Archive for January 7th, 2011

Arizona Plant Creates Solar Power When Sun Isn’t Shining

What’s one of the biggest hurdles for solar power? The sun just doesn’t run on that kind of schedule. Amazingly, however, a new solar power plant slated to go up in the Arizona desert will soon be able to bypass that pesky problem.

solar power at night

Abengo Solar Inc. is heading the $2 billion endeavor, but once the plant is up and running, it will be able to provide an additional six hours of electricity each day during periods of time when the sun isn’t shining. This will be made possible by storing the heat generated by the sun to create steam that will in turn power turbines.

While construction is planned to start in the middle of this year, the plant isn’t expected to be operational until 2013. It will be the first plant of its kind for the United States, although Nevada and California may soon be jumping on the bandwagon, and there are a few already running in Spain.

Backed by a $1.45 billion U.S. loan, the Solana plant will provide electricity year-round for an impressive 70,000 homes in the region. It is currently under a 30-year contract to sell what it generates to the utility company, Arizona Public Service.

Photo Credit: Paul Keller via Flickr CC


Visit the original post at: Solar Power News

Nissan Leaf poll indicates buyers prefer solar power for charging

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Hire Electric’s solar charging station in Richland, WA

Based on an unscientific, limited, ongoing poll posted on the MyNissanLeaf forum, it seems like solar-powered charging is the preferred method for juicing up a battery-powered Leaf. Yes, the poll has only 112 respondents and, yes, the vast majority of the forum users are enamored with being as “green” as possible, but of the four choices – solar, green power from utility, utility power and other – 50 percent of respondents boast that they will charge their Leaf via energy captured from the sun’s powerful rays.

Equipping a home with a sufficient amount of photovoltaic cells to charge a Leaf is certainly not cheap. However, many of the poll respondents note that solar rebates are available in several states across the U.S. In some cases, the upfront investment in solar eventually pays off, but for many who elect to get juice from the sun, the decision is not based on payback periods, it’s more or less an environmentally driven choice that can, in some instances, break the tie between a home and the electrical grid.

[Source: MyNissanLeaf via Nissan-Leaf]

Nissan Leaf poll indicates buyers prefer solar power for charging originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Fri, 07 Jan 2011 08:06:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Visit the original post at: Solar Power News

Solar Power Pits Green against Green

Solar Power Pits Green against Green

However unfortunate and counter-intuitive, reports show a (growing) green divide between solar energy enthusiasts and environmentalists.

solar green vs green

Case in point: the controversial Calico Solar Project, which we have reported on several times, most recently when it lost its former owners and was bought out by K Road Power (a company with high hopes but no financing on the ground as yet, according to reliable news sources).

The Calico dilemma is becoming typical of the type of opposition utility-scale solar faces, largely because what looks like desert to one person looks like critical habitat for rare species to another. It’s sort of like the timeless argument between gardeners about what constitutes a weed.

Thus, while the Sierra Club litigates over, for example, the importance of the fringe-toed lizard in the overall scheme of things, American companies vested in solar pull up anchor and drift to China, where production is cheaper and the environment still takes a back seat to human needs like energy, rightly or otherwise.

This issue is about an industry that – in spite of its optimism, energy and promise (cleaner air at supportable prices) – is finding its biggest naysayers in a group that should welcome it: the tree huggers.

Of course, this is absolutely not going to work, if only because America’s addiction to coal needs to be cured before we all die from it. And if I were a true conspiracy theorist, I might try to identify Republicans hiding behind their Sierra Club memberships and attempting to sway energy policy. But I’m not, and the fact is that both sides truly believe they are doing the right thing for America’s future.

Instead, I go back to a group from my youth called Buffalo Springfield, whose words (“…There’s battle lines being drawn. Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong”) are a strong reminder that compromise is always possible, if  only reasonable people are willing to look for it.

Photo Credit: Lance Cheung via Flickr CC


Visit the original post at: Solar Power News

Solar Power News for January 6th 2011

Solar Power News for January 6th 2011

photo cred: Green Chips

Consumer Electronics Association Give Grant to Green Chips

* The CEA or Consumer Electronics Association gave a grant of $75,000 to environmental organization Green Chips. Green Chips is a non-profit Energy Audit and Retrofit program that helps local Nevada state residents and businesses prepare for solar installations by doing audits and retrofits.

CEA president and CEO acknowledged the work of Green Chips installing a solar panel system for Shade Tree, a woman’s shelter in the Las Vegas area. The installation will save them $500 on their energy bill.

More at Green Chips.

As little as $30 Per Month Will Pay for Oregon Solar Installations

 * National solar energy provider Solar City is helping residents of Oregon take advantage of new legislation that will reduce monthly installation costs to as little as $30 a month. Legislation recently passed that will allow residents who lease solar installations to receive a RETC or residential tax credit previously only available to buyers of installations.

Residents can receive up to $6,000 in RETC’s and payments can be as low as $25 or $30 a month, but Solar City retains ownership of the panels for the 15 year lease.

More at The SunBreak

First Solar and Chinese Solar Development Company to Build World’s Largest Solar Plant

*  Arizona based First Solar, the largest manufacturer of thin-film solar is teaming up with China Guangdong Nuclear Solar Energy Development Co. Ltd. to create the world’s largest solar power plant.


The plant which will be located in Ordos, Inner Mongolia will be a 2000 megawatt power plant project that will be completed in 3 stages. The goal is to complete the power plant in 10 years with the first step being to create a 30-megawatt production capacity plant.


More at USATODAY.


Visit the original post at: Solar Power News

Streetcar is Focus of Salt Lake City Mayor’s State of the City Speech

I’ve written about streetcars and light rail a little bit lately, but most of my knowledge on the matter I acquired a few years ago when I was director of a clean transportation and sustainable development organization in Virginia. Our organization was closely tied to a potential streetcar project in Charlottesville and I learned a lot about it from books on the subjects, regional and national streetcar workshops, more general transportation conferences, the internet, and, of course, individuals who had much more knowledge than me on them. Anyway, the point is, what I learned overall was that streetcars are a very powerful economic development tool, can help to transform cities, and are much more broadly popular than many other forms of mass transit in the U.S. They improve livability of a city.

Apparently, the mayor of Salt Lake City, Ralph Becker, has gotten the memo as well. In his recent State of the City speech, he reportedly spent most of his time talking about the Sugar House streetcar, one of his top 2010 priorities.

“This project reflects — in style and in substance — the goals, values and priorities we have set for our great city,” Becker said during his 17-minute speech at the Salt Lake City-County Building, Deseret News reports. “It exemplifies our continued commitment to move Salt Lake City forward despite challenging economic conditions.”

How the Sugar House Streetcar Project Went Several Times Faster than Projected

Becker, a former city planner, went on to discuss how through pure vision, perseverance, and a slight disregard for what the experts said was possible, Salt Lake City is moving forward on this in a way that many probably (surely, given my experience trying to move such projects forward) did not think possible.

Construction of Salt Lake City’s Sugar House streetcar is expected to begin by the end of the year, and is expected to be in operation as early as 2013. From a 20- to 25-year project estimate to a 5- to 7-year reality, Becker certainly has something to be proud of.

Becker’s next goal is to bring streetcars to downtown Salt Lake City, which it has already started getting federal funding for, recently receiving half a million dollars for this project.

Streetcars, Livability, and Cooperation

“As our work to strengthen partnerships and livability in Salt Lake City continues, our path forward is informed by both our vision for the future and the accomplishments of the past,” the mayor said.

As Ray LaHood has said, such projects are about livability. This is the topic that is making or breaking cities across the country right now and is a key transportation issue. Salt Lake City is on a leading edge with regards to it.

“The Sugar House streetcar won’t be just a transit line,” Becker said. “It will be a wonderful asset in one of our most treasured neighborhoods. … The Sugar House area will be enhanced as a ‘destination neighborhood,’ with bikeways and trails, locally owned eclectic small businesses, restaurants, shops and a wide array of housing options.”

I would also add that the cooperatively-focused nature of the streetcar work in Salt Lake City seems to be a very admirable feature of the project. This is a key component of successful urban planning in a democracy and Salt Lake City has nailed it.

In the end, hopefully other cities will take note of Salt Lake City’s success and do similar work to make it less unique.

Photo Credit: makeslessnoise



Visit the original post at: Energy News

GM Joins Uncle Sam to Build Better Batteries


Visit the original post at: Energy News

EU Will Exceed Renewable Energy Goal of 20 Percent by 2020
01/07/2011 – The EU 27
will exceed its target of meeting 20% of its gross final energy
consumption from renewable sources by 2020…


Visit the original post at: Energy News

Energy limits global economic growth, study finds
A new study establishes macroecological correlations across countries and over time between per capita gross domestic product and per capita energy use. The authors infer a causal linkage. Correlations between these same two measures and measures of lifestyle quality lead the authors to believe that energy production would have to increase several-fold to support a still-growing world population in the current US lifestyle.
Visit the original post at: ScienceDaily: Renewable Energy News

CES: Ford introduces smartphone app for electric Focus
With the introduction of its electric car, Ford is releasing a smartphone app to help drivers cope with range issues.

Originally posted at CES 2011

Visit the original post at: Green Tech

CES 2011: Samsung Shows Off Earth-Friendlier Phones
samsung cell phone photo
Image via Samsung

We’ve known about Samsung’s green(er) Blue Earth cell phone for awhile now, but there are two lesser known models the company has created with a lighter footprint — the Evergreen and the Rant 2. They are shown off here at CES, with a nod to the eco-friendly components, including recycled plastic used for their casing…. Read the full story on TreeHugger
Visit the original post at: TreeHugger

UMTRI study suggests possibility of substantial gains in real-world fuel efficiencies through modification of driver behavior

A recent study published by the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) concludes that modifying driver behavior through training or using electronic modulation technology between the driver’s foot and the throttle could results in substantial potential gains in real-world fuel efficiencies.

David LeBlanc, Michael Sivak and Scott Bogard studied fuel consumption rates from a naturalistic driving data set employing a fleet of identical passenger vehicles with gasoline engines and automatic transmissions. One hundred and seventeen drivers traveled a total of more than 342,000 kilometers (213,000 miles), unsupervised, using one of the experiment’s instrumented test vehicles as their own. Continuous monitoring of hundreds of data signals, including fuel flow rate, provided a unique data set of driving behavior with a common vehicle.

A substantial variation in the overall fuel consumption rate was observed. The differences between the mean consumption rate and the fuel consumption rates for the 10th and 90th percentile drivers were 13 and 16 percent, respectively, of the mean value. The corresponding differences between the 10th and 90th percentiles and the mean for both speed-keeping events and accelerating-from-rest events were up to 10 percent.

While some of the obtained variation in fuel economy is likely due to uncontrolled or unmeasured factors, such as passenger and fuel weight, and wind, the data imply that the behavior of real-world drivers adds significant variation to fuel consumption rates.

Resources

  • LeBlanc, David J. et al. (2010) Using naturalistic driving data to assess variations in fuel efficiency among individual drivers. UMTRI-2010-34


Visit the original post at: Transportation News

UMTRI study suggests possibility of substantial gains in real-world fuel efficiencies through modification of driver behavior

A recent study published by the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) concludes that modifying driver behavior through training or using electronic modulation technology between the driver’s foot and the throttle could results in substantial potential gains in real-world fuel efficiencies.

David LeBlanc, Michael Sivak and Scott Bogard studied fuel consumption rates from a naturalistic driving data set employing a fleet of identical passenger vehicles with gasoline engines and automatic transmissions. One hundred and seventeen drivers traveled a total of more than 342,000 kilometers (213,000 miles), unsupervised, using one of the experiment’s instrumented test vehicles as their own. Continuous monitoring of hundreds of data signals, including fuel flow rate, provided a unique data set of driving behavior with a common vehicle.

A substantial variation in the overall fuel consumption rate was observed. The differences between the mean consumption rate and the fuel consumption rates for the 10th and 90th percentile drivers were 13 and 16 percent, respectively, of the mean value. The corresponding differences between the 10th and 90th percentiles and the mean for both speed-keeping events and accelerating-from-rest events were up to 10 percent.

While some of the obtained variation in fuel economy is likely due to uncontrolled or unmeasured factors, such as passenger and fuel weight, and wind, the data imply that the behavior of real-world drivers adds significant variation to fuel consumption rates.

Resources

  • LeBlanc, David J. et al. (2010) Using naturalistic driving data to assess variations in fuel efficiency among individual drivers. UMTRI-2010-34


Visit the original post at: Transportation News

Maritz study finds growing but still low US consumer awareness about alternative fuel technologies; knowledge gap and confusion a sales challenge for OEMs

Results of a survey released by Maritz Research demonstrates that while US consumer awareness about alternative fuel vehicles continues to grow, only about one in five consumers state they are “very familiar” with any alternative-fuel technologies. The research also indicates that consumers have relatively low product knowledge of electric-only and electric-hybrid vehicles and see electric technology vehicles as useful for those who do limited driving.

According to the Maritz Automotive Research Group, which conducted the research based on a telephone survey of 1,207 licensed American drivers 18 years of age or older, top of mind consumer awareness about the electric-only vehicle category outpaces gasoline-electric hybrids. When asked to name an alternative fuel technology other than gasoline powered automobiles, 56% said electric vehicles while nearly a third identified gasoline-electric hybrids.

While awareness is high and knowledge has increased since a Maritz Research 2006 poll, few consumers today purport to be very familiar with either electric-only, flex fuel or gasoline-hybrid vehicles. In the last five years, the percentage of consumers “very familiar” with:

  • Electric-only vehicles doubled from 8 to 16%;
  • Flex-fuel (E85) vehicles rose from 12 to 17%; and
  • Gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles rose from 15 to 22%.
  • 13% said they were very familiar with clean diesel and 6% with hydrogen.

Our research indicates that over time consumers see the adoption of electric-power and other alternative power-train vehicles as an imminent reality. Yet today, low consumer familiarity and understanding of alternative fuel vehicles – including both electric only and gasoline-electric hybrids – has a cooling effect on their purchase intent.

This research is instructive for auto manufacturers, dealers and other stakeholders as to current consumer perceptions that should either be corrected or reinforced. It shows that consumers require more education about the product options and characteristics associated with individual brands and technologies. While OEMs have been focusing on familiarity, increasing consumer knowledge will enable higher sales conversions to new drive-train technologies.

—Dave Fish, Ph.D., vice president, Maritz Research

Overall survey respondents voiced positive opinions of alternative vehicles and their benefits:

  • 74% said they felt that alternative fuel vehicles were good because they reduced dependence on foreign oil;
  • 68% said they would consider obtaining an alternative fuel vehicle because it was better for the environment;
  • 59% said an alternative vehicle is appealing because it costs less to operate than a gas vehicle.

Just 25% of respondents labeled electric vehicles a fad and said they would not consider purchasing this alternative fuel technology. Other general findings about EVs included:

  • 59% said they don’t know enough about electric vehicles to consider one as their next purchase;
  • 55% said that an electric car is a “good choice for a second car within my household, but not a good choice for my primary vehicle.”
  • 57% of respondents said that an electric vehicle is only practical if you do very limited driving; and
  • 17% of respondents said that they would want to “purchase an electric car as soon as it is available in their market.”

The Maritz Research study indicates that a low understanding about product and category characteristics may contribute to the low level of familiarity of alternative fuel vehicles.

While 39% of consumers are familiar with the Chevrolet Volt, among those respondents who stated they were familiar with the model, fewer than half correctly understood some of its significant characteristics:

  • Only 32% of those familiar with the Volt agreed with the correct statement that, “The Chevrolet Volt has a range extending gas generator that produces enough energy to propel it for up to 300 additional miles.”
  • 38% of respondents knew that “with the Chevrolet Volt, most people can commute back and forth to work for $1.50 a day.”

Familiarity about the Nissan Leaf stood at 17%, and product knowledge for some of its characteristics was also low among those familiar with the car:

  • 30% of those familiar with the Leaf agreed with the correct statement that “the battery pack that runs the Nissan Leaf should last around 100,000 miles.”
  • 31% said they understood that at a quick-charge station using 480 volts, a charge for a Leaf takes about 30 minutes
  • 50% of respondents knew that the “Nissan Leaf can run for up to 100 miles before it needs to be plugged in to recharge it.”

Having been on the market for more than a decade, the Toyota Prius garnered a 75% familiarity rating. However, even some of the Prius’ product characteristics were not universally understood. For example, only 57% of those familiar with a Prius understood that it does not need to be plugged in.

The data indicates that consumers are still confused about these new technologies. This confusion will continue to be a barrier to widespread adoption of alternative fuel vehicles.

—Dave Fish

Maritz Research conducted the study with 1,207 licensed drivers representative of Americans 18 years of age or older; a total of 150 individuals intending to purchase a vehicle within the next year were interviewed. Quotas were set up to capture respondents living in geographic areas where Chevrolet Volt (n=305) and Nissan Leaf (n=197) are launching. The study’s results were weighted based on licensed driver data from the US Department of Transportation. The study occurred between 22 October and 8 November 8 2010.


Visit the original post at: Transportation News

Maritz study finds growing but still low US consumer awareness about alternative fuel technologies; knowledge gap and confusion a sales challenge for OEMs

Results of a survey released by Maritz Research demonstrates that while US consumer awareness about alternative fuel vehicles continues to grow, only about one in five consumers state they are “very familiar” with any alternative-fuel technologies. The research also indicates that consumers have relatively low product knowledge of electric-only and electric-hybrid vehicles and see electric technology vehicles as useful for those who do limited driving.

According to the Maritz Automotive Research Group, which conducted the research based on a telephone survey of 1,207 licensed American drivers 18 years of age or older, top of mind consumer awareness about the electric-only vehicle category outpaces gasoline-electric hybrids. When asked to name an alternative fuel technology other than gasoline powered automobiles, 56% said electric vehicles while nearly a third identified gasoline-electric hybrids.

While awareness is high and knowledge has increased since a Maritz Research 2006 poll, few consumers today purport to be very familiar with either electric-only, flex fuel or gasoline-hybrid vehicles. In the last five years, the percentage of consumers “very familiar” with:

  • Electric-only vehicles doubled from 8 to 16%;
  • Flex-fuel (E85) vehicles rose from 12 to 17%; and
  • Gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles rose from 15 to 22%.
  • 13% said they were very familiar with clean diesel and 6% with hydrogen.

Our research indicates that over time consumers see the adoption of electric-power and other alternative power-train vehicles as an imminent reality. Yet today, low consumer familiarity and understanding of alternative fuel vehicles – including both electric only and gasoline-electric hybrids – has a cooling effect on their purchase intent.

This research is instructive for auto manufacturers, dealers and other stakeholders as to current consumer perceptions that should either be corrected or reinforced. It shows that consumers require more education about the product options and characteristics associated with individual brands and technologies. While OEMs have been focusing on familiarity, increasing consumer knowledge will enable higher sales conversions to new drive-train technologies.

—Dave Fish, Ph.D., vice president, Maritz Research

Overall survey respondents voiced positive opinions of alternative vehicles and their benefits:

  • 74% said they felt that alternative fuel vehicles were good because they reduced dependence on foreign oil;
  • 68% said they would consider obtaining an alternative fuel vehicle because it was better for the environment;
  • 59% said an alternative vehicle is appealing because it costs less to operate than a gas vehicle.

Just 25% of respondents labeled electric vehicles a fad and said they would not consider purchasing this alternative fuel technology. Other general findings about EVs included:

  • 59% said they don’t know enough about electric vehicles to consider one as their next purchase;
  • 55% said that an electric car is a “good choice for a second car within my household, but not a good choice for my primary vehicle.”
  • 57% of respondents said that an electric vehicle is only practical if you do very limited driving; and
  • 17% of respondents said that they would want to “purchase an electric car as soon as it is available in their market.”

The Maritz Research study indicates that a low understanding about product and category characteristics may contribute to the low level of familiarity of alternative fuel vehicles.

While 39% of consumers are familiar with the Chevrolet Volt, among those respondents who stated they were familiar with the model, fewer than half correctly understood some of its significant characteristics:

  • Only 32% of those familiar with the Volt agreed with the correct statement that, “The Chevrolet Volt has a range extending gas generator that produces enough energy to propel it for up to 300 additional miles.”
  • 38% of respondents knew that “with the Chevrolet Volt, most people can commute back and forth to work for $1.50 a day.”

Familiarity about the Nissan Leaf stood at 17%, and product knowledge for some of its characteristics was also low among those familiar with the car:

  • 30% of those familiar with the Leaf agreed with the correct statement that “the battery pack that runs the Nissan Leaf should last around 100,000 miles.”
  • 31% said they understood that at a quick-charge station using 480 volts, a charge for a Leaf takes about 30 minutes
  • 50% of respondents knew that the “Nissan Leaf can run for up to 100 miles before it needs to be plugged in to recharge it.”

Having been on the market for more than a decade, the Toyota Prius garnered a 75% familiarity rating. However, even some of the Prius’ product characteristics were not universally understood. For example, only 57% of those familiar with a Prius understood that it does not need to be plugged in.

The data indicates that consumers are still confused about these new technologies. This confusion will continue to be a barrier to widespread adoption of alternative fuel vehicles.

—Dave Fish

Maritz Research conducted the study with 1,207 licensed drivers representative of Americans 18 years of age or older; a total of 150 individuals intending to purchase a vehicle within the next year were interviewed. Quotas were set up to capture respondents living in geographic areas where Chevrolet Volt (n=305) and Nissan Leaf (n=197) are launching. The study’s results were weighted based on licensed driver data from the US Department of Transportation. The study occurred between 22 October and 8 November 8 2010.


Visit the original post at: Transportation News

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