- How Much Can You Save Biking to Work? (New Calculator)
- Smart Bike Wins “Best of Best” Red Dot Award, Rolling Out in Europe
- Japanese Retail Investors Fund ADB Clean Energy Projects
- Power Play — German Energy Revolution Video
- 10 Most Bikeable Cities in the US… Probably
- Solar iPad Case from Wireless NRG (Actually Powers Your iPad)
- 1,000 MW of Wind Farm Projects Acquired in BC
- Wind Energy Rocks, But at an Important Crossroads (VIDEO)
- Global Atlas for Wind & Solar Energy
- Climate Bill Idea? Polled GOP Voters OK Carbon Tax Swap
Posted: 20 May 2012 10:00 AM PDT
If you’re in one of the most bikeable cities in the U.S., or even if you’re not, and you’re thinking about biking more for transportation purposes, you might get a boost from a new calculator that helps you to figure out how much you’d save by leaving your car at home and riding your bike instead.
The inputs are really straightforward and simple and I’m sure the give a decent average estimate of your savings. However, as APTA’s monthly transit savings report cards note, there’s a big difference in gas prices from city to city. Additionally, there’s a lot of variation in how much you spend on gas depending on the vehicle you drive. So, if you’re serious about getting an accurate number, you might want to use the calculator as guidance and calculate your savings on your own.
Or, as I’ve recommended before, you can just look at how much APTA says you’d save from switching to transit and add the cost of a monthly transit pass into that to calculate your savings from bicycling. You can then go ahead and subtract $0.10 per mile as the Kiplinger calculator does if you wish, though I’d be surprised if the health savings from bicycling don’t make up for that.
It would be nice if the Kiplinger calculator showed your savings in more than just the daily figure — adding in estimated monthly and yearly savings would make a stronger impact. But it’s a start. Take a look or take the suggestions above to see how much you could save by switching to bicycling!
Image: urban cyclist via Shutterstock
Posted: 20 May 2012 07:30 AM PDT
Jo Borras wrote about the Smart Bike back in August (yep, same company as the eScooter I posted about yesterday and the more well known Smart Car). The Smart Bike is an electric bike with what many think is a sweet and practical design, including, it seems, people in the know.
The Smart Bike recently won the “Best of the Best” Red Dot Award for its high-quality design.
Image Credits: © Daimler & screenshot of video above
Posted: 20 May 2012 07:03 AM PDT
Looming expiration of key renewable energy production and investment tax credits in the U.S. and reduction of Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs) in leading European markets has industry participants searching for alternative means of financing clean, renewable energy projects and installations. There are signs that there’s healthy demand on the part of retail and professional private sector investors, particularly in Japan, in helping finance the transition to clean, renewable energy.
This past week the Asian Development Bank (ADB) sold $339 million worth of a multi-currency series of Clean Energy bonds through Japan-based Nomura International to help finance its renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in the Asia-Pacific region.
Interest rates and bond yields have been very low in Japan for decades, and Japanese investment banks have been successful in selling bonds denominated in higher-yielding foreign currencies to Japan’s retail investors. Through Nomura, ADB last week sold Australian $15.3 million of Clean Energy bonds with 4-year maturities, Brazilian real 147 million of 3-year bonds and Turkish lira 452 million of 3-year bonds.
Key Players in Developing Markets for Clean Energy Finance
Supranational financial institutions such as the World Bank and its regional counterparts have played formative, critical roles in establishing new markets for financial assets that fund their economic and social development initiatives.
ADB exceeded its 2013 goal of making $2 billion a year in clean energy investments in the Asia-Pacific region last year. Its total clean energy investment portfolio totaled some $2.1 billion as of year-end 2011.
Last week’s clean energy bond issue was the second for ADB. In September 2010, ADB raised some $232 million of investment capital via its inaugural Clean Energy bond issue.
Like last week’s sale, ADB’s first series of Clean Energy bonds was denominated in a range of currencies and sold to Japanese retail investors. Four tranches of bonds were sold: 4-year Australian dollar bonds; 7-year Brazilian real bonds; and 7-year Turkish lira bonds. HSBC Securities (Japan) was the lead underwriter, while a syndicate of more than 20 investment banks participated in selling them.
Clean Energy Transition Hinges on Developments in Asia
Rapid industrialization and population growth make Asian countries pivotal, key players in making a successful transition from carbon-based to renewable, clean energy economies. It’s demand from much faster growing developing economies that’s driving up fossil fuel use, carbon dioxide (CO2) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, increasing the risks and costs of accelerating environmental degradation and climate change.
Though per-capita energy consumption in developed economies is orders of magnitude higher than that in even the fastest growing developing countries, fossil fuel demand in industrialized countries is leveling off and even declining. Energy efficiency rates in developed countries is also far higher in developed countries as compared to their developing counterparts.
Asia accounted for about 27% of worldwide energy consumption as of 2007, and that percentage is on the rise. It’s expected to surpass 40% by 2050, according to ADB, as the region's population grows and economies and disposable incomes rise. Even as economic development continues at a rapid pace, some 700 million people in Asia still do not have access modern sources of electricity, however, ADB notes.
Posted: 20 May 2012 07:00 AM PDT
The German village Schönau forced the grid operator to sell its local grid to them decades ago. Now, that village has become a renewable energy leader. As you can see in the video below, it’s a major producer of renewable energy. One of the pioneers there also has a wicked little electric vehicle that’s a must see.
The video also features the village of Feldheim, reportedly the first of many German villages that have gone 100% renewable for their electricity. The village, unlike many, however, is completely independent from the national grid.
Before watching the video though, Renewable International’s Craig Morris makes some important comments on translation and feed-in tariffs:
OK, and here, at last, is the video:
Posted: 20 May 2012 05:30 AM PDT
Of course, developing a ranking system for such modes of transport is difficult — different assumptions can give you wildly different results. Nonetheless, I think WalkScore has done quite a good job of it, based on my experiences biking in various US cities, the methodology WalkScore used, and my experience focusing on this topic in graduate school and professionally.
But to the rankings…. Here’s WalkScore’s Top 10 ranking (Beta):
And here’s a little more info on the methodology used:
Bicycle trips in 2011 were more than double what they were in 2009. Hopefully, as more cities approach the bikeability of these 10 cities, and these cities improve their bikeability, that number will double again very soon.
Posted: 20 May 2012 05:00 AM PDT
“The case is made of a hard, biodegradable corn-based plastic and features solar panels on the front cover that generate energy from indoor and outdoor light sources,” Megan Treacy of TreeHugger notes. “The solar panels charge the case’s built-in battery, which in turn slowly trickles energy to your iPad, topping it off and letting it go up to 10 days before it needs to be recharged (based on two hours of use per day).”
And, the KudoCase can also charge other devices via its USB port (see above).
One more nifty feature: if you can’t find your iPad, you can just whistle and it will beep (of course, you have to know how to whistle for that).
The current price is $189.95 and the case comes in black, gray, green, pink, and blue. Although, currently, it seems that every color is out of stock.
What do you think? Are you sold? Going to buy yourself a KudoCase as soon as they are in stock again?
Images: © Wireless NRG
Posted: 20 May 2012 04:30 AM PDT
“This transaction further positions us to play a major role in B.C.’s clean energy future. We look forward to advancing and ultimately building these wind projects as a part of the continued growth of Alterra and British Columbia,” said John Carson, Alterra’s Chief Executive Officer. (Source: Power-Eng.com)
Construction at the sites could be several years away, and power purchasing agreements still need to be signed with British Columbia Hydro & Power Authority.
Alterra Power Corp. operates a number of river hydro facilities and British Columbia’s largest wind farm. Dokie is their wind power facility, employing 48 Vestas V90 wind turbines with a generating capacity of about 73 MW. It was built over 13 months and cost $228 million. This project could be expanded to a capacity of 156 MW, as plans currently have determined. The company also operates two geothermal plants in Iceland and one in Nevada.
If you are wondering where some of the four new sites are, Banks Island is over five hundred miles north of Vancouver, and McCauley Island is just east of Banks; Porcher Island is about twenty miles north of Banks; and all these sites are south of Prince Rupert. This area is known for its natural beauty and wildlife. Salmon fishing, in particular, is one of the main draws for visitors.
Image Credit: Alterra Power, Dokie Wind Farm
Posted: 20 May 2012 04:00 AM PDT
Wind energy is a big economic driver, as our readers know. It’s also a huge and growing source of electricity in many places now, as you know. But it’s under serious threat from an extreme branch of one political party. This terrific video below from Peter Sinclair, his “Renewable Energy Solution of the Month” video, puts all this out there in a wonderful format that I wish I had more skills in — video.
As always, Peter has found some excellent clips, quotes, stats, images, and more. And, as always, he’s put them together in an excellent sequence and style. Anyway, enough of the text(!), here’s the video:
Source: Climate Denial Crock of the Week
Posted: 19 May 2012 04:28 PM PDT
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have launched a new online solar and wind atlas project — the Global Atlas for Solar and Wind Energy project.
“The Global Atlas for Solar and Wind Energy project aims to create a collaborative internet-based Geographic Information System (GIS) of these renewable resources that can direct and enhance cooperation on global scenarios and strategies and support decision-making, especially in areas where this information in insufficiently known,” the IRENA page for the atlas states.
“IRENA is playing a lead role in the creation of the Atlas, by working with other international institutions, initially UNEP to provide financial and in-kind resources to the process, but to also ensure that the end-user needs are fulfilled, especially those of Member States, and the programme achieves its maximum impact on deployment of renewable energy technologies.”
Here’s more on the need for and potential of the atlas from IRENA:
It seems that the atlas will be located here when it’s complete, but there’s no indication of when that might be.
“Once the platform gets going, it could finally put IRENA in the foreground as a source of information for renewables,” Craig Morris of Renewables International notes. “Launched in 2009, the organization has mainly drawn attention to itself for all of the trouble it has had getting started. Last April, IRENA held its first general assembly, which was largely concerned with specifying who was to be the first elected director-general after the first one stepped down in protest.”
Posted: 19 May 2012 03:47 PM PDT
Comment sections of sites like ours are strewn with the kneejerk response of Republicans when asked to confront and help fix climate change. No! No! Hoax! Lalala! It’s all about tax! Big Government! Conspiracy! UN control!
So you might think that a carbon tax to cut greenhouse gas emissions is the last thing that could pass our congress. But deep in a recent poll is a very encouraging response to a question about reducing carbon by a carbon tax, if it is paired with a corresponding reduction in income tax.
This shows a new way to get Republicans to share in taking the responsibility needed for developing the climate policy that must be developed to maintain a climate that we can all stand to survive in. So it is a very encouraging result, and one that I hope that policy makers in congress take a careful look at.
Zach covered the poll when it came out from Yale last month. One question struck me as showing a way forward on climate policy.
Here is that actual question as posed by the pollsters, and it even includes a definition to make it really clear what it is – a tax swap that is truly revenue neutral.
“Would you be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who supports legislation to reduce the federal income tax that Americans pay each year, but increase taxes on coal, oil, and natural gas by an equal amount? This tax shift would be “revenue neutral” (meaning the total amount of taxes collected by the government would stay the same), and would create jobs and decrease pollution”.
Of Republicans polled 51% would support or strongly support such a candidate, along with 74% of Democrats.
Now, just in case you think the polling group must have been skewed, other questions got more predictable responses.
“How much do you support or oppose the building of the Keystone XL pipeline?” Even while supporting taxation to cut carbon dioxide, 87% of these same Republicans support or strongly support building the Keystone pipeline, along with 50% of the Democrats. So these truly are fairly typical Republicans in the polled group.
And just in case you might think they only heard the “lower my taxes” part of the question, they also responded in a way that is consistent with that response, to the question “Do you support or strongly support regulating carbon dioxide (the primary greenhouse gas) as a pollutant; 67% of the Republicans answered yes, along with 84% of the Democrats.
Republican voters have been regularly ousting their congress members who’ve ever voted for all of the Democratic clean energy and climate bills for decades till now. Gone are Senators Lincoln Chafee, Gordon Smith, Norman Coleman, Arlen Specter who all previously voted with Democrats on sensible and responsible climate policy proposals. Only Senators Susan Collins and Cynthia Snowe remained unscathed.
But congress has not yet proposed swapping a carbon tax that would displace income tax. It is an idea that Al Gore suggested a few years ago in a famous hearing before Senators Boxer and Inhofe.
Given that his proposed BTU tax in 1993 (which exempted clean energy BTUs) set off the carbon lobby in a fury that has not abated in the two and a half decades since, no one has dared suggest a straight carbon tax since. But perhaps, by devising a way to swap it in an income tax cut, Republican voters can overpower the influence of the carbon lobby on their representatives in congress?
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