Monday, October 29, 2012

New: Energica Motorcycle
Energica Electric BikeItalian manufacturer CRP is set to reveal a prototype of its upcoming Energica motorcycle, reports. The company will present its new electric streetbike to the masses at the Casa Enzo Ferrari Museum on November 7.
The bike is the result of concentrated efforts by the company to improve its electric offerings. CRP spent the year focusing on developing a new bike for production instead of racing in the e-Power series, despite past success in the circuit. As CRP’s background is in racing, there are somemotorsports influences seen in the 2012 prototype. See more here...
Sunlight: Anywhere you want it
SunportalA joint venture company, Sunportal, set up by British and South Korean scientists, promises that it can deliver natural sunlight to any windowless space via pipes.
The technology works by using a mirror to track the sun throughout the day and reflect the light onto a parabolic dish. The parabolic dish focuses the sun’s rays into a small whole which leads to the pipe. This concentrated light then travels along the pipe, passing through a series of relay lenses to ensure that the light doesn’t spread out in different directions. A diffuser guarantees that the light travels along the pipes in an even concentration.
The company assures that their ‘light pipes’ offer between 80lux and 500lux of light (lux is the SI unit of luminance, and one lux is equivalent to light intensity during early twilight). Jong H. Kim, the Global Sales and Marketing Director, claims that the system can lower energy costs by 20-25 percent. Read the story here...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nuclear Energy in the News

The Department of Energy has confirmed that its oldest double-shell tank is actively leaking radioactive and hazardous chemical waste from its inner shell.
DOE made the announcement Monday after a video inspection of the area between the shells Sunday showed more waste in one place than a video taken Thursday showed.
"It's a very, very small volume," said Tom Fletcher, DOE assistant manager for the tank farms. Although there's no good way to measure the amount, it could be a couple of tablespoons of additional waste between the video inspections.
From The Washington Post: "Dominion Resources Inc. said Monday that it plans to close and decommission its Kewaunee Power Station in Wisconsin after it was unable to find a buyer for the nuclear power plant".
As nuclear power continues to crumble under the weight of its own disastrous economics, Dominion CEO, Thomas F. Farrell II,  becomes the latest industry CEO to lose confidence in the nuclear business. "This decision was based purely on economics," Farrell said. Dominion also operates the two North Anna, VA reactors, where a proposed third reactor plan looks fragile at best. It also operates Millstone, CT and Surry, VA.
Reuters also reported on this story, stating that more atomic reactors could follow suit, their bad economics forcing their closure:
"Especially vulnerable under this scenario would be small, old single reactor sites."
According to Reuters, other units that could be slated for permanent closure because they fit the Kewanee economic profile include Exelon Corp's Oyster Creek in New Jersey, Xcel Energy Inc's Monticello in Minnesota, and Entergy Corp's Palisades in Michigan, Vermont Yankee in Vermont and Pilgrim in Massachusetts. 
In fact, an increasing vulnerable and deteriorating nuclear industry under the mounting capital costs and uncertainties arising from Japan's Fukushima disaster can be tallied into a larger list of single unit sites in the United States targeted for closure.   More.
On the Bankruptcy front:
A bankruptcy judge Monday confirmed Solyndra LLC’s Chapter 11 plan, brushing aside protests from the Department of Energy, which stands to lose most of the $527 million in taxpayer dollars it risked on the company. Read the Daily Bankruptcy Review article here.
A123 Systems Inc., the electric car battery maker that filed for Chapter 11 last week after receiving nearly $250 million in government grants, wants to pay more than $4 million in bonuses to a handful of top executives. Click here for the DBR article.
Lorca earthquake ’caused by groundwater extraction’ BBC, I wonder if the east coast tremors are a sign of things to come , thanks to fracking.
More on China’s PMI MacroBusiness

Friday, October 19, 2012

Regional Forecast for EV Ownership

According to data provided by Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia Motor Vehicle Departments, there are approximately 500 EVs registered in the metropolitan Washington region. At least three major EV and PHEV models are available in the region, and service to convert hybrids to PHEVs is available.
While it may not be possible to predict exactly how many EVs will be operating in the region incoming years, one means of estimating future EV adoption is to analyze the recent experience ofhybrid vehicle adoption. According to data from the Transportation Planning Board (TBP), from2005 to 2011, the number of registered hybrid vehicles in the region grew more than 600 percent,from approximately 12,000 vehicles to more than 70,000. COG staff determined that a conservative estimate would be 1,500 to 3,000 EVs operating in the region by the end of the decade. The high estimate could see anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000 EVs on the region’s roadways by 2020. A projection conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute, based on past hybrid sales, manufacturer production estimates, and other publicly available studies, predicts that there could be 15,000 to over 30,000 EVs in the Washington region by 2015.
Potential for EV Use
COG staff analyzed the potential for EVs in the context of current driving patterns in the region. According to COG’s Household Travel Survey, most vehicle trips in the region are relatively short, with an average vehicle trip length of 7.7 miles. This is well within the range of one charge for all EVs in the market today. Therefore, for most daily commutes and other trip purposes, the relatively short length of the trips would not cause significant range anxiety.
Publicly Accessible EV Charging Infrastructure
A growing EV charging infrastructure exists in the metropolitan Washington region as a result of stimulus funding through state governments and private investment. COG staff developed an inventory of EV charging stations for the metropolitan Washington region. Altogether, the inventory identified 332 chargers in 133 publicly available charging station locations, 11 of which are planned stations. The District of Columbia has the most charging stations among COG jurisdictions (36), followed by Arlington County, Virginia (15); Fairfax County, Virginia (18); and Charles County, Maryland (11). The District of Columbia and Arlington County, Virginia, have the highest number of chargers (85 and 62, respectively). About 40 percent of the chargers are Level 1, and the remaining 60 percent are Level 2.6 No DC fast chargers were installed when the inventory was developed. The inventory indicates that building managers are installing EVSE in a variety of land uses.
To understand the current EV policy landscape of the metropolitan Washington region, COG conducted a survey of its 22 member jurisdictions in early 2012 about EV permitting procedures and infrastructure planning efforts. Results of the survey indicated that with some exceptions, most jurisdictions reported having no EV policy development in place. Two exceptions are the District of Columbia and Fairfax County, Virginia, which are integrating EV considerations into the permit review process, building code policy, and ADA parking restrictions. The City of Frederick, Maryland, and the City of Falls Church, Virginia, indicated that they are tracking EV charging permit applications. In other jurisdictions, electrical permits do not indicate whether an EV charging station is being installed—thus presenting a barrier to tracking. Additionally, if a dedicated circuit is already installed, EV drivers charging at 120V (Level 1) outlet would not need to obtain a permit.
The Municipal Policy and Permitting/Inspections subgroups emphasized that local governments will play a critical role in the region’s EV readiness. To facilitate continued growth of the market and smooth the transition to higher rates of EV adoption, the subgroups recommend that local governments ensure that EV infrastructure development is addressed in comprehensive for definitions of EV charging technology.
Planning efforts and that zoning, building codes, and permitting and inspection processes provide a pathway to the expeditious installation of charging equipment. Streamlined permitting and inspection processes, EV and charging incentives, infrastructure readiness, low permitting and inspection costs, and nominal installation costs all contribute to reducing barriers to greater EV adoption.
The regulatory status of EV charging stations—contained in provisions of electric utility policy—can help or hinder the ability of private companies and utilities to provide EV charging services. Across the region, the regulatory status of EV charging service providers is inconsistent and in some cases unclear. Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia have all taken steps in recent years to resolve areas of uncertainty in their electric utility policy as it relates to EVs and EV charging. However, room for improvement remains, particularly when it comes to notifying utilities about EV charging station locations.
The Electric Utility Policy subgroup found that clear state-level policies are needed to promote private investment in EV charging infrastructure for charging in the for-pay charging market. They recommend that ideally, local and state policy would allow utilities to be notified in advance about the location of EV charging equipment so they can ensure that appropriate infrastructure is in place to accommodate the increased load and avoid service disruptions for their customers.
A 2012 survey of fleets in the metropolitan Washington region found that EVs are being adopted slowly. The Greater Washington Region Clean Cities Coalition’s survey of 11 fleet managers found that most EVs currently in operation are used onsite, such as trucks used on landfills or campus landscaping equipment. 7 According to the Coalition, fleet managers cite the cost of EVs and infrastructure as obstacles to purchasing additional EVs. The Fleets subgroup provided recommendations on promoting partnerships between governments and manufacturers to reduce costs and increase utilization of EVs in fleets, encourage charging infrastructure sharing, and promote cooperative purchasing.
The public’s current level of knowledge about electric vehicles is limited. Education efforts by private and public entities (including nongovernmental organizations, electric utilities, PEV service providers, auto dealers, other businesses, and government) are needed to bridge the gap. To set the stage for EV marketplace success in the metropolitan Washington region, regional partners involved in the Metropolitan COG Electric Vehicle Planning Initiative have identified key target audiences and information needs for those audiences.
In addition to identifying an initial list of resources for EV stakeholders to use in education and outreach efforts, the subgroup provides recommendations on how to increase outreach efforts throughout the region. Continuing to search for and share resources, engaging with regional partners to encourage collaboration and to share experiences, and promoting EV awareness through industry training and curricula should be priorities for the region.
Achieving EV readiness in the metropolitan Washington region will require a coordinated approach among all stakeholders, including utilities, players in the EV industry, state and local governments, and nonprofit groups. This report contains recommendations for these stakeholders to promote a consistent set of practices across the region that will remove barriers to EV adoption and infrastructure planning.
The top five recommendations to facilitate EV deployment in the region are as follows:
1. Stakeholder partnerships, such as a Washington Regional Electric Vehicle Partnership, should be formed to develop a business case for EVs, and to assess the potential for community return on investment.
2. Stakeholders should consider offering incentives such as preferred parking, HOV occupancy exceptions, and tax credits to promote EV adoption.
3. Electric permitting procedures should identify EVSE installations and notify electric utilities of their locations.
4. Outreach and education is needed to promote EV adoption and inform the public of its benefits.
5. Comprehensive plans and zoning regulations should guide EV infrastructure
development and ensure that the built environment can accommodate future EVSE installations.
See the entire report here
Snow Job on Jobs New York Times
Cabrera for President! Arthur Silber

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Romney disses EV’s, he must not care about energy independence!

Wednesday night’s presidential debate, Republican nominee Mitt Romney argued that President Obama’s grants and tax breaks to renewable energy companies equalled 50 years of the tax breaks to gas companies.

“Now, I like green energy as well, but that’s about 50 years’ worth of what oil and gas receives,” Romney said. “You put $90 billion — like 50 years’ worth of breaks — into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tesla and Ener1. I mean, I had a friend who said, you don’t just pick the winners and losers; you pick the losers.”

While Solyndra and Ener1 went bankrupt and Fisker is struggling financially, Tesla has shown signs of recovery. Romney then quipped that “One of my friends said, ‘You don’t pick the winners and losers. You pick the losers.’”

It’s a bit premature to call Tesla a loser – especially as the company is building cars it hopes will revolutionize transportation and helps us achieve what Romney said he too was working towards, energy independence.

Moreover, founder Elon Musk posted these three pints in his blog last week:

1. In discussions with the DOE, Tesla has never asked for or even hinted at postponing repayment of the loan. We did suggest that holding nine months worth of principal payments in *advance* in a reserved account was a bit extreme and, moreover, was never part of our original loan agreement. The DOE agreed and reduced the advance payment reserve account to six months. At the risk of being repetitive: Tesla has always made its DOE payments on time and has never asked to delay repayment ever. I don't know how to state this more clearly.

2. The DOE's desire for advance payment of the overall loan stems from a concern that is the complete opposite of what many assume. The DOE believes Tesla will be highly successful and accumulate a large amount of cash, but that we may then choose not to pay off the loan any sooner than is currently required. Far from being worried about our survival, the DOE is highly bullish about our future and doesn't want us to delay early repayment of the loan if we have the cash on hand to do so.

The DOE has simply asked if we would be willing to repay the loan early if we have excess cash. The answer is unequivocally yes and I am happy to announce that we will be initiating an advance payment today to prefund the principal payment that is due in March 2013. The purpose of the DOE Advanced Technology Manufacturing Program was to serve as a catalyst for accelerating sustainable transport technology, which is in the best interests of all Americans and ultimately people throughout the world. In the case of Tesla, the result has been a resurgence in American manufacturing ability and the creation of over 3500 high quality jobs. Nonetheless, we have a duty at Tesla, having accepted this loan as a portion of our capital, to repay it at the earliest opportunity. We will do exactly that.


 Tesla Motor’s future is yet to be determined but Tesla and Elon Musk have captured the imagination of many. The Model S is getting great reviews. So calling Tesla a loser is wrong. The nation has made the decision to move towards conservation, so Mitt Romney is either going to help facilitate this or get in the way. If 50 years of subsidies were invested into clean energies, then it seems to me that Romney should be praising the President’s commitment to energy independence not using this as a zinger. Techies all over should pay attention to his rhetoric; it could be a sign of things to come.

For folks trained on combustion cars, trying out an all-electric vehicle can feel like taking a very fast, road-ready toy for a spin. Press the ignition button, and the car turns on without the telltale rumble of an engine bursting into action. Step on the gas, and the high-torque jolt of speed is surprisingly sudden. The untold story of the electric car revolution: These things are simply fun to drive.

For the RAV4 EV, the secret sauce comes from Tesla Motors. The vehicle is actually a collaboration between Toyota and Tesla, for which Tesla is providing the electric drivetrain and battery packs (I was told they were basically the same innards that are featured in the much-hyped Tesla Model S). The RAV4 is, quite literally, a Tesla vehicle in a Toyota shell.

The auto blog Green Car Reports did the math and found that just four EVs are slated to be for sale in the U.S. in any real numbers by the end of 2012: ones from Nissan, Mitsubishi, Coda, and the aforementioned Tesla.

The blog characterizes others as so-called “compliance cars.” This basically means that they’re produced, at least in part, so their manufacturer can comply with California laws requiring large carmakers to produce at least some zero-emission vehicles.

Now, there are two ways of looking at this peculiarity. Cynics might say manufacturers are just making compliance cars because they have to, with little intention of blowing out the tech into mainstream products…read the entire story

Other News

Zero introduces new line

 Zero Motorcycles last week announced its 2013 model line which features an average power increase of 99 percent and the world’s longest-range production electric motorcycle: the Zero S, capable of 137 miles in the city. To attain such leaps in performance, Zero designed a revolutionary new Z-Force™ motor that is incredibly powerful while also highly efficient, passively air-cooled and compact. Integrated into every 2013 motorcycle, the motor operates using a new higher voltage Z-Force power pack. Providing riders the option to charge faster than ever, each Zero can now be charged to 95 percent in an hour or less using CHAdeMO certified charge stations by way of an optional accessory. Perhaps most exciting, Zero plans to begin initial deliveries of its complete 2013 model line to North America in January 2013.

Nearly all elements of the entire line have been reworked, from highly innovative mobile phone integration to eye-catching styling. Using Bluetooth, riders can now sync their iPhone or Android mobile phones to see detailed motorcycle information and even adjust the performance characteristics of the motorcycle. Riders will appreciate the storage in the ”tank” area and comfortable two-tier seats. To accommodate the new look and powertrain, Zero redesigned the frames for every model with an emphasis on improving rider ergonomics and expanding compatibility with aftermarket accessories.

In 2013, Zero also introduces the Zero FX, a “do anything” and “ride anywhere” urban rebel motorcycle. It is the fastest accelerating motorcycle in the company's lineup with 70 ft-lbs of torque, 44 hp and a low weight of only 275 lbs. The Zero FX, as well as the Zero XU and Zero MX, features a cool modular quick-swap power pack technology. Riders can now use one or two battery modules and can upgrade any of the previously mentioned models from 2.8 kWh to 5.7 kWh in seconds. The Zero MX is capable of comfortably launching off significantly larger jumps at the motocross track.

Zero’s newly introduced Z-Force motor along with it’s powertrain is completely air-cooled, thanks to it’s efficient design. With instant torque, a nearly silent belt-driven system and no shifting, riders will find it easier to enjoy the ride. Zero proudly claims that for the owner, there is no routine powertrain maintenance and the “fuel” cost is only a penny a mile. California with it’s year round good climate and $6 per gallon gas should go think about making the Zero the State symbol.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Electric Cars are the Future

Why Electric Cars Are Our Future
Huffington Post – best explanation I’ve heard yet by
Bill Destler, President, Rochester Institute of Technology
First-generation electric vehicles such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf have failed to gain significant market share in their first two years of availability, and many have concluded that they are not the future of personal transportation, either in the U.S. or elsewhere. Nevertheless, despite this widespread skepticism, other carmakers are rolling out new electric vehicles on a regular basis, including Ford, Tesla, Mitsubishi, Volvo, and BMW, among others.
Why? Because a careful analysis reveals that there are fundamental reasons that will drive manufacturers and consumers inevitably to electric vehicles in the years ahead, reasons that the public in general is unaware of. So here are a few of the reasons that I have learned that lead me to believe that within 50 years a majority of our cars will be equipped with electric drivetrains.
1. Electric vehicles are inherently more efficient at turning energy into miles driven. Most people do not realize this, but electric drivetrains are much more efficient than internal combustion engine (ICE) drivetrains (about 75% vs 25%, in fact). In fact, there is little hope that ICE drivetrains could ever compete with electric drivetrains in terms of efficiency. Why are ICE drivetrains so inefficient? There are many reasons, including heat losses and inertial losses of various kinds, but ICE's are also thermodynamic systems with efficiencies limited by the heat cycle they operate under. Engineers have done amazing work in improving the efficiency of gas-powered cars, but they are up against fundamental limits. In contrast, a Nissan Leaf or a Chevy Volt can go about 40 miles on 11 Kilowatt-hours (KWH) of electricity, the energy equivalent of a third of a gallon of gasoline. And since the national average cost per KWH for electricity is only $0.11, this performance translates cost-wise into the equivalent of more than 120 miles per gallon.
The economics of video games WaPo. MMORPGs hiring economists. What could go wrong?
Obamanomics: A Counterhistory David Leonhardt, Times.