I’m about as far from a gearhead as it gets, but even so, I was excited about the release of the nation’s first two consumer plug-in electric vehicles: the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf. The Volt can go 40 miles on battery power and another 310 thanks to an auxiliary gas engine, which kicked in smoothly as I floored it up a hill during a recent test drive. The Leaf is
Secy of Energy Chu said “Of the $3.6 trillion 2010 federal budget, only 0.14 percent went for energy R&D. And in 1998, the American share of worldwide high-tech exports was nearly 25 percent and China’s was less than 10 percent; by 2008, China’s share was 20 percent and the American share was less than 15 percent.” [The New York Times]
The companies that develop the world’s first low-cost solar panels, low-cost wind turbines, low-cost electric cars, low-cost water purification plants, and most energy-efficient infrastructure will enjoy almost unlimited market potential. America could become that leader, but we are already falling behind. The profit motive is sufficient to keep Silicon Valley and many creative leaders pouring billions into new green-tech projects, but this must be complemented by sound environmental policy at the state and national levels. Ideally, this policy would place a consistent and increasing cost on polluting behavior. It would also channel government resources (which could be supported by the fees on pollution) into basic R&D in a variety of technologies, in order to remain unbiased against nascent technologies.
The service station of the future is your garage,” David Crane, NRG’s chief executive, said on a conference call Thursday morning. “It’s our strongly held view that if given a choice, Americans want to make a difference. They want to make a difference with respect to the environment and with respect to national security.”
Called eVgo, the $10 million network will feature 220-240 volt Level 2 chargers for Houstonians’ garages that will charge electric cars like the Nissan Leaf overnight.
“Freedom Stations” and “Convenience Stations” will be dispersed around the city and offer Level 2 charging as well as fast-charging that lets drivers top off their batteries in about 10 minutes to get a 30-mile boost.
NRG, working with electric infrastructure company AeroVironment and General Electric, plans to install 50 Freedom Stations by the middle of next year, building them at shopping centers and along freeways in a 25-mile radius from downtown Houston.
Charging posts will be installed at Walgreens drugstores, at Best Buy outlets, and at H-E-B, a chain of Texas supermarkets.
“Our goal is that anywhere in Harris County, Texas, you’ll be within five miles of a charger,” said Crane, who added that NRG’s plan was to eventually deploy around 100 Level 2 and fast-charging stations.
EVgo will offer three-year contracts with monthly subscription packages ranging from $49 to $89. For $49, drivers get a home charger. The more expensive subscriptions offer home chargers and unlimited access to the entire charging network.
Crane said Houston’s suburban sprawl and maze of highways actually makes the city more suitable for an electric car infrastructure than greener-than-thou West Coast cities.
“The advantage a city like Houston has over places like San Francisco and New York City is that the great majority of people have garages,” he noted. “And people understand energy down here.”
He said the goal is to sign up 1,000 eVgo customers during the project’s first year.
Four electricity providers have joined the eVgo coalition, including TXU Energy and Reliant Energy (which is owned by NRG).
While NRG operates fossil fuel-fired power plants, it has also made investments in renewable energy, including taking a $300 million equity stake in BrightSource Energy’s 370-megawatt Ivanpah solar project, now under construction in the Southern California Desert. NRG also has a joint venture with solar power plant developer eSolar to build solar farms in the desert Southwest.
Still, a reporter for the Dallas Morning News asked Crane, “Why are you starting this in Houston? Are you taunting the oil industry?”
Crane chuckled and then said, “Let me state for the record we’re not taunting the oil industry.”
But making a buck at Big Oil’s expense is another matter.
Electric Sportscar Completes Alaska-Argentina Trip
MICHAEL WARREN, Associated Press
POSTED: 2:40 pm PST November 16, 2010
UPDATED: 2:42 pm PST November 16, 2010
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — An electric sportscar finished a remarkable road trip Tuesday on the Panamerican Highway, traveling from near the Arctic Circle in Alaska to the world’s southernmost city without a single blast of carbon dioxide emissions.
Developed by engineers from Imperial College London, the SRZero sportscar ran on lithium iron phosphate batteries powering two electric motors with a peak output of 400 horsepower during its 16,000-mile (26,000-kilometer) journey.
Powering up was a joy at times, the team said – such as in Chena Hot Springs, Alaska, where they started their trip July 3 after charging the batteries using geothermal energy.
“The SRZero was literally being charged from energy taken straight out of the earth with absolutely zero CO2 emissions,” Alex Schey, a mechanical engineer who organized the trip, wrote in his blog that day.
Finding places to plug in along the way became a major challenge as the team passed through 14 countries in 70 days of driving.
But every time the driver hit the brakes – and there was plenty of that as the team made its way through the Rocky Mountains, Mexico and Central America and then through South America – the car recovered kinetic energy, extending its capacity to drive as much as six hours and more than 400 kilometers (250 miles) on a single charge.
This was no clunky science project – all that horsepower enabled the car to reach 60 mph (96 kph) in just seven seconds and reach top controlled speeds of 124 mph (200 kph), the team said.
It pulled into the city of Ushuaia, in Tierra del Fuego, on Tuesday afternoon.
“WE HAVE MADE IT – WE ARE IN USHUAIA!!!!!!! so many emotions, so many people to thank. It has been two absolutely incredible years. …,” the team tweeted, posting a picture of the car outside the local customs office.
“The success of efforts like this should motivate us to follow this road that we believe is as possible as it is necessary: that of searching for progress for our societies without putting at risk the environment,” the governor of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego province, Fabiana Ros, said as she greeted the team.
Andy Hadland, the team’s spokesman, said he hopes the trip will change the image of electric cars and inspire young people to become engineers and develop their own projects.
On the Internet:
Racing Green Endurance blog: http://www.racinggreenendurance.com/blog
Here is a great article in today’s paper by a former Republican Congressman.
Can the party of Reagan accept the science of climate change?
By Sherwood Boehlert
Friday, November 19, 2010; Washington Post op-ed
Watching the raft of newly elected GOP lawmakers converge on Washington, I couldn’t help thinking about an issue I hope our party will better address. I call on my fellow Republicans to open their minds to rethinking what has largely become our party’s line: denying that climate change and global warming are occurring and that they are largely due to human activities.
National Journal reported last month that 19 of the 20 serious GOP Senate challengers declared that the science of climate change is either inconclusive or flat-out wrong. Many newly elected Republican House members take that position. It is a stance that defies the findings of our country’s National Academy of Sciences, national scientific academies from around the world and 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists.
Why do so many Republican senators and representatives think they are right and the world’s top scientific academies and scientists are wrong? I would like to be able to chalk it up to lack of information or misinformation.
I can understand arguments over proposed policy approaches to climate change. I served in Congress for 24 years. I know these are legitimate areas for debate. What I find incomprehensible is the dogged determination by some to discredit distinguished scientists and their findings.
In a trio of reports released in May, the prestigious and nonpartisan National Academy concluded that “a strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.” Our nation’s most authoritative and respected scientific body couldn’t make it any clearer or more conclusive.
When I was chairman of the House Committee on Science, top scientists from around the world came before our panel. They were experts that Republicans and Democrats alike looked to for scientific insight and understanding on a host of issues. They spoke in probabilities, ranges and concepts – always careful to characterize what was certain, what was suspected and what was speculative. Today, climate scientists – careful as ever in portraying what they know vs. what they suspect – report that the body of scientific evidence supporting the consensus on climate change and its cause is as comprehensive and exhaustive as anything produced by the scientific community.
While many in politics – and not just of my party – refuse to accept the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change, leaders of some of our nation’s most prominent businesses have taken a different approach. They formed the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. This was no collection of mom-and-pop shops operated by “tree huggers” sympathetic to any environmental cause but, rather, a step by hard-nosed, profit-driven capitalists. General Electric, Alcoa, Duke Energy, DuPont, Dow Chemical, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler signed on. USCAP, persuaded by scientific facts, called on the president and Congress to act, saying “in our view, the climate change challenge will create more economic opportunities than risks for the U.S. economy.”
There is a natural aversion to more government regulation. But that should be included in the debate about how to respond to climate change, not as an excuse to deny the problem’s existence. The current practice of disparaging the science and the scientists only clouds our understanding and delays a solution. The record flooding, droughts and extreme weather in this country and others are consistent with patterns that scientists predicted for years. They are an ominous harbinger.
The new Congress should have a policy debate to address facts rather than a debate featuring unsubstantiated attacks on science. We shouldn’t stand by while the reputations of scientists are dragged through the mud in order to win a political argument. And no member of any party should look the other way when the basic operating parameters of scientific inquiry – the need to question, express doubt, replicate research and encourage curiosity – are exploited for the sake of political expediency. My fellow Republicans should understand that wholesale, ideologically based or special-interest-driven rejection of science is bad policy. And that in the long run, it’s also bad politics.
What is happening to the party of Ronald Reagan? He embraced scientific understanding of the environment and pollution and was proud of his role in helping to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals. That was smart policy and smart politics. Most important, unlike many who profess to be his followers, Reagan didn’t deny the existence of global environmental problems but instead found ways to address them.
The National Academy reports concluded that “scientific evidence that the Earth is warming is now overwhelming.” Party affiliation does not change that fact.
The writer, a Republican, represented New York’s 24th District in Congress from 1983 to 2007. He is a special adviser to the Project on Climate Science.
Geroge Will wrote a nasty op-ed attacking the Chevy Volt as a Toxic asset of the US Gov’t run busines. Well, the US gov’t doesn’t run Chevy and he should know better. Besides, state and federal gov’ts are always tripping over themselves to help business, to attract business, cut them a break on taxes, etc. Republican and Democratic. So, I wrote a letter to the Editor.
George Will’s Nov 14 Op Ed piece “Toxic shock from the Volt” completely ignores the real toxic shock to America, which is the subsidized gasoline automobile. How soon we have forgotten the toxic shock of the Gulf Oil spill ! The list of toxins in oil is as long as your arm, including benzene and xylene. To the extent that my new Chevy Volt will be powered by some, but not as much oil, it does have that reduced air pollution impact, but I intend to power my Volt mostly on electricity, generated by the sun and wind. No toxins to speak of there. Perhaps I’ll buy the all-electric Nissan Leaf and avoid all gasoline.
And how about the toxic shock of our America-hurting dependence on overseas oil. How long will we ignore President Bush’s warning about our addiction to oil? As long as we listen to Mr. Will’s advice and ignore the threat of the next terrorist bomber.
501 Parducci Road
Ukiah, CA 95482
They use solar and wind power to provide the energy for their farms, biodiesel tractors. Check out their site.
I’m no fan of nuclear power, but if the nukies in Congress want more nukes, they will have to pass global warming legislation to drive up the price of coal electricity.
The falling price of natural gas has threatened nuclear, together with solar- and wind-generated power.
check out this video
Troposphere is warming too, decades of data show
Not only is Earth’s surface warming, but the troposphere — the lowest level of the atmosphere, where weather occurs — is heating up too, U.S. and British meteorologists reported on Monday.
In a review of four decades of data on troposphere temperatures, the scientists found that warming in this key atmospheric layer was occurring, just as many researchers expected it would as more greenhouse gases built up and trapped heat close to the Earth.
This study aims to put to rest a controversy that began 20 years ago, when a 1990 scientific report based on satellite observations raised questions about whether the troposphere was warming, even as Earth’s surface temperatures climbed.
The original discrepancy between what the climate models predicted and what satellites and weather balloons measured had to do with how the observations were made, according to Dian Seidel, research meteorologist for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
It was relatively easy to track surface temperatures, since most weather stations sat on or close to the ground, Seidel said by telephone from NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory in Silver Spring, Maryland, outside Washington.
Measuring temperature in the troposphere is more complicated. Starting in the late 1950s, scientists dangled weather instruments from big balloons, with the data sent back to researchers by radio transmission as the balloons rose through the six miles of the troposphere.
Article continues: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6AE4E820101116
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