Thursday, January 2, 2014

Interview with Paul Scott

Paul & Jen in Santa Monica with his Nissan Leaf .
My interview with Paul Scott, founding member of Plug In America, had me laughing and shaking my head as we discussed the future state of electric vehicles and renewable energy. Paul had made his voice heard in the clip, "Who Killed The Electric Car" with Martin Sheen and Ed Begley, Jr. as well made an impact with President Obama, Nissan, and Electric Vehicle Association of Southern California. He is such a well connected, interesting man that is an advocate for change in our generation.

Why care? That is the ultimate question. Why does it all matter if we sit in 4-hour traffic jams, pay $4.55 for a gallon of gas, or drill for natural gas? Simple answers are money and time.

We are living off finite resources, but more importantly paying for really cheap electricity (pennies per Kwh; not dollars). Our outages in the U.S. are measured in days, while Singapore measures in seconds. We are guilty of playing politics, just the same as other nations, as we soak up our independence for getting in our vehicles at any point in time.

Thus, why not have better infrastructure is the right question to ask ourselves? We can have electric vehicles for feasible, acceptable rates with significant tax rebates (at the federal and state level), which is seen in WA, OR and CA. Transits, buses, local municipalities, and state highways are all in need of support. Moreover, the critical component to our messy, political debate is that construction, like education, including the development of electric vehicle technology, solar, geothermal, cannot be outsourced. Our generational planning for 2014 will augment our movement of "Made in the U.S.A." and train our skilled labor force (young and old) to be prepared for not just another trend, but an economic demand that cannot be overlooked. Tesla, Solar City, Nissan, Uber (which Google significantly recently funded), Brammo are some examples of the new level of entrepreneurship and leadership that will get us off gasoline, and better guided to diversified generation (even if that means nuclear, natural gas, wind, solar and more). Gone are the days of the old as a new generation will kick into motion a lifetime of stability and conversation that educates, excites, and explores.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

I Heart Tesla

I landed in Portland, OR, for work related market research and discovered the Washington Square Mall in Tigard, OR, had a Tesla retail store. They are certainly popular and not new, but new to me since they haven't arrived in Ohio (closest is Chicago). I can honestly say I felt like a kid in a candy store.

Two beautiful cars (Model S, 60 to 85 kwh battery option, ~$68,000 to $72,000 after the $7,500 federal tax credit, with a 265 to 300 mile full range all electric). Now I've seen them before, studied their technology, followed their company every single day, but having the opportunity to touch the wheel and play with the buttons was so fun! 

I can honestly have a healthy debate when it comes to EV technology, dependence on foreign oil, power plants needing "clean coal"; however, I did learn three surprising facts:

1) Reservation fees have now decreased by 50%. Before your fee to reserve the car for production was $5,000 and expect a waiting period of 12-months. Now, it is only $2,500 and you only have to wait 5-8 weeks for your model to arrive to your home/work. (Note: Nissan has a $99 reservation fee for the LEAF). Tesla is still expensive for the average consumer; but that is not their target audience...yet.

2) The next generation of models will be both a sedan and a crossover. I knew about this potential buzz, but the difficulty has been on the technology side of offering a smaller battery while still providing a 200-mile charge. This is why the previous models are not for everyone. The early adopters have the cash to purchase high end tech toys. As the technology glitches are fixed, then those learnings are applied to more everyday products (such as heating elements, battery life, battery swaps, self-driving elements and more).

3) Hyerloop is the super bullet train on the horizon. Our thirst for more speed, innovation, and efficiency will not end. We see this year after year with the X Prize Foundation, SpaceX, and Boeing. Each continue to strive for advancements. More specifically, the Hyerloop concept (Elon Musk wants to adopt) is derived from using the banking tube technology. The proposal is to build a train that allows us to travel from LA to NY in one hour using the tube technology of how documents are sent by banks and hospitals. 

We have an exciting future ahead of us. One that just keeps on expanding...


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Gandering Near the London Array

As the Americans often say, "bigger is better"; however, I like the conservative, quiet nature of the British who legally can claim they have the largest offshore wind farm. It is 12 miles (20 kilometers) located in the Thames Estuary of the UK. It is really massive! Phase 1 included 175 wind turbines which outputted 630 MW of capacity, which is enough to power 1 million residential properties. Additionally, many probably do not realize that was functional back in October 2012, but now the gears and blades are fully operational for 2013. As the U.S. celebrates the 4th of July weekend (America's birthday), the UK formally inaugurated the London Array on July 4th, 2013! Note: Ownership is 50% DONG Energy, 30% UK Renewables and 20% Masdar. Turbines supplied by Siemens Wind Power (Source: Wikipedia)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Dream School

Solar panels and school yard chickens is at the heart of a net positive learning campus. This isn't necessarily a new trend, but a modern day concept we will start to see unfold in 2013 and beyond. For example, in Seattle the Bulitt Center will open on Earth Day, and will claim to be the greenest office on our planet by meeting the requirements of the Living Building Challenge. A net-zero energy public school will open up in New York City in 2014. Lastly, in the southwest side of Chicago, the Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) is building a net positive campus.

One by one these learning centers and buildings are transforming our lifestyles, working environments, and commuting routes. It is not uncommon to see edible gardens, zero waste cafeterias, composting, sorting hubs and more. We have become such waste producers and that is gratifying to see change agents in our community working to foster true urban agriculture and collaboration. For once, we start to see kids actually wanting to go to school (and not staying home to avoid the bullies) and adults actually looking forward to their work day.

Just watch this student explain the life cycle of a peach. This is great, green learning at the ultimate Dream School.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Epic WinD

Money is continuing to move into Cleveland and the first of its kind in the U.S., the Lake Erie Energy Development Co. of Cleveland (LEEDCo) will launch offshore wind turbines on Lake Erie using $4 million in federal money. LEEDCo is a non-profit that was awarded the funds will primarily focus on testing offshore wind by installing 9 turbines on ice breaker foundations (designed to reduce ice loading) roughly 7-miles out (3MW).

"The United States has tremendous untapped clean energy resources, and it is important for us to develop technologies that will allow us to utilize those resources in ways that are economically viable," U.S. Secretary of Energy Steve Chu. "Today's announcement of awards to the first offshore wind projects in the U.S. paves the way to cleaner, more sustainable, and more diverse domestic energy portfolio." LEEDCo was 1 of 7 organizations selected by the DoE and this is certainly an epic wind for Clevelanders.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Minesweeper


It's round, made of bamboo and biodegradable plastic, inspired by a toy, and is a mine detonating device. This is biomimicry at its best designed by an Afghan refugee. At 70 kilograms (154 lbs), it activates mines as it rolls along the desert sand or grass. To date, there is an estimated 110 million mines scattered across 70 countries. Mine Kafon is designed using a basic GPS device and experts are seeing this as a common removal method. At only a cost of $40, I can see future races on the horizon.


Source: CNN 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Energy Act 2.0


Can you believe that 20% of energy consumption in the US is used by commercial buildings? To date, our Senators are working to pass a 'more efficient' Energy Policy Act (Public Law 109-58) that would extend and strengthen our commercial tax deductions. More simply, these proactive thinkers and healthy debates evolve around the recognition and need for making improvements to energy infrastructure.

So what is fair game? Lighting, windows, HVAC, building materials. YES - all of the above.

The dilemma is what percentage, and at what square footage? Currently, the bill states up to $1.80 in tax deductions per square footage for retrofits and new construction. The new bill is between $1.00 to $4.00 pending performance upgrades and improvements.

The bottom line is this is great news for manufacturers and good news for Americans trying to get back to work. The USGBC and NRDC estimates an additional 77,000 construction and services jobs will be created if the energy act is revised. Every little bit counts.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

GreenBuild 2012

Rick Fedrizzi is at it again with his energy and engagement talks. I saw him in Washington, D.C. and his team of forward-thinkers were back in Toronto, Ontario.




Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Apps for your EV


We all have goals. Some are S.M.A.R.T. while others are just aspirational. But when you have the support of the government, aggressive investors, then the momentum continues for General Motors. Their recent announcement involves a bold target of 500,000 electric vehicles (EVs) sold by 2017.

How? With what? Smartphones.

Two of the biggest barriers associated with EV technology is not the infrastructure, but generally psychological range anxiety and public charging costs.

The solution behind that is one app called WayPoint designed for the GM Spark EV - set to launch in 2013. This is by no means a California zero emissions manate (aka compliance vehicle). Owners can buy them outright, and the app is designed to assist drivers plot a route and locate public charging stations along the way.

Another app in the works is Park-Tap-Charge (PTC). This app shows drivers the estimated hourly cost for charging (full and half times for level 1 or level 2 outlets), and can be conveniently handled through PayPal. In my opinion with Onstar and other perks programs, I can foresee badger/point/accolade programs on the horizon whereby Volt drivers compete for MPG goals. Not a bad goal to have for our future economy.




Sunday, November 25, 2012

Resurrection

My apologies for not writing earlier. I took a bit of a sabbatical from this blog. It was for good reason, too, given that I recently departed from working for an energy company. A brilliant, complex organization where I gained an enormous amount of knowledge on the energy industry. I was protecting them, this blog, and my opinions. I'm sure you have a few questions and I have answers for you.

1) Yes, I am no longer a pure vegetarian. I never was 100% of the time and stayed away from chicken and red meat. That is still the case today as I continue to eat fish, turkey (Thanksgiving was great), lots of lentils, but limited dairy and definitely no cow, deer, or other fleshy being.

2) There is hope for the grid. Fracking will continue. Shale gas is extremely plentiful and regulations will become stronger, better and more enforced. More importantly, expect power plants to be extremely scrutinized with a push to convert or switch from coal to natural gas for a cleaner, cheaper burn.

3) I canceled my Nissan LEAF order. The reservation fee was only $99 (always refundable) and since April 2012 that policy has been discontinued. The midwest is still lacking the infrastructure to be scalable and reliable. I was optimistic, however, do I have to remind you of Hurricane Sandy? Until ECOtality arrives east of Denver, then demand will continue to grow in Oregon, California and Texas. As an alternative, I am considering a Toyota Prius Plug-in and never took my eyes off Tesla Motors. (Elon, You have a wonderful empire. SpaceX has a great future and building space. I remain an advocate!)

4) Why now? Resurrection seemed appropriate given the time of year, time of my career and the exciting time of technology. New platforms on the horizon, but this time a solid break through for many industries (3D printing, healthcare, solar, education, private rockets, etc). Crowd sourcing and crowd funding is massive. Why not have that trend expand to heroes helping us to advance in our green economy?


Sunday, January 29, 2012

ActiveE


The electric dream began back in the 60's when BMW tested their 1-602 model series during the Munich Olympics. Since that time, the race has continued for propulsion, zero emission tailpipes, and plug-in hybrids allowing the flexibility for gas and renewable sources. The turning point was in 2004 with the advanced release of the lithium-ion battery for vehicles which had proven their worth in laptops, cellphones, and other consumer devices. But nothing is better than the smooth and quiet ride of an electric vehicle, feeling the regenerative braking, and knowing that electronauts are helping to move our green economy forward. If you are interested in being one of the test fleet ActiveE drivers (700 released), sign up here for a two year lease to help our economy be on the edge of innovation.

Source: BMW 2012

Monday, January 16, 2012

Makani Power

In Hawaiian, makani means wind. It also is the new identity for, The Makani Airborne Wind Turbines, who was recently awarded $3 million from the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program, and has also received $20 million in funding from Google. They essentially resemble a fleet of mini airplanes that are launched when wind speeds reach 3.5 meters per second. Rotors on each blade help propel it into orbit, and double as turbines once airborne. The blades are tethered to the ground with a cord that delivers power to throw them into the sky and receives energy generated by the turbines to be sent to the grid-connected ground station. The wings take on a circular flight path once in the air (perpendicular to the wind’s direction – sometimes called the wind window for you kiteboarders out there!). Wind speeds can generally be twice as fast at altitude than near ground level as well, making airborne blades potentially more powerful than ground-based turbines. Their light weight material also makes them cheaper to produce than traditional turbines, and maintenance work can be performed on the ground. While these turbines have potential, they are still being tested. Makani plans to construct larger wings that can reach heights of 1,600 feet and power 600 homes. The company’s current timeline for the largest prototype is 2013, with hopes of starting commercial production two years later.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

PlanetSolar at WFES


PlanetSolar is the largest catamaran (130ft) that is solar-powered. It was unveiled by PlanetSolar, the Swiss manufacturer and launch in Barcelona, Spain in November 2011. Preparations are in full swing for its arrival at the WFES (World Future Energy Summit) in Abu Dhabi at the National Exhibit Center on January 16th - 19th. Many speakers from the Exxon Mobil to the Green Building Council will be present and all eye will be on 500sq meters of pure solar paneling.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Very Light Car


Edison2 was the research and manufacturing team that made the "Very Light Car". While its name is simply and elementary, the best part is that it won $5million (in the mainstream class) from the Progressive  Insurance Automotive X Prize. If you have been under a rock and don't know about the X Prize or what it stands for, then I highly recommend you engage in some quality Inter-web time to review. The four-passenger vehicle was accredited by the EPA for obtaining 245-mpg equivalent for the stringent test (delivering a combined 350-mpg in the standard test), almost three times that of the best market models. The car fully charges from ordinary household outlets within six hours, enabling a range of 114 miles. If this car had a theme it would be, "design by competition, formed through competition and favored by physics." More simply, it is the most efficient automobile platform ever built.

Source: Design Boom 


Sunday, October 16, 2011

National Plug-in Day

National Plug-in Day was on 10/16 - an unprecedented nationwide observance drawing global attention to the environmental, economic and other benefits of plug-in electric vehicles through simultaneous events staged in at least twenty major cities nationwide. Plug In America, the Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association teamed up to plan for this effort, which notified cities across our nation to commence plug-in parades, tailpipe-free tailgate parties, test-drives and other grassroots activities. Our flagship event will be a huge parade of plug-in vehicles in the L.A. area. Chris Paine, director of the films “Who Killed the Electric Car?” and “Revenge of the Electric Car,” has agreed to be among the speakers at this celebration. We expect to at least double the number of vehicles from history’s greenest procession, the 78-vehicle parade staged by Plug In America in 2009 (and 180 in Santa Monica's 2011) was in sync with President Obama’s inauguration. Electric vehicles already enable thousands of miles of cleaner, petro-free driving. Help tell the world about the benefits of driving on electric avenue!