Monday, November 19, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

CODA EV Customers Get A Free Home EV Charger

Posted: 18 Nov 2012 12:54 PM PST

Talk about your Black Friday deals! The electric car company CODA Automotive has announced that it will provide a free GE WattStation™ Wall-Mount home charging station to California residents who purchase a 2012 CODA all-electric car, from now until December 2. That’s about $2,000 worth of free EV charger on top of what CODA estimates is up to $10,000 worth of state and federal tax incentives for EV owners. Meanwhile, the rest of us non-residents are left to wonder: what’s California got that we ain’t got?

CODA EV company offers free home EV charger

CODA’s Free EV Charger

First, the good news (for Californians, that is). CODA is making the free EV charger as hassle-free as possible. In addition to the free hardware, the deal includes everything that would be covered in a standard installation for a home EV charging station.

Instead of making customers shop around for an installer, CODA has already lined up an installation company, the aptly named Mr. Electric. To fall under the standard installation package, the home’s electrical service panel has to have enough space and capacity for a new circuit, among other things.

There’s also a property value benefit involved. And CODA calls attention to a survey showing that 91% of all EV owners in California install home charging stations, making a home EV charger part of a home’s future sales appeal.


Why Buy a CODA?

CODA has been rolling out the incentives this fall, as the free EV charger follows close on the heels of a free fuel giveaway.

That promotion consisted of a $552 rebate, which under current electricity rates is about equal to the cost of recharging a CODA 5-door sedan for 10,000 miles worth of driving.

As for why buy a CODA, that’s pretty much the same reason for buying any EV from a reliable company, which CODA senior VP Thomas Hausch sums up quite neatly: “to avoid high gas prices forever.”

Aside from the basic EV commonalities, CODA earned a good review from Popular Mechanics last year even when it was still only in the pre-production phase. The production version got a heap of glowing praise from in September, especially for its battery range.

The CODA 2012 EV is officially rated at 88 miles per charge but according to the company (and, in real driving conditions it can get much more, up to 125 miles per charge. Either way, that’s well within the range of commuting and local errand-running.

As a side note, CODA’s business plan eschews the traditional capital-intensive manufacturing model in favor of a network of development partnerships. That provides the company with more flexibility and the potential to grow even if sales volume is relatively low.

What About the Rest of Us?

California gets the goodies based partly on the sheer size of its market and the enthusiasm that Californians have for cleaner vehicles, and partly on the support of California voters for transitioning to cleaner vehicle technology.

As for the rest of us, earlier this month the U.S. voting public re-elected the presidential candidate who spent his first term vigorously supporting national clean energy programs and launching new initiatives designed to make new clean technology more affordable to the average consumer.

One of his early initiatives was to establish a network of advanced battery manufacturers in Michigan and elsewhere. That’s a critical link in the EV supply chain and an important step toward building a robust, domestic EV marketplace for all 50 states.

With cooperation from Congress, expect more of the same over the next four years.

Image (cropped): Courtesy of CODA, via prnewswire

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey

Gorgeous, Tiny Solar House Runs On Plug-n-Play Solar Panels

Posted: 18 Nov 2012 12:39 PM PST

Extreme customization usually goes hand in glove with award-winning architecture, but in the case of Daniel Yudchitz’s low-budget Essential House, a modest set of ready-built, plug-n-play solar panels is making all the waves. The solar-powered house has just been named a recipient of an American Institute of Architecture Honor Award, and though it is the only awardee to include solar panels in its design, the jurors enthusiastically proclaimed that “it may point the way to our collective future.” So, let’s take a look and see what we’re all in store for.

Essential Solar House runs on plug-and-play solar panels

Little Country Solar House Goes to the Big City

First off, it looks like we don’t all have to move out to the country to live off the electricity grid, or at least nearly off it. Essential House is an urban version of the tiny E.D.G.E. House, an earlier award-winning project for Yudchitz and his firm Revelations Architects/Building Corporation.

E.D.G.E. (Experimental Dwelling for a Greener Environment) House was built to overlook Lake Superior in rural Wisconsin, and Yudchitz took those lessons learned to design a house that could slip into existing vacant lots in a densely packed urban neighborhood.


Essential Elements of an Off-Grid House

Essential House is located in the Rondo section of St. Paul, Minnesota. All of the appliances, including heat and hot water, run on electricity.

Almost all of the electricity is supplied by a two-kilowatt photovoltaic generating system, courtesy of the company Mouli Engineering, which designed the SolarPodTM modular plug-n-play solar system.

Helping things along are passive house features, including a south-facing solar facade consisting of a thickened concrete slab. The exterior walls are filled with cellulose insulation.

One big trade-off is space, of course, since more square feet demand more power. Essential House is small but it creates the feel of a bigger space by doing away with conventional interior walls. Of the walls that are there, most are ultra-thin and set in tracks. The occupants can slide them around and play with the space when their needs change, or whenever they start feeling a little squeezed.

Plug-and-Play Solar Meets the New Energy Democracy

Mouli is just one of a whole raft of companies that are introducing small-scale customers to the world of easy-access solar energy.

Another example is a solar company called SpinRay, which has a plug-and-play solar module designed especially for property owners with decks. It’s designed to hang off a deck railing and plug into the 120-volt or 240-volt outdoor outlets that attend almost every deck.

The whole plug-and-play solar trend is being pushed along by the Department of Energy’s aptly named “Plug and Play” solar energy initiative. Last spring, DOE announced a $5 million package of incentives for companies to design solar modules similar to Mouli’s and SpinRay’s.

Plug and Play is just one item in a set of DOE programs that focuses on reducing the “soft costs” of solar power by cutting the cost of installation, permitting, and grid connections.

That, in turn, is an offshoot of the Obama Administration’s Sunshot Initiative, which aims to achieve grid parity between solar power and fossil fuels within the next ten years.

Put low-cost plug-and-play solar systems in the same league as, say, refrigerators, and you’ve got near-universal access to the means of generating power.

Image: Courtesy of Revelations Architects/Building Corporation

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey

Tesla Opens Up Retail Shop In Canada

Posted: 18 Nov 2012 12:12 PM PST

Hot off the heels on winning Motor Trend Magazine's 2013 Car of the Year for the Model S Sedan, Tesla Motors is expanding its global brand, this time into the Great White North.

The electric vehicle maker has announced that it recently opened a new design store in Toronto, Ontario in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre.

Image Credit: Tesla Toronto Retail Location via Tesla Motors

Consumers will have the interactive opportunity of designing their Model S sedan on a touch screen, Tesla said in a release.

After making their picks, consumers will then be able to view their choice on a 85-inch video wall in the back of the store.

Tesla officials were excited about the opportunities of expanding their global brand into Canada, while providing a unique customer touch to their products.

"We are very excited to bring our new, interactive store design to Toronto," said Tesla vice president of worldwide sales and ownership experience George Blankenship.

"Our approach continues to be focused on informing as many people as possible about EVs, our company, and the advanced technology behind Model S. Customers in our store are invited to ask questions and engage with informative product specialists to learn more about the many advantages of driving an electric car. We know we've done our job when every customer leaves smiling," he said.

By the end of 2012, Tesla will have 24 North American locations and 34 worldwide.

As of September 2012, 13,200 global pre-orders for the Model S Sedan have been ordered. Besides ordering at any of the retail locations, customers can also order the vehicle online.

Source: Tesla Motors

Solar-Powered Convention Centre To Offset Carbon Emissions At Doha Climate Change Conference

Posted: 18 Nov 2012 11:59 AM PST

The Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) will host the Convention of Parties 18, one of the most critical editions of the climate change negotiations, this Nov 26–Dec 7. The Centre will be partly powered by solar energy. The building is one of the most energy-efficient venues of its kind in the world, as it has a Gold Certification from the United States Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED). It uses 32% less energy than an average building.

Qatar National Conventional Centre

The venue has 3,500 square meters of solar panels which will provide for 12.5 percent of the building’s power demand. The solar power system has a capacity to generate 1,255 MWh of electricity and offset 1,140 tonnes of carbon emissions every year. The convention centre has won several awards for its innovative design, including the "Best Convention Centre in Middle East" award.

Almost all climate change negotiations over the past few years have taken significant initiatives to offsets their carbon emissions. In 2011, organisers of the Durban climate change conference launched a program to allow the 25,000-odd participants to purchase carbon offsets worth $10 each from a restoration and reforestation of the uMbilo River catchment. The program aimed at offsets around 15,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

In 2009, the Danish government set aside €0.7 million to offset about 40,500 tonnes of carbon emissions from the Copenhagen climate change conference. The Danish government encouraged the hotel owners to expand the number of environmentally friendly, certified hotel rooms. The conference venue implemented several energy saving measures to reduce the carbon footprint by 30%. The government also invested in an energy efficiency brick manufacturing project in Bangladesh. The Danish Energy Agency picked the project carefully after determining that the project will help offset about 50,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year and improve air quality in one of the world's most polluted cities (Dhaka).

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change makes it a point to implement a comprehensive strategy to offset the carbon footprints of the climate change conferences. The UNFCCC also calculates the carbon emissions generated from air travel of thousands of delegates.

Musk: Obama’s Win Good For Electric Vehicle Industry

Posted: 18 Nov 2012 11:46 AM PST

Clean technology and renewable energy were some of the key winners of the recent US election in which president Barack Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney to claim the White House for four more years.

Count Tesla Motors Chief Elon Musk as one of clean tech's movers and shakers who hopes the advancement of clean tech trends from the past four years continue.

Image Credit: Elon Musk via Phil Stafford/Shutterstock

Discussed in an Autoblog Green post, a Reuters article said Musk thinks Obama's win will mean increased electric vehicle (EV) production.

As he hopes for further advancement of US EV production, one key way to boost market sales that Musk would throw his weight behind would be to boost the amount of the US federal electric vehicle tax credit:

Musk added that, unsurprisingly, he’d support raising the federal tax credits for EVs to as much as $10,000 per vehicle. That’s about a tenth of the pricetag of a top-of-the-line Tesla Model S sedan, which just won Motor Trend magazine’s 2013 Car of the Year Award. Obama previously suggested the $10,000 level, which would represent an increase of $2,500 to the maximum tax credit currently allowed.

With the recent awards won by Tesla, and as the public becomes more aware of the potential of EVs, don't bet against this market. Musk certainly isn't.

New Balance Privately Funding New Train Station To Serve Its Boston Headquarters

Posted: 18 Nov 2012 11:30 AM PST

New Balance is investing a large amount of its money to build a passenger rail station at its headquarters in Boston's Brighton Neighborhood, which should help to increase local ridership, especially for its employees, in a similar way to what Apple’s renovation of an “L” stop in Chicago did.


It’s been over fifty years since there last was a commuter rail station in Brighton. But now, with the recognition of the benefits that it would bring, New Balance has decided to fund one itself.

The new Worcester Line commuter station was announced for development just earlier this summer by MassDOT Secretary Richard A. Davey and New Balance Chairman James S. Davis. And now a target opening date has been announced, currently scheduled to open in 2014.

“The station, New Brighton Landing, will be part of New Balance's $500 million development complex that will serve as the company's headquarters and also include a hotel, a sports facility, retail space, and parking. Elkus Manfredi Architects and Howard/Stein Hudson Associates will design the 250,000-sq-ft headquarters,” Architect’s Newspaper writes.

New Balance will be funding the entire station project itself, estimating that the station should total about $16 million to build.

“The area around the station is being branded as a 14-acre, mixed-use ‘health and wellness district,’ which will include the company's headquarters, shopping and other amenities,” Streetsblog adds. Much better than subsidizing single-passenger automobile driving via free parking.

Source: Streetsblog
Image Credits: Architects Newspaper

Solar-Powered Lightning Motorcycles Electric Motorcycle Sets New El Mirage Speed Record At 189 MPH

Posted: 17 Nov 2012 11:37 PM PST

The electric motorcycle company Lightning Motorcycles recently set a new speed record for a 1.3-mile course that runs downs the El Mirage dry lake bed, reaching a speed of 189.086 mph. That’s the new record not just for electric motorcycles but gas-powered ones also.


Lightning Motorcycles has set a variety of other records recently, so it is no stranger to setting land speed records. It hit the 173.388 mile-per-hour marker for electric motorcycles in 2010, and then completely eclipsed its own record in 2011, hitting 215.960 mph.

The new speed record gives the company the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) record for production motorcycles – electric or gas-powered – for that track venue.


One of the most significant things about this accomplishment is that the motorcycle was powered by a portable solar array. The array fed into the motorcycle via a 48-kWh battery pack that attached to and fueled the bike’s on-board batteries, demonstrating the very impressive ability to stay ‘fueled’ even when far from the grid, potentially indefinitely.

If any of this sounds appealing to you, it’s going to be available to the public very soon. The motorcycle that achieved the new record is essentially the same as the ones that the company’s first customers are scheduled to receive in the next 60 days or so.

Source: Autoblog Green
Image Credits: Lightning Motorcycles

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