Thursday, July 5, 2012

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

Ted Turner & Southern Company Buy 20-MW Solar Project

Posted: 05 Jul 2012 11:59 AM PDT

Ted Turner (or Turner Renewable Energy) and Southern Company have teamed up to acquire and put on line a 20-MW solar photovoltaic power plant in Nevada, the Apex Solar Project.

The project was built by SunEdison. “Construction of the solar array began in October 2011 and commercial operation is expected during the third quarter of 2012. The project will consist of approximately 88,000 poly-crystalline solar modules provided by Trina Solar.”

For more info, check out: Southern Company and Ted Turner Acquire Second Solar Photovoltaic Power Project.

Installation of 500,000 German PV Solar Systems (Video)

Posted: 05 Jul 2012 11:27 AM PDT

This is an awesome, short video of the first big, industrial-scale push towards solar energy in human history. The video used geo-referenced data to visualize the installation of 500,000 PV solar systems all over Germany between January 2009 and September 2011. Since Germany is currently the epicenter of this global solar revolution, it's perhaps the most dramatic look at the short period in time during which the solar capacity of the world has quadrupled.

I don't know if future history books will tell of this development. As a solar energy enthusiast, I can't help but wonder: Will this effort by thousands of independent small and large investors one day be remembered as one of those moments in history that precluded a massive change in human history?

Only time will tell.

Enjoy the short video! (Listen to some music if you like, as it is mute.)

Lower Taxes + Lower Carbon Emissions = Possibility?

Posted: 05 Jul 2012 11:19 AM PDT

A carbon emission tax (or a similar cap & trade program) has been instituted in many European nations, Australia, and Canada. In Washington, mentioning the word "TAX" and "CARBON", is anathema to political suicide.

But let's try to look at the glass half full. What if we could reduce carbon emissions and the corporate income tax rate simultaneously? Huh? That is as strange a pairing as Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow partying together for a weekend in Cabo.

Well, in British Columbia, it is happening. And not only is it happening, but last Sunday the government actually raised the tax from $25 to $30 per metric ton of carbon dioxide, making it more expensive to pollute. With this revenue, the corporate tax rate has just been lowered from 12% to 10%.

Here is how it works:

By replacing a carbon tax for taxes on payroll, on businesses, or on workers is a no brainer — that’s what this does. Additionally, carbon taxes reduce carbon emissions. So, in this scenario, both sides of numerous political “debates” get something. The progressives get a reduction of something harmful to the environment, and the conservatives get a reduction in corporate and personal tax rates. This carbon tax swap can reduce the economic drag created by our current tax system and increase long-run growth by nudging the economy away from consumption and borrowing and toward saving and investment.

It sounds too good to be true, so lets look at the numbers in more detail:

If the US were to apply the same $30 carbon tax, it would generate approximately $145 billion a year. With this revenue, corporate and personal income taxes could be reduced to 10%, costing a total of about $100 billion, with $45 billion left over. This $45 billion could be used to pay down debt or fund causes for either political party.

Of course, a carbon tax would decline over time, as the country reduces carbon emissions, but this could take decades and, in the mean time, it could pay for big reductions in existing taxes. Furthermore, it could instigate energy conservation and facilitate investment into clean fuel technology.

In order for this idea to come to fruition, we need political courage and a paradigm shift in the corporate sector from “profits” to “responsibility.”

Finally, the carbon tax would provide Americans more control of their tax destiny. By creating a revenue-neutral (or even revenue-positive) tax swap, it is an opportunity to reduce existing taxes and clean up the environment. It would increase personal freedom and energy security at the same time.

Scott Raybin @greensavingsco

Ancient Fungus Ended Coal Formation, Could Boost Biofuel Production

Posted: 05 Jul 2012 04:10 AM PDT


In an ironic twist, genomics researchers have stumbled upon an incredible discovery – the same ancestral fungus that ended coal formation millennia ago may now be able to boost biofuel and bioenergy production.

The proposal, recently presented by a team of 71 researchers from 12 countries including the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI), may have identified what ended the development of coal deposits from fossilized plant remains 360-300 million years ago during the Carboniferous period.

Coal as an energy source is incredibly unique – combining one of the most potent available combinations of stored energy with the largest concentration of harmful emissions. But this uniqueness was entirely due to the absence of fungi capable of breaking down the lignin polymer that kept plant cell walls rigid enough to prevent decay.

Over millions of years, this "unbreakable" plant material converted into peat and then coal, and eventually launched both the Industrial Revolution and modern global warming. But, suddenly (geologically speaking), the development of new coal deposits came to a hard stop around 290 million years ago.

The DOE JGI researchers theorize this change was likely the result of the development and spread of an ancestor of Agaricomycetes, or white rot fungus, which could break down the great bulk of plant biomass into basic chemical components and release the stored carbon into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

So, basically, we have white rot fungus to thank for limiting the Earth's coal deposits and limiting the amount of carbon dioxide, mercury, and other greenhouse gases that can be emitted into the atmosphere. Good job, Agaricomycetes!

While the discovery is meaningful for people concerned about climate change, it may hold the key to increasing biofuel production from feedstocks that are currently infeasible for conversion via fermentation. "The 12 new genome sequences could serve as potential resources for industrial microbiologists aiming to develop new tools for producing biofuels," said project leader David Hibbett of Clark University.

But increasing biofuel production isn't the limit for this discovery. Because enzymes from white rot fungi can break down complex organic molecules, researchers think they could ultimately be used in bioremediation operations to remove hazardous contaminants from the environment.

If this theory holds true, it could mean an exponential increase in the ability to reduce emissions from transportation fuels and clean hazardous waste. But white rot could be the tip of the iceberg.

"There's an estimated 1.5 million species of fungi, we have names for about 100,000 species, and we're looking at 1,000 fungi in this project," said researcher Joseph Spatafora. ""We're trying to learn even more to gain a better idea of fungal metabolism and the potential to harness fungi for a number of applications, including bioenergy."

Source: Green Car Congress
Fallen tree image via Shutterstock

Stanford Scientists Breathe New Life Into Old Edison Battery

Posted: 05 Jul 2012 04:00 AM PDT

Via sister site Green Building Elements, here’s some recent news on an old battery technology and its potential use in electric vehicles or for storing electricity produced from wind turbines and solar panels. What do you battery experts think of this one?

Stanford Scientists Spark New Interest in the Old Edison Battery (via

Stanford University scientists have breathed new life into the nickel-iron battery, a rechargeable technology developed by Thomas Edison more than a century ago. Designed in the early 1900s to power electric vehicles, the Edison battery largely went out of favor in the mid-1970s. Today only a handful…

How to Charge Your Electric Car | Electric Vehicle Charging

Posted: 05 Jul 2012 02:40 AM PDT

electric vehicle battery charging

Here’s an interesting guest post on a basic, but important, electric vehicle topic we haven’t spent a lot of time discussing — hope you find it interesting and useful:

What You Need to Know About Charging Your Electric Car at Home

Electric cars evoke a sense of refined simplicity — no gray exhaust, no gasoline spills — just the quiet hum of an electric motor. We like to think of them as larger versions of the remote-controlled cars we played with as children, but unlike those toy cars, electric vehicles are complex, expensive machines. They require maintenance and care that may include anything from computer firmware updates to specific charging requirements. Since electric cars are an emerging technology, the standard for vehicle charging is still being developed. We'll cover some of the existing vehicle charging methods below, and go over which are best for charging your electric car.

How vehicle chargers work

A vehicle charger (the mechanism that controls the charging process) is located inside the vehicle, and performs two critical functions:

  • Charges the car battery
  • Monitors the battery as it is being charged, and stops the process if the battery is damaged

Certain vehicle chargers have more complex monitoring capabilities than others, such as battery temperature, which allows the vehicle to charge as quickly as possible without overheating the battery. These chargers can receive an electrical current from a variety of sources depending on the vehicle. We'll look at those next.

Methods and equipment

  • Standard electrical outlets: Many electric cars can simply be plugged into a standard electrical outlet that can be found in any home. The common home outlet puts out 120 volts of electricity, which is a relatively small amount considering what's needed to charge an electric car battery. A car plugged into a 120-volt outlet can take as many as 12 hours to fully charge. Most houses are also equipped with 240-volt outlets. These are the larger outlets usually used to power washing machines and clothes driers. Whichever voltage you use for charging, the only equipment you'll need is a heavy duty extension cord.
  • Charging stations: While a 120-volt electrical outlet will eventually charge your electric car, most manufacturers recommend that you buy and install a vehicle charging station at home. The station usually requires a dedicated circuit, and costs around $2,000 including installation. Using a higher voltage electrical current, a vehicle charging station can charge an electric car in half the time.

If you think an electric car may be right for you, be sure to spend time researching the costs and limitations of the vehicle you're interested in before making a decision. Electric cars, and any other new vehicle, should always be covered by full coverage car insurance. That way you're sure that your investment in new technology is protected in the event of an accident. To find affordable insurance, compare several auto insurance quotes before deciding on a provider.

Image: electric vehicle battery charging via Shutterstock

Top 10 Bicycling Cities (Highest Bike Commute Rates)

Posted: 05 Jul 2012 02:34 AM PDT

I don’t think we’ve ever shared this list, and the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) just recently updated its page on these cities, adding a graph and some more info, so it seems like a good time to share it.

Before getting to the list, some important or interesting points to make:

  • Bicycle commute rates across the US, in general, increased 39% from 2000 to 2010.
  • Commuters who used the bicycle as their main mode of transport still represented just 0.5% of all commuters in the US.
  • Increases in bicycle commuter rates were biggest in the 38 largest “Bicycle-Friendly Communities” (BFC) — 77% growth — and in the 70 largest US cities — 63% growth. (See graph below.)
  • “A look at the country’s 70 largest cities shows that the communities that have done the most to promote bicycling through engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation — determined by the League’s Bicycle Friendly America program – have seen greater increases in bike commuting over the past decade than non-Bicycle Friendly Communities,” LAB writes.
  • “Since 2005, the 38 Bicycle Friendly Communities among the 70 largest cities saw a 95 percent average increase in bicycle commuting. In contrast, the 32 non-Bicycle Friendly Communities (among the largest 70) grew 46 percent. Since 2000, large Bicycle Friendly Communities grew 78 percent, compared to 55 percent for large non-BFCs.”

Now, the top cities!

  1. Davis, CA — 22.1%
  2. Boulder, CO — 9.9%
  3. Eugene, OR — 8.3%
  4. Berkeley, CA — 8.0%
  5. Cambridge, MA — 6.8%
  6. Santa Barbara, CA — 6.4%
  7. Madison, WI — 6.0%
  8. Gainesville, FL — 6.0%
  9. Portland, OR — 6.0%
  10. Iowa City, IA — 5.6%

And, if you happen to be curious about the top 10 large US cities, here they are:

  1. Portland, OR — 6.0%
  2. Seattle, WA — 3.6%
  3. San Francisco, CA — 3.5%
  4. Minneapolis, MN — 3.5%
  5. Washington, DC — 3.1%
  6. Tucson, AZ — 3.0%
  7. Sacramento, CA — 2.5%
  8. Denver, CO — 2.2%
  9. Tampa, FL — 1.9%
  10. Philadelphia, PA; Oakland, CA; New Orleans, LA — 1.8%

You can view more city-by-city details at those links above as well, like bicycle commuter growth rates, percentage of bicycle commuters who are male or female, absolute numbers of bike commuters, BFC statuses, and more.

Connect with me on Google+ or your favorite social networking site.

Source: LAB
Image Credit: Bikes Belong 

30-MW and 20-MW Solar Power Projects for China (in Xinjiang Region)

Posted: 05 Jul 2012 02:30 AM PDT

Xinjiang china

As just noted the other day, China has upped its solar power goals again. Here’s one big solar power project that will help it get to its new goal of 21 GW of solar by 2015:

“The government of Bole city, Bortala Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang, China recently signed an agreement with Hubei-based JCS Solar for a 6 billion yuan (US$948 million) photovoltaic project to be located next to the area’s Sayram Lake,” Liu Yuanyuan writes. “Construction of the 13 million square-meter facility is expected to take three years. Phase I of the project is expected to yield 30-MW of capacity and connect to the grid when completed by the end of October 2012.”

And here’s another, also from Yuanyuan (via Renewable Energy World):

“Datang Xinjiang Power Generation Company received approvals in May for the construction of two projects, the 20-MW Hami Phase I solar power project and the 20-MW Bohu, Bazhou Phase I solar power project from the Development and Reform Commission of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Phase I of the Hami project received an investment of 267 million yuan (US$41.9 million), and Phase I of the Bohu, Bazhou project attracted an investment of 251 million yuan (US$39.4 million).”

I presume a lot more projects like these are in the works, and imagine we’ll be seeing more such announcements in the months to come.

Connect with me on Google+ or your favorite social networking site.

Image Credit: Xinjiang Canyon in China via Shutterstock

NJ Solar May Rise Again — “Resurrection Bill” Passed

Posted: 05 Jul 2012 02:00 AM PDT

nj solar panels

New Jersey (NJ) had the most new solar power installed of any state in the US in the first quarter of 2012. It’s the #2 state in the US for total cumulative solar power capacity. Shocking for those who don’t follow the industry, I’m sure, but it’s in that position for a reason — it has generally had very strong solar policies support solar power installation and countless jobs.

Now, the policies supporting solar were recently on the verge of falling out the bottom, and new solar along with it, but the latest news is that NJ policymakers have saved the job-creating clean energy industry.

“New Jersey’s General Assembly approved the substitution for S-1925 (A-2966), and the Senate just approved the amendments,” Eric Wesoff of Greentech Media writes. “This piece of solar legislation, which has been referred to as the ‘resurrection bill’ for solar in New Jersey, could sustain solar project development and job growth at a healthy rate in the Garden State.”



How NJ Solar Has Boomed

More on how the NJ solar market has become so strong:

“More than many other major markets, New Jersey's solar status is influenced by political will and extensive renewable energy policy rather than abundant solar resources. The solar renewable energy credit (SREC) market in the state drives a significant amount of capacity installation — credits are created through a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) which requires that a certain amount of energy generated in the state comes from solar. The price of SRECs is determined by the supply of solar generation and the demand to meet New Jersey's RPS requirements.”

And why it was under threat:

“SREC pricing has dropped precipitously in the last year.”

How the New Legislation Would Help

The legislation would accelerate the state’s solar electricity mandate, or Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), solving that problem to a degree.

“This bill will go a long way toward shoring up the New Jersey market beginning in Energy Year 2014,” Shayle Kann, VP of GTM Research, said. ”That said, it will not save the market from the increasingly drastic oversupply in the near term. We continue to expect a slowdown in installations in the second half of 2012, but this legislation means we could begin to see a resumption of growth in late 2013.”

“The bill could double the megawatts of solar installed in New Jersey in the next few years,” Wesoff writes.

“Solar advocates argue the bill will eventually save consumers up to $1 billion because the measure dramatically scales back payments made by power suppliers if they cannot buy solar credits needed to comply with the state's solar mandates,” NJ Spotlight writes.

Image Credit: NJ solar panel field courtesy Shutterstock

Next-Gen Solar Cells Receive Efficiency Boost from Graphene

Posted: 04 Jul 2012 10:58 PM PDT


Graphene, a greatly promising new nanomaterial, may be able to substantially boost the efficiency of the next generation of solar panels, according to new research from Michigan Technological University.

Graphene is a two-dimensional, one-atom-thick honeycomb of carbon atoms. It’s a much-hyped material because of its unique and radical properties, potentially allowing for great innovation and improvements in efficiency across a wide variety of fields. CleanTechnica has posted numerous stories on graphene in recent years.

One of its most interesting properties is its electrical conductivity, which could make it an important part of the next generation of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells.

Dye-sensitized solar cells use common and relatively inexpensive materials, making them cheaper than solar cells based on silicon and thin-film technologies. But they do not work as well as silicon-based cells at converting light into electricity.

“In dye-sensitized solar cells, photons knock electrons from the dye into a thin layer of titanium dioxide, which relays them to the anode. The researchers found that adding graphene to the titanium dioxide increased its conductivity, bringing 52.4 percent more current into the circuit.”



“The excellent electrical conductivity of graphene sheets allows them to act as bridges, accelerating electron transfer from the titanium dioxide to the photoelectrode,” said Yun Hang Hu, a professor of materials science and engineering.

The researchers also created a “comparably foolproof method for creating sheets of titanium dioxide embedded with graphene. It first made graphite oxide powder, then mixed it with titanium dioxide to form a paste, spread it on a substrate (such as glass) and then baked it a high temperatures.”

“It’s low-cost and very easy to prepare,” said Hu. But not just any recipe will do. “If you use too much graphene, it will absorb the light in the solar cell and reduce its efficiency,” he said.

The researchers presented a talk on their work, “Graphene for Solar Cells,” at the US-Egypt Joint Workshop on Solar Energy Systems, held March 12-14 in Cairo. It was funded by the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund and the National Science Foundation.

Source and Image: Michigan Tech

Germany Sets a New Solar Power Record – 14.7 TWh in 6 months

Posted: 04 Jul 2012 03:35 PM PDT


German solar power producers have once again set a new world record in solar energy production by pumping 14.7 TWh of electricity into the power grid during the first 6 months of 2012. That’s 4.5% of the total power production during that period. Considering that solar power isn’t baseload power, those TWh's came in the form of valuable peak-load power covering 10-50% of peak demand every day.

This record also represents a 50% increase over solar power production during the same period in 2011, something that becomes shockingly obvious considering that photovoltaic power produced a total of 19 TWh's during the 12 months of 2011.

While the approximately 1.2 million "solar power plants" owned by households and businesses are producing clean energy from sunshine in record numbers, new solar systems are also being installed throughout the country. Between January and April, another 73,756 solar power systems with a combined capacity of 2,328 MW were installed, according to numbers published by the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency). This should put the cumulative installed solar power capacity in Germany at approximately 28 GW as we enter the second half of 2012 (that’s more than China’s 2015 target of 21 GW).

With political attacks on solar energy being put to rest at the moment, solar power is on track to becoming the 3rd-largest source of renewable electricity this year, right behind wind power and power generated from biomass.

IKEA Invests in 90 MW of Wind Power from Vestas

Posted: 04 Jul 2012 02:34 PM PDT


As you must now, IKEA is no stranger to renewable energy. It seems to have several renewable energy projects going up month after month. The latest news is that it’s investing in 30 V90-3.0 MW turbines from Vestas. This is reportedly IKEA’s biggest wind power invest yet.

The turbines are for the Glötesvålen project in the municipality of Härjedalen, Sweden.

“The order is placed by Swedish developer and long standing Vestas customer, O2,” Vestas writes. “Delivery and installation of the turbines is scheduled to be completed in January 2015. Whereas O2 will be responsible for the development, construction and operation of the wind farm, it will be owned by Swedish home furnishing giant IKEA.”

For more on this story, check out: Home furnishing giant IKEA invests in 90 MW of Vestas wind power.

Image Credit: Vestas

16 House Republicans Push House Leadership to Pass PTC Extension for Wind Power & US Jobs

Posted: 04 Jul 2012 12:43 PM PDT

I meant to publish this news last week when it came through, but it somehow slipped through the cracks… oh yeah, I have about 100 articles I’d like to publish that I haven’t yet, and consistently in such a situation. Anyway, with it being the 4th of July and all, I figured this was as good a time as any to emphasize this push to create/save tens of thousands of US jobs.

Last week, “16 Republican House freshmen and two of their Democratic colleagues sent a letter to House leadership requesting immediate extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for American wind energy,” the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) noted.

“I want to thank Rep. Kristi Noem and her 17 colleagues in the House freshman class for fighting for USA wind jobs. They understand that affordable, homegrown wind power is creating one of our best new sources of clean American electricity and tens of thousands of American manufacturing jobs in the process,” AWEA CEO Denise Bode stated.

“The PTC is an example of effective, job-creating tax policy, but with expiration looming at the end of the year, 37,000 good American jobs are in peril. That is why Congress must act now to save USA wind jobs and keep this success story moving forward.”

Along with this statement, AWEA included mention of the following salient facts:

Bipartisan support

–Supporters in both parties have been raising this issue since late last year as an urgent action item for Congress, including more than 100 cosponsors of HR 3307 (almost a quarter of them Republicans) and S 2201.

–The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, American Farm Bureau, and Edison Electric Institute are among over 400 organizations and companies endorsing the PTC extension.

–A bipartisan coalition of 23 governors led by Gov. Terry Branstad (R-Iowa) supports extending the PTC. Gov. Branstad recently wrote The Wall Street Journal on its economic benefits.

–Republican, Democratic and Independent voters broadly support wind power and its expansion.

–Highlighting the bipartisan nature of wind power was a recent dialogue between Karl Rove, former senior advisor to President George W. Bush, and Robert Gibbs, former Press Secretary and advisor to President Obama at WINDPOWER 2012 in Atlanta, Ga. As Rove stated, “You don’t need moderates to get this done. You need conservative Republicans who say this means jobs to my district and a resource we’ve got plenty of. And you need Democrats to say this is a way to expand the range of options that we have as a country for energy.”

The wind energy Production Tax Credit

–American wind power’s key federal incentive (the 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour Production Tax Credit, or PTC) only applies to projects that succeed in putting electricity on the grid. It will expire Dec. 31, 2012, unless Congress extends it.

–The PTC has not been allowed to expire since 2005, when President George W. Bush signed it into law as part of the Energy Policy Act.

–This successful policy over the past five years has incentivized $15.5 billion a year on average in private investment in the U.S. U.S. domestic content has expanded from 25% to over 60% today. Wind has installed 35% of all U.S. electric generating capacity, a close second to natural gas.

American wind power

–Using wind to generate utility-scale electricity was invented in America, and a vast U.S. resourceof this clean, homegrown energy is still available to be tapped.

–Technological innovation and domestic sourcing has helped drive down costs of electricity for utilities and consumers, since transportation alone can be 20% of the cost of installing a wind turbine.

–Over 470 new American factories currently employ 30,000 workers in the wind energy supply chain from coast-to-coast. But orders for 2013 now hang on the tax credit’s extension.

–Layoffs are beginning across the industry because of uncertainty over the PTC, with 10,000 jobs expected to be lost by year’s end, and 37,000 job losses predicted within a year in a study by Navigant Consulting.

–On the other hand, Navigant said that with predictable policies, wind could grow to 100,000 jobs by 2016. And, the U.S. Department of Energy predicted during the Bush administration that wind could support 500,000 jobs by 2030, and make 20% of America’s electricity.

“Wind projects typically have an 18- to 24-month development cycle. So effectively the PTC is already expiring,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “That is why an extension is urgently needed now. We can’t afford to wait until the PTC runs out.”

Image Credit: American flag & wind turbines via Shutterstock

Driving a Solar-Powered EV (Interview)

Posted: 04 Jul 2012 12:30 PM PDT

Somebody recently passed along the Clean Energy Resource Teams article below and suggested reposting it. Sounded like a great idea to me, so here it is:

by Joel Haskard

The new generation of electric vehicles (EVs) have recently been rolling out here in Minnesota. We caught up with early adopter Stuart Rauvola of Stillwater, MN to learn more about his experiences.

Joel Haskard: What initially got you interested in owning an electric vehicle?

Stuart Rauvola: I received an email from Nissan over two years ago asking me if I would be interested in placing a $99 deposit down on an all-electric vehicle. I figured, why not? I had not done any research on electric vehicles, but I knew I would own one someday. I added solar photovoltaic panels on my roof and had a ground-source heat pump installed—both within the last five years—so I thought maybe an electric vehicle would be a natural next step to carbon-neutral or net zero energy life. I did not expect the wait would be over two years, but the wait was worth it.

Joel: What vehicle did you buy, and where did you buy it?

Stuart: 2012 Nissan Leaf. Comes with cold weather package and quick charge port. I bought it at Kline Nissan in Maplewood. They me that had an allotment of six Leafs in the initial rollout carefully orchestrated by Nissan HQ.

Joel: What has been your experience so far?

Stuart: Much better than expected. Instrumentation is an electrical engineers dream. Range of 100 miles was overstated, but I have not run it out of juice yet, so I really donlt know what the absolute range is. It fits perfectly with my drive to work and all errands. My employer is installing a 240 outlet for me to charge at work if I need to drive to job sites or meetings.

Joel: Has there been anything surprising?

Stuart: The acceleration is amazing! Ride is really good for a small car, mainly because the batteries are located under the seats and that makes the center of gravity low. It is really fun to drive. Also, when it is connected to "shore" power, you can set it to preheat or precool the cabin for 10 minutes to lessen the climate control load on the battery.

Joel: What does your family think of the car?

Stuart: I haven't let my wife drive it yet! Shame on me!

Joel: How do you charge the car?

Stuart: I have a Level 2 charger installed in my garage, which is a 240 volt, 16 amp charger. It is actually not a charger because the charger is located in the vehicle next to the batteries—it is called an EVSE which is short for electric vehicle supply equipment. I have a web-based monitoring system that I can log the total energy used by the Leaf. I am at about 175 kWH energy consumed for 800 miles of travel, which works out to be about 4.5 miles per kWH. At $0.10/kwh, that equals 2.2 cents per mile. My 2004 Jeep runs about 20 cents per mile, so the Leaf is almost 1/10th the cost to operate than the Jeep.

Joel: Have you had any difficulty finding charging locations?

Stuart: No. They are pretty well identified on various websites like Drive Electric, etc. The navigation system in the car also identifies them and can plot the shortest route to them. More locations would be better as more EV's hit the road. I would hate to have a situation where I thought a charging station was available at the start of a long triop only to have someone else charging there once I got to my destination. We'll see what the future holds.

Joel: Do you have any suggestions for a potential electric vehicle buyer?

Stuart: Be sure your daily driving habits align with the range of the electric car. Also, never pass up an opportunity to top off the charge.

Regarding my other home sustainable and energy saving projects, I had a 5.67 KW solar electric system installed in 2010 that is grid tied to the utility for 1:1 offset of house loads, and I have a 3 ton ground source heat pump installed in 2008 that has worked wonderfully to heat and cool our house. Estimated payback for the GSHP is 12 years and 10 for the PV system. In 2020 I will have a payback party for both systems.
Thank you! It's fun to tell my story. Feel free to leave questions or comments below if you have any!

Showcase Your Eco Startup at SXSW Eco in Austin!

Posted: 04 Jul 2012 12:23 PM PDT

If you happen to have an eco-oriented startup, or are about to have one, you may be interested in applying for this:

SXSW Eco Austin: Cleantech Startup Pitch Competition. Apply Now! (via Ecopreneurist)

The SXSW Eco Startup Showcase presented by Austin Technology Clean Energy Incubator and Austin Energy is a one-day venture capital pitch competition exhibiting the best of cleantech startups from around the world. We are accepting applications for the Showcase through July 13. Turn the spotlight…

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