Sydney Int’l Airport Testing EV Passenger Bus

Carbridge Pty. Ltd., Australia’s leading airport ground transportation provider, has begun a six-month testing program with an Electric Bus at Sydney International Airport. BYD Company built the bus that was selected for the pilot program. The EV bus has been touted for its industry leading operational range and will be used as an airport passenger shuttle.

BYD Australia eBusDuring a launch ceremony held at Sydney International Airport, BYD Asia Pacific General Manager Liu Xueliang said, “Compared with fossil-fueled buses, BYD’s pure electric bus has zero emissions, doesn’t make noise and ensures a comfortable ride without disturbances associated with conventional buses of combustion engines. These characteristics will provide a great experience for visitors to the Airport.”

Some unique features of the bus include the BYD Iron-Phosphate battery, in-wheel hub motors and regenerative braking system. According to BYD, the iron-phosphate battery is fire-safe and non-toxic; there are no caustic materials contained in the battery, no toxic electrolytes or heavy metals and the battery can be completely recycled.

Sydney Airport plans to electrify their entire bus fleet in the coming years.

ONR Website Features Hawaii’s Renewable Energy

A new website focused on Hawaii’s multifaceted approach to renewable energy is now live. The website for the Asia-Pacific Technology and Education Partnership (APTEP) is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). The military organization notes Hawaii is fast becoming ground zero for the Navy’s drive to develop green technologies.

ATEP websiteAccording to ONR, APTEP approaches the issue from three angles, supporting cutting-edge energy research; educating students and teachers in energy-related fields; and supporting businesses trying to bring alternative energy products to the marketplace.

“Everyone is focused on Hawaii right now,” said Dr. Richard Carlin, head of ONR’s Sea Warfare and Weapons Department. “The studies we’re conducting there and technologies we’re developing will not only help the Navy reduce its need for fossil fuels, but also move the country closer to energy independence.”

October was National Energy Action Month and Hawaii took center stage. For example, in September, the Department of Energy signed a memorandum of understanding reaffirming its commitment to alternative energy efforts in Hawaii, dubbed Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative 2.0. At the same time, ONR, as part of the APTEP program, is sponsoring a new study of technologies and power systems-such as smartgrids and microgrids at three Navy installations on the islands.

Carlin added, “Once we figure out how to make these bases more energy efficient, we can take these new technologies and concepts to other naval bases and ultimately achieve the Navy’s energy goals.”

Propane – There’s an App for That

PERC Propane Autogas CalculatorThere is a new app for propane. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) released a suite of cost calculator tools designed for customers in three of the industry’s fastest-growing markets: agriculture, commercial landscape, and on road fleets. The calculators estimate potential fuel savings and ROI when using propane as compared with conventional fuels such as gasoline and diesel.

“One of the main reasons fleets, agribusiness operators or commercial landscapers consider making a switch to an alternative fuel like propane is simple: They want to improve their bottom line,” said Tucker Perkins, PERC’s chief business development officer. “With these new applications, equipment dealers, propane providers, and customers can easily calculate fuel costs with propane specific to their market and operations. And with the online and mobile tools, they can share results on the spot via email.”

The PERC cost calculator series currently includes the Propane Irrigation Engine Calculator, Propane Mower Calculator and Propane Autogas Calculator – all available in multiple different platforms.

EPA Admin McCarthy Visits FuelCell Energy

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy visited FuelCell Energy this week to get a tour of the 15 MW Dominion Bridgeport fuel cell park. The company showcased the affordability of fuel cell solutions. According to FuelCell Energy, distributed fuel cell power generation enhances the resiliency of the electric grid with low carbon power production and low emissions.

“I’m excited to have EPA Administrator McCarthy in Bridgeport and that our efforts to become one of the greenest cities in America are being recognized nationally,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “We are home to the Bridgeport fuel cell park, which has fueled green job growth and powers up to 15,000 homes at any given time with virtually pollutant free energy.”

FuelCell EPA visitDuring her public remarks at the Bridgeport fuel cell park, Administrator McCarthy commented that now is the time to embrace a clean energy future and that innovative solutions such as the Bridgeport fuel cell park reflect the pathway for American energy security and ingenuity.

John Smatlak, VP of Power Generation Technical Services for Dominion said the company is pleased to have added 15 MW of renewable fuel cell energy in Connecticut to their existing 2,100 MW of power from their Millstone Power Station along with their Somers Solar Facility that produces 5 MW. “These stations are generating clean, reliable electricity for Connecticut and it was a pleasure to share that with Administrator McCarthy.”

The project is located on a remediated brownfield site in an industrial area of Bridgeport, Connecticut, using only about 1 1/2 acres of land to provide 15 megawatts of continuous renewable power.

“Our fuel cell power plants are at the confluence of energy, environmental and economic policy,” added Chip Bottone, president and CEO of FuelCell Energy, Inc. “Megawatt scale fuel cell plants are part of the portfolio to rebuild our energy infrastructure. Low carbon power generation that is virtually absent of pollutants enables siting the power plants in urban areas and the continuous distributed power generation enhances resiliency of the electric grid.”

Cleveland Regional Transit Adopts Propane Buses

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has adopted propane autogas. The organization has purchased paratransit shuttle buses to transport persons with disabilities. The first of its kind in Ohio, according to RTA, the new shuttles are projected to save $21,000 per vehicle in fuel costs and maintenance over a six-year period. The agency will recoup its investment in just over one year.

RTA Paratransit“We learned of other transit agencies that were successful using propane autogas technology to save money and lower their environmental impact,” said Joe Calabrese, CEO and general manager of the Greater Cleveland RTA. “When you can save money while saving the planet, it’s a no-brainer.”

Built on a Ford E-450 chassis, each paratransit shuttle bus is equipped with a ROUSH CleanTech liquid propane autogas fuel system installed by Green Alternative Systems. ElDorado National-Kansas designed the body of its Aerotech bus model on a fiberglass composite reinforced structure. The floor plan configuration features a wheelchair lift to accommodate passengers with disabilities. With more than 700,000 trips annually, the paratransit shuttles operate on-demand to qualified customers.

“We’ve combined a proven, durable, lightweight bus design with leading-edge alternative fuel technology to produce a cost-effective vehicle for paratransit shuttle service,” said Jeff Montgomery, president of ElDorado National-Kansas. “We are proud to join our dealer Meyers Equipment and ROUSH CleanTech to meet the special transportation needs of the Greater Cleveland RTA.”

The RTA is one of the largest transit systems in the nation. Currently, the agency is building an onsite propane autogas fueling station.

ChargePoint Shows Increase in Campus EV Charging

College and university students are back in school around the country and this fall, more students, professors and employees than ever before have access to electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. ChargePoint, an open EV charging network, has released new data showing an increase in on-campus EV charging.

ChargePoint DashboardToday there are 1,134 charging spots at colleges and universities on the ChargePoint network. That’s up nearly 35 percent, with just 838 at this time last year. On-campus EV charging is still relatively new, with the first ChargePoint station installed at the end of 2010 at Pasadena City College.

“American universities are often our hubs of innovation and technology,” said Pasquale Romano, ChargePoint’s CEO. “It is no wonder adoption of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure has prospered on college campuses. Our data demonstrates which colleges and universities are leading the way when it comes to supporting low and zero emission vehicles. We hope this helps spur friendly competition between campuses to be the greenest institutions in the world.”

With 38 on-campus charging spots, the University of California at Davis has the most of any university on the ChargePoint network.

Here are the top 5 colleges and universities with the most ChargePoint EV charging spots:

  • University of California at Davis: 38
  • Towson University, Maryland: 36
  • Santa Clara University, California: 26
  • Western Michigan University: 22
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 21

Click here to see the full list of on-campus EV charging stations.

Brazilian Football Players Create Energy

Brazilian football legend Pele is helping Shell shine a light on the world’s energy future with a first of-its-kind player-powered community football pitch in the heart of aRio de Janeiro favela.

As a real-world example that ideas can come from anywhere, Shell has used the invention of a young entrepreneur to solve a challenge for the Morro da Mineira community. The football pitch, a key part of life for favela residents, was refurbished by Shell using 200 high-tech, underground tiles that capture kinetic energy created by the movement of the players. This energy is then stored and combined with the power generated by solar panels next to the pitch to convert into renewable electricity for the new floodlights, giving everyone in the favela, and especially young people, a safe and secure community space at night.

Pele who joined Shell to officially open the pitch, said, “Football is Brazil’s biggest passion and the sport has gone through so much technological innovation since the last time I played. This new pitch shows the extraordinary things possible when science and sport come together. The Morro da Mineira community will now be able to use this sports facility as a safe gathering place – all thanks to the floodlights powered by the community’s football players.”

The Morro da Mineira project is part of the Shell #makethefuture programme, which aims to inspire young people and entrepreneurs to look at science and engineering as a career choice, and in particular use their minds to develop energy solutions for the future of the planet. The kinetic technology used at this football pitch has been developed by a grant recipient of the UK Shell LiveWIRE. The Morro da Mineira project illustrates how creative ideas delivered through committed partnerships can shape neighbourhoods and transform communities.

“By 2050, the world will be using 75 percent more energy than it does now. Meeting that extra demand will require a set of energy sources – and a new generation of scientists and engineers with the passion, ideas and innovation to develop it,” said Andre Araujo, Shell Brazil Country Chair. “The pitch proves the potential and power when scientists and entrepreneurs focus their efforts to develop creative and innovative energy solutions. By tapping into the world’s passion and interest in football, we aim to capture the attention of youngsters around the world so they think differently about energy and the opportunity of science studies and careers.”

Pedro Veiga, coordinator of the Rio+Social programme of the Instituto Pereira Passos (IPP) added: “To have a project like this on our doorstep will make a real difference to Morro da Mineira. Until it was redeveloped by Shell, the football pitch was largely unusable and many of our young people were being forced to play in the streets. You never know, this example of innovation might even inspire some of the kids to dream of being the nextIsaac Newton!”

Wave Energy Research Progressing

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the funding of up to $4 million for continued wave energy technological research and monitoring efforts. Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC) faculty will also share in another $3.25 million grant to iWave Energy Researchmprove “water power” technologies that convert the energy of waves, tides, rivers and ocean currents into electricity.

The project team is comprised of NNMREC with support from Oregon State University and University of Washington will be expanded to add the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The partnership will also enable researchers to learn more about the energy potential of large, flowing rivers.

“We’re extremely excited about the opportunity to add Alaska Fairbanks to our program,” said Belinda Batten, director of NNMREC and a professor in the OSU College of Engineering. “Alaska has an enormous energy resource, both in its coastal waves, tidal currents and powerful rivers. Partnering with Alaska Fairbanks will allow us to expand the scope of our energy research and tap into additional expertise, to more quickly move wave, tidal, and river energy closer to commercial use.”

The new funding will allow NNMREC to develop an improved system for real-time wave forecasting; create robotic devices to support operations and maintenance; design arrays that improve the performance of marine energy conversion devices; improve subsea power transmission systems; and standardize approaches for wildlife monitoring. Federal officials said the overall goal is to reduce the technical, economic and environmental barriers to deployment of new marine energy conversion devices.

“Oregon State University has been a world leader in developing wave energy technology and it’s great that the Department of Energy has recognized this fact in awarding this grant,” said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, who helped obtain the new federal support for these programs. Along with its university partners in Washington and Alaska, this funding will help ensure that the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center remains an important national center for ocean energy development not just for the Northwest, but for the entire country.”

Significant progress has been made in how to process, permit and monitor wave energy technology as it emerges from the laboratory to ocean test sites, and ultimately to commercial use. Wave energy’s sustainable generating potential equates to about 10 percent of global energy needs.

Mobile County Public Schools Converts to Propane

The Mobile County Public Schools will be moving their students this fall with 30 propane autogas buses. The school district is supporting the community outreach campaign, “It Starts With Us” and their first step is the converted Blue Bird Propane Visions buses.

“The deployment of our propane autogas bus fleet is a perfect example of our school system’s initiative, It Starts With Us,” said Pat Mitchell, director of transportation for Mobile County Public Schools. “We are providing dependable and clean student transportation while saving taxpayers money so we can put it back in the classroom where it counts most.”

MCPSS Propane Autogas school busOfficials rolled out the new buses during the MCPSS Transportation Department on International Drive. “Propane is cheaper, cleaner and domestically produced,” said Alabama Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, who took a test ride on one of the new propane buses. “This is an environmental initiative I can get behind.”

“We are pleased to be the very first school system in Alabama to enhance transportation through the use of propane buses,” said Superintendent Martha Peek. “We have taken this step because we understand the advantages are increased fuel efficiency, economic and environmental.”

Each bus will displace about 40,000 gallons of diesel and emit 150,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide over their lifetime and the fuel costs nearly 50 percent less than per gallon than diesel according to Todd Mouw with ROUSH Cleantech.

Before choosing to fuel with propane autogas, the school district’s transportation department performed a comprehensive evaluation. This process included safety research, cost savings analysis, site visits to school systems that operate buses with propane autogas, and phone interviews with transportation directors.

“The schoolchildren and taxpayers of Mobile benefit from this important decision,” said Dale Wendell, Blue Bird’s chief commercial officer. “The adoption of Blue Bird Propane Vision buses further emphasizes Mobile County Public Schools’ forward-thinking leadership and commitment to reduce fuel and maintenance costs, support a domestically produced fuel, and provide cleaner air for the students and the community.”

PERC Updates Brand, Logo

Propane logoThe Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) has updated its brand identity for propane: PROPANE Clean American Energy. In addition, they have revealed a new logo. According to PERC President and CEO Roy Willis, the logo highlights propane as an American-made alternative fuel at a time when U.S. propane production from natural gas liquids is at record levels. He also said the change puts a spotlight on recent investments by the propane industry in new technologies.

“We hope PROPANE Clean American Energy will increase consideration of propane as a clean, affordable, and American-made alternative to conventional fuels among fleets, commercial landscapers, contractors, producers, and homeowners,” said Willis. “Increasing domestic demand for propane in the U.S. will ultimately lead to cleaner air and increased use of our nation’s own energy resources, rather than relying on foreign oil.”

The new logo and tagline will be used in all PERC-produced materials and will be made available free of charge to propane providers and OEM partners. The new logo will also replace the previous mark used by thousands of propane retailers nationwide on signs, delivery vehicles, equipment, websites, and literature. In addition, the new logo will be featured in the organization’s new multimedia safety campaign to encourage agribusiness operators and residential propane heating customers to fill up in advance of the winter season.

Willis added, “America makes more than enough propane to meet U.S. demand. As PERC rolls out this important safety campaign and new branding identity, the propane industry is prepared to meet the needs of a changing energy economy.”

MIT Researchers Convert Lead to Solar Power

Researchers at MIT are recycling materials from discarded car batteries into long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions free power while keep lead out of landfills. The system was described in the journal Energy and Environmental Science and was co-authored by Angela M. Belcher and Paula T. Hammon along with graduate student Po-Yen Chen, and three others.

The system is based on a recent development in solar cells that makes use of a compound called perovskite — specifically, organolead halide perovskite — a technology that has rapidly progressed from initial experiments to a point where its efficiency is nearly competitive with that of other types of solar cells.

“It went from initial demonstrations to good efficiency in less than two years,” said Belcher, the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy at MIT. Already, perovskite-based photovoltaic cells have achieved power-conversion efficiency of more than 19 percent, which is close to that of many commercial silicon-based solar cells.

Initial descriptions of the perovskite technology identified its use of lead, whose production from raw ores can produce toxic residues, as a drawback. However by using recycled lead from old car batteries, the manufacturing process can instead be used to divert toxic material from landfills and reuse it in photovoltaic panels that could go on producing power for decades. In addition, because the perovskite photovoltaic material takes the form of a thin film just half a micrometer thick, the team’s analysis shows that the lead from a single car battery could produce enough solar panels to provide power for 30 households.

As an added advantage, the production of perovskite solar cells is a relatively simple and benign process. “It has the advantage of being a low-temperature process, and the number of steps is reduced” compared with the manufacture of conventional solar cells, Belcher explained.

Those factors will help to make it “easy to get to large scale cheaply,” added. Continue reading

Solar & Storage Microgrid Project Planned for Vermont

A new solar + storage microgrid project has been announced for Rutland, Vermont. The Stafford Hills project is being developed by Green Mountain Power in collaboration with Dynapower and GroSolar. The U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Electricity along with the Energy Storage Technology Advancement Partnership (ESTAP) funded the energy storage component project along with funds from the State of Vermont. In addition, the project is being managed by Clean Energy States Alliance and Sandia National Laboratories.

Solar + Storage System in Vermont“This project is a national model for the future of clean energy – combining solar with energy storage,” said Lewis Milford, president of Clean Energy Group, which manages the Clean Energy States Alliance. “Solar power and battery storage will provide clean reliable power to a school that serves as an emergency shelter, helping a community cope with loss of power in a future disaster. This new form of resilient power is what all communities need to protect themselves from power outages in severe weather events.”

According to Clean Energy Group, this project is unique in several ways:

  • It is one of the first exclusively solar-powered microgrids in the US, and the first to provide full back-up to an emergency shelter on the distribution network;
  • It is the first solar+storage microgrid to be developed on a brownfield site, contributing to brownfield redevelopment efforts in Rutland, VT;
  • It incorporates 7,722 solar panels, capable of generating 2.5 MW of electricity, helping GMP to reach its goal of making Rutland, VT the Solar Capital of New England, and helping Vermont to reach its renewable energy goals;
  • It incorporates 4 MW of battery storage, both lithium ion and lead acid, to integrate the solar generation into the local grid, and to provide resilient power in case of a grid outage;
  • It incorporates innovative multi-port inverters designed specifically for this project by Dynapower, a local Vermont firm;
  • It will provide resilient power to a Rutland school that serves as a public emergency shelter (additional critical facilities may be similarly supported by this microgrid in the future); and
  • It will provide clean, distributed generation and resilient power to an economically challenged, urban community that is targeted for revitalization, and that suffers frequent power outages due to storms.

Dr. Imre Gyuk, Energy Storage Program Manager in the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S. Department of Energy, added, “This project provides resilient power during emergencies while benefitting the grid at other times. The technical innovations will reduce cost and make the project commercially viable. This is the perfect project! It has social value, technical innovation, and furthers renewable integration for the grid.”

Volkswagen Focuses on Ultra-Low-Carbon Mobility

Volkswagen of America, Inc. is continuing to roll out plans for its holistic approach to e-mobility. Beginning with the launch of the zero-tailpipe emissions 2015 e-Golf model later this year, Volkswagen will invest in carbon reduction projects to offset emissions created from e-Golf production, distribution and up to approximately 36,000 miles of driving. Volkswagen also named SunPower as the official solar energy partner power provider. Volkswagen believes they will be one of the first high-volume manufacturers to deliver a truly holistic approach to ultra-low-carbon mobility.

volkswagen-egolf-charging-620To help determine its carbon offset projects, Volkswagen has teamed with 3Degrees, a renewable energy and carbon offset services provider. By investing in carbon reduction programs, Volkswagen said they will offset the e-Golf’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that result from its production, distribution and from the estimated emissions produced from keeping the vehicle charged through the initial 36,000 miles of the vehicle’s life. Volkswagen of America chose to include carbon reduction efforts in California and in Texas with projects geared towards forestry conservation and landfill gas capture.

“Volkswagen feels it is important to look beyond the benefits of driving a vehicle without tailpipe emissions and to take a holistic approach to e-mobility,” said Oliver Schmidt, general manager, Environment and Engineering Office, Volkswagen Group of America. “We now have the ability to offer offsets that approximate the emissions created from production, distribution and the initial 36,000 miles of use.”

Volkswagen-supported projects included the Garcia River Conservation-Based Forest Management Project, located in Mendocino County, Calif., to protects and preserves a 24,000-acre native redwood forest, increasing carbon sequestration and storage, while also helping to restore the natural wildlife habitat. The company is also supporting the Big River and Salmon Creek Forests, located in Mendocino County, California, and the McKinney Landfill project, based at a closed landfill in McKinney, Texas.

“Volkswagen is showing leadership by including carbon offsets standard with this e-Golf electric vehicle,” added Steve McDougal, President of 3Degrees. “As more people choose low and no emission cars, Volkswagen is making it possible – and easy – to think comprehensively about the greenhouse gas emissions profile of a vehicle.”

Audi Moves to Improve EV Owner Experience

A3-sportback-etron-exterior-08Audi of America has announced the launch of a new program: Audi energy. The program is designed to improve the electric vehicle ownership experience as well as reduce the carbon footprint that comes with vehicle production, distribution and driving. Ultimately, the program will produce a new plug in hybrid vehicle – the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron – estimated to be available in the U.S. in mid 2015.

The program has three elements associated with the A3 e-etron:

  • At-home Audi-designed Level 2 charging developed with Bosch Automotive Service Solutions;
  • Audi will purchase carbon offset certificates in California and Africa to offset GHG emissions; and
  • Sunpower will provide optional home solar power system for Audi owners including a new home energy storage solution to capture additional solar energy.

“The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron will offer drivers an eco-conscious vehicle ownership experience,” said Wayne Killen, General Manager, Product Strategy and Launch. “Audi energy takes this to the next level with solutions that allow for sustainable fuel driving and a lower carbon footprint. We believe this will be one of the most comprehensive offering in the industry today.”

SG Preston Announces Renewable Diesel Project

SG Preston (SGP) has announced the planned development of a 120 million gallon renewable diesel facility in Lawrence County, Ohio. The $400 million bioenergy facility will be the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel when finished in 2017 according to SGP.

SG Preston logoThe company said a key component of the facility’s development is the licensing of their advanced process technology that has been successfully proven at commercial scale at other locations. According to SGP, this advanced technology efficiently converts waste feedstock into renewable diesel – chemically identical to petroleum-based diesel- and can be used as a drop-in replacement in vehicles. In addition, SGP said this technology allows them to customize its biofuel offering by adjusting fuel characteristics to meet various operating environments (extreme cold or heat) of the end user without diluting energy content in the GHG reduced fuel blend.

“For SG Preston, this is an important milestone and part of a larger vision of partnering with leading, global refining technology partners and local communities to develop a portfolio of renewable diesel and renewable jet fuel refineries targeting 1.2 billion gallons per year, or 20% of the federal RFS2 biomass-based mandate for biofuels,” said R. Delbert LeTang, CEO of SG Preston. “We see a blue sky opportunity to deliver customized, renewable fuel to government, the petroleum industry and other private users throughout the United States and we look forward to partnering with the people of southern Ohio to build new industries and new economic opportunity.”

Other partners in the project include the Lawrence County Economic Development Council, which is investing 62 acres in land and other incentives. The Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth and JobsOhio were also instrumental in securing the investment and technology to play a role in the future of southern Ohio.
Pre-engineering studies for the facility are expected to begin in September 2014, with commercial operations targeted for 2017.

Bill Dingus, executive director of Lawrence County Economic Development Council, added, “This project will be of significant economic importance to southern Ohio, bringing long-term employment and income to the region. We look forward to supporting the development of new energy technologies, and passing on the benefits of commerce and cleaner air to local residents.”