post

Friday Green Numbers round-up for Jan 14th 2011

Green Numbers

And here are this week’s Green numbers…

  1. 2010 ties 2005 for warmest year on record

    Last year tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record for global surface temperature, US government scientists said in a report on Wednesday that offered the latest data on climate change.

    The Earth in 2010 experienced temperatures higher than the 20th century average for the 34th year in a row, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

    Overall, 2010 and 2005 were 1.12 degrees Fahrenheit (0.62 Celsius) above the 20th century average when taking a combination of land and water surface temperatures across the world, it said.

    Those two years were also the highest in temperature since record-keeping began in 1880.

    Last year was the wettest on record, NOAA said citing Global Historical Climatology Network which made the calculation based on global average precipitation, even though regional patterns varied widely.

    When it came to hurricanes and storms, the Pacific Ocean saw the fewest number of hurricanes and named storms, three and seven respectively, since the 1960s.

    But the Atlantic Ocean told a different story, with 12 hurricanes and 19 named storms, which include tropical storms and depressions, marking the second highest number of hurricanes on record and third highest for storms.

  2. IBM Reveals Five Innovations That Will Change Our Lives in the Next Five Years

    IBM formally unveiled the fifth annual “Next Five in Five” ? a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years:
    ? You’ll beam up your friends in 3-D
    ? Batteries will breathe air to power our devices
    ? You won?t need to be a scientist to save the planet
    ? Your commute will be personalized
    ? Computers will help energize your city

  3. Chris Tuppen’s 20 year CRS reflection

    Chris left BT after a long and influential career in the company to pursue new pastures in sustainability. He kindly agreed to provide some personal reflections after a 20 year career in the field.

    Reflecting back over twenty years of corporate sustainability and then attempting to summarise that into a 500 word blog is an almost impossible task.

    Much has changed. Twenty years ago…

  4. GE buys 3rd energy co. in 3 months – Lineage Power for $520m

    General Electric has made its first move into the fast-growing business of cutting electricity consumption by the telecoms and computer industries, buying Lineage Power for $520m from The Gores Group, a private equity firm.

    The deal is GE?s third acquisition of an energy business in the past three months, as the group implements its plan to focus on infrastructure markets and reduce its reliance on financial services.

  5. Top 10 Carbon Reporting Trends in 2010

    Corporate greenhouse gas emissions reporting continues to evolve at a rapid pace. As we celebrate the New Year, it’s instructional to take the opportunity to reflect on the highlights of 2010 and their impact on this market. Many of the changes are healthy as sustainability and emissions reporting moves away from “feel good” disclosures towards risk identification and competitive advantage.

    Here is my list of the top 10 Carbon Reporting Trends in 2010…

  6. Siemens constructing 65km 2GW HVDC line between France and Spain

    Siemens Energy is currently erecting the power converter stations for a high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) transmission link between Baixas, to the west of Perpignan in France, and Santa Llogaia, south-west of Figueras in Spain, as important components of the Trans-European Network for electrical power. The installation can transmit a rated power of 2000 megawatts (MW) ? enough to transport large amounts of electric power with a minimum of transmission losses.

  7. Why Greentech Money Is Sliding From Supply to Demand

    With 2010 finally behind us, and a full year of data to play with, it appears that green technology investments are firmly shifting from the supply side of the equation to the demand side. In other words, solar and wind power were on the outs last year, and energy efficiency was the up-and-comer.

    That?s the conclusion I draw in my weekly update at GigaOm Pro (subscription required), and while it may not come as a surprise to industry watchers, it?s nice to have some numbers to back it up. Although solar startups continued to draw the most money in venture capital investment last year, energy efficiency startups garnered…

You should follow me on Twitter here

Photo credit millicent_bystander

post

Better Place to charge US$0.08 per eMile

The e-mile

I have been a fan of Better Place and their unique model around electric vehicles since I watched Shai Agassi’s presentation at the DLD conference in January 2008.

If you are unfamiliar with the Better Place model, they looked at the idea of electric vehicles and people’s ‘range anxiety’ and asked how best to solve it. Their plan, put charging stations anywhere people park and build cars (or have a partner build cars) with readily swappable batteries, so if you are traveling beyond the range of the battery in your car, you drop into a swap station when your battery starts to be depleted, swap batteries and drive on. Simple!

In the Better Place business model, Better Place owns the battery in your car and charges you for the energy your battery uses – similar to how a mobile phone company charges you for minutes talktime.

Being a fan of the Better Place model I watched Shai’s talk at the TED conference earlier this year with great interest and he didn’t disappoint. A very inspirational talk. Until you start to do the maths!

Shai mentioned a price of 8c per mile (in the US) for driving a Better Place car. Frankly this sounds expensive to me.

I filled the tank in my car yesterday and took a note of the price. It was €0.948 per litre. Now my maths are not the best so bear with me while I work through this (and please do point out any errors in the comments – I want to be proven wrong on this!).

I use 5.1 litres per 100 km in my car so to drive 100km costs me €4.8348 (5.1 x €0.948).
This is €0.048 per km (€4.83/100).
This is €0.077 per mile (€0.048/.625).
This is US$0.10 per mile at today’s currency conversion rate.

If my current miles are costing me US$0.10 per mile and Shai is offering miles at US$0.08 it is not a hugely compelling case he’s making!

Now in fairness to Shai, I drive a 2008 Prius and the 5.1L/100km is roughly equal to 46mpg (using US gallons) which is about as good as you are going to get (esp as that figure is an average of urban and long-distance driving, not the maximum achieved on long-distance).

Still, for me, Shai’s 2015 figure of US$0.04 per mile is far more compelling than the 2010 US$0.08.

How much do you spend per mile and is US$0.08 attractive to you?

post

GreenMonk talks batteries and sustainability with Dr Christina Lampe-Onnerud, founder and CEO of Boston Power

I talked with Dr. Christina Lampe-Onnerud, founder and CEO of Boston Power the other day about their new lithium-ion batteries.

Boston Power are a startup battery business but Dr Lampe-Onnerud is no stranger to lithium ion technology, holding as she does, close to 20 patents for Li-ion technologies.

Boston Power have launched a new series of Li-ion batteries which sound really intriguing. They charge faster than traditional batteries, they hold their charge longer, and while typical Li-ion batteries start to wear after 150 power cycles, the Boston Power ones only start to wear after 1500! This means a far longer lifetime for the batteries, reducing the need to keep buying replacement batteries as charged times decrease.

We also discussed on the call the increasing requirement for batteries for plug-in hybrids and in the near to mid future, the new market for home batteries to take in power when electricity is cheap and potentially sell it back or come off grid when electricity is expensive.

However, from a purely selfish perspective, the thing I want to know most is when will there be a version of this battery available for my MacBook Pro!!!

post

GreenMonk talks to General Motors about the Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt

Photo Credit gmeurope

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Episode 8 of the GreenMonk Podcasts – 37 mins 32 secs

My guest on this podcast is Greg Cesiel. Greg is the Program Director for the Chevrolet Volt. The Chevrolet Volt is an electric vehicle from General Motors, expected to begin hitting showrooms in the US in 2010.

From the Wikipedia entry:

The company has avoided the use of the term “hybrid,” preferring to call it an electric vehicle with a “range extender” (“extended range electric vehicle” or EREV), due to its design.

The vehicle is designed to run purely on electricity from on-board batteries for up to 40 miles (64 km)… a large enough distance to cover the daily commutes of 75% of Americans, which averages around 33 miles (53 km). With the use of a small internal combustion engine driving a generator to power the electric motor, the vehicle’s range is potentially increased to 360 miles (579 km) on the highway (and which can be extended for very long trips by conventional refueling).

There was tremendous interest in this podcast. I mentioned on Twitter that I was going to be interviewing Greg and I received over a dozen questions in under 30 minutes!

Here are the questions I asked Greg and the approx. times I asked them:

Can you give us a bit of background on the Chevrolet Volt? It is what you guys are calling an extended range electric vehicle, is that correct? – 00:15
You guys targeted getting 40 miles from the battery because this takes in most people’s daily commute, is that correct? – 01:08
Of course, those kinds of calculations vary wildly with your local price of electricity and petrol… – 02:05
One of the great things about electric vehicles is that they become more Green as more renewables are added to the grid (and older non-renewables are retired)… – 02:50

Questions from readers:

rodney rumford
Ask them what the life expectancy of the battery is? How many years before total replacement? – 3:37

How does battery performance vary with ambient temperatures? – 04:26

rodney rumford
How is the software coming along for determining when the mini-engine needs to kick in before i make it to homebase? – 05:39

Do you have a release date for when people will be able to get their hands on a Volt? – 06:35

rodney rumford
Do they have an figures on how much carbon per mile is consumed? (think about how much carbon is emitted in order to recharge the batteries) – 6:59

Sebastian
How much is the car? 07:30
How will they communicate to customers that the range is actually totally matching their needs, overcoming the fear that they might not have enough range? Imagine they sell a lot of these cars, will the sudden overnight need for power be actually a positive thing for power stations, balancing their load? – 08:23

John Keyes
I wonder are they doing any research into cleaner batteries? 10:46

Existing battery technologies are quite nasty in terms their environmental impact on destruction but lithium ion appears to be more environmentally friendly… – 12:00

John Keyes
What’s the drag coefficient? – 12:40

Jonathan Kash
1. The Volt has tremendous long-term value for both GM and the industry, but from what I understand the margins will be very slim. Given the state of liquidity in the market, do you see the program being put on hold? – 13:35

2. The electric/range extender is a fantastic concept: however, what about people that live in urban areas? Have there been any thoughts on how residents of a large city (with very few personal garages) might be able to successfully use this platform? – 14:34

Bob Lutz mentioned last September that there would be a version of the Volt with solar panels on the roof, is that still on the cards, ‘cos they’d work well here in Seville!? – 16:04

James Britton
what other electric vehicles are planned? – 16:34
Ate you planning a plugin hybrid? Are you striving for 100 percent electric and/or hybrid electric engines? – 17:53

Joseph Simpson
When the Concept Volt was unveiled a couple of years ago, most commentators seemed to believe that when the pure electric 40mile range was exhausted, the petrol motor would kick in and charge the batteries, in order to go on delivering power. Now, with the launch of the (pre)production Volt, GM are saying that once the batteries are depleted, the petrol engine will kick in, but directly drive the electric motor – not charge the batteries.

Questions related to this:

1 – is this true? if so, did this change happen during the R&D phase (and why if so?), or did the press originally mis-read the concept. Has the system – as proposed in the current car, always been proposed to work this way? – 19:06
2 – how efficient is the car when running on just the petrol engine, (ie, once the batteries are exhausted)? Wouldn’t a current production car, with a small petrol engine directly driving a crank/drive shaft be more efficient, because it wouldn’t have the added weight of the batteries? – 22:09

Second point is, I’m really interested to know more about how the interface works – GM have said that the car will actively manage the batteries, and know how to be most efficient, by knowing when it’s close to home/a charging point etc. Can they explain a little more about this. It sounds clever, but fraught with issues and complexities. Will the car come with an on-board, and up-datable database of charging stations in its computer system? – 24:06

Is the software integrated with some kind of GPS system, and you tell it where you are going, or is it just guessing based on the erergy levels in the battery versus what is in the tank? – 25:38

Jim Hughes
This is a Euro-centric view, but are there plans for a diesel rather than petrol version? – 26:09

Also was a rotary (wankel) engine considered for the petrol engine? – 26:49

Phoebe Bright
Are then thinking hot-swappable all electric cars in the future, and if so what are the technology implications, and if not, why not? – 27:07

I saw a report on the GM-Volt site where Shai Agassi of Project Better Place said:

the Volt is a $20,000 car that will cost $40,000. It will be a niche product. we want to make electric cars a mass market thing, and the only way to do that is to make it cheaper than driving a regular car.

What would you say to that? – 28:03

What about the lithium battery supplies? This is an entire new marketplace you are creating, are you confident that you will have enough supplies to meet the amount of cars you are hoping to sell? 29:19

Phoebe Bright
What are the assumptions around oil price that are being used by Chevy for their business planning? – 29:57

Gina Porreco
Is there any plan for battery disposal? While electric vehicles are by far a better choice for the environment, they create the potential for a huge hazardous waste problem. – 30:39

John Peavoy
What other “green” or environmentally friendly materials and/or production processes are being used in the car and its production? Are GM investigating new materials & processes either as part of this program or other programs in the future? – 31:30

Joseph Simpson
I reckon that GM can probably get away with charging around £25,000 for the Volt in the UK. Why? Because a Prius costs around £20k, and I’d predict the Volt will appeal a lot to early adopters, people who ‘want’ an *electric* car, and people who look at the price of fuel, and can see the cost saving potential. But more than £25k puts you well into BMW/Merc territory – and am not sure people would be willing to pay more than that for a Chevy.

So – how do-able is this? Are GM confident they can price the car around this mark, sell enough of them, and make money? – 32:40

dripfeed
ask them to quantify the full environmental impact of actually manufacturing and recycling the car. For example, parts for the Toyota Prius are shipped and re-shipped from all over the planet and I, as a potential consumer, remain unconvinced that the Prius damages our environment less over its lifetime than a conventional car. – 34:09

Will there be software and a software interface there for selling electricity back to the grid in times of high demand so that, if your vehicle takes off, it can act as a buffer against variability of supply and demand from renewables. Is that something you are considering? – 35:28

Download the entire interview here
(34.4mb mp3)