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Energy & Technology News

The Key to PIEV’s will Be Fast Charging

Most charging of PIEV’s (Plug In Electric Vehicles) still happens at home, so the key to consumer take up of these vehicles will be the availability, speed and cost of charging stations.

The 2013 US PEV charging study found that whilst the majority still charge at home, most want more quick DC charging facilities  available.

Quick DC charging facilities typically take only 30+ minutes for a full charge.  However this type of charger makes up only 3% of public charging facilities.  Most are Level 2 chargers, which typically take about 4 hours to fully recharge the battery.

As a consequence, most battery electric vehicles never driver very far, as the owners are worried about being stranded far from home.  The average longest trip for these types of vehicle, like the Nissan leaf, is only about 96 miles.  The Tesla Model S, by comparison, has a normal range of over 300 miles and can get up to 400 miles if driven very conservatively.

But not all PEIV’s have the range (or the price) of the Tesla, so most Nissan Leaf and GM Volt type owners rely mainly on the 12,000 odd Level 2 charging stations if they have to charge the vehicle away from home.  That only becomes practical if they drive to work, then hook up and charge it whilst they are working, so that the 4+ hour charge is not an issue.

Fast DC chargers are very expensive when compared to the Level 2 chargers, which might explain the much lower numbers of the quick charging variety.  PIEV owners are looking for shopping centers and other retailers to subsidise the cost and put in the fast DC chargers in order to draw customers to their shops.

At the moment provisions of DC charging is a very risky business, with some suppliers going bankrupt nd others pulling out of the field.  The future of publicly available fast and cheap DC charging remains unclear.  Seems like charging at home is still the most viable option.

 

Detroit Thermal Participating with Ford Field Stadium’s Energy Efficiency Initiatives

Ford Field stadium is working with Detroit Thermal, an energy generation and distribution company, to change the home of the Detroit Lions’ natural gas hot water heaters to steam heating exchangers, which are a  more reliable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to heat and cool the 65,000-seat sports and entertainment complex.

Detroit Thermal steam is produced with renewable energy sources, making it one of the cleanest solutions available. The primary of them comes from municipal solid waste, and the resulting steam from the combustion of this fuel is used to generate up to 68 megawatts of electricity and is available for export at a peak rate of up to 550,000 pounds per hour. The electricity is sold to the Detroit Edison Electric Company and the steam is delivered to Detroit Thermal.

 


Energy & Technology News

DOE Awards $60 Million To Encourage Solar Innovations

Building on President Barack Obama’s broad-based plan to curb carbon pollution and support renewable energy innovation across the country, Energy Secretary Moniz announced on Tuesday that he would be releasing about $60 million in funding to support innovative solar energy research and development. As part of the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative, the awards is aimed at helping to reduce the cost of solar electricity, advance seamless grid integration and support a growing U.S. solar workforce.

 

Deutsche Says Solar PV Market Could Reach 50 GW In 2014

The upgrades to the outlook for the solar PV market continue, with analysts at Deutsche Bank now suggesting that some module manufacturers expect the global market to rise as high as 50GW in 2014.

It says solar companies are bullish on the fundamentals of the market and energy demand from Japan, China and the US. The market could rise to 45-50GW in 2014, which would be nearly 50 per cent more than the anticipated 35GW of installations in the current year.

It says most companies now expect at least 45GW next year – compared to recent industry estimates of around 40GW – and some companies such as Yingli – the world’s biggest manufacturer – suggest it could be as high as 50GW.

Post-Fukushima Japan Constructs First of 140 Offshore Floating Windmills

.Japan has nearly completed construction on the first of 140 floating windmills that will eventually provide a safer alternative to its nuclear energy infrastructure. When switched on next week, the 350 foot tall windmill floating just 12 miles from the severely damaged and leaking Fukushima nuclear reactors will be generate enough electricity to power 1,700 homes.

Almost entirely dependent on nuclear power just two years ago, the Japanese government is making a big push to develop clean and renewable energy. The windmill is just one of a planned 140 floating wind turbines to be built in a 22 billion yen, or $226 million project. By 2020 the offshore project hopes to generate over one gigawatt of electricity, which is equivalent to the power generated by a single nuclear reactor.

 





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Creating a New Renewable Energy Paradigm

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World population has already reached 7.0 Billion. At current rates of population growth it will reach between 9.2 Billion (low estimate) or 16.0 Billion (high estimate) by 2050. UN population growth control measures have been proposed but have not yet been agreed or implemented, particularly by lesser developed countries. Main population growth over the next century will come from China, India and Africa, creating hugely increased demand for both energy and food.

New forms of energy such as solar, wind, wave, biomass, geothermal, nuclear fusion and others not yet discovered are urgently required.

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RENEWABLE ENERGY PRODUCES 23% OF GLOBAL ELECTRICITY in 2012 (read more ...)

 

The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has released a report – 2012 Renewable Energy Data Book – regarding the status of renewable energy globally and in the US.

For the full Data book please go to the NREL press release site at http://www.nrel.gov/news/press/2013/5302.html and download the full report.

Wind and Solar are the fastest growing forms of energy production worldwide and are increasing by several orders of magnitude every few years.  Hydropower remains the largest single source of renewable energy production but new production opportunities are limited by availability and higher relative costs.

As Busbar costs for Wind and Solar continue to decrease (Solar costs down 80% over the last 10 years) it is not hard to see why renewables continue to increase their share of electricity generation and continue their contribution to achieving lowered emission targets.

Two things are required for renewables to move to move to total domination of electricity generation:

  1. Busbar costs lower than Coal or Nuclear alternatives; and
  2. Better Grid scale battery storage options (see recent advances from ABB on this front) in order to ensure reliability of supply and ability to cope with massive peak demand surges.  At the moment only hydro power complies with this requirement, as it can supply the grid 24/7.

It should be noted that the NREL reports the compound annual growth rate of renewable energy electricity production has been 5.8% per annum between 2000 and 2012. If you apply the simple arithmetic of the late Professor Al Bartlett you will see that at this rate then renewable energy electricity production will double every 12 years. Thus in 12 years from now it would be 46% of all electricity production if there was no growth in demand - and in another 12 years it would be 92%.

Obviously there will be growth in demand, but you can see why conventional utility companies are worried. The compound growth rate of renewable energy production is actually increasing rapidly as costs fall and consumers vote with their wallets. There are also government initiatives in many countries around the world to hasten the move away from fossil fuel generated electricity so, aside from the US, that move to renewable energy electricity production will only accelerate - not slow down.

It is also therefore no surprise that green and renewable energy stocks have vastly outpaced all other stock indices over the past five years, so if you have not done so already then its perhaps time to consider your investment strategy now.

 

The key findings, graphs and statistics from the NREL report are:

•       Cumulative global renewable electricity installed capacity has grown by 97% from 2000 to 2012 (from 748 GW to 1,470 GW).
•       Renewable energy accounts for 23% of all electricity generation worldwide (4,892 TWh).
•       Wind and solar energy are the fastest growing renewable electricity technologies worldwide. Wind generation grew by a factor of nearly 16 and solar generation grew by a factor of 49 between 2000 and 2012.
•       In 2012, Germany led the world in cumulative solar photovoltaic installed capacity.  The United States leads the world in geothermal and biomass installed capacity.  China leads in wind, and Spain leads in solar thermal electric generation (STEG).

 

 

NREL - Renewable Energy Electricity Capacity
Image courtesy of NREL | 2012 Renewable Energy Data Book


RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS THIS WEEK - NOVEMBER 29th 2013 (read more ...)

 

Water wind solar renewable energy

 

There has been plenty of news this week on the renewable energy front, mainly around continued growth in solar, electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Major manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, BMW, Ford and GM all announced that they will have hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in mass production within the next few years, with some coming out as soon as late 2014.

Electric vehicles from BMW, Renault and Fiat are selling out before they can be produced and Tesla model S continues to have long wait times between order and delivery due to its continued popularity, in spite of the high price tag. An interesting fact is that recent research has shown that only 22% of consumers have even heard of the Tesla model S. Imagine how well they will sell when Elon Musk brings out a sub $50,000 model in the next year or so as promised,

Next comes the e-volo VC200 18 electric motor 2 person helicopter, which has been flown and shown to the press and is ready to go into production. It features a circular ring structure on top of the body, with 18 individually powered electric propellers spread around the ring. It seems very stable and easy to fly so better head on over and pick up your own personal mini-copter.

If that is not enough you can also now get your own personal electric mini-sub, called the Platypus. This is essentially an electric powered trimaran with a submersible center section. Get to where you want to explore, pop on your dive gear then lower the center section. The divers sit astride the center module below water, while the two outrider pontoons stay above water and keep the whole thing afloat.

Solar growth also exploded - again - and renewable energy provided 99% of ALL new energy production growth in the US for the month. If some people still don't get it, renewable energy sources will replace fossil fuel based electricity production much sooner than some think. Getting rid of gasoline powered transportation entirely might take a little more time. Shell Oil have publicly forecast that gasoline powered transportation could be all gone by 2070 but we suspect that with the continuing rapid scientific advances in battery technology, fuel cell technology and production and distribution of both a hydrogen refueling network and more public supercharging electric power facilities (similar to the Tesla Supercharging stations) then electrics, plug ins and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will predominate by much earlier than 2050.

The US just recorded it's 150,000+ plug in electric vehicle recently - after only reaching 100,000 earlier this year in May - so the rate of growth of these continues exponentially.

Many states and cities throughout the US also had wins on the public renewable energy front - a Solar Fee was defeated in Georgia and in Boulder, Colorado Measure 310 (sponsored by energy giant Xcel, to block public ownership of cheap, clean, renewable energy) was struck down by the voters. Some more wins for the good guys.

Nissan showed that autonomous cars cannot even kill politicians. They loaded the Japanese Prime Minister into the fully autonomous Nissan Leaf and sent him out on the highway. Fortunately he made it back alive, and autonomous vehicles took another step forwards. Sort of like Yuri Gargarin's first manned space flight, but with higher pay for the pilot.

Well that just about wraps it up for another week.  All the entries from our Energy Blog this week are available on our Blog page under “Sitemap”.

 

Cheers
Allan Barker
Alphatech5.com
November 29th 2013

 


RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS THIS WEEK - NOVEMBER 22nd 2013 (read more ...)

Water wind solar renewable energy

 

Well there has been a heap of news on the Renewable Energy front this past week, so we will try to cover the main points here.

We particularly like the new little “Hydrobee” that produces electricity from any flowing water into a coke-can sized unit which incorporates a hydro charging unit, two rechargeable batteries and a USB power dock.  Great for charging personal devices like mobile phones, anywhere, anytime.  Currently seeking cloudfunding on Kickstarter in order to go commercial, so head on over there if this tickles your fancy.  It did ours.

Also, Sun Edison is producing a solar powered electric pump which can revolutionise irrigated farming, particularly in places like India, Asia and Africa.  The unit is cheaper and more efficient than petrol or diesel powered alternatives and there are, would you believe, 45 million electric farming pumps in the world that can be replaced by this new technology.  There are over 10,000 of the new solar pumps operating in India already, and Sun Edison is scaling up for a multi billion dollar market around the world.  Cheaper to run, more efficient and zero pollution.  You’ve won me.

Of particular interest is that renewable energy sources (water, wind, biomass, geothermal and solar) contributed 99% of ALL new electricity generation in the US in October 2013.  Renewable energy now accounts for 16% of all electricity generation in the US and is growing rapidly, though still a long way behind some European countries like France and Germany.

The biggest paradigm shift in the application of renewable energy technology is the announcement by Ford and GM that they will market Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles within the next 10 years or so.  This is a good start, but US car makers are way behind BMW, Honda, Hyundai and others who already have Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles in production or being launched at this year’s major motor shows.  So there seems to be a major shift towards Fuel Cell Vehicles as opposed to Plug Ins, but Tesla and the like can rest easy for a while as the “chicken and egg” problem of funding and building major national hydrogen filling networks still remains.  The few companies that tried it thus far mainly went bust, as they were too far ahead of actual demand.  They built it, but nobody came.

Plug In Electric Vehicles continue to gain massive popularity around the world, with Renault and Fiat joining Tesla with successful models that they just can’t build fast enough to satisfy demand.  BMW and others are also entering the fray, so this segment will keep growing rapidly for the foreseeable future.  The long term battle between PIEV’s like the Tesla and the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric cars is a bit like the old video format battle between Beta and VHS (remember them?).  Either one format will dominate eventually – or you may end up with a hybrid between the two.  You can be sure that convenience, price and ease of use will be the final arbiters of this question in the longer term.

Another emerging trend is that many companies are showing governments the way and committing to going to 100% renewable energy just as soon as possible.  IKEA, Google and Apple are a few of the companies leading the way and many others are following suit.  Commercial size solar installations on the roofs of buildings and factories is making this possible, amongst other initiatives, like buying only green power.

The charge into Solar is gathering pace in the US, with numerous companies like Solar City (Elon Musk) developing lease-to-buy plans to fund mass consumer distribution, where solar has been slower to take off in the US than in other parts of the world.  This is mainly due to the US having comparatively lower electricity prices than most of the world, so the economic imperative to push consumers towards solar in the US has just not been there.  When you are paying only $0.08 per kwh you are not rushing out to buy solar.

However, in places like Australia, where electricity costs from $0.21 - $0.40 per kwh you can see why the state of Queensland in Australia now has more installed solar power generation capacity than around 22 countries.  With low installation costs the payback period for the average household in Queensland is only around 3-4 years, with a feed-in tariff back to the grid of $0.08 per kwh.

The advances in renewable energy technology noted this week are too numerous too list, but most involve improvements to components or processes to improve efficiency and power output from batteries, fuel cells, solar PV cells and panels, wind turbines and even improving mileage from petrol driven vehicles.  Most of these new technologies are at the laboratory or testing stages and whilst good in theory, many of these bright ideas may not make it through to commercialization.

Well that just about wraps it up for another week.  All the entries from our Energy Blog this week are available on our Blog page under “Sitemap”.

Cheers
Allan Barker
Alphatech5.com
November 22nd 2013


RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS THIS WEEK - NOVEMBER 15th 2013 (read more ...)

 

This week saw a focus on Climate Change questions like “Are Typhoon Disasters Getting More Common?” and “How Will We Pay for Climate Preparedness?”   An article on “The Ozone Hole History" offered a lesson on Climate Change.

Another common theme is that many US cities and states are now looking at localizing the grid (local ownership) and/or developing extensive renewable energy facilities as an alternative to traditional grid based power.  California, Colorado, Boulder, Michigan, New York were just a few of the major areas in the US working on those types of public policies.

There were also many articles on EV’s (electric vehicles) and their continuing  rapid growth in usage and popularity, combined with a growth in “Smart Cities” and smart vehicle technology.

A continuing trend saw many articles on the rapid spread of solar power, both in the US and worldwide, with further advances every week in solar PV technology, which promises to make solar both cheaper and more efficient in the near future.  The cost of solar PV panels is now only 1% of what they were 30 years ago and the cost has dropped over 80% in the last five years.  If the cost continues to fall, and the efficiency gains continue to increase, a full home solar installation for about 5-6 kilowatts should cost no more than about $2,000.00 within the next three years.

With the cost of 5 kw home solar storage batteries also falling dramatically it should be possible for millions of homes to be totally power self-sufficient within the next 3-5 years.  Offsetting this is the threat to current economic models and ownership of utility scale power generation companies and the political clout they wield, leading some power utilities to actively use the dirty tricks playbook to severely limit or ban the growth of renewables in some US states and cities.

Talk about dirty pool.  Responsible energy producers like Shell Oil have seen the future (Shell Oil publicly predicts gas driven autos will be finished by 2070) and have been actively changing their business model for years, so that they move with the times INTO renewable energy production, rather than dinosaur type efforts against such a move. Enlightened energy companies all over the world are moving forward with their business models and will change and grow as consumer consumption demand patterns also change. Unfortunately some US energy companies still think they can go on building steam engines forever. Perhaps it's time they realised that their "steam engine" business models are as dead as the Dodo if they don't embrace change - and quickly.

Utility companies better change their game plan – or they will just be out of the game.  Period.

The Infographics included in the article are from the New Jersey Science and Technology University.  The final part shows where the US energy sector is headed.  Utility companies would be well advised to jump on board early – or miss the boat. Click the heading above to read the full article and see the Infographic.

Cheers
Allan Barker
Alphatech5.com - November 15th 2013

 


Why Gas Guzzlers Will Never Be As Good As Electric Cars (read more.....)

A massive consumer sentiment shift occurs when a product comes out that is fundamentally better than current products at a similar price point.


The clear advantages over a pure electric car with renewable energy like the Tesla model S over conventional cars include:


- Typical cars will never be as safe as a car with a crumple zone as big as a Tesla model S.
- A typical car will never be able to accelerate and generate as much torque as an electric car in the 0-60 range.
- A typical car will never be as energy efficient as an electric. A conventional engine peaks out at around 40% with energy conversion. An electric motor is above 90%.
- A typical car will never be as simple as a pure electric, there are simply more moving parts.
- A typical car will never be able to match the handling / AWD of a vehicle with two independently controllable electric motors that can dynamically send power to any of the wheels at any time.
- A typical car’s suspension will never be able to match the smoothness of an all air suspension.
- A typical car will always need more maintenance work.
- No oil company is ever going to give fuel away for free, while Tesla will give electricity away for free forever.


The list goes on and on and on. These are fundamental improvements that all normal cars cannot match, because they physically cannot.

Alphatech5.com - October 14th 2013


3.3 Million Electric Vehicles On US Roads By 2025!

Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV’s) to be 15% of US Market by 2025.

With Electric Vehicle sales racing ahead world wide, 8 US states have signed a landmark agreement to promote, assist and develop Zero Emission Vehicles as quickly as possible with a view to quickly replacing the current fossil fuel burning fleets and reducing emissions, climate change and global warming.

Consumers everywhere are voting with their hearts and minds - and their wallets. Electric Vehicles are selling out faster than they can be produced (recent sell out on a popular Fiat model, even before it was released, as an example) and long order wait times for the popular Tesla Model S prove that the time for ZEV's (electric, plus-ins or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is not just coming. Its already here!

US auto manufacturers better revise their business models fast, or they will get left behind with outdated petrol driven models that nobody wants.

This time the oil lobby will be powerless to prevent the Tsunami wave of consumer sentiment that is going to bury fossil fuels once and for all. You might be able to buy off a few hundred politicians in order to perpetuate power and market dominance, but how will they be able to do that with 200 million consumers?

US auto companies better quickly work out which side their bread is buttered on and desert the oil lobby and jump on the consumer bad wagon fast.

Failure to do so will see them as dead as the dinosaurs they are currently emulating.

The following article first appeared in Cleantechnica and was reproduced by "the energy collective". Reproduced with attribution.


"Forget President Obama’s infamous goal of 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 – how about 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles by 2025?


It may sound unlikely considering just 165,000 ZEV's are currently on US roads, but the governors of eight states signed an agreement to do just that, putting the pedal to the metal in America’s acceleration toward a clean transportation future.


Their plan centers on alleviating range anxiety for electric vehicles by building out charging stations and educating consumers about the technology while driving costs down through fleet purchases and favorable utility rates for EV charging. If successful, ZEV's would jump to 15% of new vehicle sales in the signatory states.


Policy Shift Puts Electric Vehicles In The Fast Lane


The eight states – California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont – know a thing or two about clean transportation policy. They’re already among America’s top clean tech markets, have some of the highest EV penetration rates in the US, are home to 6,700 public EV charging stations, and represent 23% of the US car market.


“This is not just an agreement, but a serious and profoundly important commitment,” said California Governor Jerry Brown. “From coast to coast, we’re charging ahead to get millions of the world’s cleanest vehicles on our roads.”
Five specific policy steps form the backbone of today’s announcement:
• Harmonizing building codes to expedite installation of new EV charging stations
• Assess and develop deployment strategies and requirements to commercialize hydrogen fuel cell vehicles
• Set ZEV purchase targets for government fleets and report back on acquisitions against those targets
• Establish favorable electricity rates for residential EV charging systems
• Develop uniform consumer acceptance and awareness tactics like universal signage, interoperability and common payment methods for EV charging, preferential parking, and HOV lane access


The ZEV goal includes battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; and will be applied to passenger cars, trucks, and mass transit buses.


American Consumer And Automaker Benefits


Today’s announcement was backed up by a Consumer Federation of America (CFA) white paper, which asserted the collective policy actions would tap consumer demand to put millions of cleaner cars on US roads while boosting American economic competitiveness.
CFA’s white paper focuses on the fast growth of EV sales compared to the initial deployment of hybrids, and the number of available EV models and consumer acceptance are both higher than when hybrids made their debut.


Considering US EV sales tripled from 2011 to 2012 while the global EV market is projected to grow 10 times as quickly as the total light-duty vehicle market over the next decade, CFA says investing in the EV market is an economic imperative for US automakers.


“US automakers failed to ride the wave of the hybrid revolution in the 1990s and that failure proved to be a costly one,” said Mark Cooper of CFA. “Americans want cars that protect their pocketbooks from volatile gasoline costs – ZEV's do just that and this ZEV program will give US automakers a leg up in their most important market.”

 Alphatech5.com - October 27th 2013


Japan Grants Autonomous Car A Licence

The race to build the world’s first production autonomous vehicle is on, and Japan’s increasingly aging population would make an excellent market for a car that can drive itself. The Japanese government has granted an autonomous Nissan Leaf a license plate, making it the first road-legal self-driving car in the island nation.


Nissan hopes to start selling self-driving cars as soon as 2020, and this license goes a long way towards that goal. Nissan also believes that self-driving cars and electric vehicles go hand-in-hand, which is why the LEAF was chosen as the test vehicle. For now, Nissan is going to keep testing its self-driving Leaf on public roads, analyzing the data and improving the technology until it is ready for prime time.


Of course there are numerous legal and ethical issues to take into consideration with self-driving cars, and the competition is fierce in what could be a gigantic, trillion-dollar technology market. Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk hopes to deliver an electric car that can handle 90% of the driving by 2017, though Ford’s Alan Mulally seems to think the technology is a bit farther out.


Regardless, Nissan is well on its way to a self-driving car, and the Japanese government seems a bit more open-minded to autonomous vehicles than the average America. That could give Japanese automakers a leg-up on American and European competition.

 Alphatech5.com - October 7th 2013


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