Sunday, April 10, 2011

Living the Electric Dream Sunday: April 10, 2011

Some green news for this beautiful spring day. Temps reaching near 80 across the state, it's gonna feel soooo good. Get out there before the thunderstorms arrive...

  • The AP video above takes at look at the pros and cons of early electric car ownership by introducing us to a guy who has a Leaf AND a Volt - and he powers them with solar panels on his house. Basically, it boils down to the expense of start-up vs. continued energy savings. He has spent a boatload of money to get there, but in a high-priced energy state like California, it may be well worth it for him in the long run. Take a look.

  • GM took a survey of initial Volt owners and they are showing that they drive 1,000 miles before they fill up the tank again. 1,200 Volts have been sold so far, and the automaker is reporting very high demand for more. And with gas prices predicted to spike again up to $4 a gallon within the next 48 hours, that can only continue....

  • Torresen Marine in Muskegon installed one of Michigan's largest solar panel fields on its roof last summer, and is reporting excellent results so far. On a sunny day, they are producing anywhere from $400 to $600 worth of electricity, the excess production is then sold back to Consumers Energy. The facility expects the initial cost will be paid for within 10 years, and after that the revenue goes straight to the building owner and investors.

  • One year ago last February, a start-up company named ALTe received MEGA tax credits to bring over 1,100 jobs to Michigan over competition from Illinois, Ohio, and the Carolinas. The company has now produced a conversion kit that it will market to fleet vehicle owners, transforming "a traditional internal combustion engine in a van or light truck with a plug-in powertrain capable of powering the vehicle for 30 miles on electric power and an additional 275 miles in hybrid mode". They have signed a contract with a company named Manheim, who has over 130 vehicle remaking locations worldwide. The conversion promises anywhere from 80 to 200 percent improved fuel economy, while keeping the power and capabilities of a V-8 engine.

  • Azure Dynamics is another Michigan company on the MEGA credit list that is targeting fleet sales, and they have announced a partnership with delivery service DHL to retrofit 80 vehicles in Manhattan with electric powertrain technologies. DHL hopes to improve its worldwide carbon efficiency 30% by the year 2020.

  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has produced an energy flow chart that shows the breakdown of US energy consumption for 2009, and as you can see, we still are heavily dependent on fossil fuels. But also this week, the folks at the U.S. Energy Information Administration are reporting that overall domestic production of renewable energy, including hydropower, increased by 5.6% in 2010, to bring our total in renewable energy production to nearly 11% for last year. We are getting there, slowly but surely.

  • Ann Arbor has met the goal of getting 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2010, and now they have set another goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in municipal operations, coupled with 30% renewable energy use by 2015. Even if we don't get a national energy policy in the next couple of years, projects like this on the state and city level are certainly going to help increase the demand for renewable energy products. Good for us.

  • Yet another Michigan landfill is going to turn trash-to-energy, as Bloomington, Indiana's Hoosier Energy announced a $25-$30 million investment in Van Buren Township to take the methane produced from Woodland Meadows Landfill and use it to generate 10.8 megawatts of electricity. If this keeps up, you can envision a day when we will be begging Canada to send their trash here. Wouldn't that be ironic.

  • Starting to think that Ford's goal is to produce the first all-organic and recycled material car. From soy in the seat foam, to mushroom resins to produce your side doors and dash, to old blue jeans used as a sound-dampener - now we get word that they are using recycled carpet to make cylinder head covers for the Escape, Fusion, Mustang, and F-150 vehicles. They claim they have kept 4.1 million pounds of carpet out of the landfills (hey wait, don't we need that stuff to produce electricity?). Landfill owners will probably have to put up fences to keep the Ford engineers out of the place...

  • Solve Climate wrote a great story this week that takes a look at how Michigan's clean energy companies have spurred job growth in our state, and this glowing report proceeded to get picked up by news outlets nationwide. Give it a read for an overview of all the accomplishments of the past five years or so. Very nice roundup on how our green policies (with some federal help) are producing jobs now, and should produce more jobs well into the future.

    That's it for now - baseball calls. Since the field in Lansing decided to pick last week to thaw and it wiped out the first three days of the season, the Lugnuts and the Whitecaps will celebrate Opening Day today here in GR. If it doesn't rain. Which it shouldn't. We hope. But sure glad it isn't a threat of snow... enjoy, everyone!