Archive for the ‘cleantech’ Category
As this infographic courtesy of AutoPawn indicates, maybe you can’t have everything—at least not yet.
Vivint Inc., one of the largest home automation companies in North America, designed this infographic. It was sent to me courtesy of Alex Koritz, partner and vice president at Method Communications, a Salt Lake City PR firm. Vivint provides services to about 500,000 customers through its offices in Provo, UT, South St. Paul, MN, and Calgary, AB.
Vivint says its mission is to help families “live intelligently by creating simple, affordable home automation systems where all devices work together to enhance safety and convenience and improve energy efficiency.”
It seems like such a simple step: Time to get smart and green on the home front.
If you are on the fence about that new Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt, how does taking $10,000 off sound? That’s right, those thinking about jumping into the EV market could pocket a nice new incentive in the form of a $10,000 rebate, which is part of President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget plan.
While lacking in specifics, the proposal is a boost and a change in approach – buyers of electric vehicles currently are eligible for a $7,500 tax credit for the tax-filing year in which the vehicle is purchased, while the new rebate program would allow consumers to slice $10,000 off the top of an EV at the time of purchase.
It’s a big incentive for potential buyers who are scared off by the pricing of EVs, which are still a bit beyond the comfort zone of what many consumers are prepared to pay, even though their yearly savings at the gas pump will be substantial. It should also boost sales for vehicles such as the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf. For example instead of making payments on a Volt, which lists at $41,000, a buyer would see that financing hit drop to $31,000. For the Leaf, the base price would drop to about $26,000 with the rebate.
It’s argued that the tax credit idea—a product of the Bush Administration—favors wealthy buyers who can more easily afford higher upfront payments in exchange for a lower tax rate in April. The Obama rebate makes EVs more accessible to the average American.
The rebate could also apply to natural gas vehicles and other high tech, green cars, according to reports.
Assuming Congress will go along with this, which is a major if given the parlous conditions there, it’s a great idea that’s a win-win-win for the makers, sellers and buyers of EVs. It’s also a big win for the environment, sustainability and energy independence. That’s a lot of wins.
It’s far from a done deal, but this could change a lot of minds about EVs, especially now that gas prices are spiking—again. For example under the rebate plan, a Leaf might be financed for about $300 a month, which is probably what many people have to scrape up each month for gasoline in their current driver.
“Things aren’t going as well as we’d hoped,” said Joel Makower, principal author of the 84-page report. “For the first time since we began doing our assessment, in 2008, several of the indicators have taken a downward turn.”
Each year GreenBiz examines sustainable business by tracking 20 indicators of progress that measure such things as carbon emissions, e-waste recycling, green office space, vehicle fleet emissions, toxic emissions, energy efficiency, employee commuting, corporate reporting, and a dozen other metrics. Read the rest of this entry »
Mark your calendars: The Amsterdam-based GreenTouch™ Consortium, a global research initiative that wants to improve the energy efficiency of information and communications technology (ICT) networks by a factor of 1,000, will reveal a comprehensive Roadmap at an Open Forum on Thursday, November 17, in conjunction with the organization’s Members Meeting November 14-17 at the Edgewater Hotel in here in Seattle.
The GreenTouch Roadmap will be presented to consortium members and the public during the Open Forum’s morning session, and expert speakers will make presentations on energy-efficient network technologies, eco-sustainability, climate change and related topics during the afternoon. There is no charge to attend the GreenTouch Open Forum, but advance registration is required.
GreenTouch is a global consortium of leading service providers, academic and industrial research institutions and non-governmental organizations working together to “define the challenges, identify the trends and issues and develop solutions that will achieve the goal of delivering within five years the architecture, specifications, roadmap and demonstrations of key components needed to increase the energy efficiency of ICT networks ‒ in particular, the service provider networks that make up the Internet ‒ by a factor of 1,000 from current levels.”
Since its formation last year the consortium has grown rapidly and now includes more than 300 participants from 50-plus member organizations in 19 countries. GreenTouch is comprised of diverse constituencies, including global telecommunications industry leaders, acclaimed research centers and premier academic institutions.
Here’s an amenity coming soon to an apartment complex near you: electric vehicle charging stations.
Car Charging, based in Miami, owns and operates EV charging services and plans to build a nationwide network of charging stations. Its business model focuses on residential charging services, which is where Equity Residential, a leading owner, developer and operator of high-end apartment communities, enters the picture. Read the rest of this entry »
Soon your car’s AC might be really really cool, in a green way. The Environmental Protection Agency recently approved a new chemical that can drastically reduce the amount of harmful, ozone-depleting emissions from motor vehicle air conditioning systems.
The eco-friendly refrigerant uses a new chemical developed by Honeywell and DuPont—HFO-1234yf—that the agency and the companies say does not deplete the ozone layer. And when used appropriately, the chemical has a global warming potential that is 99.7 percent less than the current chemical (HFC–134a) used in most car air conditioners.
“It is homegrown innovative solutions like this that save lives and strengthen our economy.” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation in a recent EPA release.
EPA said its recently issued standards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from light-duty motor vehicles “provide an opportunity for automakers to receive credit for adopting a chemical with less climate impact as a cost-effective way to meet the new standards.
“Using HFO-1234yf is one option available to automakers.”
Prior to HFC-134a, car air conditioners generally used CFC-12, a potent greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting substance.
The new chemical is the product of a joint manufacturing venture of Honeywell and DuPont. The venture was launched last May and several months later General Motors said it would introduce the refrigerant in 2013 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models.
The biggest benefit of HFO-1234yf is that it breaks down faster in the atmosphere than the currently used R-134a. On average, the R-134a refrigerant has an atmospheric life of more than 13 years, giving it a global warming potential (GWP) of more than 1,400. By comparison, the new refrigerant lingers in the atmosphere for only 11 days and has a GWP of 4, a 99.7 percent improvement. By the way GWP is a value used to compare different greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. The base measurement for GWP is relative to that of carbon dioxide (CO2).
Just in time for Earth Day, something cool to celebrate. Maybe there can be better living through chemicals, or at least better cooling.
Ford calls its sustainability report for the 2009/10 period the “future at work,” and for a relatively short 8-page document, it outlines a surprisingly broad and—OK I’ll admit it—visionary strategy for the future of the company and alternative energy vehicle production.
The company says it is “steadfastly focused on creating a strong business that builds great products that contribute to a better world,” the way it has been able to weather difficult economic times is because it’s business and sustainability strategies are aligned and intertwined.”
While Ford’s much-ballyhooed “ONE Ford” plan, which began in 2007, is mostly about aggressive restructuring and accelerated product development, sustainability is a key part of the mix, especially the accelerated product development part.
Ford says it has developed a “science-based global strategy” to reduce GHG emissions and processes while “working cooperatively with the public and private sectors to advance climate change solutions.”
In 2008 the carmaker set a target to reduce CO2 emissions from new U.S. and European vehicles by 30 percent by 2020, relative to the 2006 model-year baseline. Ford also set a “technology migration plan” for near-, mid- and long-term product plans to meet that goal. The company says it is “on track” to surpass that 30 percent CO2 reduction goal.
In 2009 and early 2010 Ford reduced CO2 emissions from its new 2009 models by 12 percent for U.S. vehicles and 6.7 percent for European vehicles. Among a host of progress points in 2009/10, Ford said it was delivering on a 2006 pledge to double the number of flexible-fuel vehicles produced in the United States by the end of 2010. Ford also committed to introduce five new electrified vehicles in Europe by 2013, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid electric vehicles that will also be introduced in North America by 2012.
The company this month unveiled a battery electric version of the Focus,which will debut in 2012.
Ford noted that the shift to EVs will “require unprecedented levels of collaboration and partnership” between automakers, government officials, utilities, transportation providers and IT companies. “A wide range of stakeholders will need to work together to develop charging infrastructure, integrate electric vehicles with electric utilities, and knit vehicles and grids together into an efficient system,” Ford says.
The company revealed it is collaborating with Microsoft on new energy management software that will help owners of plug-in EVs determine when and how to recharge their vehicles, “while giving utilities better tools for managing the expected changes in energy demand.” Now there’s an app for the EV age.
Over the 2020-2030 period, Ford’s vision is for “volume expansion of hybrid technologies, “continued leverage” of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles (whatever that means), introduction of fuel cell vehicles and increased use renewable fuels, clean electric/hydrogen fuels.
A surprising observation by the company is that “by 2050, there will be nine billion people on Earth, 75 percent of whom will live in urban areas. Putting nine billion people into private automobiles is neither practical nor desirable.”
There’s a switch, a company that doesn’t want to sell its products to every person on the planet.
Most of the time a trend or two should suffice, but when there is ten of them on the same subject, in this case the smart grid, maybe it’s something more or less than a trend, maybe just an interesting list of things to consider. After all if everything you can think of about a subject is a trend then nothing is really a trend. Or something.
Anyway, a recent Pike Research report on the smart grid posits “Ten Trends to Watch in 2011 and Beyond.” The 22-page report was written by Bob Gohn, a senior analyst, and Clint Wheelock, Pike’s managing director.
For the uninitiated, “smart grid” is the integration of new embedded computing and communications technologies into the fabric of the electric power network.
The Pike report says there are “dozens” of trends that bear watching, but identified ten “that will be the most influential in the emerging smart grid sector. Read the rest of this entry »
All- or mostly-electric vehicles are coming soon to a charging station or electric outlet near you.
Not only is the gas-free option arriving, there are some interesting and attractive choices hitting the road.
My favorite (for what that’s worth) is the all-electric Nissan Leaf, which will make its market debut this year as will the Chevy Volt. Meanwhile, the Ford Focus EV is slated to roll late next year and BMW reportedly is working on a small electric car that might launch in 2012.
“It seems that the era of the electric vehicle is finally upon us,” Esurance said in a recent blog post on the “Top 5.1 Things You Don’t Know About the Electric Car (But Should).” Read the rest of this entry »