM PST

lufthansa biofuel trialsThe German airline Lufthansa has ceased its domestic trials of biofuel – but not because the trial failed. On the contrary, 1,471 tons of CO2 have been saved on over a thousand domestic flights between Frankfurt and Hamburg. Lufthansa is capping off its trial run with a transatlantic biofuel powered flight.

Burning the Biosynthetic Kerosene

The flight in question is a Boeing 747-400, from Frankfurt to Washington DC, and carrying 40 tons of a biosynthetic fuel mix. The expected CO2 emissions reduction compared to standard fuel is 38 tons. The international flight is the final step of Lufthansa's test run, which used a 50/50 mix of standard fuel and biosynthetic kerosene.

The trial ran from July to December of last year, using a total of 1,566 tons of the biokerosene mix to save 1,471 tons of CO2, and has been declared a success. Not only were carbon emissions reduced, but the higher density of the biofuels also reduced fuel consumption during flights.

Joachim Buse, vice president of aviation biofuel at Lufthansa, as reported by Business Green, spoke briefly about ending the trial:

“Our burnFAIR project went off smoothly and to our fullest satisfaction. As expected, biofuel proved its worth in daily flight operations.”

It Was Great, But No Thanks

With such positive results, one might think that Lufthansa would be switching all their flights to the biofuel mix, but that would be totally wrong. While the biofuel itself performed admirably, the problem once again comes back to sustainability.

The biofuels available to today's consumers and companies are neither sustainable nor, apparently, affordable. As reported by Business Green, Buse also noted that despite the need for emissions reduction, Lufthansa will not be using alternative fuels until they can get one that's more sustainable:

“As a next step, we will focus on the suitability, availability, sustainability and certification of raw materials. However, Lufthansa will only continue the practical trial if we are able to secure the volume of sustainable, certified raw materials required in order to maintain routine operations.”

Food, Fuel, and the Ongoing Debate

It all comes back to the question of how to cheaply and safely produce biofuels without growing energy crops on land slated for producing food. One solution suggested by the transportation industry is to supplement standard fuel with biofuel rather than replace it (which is a wishy-washy sort of compromise). Another is to develop biofuel that doesn't impinge on food production (so much easier said than done).

Any suggestions, questions, or comments? Let us know, below.

Source: Business Green | Image: Wikimedia Commons

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US Transport Industry Plotting to Put More EVs on the Road

Posted: 13 Jan 2012 12:48 PM PST

transport industry coalitionElectric cars are pretty great, for a number of reasons. They're also expensive, and there isn't a lot of infrastructure to support them (yet), but apparently a number of US transport industry stakeholders feel that the advantages are enough to kickstart a national electric vehicle demonstration project.

The project is led by the Electrification Leadership Council, which includes companies such as FedEx, Hertz, Navistar, Azure Dynamics, A123 Systems, PG&E, ECOtality, Automatiks, and GE Capital. The aim of the project is to test how well electric vehicles can integrate with the current electrical grid by focusing on a large number of EVs in city centers. The project's secondary aim is to generate and share information on communication and energy storage, as well as second-life battery applications.

United We Stand (or Something)

Several of the companies within the coalition have been acting on their own to support and promote electric vehicles; FedEx has been adding EVs to its fleet for several months, for example. However, each of the participants feels that cooperation and collaboration will be necessary to truly popularize the electric vehicle.

Russell Musgrove, Managing Director for Global Vehicles with FedEx, explained to GreenBiz:

“Collaboration is key to widespread adoption of electric vehicles; no one company can do it alone. We’re very committed to sharing the lessons we’ve learned in our EV fleet deployments to create an EV ecosystem template that is replicable anywhere.”

Mark Aubry, vice president of Navistar's eStar Electric Vehicle Brand, expressed similar feelings:

"We’ve brought together companies who have the interest and necessary resources to work together. …what is missing is an integrated infrastructure and compelling business model to bring the EV market to scale. 2012 is a make it or break it year for the electric vehicles ."

The project is also fostering ties with local and regional communities – again, the emphasis is on infrastructure, but there will also be focus on public awareness – but the first stage of the demonstration project is to simply study EV deployments for company fleets and what kind of commercial applications they do (or do not) fit.

Sites for the initial phase of the project will be announced later this year.

Comments? Questions? Let us know, below.

Source: Business Green | Image: Wikimedia Commons.

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