Energy and Global Warming News for June 17th: First 4,400 Volt buyers to get free chargers

First 4,400 Volt buyers to get free chargers

General Motors will offer the first 4,400 buyers of its Chevrolet Volt the option of having a 240-volt charging station installed in their home when the car is released this fall, the company said Thursday.

The Volt is General Motors’ upcoming plug-in electric car that promises a range of 40 miles on electricity alone before one is forced to switch to gas for fuel. GM refers to it as an extended-range electric vehicle, or EREV, instead of a hybrid because the gas engine generator is not directly tied to the car’s transmission.

The 240-volt charging stations will be free to Volt buyers; the cost will be covered by a grant from the Department of Energy under the Transportation Electrification Initiative funds inside the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

US Senators Propose Extending Renewable-Energy Grant Program

A group of U.S. Senators Tuesday proposed extending a government program that provides cash grants to renewable energy developers in lieu of tax credits, program developers have said is crucial to keeping the market afloat.

Sens. Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and four other Democratic senators proposed extending the renewable tax-credit Treasury grant program another two years, through 2012, as part of a $140 billion bill to extend federal unemployment aid and renew a host of expired tax breaks.

Evaporative cooling plus drying with desiccants equals cool air for less cost

Keeping air cool in homes and offices this summer will be expensive–about 5 percent of the energy used in the United States each year goes to running air conditioners. But researchers at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, CO, have come up with a new air-conditioner design that they say will dramatically increase efficiency and eliminate gases that contribute to global warming.

“The technology we have today is nearly a hundred years old,” says Eric Kozubal, a senior engineer at NREL. Kozubal and colleagues have come up with an air conditioner that combines evaporative cooling with a water-absorbing material to provide cool, dry air while using up to 90 percent less energy. The desiccant-enhanced evaporative, or DEVap, air conditioner is meant to addresses the old complaint, “It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity,” more efficiently.

Amid Calls for New Fuel Sources, Wind Energy Proves to Be Complex Endeavor

One of the things President Obama called for Tuesday night in his address to the nation on the Gulf oil crisis was an end to the country’s addiction to fossil fuels.

On Wednesday’s NewsHour, we have a report on the complexities involved in achieving one part of that goal: wind energy.

Independent filmmaker Emma Cott has filed a report on the challenges of harnessing wind power from Mexico to meet the demand for energy in California.

Warming Up to Climate Change: Schools Work With Companies to Develop Strategies on the Environment and Sustainability

Business school faculty and students are applying their management skills to one of the world’s knottiest problems: climate change. Several years after global warming first became a big topic in B-school classrooms and cafeterias, schools are now digging into the issue in a far more detailed way. There are new faculty posts dedicated to environmental concerns, case studies highlighting companies that have succeeded in shrinking their carbon footprints and a slew of student consulting projects on cutting emissions. Norwich Business School in England recently launched what it says is the world’s first M.B.A. in strategic carbon management.

Cuba braces to contend with BP oil spill

Cuba is steadying itself for an ecological and tourism crisis as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill appears to be heading towards its pristine northern coast.

Authorities are preparing coastal communities to respond to the first sign of black slicks and have brought in Venezuelan experts to advise on damage limitation.

Patches of oil were reportedly spotted 100 miles north-west of the island, prompting concern that gulf currents will add Cuba to the list of casualties from the April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion.

Half a World From Gulf, a Spill 5 Decades Old

Big oil spills are no longer news in this vast, tropical land. The Niger Delta, where the wealth underground is out of all proportion with the poverty on the surface, has endured the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez spill every year for 50 years by some estimates. The oil pours out nearly every week, and some swamps are long since lifeless.

Perhaps no place on earth has been as battered by oil, experts say, leaving residents here astonished at the nonstop attention paid to the gusher half a world away in the Gulf of Mexico. It was only a few weeks ago, they say, that a burst pipe belonging to Royal Dutch Shell in the mangroves was finally shut after flowing for two months: now nothing living moves in a black-and-brown world once teeming with shrimp and crab.

U.S. climate bill to shape U.N. talks

Worldwide hopes for a comprehensive climate protection treaty hinge on whether U.S. President Barack Obama can push through an ambitious U.S. climate bill.

At least that’s what observers to the U.N. climate negotiations say.

EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, a former Danish climate minister and chairwoman of the Copenhagen climate summit, last month said it was key that the United States legally commits itself to greenhouse gas emissions caps.

19 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for June 17th: First 4,400 Volt buyers to get free chargers

  1. Gregory Norminton says:

    If the world has to wait for the US to tackle climate change, we might as well pack up and go home to await the dust storms. Senator Inhofe and buddies may well do more harm to humanity than Hitler, Mao and Stalin combined. And no, that’s not invoking Godwin’s Law: it’s a bitter fact.

    Obama hasn’t got the guts to see this through; and that makes him an accomplice to global ecocide.

  2. prokaryote says:

    With fully charged batteries, enough electrical energy will be stored to power the Volt up to 40 miles (64 km). This distance is capable of satisfying the daily commute for 75% of Americans,[6] whose commute is on average 33 miles (53 km).[7] After 40 miles (64 km), a small 4-cylinder gasoline internal combustion engine creates electricity on-board using a 53 kW (71 hp) generator to extend the Volt’s range to more than 300 miles (483 km).

  3. David says:

    Hey Joe, do you know anything about this study? I saw it floating in the denial-o-sphere the past couple of days. I’m reticent to attack the motive of the scientists behind the study, because that’s a tactic that the denialists constantly employ. But, still, it strikes me as potentially oil-funded propaganda – especially when the researchers start discussing how the 2007 melt and the current state of the cryosphere are both “within natural variation.” Color me skeptical.

  4. Chad says:

    Prokaryote: Your 75% statistic ignores the fact that a significant fraction of people, probably a third or so, live in apartments or condos and do not have a way to plug in any sort of electric car. Therefore, these cars are only suitable for about half of people’s daily commutes, until our infrastructure changes.

    Isn’t it kind of ironic that the greenest of cars all but requires its owner to live in a single-family home?

  5. prokaryote says:

    Prototype Pagoda for Oil Recovery Product Design and Development

    If you have this in place the biggest problem is the waste and exchange of collector ships. It might be even possible to transport the oil through pipes to the coast?

  6. paulm says:

    How much temp rise per 1ton of CO2 emitted?

    Wouldn’t it be nice to know the exact temperature rise your responsible for…..

  7. prokaryote says:

    100 year flood wreaks havoc in northeast Nebraska

    It is being categorized as one of northeast Nebraska’s largest floods ever. The Norfolk Public Works Director said this week’s Elkhorn River Flood only happens every 100 to 500 years.

    On Tuesday night, the Elkhorn River was flowing at about 38,800 cubic feet per second wreaking havoc in and near Ewing, Clearwater, Neligh and Norfolk.

  8. catman306 says:

    Those folks over at NREL sure have some good ideas Maybe it’s that special water. I hope they keep drinking it. Imagine what they could do if they were funded like the oil subsidies!

    prokaryote, it’s a flood-a-day, or pretty much. (If there’s a flood in the forest and no one notices, is it still an extreme weather event?) You’d think those flood insurance companies would put their foot down and stop this climate change stuff right now before they go broke.

  9. catman306 says:

    Chad, maybe vendors would install chargers at the curb in apartment complexes. Payment would be on an hourly or nightly basis with a credit or debit card. If there is a market, someone will fill it. I never saw an ATM machine before 1974 and now they’re everywhere.

  10. prokaryote says:

    “prokaryote, it’s a flood-a-day, or pretty much. (If there’s a flood in the forest and no one notices, is it still an extreme weather event?)”

    Of course, because you can measure it afterwards :)

  11. prokaryote says:

    “Prokaryote: Your 75% statistic ignores the fact that a significant fraction of people, probably a third or so, live in apartments or condos and do not have a way to plug in any sort of electric car. Therefore, these cars are only suitable for about half of people’s daily commutes, until our infrastructure changes.”

    But these fraction of people have household plugs. These take longer to charge (over night) and will be sufficient for the most part.
    And this situation is a business opportunity (as catman notes).

  12. paulm says:

    Here’s one for the woods….

    “It looks like [the Oliver dam failure] was almost a 100-year storm as they had three weeks of rainfall in an area that doesn’t have a lot of rain,”

  13. Chad says:

    prokaryote: I doubt many apartment landlords would let you string an extension cord out to the parking lot. All sorts of safety issues there. Catman is correct that there are technical solutions to the problem, but my point is more that this is just one more major hurdle that will slow things down for years for a significant portion of the population. Also, it has some serious “chicken and egg” elements: renters aren’t going to demand that outdoor plugs be installed unless they have the cars….but they aren’t going to buy the cars if there are not any plugs.

  14. Grady says:

    Chad, are we seriously still flogging the “chicken and egg” problem? Now that Nissan and GM are poised to churn out EVs by the hundreds of thousands, the chicken has landed. And in many places like up here in the Great White North, the eggs are already here: thousands of outlets in parking lots for people to plug in their block heaters. Many cities (like Vancouver) have passed bylaws requiring new condo developments to include EV charging outlets in parking garages. If your last gasp of EV pessimism is a lack of outlets, you’re putting your eggs in the wrong basket.

  15. prokaryote says:

    I just walked passed one of these plug-in stations, which can supply 2 cars. Unfortunately there was no plug-in car around.

  16. JeffM says:

    Sooner or later, we’ll HAVE to find a 24/7 replacement for fossil fuel energy if we intend to “save the planet” from manmade CO2 emissions.

    Cars like the Chevy Volt are just one more sub optimal innovation. None of the alternative energy advancements made thus far were intended to replace fossil fuels. No innovation seen to date will stop manmade CO2 emissions. At best, they reduce overall fossil fuel emissions by relatively small amounts. But they will only prolong our inability to embrace the real solution: Developing an energy source to replace fossil fuels.

    We spend $billions in federal subsidies for part time energy technologies such as wind, solar, and biofuels. Yet, these technologies still rely on fossil fuels to provide the heavy lifting of reliable, 24/7 energy production. The Chevy Volt still relies on fossil fuels… whether at home for battery charging, or on the highway when the battery gives out.

    The government is doggedly pushing for passage of a Cap and Trade law that will institutionalize carbon derivatives trading, touted as a way to encourage manufacturers to build their products using part time windmill or solar power. Carbon trading is estimated to become a $10 trillion per year industry. If you think this industry will be “too big to fail”, you’re right. The problem is, carbon trading requires that we keep on burning fossil fuels. Carbon trading is clearly a sub optimal solution. If Cap and Trade becomes law, we will NOT be able to eliminate use of fossil fuels. Carbon trading and elimination of fossil fuels are polar opposites, and you can’t have both. It’s either-or.

    To me, it would be criminal for the government to ration our use of fossil fuels (through Cap and Trade), then assess carbon penalties when we have no choice but to continue using fossil fuels.

    The government MUST fund R&D to find affordable, 24/7 energy to replace fossil fuels. Because they haven’t done this, could it be that manmade climate change is really just a scare tactic to trick a gullible populace into accepting higher costs of living and more redistribution of their wealth?

  17. prokaryote says:

    That’s why we need the carbon tax, something which is about to appear on global scale pretty soon, i guess.

    R&D is always great but current tech just needs to be deployed – is sufficient. The GM volt has this combustion engine, because of the lobby. And it will turn out as a setback and that’s why GM will soon present an all EV version aswell.

    Nissan Leaf Going Head-to-Head with Chevy Volt

    The Leaf has two charging receptacles: a standard SAE J1772-2009 connector for level 1 and 2 recharging (110/220V AC) and a TEPCO connector for high-voltage “level 3” quick charging (480V DC 125 amps) using the CHAdeMO protocol.

    Using a 7.5 m (25 ft) trickle charge cable provided by Nissan the Leaf can be charged in about 20 hours from a standard household 110/120 Volt 20 Amp outlet in North America and Japan. It can be charged in 8 hours from 220/240 Volt supply depending on amperage. U.S. electrical regulations require a 240V charging station to be permanently wired to an AC outlet. Nissan selected AeroVironment to supply its charging dock and installation services in North America, (see the United States section for more details).

    Using level 3 quick charging it can be charged to 80% capacity in about 30 minutes. Nissan developed its own 500V quick charger that went on sale in Japan for ¥1,470,000 (around US$16,300) in May 2010 and plans to install 200 at dealers in Japan. Nissan warns that if fast charging is the primary way of recharging, then the normal and gradual battery capacity loss is about 10 percent more than regular 220-volt charging over a 10 year period. Other companies make compatible charging stations, and companies and local government have various initiatives to create networks of public charging stations (see electric vehicle network).

    And has 100 miles range compared to just 40 miles (still not that bad) of the volt. With 30 minutes power charge there is no problem for long range transport. Gas stations will just add these chargers.

    Actually the main obstacle has become deployment of new technologies. So if you urge for R&D, development cycle focus is an important aspect.

  18. Chad says:

    Grady, are you saying that we should be dependant on “new condo developments” to solve the problem of the vast majority of renters having no access to an outdoor plug?

    Block heaters are also not comparable, for two reasons. One is that they are cheap enough that they are all but standard on vehicles in the “great white north”. Therefore, it is likely that some renters might have them regardless of whether they can actually use them. Of course, once having them, they will demand they can use them. But no renter is going to pay a $10k premium for batteries they can’t charge. More importantly, however, is the amount of electricity used. A block heater might cost you $25/month, or perhaps $150 a year. Your landlord can afford to roll that into his cost of business and pass it along in the rent….no metering required. The same is not true of an EV, which will use far more electricity.

    My broader point is that this “chicken and egg” problem will only be solved by either very long periods of time, or laws requiring a change. I certainly prefer the latter.