Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

24 Countries To Be Represented At Iceland Geothermal Conference

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 01:53 PM PST

The Iceland Geothermal Conference will be taking place between the 5th and 8th of March 2013, with over 300 participants from 24 countries. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Jeffery Tester, a Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University. He is the co-author of ten books and author or co-author of over 200 scientific publications. (One of his recent papers was about assessing heat flows between wells for geothermal potential.)

iceland

About 50 speakers will address the audiences, including Prof. Roland N. Horne from Stanford University who conducts research in well and reservoir analysis. Dr. Mike Allen, the executive director of the Geothermal New Zealand initiative will also present. He has been involved in geothermal projects for 25 years or more, including ones in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Mediterranean. Marietta Sander is also one of the presenters. She is the Executive Director of the International Geothermal Association (IGA).

This year’s event will focus on the following topics:

  • Resource management
  • Finance, risk and insurance management in geothermal projects
  • Role of governments and international funds
  • Rules and regulations
  • Environmental issues related to geothermal.

There will be two field trips available to attendees. The first is to a geothermal area of Hengill, in southwest Iceland. This facility is located near an active volanic ridge and has a production capacity of 303 MW. The second is to the resource park of Reykjanes, where there is a plant with a capacity of about 100 MW.

The Harpa, Concert Hall and Conference Centre is the venue for the conference in Reykjavík. Events like this one are important, because geothermal energy doesn’t get as much press as solar and wind, though it is a more reliable form of energy. In some countries, geothermal potential is high, but there seems to be a hesitancy to explore and develop it, like in Japan where geothermal could replace many nuclear reactors.

Image Credit: Christian Bickel, Wiki Commons

24 Countries To Be Represented At Iceland Geothermal Conference was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

India Has Allocated 1,172 GW Of Solar Power In Three Years

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 06:30 AM PST

India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) revealed that they have assigned 1,172 gigawatts (GW) of grid-connected solar power plants, and of these so far 369 megawatts (MW) have already been commissioned.

The total number of plants include one 2.5 MW solar thermal plant and 131 photovoltaic plants, of which 65 comprise locally made solar cells and modules.

India Assigns Over 1 GW of Solar Power

Meanwhile, the MNRE add that bids for photovoltaic tariffs under the first and second phases of India's Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) averaged Rs. 12.16/kWh (around US$0.22, or €0.17) and Rs. 8.77, respectively.

The table below presents the solar power capacity installed in the various Indian states over the last three years, according to MNRE:

State Installed capacity (MW)
Andhra Pradesh 23.15
Chhattisgarh 4.00
Gujarat 824.09
Haryana 7.80
Jharkhand 16.00
Karnataka 14.00
Madhya Pradesh 7.75
Maharashtra 25.00
Orissa 13.00
Punjab 9.00
Rajasthan 251.25
Tamil Nadu 17.05
Uttar Pradesh 12.00
Uttranchal 5.00
West Bengal 2.12
Delhi 2.52
Total 1.233.73

India’s solar industry has popped up in the news frequently of late. Earlier this week it was announced that the “municipal corporation of Anantapur in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is set to become the first municipality in the country to set up a solar power project to power its water pumping operations and street lights.”

The impressive plan includes installation of 5 MW of a solar PV project in the city. The project will be connected to the state's power grid and will power the water pumping and street lights of the entire municipality's area.

While earlier this month Lux Research released a report that contends the solar industry must now “target high-growth markets such as China and India in an attempt to transform in a cost-conscious environment.”

"While some historically strong demand markets will continue to pay dividends, the real winners going forward will need to make a few well-informed bets," said Matt Feinstein, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, Past is Prologue: Market Selection Strategy in a New Solar Policy Environment.

The remaining 803 MW of solar power already assigned will hopefully start overlapping with new assignments and developments as 2013 proceeds and the solar industry starts investing in India’s growing population and need for cheap, renewable electricity.

India Has Allocated 1,172 GW Of Solar Power In Three Years was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Solar Panel Car Cover For Your Electric Car?

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 06:22 AM PST

I’m not so sure how practical this is compared to solar carports or “solar trees” (or simple solar roofs), but these little solar panel car covers certainly are pretty!

cover_main

Here’s a brief summary of this solar-powered EV charging technology from Jo Borras of Gas2:

Industrial designer Hakan Gürsu calls this creation a V-Tent – it's a collapsible, solar car cover that shields parked cars from wind and weather while converting the sun's light into electricity that can to charge any EVs that happen to find their way underneath the V-Tent, and power any nearby street lights to make the chargers more visible at night.

Industrial designer Hakan Gürsu calls this creation a V-Tent – it's a collapsible, solar car cover that shields parked cars from wind and weather while converting the sun's light into electricity that can to charge any EVs that happen to find their way underneath the V-Tent, and power any nearby street lights to make the chargers more visible at night.

Here’s a video of the V-Tent:

Solar Panel Car Cover For Your Electric Car? was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

10 Top EV Stories

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 06:07 AM PST

I gave a long introduction of my 3-tier system for sharing top cleantech stories in my previous post, so I won’t repeat that here. I’ll just dive right into 10 EV stories that almost got covered on CleanTechnica, but barely missed the cut:

1. Wireless Power Transmission For Transit, Trains, Harbor Freight, Etc.

wireless power trains transit

A completely wireless power transmission technology capable of powering high-capacity transport (such as high-speed rail, harbor freight, and airport transportation) has been developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and the Korea Railroad Research Institute (KRRI). It is able to supply a steady and constant 60 kHz and 180 kW of power remotely.

2. 39% Of California EV Owners Have Solar Panels (Infographic)

solar california ev owners

A recent survey of 1,419 of these plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) owners shows that 39% of owners currently have solar, and another 17% are considering going solar within the coming year. There are many additional interesting stats from the survey.

3. EV Sales — Important Context Often Overlooked

2013-ford-c-max-energi

A follow-up on my recent post about why plug-in electric vehicle sales are actually doing quite well.

4. "Revolutionary" EV Charging Station — Volt Point

Giulio Barbieri The Revolution in the EV Charging Stations' Design

Giulio Barbieri S.p.A. has announced that it is about to release what it claims is the first electric vehicle charging station that isn't anchored to the ground but is resistant to theft and vandalism, the Volt Point.

5. Honda Fit EV Hits East Coast

AMERICAN HONDA MOTOR CO. FIT EV

The Honda Fit EV, the most efficient car on the market, was released on the West Coast last year (in particular, in California and Oregon). Now, it is also coming to the East Coast this month.

6. Mitsubishi Unveiling Two Concept Hybrids At 2013 Geneva International Motor Show

Mitsubishi Concept GR-HEV

Mitsubishi Concept GR-HEV

Mitsubishi is going to unveil a couple of concept hybrid vehicles at the upcoming Geneva International Motor Show. The “Gran Runner” hybrid electric vehicle (or GR-HEV) and the “Compact and Advanced Technology” plug-in electric vehicle (or CA-MiEV) would follow the early lead of Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV, which was the world’s first mass-produced plug-in electric vehicle when it was launched in 2009 (and is now selling for $29,125 MSRP, before the federal tax credit of $7,500 and any other tax credits your state or city might offer).

7. Honda EVster Concept Sports Car

Honda EV-STER Concept

The Honda EVster concept sports car looks pretty. More pics at the link above. And some musings on how this could be the next Honda Beat by Jo Borras here.

8. Fisker Automotive Could Go To China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group

fisker karma silver

This Fisker Karma is a beauty of a car, but it has had a lot of trouble competing with the Tesla Model S and Chevy Volt (not to mention non-electric luxury cars).

Reportedly, China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group is the likely to buy a majority stake of EV pioneer Fisker Automotive.

9. Electric Vehicle Deployment – Where Should We Be Today?

ev sales graph

Source: EVI, MarkLines Database, Nissan, Toyota, hybridcars.com

Scientific American takes a close look at where electric vehicle sales “should be” at this point in their development, and how they compare to early hybrid sales.

10. Amarok P1 Electric Superbike is Coming Together (w/ video)

amarok

“Called the P1 (‘P’ is for prototype) the Amarok is featured in its makers' film, below, with co-founders Michael Uhlarik and Kevin O'Neil explaining the philosophy behind the P1′s innovative design.”

More top EV stories to share? Raid the comments below!

10 Top EV Stories was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Pioneer Green Energy Bringing Wind Projects To The South

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 06:00 AM PST

Texas-based renewable energy company Pioneer Green Energy has announced plans to develop two wind energy projects in northeast Alabama, the state’s first wind energy facilities.

"These wind energy projects will increase our energy independence and help move the country away from unstable foreign energy supplies," stated David Savage, Pioneer Green Energy co-founder and vice president. "It will also reduce Alabama's dependence on other sources of energy that cause pollution and rely heavily on fuel from others states. Instead, Alabama will be able to diversify its energy sources by adding an inexhaustible and clean source of energy found right in its own backyard."

Wind Energy Developer Moving Into Alabama

The two wind projects are set to be completed in 2014.

  • Shinbone Wind Energy Center will be located in Cherokee County and is expected to start operation in the first or second quarter of 2014. The project will consist of eight wind turbines with a combined capacity to supply 18.4 megawatts of electricity to the existing TVA transmission system, which itself supplies local electric cooperatives. The electricity generated by the Shinbone Wind Energy Center will be enough to power more than half of the homes in Cherokee County.
  • Noccalula Wind Energy Center is set to be installed in the neighboring Etowah County and will consist of 40 turbines with a total generating capacity of 80 megawatts. The project is expected to be in operation by the second or third quarter of 2014 and will generate enough electricity to power tens of thousands of homes.

As with all new wind installation projects, these two Alabama projects are expected to create new jobs in the state — both in initial construction and later in operation and maintenance. The projects will also hopefully increase tax revenues for the state: in fact, an economic impact study conducted by Jacksonville State University found that both projects will contribute over $1 million a year in county tax revenues for more than 30 years.

Wind farms have not been a common site throughout the US South, as the technology is not as conducive to the regular wind speeds in the region compared to other regions. Unlike states like California or Texas, wind speeds can be as much as 30–50% less in the South.

The technology has grown, however. "Blades are stronger, lighter and more efficient in the way they cut through the air," said Patrick Buckley, Pioneer's development manager. "The towers can be built at a taller height, so you have a more robust generation source.”

Buckley likens the US South to Europe, where they have pushed the technology to be highly efficient despite less land to develop upon and lower wind speeds. Alabama 10 years ago was a tough prospect for any developer, which was why Pioneer passed on developing in the region.

"It wasn't quite feasible, given the technology at the time," Buckley said. "But if you fast forward 10 years, we're now looking at a project that can be built and brought onto the grid at a price that's competitive with other conventional sources of electricity provided by local and regional utilities."

With developers now pushing into new areas within already developed countries, the wind industry has a promising future.

Pioneer Green Energy Bringing Wind Projects To The South was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Two Record-Holding Solar Tech Companies Join Forces

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 05:24 AM PST

The solar power industry just got a little more interesting this week, with the announcement that Solar Junction and Amonix have signed an agreement to work together on the next generation of low cost, ultra-high efficiency concentrated photovoltaic systems. If you’re expecting another long slog through the R&D phase, guess again. According to Amonix CEO Pat McCullough, “The results of this collaboration, and its lower levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), will be revealed soon.”

Solar Junction and Amonix partner for low cost CPVLow Cost Solar Power from Solar Junction

Solar Junction’s contribution to low cost solar power is a market-ready, multi-junction solar cell with a record-shattering efficiency of 44 percent.

Multi-junction solar cells use layers of different materials sandwiched together, which enables the cell to absorb light from a greater range of the spectrum. Solar Junction’s system also integrates relatively inexpensive lenses to concentrate more solar energy into a smaller space. Between the multi-junction cells and the concentrating lenses, the system achieves a one-two punch of high efficiency with lower costs.

Not for nothing, but we built this! Solar Junction was spun out of a Stanford University research project back in 2007, the same year that the Bush Administration established the SunShot Incubator program to provide seed money for promising solar tech companies. The program was juiced up and relaunched as the SunShot Initiative under President Obama, and it (in other words, we taxpayers) gave Solar Junction a $5 million funding boost in 2011.

Amonix and the Energy – Water Nexus

The energy-water nexus is an urgent issue for conventional fuels, natural gas fracking and mountaintop coal mining being two familiar examples. Solar energy is also not immune to the problem, particularly in regard to concentrated solar systems where water is used as a cooling agent.

Amonix uses no water at all for cooling. It uses a passive-air system to do the job that would be normally done by water, so in practical terms its water use is zero. Depending on the availability of on-site water supplies, a small amount is trucked in to keep the modules clean, and that’s it.

We Built this Low-Cost Solar Power!

Like Solar Junction, Amonix has set records for solar efficiency. In 2012 it set the “world record for CPV outdoor module efficiency” at a mark of 33.5 percent.

The utility-scale systems designed by Amonix are already on the market, and Amonix is also fully prepared to step up its integration of multi-junction cells. The company’s Amonix 770 solar module was initially developed for single-junction cells, but a couple of years ago it began integrating multi-junction cells to achieve greater efficiencies, with the help of funding from the Department of Energy funding and access to experts from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Group hug!!!

The Amonix 770 module also illustrates the broad goal of the SunShot Initiative, which is to bring down the cost of solar power by looking at overall cost of a solar installation, in addition to developing new cutting edge solar tech.

For example, the concentrating part of the Amonix 770 module is based on the Fresnel lens, a cheap but powerful optical device first developed in the 1700′s.

Another important feature is the 770′s use of transportable modules, which were developed with low-cost installation in mind. Each module fits on a flat-bed truck and can be installed in a matter of hours.


The pole-mounted design reduces costs related to site preparation, and it also reduces habitat impacts, while a dual-axis tracking system enables each module to catch maximum solar energy possible throughout the day.

The system’s near-zero water use also comes into play, since it enables far more flexibility in site location: namely, in dry, sunny areas where real estate is potentially cheaper and habitat impacts are minimal. The pole-mounted design of the module also helps to minimize habitat disruption and reduce costs related to remediation.

Image: Courtesy of Solar Junction

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Two Record-Holding Solar Tech Companies Join Forces was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

10 Top Solar Stories

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 05:21 AM PST

I’ve got a problem. I want you to read every important cleantech story that I see, or at least the headline or summary. (Yep, I’m one of those guys — be careful if you go to see a movie with me that I love.)

This root problem creates a couple of practical problems for me: 1) we don’t have the revenue necessary to pump out that much content; 2) a lot of our readers don’t actually want us to publish that much content — it’s simply too overwhelming.

For those eager to get more cleantech news than may be good for them, though, I’ve come up with a solution — a 3-tiered network of story sharing.

In the first tier are the stories we do actually cover. In the third tier are all the stories I share in a Google Doc I update daily. And in the middle is tier #2, roundups of top stories I really wanted CleanTechnica to cover, but which simply didn’t make the cut. Here’s a roundup of 10 such solar stories:

  1. How Much Renewable Energy Will Be Installed In 2030? 2040? 2050? – A review of a recent report by Ren21.
  2. 39% Of California EV Owners Have Solar, 17% More Planning It Within 1 Year (Infographic) – A review of a recent report by the California Center for Sustainable Energy
  3. Japanese Banks Project Japanese Solar Market To Be Worth $19 Billion In Next Few Years – Some big news regarding the booming solar power market in Japan following the introduction of an attractive feed-in tariff policy there.
  4. Czech Company Investing €400 Million ($530 Million) Into Ukraine Solar Power Plants – Ukraine the newest solar power market to boom? A Czech company the leading investor?
  5. Ultra-Thin Solar Cells From New Class Of Materials – A review of another recent advancement in solar technology.
  6. Los Angeles Department Of Water & Power Gets Flood Of Solar Applications – Feed-in tariffs works, as is shown yet again. However, as in other markets, the agressive LADWP feed-in tariff has created quite a long list of above-the-quota subscriptions.
  7. Improving Solar Power Forecasts – More scientific work to improve solar power’s attractiveness.
  8. Microfinancing For Home Solar Bringing Solar Power To Tens Of Thousands In Sri Lanka – When’s the last time you heard about solar power in Sri Lanka? Perhaps it’s time to catch up on some decentralized solar power growth there.
  9. Panasonic Claims Solar Cell Efficiency Record Of 24.7% – Ah, another solar cell efficiency record. Congrats to Panasonic!
  10. Understanding The Technology Behind Solar PV Systems – Want to learn about the “basics” of how a solar PV system works? Here’s one for you.

Solar keeps on advancing. You got yours yet?

10 Top Solar Stories was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

PV Grid Integration Database Exposes Implementation Shortfalls

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 05:00 AM PST

A major update to the PV grid integration database has taken place, shedding light on the relative ability of differing European countries to integrate PV into their electricity distribution grids.
Residential Commercial PV Grid IntegrationThe database allows installers and developers to drill down into the obstacles which impede different countries’ progress in delivering PV grid integration, such as legal and administrative requirements.

For example, it can take four times as long to get residential and commercial systems online in France as it can in Germany, with the legal requirements taking up to ten times longer.

Similarly, whilst Greece is nearly three times quicker to install residential systems than France, it is twice as slow at installing commercial systems. This is despite the manufacturing, delivery, and installation phases of a project being markedly quicker in Greece.

Overall, Germany is the quickest at installing residential and commercial systems whilst Sweden is the slowest. Bulgaria would appear to be the most expensive, with between 70 and 90 percent of the cost of installation going on legal fees compared to Germany’s 2–7%.

The figures are revealing not just because they expose the huge differences between differing countries’ willingness to promote PV grid integration, but also how well they are progressing towards the EU’s renewables targets. These were established in 2009 and set an enforceable percentage for each country to achieve by 2020.

So, Sweden has the highest renewable targets at 49%, but has one of the slowest PV grid integration rates, taking up to 120 weeks for both residential and commercial installations to be completed. Interesting.

Whilst many US states have introduced renewables targets similar to the EU’s, some of which are enforceable, I’ve yet to see a similar comparison of what the obstacles are in each state to promoting PV grid integration. Given the EIA’s recent analysis of PV grid connectivity, it would make interesting reading.

PV Grid Integration Database Exposes Implementation Shortfalls was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Solar Rooftop Revolution (VIDEO)

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 04:36 AM PST

Here’s a cool video from RENVU.com regarding the coming solar rooftop revolution, with graphs and such based on a report by CleanTechnica contributor John Farrell (h/t Climate Denial Crock of the Week):

That’s good news for our economy, good news for those looking for jobs, and great news for the climate that life on Earth relies one.

Like it? Share it with your friends and family! And, hey, you may already be at grid parity. Look into it via the solar quote tool under this post!

Solar Rooftop Revolution (VIDEO) was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Ray LaHood Exit Interview Part 3 (Streetsblog Capitol Hill)

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 04:30 AM PST

Streetsblog Capitol Hill recently conducted a great, long interview with outgoing U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. There’s some really great stuff in here, so I’m reposting Part 1 & Part 3 (below) – Part 2 is here.

By Tanya Snyder

This is the third and final installment of our exit interview with departing U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. In the first, he talked about his proudest accomplishments, why he decided to leave, and why it's important to fund bike/ped improvements with federal dollars – and he made it clear he's still not giving us any answers about where to find more money for transportation. In the second, he talked about Republicans who get it, why TIGER was a game-changer – and he let slip some good news about the Chicago Riverwalk. Part three is more of a grab-bag — I hadn't expected to get almost 40 minutes one-on-one with the secretary!

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will be leaving his post soon. Photo: Fast Lane

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will be leaving his post soon. Photo: Fast Lane

Tanya Snyder: You mentioned high-speed rail. In California, the line is going to cost upwards of $68 billion. The federal government has put in about three and the funding is still a big question mark there. Do you think that, in the future, going forward with the high-speed rail program, it would make sense to pick sites where the federal government could put in a more substantial proportion of the final funding?

Ray LaHood: High-speed rail is not going to be accomplished by the federal government putting an enormous amount of money in. The money is just not here. And so what we have done is we jump-started passenger rail in America and asked private businesses to come in and make a commitment, to make an investment.

I traveled to 16 or 18 countries in the first two years in this job, looking at high-speed rail. And every place that I went, I asked people come to America, make an investment, hire American workers, and build these trains in America. And now there are a lot of companies in California, in Illinois, along the Northeast Corridor, in Nevada, thinking about making investments.

We're not going to accomplish our passenger rail, our high-speed rail dreams and aspirations with funding coming from Washington. Some of it can. But the lion's share will have to be private investment and the states' commitment to this.

In California, the assembly there passed last year the selling of bonds, between $6 billion and $10 billion worth of bonds. That's a huge investment. In Illinois, the governor there has made huge investments in high-speed rail. We've made some, but he's made some, and private companies have made some. This is going to have to be a true public-private partnership in order to get this accomplished, and frankly, that's what happened in Europe and Asia, too.

TS: There was an Anderson Cooper segment a couple weeks ago that underlined for me the fact that maybe the message really hasn't gotten out about higher-speed rail — that that was part of this package too. It's not just about getting trains over 110 mph but it's also about getting trains that have been going 30 mph up to 70 mph. Do you feel like that's a message that hasn't really come across? That people see "high-speed rail" and think it should be going 220?

RL: When you do something big and something new, you're going to have detractors. And I've said all along we are not going to be dissuaded by our detractors. People who don't want passenger rail and don't like high-speed rail are going to find something wrong with it. We are going to have trains going 200 mph in California. That's pretty fast! That's faster than any other train in America and faster than any other train in California.

The idea that we're building slow trains is baloney.

So the idea that we haven't found places where trains are going to go fast is not accurate. In Illinois, our trains are going to be going from 79 mph to 110 mph. [FRA Administrator] Joe [Szabo] and I just rode on a train that went 110 mph because of our investments.

Are we ever going to get trains to go a little faster on the NEC? They're going to go a little faster. Are they going to go 200 mph? No, because they were built 100 years ago and they're shoehorned between all these communities. So, in places where we can build new infrastructure – i.e., California — trains are going to go 200 mph.

The idea that we're building slow trains is baloney. It's not true anywhere. Our investments will get trains to go to higher speeds. In Illinois, from 79 to 110. On the Northeast Corridor, a little bit faster. In California, from nothing to 200 mph. It doesn't get any better than that.

TS: Switching track a little bit, you mentioned recently that you think by 2025 everybody's going to be driving hybrid and electric cars –

RL: What I said is that because we've set CAFE standards at 54.4 mpg by 2025, I think every family will have some form of a hybrid, either all battery powered or a hybrid. That's just the way America's going — and that's the way the car manufacturers are going.

You look at the Ford products now; just about everything they're doing is either hybrid or all battery powered. Every car manufacturer is doing that. So I don't think I'm too far off on that. Most families now have two or three cars. In 2025, most families will at least have two cars. I think one of them will be a hybrid or all battery powered.

TS: Something that we look at a lot at Streetsblog is the fact that emissions are one major, major problem that cars present, but there are others. There's the fact that you'd need to build a lot more roads; there's the problem of congestion. Even if every car in America were an electric car, would you still make the argument that we need to wean ourselves off the single-occupancy vehicle?

RL: Absolutely! Yeah, of course. And I think most people get that now. I really do.

TS: That it 's not just about emissions?

RL: No, it's not just about emissions. Look, I think people are going to be driven to this by their pocketbook. Gasoline prices are going to go up. The car manufacturers are going to be manufacturing more hybrids, battery powered [cars]. Just about every road that's being built now has HOV lanes and that sort of thing. All these sort of things are going to come together at the right time, I think.

We have always, until more recently, been number one because we had a good strong national transportation policy — and we funded it.

TS: The first $2 billion of the Sandy supplemental has been distributed. Looking at a disaster like that, what do you think communities and transit systems need to do to adapt to climate change?

RL: Build whatever you're going to rebuild to standards that will be resiliency standards. Do not rebuild this infrastructure to 19th century standards or 20th century standards. They have to be to standards to withstand a Sandy. And we're going to require that.

We were able to get resiliency money in the bill, thanks to Rodney Frelinghuysen and others.

We know that climate change is going to continue to wreak havoc when these storms hit, and transportation infrastructure has to be built to standards that can withstand these kinds of storms.

TS: So you're saying there are going to be federal regulations on this?

RL: What I'm saying is, we're not going to let communities or transit systems rebuild their systems the way they were once built. We're not going to allow that.

They get that though.

TS: The FRA gets a lot of heat for excessive regulation, safety regulation. Why has that not been addressed?

RL: Safety is our number one priority. Our colleagues at the FRA really believe in this. They believe that implementing good safety regulations is our number one priority. That's what we should be doing.

TS: Do you think some of it is excessive or –?

RL: Absolutely not. I don't know how you can be excessive when it comes to safety. You can't be.

TS: Things like heavier rail cars and locomotives, made heavier to be safer but then they can't be fuel-efficient; they can't be fast.

RL: Well look, we're not going to compromise safety. We're going to set the highest safety standards possible.

TS: Bill Shuster is the new chair of the T&I Committee. The first hearing he's holding is a vocal defense of the federal role in transportation and infrastructure spending. There's a lot of opposition in the Republican party especially, but in general, for a strong role for the federal government. Why do you think the federal government has a strong role to play in transportation, rather than just letting the states do their thing with their money?

RL: Because we should have a national transportation policy, and that can be set by allocation of dollars and priorities. We've always done it that way. We have always, until more recently, been number one because we had a good strong national transportation policy — and we funded it.

That's what we need to get back to. But it can't be single-minded or single-issue. It has to be very comprehensive and it has to incorporate what communities really need. The reason that we built the interstate system is because we were committed to doing that. But now that we've built it, we need to move on and have a comprehensive, big vision about transportation. We can set that with our partners around the country.

TS: And in setting that policy, what do you feel like the next bill after MAP-21 has to include? What's the next step? MAP-21 achieved a lot of goals the department had but not all of them. What's the thing that the next bill really has to do?

RL: A multi-year, comprehensive, creative bill that incorporates what people around the country are really thinking now. And people around the country, as I said, in some instances are way ahead of their politicians. They're thinking multimodal; they're thinking many different transportation options; they're thinking that we should have a national agenda to create the kind of communities where people have many different forms of transportation.

Tanya Snyder became Streetsblog’s Capitol Hill editor in September 2010 after covering Congress for Pacifica and public radio. She lives car-free in a transit-oriented and bike-friendly neighborhood of Washington, DC.

Ray LaHood Exit Interview Part 3 (Streetsblog Capitol Hill) was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Tesla May Have Lost $100 Million From NYTimes Story — Musk: “I’d Rather Tell The Truth & Suffer The Consequences”

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 04:26 AM PST

Unfortunately, the biggest cleantech surprise of the month was probably a New York Times review of the East Coast Tesla Supercharger Network set up for the convenience of Model S owners. Despite many others (from CNN to Consumer Reports to Model S owners themselves) making the drive without a hitch, even in similarly horrible winter weather, New York Times reporter John Broder ended his test drive with the car on a tow truck (after some extremely questionable driving decisions… as well as notes that didn’t match up with Tesla’s own records).

As I expressed several times, media coverage of the story wasn’t of the highest quality. And while there was some hope that Tesla might come out on top due to all the attention it received from the controversy (and maybe still will in the long run), it seems the story might have initially cost Tesla tens of millions of dollars (or even around $100 million) from the negative coverage.

Well, Musk recently sat down with Bloomberg TV to discuss the story. The video published by Bloomberg TV (video below) includes this classic line right near the beginning: “Lots of people said, ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong, you don’t battle the New York Times.’… To hell with that, I’d rather tell the truth and suffer the consequences, even if they’re negative.”

Unfortunately, it seems that the overall results (at least, as they can be quantified right now) were negative. “We did actually get a lot of cancellations as a result of the New York Times article,” Musk said. “It probably affected us to the tune of tens of millions, if not on the order of $100 million. So it’s not trivial”

Musk clarified that the loss wasn’t simply due to cancellations, but due to a drop in the company’s valuation. As far as orders go, he said, “there were probably a few hundred” order cancellations due to the New York Times story.

Musk didn’t go hard core on bashing John Broder, though. He said, “I don’t think it should be the end of his career. I don’t even think necessarily he should be fired. But, I do think he fudged, he fudged an article.”

Tesla Model S Production

Changing gears a bit (no pun intended), interviewer Betty Liu questioned Musk about production targets and such. Musk confirmed that the company is up to producing about 400 units of the Model S per week, and that the total target for this year is 20,000.

Musk also knocked down the myth that only early adopters are reserving the Model S. He notes that whenever a lot of Model S deliveries hit a particular area of the country, the reservations in that area actually increase. In other words, word of mouth is working well for the high-performing Model S, as one would hope.

“For every customer’s car that is delivered, we seem to sell an incremental 2 or 3 cars, as a function of that customer — on average. Some customers, it’s been like 20 cars.”

So, things are looking up.

Musk also discussed the steep learning curve that got the company up to producing 400 units of the Model S a week. He noted that they only produced 600 Tesla Roadsters a year. Getting production numbers for one week up to its previous annual output was a challenge, “a steep learning curve,” and that the company made some mistakes along the way. The assumption is that, with those mistakes out of the way, its production is now more efficient and running much more smoothly.

Congress: Not As Corrupt As We Think

Another interesting segment of the interview concerned Congress. Musk noted, “my overall impression of Washington is that it’s much less corrupt than people think it is. And thank goodness for it, because if it was corrupt, we’d be screwed. That’s not to say that there isn’t some amount of that that does go on. There actually are, I think, a preponderance of the leading House members and Senators… actually are quite idealistic, and do care about doing the right thing.”

Here’s the full video interview:

 

Tesla May Have Lost $100 Million From NYTimes Story — Musk: “I’d Rather Tell The Truth & Suffer The Consequences” was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Ray LaHood Exit Interview Part 1 (Streetsblog Capitol Hill)

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 04:00 AM PST

Streetsblog Capitol Hill recently conducted a great, long interview with outgoing U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. There’s some really great stuff in here, so I’m reposting Part 1 (below) & Part 3 (Part 2 is here).

By Tanya Snyder

ray-lahood

Ray LaHood reflects on the best job he’s ever had. Photo Credit: Tanya Snyder

I had the chance to sit down with Ray LaHood [last week] before he spoke to the U.S. High-Speed Rail Association. Our conversation covered a wide range of topics, looking back on his four years at the helm of the U.S. Department of Transportation. We'll publish the interview in three installments over the next few days. Here's the first part.

Tanya Snyder: There was a long lead up to your announcement, a little bit beyond where a lot of other Cabinet members announced their intentions. What was going on then?

Ray LaHood: I had met with the president after his re-election and we talked about the future. He made it clear to me that he wanted me to stay and thought it was important for me to stay. And I was very conflicted because I think it's really time for me to move on, and even though we have a lot of significant projects going on, and programs, I still felt it was time for somebody else to have this opportunity.

So the president asked me to think about my decision and I did think about it for a while, but eventually I just felt it was time for me to do something else.

And as I've said, this is the best job I've ever had. It's a great job. It's a job where you can really get a lot of good things done, a lot of significant things.

We started out with the economic recovery, $48 billion. We did CAFE. We did a lot of stuff with our colleagues at the FAA. We traveled the country in collaboration with our colleagues from HUD and EPA talking about livable and sustainable communities. We implemented a whole new streetcar project around the country. We implemented the president's vision for high-speed rail.

I think that for the first time in the history of DOT, people actually knew who the secretary was — and also knew that DOT was not just about building roads and bridges. It was about building communities. It was about engaging community leaders, and mayors, and stakeholders in the biking area, in the green community, and really giving people alternatives in transportation. So if they wanted to get out of their car, they could bike to work. If they wanted to develop a streetcar project, that the potential was there for it.

I think you'll see a pretty bold vision from the president, bolder than in the first term.

We developed partnerships all over the country, and not only with the biking community, the high-speed rail community, mayors, governors, people who really wanted to get things done in transportation.

This was a very, very tough decision for me. I think the potential is there to continue to make a lot of progress — particularly with the president's vision.

TS: You know better than anyone what makes for a good secretary of transportation. What should the president look for in picking a new secretary?

RL: To continue his vision; to carry out his agenda. His agenda is an agenda of putting people to work. That's what we do at DOT. Every project we do puts people to work.

That's what the president really cares about it: getting the economy moving. And there's no better way to do it than through infrastructure and though the Department of Transportation. No president has ever had a vision like President Obama on high-speed rail; no president has ever invested $12 billion in passenger rail.

So the president will be looking for somebody who will continue to carry out his vision for infrastructure, for transportation, for livable and sustainable communities, for making sure that people have lots of transportation alternatives — and the jobs that are created as a result of it.

TS: A couple of years ago, with the reauthorization, you did have the very difficult job of selling this very ambitious, very bold proposal of the president's, but without a revenue stream attached to it, without being able to say, "Well, this is where the money's going to come from." And that made it a very hard sell in Congress. Is there anything that you would do differently if you were doing that process all over again?

RL: Well, look, we were following the lead of the president and our colleagues at the White House, and the idea that we would do something differently would mean that we were going against what people wanted us to do. And I think that when the president gets around to talking about infrastructure in a way that's more than just an item on an agenda, I think he'll talk about it in a bold way — in a way that reflects the idea that we need a multi-year transportation program, that we need to put the funding behind it if we're really going to put people to work, if we're really going to tackle the big infrastructure needs in America — if we're really going to be number one in infrastructure again.

We are not number one in infrastructure! We are not number one in transportation! For the first time in the history of our country, we're behind Asia, we're behind other places in the world because they've made the investments and we haven't.

So I think you'll see a pretty bold vision from the president, bolder than in the first term.

TS: One of the very bold things that you did was stand on a tabletop and declare the equality of non-motorized transportation. Do you feel like that is an ethic that is deeply permeated in the department, or is that something that could leave with you? Or leave with President Obama?

RL: I think that the team of people that we have put together in the department, almost all of whom will be there after I'm gone, all of whom will support whoever the next secretary is, believe in the agenda that we have promoted, believe very strongly in alternative forms of transportation, promoting bike-share programs, promoting streetcars, promoting bus rapid transit, promoting light rail, promoting livable and sustainable communities, promoting alternative transportation.

I believe that this agenda will continue to be carried out by a very, very talented group of people that we put together over the last four years that will support the president's vision and support the vision that DOT is not just about building roads and bridges. It's about a lot of other opportunities for transportation for people. And I think people should not worry about that.

TS: Many members of your party think that bike and pedestrian and livability improvements should be done and funded at the local level. You have made the case in the last four years that it is a federal priority. First of all, why do you think it should be a federal responsibility instead of local, and how do you communicate that to the Republican party?

DOT is not just about building roads and bridges.

RL: I think that local governments and local organizations simply do not have the resources. And I think people, fortunately, have not been dissuaded by public officials that have no vision. We have to continue to support those communities that want to implement many different forms of transportation, want to implement the idea that  people want to live in livable and sustainable communities.

Some communities want to do streetcars, others want to do light rail, others want to do bus rapid transit, others want to just improve infrastructure. Our responsibility is to work with all those people, knowing that they don't have the resources at the local level because of a lousy economy. We should take a part of our resources here in Washington and give opportunities to communities that really want to think outside the box when it comes to transportation.

That's what this is about. This is about communities with a vision. Community leaders with a vision. And we have a responsibility to enable them to carry out that vision.

TS: McClatchy just did a series on state DOTs that are overspending on highway expansion to the extent that they have nothing left for maintenance. How do you think the priorities got to where they are now, and what can be done to refocus them?

RL: Part of it is having the resources to fund the kind of opportunities that we want to promote. We've relied for years and years and years — for decades — on the highway trust fund to fund everything. And that's a very limited resource now because people are driving less and driving more fuel-efficient cars. And people are also using alternative forms of transportation, other than gasoline-powered automobiles.

So I think everybody who has a stake in transportation needs to think outside the box on how are we going to fund all the things that we need to do. And I think we need to be leaders on that too, here in Washington. And I think you'll see the president lead on that.

Obviously, the president has been focused on immigration, been focused on gun control, been focused on getting his cabinet in place, been focused in the last week or so on the State of the Union. But when the president gets focused on infrastructure and transportation, I think you'll see a bold vision.

Not just a bold vision about what needs to be done — there's no debate about what needs to be done in America. Everyone knows what needs to be done. The debate is going to be about how we pay for it.

TS: Right. How do we pay for it?

RL: Rather than me speculating on that, I'm going to leave it to others to figure that out.

TS: Not speculating – what do you believe is the right way?

RL: It doesn't make any difference. I'm a lame duck. It'll be up to the president and whoever sits in this chair to articulate that, and I'll leave it to them.

Tanya Snyder became Streetsblog’s Capitol Hill editor in September 2010 after covering Congress for Pacifica and public radio. She lives car-free in a transit-oriented and bike-friendly neighborhood of Washington, DC.

Ray LaHood Exit Interview Part 1 (Streetsblog Capitol Hill) was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Renewable Energy Adoption — Not Fast Enough

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 03:00 AM PST

Here on CleanTechnica, we regularly see article after article trumpeting the advances wind power has made (for example, last year, the rate of installation increased by about 20%) or praising the huge installation of photovoltaic power in Germany, Italy, or even the Czech Republic! While Europe may be the clean energy standard that many champion as leading the field, we also see noteworthy advancements in Australia and even in the U.S. Combine these impressive growth statistics with the rapidly advancing technology and lowering costs and it would be a very reasonable question to ask: “Why is it important to pass policies that support Renewable Energy Technologies? Why can’t we simply wait for this exponential growth to take over?”

You may hear arguments about global warming and ocean acidification, or maybe even hear a response about fossil fuel subsidies and externalities if you’re lucky, but I would argue that these responses miss the bigger picture of our world energy profile. While these exponential advancements are great, and absolutely deserve to be publicized, they are not nearly enough to achieve a clean energy society within our lifetime.

Let’s look at the “Clean Energy Standard” set by our neighbors in Europe. In 2011, Europe installed an impressive 9.4 GW of wind power, bringing the total to 94 GW of installed capacity generating energy equivalent to 15.4 Million Tonnes of Oil! (15.4 MTOE)

So, how does the picture change if we include solar, hydro electric, biomass, and geothermal? With all of that, the EU rises to a whopping 162.3 MTOE!

That sounds incredibly impressive! So, where does that leave us? With a mere 14.6% of European energy demand being met by renewable energy. Whoa. Less than 15% of the energy used today in the world’s “Clean Energy Leader” came from renewable sources.

But we’ve heard time and again about the huge growth of renewables all over Europe! How is the continent only hitting 14.6%?

Despite having some of the most fertile renewable energy policies in the world, incredible public support, being economically viable, and being incredibly deployable — massive growth simply takes time!

That is why we have to start now!

Sure, there will be better technology tomorrow, as will always be the case, but we simply can’t sit idly by if we wish to create a clean energy economy. It’s just not practical because of the incredible scale. Even if we cut the price of both solar and wind energy in half tomorrow, it would still likely take decades to completely revolutionize our grid without supporting policies.

It’s like trying to build a country in a day: it’s just not feasible.

But hear this: Hope is not lost. I do not mean to write this to discourage those who are advocating and adopting clean energy, but rather to motivate those who think the market will play itself out and renewable energy will soon win. It will win: despite all of the points above, renewables will be the energy source of the future, but not nearly as soon as we might think, not unless we develop comprehensive policies that allow a fair playing field for all energy technologies.

It’s like trying to play professional baseball with a broom stick instead of a bat. Sure, it could be done by an incredible athlete, but they will never play at the level they are capable of. Fossil fuels get to play with their nice thick bats while renewable energy technologies are left to use their broom handle.

The surprising thing is, renewable energy still has the advantage! At this point in their life cycle, clean energy technologies don’t even need an unfair advantage — they have the technological advantage! They simply need the chance to compete! The opportunity for a clean energy society is laying right in front of us. The question is, will we chose to level the playing field and increase the rate of adoption, or are we content to simply allow renewable energy to grow in the background while we continue business as usual?

Renewable Energy Adoption — Not Fast Enough was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Future Of Airline Efficiency

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 01:00 AM PST

airplane

Airplane via Shutterstock

The aviation industry, like all major industries, plays a role when it comes to contributing to greenhouse gases and pollution in the environment. Specific data for the United States is harder to come by, but the UK has been forthcoming with statistics about its own CO2 production from the aviation industry, as well as the global impact.

According to global data, the aviation industry is responsible for 1.5% to 2% of CO2 emissions. However, this is an average that also takes developing countries with no contribution (as they have no aviation industry) into consideration. It is estimated that the United Kingdom’s CO2 emissions resulting from the aviation industry are around 6.3%. Although, experts do believe that this is underestimated, and the aviation industry grows by as much as 5% each and every year. Additionally, it is believed that the global warming impact is even greater than the CO2 impact alone.

As society pushes for eco-friendly improvements in all facets of their lives, the aviation industry is under substantial pressure to improve its ecological footprint.  In order to address these demands, many technological leaders in aviation engineering are returning to more historical prototypes for airplane engines. Propeller engines were featured in many of the first planes, but as they tend to be noisier, airlines began to move away from this technology. However, companies have started to recognize that propeller engines are more environmentally friendly, and are beginning to move back to that technology.

Rolls-Royce has released an open rotor design that it claims can reduce CO2 emissions by 10,000 tons per year for every aircraft. Airlines could also reduce their fuel bills by $3 million by adopting the use of these engines. Its propeller design is considered more energy efficient, as it is powered by two different sets of propellers that are at the back of the engine, which rotate in opposite directions.

As new airplane engine technology is being developed, Skygeek fiberscopes offers a necessary tool that can be used to test and inspect the functioning of the advancements. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have also released a new prototype that they claim will reduce fuel consumption by 40 percent. Their design is not just ecologically friendly due to the engine, but due to the overall aircraft shape itself. The design includes straighter, more slender wings, and engines are mounted at the rear of the fuselage.

Changes to make planes and jets more environmentally-friendly are still in the early stages, but the aviation industry still offers transportation that causes less harm to the environment than other transportation options, like trains, cars and buses. As technological evolution continues, travellers may feel even more confident that their jet-setting does not make such a negative contribution to the environment.

Future Of Airline Efficiency was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Measuring The Smartness Of The Electricity Grid

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 12:10 AM PST

Continuing on with our daily series on Leonardo ENERGY videos, here’s one on measuring the “smartness” of the electricity grid:

Measuring The Smartness Of The Electricity Grid was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

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