Posts Tagged ‘electricity’
This is the time of year when writers, journalists, bloggers or whatever we scribblers have become in an age where communication and connection occurs mostly in 140-word snippets or less take a look back and ahead. Top Ten lists abound; crystal ball thumb-sucking dots the landscape and cyberspace.
I’ll leave that listing and prediction stuff (mostly) to the experts, or at least to those who have managed to stay gainfully and reliably employed over the last 12 months. They must have greater insight, or skills or something.
I do have some observations, for what they are worth:
- The usual word to describe the recovery is fragile but I prefer chimerical. Corporate profits are rebounding, Wall Street’s escape act was hugely successful and Republicans proved once again that America’s short-term memory disorder is firmly entrenched and that lies, inaccuracies, misrepresentations, denials, polarization and fear-mongering is a winning strategy. Well, winning for them – for many the economic recovery is mostly non-existent: unemployment hovers stubbornly around 10 percent; wages continue their decline; the housing market remains in the toilet; energy costs are increasing; the stranglehold of Big Oil and Big Coal continues unabated.
- Whatever the emerging ‘new normal’ is, it’s not much fun – it’s really pretty raw, stressful and uncertain.
- On a personal note: Freelancing should never be construed as working for free! OK? Are we clear?
- Environmentally-speaking, when electric vehicles hit the market in a major and consumer-friendly way—and one, the Chevy Volt, wins Motor Trend’s Car of the Year Award—that is stunning and hopeful progress.
- Environmentally-speaking, when a disaster like the Deepwater Horizon occurs and little to nothing occurs to change our dependence on fossil fuel, or regulation of Big Oil, that is stunning and disturbing progress of an entirely different sort.
So ‘here’s to the new boss, same as the old boss.’
Here’s to the New Year, same as the Old Year.
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 »
J.D. Power is weighing-in with a degree of optimism on the future of electric-powered vehicles as a power behind the drive to “go green.”
A recent report from the customer satisfaction, buyer behavior and product quality rating firm says global alternative vehicle sales are rising and that sales will get a further lift when battery electric vehicles (BEVs) start to enter the market in larger numbers next year.
But while the percentage increases look good, sales on a unit basis will remain small, hardly a blip in the overall scheme of things. And this sector, which includes hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), will remain dominated by the gas-electric hybrid segment for the immediate future.
Many cities are bicycle-friendly, some more than others, but if you if live in one with major hills, such as San Francisco or where I live in Seattle, and you happen to be a little older perhaps (ahem) or simply not quite in Tour de France shape, then an electric-bike is the way to go.
The electric-bike business is booming for several reasons: They are way more affordable than EV cars and spiffy new and lighter designs are multiplying worldwide.
Not very long ago Chrysler Corp. pocketed more than $12.5 billion in government bailout funds to avoid a bankruptcy filing, promising on its way to the bank to build more fuel efficient cars and produce electric vehicles by 2011.
About three years later the U.S. carmaker has launched no hybrids – although plans for them remain in the works – and its ENVI electric vehicle program is fading fast in the rearview mirror largely because of a strategic decision by Fiat. Fiat received a 20 percent stake from the U.S. in exchange for the Italian carmaker’s more fuel-efficient chassis and engine technology, and is apparently calling the shots now at Chrysler.
Last year Chrysler had three electrics under development and five EV concepts were unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show. One EV launch, the Dodge Circuit, was even planned for late 2010.
Chrysler had also promised it would have about 500,000 EVs humming along by 2014. Last week Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne slashed that somewhat grandiose estimate to 60,000 EVs or about 2 percent of Chrysler sales. He also said EVs remain a very tough proposition with current battery technology.
Airlines operating at Sea-Tac and the port, which owns and operates the airport, will match the DOE grant.
The cost-share project will replace about 200 gas and diesel vehicles with electric-powered equipment, and will save more than 400,000 gallons of fuel a year, according to DOE.
The move “jumpstarts Sea-Tac’s efforts to be the first airport in the U.S. to fully electrify its fleet of ground support equipment,” the agency says. Sea-Tac currently has about 650 ground support vehicles.
In addition to the fuel savings, the project is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 4,500 metric tons per year.
Initial focus of the project will be gasoline baggage tractors and loading equipment because they are large fuel consumers at the airport. The project will install new electric charging stations on the ramp area.
For more information on activity nationwide on cost-sharing projects under the Clean Cities program, which is funded with nearly $300 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, visit the DOE website page or the Puget Sound Clean Cities Coalition.
There’s a new case of the CREBs in California, as in clean renewable energy bonds. The state’s treasurer Bill Lockyer announced the sale of $20 million under the CREB program to install solar panels in 70 California Department of Transportation facilities.
The solar installations will save state taxpayers more than $52 million in energy costs over the 25-year life span of the equipment, Lockyer says.
“This project is a great example of how to use innovative financing to green state government, make it more cost effective for taxpayers and bolster businesses and jobs in a vital sector of our economy,” he adds.
California’s Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA) sold the tax-credit bonds last week on behalf of Caltrans. They have a 1.45 percent interest rate over the 15-year term of the bonds. Total debt service costs over that span will total $22.5 million, and over that period Caltrans will save $24.7 million on its energy bills. Over the 25-year lifespan pf the photovoltaic solar panels, energy costs savings will come to $52.5 million, with $27.8 million coming after the bonds are repaid.
The deal is the authority’s first use of the CREB program, which was created by the Energy Tax Incentive Act of 2005. CAEATFA is also authorized to sell this type of bond under a similar program, called NCREB, established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The federal deadline for NCREB applications under ARRA is August 4.
Under the program the federal government pays bondholders up to 100 percent of the interest directly in the form of a tax credit, and it allows borrowers to get financing with a minimal interest rate.
The program has a volume cap of $2.4 billion and eligible projects include wind energy, closed-loop biomass, open-loop biomass, geothermal energy, solar energy, small irrigation power, landfill gas, trash combustion, marine and hydrokinetic energy, and qualified hydropower facilities. Projects must be owned by a “public entity” such as state or local government; public power provider; tribal government; or a cooperative electric utility company.
Sounds like a great opportunity. This Friday (June 19) the California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission and the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank will host an all-day event to discuss the bond program and their interface with ARRA. Register online here.