Oct 17

An interactive map that shows how the US generates electricity

Click on the image below to access an interactive map that shows how the US generates electricity:

Oct 14

For Electric Car Owners, ‘Range Anxiety’ Gives Way to ‘Charging Time Trauma’

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Electric Car Owners, ‘Range Anxiety’ Gives Way to ‘Charging Time Trauma’

 

By Eric Taub

October 5, 2017

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/05/automobiles/wheels/electric-cars-charging.html

 

 

An oft-cited reason people don’t buy electric cars is “range anxiety” — if batteries struggle to take you as far as gas and charging stations are limited in number, the thinking goes, who would want one?

But there is another obstacle: charging time trauma. Compared with a five-minute pit stop at your local gas station, charging an electric vehicle is a glacially slow experience. Modern electric cars still often need an entire night to recharge at home, and even at a commercial fast charging station, a fill-up can take an hour or more.

“Driving long distances and stopping for one to two hours is not something I would want to do,” said Mark McNabb, the chief executive of Electrify America, a Volkswagen subsidiary that is installing charging stations across the United States as part of the German automaker’s settlement for cheating on diesel emissions tests.

The good news? Charging times will eventually shrink to little more than 10 minutes. The bad news: That won’t be for several years.

Still, there is help is on the way. Manufacturers are installing more charging points across the country, and technological improvements are already allowing for charging times to improve.

Two levels of charging are typically available in residential settings. Level 1 is a standard AC outlet that provides between 1 and 1.5 kilowatts of electricity. It takes a Level 1 charger about 30 hours to fully charge the electric version of the Ford Focus, which has a range of 115 miles. Level 2 uses a professionally installed charger connected to a 240-volt AC outlet — the kind used by some large appliances — and delivers between 7 and 9 kilowatts, lowering the charge time to about 5.5 hours.

Some commercial charging locations offer more advanced technology, employing so-called fast chargers. These offer about 50 kilowatts of DC power, enabling the same Ford Focus to reach 90 miles of range in 30 minutes (battery chemistry causes charging to go more slowly after a battery is 80 percent full). The electric carmaker Tesla has a proprietary “supercharger” for its vehicles that provides 120 kilowatts of power, adding 300 miles of range in 75 minutes.

A new generation of charging points, the first of which are being installed in Europe this year, offer 350 kilowatts of power. Such a jump would slash charging times to 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the vehicle’s range, according to Charlie Yankitis, director of business development for the German manufacturer Bosch’s electric vehicle unit. Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder, has hinted that charging at even faster rates was being studied.

Several companies are making big bets on the technology.

Electrify America, the Volkswagen subsidiary, is planning on installing such high-capacity chargers along highway corridors throughout the United States. It is investing $2 billion in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and education nationwide, $800 million of which is earmarked for California alone.

By the end of 2020, Electrify America plans to have built 350 Level 2 charging sites in urban areas in California, like workplaces and apartment buildings. It will also build an unspecified number of fast chargers along roadways, each of which will have several charge units. A further 540 are to be built elsewhere in the country in that time.

ChargePoint, the largest installer of vehicle charging stations in the United States, plans to install 400-kilowatt sites in the coming months. But its chief executive, Pasquale Romano, did not specify how many.

Similar pushes are being made elsewhere. In Europe, the German automotive giants BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen have joined with Ford in a joint venture to install 350-kilowatt chargers across the Continent. They will start installing them this year, initially planning to get 400 fast-charging sites up and running, with “thousands” in place by 2020.

“We’re looking for similar solutions across the globe,” said Mike Tinskey, Ford’s global director of electrification and infrastructure.

There are, however, hurdles that need to be overcome.

For one, standards differ across manufacturers and regions. Today’s commercial chargers use three different kinds of plugs that are not entirely compatible. In practice, a Chevrolet, Nissan or Volkswagen cannot be charged at a Tesla charger. A Tesla, however, can use an adapter plug to charge at standard commercial stations, and Electrify America says its charging stations will be compatible with a variety of plugs.

Another issue: No vehicle on the road today is able to use the 350-kilowatt fast-charging stations. It is not a simple upgrade: High-speed charging requires thicker cables that won’t get too hot.

No automakers have indicated when they will sell cars equipped to accept such fast charges. Porsche’s Mission E electric vehicle is expected to be available by 2020, and will be able to charge to a 250-mile range in 15 minutes, according to the carmaker. Electrify America and ChargePoint say they expect vehicles capable of accepting 350-killowatt chargers to be available by 2019.

Utilities will also have to upgrade their infrastructure, a change for which California is already preparing.

Under the state’s zero emission regulations, every manufacturer must sell a certain number of emission-free vehicles, calculated as a proportion of overall sales. Consequently, California has become the hub for the mass installation of fast charging points. One of the state’s utility companies, Southern California Edison, estimates that 25 percent of its network must be upgraded to support new chargers.

“We hope we’ll be ready for fast charging when Electrify America is ready to install it,” said Caroline Choi, the utility’s senior vice president of regulatory affairs.

For now, the number of charging stations remains relatively low. According to the Department of Energy, there are just over 16,000 public electric vehicle charging points in the United States, offering about 44,000 individual outlets of varying charging speeds. By comparison, there are 120,000 gas stations nationwide, many of which have 10 or more pumps.

So customers will have to stick to charging an electric vehicle whenever it’s not being used, much as they already do with smartphones and tablets.

According to ChargePoint, 80 percent of vehicle charging is currently done at home, and industry executives argue that it’s wrong to think about charging electric cars in the way they envision filling up a gasoline or diesel vehicle.

“Electric vehicles are more like horses than gasoline cars,” said Mr. Romano of ChargePoint. They are like a horse that eats whenever you’re not riding it: “you refuel them when you’re doing something else.”

Oct 13

Orleans Makes Ice from Sun

 

https://vimeo.com/238136363

Oct 12

NRDC’s Fifth Annual Energy Report: AMERICA’S CLEAN ENERGY REVOLUTION

NRDCreport-2017

Oct 08

Alternative energy: Powering a brighter future

Alternative energy: Powering a brighter future

https://www.merrilledge.com/article/alternative-energy-global-trends

Panels at a solar energy farm

 

Renewable sources like solar and wind could be critical to meeting the planet’s soaring demand for energy — and addressing the growing threats from climate change and pollution.

 

 Key points

  • As the world’s energy needs grow, alternative — or renewable — sources will increase in importance
  • Solar and wind power show the most promise, as costs fall and concerns over climate change increase
  • Coal, oil and natural gas should remain dominant, but make up a shrinking portion of the global energy mix
  • The long-term potential for alternates looks strong, but policy uncertainties present a near-term risk
Global energy demand is growing and is expected to rise by nearly one-third between 2013 and 2040. To meet this increasing demand, the world is continuing to transition to alternative energy sources — also known as renewables — and improve energy efficiency. In 2015, during the United Nations Climate Change Conference, 195 countries signed the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), agreeing to reach the goal of limiting to 2℃ the increase in the global average temperature over pre-industrial levels. Private and public investors have also boosted their activities in the renewable sector.
While we expect conventional sources of energy — coal, oil and natural gas — to remain dominant, we believe alternatives will continue to grow in importance. We see the transition to a low-carbon environment and a balanced energy mix as irreversible.

Call to action for renewables

Governments, corporations and investors have become more committed to climate change as environmental pollution is a critical public health issue for many countries. In 2015, companies unveiled more than 8,000 initiatives to reduce GHG emissions globally. Some conventional energy companies, such as BP and Shell, have pledged to play a bigger role in alternative energy production and to help control rising temperatures.
 
Until recently, economic expansion and levels of energy-related carbon dioxide had always been positively correlated. In 2014, however, energy-related CO2 emissions stalled despite global economic expansion of 3%, demonstrating the commitment to deep cuts in GHG emissions and proving that a growing global economy does not need to rely on greater consumption of conventional energy.
 
Exhibit 1: BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research expects alternative sources to account for about 60% of total energy generation capacity by 2030

chart1 chart2 chart3

Source: International Energy Agency data; BofA ML Global Research approximations, “A Call to Action: Climate Change Solutions Primer”, November 2015

Solar is a big part of the future

The solar power industry experienced record growth in 2015, adding 50 gigawatts (GW) of capacity, bringing the global total to about 230 GW. Another $3.7 trillion is expected to be put into solar investments between 2015 and 2040. With costs for equipment, installation and services falling, we believe solar will continue to transition from a policy-driven to a business-driven industry. Solar energy can be converted into electricity via technologies like photovoltaics (PV) and concentrated solar power. PV is less expensive and more widely used than concentrated solar power (CSP), gaining competitiveness due to declining costs versus conventional energy, and life-time CO2 emissions are about 10% of those of coal-fired power.7 It is also cheap for consumers.
 
The International Energy Agency has projected that solar power could provide 20% of the world’s energy needs by 2030, with China and the United States driving much of the increased demand. Here in the U.S., growth in solar installations should get a boost from a federal income tax credit for residential and commercial properties.

Wind should get a lift from falling costs

The Global Wind Energy Council has predicted that the number of wind power installations will double in the next five years, driven by China, the U.S. and Europe. Increases in capacity should allow onshore wind generators to achieve economies of scale and attract additional financing. Technology improvements in turbines, better sites and cheap financing make wind the least expensive renewable source of electricity besides hydro power. While offshore wind power remains more expensive, we expect the cost of onshore wind power to fall even further, assuming greater efficiency in manufacturing of wind turbines, which would support the long-term demand for wind power.
 
Wind, like solar, is at the mercy of nature and its reliability varies by location. Developing a means of enabling excess power to be returned to the grid is key. Additionally, wind turbines require regular maintenance through their 20-to-25-year life, so high-quality service could facilitate further adoption. Also needed are solutions to protect wildlife from a wind turbine’s rotating blades, as well as the effect of electromagnetic fields.
 
Overall, solar PV and onshore wind are the most competitive forms of alternative energy given their lower costs and more mature technologies. They are likely to dominate additions to global generating capacity over the next 30 years. However, storage for back-up power is one challenge both sources face. In addition, as solar and wind generators are connected to the electric grid, system operators must manage output to prevent unanticipated fluctuations in voltage and blackouts.

Hydro has advantages and drawbacks

Concerns with climate change and declining variable costs are driving further adoption of hydropower, which is valued for its low emissions. The benefits of hydro include ease of adjusting output to reflect changes in demand, and reservoirs that can offer energy storage as well as flood control and drought protection. However, hydropower has important drawbacks, including the high cost of building new plants and concerns with flooding and other negative impacts on local ecosystems. In the long term, we predict solar PV and wind power will surpass hydro due to these constraints.
 
While we expect positive strides to continue to be made in the alternative energy sector in the long term, policy uncertainties present a near-term risk. Domestically, President Trump intends to reduce federal spending on climate change by up to $100 billion over the next eight years and he has suggested cutting the Clean Power Plan. Internationally, the President’s proposal for potentially withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement also remains a near-term uncertainty.
 
Conclusion: Conventional sources are expected to continue to dominate the energy mix as the world moves toward a low-carbon economy. Given concerns with climate change, we believe the world has reached a tipping point for renewable energy.
We believe that solar PV and onshore wind will likely become the predominant low-carbon energy sources given improving technologies and declining costs.
 
Alternative energy investments tend to be volatile and call for a relatively long holding period. Investors can target energy efficiency technologies like storage, lighting and smart grid and look to blue-chip companies with a significant presence in these technologies, reducing downside risks. A diversified approach through managers specializing in impact investing is preferred.

 

Oct 05

Tidal turbine test site at Cape Cod Canal gets green light

 

Tidal turbine test site at Cape Cod Canal gets green light

By Ethan Genter
Oct 4, 2017

 http://www.capecodtimes.com/news/20171004/tidal-turbine-test-site-at-cape-cod-canal-gets-green-light

An example of the type of turbine that might be tested at a tidal test site that will be installed by the Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative on the Cape Cod Canal. The project received approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today.

 

BUZZARDS BAY — The Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative has received approval to install a first-of-its-kind tidal turbine test site on the Cape Cod Canal.

“It really has potential to drive developers to the region,” said John Miller, the nonprofit’s executive director.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded the collaborative a yearlong renewable license to run the test site near the railroad bridge, Miller said. The site will have a platform that can be raised and lowered from the canal, allowing hydrokinetic turbine developers to test out their equipment before going into full production.

An authorization letter from the Army Corps’ regulatory division was signed and emailed to the collaborative Wednesday afternoon, and the project is now completely authorized, according to agency spokesman Timothy Dugan.

The project was approved under the state’s general permits, after a finding by the Army Corps that it “will have only minimal individual or cumulative environmental impacts,” according to the letter.

The canal is seen as an ideal test site because it is already used for industrial purposes and has currents that reach about four knots in either direction.

Although different types of hydrokinetic turbines are being built around the world, the most used model is a circular blade, similar to wind turbines, Miller said. The test site at the canal would be able to handle models that are up to three meters in diameter, a prized middle ground for turbine developers, according to Miller.

Full commercial-sized hydrokinetic turbines can get up to 10 meters across, but companies often want to test smaller versions before devoting the money on a larger scale, he said.

The site would be able to test one turbine at a time and two companies contacted the collaborative within a day of its approval, Miller said. Over the four years since the proposal was first publicized, the organization has been contacted by companies from around the world, he said.

There are conditions with the Army Corps approval. If North Atlantic right whales, a critically endangered species, are spotted in the canal, the collaborative must cease any pile driving, which would typically occur during installation, until the whales leave the canal. Pile driving must be ramped up over a 20- to 40-minute period each day it is occurring, to provide time for fish and marine mammals to leave the area, according to the authorization letter. In addition, the site can’t be found to have any negative effects on the railroad bridge.

It must be removed by Sept. 29, 2018, unless the collaborative contacts the Army Corp at least four months before that date asking that it be kept in place, according to the letter.

While there are test sites in Canada and Europe, there has been no similar installation in the U.S. Turbines have been tested on barges, like the recent tests on the canal by Brown University, but those trials can only last so long and can’t handle models as big as the canal test site, Miller said.

Barge testing can last a week, while the collaborative site could last for complete tide cycles and even longer, giving turbine makers a better idea of how their machines perform, Miller said.

Officials hope the installment is a boon for development in the area.

One of the goals of the Bourne Board of Selectmen is to remove all blighted property in town within five years and lure “blue” companies to the area. The test site could help with both and make the area a “hub” for marine technology, Selectman Michael Blanton said.

The project was funded by a $300,000 state Seaport Economic Council grant, said state Rep. David Vieira, R-East Falmouth, and was one of the first grants awarded by the council.

The idea is marine companies will want to be near the testing sites, he said.

“This will be the place to be: the Cape Cod Canal,” Vieira said.

Oct 04

How the EV Tax Credit Works

 

 

 

 

How the EV Tax Credit Works

June 23, 2017 at 4:27 pm by

To take advantage of tax credits currently being offered on the purchase of electric or hybrid vehicles, first—obviously—you must buy or lease an electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid for your own personal use.

If it’s an EV, the potential tax credit can be factored into a lease, so you can benefit without outright purchase. Some lease deals let you sign over the amount of the tax credit at the time of signing in exchange for a reduced down payment and lower monthly lease payments; check with your dealer to see if that is the case for the vehicle you want to lease.

You must place the vehicle in service during the tax year for which you’re claiming the credit. If you’re buying, you need to be prepared to finance the full, pre-credit amount of the vehicle. You may want to see your tax advisor to time the purchase. There is no income cap to claim the credit, but you’ll need sufficient tax liability for the year—in other words, the credit is an amount lopped off the income tax you owe; if the amount you owe is less than the credit amount, you won’t get the full value of the credit.

How Much Will the Credit Be?
A base $2500 credit accrues to electrified vehicles, which are EVs or plug-in hybrids, not regular hybrids. Vehicles that are “propelled to a significant extent by an electric motor”—defined as having battery-pack capacities of at least 5 kilowatt-hours—qualify for an additional $417, plus $417 for each 1-kWh increase in battery capacity, up to a maximum of $7500 per vehicle. So, for example, a car with a 6-kWh battery pack would earn $2500 as a base amount, an additional $417 for meeting the 5-kWh threshold, and another $417 for surpassing that threshold by 1 kWh; total credit: $3334. But don’t worry, you’re not required to do the math. The IRS does it for you, with a breakdown of the credit for each make and model here.

The Phase-Out
The government’s offer of a tax credit is intended to expire eventually. That will happen at a different time for each automaker, with a phase-out period beginning once each manufacturer hits 200,000 plug-in vehicles sold. By some estimates, including a recent projection, Tesla and General Motors will get there first, in 2018, with Nissan likely to hit that number in 2019.

Figuring your own potential tax credit will require further research, because additional incentives may be available in your state. By doing your homework and being mindful of the timing of your purchase, you could see a big payoff.

Oct 04

2017 Chevrolet Volt in Depth: The Plug-In We Want

 

 

 

In-depth Review

2017 Chevrolet Volt in Depth: The Plug-In We Want

It’s electrifying!

October 2017 By ANNIE WHITE

https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2017-chevrolet-volt-in-depth-model-review

Click above image to view 35 photos

 

Overall Rating:

The Volt was the first of its kind when it hit the market in 2010, and it has been at the top of the pack ever since. With a class-demolishing 53 miles of electric-only range, it’s a plug-in hybrid that can be driven like an EV much of the time. Boy racers may scoff, but for the planet-aware driver who has an occasional long trip on the docket, the Volt is a perfect fit. That doesn’t mean that it’s without compromises—the interior is plastic-tastic, and we suspect the rear seat was adapted from a medieval torture device—but the Volt is not just a good hybrid, it’s a good car.

 

Highs
Best-in-class all-electric range, spacious cargo hold, peppy off-the-line acceleration.
Lows
Anonymous exterior styling, efficiency suffers once the battery is empty, rear seat not fit for adults.
Verdict
Not just a good hybrid but a good car.

What’s New for 2017?

The Volt is largely unchanged for 2017, with just three additions to the available equipment list: A teen-driving safety feature, standard on all models, is designed to encourage safer driving behaviors in young drivers. It allows parents to set a speed warning, keep the radio muted until the front seatbelts are buckled, and prevent teens from disabling traction and stability control. Adaptive cruise control and automated emergency braking are options in the top Premier trim level. A new, limited-availability exterior color—Citron Green Metallic—joins Siren Red Tintcoat and Kinetic Blue Metallic on the list of extra-cost paint colors.

Trims and Options We’d Choose

The base Volt, at $34,095, is already comprehensively equipped and comes with this car’s most important standard feature: 53 miles of guilt-free driving. The Premier trim adds a better audio system, wireless charging for phones and other devices, and leather seats, among other features, but also adds more than $4000 to the bottom line, so we’d skip it. Standard features in the base LT include:

• MyLink infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two USB ports, and built-in 4G LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity
• Remote keyless entry with push-button start
• Single-zone automatic climate control

For options, we’d go with the leather seats ($900), which requires that you also purchase the Comfort package ($460) with its heated front seats, steering wheel, and side-view mirrors. Those packages bring the total cost of our Volt to $35,455. The Volt can qualify buyers for up to $7500 in tax credits (not included in our calculations above), a salve for the sting of an otherwise high price.

Read MORE

 

 

Sep 30

Bay State named No. 1 in energy efficiency

Bay State named No. 1 in energy efficiency

 

September 29, 2017

http://www.capecodtimes.com/news/20170929/bay-state-named-no-1-in-energy-efficiency

Massachusetts has been named the most energy efficient state in the country by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy for the seventh straight year.

“As Massachusetts continues to make historic investments and progress in clean energy development, energy efficiency remains the most cost-effective method of reducing ratepayer costs and lowering greenhouse gas emissions,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement.

The council’s scorecard measures states in six categories of energy efficiency policy and programs, including utility programs, transportation, building energy codes, combined heat and power, state government policies, and appliance standards, the statement says.

Baker announced $10 million in funding for six new programs intended to increase affordable access to clean energy and energy efficiency programs, according to the statement. The state Department of Energy Resources also announced more than $4.6 million in grants to nine innovative peak demand reduction projects, the statement says.

 

Sep 25

Can the New Nissan Leaf Transform Electric-Vehicle Market?

Can the New Nissan Leaf Transform Electric-Vehicle Market?

 

By Justin Worland

September 22, 2017

http://time.com/4951179/can-nissan-leaf-transform-electric-vehicle-market/

Nissan hopes the new Leaf, above, will find a customer base interested in the value that the car offers in a crowded electric-vehicle market

 

Driving the new Nissan Leaf will take an uninitiated electric-car operator–like me–by surprise. During a two-day test drive on Washington, D.C.–area streets and highways, the Leaf accelerated fast, ran silently and allowed me to use a feature letting the driver never touch the brake pedal. Add to that a sleek redesigned exterior and you have a vehicle that will impress even a hardened electric-vehicle skeptic.

But those elements are just part of what Nissan says will make this car a success when it hits the market early next year. Indeed, the Leaf’s impressive set of features still faces stiff competition from Tesla’s most affordable model, which offers greater range and a hotter brand name.

Nissan is betting that the Leaf’s value–including its ample features and moderate price tag–will persuade potential buyers to leave traditional cars behind. The Leaf starts at just below $30,000, and the price can drop by a quarter with tax incentives. “We only set out to design, produce and sell a mass-market electric vehicle,” says Brian Maragno, Nissan’s director of electric-vehicle marketing and sales. That “means affordability, with the right balance of content and capabilities.”

The move to distinguish the Leaf–the world’s most popular electric car–in an increasingly crowded field of around 30 models comes at a pivotal time. Analysts expect demand for the cars to grow globally in the coming years. In part, those gains will come from simple awareness and word of mouth. More significantly, they will come from the fact that governments around the world keen on eliminating air pollution and tackling climate change have instituted policies to make electric vehicles more affordable, if not mandatory.

The U.K. and France have said their countries will ban fossil-fuel-powered vehicles by 2040. Even China has said it will push automakers to end sales of nonelectric cars, though the date remains uncertain. The U.S. is taking a different tack. In recent years, fuel-economy standards tightened by former President Barack Obama pushed automakers to offer electric vehicles. But automakers also complained, and the Trump Administration has promised to review the policy.

Still, some incentives remain, including a generous federal tax credit of up to $7,500. But tepid U.S. policy support for electric vehicles means automakers will need to change consumer perceptions to attract customers, at least in the short term, says Josh Linn, an energy and environment researcher at the nonpartisan think tank Resources for the Future.

“The greater demand over time will stimulate automakers to invest in technologies, and eventually that will have an effect on the U.S. market,” says Linn. But “the bigger challenge right now is how consumers perceive the vehicles.”

That’s been the trouble in the electric-vehicle game for years, and automakers have confronted it with different approaches. Tesla began by offering cars with all the bells and whistles but at a price that can exceed $80,000. On the opposite end, the cost of a Mitsubishi i-MiEV can dip below $20,000 with tax incentives, but the car might be confused for a glorified golf cart.

The market has grown quickly, with more than 140,000 electric vehicles sold last year in the U.S., up from less than 20,000 in 2011. And automakers keep betting that number will increase. Daimler AG said Thursday it will invest $1 billion to produce Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles in Alabama. But there is still a long way to go for electric vehicles to break through into the mainstream. Just a fraction of the 17.5 million total vehicles sold last year in the U.S.

The makers of the Leaf think their product offers something different that consumers will want, but they’re not ignorant of the challenges. “Our parents, our parents’ parents, our parents’ parents’ parents never drove a car like this,” says Maragno. “We’re talking about generations of internal-combustion vehicles, and now we’re making a switch.”

Behind the wheel, I feel confident that previous generations would have gotten used to it. The Leaf may or may not reinvigorate the electric-vehicle market, but at the very least, no one who sets eyes on this car or gets behind the wheel can say electric cars have nothing to offer.

 

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