The Dernogalizer

September 11, 2010

Nissan LEAF’s Polar Bear Ad

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 10:57 am
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Interesting advertisement!

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July 27, 2010

Reid Unveils Weak Energy Bill

Filed under: energy,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:16 pm
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Harry Reid has unveiled his weak energy bill that can muster the 60 votes to break the filibuster.  Absent from it is a price on carbon, climate provisions, and a Renewable Energy Standard.  Here is the 24 page summary.

Now that there aren’t some good provisions, it’s just they feel like baby steps compared to the problem we’re trying to solve.  The good parts are…

1.  A section on new regulations for offshore drilling to prevent another massive oil spill like the one we just had.

2.  A transportation section that included $400 million for accelerating electric and plug-in vehicles, along with their infrastruction.

3.  A section on Home star, which is a $5 billion dollar energy efficiency measure to help retrofit homes across the county.

4.  A section on increasing the oil spill liability cap up to $5 billion dollars.

5.  A section on fixing the Land and Water Conservation fund, which is good bill, but environmentalists rightly wonder what it’s doing in an energy bill.

The bad part is a title in the transportation section on incentives for natural gas vehicles, which is as laughable as the money we’ve thrown corn ethanol.

So like I said, most of this stuff is good, but none of it is bold.  In fact, I’m disappointed that there aren’t more baby steps included that could add up to something significant.  A few things that come to my mind is Building Star, A Green Energy Bank, and Bernie Sander’s solar bill.  A big step would be a strong RES.

July 4, 2010

Good News for Electric Cars

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:34 pm
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In both Maryland and around the country, the infrastructure for electric cars in the form of electric charging stations has gotten a boost in the last week.  Last weekend, Maryland committed a million dollars in stimulus money to putting 64+ charging stations at Baltimore parking garages, and sites along Interstate 95.

“Maryland will give $1 million in the form of grants to build at least 64 electric charging stations across the state, the Baltimore Sun reports. The Maryland Energy Administration administered the grants, which will be funded by federal stimulus money.”

“Marylanders average less than 40 miles driven daily, which places them within the battery-powered car range, said Woolf. Providing the “basic infrastructure” of available charging stations will help to sell electric vehicles and kindle new business and jobs.

Across the United States, more states and cities are adding charging stations to bolster electric car use. Coulomb Technologies recently revealed plans to build more than 4,600 charging stations in nine metro locations, including Washington, D.C. The ChargePoint America initiative will install 1,000 public charging locations by the end of 2010.”

Another firm called Ecotality is looking to deploy 15,000 electric chargers nationwide…

“Enter Ecotality, a Tempe, Ariz.-based electric-transportation company deploying 15,000 free electric-car chargers this fall in 13 cities, including the District. The initiative, called the EV Project, launched in October with $99.8 million in stimulus funds. The grant covered the installation of home charging stations — which cost about $2,200 each — for 4,700 buyers of the Leaf and a handful of public stations.

Ecotality was awarded another grant of $15 million a few weeks ago to add new locations, 1,000 more chargers for Leaf owners and 2,600 refueling units for Volt buyers. The rollout of the chargers will coincide with the fourth-quarter debut of Nissan and Chevy’s new models.”

We’ll need these investments and more to make electric cars mainstream in America, but it’s a promising start and shows that putting the infrastructure in place is realistic and affordable.  People interested in buying the coming generation of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will be more comfortable in making that decision because of the added number of charging stations.


May 28, 2010

Bi-Partisan Electric Vehicle Deployment Bills Introduced in House and Senate

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 1:37 am
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Legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate to help spur the development and deployment of electric vehicles as well as charging infrastructure.  As someone who recently test drove the Chevy Volt and has been watching the offshore drilling disaster unfold along with the rest of us, this is timely legislation to spur this technology and help accelerate our transition away from oil.  Below are the House and Senate press releases.

Markey, Biggert, McNerney, Eshoo Introduce Bipartisan Electric Vehicle Bill

May 25, 2010 – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) along with Reps. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), today announced the introduction of the Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010. The legislation will help create jobs and end our dependence on foreign oil by providing incentives to consumers to purchase electric vehicles, grants to selected communities to demonstrate widespread deployment of electric vehicles, and other measures to incentivize both deployment and domestic production of the needed vehicle components and charging infrastructure.

“The Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act will lead to a surge in job creation, help consumers, recharge our economy and greatly enhance our national and environmental security,” said Markey.  “We import most of the oil we use, much of it from countries that seek to do us harm.  The catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is yet another reminder that it’s time for America to start driving toward a clean energy future, and electric vehicles can help power the way.

“From plug-in hybrids to all-electric cars, the auto industry is moving quickly to meet consumer demand for more efficient vehicles that cost less to fuel up,” said Biggert, a senior member of the House Science and Technology Committee.  “Thanks to these innovations, America is making great strides toward reducing emissions and cutting our dependence on expensive foreign oil.  But our electric and transportation infrastructure must keep pace with technology. The Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act will accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles and put new energy technologies within reach of more consumers and motorists. It also will help regional communities establish themselves as models for the development and installation of the next generation of transportation infrastructure, including public charging stations.  I look forward to working with my colleague, Chairman Markey, to advance this legislation and help put America’s transportation system on the fast track to electrification.”

Said Rep. Eshoo: “Our nation has been developing electric vehicles since the days of Thomas Edison. Sadly, he gave up on his dream, but Ed Markey and I have not given up on ours.  The Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act builds on the work we did in the House passed American Clean Energy and Security Act, which includes electric vehicle provisions, and it contains my bill H.R. 1742, to ensure that our nation develops the infrastructure necessary to ensure electric vehicles are a reality. The bill we are introducing today will make it possible to drive an electric vehicle from Menlo Park, New Jersey to Menlo Park, California spurring innovation and job creation along the way.”

Said Rep. McNerney: “This is a critical time to work with my colleagues to author the Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act, bipartisan legislation that will help advance the widespread use of electric vehicles.  There’s great potential for economic growth and job creation in this field and, right now with such high unemployment, it’s more important than ever to lay the groundwork for these new opportunities.  I look forward to our continued efforts to advance this legislation.”

Highlights of the Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act include:

  • The Secretary of Energy will competitively award $800 million to 5 different deployment communities around the country, with the objective of deploying 700,000 electric vehicles in those communities within six years.
  • At least $2,000 in additional consumer incentives for the first 100,000 consumers purchasing electric vehicles in these communities would be provided.
  • All Americans would continue to be eligible for the electric vehicle tax credit, which reduces the prices of an electric vehicle by up to $7500, and additionally, tax credits of the costs of purchase and installation of electric vehicle charging equipment for individuals (up to $2000) or businesses (up to $50,000 for multiple equipment purchases) would be extended.
  • Additional research, development, deployment and manufacturing incentives are provided for technologies that enable the widespread deployment of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.

DORGAN, ALEXANDER AND MERKLEY INTRODUCE FIRST-EVER NATIONWIDE BILL TO ENCOURAGE ELECTRIC VEHICLE DEPLOYMENT

Senators say the bipartisan legislation will incentivize a transition to electric cars to decrease our dependence on foreign oil

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Washington, DC— Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced today the “Electric Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010,” a bill that promotes the rapid, near-term deployment of plug-in electric drive motor vehicles. The bill would create “deployment communities” across the country, where targeted incentive programs for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure systems would help demonstrate rapid market penetration and determine what “best practices” would be helpful for nationwide deployment of electric vehicles.

“I have always believed in pursuing new and innovative ways to provide for our country’s energy needs, especially as we work to reduce our reliance on imported oil” Dorgan said. “It is essential to be forward-thinking in our energy policy, which is why I am introducing this legislation to help country transition to an electric vehicle fleet. It’s a logical move that will strengthen our national security and improve our air quality, while relying on our abundant electricity supply to fuel our cars.”

“Republicans and Democrats agree that electrifying our cars and trucks is the single best way to reduce our dependence on oil,” Alexander said. “Our goal should be to electrify half our cars and trucks within 20 years, which would reduce our dependence on petroleum products by about a third, from about 20 million to about 13 million barrels a day. According to a Brookings Institution study, we could do this without building one new power plant, if we plugged our cars in at night when the country has huge amounts of unused electricity.”

“As the recent BP spill has shown, America’s dependence on oil carries with it massive economic and environmental risks,” Merkley said. “By accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles, we can take a major step in moving away from oil. These next-generation cars and trucks take advantage of the resources and technology we have available right now while putting us on the road to energy independence.”

Moving toward the use of electric vehicles is vital to reduce the country’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil, particularly in the transportation sector. The transportation sector accounts for more than two-thirds of total national petroleum consumption and it is 95 percent reliant on petroleum. The United States imported 57 percent of its oil needs in 2008 at a cost of some $380 billion – or nearly 60 percent of the total trade deficit. Reducing the transportation sector’s reliance on petroleum will strengthen national security and boost our economy.

Electric vehicle technology is already picking up speed with the Nissan Leaf, GM’s Volt, and the Ford Focus, all due out in the next year or so. The legislation is intended to encourage U.S. production and adoption of electric vehicles in response to some of the country’s most pressing problems, from dependence on foreign oil to climate concerns.

To encourage production and the adoption of electric vehicles, the legislation would increase incentives for electric vehicle purchases, promote the deployment of charging infrastructure, help coordinate and develop model electric vehicle communities, provide technical assistance to communities nationwide to plan for electrification, and increase electric vehicle research and development funding. The goal is to put the nation on a path to electrify half its cars and trucks by 2030, which if achieved, would cut U.S. demand for oil by about one-third.

April 27, 2010

Op-Ed on Electric Cars

Filed under: energy,transportation — Matt Dernoga @ 11:41 am
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I got to test drive the Chevy Volt last week.  I thought I’d follow up by writing a column about electric cars and their arrival.  Enjoy!

Volt: Test-driving the comeback car

By Matt Dernoga

I found myself behind the steering wheel of General Motors’ highly anticipated Volt, driving around the campus last Wednesday. The Volt is a plug-in hybrid car with a battery that powers the car for up to 40 miles combined with a gas engine with a range of 300 miles if you need it. It was pretty sweet.

Just a few years ago, I wouldn’t have expected it. I remember the famously depressing 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? that took a look at what forces were responsible for the demise of the EV1, a fast, highly efficient electric car that was produced in the early 1990s. Since then, gas prices rose to painful levels, our oil dependence became a major environmental and national security issue, and automakers finally figured out you can go green and still make green.

After test-driving the Volt and reading about Nissan’s all-electric 100 mile-range “Leaf,” I’m more optimistic than I’ve ever been that electric cars are here to stay. Both these cars are mainstream and coming out near the end of this year. Throw all the electric car stereotypes out the window. After a $7,500 tax credit from the federal government for these advanced battery vehicles, the prices are in the range of ordinary, gas-powered sedans. The Volt accelerated with ease, so highway speed will be no problem. The average daily commute of 75 percent of Americans is 40 miles or less, meaning the ranges on both cars will cover the majority of our trips. Special outlets for charging aren’t necessary, just an outlet and an extension cord.

Part of the appeal is how cheap it is to buy the electricity to power the car versus buying gas. For example, fully charging the battery of the Volt will cost the average American less than a dollar a day. Last time I looked, a gallon of gas around here had come close to $3 and was climbing. Charging a battery could be even cheaper if you do it in off-peak hours with a utility company that offers variable pricing based on real-time electric demand. This is typically at night when few appliances are at use, and electricity is dirt cheap.

The presumption that most of us would charge our cars at night, when electricity demand is low and prices are cheap, is important. One criticism of electric cars is they’ll likely be powered by dirty energy, or add so much new demand to the grid that we’ll have to build more power plants. The reality is the electric power grid has a large amount of generated but unused electricity every night that goes to waste. Much of the added demand from electric cars to the grid would just take advantage of energy that would ordinarily go to waste anyway.

I think President Barack Obama’s goal of a million plug-in cars on our roads by 2015 is too low. This technology is here now, it’s affordable and if we’re going to move away from oil, the electric car is our best bet. We need to invest more in the technology so we dominate this emerging industry, and bring manufacturing jobs back to America.

It’s very fitting that a new documentary is in the works titled Revenge of the Electric Car. Success for these new vehicles would be sweet revenge.

Matt Dernoga is a senior government and politics major. He can be reached at dernoga at umdbk dot com.

May 19, 2009

Electric Car Breakthrough

Filed under: energy — Matt Dernoga @ 5:19 pm
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Occasionally it’s nice to see a new invention or breakthrough that brings a clean energy future absent of fossil fuels a little closer.  One of the main obstacles facing electric and plug-in cars today is how much energy a battery can store when it can only be so large to fit in the car.  We’ve been getting better with our battery technology and storage, which I why we should be seeing plug-in hybrids on the market in 1-2 years, and electric cars not too far off.  The breakthrough is an air-fueled battery that can last up to 10 times at long as the conventional batteries we use right now.  This doesn’t only apply to electric cars, but all sorts of electronic devices such as laptops and cell phones.  Right now the development of this technology is only halfway through its 4 year program, but hopefully it will find its way to the market within the next decade.  Excerpts below.

“The new design has the potential to improve the performance of portable electronic products and give a major boost to the renewable energy industry. The batteries will enable a constant electrical output from sources such as wind or solar, which stop generating when the weather changes or night falls.”

“The STAIR (St Andrews Air) cell should be cheaper than today’s rechargeables, too. The new component is made of porous carbon, which is far less expensive than the lithium cobalt oxide it replaces.”

“The oxygen, which will be drawn in through a surface of the battery exposed to air, reacts within the pores of the carbon to discharge the battery. “Not only is this part of the process free, the carbon component is much cheaper than current technology,” says Bruce. He estimates that it will be at least five years before the STAIR cell is commercially available.”

April 4, 2009

Electric Sedan for $23,000

Filed under: energy — Matt Dernoga @ 5:02 pm
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It’s always fun to check out some of the new technologies coming out in the coming years which will generate economic growth and help reduce pollution at the same time.  I recently came across a press release from a UK company called Detroil Electric looking to mass produce an affordable all-electric sedan called the E63.  They’re planning on release two different versions of the E63, one which has a range of 111 miles, and another with a range of 200 miles.  The 111 range sedan will be available for between $23000-$26000, and the 200 range $28000-33000.   The company is planning to release the car in Europe and Asia in early 2010, and then in the US a few months later in 2010.  By 2012 they expect to sell more than 270,000 of these vehicles.  These cars are also going to have a pretty strong performance for their price and range, with a top speed of 111 mph, and able to go to 0-62 in less than 8 seconds.  Count me in!

media center, click recent news for story

Notable excerpts:

By 2012, Detroit Electric plans to sell more than 270,000 Pure Electric Vehicles in Europe, UK, China and the United States. The vehicles will be priced between USD 23,000 and USD 26,000 for the city range model and between USD 28,000 and USD 33,000 for the extended range model. Styling changes will distinguish Detroit Electric’s vehicles from Proton’s existing line-up.”

Detroit Electric will be responsible for the homologation of the vehicles and for vehicle certification in the U.S. and European markets, where models are targeted to be sold in the first quarter of 2010 EU, UK, China and closely followed the US. Detroit Electric will assume all warranty and liabilities for the Electric Vehicles, while Proton will warranty the vehicle’s build and standard components.”

“Our target audience are those who purchase practical and affordable vehicles. This makes our products fit the pockets of a very wide audience – from professionals and executives, to mothers, students and small business owners.”

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