CNG Cars Can Go the Distance and Be Affordable, Says Lobbying Group

Natural Gas Bi fuels

Just the Facts

  • Natural gas backers are launching a drive to persuade automakers to build compressed-natural-gas fueled cars and trucks.
  • Six custom-built CNG vehicles are on display now in Washington, D.C., and builders say production versions would not cost much more than standard gasoline vehicles.
  • Fuel can cost less than $1 a gallon-equivalent when produced at home.

 

WESTCHESTER, California — A natural gas lobbying group is launching a national effort today to persuade automakers and lawmakers to get off the gasoline and turn to natural gas as a significant fuel for new passenger vehicles in the U.S.

Natural gas advocates say that increased use of the suddenly plentiful fuel — made so by the opening of huge domestic reserves that can be exploited through an extraction process called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” — can help the country cut its dependence on imported oil while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving consumers millions of dollars in fuel costs.

But all that doesn’t matter if no one can afford the cars — of if they don’t offer the levels of performance, convenience and utility American buyers expect.

The big selling point of the Alliance program is that properly designed CNG-gasoline “bi-fuel” vehicles can be “no-compromise” cars and trucks that don’t sacrifice performance or storage space and don’t have exorbitant price tags, said Eric Noble, a consultant for the American Natural Gas Alliance-backed project.

Noble’s company, CarLab Inc., built four bi-fuel cars and SUVs that borrowed their operating philosophy from the new generation of plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles: use the alternative fuel for most daily driving chores but keep plenty of gasoline on board for extended trips and to avoid the danger of being stranded if the alternative fuel can’t be found.

To drive home those points the Alliance recently gave Edmunds.com and several other news organizations an advance look at six purpose-built bi-fuel cars, vans and trucks at a Southern California Gas Co. pumping facility on a hill overlooking a vast underground natural gas storage field just north of Los Angeles International Airport.

The same vehicles were rolled out in Washington, D.C., this week in a bid to wow legislators and people attending the annual ACT Expo.

“The cars in this program are the first step on the path to [mass] production,” said Barry Carr, an ANGA member and business development director for Landirenzo USA, the North American arm of a major Italian producer of CNG bi-fuel systems for automakers and aftermarket conversion companies.

Landirenzo, which built two cars for the ANGA demonstration, also makes systems for Fiat, General Motors, Volkswagen, Renault, Nissan and others in Europe, he said, and is doing aftermarket systems in the U.S. for Ford and GM trucks.

CNG could account for up to 80 percent of the average car owner’s annual mileage in a properly designed bi-fuel vehicle, Carr said. Natural gas fuel can cost well under a dollar a gallon when produced on home-based compression and pumping systems being developed by companies including Whirlpool.

Natural gas is a widely used passenger vehicle fuel in parts of Europe and South America and there are more than 15 million natural gas vehicles worldwide, said Kathryn Clay, executive director of the Drive Natural Gas Initiative and an ANGA member.

“But less than 1 percent of them are in the U.S., despite our big natural gas production,” she said.

Noble, whose Orange, California-based company built four of the six demonstration vehicles in the program, provided detailed cost sheets that showed the market price of every screw, fitting and supply line used in the conversions.

CNG costs vary from region to region based on the cost of the electricity used to compress the gas and the regional price of the gas itself. At retail pumps around the country the price is typically at least 50 cents a gallon less than gasoline and it can be half the price of gasoline in many areas.

A huge drawback of CNG passenger vehicles so far has been the high cost of the systems, which require expensive high-pressure fuel tanks; the loss of cargo or passenger space that’s given over to those large, cylindrical fuel tanks; and the lack of a nationwide CNG refueling system.

The system being pitched by ANGA tries to address all of those issues.

The average premium over MSRP for the all-gasoline versions of the four bi-fuel vehicles shown by CarLab was just under $2,900 for cars built in small commercial quantities of 20,000 units a year, and slightly less than under $1,900 for vehicles built in large volumes of 200,000 or more per year.

“The average payback period is 2.2 years for someone driving 12,000 miles a year with gasoline at $3.53 a gallon and CNG at $1.17” a gasoline-gallon equivalent, Noble said.

“That compares to 3.4 years for a Toyota Prius (at the same fuel costs), 7.4 years for a Nissan Leafelectric car and 34.4 years for a Chevrolet Volt” plug-in hybrid, he said. “This isn’t a technology with the promise that the price will come down in 10 years” he said of the natural gas conversions. “It’s cheap now.”

The costs Noble cited contrast sharply with the nearly $7,500 price premium Honda charges for the 2012 Civic Natural Gas — the only factory built CNG passenger car sold in the U.S. today.

The key difference is that the Honda is a dedicated CNG vehicle that can’t use any other fuel — and thus has a large and very expensive high-pressure fuel tank — while the alliance is promoting bi-fuel vehicles that don’t need substantial CNG tanks.

The four CarLab demonstrators — a Ford Mustang GT, a Hyundai Sonata sedan, a GMC Acadia large crossover SUV and a BMW X-3 small crossover — all are designed to travel 50 miles on CNG before switching over to gasoline.

The two vehicles prepared by Landirenzo — a Honda CR-V small crossover SUV and a Chrysler 300sedan — emphasized CNG use and thus had larger tanks for the pressurized fuel and correspondingly higher conversion costs that added $4,800 to the MSRP of each.

The computerized engine control unit in each of the demonstration vehicles decides which fuel to use for the best performance, but prioritizes CNG until that fuel is depleted and gasoline is all that’s left to burn.

The CarLab vehicles kept their stock gas tanks and added small CNG tanks, typically holding the energy equivalent of 2 to 4 gallons of gasoline, while keeping all of their original cargo space. The Landirenzo vehicles had 9-gallon-equivalent CNG tanks plus their stock gas tanks, adding almost 180 miles of CNG travel to their range but losing a substantial amount of cargo space — 75 percent in the Chrysler’s case.

All six vehicles maintained their stock horsepower and fuel economy levels with either fuel.

The idea in both cases, said Noble, is to “give people the cost savings of using CNG for most of their driving but enable the vehicles to seamlessly switch to gasoline when the CNG tank is empty. That way people can just keep on driving with no inconvenience. Long trips aren’t a problem. And there’s no problem if you forget to fill up with CNG overnight.”

Edmunds says: Sounds like a couple of interesting approaches. Is anyone in the car business listening?

This article was first published by Edmunds.com.

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GE and Chesapeake Energy Launch CNG In A Box™ System at NACS 2012


GE (GE) and Peake Fuel Solutions, an affiliate of Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK), today launched the CNG In A Box™ system, which allows easier adoption of compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling options for large- and small-scale retailers. The solution was unveiled at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) 2012 Annual Show.

Natural gas is an abundant, reliable and cleaner-burning source of energy for consumers and commercial users. A vehicle fleet operator that uses the CNG In A Box system for natural gas fueling instead of traditional gasoline fueling can save about 40 percent in fuel costs1. The CNG In A Box system is a plug-and-play on-site fueling solution that comes with everything retailers need to add low-cost natural gas fuel to their operations quickly and simply. This GE ecomagination™ qualified refueling option provides an easy, lower-cost fueling experience for consumers and a higher-margin solution for facility operators compared to gasoline or diesel.

“In collaboration with Peake Fuel Solutions, GE is developing infrastructure solutions to accelerate the adoption of natural gas as a transportation fuel,” said Mike Hosford, general manager—Unconventional Resources, GE Oil & Gas. “The CNG In A Box system is a unique fueling solution that brings together some of the best innovation from across GE to help fleet owners and everyday drivers realize the benefits of cleaner burning, abundant, more affordable natural gas.”

“After working extensively with GE to develop the CNG In A Box system, we are excited to unveil it at NACS and to the fueling industry overall. Combining Peake Fuel Solutions’ natural gas expertise and GE’s breadth of cross-industry technology capabilities will advance the use of abundant and affordable natural gas fueling solutions,” said Kent Wilkinson, vice president—Natural Gas Ventures, Chesapeake.

The CNG In A Box system compresses natural gas from a pipeline into CNG on-site at a traditional automotive fueling station or industrial location. CNG-powered vehicles such as taxis, buses or small trucks, as well as individual consumer vehicles, can then refill their tanks using a dispenser with the same look and feel as a traditional diesel or gasoline dispenser.

GE ecomagination Vice President Mark Vachon said, “Natural gas is produced at a relatively lower cost and is cleaner burning than gasoline or diesel fuel—natural gas vehicles can show an emissions reduction of up to 80 percent compared to gasoline vehicles2. Through ecomagination, we’ll continue to deliver to the industry innovative solutions that deliver both great economics and environmental performance, and the CNG In A Box system exemplifies this commitment.”

Financing for the CNG In A Box system is offered by GE Capital, providing competitive rates and flexible payment options. By combining an entire acquisition—including equipment, delivery and installation—into a single monthly payment, Peake Fuel Solutions’ customers can structure payments according to their cash flow and eliminate the costs and time associated with paying multiple vendors. With this solution, business owners can work with a single provider to acquire, finance and maintain their CNG In A Box system.

The CNG In A Box system’s 8 foot x 20 foot container is easy to ship and maintain due to its compact design. Its modular and novel design makes it plug-and-play on-site. Wayne, A GE Energy Business, manufactures the dispensers that deliver the CNG from the CNG In A Box system unit to vehicles. These alternative fuel dispensers feature PCI-compliant pay-at-the-pump technology for a familiar and secure fueling experience. Using the same dispenser and payment terminal interfaces as Wayne petroleum dispensers simplifies point of sale integration.

As part of this collaboration between GE and Peake Fuel Solutions, beginning in the fall of 2012 GE will provide more than 250 CNG In A Box systems for natural gas vehicle infrastructure.

To learn more about the CNG In A Box system, visit us online or stop by the Peake Fuel Solutions booth at the NACS show (booth #6101).

Ecomagination is GE’s commitment to imagine and build innovative solutions to today’s environmental challenges while driving economic growth. For more on ecomagination, please visit:www.ecomagination.com.

About GE

GE (GE) works on things that matter. The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.ge.com.

About Chesapeake Energy Corporation

Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK) is the second-largest producer of natural gas, a Top 15 producer of oil and natural gas liquids and the most active driller of new wells in the U.S. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the company’s operations are focused on discovering and developing unconventional natural gas and oil fields onshore in the U.S. Chesapeake owns leading positions in the Eagle Ford, Utica, Granite Wash, Cleveland, Tonkawa, Mississippi Lime and Niobrara unconventional liquids plays and in the Marcellus, Haynesville/Bossier and Barnett unconventional natural gas shale plays. The company also owns substantial marketing and oilfield services businesses through its subsidiaries Chesapeake Energy Marketing, Inc. and Chesapeake Oilfield Services, L.L.C. Further information is available at www.chk.com where Chesapeake routinely posts announcements, updates, events, investor information, presentations and news releases.

About Peake Fuel Solutions

Peake Fuel Solutions advances innovative fuel solutions with products and services that create demand for clean, affordable natural gas. A significant focus of PFS is to increase compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure across the U.S. Other PFS projects include development of on-road and off-road technologies that reduce emissions and dramatically cut fuel expenses for the trucking, maritime, rail and oil and gas industries. An affiliate of Chesapeake Energy Corporation, Peake leverages the expertise of other Chesapeake affiliates to implement many of its fuel solutions. Further information is available at www.peakefuelsolutions.com.

1 Assuming 25,700 miles per year driven, gasoline priced at $3.50/gallon and CNG at $2.09/gasoline gallon equivalent.

2 Calfornia Energy Commission – Consumer Education Center:http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/transportation/afvs/cng.html

ecomagination is a trademark of the General Electric Company

CNG In A Box is a trademark of the General Electric Company

© 2012 General Electric Company—All rights reserved

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SOURCE- CNGNOW.com

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)

Obama Administration Finalizes Historic 54.5 mpg Fuel Efficiency Standards/ Consumer Savings Comparable to Lowering Price of Gasoline by $1 Per Gallon by 2025

WASHINGTON, DC – The Obama Administration today finalized groundbreaking standards that will increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025. When combined with previous standards set by this Administration, this move will nearly double the fuel efficiency of those vehicles compared to new vehicles currently on our roads. In total, the Administration’s national program to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions will save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels.

“These fuel standards represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said President Obama. “This historic agreement builds on the progress we’ve already made to save families money at the pump and cut our oil consumption. By the middle of the next decade our cars will get nearly 55 miles per gallon, almost double what they get today. It’ll strengthen our nation’s energy security, it’s good for middle class families and it will help create an economy built to last.”

The historic standards issued today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) build on the success of the Administration’s standards for cars and light trucks for Model Years 2011-2016. Those standards, which raised average fuel efficiency by 2016 to the equivalent of 35.5 mpg, are already saving families money at the pump.

Achieving the new fuel efficiency standards will encourage innovation and investment in advanced technologies that increase our economic competitiveness and support high-quality domestic jobs in the auto industry. The final standards were developed by DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and EPA following extensive engagement with automakers, the United Auto Workers, consumer groups, environmental and energy experts, states, and the public. Last year, 13 major automakers, which together account for more than 90 percent of all vehicles sold in the United States, announced their support for the new standards. By aligning Federal and state requirements and providing manufacturers with long-term regulatory certainty and compliance flexibility, the standards encourage investments in clean, innovative technologies that will benefit families, promote U.S. leadership in the automotive sector, and curb pollution.

“Simply put, this groundbreaking program will result in vehicles that use less gas, travel farther, and provide more efficiency for consumers than ever before—all while protecting the air we breathe and giving automakers the regulatory certainty to build the cars of the future here in America,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Today, automakers are seeing their more fuel-efficient vehicles climb in sales, while families already saving money under the Administration’s first fuel economy efforts will save even more in the future, making this announcement a victory for everyone.”

“The fuel efficiency standards the administration finalized today are another example of how we protect the environment and strengthen the economy at the same time,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Innovation and economic growth are already reinvigorating the auto industry and the thousands of businesses that supply automakers as they create and produce the efficient vehicles of tomorrow. Clean, efficient vehicles are also cutting pollution and saving drivers money at the pump.”

The Administration’s combined efforts represent the first meaningful update to fuel efficiency standards in decades. Together, they will save American families more than $1.7 trillion dollars in fuel costs, resulting in an average fuel savings of more than $8,000 by 2025 over the lifetime of the vehicle. For families purchasing a model Year 2025 vehicle, the net savings will be comparable to lowering the price of gasoline by approximately $1 per gallon. Additionally, these programs will dramatically reduce our reliance on foreign oil, saving a total of 12 billion barrels of oil and reducing oil consumption by more than 2 million barrels a day by 2025 – as much as half of the oil we import from OPEC each day.

The standards also represent historic progress to reduce carbon pollution and address climate change. Combined, the Administration’s standards will cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks in half by 2025, reducing emissions by 6 billion metric tons over the life of the program – more than the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the United States in 2010.

President Obama announced the proposed standard in July 2011, joined by Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and Volvo, as well as the United Auto Workers. The State of California and other key stakeholders also supported the announcement and were integral in developing this national program.

In achieving these new standards, EPA and NHTSA expect automakers’ to use a range of efficient and advanced technologies to transform the vehicle fleet. The standards issued today provide for a mid-term evaluation to allow the agencies to review their effectiveness and make any needed adjustments.

Major auto manufacturers are already developing advanced technologies that can significantly reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions beyond the existing model year 2012-2016 standards. In addition, a wide range of technologies are currently available for automakers to meet the new standards, including advanced gasoline engines and transmissions, vehicle weight reduction, lower tire rolling resistance, improvements in aerodynamics, diesel engines, more efficient accessories, and improvements in air conditioning systems. The program also includes targeted incentives to encourage early adoption and introduction into the marketplace of advanced technologies to dramatically improve vehicle performance, including:

Incentives for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cells vehicles;

Incentives for hybrid technologies for large pickups and for other technologies that achieve high fuel economy levels on large pickups;

Incentives for natural gas vehicles;

Credits for technologies with potential to achieve real-world greenhouse gas reductions and fuel economy improvements that are not captured by the standards test procedures.

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1lWlH)

Fueling Stations of the Future Here Now

The 21st century’s just about sure to see the end of what, in terms of human evolution, has been aptly dubbed “The Fossil Fuel Era.” The transition to cleaner, renewable forms of energy and power — be it for lighting, heating, cooling or industry — is (pardon the pun) gaining steam. And while gains are slower and more difficult to come by, the same can be said when it comes to transportation, that other major component of fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

A growing number of entrepreneurial companies — from multinational giants such as GE to small-scale newcomers, such as Tesla, A123, and a bevy of others — are hard at work developing electric, flex and hybrid fuel vehicles, as well as the infrastructure to support them.

Electric vehicle (EV) sales jumped 164% year-over-year in June. Sales of the Lexus CT200h increased 500%, while Chevy Volt sales surged 200% higher, according to the Kelley Blue Book Market Report.

There’s good reason to believe that this surge in the search and development of clean, alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure will be different; that a drop in oil, gasoline and diesel prices won’t be enough to derail progess, as happened in the eighties and nineties subsequent to the oil crises of the 1970s. Two news items this past week provide supporting evidence.

Of Skypumps and Solar Trees

GE’s industrial division and Urban Green Energy (UGE) came out with word that the first installation of their Sanya Skypump is up and running at the headquarters of environmental services company Cespa near Barcelona, Spain. Integrating New York–based Urban Green Energy’s 4-kW vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWTs) and GE’s DuraStation EV chargers, the Sanya Skypump points the way toward fueling stations of the future that gather all the energy they need from the wind.

Along a similar vein, San Diego’s Envision Solar announced it has successfully completed engineering and manufacturing of its first run of pre-cast concrete columns for its Solar Tree arrays. Parking lots are ideal sites for Envision’s Solar Trees. Combine them with EV chargers and you have a clean, renewable fueling station right where EV motorists need and want it.

The Sanya Skypump can fully charge EVs in 4-8 hours, using electricity produced by UGE’s 4-kW VAWT, which stands 42 feet high, according to the partner companies. Winds of at least 7 mph are needed to generate electricity.

Plans are in the works to install Sanya Skypump EV fueling stations in the US and Australia before year-end, GE and UGE say. Sites include shopping malls and universities, as well as other locations.

A big advantage of the Sanya Skypump wind-powered EV fueling station is its installation time. The entire system takes less than two hours to get up and running, the companies say.

Envision Solar’s new pre-cast Solar Tree concrete columns are part of its “Drag & Drop Infrastructure” product line, one that “offers much faster, more efficient deployment of Solar Tree structures,” the company explains.

“We are continually leveraging technology to increase our efficiency and quality. We call this new modularized approach: Drag & Drop Infrastructure™ — creating the shortest possible time and ease for deploying the best solar shaded parking products in the industry with the least disruption in the field,” Envision Solar president and CEO Desmond Wheatley elaborated.

“That means lower costs, lower risks, higher quality and higher customer satisfaction. We have to take these steps in order to efficiently meet the volume demands that our business development activities will be creating. We are in this to deploy thousands of Solar Tree arrays and we are going to have to be highly efficient to get that done.”

Manufacturing the concrete columns in a controlled environment enables Envision to produce the highest quality results. It also makes for much more efficient installations. The new Solar Tree columns enable Envision to install the solar PV structures in hours rather than the days or even weeks required for columns that are cast in place, director of Program Management Peter Seiler added.

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1le69)

2014 Tesla Model X Vs. 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV: Electric SUV Showdown?

The 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is unique, the only all-electric compact sport-utility vehicle sold by a major automaker in the U.S.

Behind the wheel, its Tesla-developed powertrain makes it peppy but quiet, while it maintains all the cargo and people space of the original gasoline version.

There’s really only one vehicle that’s even close to comparable, and that doesn’t exist yet: the 2014 Tesla Model X all-electric crossover, of which prototypes were unveiled in February.

Comparing a real car to a hypothetical one is an exercise in speculation.

But spurred on by a review on TheStreet.com that suggests buyers view the Toyota RAV4 EV as a Tesla for half the price, we decided to do it anyway.

SIZE:The 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is a compact crossover, in the popular segment that includes the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Nissan Rogue. The 2014 Tesla Model X, on the other hand, is a segment larger, competing with the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, and undoubtedly pricier and more luxurious import-brand SUVs like the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Range Rover, and Mercedes-Benz GL. Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] says the Model X has the dimensions of the Audi Q7 but 40 percent more interior space.

SEATING: The RAV4 EV seats four comfortably, five in a pinch. The electric Teslasport utility, on the other hand, will offer seven seats (as does the Model S sedan with its optional jump seats, though the last two are only child-sized).

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012

WEIGHT: The electric RAV4 weighs 4,030 pounds, while no weight has been given for the Model X. Since it’s larger, we’d expect it to be rather heavier than the Model S sedan on which it’s based, which comes in at 4,650 pounds for the 40-kWh version.

BATTERY SIZE: The RAV4 EV has 41.8 kilowatt-hours of usable pack capacity, though oddly Toyota won’t give the total pack size. The Model X will offer 60-kWh and 85-kWh options, though unlike the Model S sedan, it won’t have a 40-kWh version.

POWER: The Toyota RAV4 EV uses the same electric motor as the Tesla Model S sedan, but its power is limited to 115 kilowatts (154 horsepower) by the battery pack output.The Tesla Model X will likely use the Model S motor–with peak power of 270 kW (362 hp)–in the standard version, and two electric motors (one per axle) of unspecified power for the all-wheel drive model. Tesla says there will be a Model X Performance edition as well.

DRIVE WHEELSToyota’s electric RAV4 is offered only in front-wheel drive, although Toyota’s program leader Sheldon Brown said that at least one all-wheel drive prototype was built, adding a second motor at the rear to complement the existing one up front. The Model X will be offered with rear-wheel drive standard, plus an optional all-wheel drive version that adds a second motor for the front wheels.

VOLUME: Toyota will build only 2,600 RAV4 EVs for the 2012 through 2014 model years. Tesla has said it could sell 10,000 to 15,000 Model X crossovers a year once full production levels are reached.

Tesla Model XTesla Model X

PRICE: The list price of the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is $49,800, with a $2,500 California purchase rebate, and buyers may qualify for a $7,500 Federal tax credit. No price has been announced for the 2014 Model X, but Tesla says prices will be “comparable” to the base

Source: Green Car Reports

IEA sets out shale gas ‘golden rules’ for cleaner fracking

Green groups have slammed a new report by the International Energy Association (IEA), which set out a set of “golden rules” that could help the world’s fledgling shale gas industry triple the supply of unconventional natural gases to 1.6 trillion cubic metres per year by 2035.

The IEA launched a new report today to help shale gas companies address key environmental concerns about the controversial extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”.

However, WWF and Friends of the Earth, warned that a boom in shale gas would prevent countries from reaching the globally agreed goal of limiting the temperature rise to 2°C.

They also highlighted a paragraph in the report predicting an increase in shale gas supply could derail efforts to develop other forms of low-carbon energy, including renewables.

A number of countries including the UK are seeking to expand their supply of shale gas, emulating the success of exploration in North America, where shale supplied 23 per cent of total gas production in 2010.

While the UK’s reserves are nowhere near the size of America’s, it is still estimated to have 200 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in Lancashire alone. But a report by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research last year warned burning a fifth of this would use up 15 per cent of the UK’s carbon budgets to 2050.

Many green groups are also concerned that the process of fracking can contaminate water, while injecting wastewater in deep disposal wells has caused earthquakes.

The IEA’s rules require gas companies to measure and disclose any environmental impacts such as on water quality, as well as restricting venting and flaring to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

If these rules were adopted, the IEA predicts the industry could triple its supply by 2035, allowing gas to overtake coal as the second most important fuel in the energy mix.

IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said adopting the rules could push up the price of energy by seven per cent, but it would also earn the industry a “social licence” to operate.

“If this new industry is to prosper, it needs to earn and maintain its social licence to operate,” he said. “This comes with a financial cost, but in our estimation the additional costs are likely to be limited.”

By contrast, in a case where the rules were not adopted, a lack of public acceptance would allow unconventional gas production to rise only slightly above current levels by 2035.

Significantly, the report warned this scenario would push up carbon emissions by 1.3 per cent compared to a “golden rule” scenario, as gas would be replaced by heavy emitting coal.

However, in both cases emissions would be well above the trajectory required to reach the globally agreed goal of limiting the temperature rise to 2°C, meaning shale could only play one part in reducing global temperature rises.

WWF criticised the IEA’s report for promoting shale gas while at the same time acknowledging that it would fail to reduce the impacts of climate change.

“A golden age for gas is clearly very far from a golden age for the planet. Buried in the depths of this report is the bombshell that a global dash for unconventional gas will condemn us to warming of at least 3.5°C,” said Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF-UK.

“Those who claim that shale gas is some sort of wonder fuel that can tackle climate change are seriously misleading the public – the reality is that it is a dangerous distraction from energy efficiency and clean renewable energy.

Friends of the Earth’s energy campaigner Tony Bosworth also urged governments to focus their efforts on growing renewable supplies.

“Drilling for shale and other unconventional gas would put the world on course for catastrophic climate change – incomprehensible when we have clean energy solutions at our fingertips like wind and solar power,” he said.

Source : Business Green