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)

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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)

Walmart Reveals 1st Industrial On-Site Wind Turbine Project

The Red Bluff, California Walmart distribution center was revealed as its first on-site industrial sized wind turbine pilot project.

With a height of 265 feet tall, along with a diameter of 250 feet, the new GE 1.0 megawatt (MW) wind turbine will create close to 2,200,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) yearly, the statement said.

Foundation Windpower, as part of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Walmart, will manage, install and own the turbine. Meanwhile, Walmart will buy the power under the agreement.

It’s also expected the PPA will provide energy savings, along with a guaranteed price for the electricity created.

In the statement, Greg Pool, senior manager of renewable energy and emissions at Walmart, and project manager of the Red Bluff Installation, had this to say on the project:

“We are using every tool in the tool box as we work toward our goal to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy, and wind energy is an attractive technology for Walmart.”

“We found the perfect environment for an installation with the Red Bluff project – good wind conditions and open land that we own.  As a result, we expect to reduce our energy costs from the day we flip the on switch. Should the technology at Red Bluff prove successful, Walmart will evaluate the potential for large-scale turbine installations at other distribution center sites in the United States.”

The on-site wind turbine at Walmart’s distribution centre is just some of the sustainable development initiatives the large corporation has spearheaded lately in its drive to push renewable energy use. Some other projects include the recent 100th solar installation in California, 348 Mexican Walmart stores being supplied by wind power, and 26 fuel cell sites in California providing local energy to Sam’s club and Walmart stores.

Source: Stockhouse.com
Image Credit: Red Bluff, California Turbine via The Walmart Greenroom 

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1kjqr)

Low Cost Cooling

Geothermal Home Heating What Is Geothermal Home Heating

I was visiting a friend from college this weekend, and as her husband had warned, I was woken early Saturday by the noise of the workman completing the installation of the geothermal heating and cooling system for the house.

It was a welcome wake-up to tell you the truth. Blistering heat is blanketing much of the eastern United States, the kind that kills people who can’t get relief. Though I’m no fan of air conditioning, it has become essential equipment in most U.S. homes — 87 percent of households now have it, up 20 percent since 1993 years ago.

But climate control comes at a cost. The average household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills, with nearly half of this going to heating and cooling. Saving money was one of the main reasons my friends installed a geothermal system. They say it should “cut their household heating and cooling costs by 70 percent.”

What struck me first was how quiet the system was compared to the average home AC, and the cool was more natural, more comfortable to the skin. But what truly sets geothermal apart is how much more energy efficient it is than electric heating and cooling. These systems can move as much as three to five times the energy they use in the process, which is why users can save hundreds of dollars in energy costs each year. And because geothermal systems are transferring heat, not creating it by burning something, they do not emit carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, or other greenhouse gasses which contribute to air pollution. In contrast, the average home with an AC and no geothermal is emitting roughly 2 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

More than 600,000 geothermal systems supply climate control in U.S. homes and other buildings, with new installations occurring at a rate of about 60,000 per year. Though a mere fraction of the market, recent policy developments are offering strong incentives for homeowners to install more. The 2008 economic stimulus bill, Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, includes an eight year extension (through 2016) of the 30 percent investment tax credit, with no upper limit, to all home installations of EnergyStar certified geothermal heat pumps.

Though the tax credit may cut the upfront costs in half, installing geothermal in your yard takes time and planning, and depending on where you live, may not even be possible. Actually, once planned, installing a geothermal system should take no more than a couple weeks, but that said, you are probably wondering whether there are any low cost cooling ideas that you can use at your house right now, to battle this week’s heat. And yes, there are. The secret lies in reducing the need for the AC by keeping light and heat to a minimum, creating breezeways in your house and being sure your equipment is the most energy efficient. Here are some specific suggestions to get you through the hottest days ahead:

Shade the house: Awnings, shutters and overhangs will provide a good defense against the summer sun, but you may also use trees and tall bushes to beautify your view and reduce the sunlight entering your windows.

Close the blinds: Shutting curtains, shades or blinds on the sunny side of the house can make a big difference particularly blinder venetian shades with highly reflective light colors can reduce heat build up in your home.

Let in cool airWhen it’s not too hot out, pull in cool air by cracking open lower story windows just one or two inches and place portable and window mounted fans and upstairs windows facing outward to remove the air that rises due to convection your home. This will create a stronger draft throughout the house that will keep the air cool without the use of AC. If the outside temperature is more than 77 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s better to shut all the windows and pull the shades.

Tell your AC what to do: A programmable thermostat lets you save money by not cooling your house when you’re not around to enjoy it. Set the temperature at 80 degrees Fahrenheit when you know you’ll be away, and when you are home set it at least 2 degrees higher than you would normally. A shift from 72 degrees Fahrenheit to 74 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer will leave the room just as comfortable but means real savings on your annual energy bill.

Upgrade your AC: Whether central air or window-mounted AC, if your cooling system is several years old you can most likely save on your energy bill by upgrading to new, more efficient models. The most efficient models use inverter technology which also makes them very quiet. Thirty percent tax credits are available for units 16 SEER and better. Depending on the age of your current unit, Energy Star-rated air conditioning could save you 10 percent to 30 percent of your cooling costs. Remember to clean or check the AC filter once a month as any buildup will restrict airflow and make it less efficient.

Install ceiling fans: Fans use 10 percent of the energy consumed by AC and can make a room feel 10 degrees cooler. Replacing your AC with a ceiling fan could save you a couple hundred dollars or more a year.

Give your appliances a break: Remember it’s summer. Dry your clothes on a clothes line. Grill outside, and dine by candle light. And turn off your computers and entertainment equipment at night.

Finally remember to take care of yourself on hot days. Drink lots of water. As you perspire, you lose water to dehydration and your body temperature rises. So replacing fluids is essential to keeping cool. Doctors recommend drinking at least two liters of water a day, a third on hot days. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, as they are packed with water, and avoid sugary drinks which are dehydrating. And to learn more about geothermal systems, click here.

Source: Huffington Post

East Africa to See Natural Gas Boom?

A huge swathe of natural gas reservoirs have been discovered off the East coast of Africa and are set to catapult the region into being a major natural gas player on the world scene.

Already, planned investments worth tens of billions of dollars actually exceed the gross domestic products of some host nations, including the regional powerhouse Kenya, and all the way down to the impoverished Mozambique.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, East Africa’s coastal region — which stretches out to the Seychelles — holds 441.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas; that’s approximately 50 percent more than in Saudi Arabia.

“The gas discoveries offshore in Mozambique and Tanzania are large and world-class, with potential for more to come, including prospects for an oil leg,” said Duncan Clarke, CEO of oil consulting company Global Pacific.

“These finds will lead to LNG (liquefied natural gas) plants … and will make the zone akin to the Northwest Shelf in Australia,” which can produce 23 billion cubic meters a year, he told AFP.

Baobab field next to Pemba bay, Pemba, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique.

For example, Houston-based Anadarko in June announced that it had found up to 60 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources in northern Mozambique, which led to the company proposing an investment of $15 billion to set up LNG facilities. Mozambique’s gross domestic product for 2011 was only $12 billion.

“It will bring a huge flow of foreign direct investment in the region that would contribute to rapid economic growth in the region,” said Silas Olang, east African coordinator from resources watchdog Revenue Watch Institute.

But there will be difficulties in setting up major industry in the region.

“There’s very limited infrastructure in place,” said Tim Dodson, vice president for exploration at Norway’s Statoil on the company website.

Mozambique is, again, a good example of the problems that will be faced. Pemba is a port city, and the closest for offshore drillers. It is located 3,000 kilometres north of the capital of Maputo, linked by dirt roads and with very little housing.

Not only that, but the countries in question lack the skilled workforce to set up such industries, with only 50 mining graduates a year.

Time will tell, but the hope is that the investment and risk of losing said investments will minimise the soon-to-be expected corruption so native to the region. This won’t be a problem solved anytime soon, though — production is planned for five years from now, and may take even longer.

“There could be the expectation that natural gas will be exploited tomorrow and we’ll benefit immediately,” said Olang. But that simply is not going to be the case.

Of course, the green community is a bit split on natural gas. Many see it as an important “bridge fuel” to more truly clean, renewable energy. However, others have shown that it’s effect on the climate is so bad that it’s not worth using as a bridge fuel (even if that’s all it would be used for, which seems debatable in the instance above), and it has also been linked to earthquakes on several occasions and pollution of local water supplies.

I know our readers are also a bit split on natural gas — what are your thoughts about all this?

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1fcKp)

15 Hot Tips for a Cool Summer / Save money, water, and energy

Tips for a safe and enjoyable summer:

1. Energy Star savings for your home: The average home spends almost 20 percent of its utility bill on cooling. These cooling bills can be lowered by simply changing out incandescent light bulbs with EPA’s Energy Star qualified lighting, which use less energy and produce approximately 75 percent less heat. Raising your thermostat by only two degrees and using your ceiling fan can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent too.http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.es_at_home

2. Increase your gas mileage: Obey the speed limit; go easy on the breaks and avoid hard accelerations; reduce your time idling; and unload unnecessary items in your trunk to reduce weight. If you’re not using your removable roof rack take it off to improve your fuel economy. http://www.fueleconomy.gov

3. Prevent skin cancer and be SunWise: Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. and is the most common cancer among 20 to 30-year-olds. Remember to practice safe sun habits.http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/actionsteps.html

4. Heading to the beach? Check the water: Americans take almost two billion trips to the beach every year. Beaches are a place to play, watch wildlife, fish, and swim. Learn more on how to plan a safe trip to the beach and check out state specific beach advisory and closing notifications.http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/beaches/whereyoulive_state.cfm

5. Take EPA’s apps with you on your smartphone: The AirNow app gives location-specific current air quality information to use to protect your health when planning daily activities and the Ultraviolet (UV) Index app provides daily and hourly forecast of the UV radiation levels from the sun so you can better prevent overexposure to the sun. http://m.epa.gov/apps/index.html

6. Enjoy the outdoors and capture the State of the Environment: Almost 40 years ago, EPA’s Documerica project captured thousands of images across the nation as EPA’s work was just beginning. Now it’s your chance to mark the progress and submit environmental photos to EPA’s State of the Environment photo project.http://blog.epa.gov/epplocations/about/

7. Protect yourself with insect repellents: Mosquitoes and ticks can carry diseases but you can protect yourself by choosing the right repellent and using it correctly. Read the product label before using; apply just enough to cover exposed skin and clothing; and look for the protection time that meets your needs. Children can use the same repellents as adults unless there is a restriction on the label.http://epa.gov/pesticides/insect/safe.htm

8. Water wisely: A large percentage of water we use at home is used outdoors. As much as 30 percent of that outdoor water use can be wasted due to evaporation by watering in the middle of the day. Water in the morning when winds are calm and temperatures are cool. Look for the new WaterSense labeled weather-based irrigation controller that uses local weather data to determine whether your sprinkler system should turn on.http://www.epa.gov/watersense

9. Clean greener: If you’re going to wash the car, deck, boat, or RV– be sure to look for the Design for the Environment (DfE) label to quickly identify and choose cleaning products that are safer for families and also help protect the environment. Look for the DfE label on grill cleaners as well. http://www.epa.gov/dfe

10. Improve your indoor air: About 90 percent of people’s time is spent indoors. While inside this summer, make sure to free your house of mold, test your home for radon, check your carbon monoxide detector and ask those who smoke to go outdoors. http://www.epa.gov/iaq

11. Check into an Energy Star hotel: On average, America’s 47,000 hotels spend more than $2,000 per available room each year on energy. Look for an Energy Star certified hotel–they perform in the top 25 percent of hotels nationwide, use an average of 35 percent less energy and emit an average of 35 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than peers. http://www.energystar.gov/buildinglist

12. Waste less and remember to recycle: Each year, Americans generate millions of tons of waste in homes and communities but it’s easy to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Recycled items such as glass can be used in roadway asphalt (glassphalt) and recovered plastic can be used in carpeting and park benches. Learn what you can do to waste less. http://www.epa.gov/waste/wycd/summer.htm

13. Season firewood: Summer is a great time to season firewood in preparation for fall and winter. Remember to split firewood to the proper size for your wood stove or fireplace, but no larger than 6 inches in diameter; stack firewood to allow air to circulate around it; cover the top of the stack to protect it from the rain; and store your firewood for at least 6 months before using it. http://www.epa.gov/burnwise

14. Looking for a summer project and tired of the heat? Try composting: Composting can be a fun and educational summer project that saves landfill space, helps feed the soil and prevents methane, a potent greenhouse gas. http://www.epa.gov/waste/conserve/rrr/composting/basic.htm

15. Let summer inspire you and submit Six Words for the Planet: Keep the creativity flowing beyond the school year and into the summer by submitting a meaningful story or idea in just six words.http://blog.epa.gov/blog/2012/04/sixwords/

Source – EPA