Smartphones + Shared Electric Scooters in San Francisco (Scoot)

Smartphones + Shared Electric Scooters in San Francisco (Scoot)

SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 BY  LEAVE A COMMENT

Need to rent a hip electric scooter for short jaunts around San Francisco? Want to causally zipin and out of all your runs for errands and feel the breeze causally on your commute. Here’s how: get your iPhone (or other smartphone, if you have one), look for a scooter, zoom in and pick one, reserve it, go to your scooter, dock your phone on the scooter, your smartphone connects to and unlocks the scooter, and you are good to go — what a smartphone does nowadays!

Scoot Scooters

The Wonders of Smartphones and Scooters

We use smartphones for transportation, maps, looking for routes, plans for buses, talking to our friends, etc. Now, explains Michael Keating, “we just built the smartphone directly into our service of fast easy light transportation.”

These scooters are for short trips around the city, replacing the bus, taxi, etc. All you need is a CA driver’s license and you can rent one. Getting around the city used to be a trouble, but not now.

Because scooters are so small, parking in the city now will be easy and perfect for errands. One’s daily commutes will be quite relaxed compared to the stress of finding parking and maneuvering cumbersome vehicles. Scoot’s on-demand service means no more waiting for a ride. 
Time is saved by the quick action of your smartphone, and now the time is yours to enjoy. The initial locations will primarily be in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood, and are aimed at both residents of the neighborhood and others who work there. There will be 50 scooters in the initial deployment.

Many Reasons for Scooters

 

 

San Francisco is Committed to Environmental Economy

San Francisco is committed to making the Bay Area the center for the EV market, reducing our reliance on foreign oil, and boosting our green economy,” said Mayor Lee. “Scoot’s launch combines the innovation of San Francisco companies with our City’s commitment to a green economy to provide yet another clean alternative mode of transportation for everyone.”

Electric Scooters Made in America for China (10,000,000 a year)

As the video above notes, electric scooters are being made in huge quantities for China. This makes them affordable for us, replacing gas-chugging cars for quiet trips around the city.

From Keating: “Right now to use Scoot’s network it costs $10 to sign up, $5 per month, and $5 per hour. There’s also a $10 per day option (that seems like a steal), and a $25 per month package that includes four half day rides. Additionally there’s an option to rent out your own personal Scoot for $185 per month.”

The company recently closed a $550,000 round of funding with several high-profile angel investors, including Tim Young (About.me, Socialcast), Lisa Gansky (Ofoto, The Mesh), & Jerry Fiddler (Zygote Ventures, Wind River). Scoot is also an alumni of the Greenstart accelerator program in SF, where it was selected as part of the top 2% from a pool of 165 startups and received a $115,000 investment from that.

Again, how Scoot works:

  • Sign Up Online: New users sign up on the website and pay $10 to join the service.
  • Orientation: Scoot gives new members a quick orientation that covers how to safely ride a scooter, along with some hands-on training.
  • Find a Scoot and ride: Members can take a Scoot out from any one of a number of locations across the city simply by plugging their phone in the Scoot’s smartphone dock. Once the scoot is started, the phone becomes the dashboard, providing members with a map, speedometer and battery gauge.
  • Payment: Members pay by the hour ($5/hr), or a flat fee for round-trip commutes ($10/commute) during the week.

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1oBmz)

Beer fuels you, left over beer fuels your car

beer fuel

Beer, the third most popular beverage in the world after water and tea, just gained another reason for our support. Sierra Nevada Brewing, makers of fine beverages, recently purchased an EFuel 100 MicroFueler, which produces ethanol from water, sugar, and yeast. Guess what one of the major byproducts of beer fermentation is? Yup, yeast! The excess yeast left over from brewing will soon find its way into ethanol production.

Currently, Sierra Nevada’s 1.6 million gallons of excess yeast are used as a nutritional supplement to beef and dairy cows. Initially Sierra Nevada plans to use the MicroFueler to create ethanol fuel for its own fleet of cars. If sufficient fuel can be produced — ie: if we all keep drinking their sweet elixir — there’s talk of fueling employee cars as well as potential distribution.

Sierra Nevada is no stranger to environmental friendliness. They publish their solar power production, they recycle like crazy, and they’ve been using homemade biodiesel fuel for a couple years now:

In 2007, Sierra Nevada began a new program to utilize spent vegetable oil from the Taproom and Restaurant as an alternative fuel source for their fleet. Sierra Nevada purchased a Springboard biodiesel processor which produces 50 gal batches of biodiesel in 48 hours and is currently doing a batch a week. The finished biodiesel is used in the Sierra Nevada long haul and local route trucks.

Order a six pack for you, and one for your car! But don’t drink and drive.

Via CNet

India Gets a Girdle of Wave Power Plants from Israel’s SDE

In a move linked to its massive blackout last summer, India is getting a ring of wave power plants along its coastline from the Israeli company SDE. In terms of the global competition for renewable energy leadership, that puts the U.S. way back in the pack. SDE is already building wave power plants in China and several other countries, and Scotland’s wave power industry is coming on strong. Meanwhile, mostly cricket chirps from the most powerful nation on earth….

Israeli company SDE will install wave power in India

Lessons from the 2012 India Blackout

The blackout in India last summer was a history-making one, affecting 670 million people or about 9 percent of the world’s population.

Spared were individual companies and villages that had their own off-grid power plants, including a remote village that had its own solar power array. Officials in the state of Jodhpur also credit wind turbines with providing enough energy for hospitals and vital infrastructure, while enabling them to restore power to the region while other parts of India were still many hours away from relief.

Wave Power for India

Until now, Indian companies seeking to shield themselves from grid disruptions have had to rely on building their own fossil fuel power plants. However, India’s rapid industrialization is headed for a three-way collision course with rising oil prices and environmental issues, making wave energy an attractive alternative.

SDE estimates that energy from its wave power plants costs only two cents per kilowatt hour, making it an attractive bottom-line alternative as well as a clean one.

The wave power projects in India will put SDE in partnership with the country’s automobile industry and other companies, along with electric utilities and local governments.

For Indian companies with an eye on global markets, access to low-cost wave power could also provide a significant competitive edge. It’s becoming commonplace for companies to tout their access to clean energy as a selling point for their products and services, and a recent study commissioned by the wind turbine company Vestas suggest that more consumers prefer to buy from companies that use clean energy.

Wave Power in the U.S.A.

To be fair, the U.S. has been playing wave power catchup with some support from the Obama Administration. Though a full-scale commercial wave power project has yet to launch in U.S. waters, the Navy set up the nation’s first ever grid-connected wave power plant to provide energy for a base in Hawaii back in 2010, with the U.S. company Ocean Power Technologies. Also in Oregon, the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC) at Oregon State University has launched a wave power test facility off the state’s coast.

Ocean Power Technologies is now preparing a new wave power operation for a community on the Oregon coast, and the company Ocean Renewable Power has just started operating a small pilot tidal power project on the coast of Maine.

Meanwhile, the Navy is upgrading its facility to serve as a shared test bed for additional private companies to develop new wave power technology.

Things are just getting started but the U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that wave and tidal power could provide 15 percent of U.S. energy needs by 2030.

Image: Wave power. Some rights reserved by cubanjunky.

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1ogZD)

How to: Solar Heater Made of Soda Cans

How to Make a Soda Can Solar Heater

By: Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

soda can solar heater

We’re finally cooling off after a brutal Summer here in St. Louis. While I’m thoroughly enjoying the temperatures in the 60s and 70s, they’re a good reminder that Winter will be here soon, and that we’ll be paying to heat the home.

That got me thinking about a concept I first encountered a couple of years ago: the soda can solar heater. Very similar in design to Gary Reysa’s thermosiphon air collector, this concept uses aluminum cans to build columns that collect and transfer heat from the sun. While I’ve come across a number of variations on the concept, most tinkerers who’ve tried this project point to Rich Allen’s video walk-through of building one of these heaters as their starting point.

Rich has played with his own approach; a later video shares his “final thoughts” on building one of these solar air heaters after making a number of them. Some other directions (or partial directions) I’ve found:

I probably won’t try this myself; I can’t imagine trying to install this on my brick home. But I’d love to hear from those of you who have tried projects like these. I’m guessing it would function much like a solar water heater in the sense that it doesn’t necessarily provide all the hot air you need/want, but keeps the main furnace system from working nearly as hard as normal.

Image credit: westbywest via photo pin cc

sustainablog (http://s.tt/1ngbx)

Natural gas vehicles pushed in La.

The push for compressed natural gas vehicles has gained some major traction with commitments from Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge and General Motors, but energy industry experts say federal incentives will be needed if real transformation is to occur.

“It is extremely nice to see that it’s actually here. A lot of times you talk about those things like they’re unicorns,” said Gifford Briggs, vice president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. “But now they’re here …. I think that is a huge first step towards making it (CNG) a little more mainstream acceptable.”

The energy industry has felt good about the direction CNG has taken for a while, Briggs said, but the advent of mass-produced pickups that can run on natural gas or gasoline opens the door on a national scale.

Louisiana has seen CNG advances because of its Haynesville Shale natural gas formation, LOGA, the energy industry, and companies like Chesapeake Energy Corp., Encana Corp., Petrohawk Energy Corp. and Apache Corp., Briggs said. But trying to get Mississippi, Alabama and Florida and other states that don’t have the energy infrastructure to support CNG has been more challenging.

That may be changing. Twenty-two states are part of an effort, led by the governors of Oklahoma and Colorado, to encourage automakers to make more affordable CNG vehicles for state fleets. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has said the governors hope their efforts will help overcome some of the obstacles automakers face in producing a wider variety of CNG vehicles.

Oklahoma Energy Secretary Michael Ming said if the participating states could buy 5,000 CNG vehicles that would be great, but 1,000 is more likely given the current economic climate.

State government buys only about 40 percent of the public-sector vehicle purchases, Ming said. Municipalities and other political subdivisions account for 60 percent of sales.

If the municipalities — city and parish governments — tag along, the CNG sales could be significantly higher, Ming said.

Chris Knittel, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, described the states’ request as “interesting.”

The states presume the CNG vehicles available aren’t that affordable, Knittel said.

“There’s no magic wand that the automakers can wave that makes the CNG vehicles less expensive than gasoline-based vehicles,” Knittel said.

“But there are things that policymakers can do to level the playing field.”

States have to put policies in place with incentives that encourage consumers to switch, he said. Those incentives could involve making CNG fueling stations available, subsidizing vehicles or in-home fueling stations, or by lowering retail prices for natural gas.

Right now, the states aren’t guaranteeing anything to automakers, Knittel said.

“I think the states are just saying that if you build them, we’ll promise the consumers,” Knittel said. “I’m not sure that’s necessarily the case given the current structure of prices and the number of refueling stations around.”

There are roughly 1,000 fueling stations nationwide, and 123,000 CNG vehicles, Ming said.

In Louisiana, CNG vehicles make up less than 1 percent of the cars and trucks on the road, Briggs said. Nationwide, CNG vehicles are around 2 percent of the total.

But that can change if the state, local and federal governments and the private sector — the companies that operate fleets — work together, he said.

“I don’t think the federal government or the state government or the local government can do it by themselves, any more than I think the fleets can do it by themselves,” Briggs said.

But working together can make things happen, Briggs said. Just look at Lafayette, where the city-parish government and private sector have joined to make the state’s most aggressive move to CNG.

In July, Apache opened a public fueling station. The company also converted 15 of its vehicles in Lafayette, part of 300 conversions it will complete by yearend. The city-parish has converted five buses and announced plans to convert its entire fleet.

The city-parish is also trying to form a partnership with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the local school boards to convert all their vehicles, Briggs said. Acadian Ambulance is experimenting with CNG for its vehicles.

The East Baton Rouge City-Parish Government recently began looking into converting all of its vehicles to CNG. The city-parish expects the move will slash fuel costs, particularly for heavy-duty pickups and other vehicles that consume more fuel.

Chesapeake spokeswoman Katie McCullin said there is evidence across Louisiana that the state is leading the nation in natural gas usage.

For example, Shreveport has added 14 natural-gas powered buses, and Bossier City has added a second public fueling station. Holmes Honda in Shreveport and Bossier City received its first shipment of the Honda Civic Natural Gas, the only dedicated CNG vehicle now sold in the United States.

In total there are 10 public CNG stations in Louisiana, with more in the planning stages or under construction, McCullin said.

Chesapeake, a major player in the Haynesville Shale and other natural gas plays, is one of the leading proponents of CNG.

The Oklahoma-based company’s Fueling the Future Initiative is an effort to communicate how natural gas can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and end the United States’ dependence on foreign oil, McCullin said.

The company has a billboard off Interstate 10 near the state Capitol extolling the use of natural gas vehicles.

Chesapeake has participated and sponsored natural gas vehicle seminars nationwide and is converting its 5,000-vehicle fleet to CNG, McCullin said. UPS, Verizon Wireless, Waste Management, Disneyland Resorts and AT&T are also converting their fleets to CNG; in 2009, AT&T announced it would spend $350 million to buy 8,000 CNG vehicles.

McCullin said Chesapeake will also invest at least $1 billion over the next 10 years with Clean Energy, 3M Corp., GE and Sundrop Fuels in efforts to increase demand for CNG vehicles.

The work with 3M could revolutionize the design and manufacture of CNG tanks, the most expensive part of the CNG fueling system, McCullins said. The redesign is expected to lead to lighter, more durable and less expensive tanks.

Chesapeake expects these investments to be the tipping point that gives automakers the confidence to increase their production of CNG and liquefied natural gas vehicles, McCullin said.

Still, both Briggs and Knittel said federal incentives are needed if natural gas is to replace oil as a transportation fuel.

The federal government would be the best source for those incentives, Knittel said, because the benefits from CNG vehicles accrue to the nation, not just to the states.

Energy independence and a reduction in climate change help everyone in the United States, regardless of whether a Louisiana resident buys CNG vehicle, he said.

“When the benefits accrue to everyone, the best place to set the policies is at the higher federal level,” Knittel said.

Briggs said if the country wants to see “a monumental shift,” then Congress should pass the Natural Gas Act.

The act replaces CNG incentives that dropped off the books about three years ago, Briggs said.

That was about the same time that Louisiana passed its own CNG vehicle incentives, Briggs said.

Right now, with only the state incentives, a Louisiana consumer can recover the $10,000 it costs to convert to CNG in two years if he drives 15,000 to 20,000 miles a year.

Most people don’t drive that much, Briggs said. But if both federal and Louisiana incentives were in place, converting a vehicle would be free, and consumers would begin saving money instantly.

“You’re saving a dollar, a dollar fifty, two dollars a gallon,” Briggs said.

“That would register with the American public overnight.”

Briggs pays around 45 cents per gallon by fueling up at LOGA’s office station, he said.

At Apache’s Lafayette station, the cost is around $1.79 a gallon, which is still only about half the price of gasoline.

Briggs said there is enormous support for the Natural Gas Act, but he doesn’t expect Congress to pass the legislation anytime soon.

And Knittel said any new policies that involve handing out more money have little chance in Congress these days.

“Still, I could certainly see both sides of the aisle supporting CNG,” Knittel said.

The rhetoric from both parties suggests they would support natural gas vehicles, he said.

Meanwhile, the price of natural gas is lower than it’s ever been, and with shale gas so plentiful, prices are expected to remain low for some time, Knittel said. In the past, natural gas prices have been very volatile; the price might fall but no one expected it to stay there.

Now, natural gas is expected to remain at less than $5 per thousand cubic feet for the foreseeable future, Knittel said.

Briggs said the United States is the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.

“We have more natural gas than we know what to do with. We’re trying to export it,” Briggs said.

The country has so much natural gas that it’s going to run out of storage capacity, Briggs said.

“I think if the federal government … is serious about eliminating our dependency on foreign oil, the only viable alternative is natural gas,” Briggs said.

Congress should pass the Natural Gas Act, he said.

“Let’s get it on the books, and let’s see if we can get started transforming America’s transportation infrastructure” Briggs said.

Source:  The Advocate

Looking to get a cng station? Check us out http://www.fenleynicolenvir.com/cng.html

LEDs Light the Way to a Smaller Footprint, to Surge Ahead in Coming Years

Shedding more light on the path to soften our environmental footprint, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) recently shared a key way for us to use less resources. A new report from the Department of Energy and UK–based N14 Energy Limited found that LEDs are leading the way into the future.

“The light-emitting diode lamp is a rapidly evolving technology that, while already energy-efficient, will become even more so in just a few short years,” said Marc Ledbetter, who manages PNNL’s solid-state lighting testing, analysis, and deployment efforts.

“Our comprehensive analysis indicates technological advancements in the near future will help people who use these lamps to keep shrinking their environmental footprints.”

This is the first public report to examine the environmental impact of LED manufacturing in depth. Various impacts were considered when evaluating environmental footprints, including the potential to increase global warming; use land formerly available to wildlife; generate waste; and pollute water, soil, and air.

The report examined the complete life cycles of three kinds of light bulbs: light-emitting diodes (also called LEDs), compact fluorescents (or CFLs), and traditional incandescent light bulbs.

Less Footprint, More Resources

As consumers, if we choose to use energy-efficient lighting, it is another way to keep shrinking our environmental footprints. At the moment, LEDs & CFLs are quite comparable on that front.

“Regardless of whether consumers use LEDs or CFLs, this analysis shows we could reduce the environmental impact of lighting by three to 10 times if we choose more efficient bulbs instead of incandescents,” Ledbetter said.

led lamp up close

LED Light bulb closeup — people who use these lamps shrink their environmental footprints.

This report, completed for the Solid-State Lighting Program of DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, is the first public report to examine the environmental impact of LED manufacturing in depth.

Leave Your Incandescents Behind

Along with all the concerns regarding lights and resources, this study shows that the difference between those two bulbs’ overall environmental performance is largely determined by the energy and resources needed to make them. But both are worlds better than incandescents.

“By using more energy to create light, incandescent bulbs also use more of the natural resources needed to generate the electricity that powers them,” Ledbetter said.

This and other DOE reports on solid-state lighting are available online.

Source: Heather E. Dillon and Michael J. Scholand, “Life-Cycle Assessment of Energy and Environmental Impacts of LED Lighting Products, Part 2: LED Manufacturing and Performance,” June 2012.
Images: Philips AmbientLED by John Loo; LED Lightbulb closeup by matt512

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1n10e)

World’s Miners Turning to Solar, Wind, Renewable Energy to Meet Growing Power Needs

Mining companies, already squeezed by high fossil fuel costs that are likely to rise further, are turning to renewable energy systems for power. RWE Innogy commissioned its 20.5-MW wind farm at Titz in Germany’s Rhenish mining area this week, just one of a string of renewable energy project announcements made by mining and renewable energy companies in recent months.

Relying on solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources stands to serve mining companies in good stead, both over the short and long haul. Advantages and benefits come in the form of more reliable, competitively priced energy supplies; the possibility of owning and earning positive investment returns by developing their own renewable energy systems; reducing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions and the negative environmental impacts of their operations; fostering more sustainable local economic development; and improving relationships with local communities and governments in countries in which they operate.

Moreover, mining companies making use of renewable energy has a nice synergy and symbiosis to it. Renewable energy technologies depend critically on the metals and minerals miners extract, while mining companies should always be looking for ways to reduce the environmental impacts of their operations and improve their relationships with local communities and governments, as well as their public image.

Renewable Energy Use Growing among Mining Companies

China’s Jinko Solar on Aug. 31 announced it’s working with engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) partner Solea Renewables to build a 1-MW solar energy array at a chromium mine in the northern South African province of Limpopo. The solar PV installation is said to be the first off-grid, utility-scale solar PV system in South Africa.

The fully integrated, turnkey solar PV system is expected to supply 1.8-GWh of clean, renewable electricity for the chromium mine’s operations per year for the next 20-30 years, enabling the mine operator to reduce its reliance on diesel fuel and generators.

“While the global demand for South African coal, platinum, palladium and chromium increases, mines and other industrial consumers face power supply constraints due to capacity challenges at Eskom, South Africa’s only national power provider,” Solea Renewables director Vusi Mhlanzi stated in a press release. “The turnkey delivery of our PV plants will not only benefit end-users, but it will in turn help reduce the ever present and increasing energy demand Eskom faces.”

In Germany, RWE Innogy installed ten REpower Systems SE wind turbines near RWE’s Garzweiler open-cast mine in just ten months. The 150-meter-high wind turbines have a combined capacity of 20.5-MW.

“We are thrilled to see our turbine blades turning at Titz,” RWE Innorgy CEO Dr. Hans Bunting elaborated. “Our beacon project in the expansion of renewables in the Rhenish mining area is now contributing power to the grid. Our Jüchen project will add another wind farm to the mining area at the end of this year – thanks in part to the close co-operation with our RWE Power affiliate.”

Added Titz Mayor Jurgen Frantzen, “The RWE wind farm and another one in the south of our municipality are already generating more power than all the businesses and households in Titz consume. That’s our contribution to the energy turnaround, and we are proud of it.”

Renewable Energy Use in Mining: An Emerging Trend

The emerging trend of mining companies turning to wind, solar and other renewable energy sources to meet their growing energy needs is likely to gain momentum in coming years. The cost of producing electrical power from solar, wind, and other renewable sources has been declining rapidly, making it as cheap, in some cases cheaper, than conventional fossil fuel sources. There are several other benefits and advantages that making use of renewable energy offers miners, however.

In addition, installing renewable energy systems insulates mining companies from increasingly high and volatile fossil fuel costs. More stable power costs means less economic and financial uncertainty, and that should lower the cost of renewable energy sources in miners’ financial calculations.

Moreover, installing solar, wind, or other renewable energy systems also improves the reliability of power supplies and provides mining companies with greater energy security. That’s particularly important in the mining business, where companies often operate in remote, isolated areas where grid power is spotty and more costly, if available at all.

Furthermore, renewable energy systems offer a way for mining companies to own their own power supplies. Another advantage of renewable energy systems over conventional fossil fuel power systems is that they’re modular, scalable and can be installed and up and running in short time frames.

Then there are the social and environmental benefits. Mining companies have a notoriously bad history when it comes to their environmental record and relations with local communities and foreign governments. Making use of clean energy sources is a way for them to at least partly address and improve their performance on these critical issues.

By installing solar, wind, or other renewable energy sources, mining companies can lower their carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reduce other forms of environmental pollution (i.e. land and water degradation and contamination).

On the socio-economic front, if mining companies were to own their own renewable energy systems, surplus power could be sold to the local community, paving a pathway for more sustainable economic development among local communities.

Using Wind Power to Mine Iron Ore

Back in June, Brazil–based Vale SA, the world’s largest iron ore producer, said it will invest some $315 million to finance construction of two wind farms developed by Melbourne, Australia’s Pacific Hydro Pty. These wind farms will help meet its growing energy needs.

Vale and Pacific Hydro each will own 50% of the wind farm projects, which are located in the northeast Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Norte. Due to come on-line in 2014, the two wind farms will have a combined capacity of 140 MW and produce clean, renewable electrical power for 20 years or more

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1mJaD)