Friday, March 4, 2011

EV News Roundup Week of 2/28 (Which Marched On Rather Fast, Is It Really Thursday?)

Pure EV News

Hey, this sounds like a good idea: bringing together local government representatives, regional transportation authorities, EV manufacturers and utilities to hear about needed infrastructure, available incentives and green jobs.   All the information communities need to plan and build an electric vehicle program.  

Yes, folks, we do need a regional initiative like this one put on by these forward-thinking folks in the San Bernardino Valley.  Mike Parker, the California teacher who came to the East Coast in 2007 for the first EV conversion workshop, worked on a similar project with the Air Quality Management District over in the San Joaquin Valley (wherever that is in relation to the San Bernadino one) all the way back in 1994. 

My favorite quote, from the sensible mayor of Riverside, CA: "It's expected that most vehicle charging will take place at residences and many EV drivers will get where they are going by charging only at home."

Some lip service to the need for public charging stations as well but yay, Ron Loveridge has got the right mantra! 

Also from EV World, the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory has released an online collection of case studies of electric vehicle deployment in four major US cities.  This effort is spearheaded by the Clean Cities Coalition, which is quite active in our region with the Philly office headed up by Tony Bandiero and the Rockaway, New Jersey one by Chuck Feinberg, last seen in this column inviting north Jersey EV drivers up to

World's First Zero Emissions Race Crosses the Finish Line
This race was actually a global circumnavigation, the Environmental News Service inexplicably left that detail out of the headline, plus they went around the world in 80 (running) days which is just cute.  

EV Business News & Technology

Bill Kirkpatrick, our course teacher and a fellow Vanagon fan, was the first person to send this link earlier in the week and a couple of other folks have to.  I have to say I rolled my eyes at the looks of this and I dislike it even more than the Eurovan, which I loathed when it appeared in 1991.  I can tolerate every generation of the Volkswagen from Microbus to Vanagon (though I am not especially fond of the breadloaf era) but I hate the nose.

bonus link triggered by above article:  This is my dream electric bus  In 2006 I corresponded quite a bit with Keith Price, the public relations manager for product and technology at Volkswagen USA whose baby this project was.  He was great.  I wonder where that bus is now. I really hope I get to drive it someday, that would totally bust the Tesla out of top EV Test Drive place!  I wanted a microbus when I got my first Vanagon but my mechanic begged me not to get one, which was a good deal for him as it turned out: a steady stream of expensive Vanagon repairs ensued.  

Can Startups Weather Entry of GE, Siemens and Toyota into Electric Car Charging Market?
Good rundown of the burgeoning electric charger business from a blog called Earth & Industry, though I wish it were more focused on trumpeting the amazing number of small and medium businesses that have sprung up in the charger market over the last 5 years  instead of on gloomily predicting their inevitable assimilation by the corporate Borg.   

It's a solar-powered boat.  Well, I guess it is an EV.

It's an electric, self-balancing unicycle, so I um I guess it is an EV too.

The delightfully named Build Your Dream plug-in hybrid has a 30-mile all-electric range and could be in the US market by the end of next year -- a reviewer for the New York Times test-drove one in LA last week.   By the way, it's a Chinese auto company (check out those surprising stats on world automotive production).   I am old enough to remember when the first Japanese cars began to appear on US roads in increasing numbers and transformed the automotive market, folks, so watch this trend.  

There is a somewhat amusing debate in the Autobloggreen comments section about whether the Motor Trend writer complaining here has a right to a toasty pre-heated car, or is a wuss who should get over it and appreciate the heated seats.   

Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid missing EV button
Wait, it doesn't have the EV button?  Yeesh, we have been waiting for this since 2006, Toyota: the first-generation Highlander Hybrid I drive has the useless dummy button (mocking every North American driver with the visual reminder that in Japan, you can tell your engine not to bother to turn on at all 'cause you're only moving your car around in a parking lot and only need batteries).  Some people simply did not tolerate EV button lack and hacked their own and then put up websites showing other people how to do it.  I like those kinds of people. 

Ha ha, this is a different kind of hybrid -- wind and a motor!  The vehicle is wind-assisted (it's kind of like a sailcar) and also uses wind to charge the batteries overnight using an onboard wind turbine!   Reported on Treehugger. 

Treehugger, you are so good at finding really cool tech, what is with the really bland headlines though?   Completely awesome pix here of a super-futuristic-looking, silent and non-polluting underwater viewing vehicle.  This could open up reef tourism to people who can't snorkel or scuba-dive.  Nice.  Coral reefs are really cool, everybody!   Especially this amazing hyberbolic crochet coral reef I saw in December.   If you get to see this exhibit before it leaves the Smithsonian on April 24, I am sure you will agree that coral reefs are really cool and also somehow related to EV's. 

Renewable energy policy news

New Jersey: Morris County Goes Solar
Solar panels have been installed in 16 government buildings & schools in Morris County, and Energy Boom explains how in January 2010 the county issued low-interest US government bonds to finance the initiative.   One year later, the installations are fully online and generating 3.1 megawatts of clean, renewable energy at a 35% savings over local utility rates.   That's a great model for rapid change.

Colorado Republicans Kill ‘No-Brainer’ Renewable Energy Study
Change is coming slower in some places; Ecopolitology reports Colorado state legislators recently blocked an energy bill that would have cost taxpayers nothing.  It would have authorized a fully-funded study of the impact, costs & benefits of a feed-in tariff, which requires utilities to pay a fixed, above-market rate to any party that puts electricity generated by renewable sources onto the grid.  The article notes that use of a similar incentive "was single-handedly responsible for making Germany the world's leader in installed solar photovoltaic capacity."

Guess who thought, nah, we should not even investigate, at no cost, whether such an incentivization program would be good for Colorado's economy, considering its abundant supply of wind, solar, and biogas and potential for widely distributed small to medium energy development?  That would be the utility companies.  For some reason, they hated the idea.

UN: Economic Growth and Sustainability Critically Linked
Also from ecopolitology.  Let's take the Morris County story global, and make fun of Colorado behind its back until it makes it to the party too.   

Renewable energy technology on the (event) horizon

Okay, I am somewhat of a sucker for astrophysics (because it is about outer space and down deep I dig spaceships much more than cars).  Maybe Dan already knew that when he included this link in the weekly EEVC news email.  But this is as far out (literally, far out because neutron stars are very far away) as I have yet stretched the exploration of possible new technologies for renewable energy sources in this column. 

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