Monday, February 4, 2013

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

4.47 To 1 — Ratio Of U.S. Voters Who Would Prefer Carbon Tax To Cut In Spending

Posted: 03 Feb 2013 05:09 PM PST

Power plant pollution via Shutterstock

Politically, it seems there are simply too many whack-jobs (aka Tea Partiers) in Congress to get a carbon tax passed… or to get almost anything sensible passed. But that doesn’t mean Americans wouldn’t support the policy.

For example, a recent poll found that 93% of Democrats and even 66% of Republicans (like much of the world) support a carbon tax. Furthermore, 67% of voters would rather see the government tax carbon pollution than cut government spending in order to fix budget problems, versus a measly 15% who would prefer the reverse. Here are some more interesting findings from the recent poll (from Friends of the Earth, via climate crock buster Peter Sinclair):

  • “Voters' strong support for carbon taxes do not differ greatly based on how the revenue would be used: whether to help solve our budget problems (70 percent in favor), or to help solve our budget problems as well as fund climate and clean energy jobs programs (72 percent in favor).”
  • Survey respondents were very supportive of a carbon tax even when presented with strongly-worded arguments against it, including the contention that ‘with the economy in trouble and too many people struggling to find jobs, this is a wrong time to pass a new tax on every business and consumer in America.’



 
And here are more fun stats regarding a potential carbon tax:

“Even a modest tax on carbon dioxide pollution, like that proposed by Representative Pete Stark (D-Calif.) in 2009, has the potential to generate substantial revenue: Stark's tax, for example, could have yielded $80 billion in the first year alone, and $600 billion over 10 years. That is about half the amount that the automatic spending cuts ($1.2 trillion) would save over nine years, less if part of the revenue were refunded to consumers.”

Who would’ve thought? Republicans and Democrats alike don’t like the fact that we’re cooking our planet, and have the common sense to see that discouraging that while earning money for the American public is a good idea. First step accomplished. Next step: remove Tea Partiers and their kin from Congress!

4.47 To 1 — Ratio Of U.S. Voters Who Would Prefer Carbon Tax To Cut In Spending 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.

EU Needs More Electric Cars & Hybrids To Meet Carbon Goals

Posted: 03 Feb 2013 04:52 PM PST

A new study by Ricardo-AEA has found that the European Union (EU) needs to get a lot more pure electric and hybrid electric cars into the hands of consumers in order to meet its 2025 carbon reduction goals (presumably, getting more people to bike or take mass transit would work just as well).




 
“The consultancy, which advises governments and companies, looked at a set of scenarios for 2025 in the study, commissioned by campaign groups Greenpeace and Transport & Environment and seen by Reuters prior to official publication,” Reuters writes.

“It found that an average of 70 g/km across the bloc could be achieved by 2025 if new car sales were divided roughly equally between hybrid and conventional cars. The resulting extra manufacturing costs of around 1,615 euros ($2,200) for a hybrid car could be paid back in less than three years through fuel savings.

“The same goal could be reached if new car sales included 7 percent electric vehicles and then only 22 percent hybrid cars, the study found.”

This is part of an experimental “Sunday quickies” series in which we quickly cover stories recent stories for which we didn’t have time during the previous week.

EU Needs More Electric Cars & Hybrids To Meet Carbon Goals 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.

Nissan Is Tripling Its Number Of Electric Vehicle Fast Chargers In US

Posted: 03 Feb 2013 04:33 PM PST

Nissan couldn’t meet its ambitious goals for early sales of the Nissan Leaf, but the future of electric vehicles (EVs) like the Leaf is no less bright. EV prices are dropping like beads of sweat on a hot summer day, EV sales are growing fast (and have been much greater than early sales of now-super-popular hybrid electric vehicles), and there’s one good EV charging story after another these days.

nissan leaf charging station


 
On Thursday, at the Washington Auto Show, Nissan announced that it has “outlined its strategy for tripling the current electric vehicle quick-charging infrastructure in the United States with the addition of at least 500 quick-charging stations in the next 18 months, including the greater Washington D.C. area’s first fast-charge network.”

Good move by Nissan. Yet another push to get yourself an EV and enjoy the luxury of never again having to visit a gas station, the benefits from saving serious time fueling your vehicle, the peace and quite of an EV’s silent heart, and the good feelings from knowing that you are cutting your CO2 emissions (and other harmful emissions) tremendously.

This is part of an experimental “Sunday quickies” series in which we quickly cover stories recent stories for which we didn’t have time during the previous week.

Nissan Is Tripling Its Number Of Electric Vehicle Fast Chargers In US 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.

First Solar Takes On Ex-Nuclear Professional

Posted: 03 Feb 2013 04:04 PM PST

A clean energy transformation will create jobs. Many studies have found that clean energy creates more jobs than fossil fuel and nuclear energy. That said, fossil fuel and nuclear companies and power plants will certainly lay off workers as they go out of business or change technologies. But the good news is: a clean energy job should be awaiting many of them. Here’s on example:

Tim Rebhorn, First Solar’s new Senior Vice President, Project Development.

First Solar recently hired Tim Rebhorn to take over as Senior Vice President of Product Development. “Rebhorn has more than 30 years of experience in the power generation business as a senior executive in the gas, electricity, generation and distribution industry segments,” First Solar notes. “Most recently, he was CEO of Quail Nuclear Specialty Services, an industrial construction company primarily supporting the nuclear power industry. Previously, he was Managing Director of Resolutions Management, where he provided strategic support for clients in energy, steel, fuel cell, engineering and construction, petroleum and manufacturing industries. Earlier executive positions include Merrill Internationaland Stewart & Stevenson. He began his career in the U.S. Navy, where he served in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program and as a NATO Staff Planning Officer.”

This is part of an experimental “Sunday quickies” series in which we quickly cover stories recent stories for which we didn’t have time during the previous week.

First Solar Takes On Ex-Nuclear Professional 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.

#1 & 2 EV Charging Station Companies Team Up

Posted: 03 Feb 2013 03:55 PM PST

ChargePoint Unveils New EV Charging Smart Phone App

ChargePoint Smartphone App

The EV charging station market is just forming, but there are already clear leaders. To benefit EV drivers, however, those companies could team up to provide more access to charging stations. And they have.

“Via a new partnership to expand networked EV charging stations in North America, DBT USA's new North American portfolio of Level II EV charging stations now have the option to connect to ChargePoint, the world's largest global EV charging network. In a recent study by Pike Research, ChargePoint and DBT are rated as the number one and two EV charging station equipment manufacturers, respectively, in the world,” Green Car Congress writes.

“Through ChargePoint, DBT USA can now provide station owners and EV drivers features including the ability to help with trip planning, manage the cost of charging, and find and operate public stations.”

Good news. More and better charging stations, combined with significant price drops for EVs, should get this EV revolution rolling!

This is part of an experimental “Sunday quickies” series in which we quickly cover stories recent stories for which we didn’t have time during the previous week.

#1 & 2 EV Charging Station Companies Team Up 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.

Transit Tax Benefit Now Equal With Parking Benefit

Posted: 03 Feb 2013 03:44 PM PST

I know — like me, you had no idea car commuters had more in the way of tax benefits than transit commuters. Sadly (and quite regressively), they did. But that was recently fixed by some savvy, transit-friendly senators.




 
From Streetsblog:

The commuting costs that straphangers could claim as tax-deductible had been reduced to a maximum of $125 per month last year, well below the $240 that car commuters could claim monthly to offset parking costs.

With transit and parking benefits again equal, there will be one less pernicious financial incentive to drive to work alone, as David Alpert at Greater Greater Washington noted.

There are many reasons to take transit instead of drive. Good to see they’re now on level playing field in the tax credit category.

This is part of an experimental “Sunday quickies” series in which we quickly cover stories recent stories for which we didn’t have time during the previous week.

Transit Tax Benefit Now Equal With Parking Benefit 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.

John Kerry On The $6 Trillion Energy Market

Posted: 03 Feb 2013 02:48 PM PST

Below is a video on John Kerry’s tremendous climate hawkiness (which he’s known for). As is often recommended, he focuses a lot of time emphasizing the economic and job benefits of clean energy and energy efficiency. He also emphasizes the fact that countries around the world are taking a quick lead on clean energy and other types of cleantech in order to lead the global economy in the coming century/centuries. We should be doing the same. “This $6 trillion market is worth millions of American jobs and leadership. And we better go after it,” John Kerry says. Anyway, watch the video (thanks to Peter Sinclair for sharing it, and thanks to Think Progress for uploading it):

This is part of an experimental “Sunday quickies” series in which we quickly cover stories we didn’t have time for during the previous week.

John Kerry On The $6 Trillion Energy Market 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.

Nissan Leaf Gets £2,500 ($3,950) Price Cut In UK

Posted: 03 Feb 2013 02:20 PM PST

Electric vehicle prices are slated to drop considerably this year. As such, the price of the 2013 Nissan Leaf was just cut by £2,500 (which is $3,950) in the United Kingdom.

Of course, this is just the beginning of the price drops expected for EVs in the years to come. However, even today, this could make owning a Nissan Leaf cheaper than owning a comparable gasoline-powered car for many UK residents.

Assuming that Nissan cut its production cost, and this cut didn’t eat into its profit too much, this price reduction has come at a time when a price drop was much needed, as Nissan Leaf sales have been terribly slow.

Nissan has other tricks up its sleeves to lure prospective Leaf customers, such as a policy under which customers would be provided with a courtesy Leaf while theirs is being repaired.

Source: Autoblog Green

This is part of an experimental “Sunday quickies” series in which we quickly cover stories we didn’t have time for during the previous week.

Nissan Leaf Gets £2,500 ($3,950) Price Cut In UK 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.

Thin-Film Solar Power To Be Sold For Less Than Coal Power

Posted: 03 Feb 2013 02:02 PM PST

According to a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between El Paso Electric Company and First Solar, electricity will be sold from First Solar’s thin-film solar panels to El Paso Electric Company for 5.8 cents per kWh.

A First Solar installation of some of its CdTe panels.

The name of the power plant is Macho Springs Solar Park. It is located in New Mexico, and it has an electricity generation capacity of 50 MW.

The highly unusual thing about this is that the average residential retail cost of electricity in the United States is 11.4 cents per kWh, which is twice as much as the price at which this power plant will be producing electricity! Also, the typical price of thin-film solar power is 16.3 cents per kWh, which is 2.8 times more.

Clearly, even compared to the wholesale price of electricity from the cheapest energy options, this is quite competitive.

The power purchase agreement should be signed by June.

Source: PV Magazine
Photo Credit: boutmuet via Flickr

This is part of an experimental “Sunday quickies” series in which we quickly cover stories we didn’t have time for during the previous week.

Thin-Film Solar Power To Be Sold For Less Than Coal Power 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.

Charging Stations Up, Gas Stations Down: Yet Another Reason to Go EV

Posted: 03 Feb 2013 07:06 AM PST

One huge advantage of electric vehicles is the potential to fuel them up at convenient locations without having to make an extra stop, like say, whenever you park your car at work, and that’s what the Department of Energy has in mind with its new Workplace Charging Challenge. Announced just last week, the Charging Challenge aims to get more U.S. employers to install EV charging stations, to the tune of a tenfold increase over the next five years.

Workplace charging might not seem like much of a make-or-break perk, but when you look at how fast EV prices are falling, the extra convenience could make an enormous difference in the future U.S. car market.

Energy Department launches Workplace Charging Challenge for electric vehicles

Affordable EVs for the U.S. EV Charging Network

Electric vehicles have barely made a dent in the U.S. so far, but if you’re thinking that the whole idea of giving a heavy push to workplace charging right now is kind of like putting the cart before the horse, the Obama Administration has already thought of that.

According to DOE, the average cost of electricity is the equivalent of just $1.00 per gallon in gasoline so all other things being equal, EVs start looking mighty attractive compared to conventional vehicles.

The Charging Challenge is just one part of a broader public-private initiative launched by the Administration last spring, called the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, which has the ambitious goal of making plug-in EV ownership just as widespread and affordable as gasoline vehicle ownership (in case you’re interested, here’s the EV Everywhere Blueprint).

Fuel availability is not a challenge unique to EVs, by the way. When the U.S. automotive industry was first getting off the ground a century ago, there wasn’t exactly a gas station on every corner, and partly for that reason electric vehicles were more popular in the early years (that didn’t last long, but still…).

Who’s on Board with Workplace EV Charging?

It looks like the Charging Challenge is already off to a roaring start. Twenty-one stakeholders are already signed up to lead the way, including  a who’s who of major private sector employers: 3M, Chrysler Group, Duke Energy, Eli Lilly and Company, Ford, GE, GM, Google, Nissan, San Diego Gas & Electric, Siemens, Tesla, and Verizon.

Among the organizations pledging to support and promote the effort are the California PEV Collaborative, CALSTART, Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA), Electrification Coalition, International Parking Institute, NextEnergy, Plug In America, and Rocky Mountain Institute. DOE will also chip in with technical and organizational support.

Given what we know about low cost wind power, the participation of GE and Siemens is especially noteworthy. GE’s wind power projects run the gamut from  wind and solar powered EV charging stations to “Industrial Internet” wind farms, and Siemens’s wind turbines are popping up all over the U.S.

Baby Steps to Workplace Charging

The initial goal is pretty modest, requiring each participant to analyze the demand for EVs (plug-in EVs, that is) and plan for installing workplace charging stations at one major work site.

In terms of EV charging in general some of the private sector participants already have a running start to say the least. Nissan and NRG, for example, have just announced a new partnership to add  500 public fast-charging stations to the U.S., including the first EV fast-charging network for Washington, D.C.

Right now there are only 160 public fast-charging stations in the U.S., so that partnership alone accounts for a significant jump.

NRG’s plans for the EV charging “ecosystem” also include public fast-charge networks in California and Texas, along with home and workplace charging.

EV Charging Stations Going Up, Gasoline Going Down

In terms of fuel station availability and convenience, EV charging stations of all types will soon overtake retail gasoline locations by a wide margin. According to EDTA about 1.5 million public charging stations will be up and running by 2017. That’s all types, not just fast-charging, and that figure doesn’t even include home and workplace charging stations.

By comparison, as of 2011 there were less than 160,000 retail gas stations in the U.S.

Even worse for the gasoline vehicle outlook, retail gas station availability has been trending negative since at least 1994. According to the American Petroleum Institute as of 2004 there were about 168,000 gas stations, down from a little over 200,000 in 1994.

A Legacy of Cleaner Cars

With a heavy push from the Obama Administration, the U.S. EV market has come full circle back to fueling convenience as well as providing a high performance, practically noiseless, emission-free driving experience.

That brings us to outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who left the agency with a bang by announcing his resignation last Friday, just one day after launching the Charging Challenge in a keynote speech for the Washington Auto Show.


Mr. Chu’s email to DOE staff has been made public and it’s worth reading in full because it provides a rundown of the agency’s progress on future energy initiatives over the past four years, particularly regarding the EV market.

Chu will remain in his slot until a successor is named, and it will be mighty interesting to see what the next four years bring.

Image: EV charging sign courtesy of Oregon DOT

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Charging Stations Up, Gas Stations Down: Yet Another Reason to Go EV 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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