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Vocapedia > Transport > Cars > Electric cars, Hydrogen cars, Hybrid cars, Solar cars

 

 

 

Shift in power.

 

Illustration: David Simonds/Observer

 

Global shockwaves from electric cars

will be here sooner rather than later

G

Sunday 10 September 2017        07.00 BST

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/10/j
ourney-to-all-electric-car-future-shorter-than-thought

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenge of the Electric Car: Documentary Full 1080p HD        QualityIsNumber1        1 July 2016

YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ru89x1jmpq4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are Electric Cars Really Green?        PragerU        8 February 2016

YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17xh_VRrnMU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are hydrogen powered cars the future?        BBC News        8 June 2015

YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9plp8KsNq1k

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CNET On Cars - Road to the future: Toyota's big bet on hydrogen        CNET        8 December 2014

YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAFJTGfKp78

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

solar car        UK

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/15/
this-is-the-future-solar-powered-family-car-hailed-by-experts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

electric car        UK

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/10/
journey-to-all-electric-car-future-shorter-than-thought

 

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/11/
dysons-electric-car-development-could-become-the-next-tesla

 

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/11/
dysons-electric-car-development-could-become-the-next-tesla

 

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/01/
are-we-on-the-brink-of-an-electric-car-revolution

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/apr/26/
should-i-buy-an-electric-car

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/mar/25/
nissan-leaf-uk-car-showrooms

 

 

 

 

electric saloon

 

 

 

 

alternative-fuel cars > hybrids and electric cars        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/
business/wanted-or-not-alternative-fuel-cars-flood-auto-show.html

 

 

 

 

hydrogen-powered car / hydrogen car        USA        2006-2015

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/17/
automobiles/hydrogen-fuel-cell-cars-return-for-another-run.html

 

http://www.npr.org/2014/01/02/
259222659/move-over-electric-car-auto-companies-to-make-hydrogen-vehicles

 

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-05-20-
hydrogen-engine_x.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-04-22-
bush-earth-day_x.htm

 

 

 

 

hybrid        USA        2008

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121738122995795557.html
?mod=hpp_us_inside_today

 

 

 

 

meet Environmental Protection Agency automotive 2007 emission standards        USA

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-05-20-
hydrogen-engine_x.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

electric car        USA

 

https://www.nytimes.com/topic/subject/electric-and-hybrid-vehicles

 

 

https://www.npr.org/2019/06/29/
734525036/tesla-led-the-charge-but-more-premium-electric-vehicles-are-arriving

 

https://www.npr.org/2019/02/16/
694303169/as-more-electric-cars-arrive-whats-the-future-for-gas-powered-engines

 

 

 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/30/
business/tesla-factory-musk.html

 

 

 

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/11/17/
564777998/tesla-unveils-its-electric-semi-truck-and-adds-a-roadster

 

http://www.npr.org/2017/10/03/
555417831/out-of-the-gate-tesla-stumbles-on-mass-market-car

 

http://www.npr.org/2017/09/04/
545593956/so-you-want-to-buy-an-electric-car-it-requires-some-planning

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/29/
business/tesla-model-3-elon-musk.html

 

http://www.npr.org/2017/07/07/
535920505/tesla-bets-big-on-a-mass-market-electric-car

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2017/02/14/
514517425/in-americas-heartland-a-power-company-leads-charge-for-electric-cars

 

 

 

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/11/05/
454693583/how-a-folding-electric-vehicle-went-from-car-of-the-future-to-obsolete

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/03/
500604497/administration-gives-electric-car-charging-grid-a-boost

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/04/18/
474346868/a-rare-look-inside-the-gigafactory-tesla-hopes-will-revolutionize-energy-use

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/01/
472640001/a-tesla-for-the-masses-the-model-3-is-unveiled-in-california

 

 

 

 

http://www.npr.org/2015/12/14/
459637364/what-s-driving-the-electric-car-trend-in-china

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/11/05/
454693583/how-a-folding-electric-vehicle-went-from-car-of-the-future-to-obsolete

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/17/
automobiles/hydrogen-fuel-cell-cars-return-for-another-run.html

 

http://www.npr.org/2015/02/21/
387906258/apple-must-think-different-on-cars-or-join-ranks-of-failed-new-brands

 

 

 

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2014/03/11/
288611696/norway-takes-the-lead-in-electric-cars-with-generous-subsidies

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2013/02/23/
172778466/flipping-the-switch-what-it-takes-to-prioritize-electric-cars

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/
sunday-review/the-electric-car-unplugged.html

 

http://www.npr.org/2011/01/14/
132911990/electric-cars-steal-the-spotlight-at-auto-show

 

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?
storyId=128911975 - Aug. 1, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/15/
business/15electric.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/26/
arts/26iht-design26.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/03/
technology/start-ups/03hawaii.html

http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2008-09-23-
chrysler-electric_N.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

luxury electric car        USA

 

https://www.npr.org/2019/06/29/
734525036/tesla-led-the-charge-but-more-premium-electric-vehicles-are-arriving

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tesla > maker of electric vehicles        USA

 

https://www.npr.org/2019/06/29/
734525036/tesla-led-the-charge-but-more-premium-electric-vehicles-are-arriving

 

 

 

 

https://www.npr.org/2018/08/07/
636412162/8-years-after-going-public-elon-musk-wants-to-take-tesla-private

 

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/jul/03/
all-humanity-has-left-the-area-the-cities-paying-for-tesla-gigafactory

 

https://www.npr.org/2018/07/02/
625250383/elon-musk-hails-tesla-reaching-goal-of-5-000-model-3s-a-week

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/30/
business/tesla-factory-musk.html

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/05/03/
608103257/elon-musk-to-analysts-stop-with-the-boring-bonehead-questions-on-tesla

 

 

 

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/11/17/
564777998/tesla-unveils-its-electric-semi-truck-and-adds-a-roadster

 

http://www.npr.org/2017/10/03/
555417831/out-of-the-gate-tesla-stumbles-on-mass-market-car

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/29/
business/tesla-model-3-elon-musk.html

 

http://www.npr.org/2017/07/07/
535920505/tesla-bets-big-on-a-mass-market-electric-car

 

 

 

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/04/18/
474346868/a-rare-look-inside-the-gigafactory-tesla-hopes-will-revolutionize-energy-use

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/01/
472640001/a-tesla-for-the-masses-the-model-3-is-unveiled-in-california

 

 

 

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/02/27/
283435192/any-way-its-measured-teslas-5b-gigafactory-is-huge

 

 

 

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2013/02/25/
171824617/electric-car-review-dust-up-may-put-brakes-on-tesla-profits

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2012/09/25/
161700525/teslas-big-gamble-can-the-electric-car-go-mainstream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

electric car > General Motors > 2011 Chevrolet Volt 4dr Sdn        USA

http://autos.nytimes.com/2011/Chevrolet/Volt/238/
4117/329463/researchOverview.aspx

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/
opinion/sunday/26car.html

 

 

 

 

electric car market        USA

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2017/02/13/
514513439/rollout-of-chevy-bolt-may-mark-turning-point-for-electric-car-market

 

 

 

 

electric car charging grid        USA

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/03/
500604497/administration-gives-electric-car-charging-grid-a-boost

 

 

 

 

 

charging station for electric cars        USA

http://www.npr.org/2017/09/04/
545593956/so-you-want-to-buy-an-electric-car-it-requires-some-planning

 

 

 

 

 

eco-car        UK

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/feb/27/
wind-powered-car-crosses-australia

 

 

 

 

 

green car        UK

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jan/27/
diesel-engine-fumes-worse-petrol

 

 

 

 

 

electric cars > batteries        USA

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/04/18/
474346868/a-rare-look-inside-the-gigafactory-tesla-hopes-will-revolutionize-energy-use

 

 

 

 

 

electric car charging grid        USA

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/03/
500604497/administration-gives-electric-car-charging-grid-a-boost

 

 

 

 

 

environment-friendly minibuses and small taxis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawaii Endorses

Plan for Electric Cars

 

December 3, 2008

The New York Times

By JOHN MARKOFF

 

SAN FRANCISCO — The State of Hawaii and the Hawaiian Electric Company on Tuesday endorsed an effort to build an alternative transportation system based on electric vehicles with swappable batteries and an “intelligent” battery recharging network.

The plan, the brainchild of the former Silicon Valley software executive Shai Agassi, is an effort to overcome the major hurdles to electric cars — slow battery recharging and limited availability.

By using existing electric car technologies, coupled with an Internet-connected web of tens of thousands of recharging stations, he thinks his company, Better Place L.L.C. of Palo Alto, Calif., will make all-electric vehicles feasible.

Mr. Agassi has succeeded in assembling a growing consortium of national governments, regional planning organizations and one major car company. Tuesday’s announcement follows earlier endorsements from Israel, Denmark, Australia, Renault-Nissan and a coalition of Northern California localities supporting the idea leading to the deployment of an electric vehicle with a range of greater than 100 miles, beginning at the end of 2010 in Israel. The company plans test deployments of vehicles in 2009 and broad commercial sales in 2012.

Mr. Agassi has raised $200 million in private financing for his idea. In October, he obtained a commitment from the Macquarie Capital Group to raise an additional $1 billion for an Australian project.

On Tuesday, he said that he was optimistic about his project despite the dismal investment and credit markets because his network could provide investors with an annuity. Users of his recharging network would subscribe to the service, paying for access and for the miles they drive.

Given the downturn in the mortgage market, he said that investors are looking for new classes of assets that will provide dependable revenue streams over many years. “I believe the new asset class is batteries,” he said. “When you have a driver in a car using a battery, nobody is going to cut their subscription and stop driving.”

Mr. Agassi has argued that even if oil prices continued to decline, his electric recharging network — which ideally would use renewable energy sources like solar and wind — could provide competitively priced energy for a new class of vehicles.

He supposes that his network idea will be appropriate first for “island” economies that typically have significantly higher energy costs, and then will become more cost-competitive as it is scaled up.

“We always knew Hawaii would be the perfect model,” he said in a telephone interview. “The typical driving plan is low and leisurely, and people are smiling.”

Hawaii is a relatively small market with high energy costs. The state has about 1.2 million cars and replaces 70,000 to 120,000 vehicles annually.

Drivers on the islands also rarely make trips of more than 100 miles, meaning there will be less need for his proposed battery recharging stations. Part of Mr. Agassi’s model depends on quick-change service stations to swap batteries for drivers who need to use their cars before they have completely recharged their batteries.

Peter Rosegg, a spokesman for the Hawaiian Electric Company, said that Better Place would become a major customer for electricity and was also planning to invest in renewable energy sources that would be connected to the electric grid.

“It’s going to be a nonexclusive agreement, but so far they’re the only one that has shown up,” Mr. Rosegg said.

In late November, the mayors of San Francisco and other major Bay Area cities endorsed the Better Place network to help create an electric recharging network by 2012. The company estimates that it will cost $1 billion to build a charging network in the Bay Area that may create as many as half a million charging stations.

Despite challenges, the Better Place model is promising, said Daniel M. Kammen, a professor in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley. It could appeal to owners of fleets of vehicles and to early adopter customers who are willing to work through the difficulties that will inevitably accompany a new transportation system. “It has a lot of promising features,” he said.

Hawaii Endorses Plan for Electric Cars,
NYT,
3.12.2008,
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/03/
technology/start-ups/03hawaii.html

 

 

 

 

Waiting Game:

Patience Pays

When Shopping for a Hybrid

 

July 30, 2008

The Wall Street Journal

By KAREN BLUMENTHAL

 

So you want to buy a Prius. I do, too -- and both of us will have to get in line.

When gasoline prices hit $4 a gallon a couple of months ago, demand for smaller cars -- hybrids and Priuses in particular -- soared. At many Toyota dealers, the wait for the popular hybrid has grown to roughly three months since May, and prices have climbed steeply, too.

On the face of it, that would indicate the dealers hold all the cards. But in the wacky and weird world of new-car buying, that extraordinary demand could turn out to be a good thing for patient buyers. Because the lead time is so long, picky but determined buyers have the unusual luxury of almost custom-ordering their cars. That can be cheaper than negotiating for whatever cars happen to be on a dealer's lot, especially if those have expensive options you don't want.

First, though, you should figure out if a Prius -- or any hybrid -- will provide the savings you expect. The Prius's gas mileage averages in the 45-miles-per-gallon range; that's impressive, but the base price, following a $400 increase in May and a $500 jump that goes into effect Friday, is fairly steep for a car of its size, especially if your main goal is to save money by buying less gasoline. Next month, the basic Prius will start at $22,720, while the sportier Touring version will have a base price just under $25,000, including destination charges.

That's more than the roughly $21,000 for a basic Camry, which is larger, and more than other reasonably fuel-efficient sedans, like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Altima or Ford Focus. It's worth calculating your fuel savings to see how long it will take to make up the price difference.

The price has shot up, too. Kelley Blue Book, which tracks the actual prices paid, says the average Prius now sells for $1,000 to $2,000 above the manufacturer's suggested retail price. Toyota of Richardson, in the Dallas area, is charging $2,500 above MSRP, for example. Earlier this year, you could negotiate a price a few hundred dollars below MSRP.

But you don't have to pay a premium if you can shop around. Toyota frowns on prices above the sticker because it angers consumers, and several dealers contacted around the country said they were selling the cars at the sticker price.

If you're committed for environmental reasons or want to make a political statement with that pointy Prius nose, you'll have to wait. Toyota Motor Corp. supplied about 175,000 of the cars to the U.S. last year, when there was no waiting, and expects to offer about the same number this year, largely because it can't get enough batteries and other components to boost production.

May and June were particularly tight, with Prius sales down 36% from a year earlier, when dealers had more inventory. Currently, Toyota says its dealers have a one- to two-day supply, meaning that virtually every car is spoken for before it reaches the lot.

Dealers get Prius allocations from Toyota roughly every two weeks, and because they know exactly what their buyers want, they can request cars that fit customers' orders. With supply so tight, the results don't always match up, says Ray Murphy, new-car manager at Toyota of Des Moines, Iowa, where about 100 people are on a Prius waiting list. Those deliveries go to buyers who are less particular and more willing to pay for color and options they didn't necessarily want. In other words, the more flexible you are, the more quickly you'll get a car.

The best strategy for buyers is to email multiple dealers within an hour's drive to see what they're charging and how willing they are to help you find the exact car you want. Many dealers require a $500 refundable deposit to get on their Prius waiting lists.

When I first shopped for a Prius in February, a dealer in the Dallas area had a car in the color I wanted, but it included a $2,580 option package with a six-CD changer and Bluetooth, as well as $350 of extras like "lusterizing sealant."

With $900 off the MSRP, the price was still $25,400. Even if I had negotiated brilliantly and brought the price down a bit further, I would have paid for options I didn't want.

When I finally joined a waiting list, Toyota had raised the base price. But I was able to specify a $575 basic-option package and a couple of extras that could be easily added. Though paying MSRP felt almost immoral, my car would cost about $750 less than the one I found back in February.

Waiting Game: Patience Pays When Shopping for a Hybrid,
WSJ,
30.7.2008,
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121738122995795557.html

 

 

 

 

 

McCain Proposes a $300 Million Prize

for a Next-Generation Car Battery

 

June 24, 2008
The New York Times
By MICHAEL COOPER

 

FRESNO, Calif. — In the 18th century the British offered a £20,000 prize to anyone who figured out how to calculate longitude. More recently, Netflix offered a million dollars for improving movie recommendations on its Web site. Now Senator John McCain is suggesting a new national prize: He said here Monday that if elected president he would offer $300 million to anyone who could build a better car battery.

The high cost of gasoline — a gallon of regular was selling for $4.65 at a gas station near California State University, Fresno, where Mr. McCain spoke — has made energy policy a big issue in this year’s presidential campaign, and barely a day has passed recently without one of the candidates weighing in with new energy policies, proposals and attacks on opponents.

Mr. McCain, of Arizona, alienated some environmentalists last week during a speech in Houston when he dropped his opposition to allowing offshore drilling for oil; this week, in a swing through California, he spoke about trying to wean the nation from its dependence on oil. He called for improving the enforcement of fuel economy standards, building more cars that could run on alternative fuels, dropping the tariff on imports of sugar-based ethanol from Brazil and offering big tax credits for nonpolluting cars.

“I further propose we inspire the ingenuity and resolve of the American people,” Mr. McCain said, “by offering a $300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.”

He said the winner should deliver power at 30 percent of current costs. “That’s one dollar, one dollar, for every man, woman and child in the U.S. — a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency,” he said.

The Obama campaign countered by noting that Mr. McCain had voted against improving fuel efficiency standards in the Senate. Jason Furman, the Obama campaign’s economic policy director, said in a conference call that Mr. McCain had been focused on “meaningful relief for oil companies that are struggling with record profits.”

In his speech in Fresno, Mr. McCain called for automakers to act more quickly to build so-called flex-fuel vehicles than can run on alternative fuel. He approvingly cited the example of Brazil, which he said had moved to building 70 percent of all new vehicles that way in just three years, and he issued a not-so-veiled threat to automakers.

“Whether it takes a meeting with automakers during my first month in office, or my signature on an act of Congress,” he said, “we will meet the goal of a swift conversion of American vehicles away from oil.”

And Mr. McCain emphasized one of his differences with Mr. Obama, without mentioning him by name, by restating his opposition to subsidies for corn-based ethanol, which Mr. Obama supports.

“As taxpayers, we foot the bill for the enormous subsidies paid to corn producers,” he said. “And as consumers, we pay extra at the pump because of government barriers to cheaper products from abroad.”

Mr. McCain, who spoke against corn-based ethanol when he ran for president in 2000, said this time around that he became a supporter of it when oil grew too expensive, but he has said he still opposes subsidies for ethanol.

While the McCain and Obama campaigns were sparring over energy, Mr. Obama was in Albuquerque, where he focused on the economy and working women, a critical constituency. He journeyed deep into the prosaic land of gut-level economics at the Flying Star Café Commissary, where talk of globalization and vertical economies yields to “how can I afford to make it through this week and the one after that?”

Speaking to a group of women, Mr. Obama, of Illinois, was offered a glimpse into one of the realities of the American economy: that wages for the working-class have lagged far behind those of upper-income Americans. Some of the women at the commissary, like Carrie Hummel, 28, told of holding down multiple jobs and still barely being able to find the money to pay for gas, much less for her health insurance. “You know, this life is pretty hard,” she said.

Ms. Hummel was followed by a woman who asked Mr. Obama if he would consider waiving taxes on tips, and another who asked about the cost of college tuition, which has risen at a rate far outstripping inflation.

Mr. Obama offered a variety of proposals, including requiring employers t0 provide seven paid sick days for all employees (he has not specified the size of the employer) and extending the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover any company with 25 or more employees (the act now applies to those with 50 or more employees).

He also criticized Mr. McCain over his opposition to legislative action to help bring wages of women up to those of men. The McCain campaign fired back, saying the legislation to do so would have been a boon to trial lawyers, who have supported Mr. Obama’s campaign.



Michael Powell contributed reporting from Albuquerque,

and Larry Rohter from New York.

    McCain Proposes a $300 Million Prize
    for a Next-Generation Car Battery, NYT, 24.6.2008,
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/24/us/politics/24campaign.html

 

 

 

 

 

Gas Prices Send Surge of Riders

to Mass Transit

 

May 10, 2008
The New York Times
By CLIFFORD KRAUSS

 

DENVER — With the price of gas approaching $4 a gallon, more commuters are abandoning their cars and taking the train or bus instead.

Mass transit systems around the country are seeing standing-room-only crowds on bus lines where seats were once easy to come by. Parking lots at many bus and light rail stations are suddenly overflowing, with commuters in some towns risking a ticket or tow by parking on nearby grassy areas and in vacant lots.

“In almost every transit system I talk to, we’re seeing very high rates of growth the last few months,” said William W. Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association.

“It’s very clear that a significant portion of the increase in transit use is directly caused by people who are looking for alternatives to paying $3.50 a gallon for gas.”

Some cities with long-established public transit systems, like New York and Boston, have seen increases in ridership of 5 percent or more so far this year. But the biggest surges — of 10 to 15 percent or more over last year — are occurring in many metropolitan areas in the South and West where the driving culture is strongest and bus and rail lines are more limited.

Here in Denver, for example, ridership was up 8 percent in the first three months of the year compared with last year, despite a fare increase in January and a slowing economy, which usually means fewer commuters. Several routes on the system have reached capacity, particularly at rush hour, for the first time.

“We are at a tipping point,” said Clarence W. Marsella, chief executive of the Denver Regional Transportation District, referring to gasoline prices.

Transit systems in metropolitan areas like Minneapolis, Seattle, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Francisco reported similar jumps. In cities like Houston, Nashville, Salt Lake City, and Charlotte, N.C., commuters in growing numbers are taking advantage of new bus and train lines built or expanded in the last few years. The American Public Transportation Association reports that localities with fewer than 100,000 people have also experienced large increases in bus ridership.

In New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority reports that ridership was up the first three months of the year by more than 5 percent on the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro-North Railroad, while M.T.A. bus ridership was up 10.9 percent. New York City subway use was up 6.8 percent for January and February. Ridership on New Jersey Transit trains was up more than 5 percent for the first three months of the year.

The increase in transit use coincides with other signs that American motorists are beginning to change their driving habits, including buying smaller vehicles. The Energy Department recently predicted that Americans would consume slightly less gasoline this year than last — for the first yearly decline since 1991.

Oil prices broke yet another record on Friday, climbing $2.27, to $125.96 a barrel. The national average for regular unleaded gasoline reached $3.67 a gallon, up from $3.04 a year ago, according to AAA.

But meeting the greater demand for mass transit is proving difficult. The cost of fuel and power for public transportation is about three times that of four years ago, and the slowing economy means local sales tax receipts are down, so there is less money available for transit services. Higher steel prices are making planned expansions more expensive.

Typically, mass transit systems rely on fares to cover about a third of their costs, so they depend on sales taxes and other government funding. Few states use gas tax revenue for mass transit.

In Denver, transportation officials expected to pay $2.62 a gallon for diesel this year, but they are now paying $3.20. Every penny increase costs the Denver Regional Transportation District an extra $100,000 a year. And it is bracing for a $19 million shortfall in sales taxes this year from original projections.

“I’d like to put more buses on the street,” Mr. Marsella said. “I can’t expand service as much as I’d like to.”

Average annual growth from sales tax revenue for the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, a rail service that connects San Francisco with Oakland, has been 4.5 percent over the last 15 years. It expects that to fall to 2 percent this year, and electricity costs are rising.

“This is a year of abundant caution and concern,” said Dorothy W. Dugger, BART’s general manager, even though ridership on the line was up nearly 5 percent in the first quarter of the year.

Nevertheless, Ms. Dugger is happy that mass transit is winning over converts. “The future of mass transit in this country has never been brighter,” she said.

Other factors may be driving people to mass transit, too. Wireless computers turn travel time into productive work time, and more companies are offering workers subsidies to take buses or trains. Traffic congestion is getting worse in many cities, and parking more expensive.

Michael Brewer, an accountant who had always driven the 36-mile trip to downtown Houston from the suburb of West Belford, said he had been thinking about switching to the bus for the last two years. The final straw came when he put $100 of gas into his Pontiac over four days a couple of weeks ago.

“Finally I was ready to trade my independence for the savings,” he said while waiting for a bus.

Brayden Portillo, a freshman at the University of Colorado Denver, drove from his home in the northern suburbs to the downtown campus in his Jeep Cherokee the entire first semester of the school year, enjoying the rap and disco music blasting from his CD player.

He switched to the bus this semester because he was spending $40 a week on gas — half his salary as a part-time store clerk. “Finally, I thought this is stupid,” he said, and he is using the savings to pay down a credit card debt.

The sudden jump in ridership comes after several years of steady, gradual growth. Americans took 10.3 billion trips on public transportation last year, up 2.1 percent from 2006. Transit managers are predicting growth of 5 percent or more this year, the largest increase in at least a decade.

“If we are in a recession or economic downturn, we should be seeing a stagnation or decrease in ridership, but we are not,” said Daniel Grabauskas, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which serves the Boston area. “Fuel prices are without question the single most important factor that is driving people to public transportation.”

Some cities are seeing spectacular gains. The Charlotte Area Transit System, which has a new light rail line, reported that it logged more than two million trips in February, up more than 34 percent from February 2007.

Caltrain, the commuter rail line that serves the San Francisco Peninsula and the Santa Clara Valley, set a record for average weekday ridership in February of 36,993, a 9.3 increase from 2007, according to its most recent public calculation.

The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, which operates a commuter rail system from Miami to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, posted a rise of more than 20 percent in rider numbers this March and April as monthly ridership climbed to 350,000.

“Nobody believed that people would actually give up their cars to ride public transportation,” said Joseph J. Giulietti, executive director of the authority. “But in the last year, and last several months in particular, we have seen exactly that.”

    Gas Prices Send Surge of Riders to Mass Transit, NYT, 11.5.2008,
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/10/business/10transit.html?hp

 

 

 

 

 

Gas prices rattle Americans

 

USA Today
By Judy Keen and Paul Overberg

 

Record high gas prices are prompting Americans to drive less for the first time in nearly three decades, squeezing family budgets and causing major shifts in driving habits, federal data and a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll show.
As prices near — or in some places top — $4 a gallon, most Americans say they are cutting back on other household spending, seriously considering buying more fuel-efficient cars and consolidating their daily errands to save fuel.

Americans worry that steep gas costs are here to stay: eight in 10 say they doubt today's high prices are temporary, the poll finds. It's the first time such a large majority sees pricey gas as a long-term problem.

The $4 mark, compounded by a sagging economy, could be a tipping point that spurs people to make permanent lifestyle changes to reduce dependence on foreign oil and help the environment, says Steve Reich, a program director at the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida.

"This is a more significant shift in behavior than I've seen through other fluctuations in gasoline prices," he says. "People are starting to understand that this resource … is not something to be taken for granted or wasted."

The average price of a gallon of gas nationwide is $3.65 — the highest ever, adjusted for inflation. California's average: $3.90 a gallon. The federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects a $3.66 per-gallon average this summer.

The pinch is reshaping the way Americans use their cars:

• February was the fourth consecutive month in which miles driven in the USA fell, an analysis of Federal Highway Administration data show.

There hasn't been a similar decline since 1979, when shortages created long lines at pumps. In the 12 months ending in February, the latest month for which data are available, miles driven fell 0.4% from a year earlier. The last drop of that scale was in 1980-81.

The decline, while small, is significant because the U.S. population and number of households, drivers and vehicles grow by 1% to 2% a year. A gallon of gas has gone up 59 cents since February, suggesting the trend seems likely to continue. The EIA expects demand for gas to shrink 0.4% this summer from 2007 and fall 0.3% for the year. It would be the first dip in annual consumption since 1991.

• In 2004 and 2005, about one-third of Americans said they cut spending because of rising gas prices. In the new poll, 60% say they are trimming other expenses. Half of households with incomes below $20,000 say they face severe hardships because of soaring gas prices. Three-fourths of households making $75,000 or more also are changing how they use their cars.

Dawn Morris, a consultant in Dover, Del., is blunt about how gas prices are affecting her family.

"It's killing us," she says. She and her husband often stay home on weekends, and when she balances her checkbook, "every third line it says gas: $20, $30, $50."

• Americans' efforts to conserve gas are evident across the USA. At Don Jacobs Used Cars in Lexington, Ky., salesman Tony Morphis says customers are dumping gas guzzlers and ask first about gas mileage when they shop for replacements. Sonya Jensen, owner of Cat's Paw Marina in St. Augustine, Fla., says some boat owners are considering selling their watercraft. At Cycle Cave in Albuquerque, Hervey Hawk says customers are "dragging 30- to 40-year-old bikes out of the garage" and having them fixed so they can pedal to work.

• In the poll, eight in 10 Americans say they use the most fuel-efficient car they own whenever possible. Three-fourths hunt for the cheapest gas available. Six in 10 share rides with friends or neighbors.

Three-fourths say they are getting tuneups, turning off the air-conditioning or driving slower to improve mileage.

Slower speeds might help save lives, says Dennis Hughes, safety chief for the Wisconsin Transportation Department. There have been fewer driving deaths each month since October compared with a year earlier. A harsh winter and record gas prices "conspired to keep a lot of people off the road, or at least to slow down," he says.

Most of those polled expect things to get worse: 54% say they expect gas prices to reach $6 a gallon in the next five years.

For now, they are rethinking the ways they get around, where they buy a home and what they do for fun.

    Gas prices rattle Americans, UT, 8.5.2008,
    http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/
    2008-05-08-gasprices_N.htm

 

 

 

 

 

A Pioneering Driver Spins Tales,

Not Wheels

 

May 8, 2008
The New York Times
By FRANK LITSKY

 

FREWSBURG, N.Y. — There was a faraway look in Lloyd Moore’s eyes as he recalled racing against a Nascar legend.

“That Petty was a tough driver, good guy,” he said. “We became good friends, but it almost didn’t happen. Once, in Detroit, he booted me, hit my car in the rear. He teed me off. Afterward, I asked him what his idea was. He said, ‘It was just an accident on purpose.’ We both laughed and we shook hands. He was always smiling. All the Pettys smile.”

This Petty was not Kyle, who is 47 and close to retiring as a driver. It was not Richard, Kyle’s father, who is 70 and still the icon of the sport. This was Lee Petty, Richard’s father, who died in 2000 at 86.

Moore, his contemporary, will turn 96 next month. Nascar says he is its oldest living driver. In an interview last week at his home here, he gave evidence that he may be its best storyteller, too.

He lives 80 miles south of Buffalo in the farmhouse where he was born. His village, in the foothills of the Alleghenies, has two service stations, one full-time police officer, no stoplights and road forks that do not show on maps.

Moore drove from 1949 to 1955 in the Grand National series, a predecessor of the Sprint Cup. In his 49 races, he won once, finished in the top five 13 times and in the top 10 23 times. Most of his career earnings of $10,493 went to the car owner. He often paid for his meals on the road.

That was Nascar in its infancy, when many stock car racers made a living as moonshiners delivering illegal booze.

“They were Southern boys,” Moore said. “No one would admit it, but the woods were full of stills. They would deliver a batch, and the cops would chase them. They’d outrun the cops because they had bigger engines in their cars.”

After races in the South, Moore and Petty often drove to the Petty home in Randleman, N.C., and sunned themselves on the lawn. Young Richard would join them. One day there, Moore learned about moonshine life.

“I told Lee we had a guy in our garage who loves to taste that medicine,” Moore said. “Lee drove me to an open well where there were ropes. He pulled the ropes and pulled up a basket with a lot of bottles with corks. He gave me one bottle and said to give it to my friend. I did, and my friend said, ‘Take off the cork.’ He smelled it and said, ‘That’s it, all right.’ ”

Moore’s first Nascar race was in Heidelberg, Pa., outside Pittsburgh. Lee Petty won. Moore was sixth and earned $150, which he split with the car owner.

The fifth-place finisher was Sara Christian.

“I got raspberries from the guys at the track,” Moore said, “and when I got home it was just as bad. Beaten by a woman? Hah, hah.”

His one victory in Nascar came in 1950 at Winchester Speedway in Indiana over a half-mile dirt track. He finished the season fourth in points. His teammate, Bill Rexford, won the title. Among Moore’s celebrated rivals were Buck Baker, Fireball Roberts, Curtis Turner, and the brothers Tim and Fonty Flock.

Moore’s car owner was Julian Buesink, a car dealer.

“We took cars off the showroom floor and drove them to the next race,” Moore said. “Then we reinforced the wheels and maybe got away with doing something with the shocks and steering. We all did it. We never got caught. After the race, we’d drive the car back to Julie’s used-car lot.

“One day, we took Julie’s wife’s car, a Mercury, and it rolled over in practice. I hurt my neck. He got her a new car fast.”

The fast driving was not confined to the racetrack.

“After one race, we were driving home on the Pennsylvania Turnpike,” Moore said. “Bill Rexford was in front of us and Julie was sitting with me. Julie said, ‘Will this thing go any faster?’ So Bill and I started racing side by side on the Pennsylvania Turnpike at 100 miles an hour.”

In Moore’s early years, he struggled to find racing time. He was the only boy among five children, and when his father lost a leg in a farm accident when Lloyd was 5, he had to take much of the workload. He quit high school after a year and a half to maintain the farm. He began racing at 18.

“I would run a tractor around the farm at maybe 12 or 13 miles an hour,” he said. “Then we raced cars on the roads. There were no speed limits then, so the cops couldn’t get us for speeding. They called it reckless driving.”

He raced Model A Fords in the mid-1930s in a little gravel pit, now a reservoir, in Onoville and at a half-mile horse racing track in Leon, N.Y.

“There were 12 or 15 of us,” Moore said. “We paid a $1.50 entry fee and put the money in a hat. That was the prize money. We also raced at Satan’s Bowl of Death in Sugar Grove, Pa. That was an obstacle course: uphill, downhill, through a stream, through the woods. I never dreamed auto racing would go this far.”

He also worked at a Studebaker garage. One day, Rexford asked to borrow his helmet because he was going to a race in Nascar. Moore said he would not mind doing that, either. Rexford told Buesink, the car owner, and soon Rexford had a teammate.

In 1945, Moore bought a plane. He never took a flying lesson, but he said he learned from a handbook. On his first flight, he took off and rose to 100 feet when the engine quit. He crashed in the woods, but escaped serious injury.

“I forgot to turn on the gas,” he said.

Moore, who owned a school bus business until he retired in 1974, now finds adventure watching Nascar races on television. He does not seem thrilled.

“We drove maybe 110 to 120 miles an hour at Daytona and far less on smaller tracks,” he said. “Now they might hit 220. I never thought they would go that fast. That’s O.K., but I don’t like all the talk on TV before the races. It never ends. It’s Hollywood: too much show, not enough racing.

“Those ads on cars and uniforms are ridiculous. I wore a helmet, T-shirt and chopped-off pants. These guys look like a Christmas tree. And at a time when some people don’t have money to buy food, these guys spend so much on gas and tires. But I watch the races on Sundays, although my eyes get kind of dreary because the races are so long.”

His wife of 61 years, Virginia, amended that.

“He watches the beginning of races,” she said, “and I wake him up for the end.”

Moore raised 6 daughters and has 14 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren. All live within 25 miles. He stopped driving three years ago because of double vision.

“I don’t like to go too many places,” he said. “I figure I’ve traveled enough.”

In March, Moore slipped in mud and broke his right ankle, so he uses a wheelchair or a walker.

“I drive him to the doctor and church,” Virginia, 84, said. “Except for that, we don’t go out a lot because he’s not up to it.”

One frequent visitor is Reggie Holland, 53, who lives nearby.

“He grew up with my uncle and I’ve known him my whole life,” Holland said of Moore. “He’s a sweet old man, like your grandpa. He’s pretty darn sharp. Give him a refresher, and everything comes out.”

Moore seems happy, if ambivalent.

“My driving career ended because I realized I should be doing more work on the farm,” he said. “I had a lot of kids to feed and my mother and father to take care of. I had been on the road long enough. It was the right decision. I never wanted to go back to racing. I haven’t been to a track since. It seems like when you give it up, you give it up.

“But if I didn’t have such a big family, I would have raced probably another 10 years. There’s nothing like sliding into a car and competing. I like speed. I like the competition. I miss it.”

    A Pioneering Driver Spins Tales, Not Wheels, NYT, 8.5.2008,
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/08/sports/othersports/08nascar.html

 

 

 

 

 

GM Announces New Hybrid System

 

March 4, 2008
Filed at 9:34 a.m. ET
The New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors Corp. says it expects to bring its first lithium-ion battery powered hybrid engine system to market in North America in 2010.

The world's largest automaker by sales was to announce the hybrid system Tuesday at the Geneva International Motor Show, saying the new battery will deliver three times the power of GM's current nickel-metal-hydride batteries.

Automakers and battery companies across the globe have been racing to develop lithium-ion technology, seen by many as the key to mass producing hybrid vehicles powered by conventional and electric motors. The batteries also are essential in producing the next generation of electric cars.

Daimler AG plans to introduce a gasoline-electric hybrid version of its Mercedes-Benz flagship S-Class luxury sedan that also uses a lithium-ion battery starting next year.

Lithium-ion technology already is widely used in consumer electronics, but now is being adapted to meet demanding automotive requirements. The batteries are lighter than other batteries, but cost and concerns about overheating have delayed their use.

Lithium-ion batteries common in laptops are smaller, yet more powerful than the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in gas-electric hybrids like Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius.

The GM and Daimler announcements in Geneva indicate increasing confidence about lithium-ion technology.

In addition, Toyota said in December it was preparing to start mass producing lithium-ion batteries for low-emission vehicles.

GM said the new hybrid system eventually will spread worldwide, and it expects sales volumes to exceed 100,000 vehicles per year. The system would build on GM's current hybrids, reducing engineering costs and the cost to consumers, the company said.

The battery system would be paired with a wide range of GM engines, including turbocharged gasoline, diesel and biofuel power plants. It would be used in multiple GM models across all brands, but the company would not say which models would get the new system.

The new system will produce a 15 percent to 20 percent increase in fuel economy over what a nonhybrid vehicle would get in 2010, GM spokesman Brian Corbett said.

The company said the hybrid system would debut in North America before the Chevrolet Volt, which is an electric car with a small conventional motor used to recharge the batteries. The company hopes to bring the Volt to market in 2010 as well.

GM said in a statement that the new hybrid system would save fuel by turning the engine off at idle and cutting off fuel during deceleration. It would offer brief electric-only power, the company said in a statement.

    GM Announces New Hybrid System, NYT, 4.3.2008,
    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/business/AP-GM-Hybrids.html

 

 

 

 

 

In Many Communities,

It’s Not Easy Going Green

 

February 7, 200
The New York Times
By FELICITY BARRINGER

 

ARLINGTON, Va. — This urban suburb of Washington seems well-prepared for a leading role in the green revolution embraced by hundreds of the nation’s cities, counties and towns.

For decades, Arlington County’s development has been consciously clustered around its subway line. There is abundant open space to plant thousands of trees. Residents also seem eager to cut back on their own energy use.

Jose R. Fernandez, who moved here last year and works at the nearby national headquarters of the National Guard, chose to settle in Arlington because he does not need a car. “I can go anywhere on the bus,” Mr. Fernandez said, “or I can ride my bike anywhere.”

But even in Arlington, county officials are reckoning with the fact that though green is the dream, the shade of civic achievement is closer to olive drab. Constraints on budgets, legal restrictions by states, and people’s unwillingness to change sometimes put brakes on ambitious plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Emissions are stubborn things. In Arlington, emissions per capita are now 15 tons annually and rising. In Sonoma County, Calif., the figure is close to nine tons. Arlington is not alone in bumping up against obstacles.

“We have been doing things like filling potholes and reducing crime since cities began,” said David N. Cicilline, the mayor of Providence, R.I., but energy efficiency requires “a whole new infrastructure to evaluate and measure.”

When Providence officials pushed for new police cars with four cylinders instead of six, to save gasoline, there was pushback — unsuccessful — from police officers who preferred more powerful engines to pursue speeders or criminals. Cleveland’s plans to retrofit a local hot-water plant, produce new electricity and save tons of greenhouse gas emissions, molder in a file. It would cost $200 million, and there is no money — the tax base, left ragged by the loss of population and industry over the last two decades, has been hit hard again by the subprime mortgage crisis.

Nearly 1,200 miles away, in Austin, Tex., — a city that ranks high on any list of green strivers — some residents want to help but do not feel they can afford it. DeVonna Garcia’s family won an award for its beautiful outdoor display of Christmas lights — but she stayed with her old-fashioned incandescent bulbs, hearing that a friend paid $600 for energy-efficient lights.

Ann Hancock, the executive director of the Climate Protection Campaign, a nonprofit based in Sonoma County, a wine-growing area north of San Francisco, said that the county and its nine municipalities signed climate-protection agreements with enthusiasm more than five years ago, committing to bringing down greenhouse-gas emissions. Then they tried to figure out how.

“It’s really hard,” Ms. Hancock said. “It’s like the dark night of the soul.” All the big items in the inventory of emissions — from tailpipes, from the energy needed to supply drinking water and treat waste water, from heating and cooling buildings — are the product of residents’ and businesses’ individual decisions about how and where to live and drive and shop.

“They’ve seen the Al Gore movie, but they still have their lifestyle to contend with,” she said.

“We need to get people out of their cars, and we can’t under the present circumstances,” because of the limited alternative in public transportation, Ms. Hancock said. And the county’s many older homes are not very good at keeping in the cool air in the summer or the warm air in winter. “How do you go back and retrofit all of those?” she asked.

County governments are also finding that homeowners’ associations can be troublesome. Carbondale, Colo., would welcome people like Adam and Rachel Connor, who bought a lot in a subdivision outside town and made plans for a house with solar panels. But the homeowners’ association vetoed the proposal on aesthetic grounds. Such associations have rejected solar projects from Southern California to the Chicago suburbs to Phoenix, prompting at least two states to pass laws prohibiting such vetoes.

“Unrealistic and unreasonable expectations,” Ms. Connor said, “should not stand in the way of us taking climate change seriously and taking control of energy security with our own hands.”

Arlington, Providence and more than 300 other communities in the United States are members of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, which has developed software to help them determine the quantity of greenhouse gases their municipalities emit. They are still trying to figure it all out. Reductions and remedies are harder still.

Regional politics render ideas that are embraced in some cities unthinkable in others. In Burlington, Vt., and Berkeley, Calif., there are local laws requiring that people who are selling their homes upgrade the energy efficiency to meet current standards, whether by adding thicker insulation to the pipes, replacing the windows or putting in an energy-saving water heater. (The maximum amount to be spent is determined by the selling price of the house.)

Would the idea fly in, say, Cleveland? On a statewide level, “politically, it would be a non-starter,” said Andrew Watterson, the program director of Cleveland’s office of sustainability. “Legally, I’m not sure if we could do it” because of state limits on local taxing powers, Mr. Watterson said.

But Cleveland’s mayor, Frank G. Jackson, has backed the redevelopment of three old city neighborhoods in accordance with blueprints established by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program (for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.) Mr. Watterson said he hoped this sort of project would encourage a reverse migration of families who seek livable, walkable communities.

Arlington County is not having a problem attracting residents who are partial to the idea of a green revolution. But in the outer sections of Arlington, the problem is aging houses with inadequate insulation and inefficient appliances.

“We have an old house,” said Kevin Clark, who is 41 and a professor of instructional technology at George Mason University. “We got double-paned glass. We could feel the air coming in through those nice wood frames.”

Between the $13,000 cost of that repair and the money for a new refrigerator and other appliances, energy efficiencies have cost Mr. Clark and his family about $18,000. Though they have cut monthly electric bills, he is not sure how much he is saving.

Among the county’s biggest roadblocks in its effort to reduce emissions are the strict legal limits on Arlington officials. The state government in Richmond has the final authority in setting building codes, for instance. Like Cleveland, Arlington cannot require a house’s energy systems be upgraded when the house is sold. And Arlington cannot require commercial builders to install more insulation and more efficient heating, cooling and lighting systems than the state does.

As J. Walter Tejada, the chairman of Arlington County’s governing board, said, “Sometimes I think that even when you’re sneezing you need to ask the Legislature for permission.”

Laura Fiffick, the director of the office of environmental quality in Dallas — one vehicle in four is a pickup truck in Texas — said, “How do you reach an individual citizen and tell them: Everybody makes a difference.”

She added: “A lot of cities have said, ‘We’re going to be carbon-neutral by 2020.’ To me, the idea is to figure out what emissions we are going to go after and what we can do and then set the goal. When you set the bar too high, it becomes demotivating.”

    In Many Communities, It’s Not Easy Going Green, NYT, 7.2.2008,
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/07/us/07green.html

 

 

 

 

 

Algae Emerges

as a Potential Fuel Source

 

December 2, 2007
The New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

ST. PAUL, Dec. 1 (AP) — The 16 big flasks of bubbling bright green liquids in Roger Ruan’s laboratory at the University of Minnesota are part of a new boom in renewable energy research.

Driven by renewed investment as oil prices push $100 a barrel, Dr. Ruan and scores of scientists around the world are racing to turn algae into a commercially viable energy source.

Some algae is as much as 50 percent oil that can be converted into biodiesel or jet fuel. The biggest challenge is cutting the cost of production, which by one Defense Department estimate is running more than $20 a gallon.

“If you can get algae oils down below $2 a gallon, then you’ll be where you need to be,” said Jennifer Holmgren, director of the renewable fuels unit of UOP, an energy subsidiary of Honeywell International. “And there’s a lot of people who think you can.”

Researchers are trying to figure out how to grow enough of the right strains of algae and how to extract the oil most efficiently. Over the past two years they have received more money from governments, the Pentagon, big oil companies, utilities and venture capital firms.

The federal government halted its main algae research program nearly a decade ago, but technology has advanced and oil prices have climbed since then, and an Energy Department laboratory announced in late October that it was partnering with Chevron, the second-largest American oil company, in the hunt for better strains of algae.

“It’s not backyard inventors at this point at all,” said George Douglas, a spokesman for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, an arm of the Energy Department. “It’s folks with experience to move it forward.”

A New Zealand company demonstrated a Range Rover powered by an algae biodiesel blend last year, but experts say algae will not be commercially viable for many years. Dr. Ruan said demonstration plants could be built within a few years.

Converting algae oil into biodiesel uses the same process that turns vegetable oils into biodiesel. But the cost of producing algae oil is hard to pin down because nobody is running the process start to finish other than in a laboratory, Mr. Douglas said.

If the price of production can be reduced, the advantages of algae include the fact that it grows much faster and in less space than conventional energy crops. An acre of corn can produce about 20 gallons of oil per year, Dr. Ruan said, compared with a possible 15,000 gallons of oil per acre of algae.

An algae farm could be located almost anywhere. It would not require converting cropland from food production to energy production. It could use sea water and could consume pollutants from sewage and power plants.

The Pentagon’s research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is financing research into producing jet fuel from plants, including algae. The agency is already working with the Honeywell subsidiary, General Electric and the University of North Dakota. In November, it requested additional research proposals.

    Algae Emerges as a Potential Fuel Source, NYT, 2.12.2007,
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/02/us/02algae.html

 

 

 

 

 

San Francisco Fleet Is All Biodiesel

 

December 2, 2007
The New York Times
By CAROLYN MARSHALL

 

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 30 — Claiming it now has the largest green fleet in the nation, the city of San Francisco this week completed a yearlong project to convert its entire array of diesel vehicles — from ambulances to street sweepers — to biodiesel, a clean-burning and renewable fuel that holds promise for helping to reduce greenhouse gases.

Using virgin soy oil bought from producers in the Midwest, officials said that as of Friday, all of the city’s 1,500 diesel vehicles were powered with the environmentally friendlier fuel, intended to sharply reduce toxic diesel exhaust linked to a higher risk of asthma and premature death.

“Just like secondhand smoke, diesel is one of the worst things we can breathe,” said the city’s clean vehicle manager, Vandana Bali of the Department of the Environment.

The announcement came without fanfare from Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office late Thursday, even as Congressional lawmakers dickered over the particulars of an energy bill that would give automakers incentives to produce cars that burn biofuels.

Ms. Bali said the city’s diesel vehicles now all used a fuel known as B20, a mix of 20 percent soy-based biofuel and 80 percent petroleum diesel fuel, which reduces toxic emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and other pollutants that lead to global warming.

A spokesman for the mayor, Nathan Ballard, said the goal was to cut such emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

In November, Mr. Newsom announced a new project called SFGreasecycle, a program to collect fats and cooking oils from restaurants, at no charge.

“We are collecting grease,” Mr. Ballard said. “Waste fats and oils are a major source of backup in our sewage system. But we’re taking the grease that would have gone down the drain and turning it into biodiesel.”

    San Francisco Fleet Is All Biodiesel, NYT, 2.12.2007,
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/02/us/02diesel.html

 

 

 

 

 

The Energy Challenge

Fuel Without the Fossil

 

November 9, 2007
The New York Times
By MATTHEW L. WALD

 

DENVER — Mitch Mandich proudly showed off his baby, a 150-foot contraption of tanks, valves, hoppers, augers and fans. It hissed. It gurgled. An incongruous smell wafted through the air, the scent of turpentine.

Mr. Mandich’s machine devours pine chips from Georgia and turns them into an energy-rich gas, a step toward making liquid fuels. His company, Range Fuels, is near the front of the pack in a technology race that could have an impact on the way America powers its automotive fleet, and help ameliorate global warming.

“Somebody’s going to hit a home run here,” Mr. Mandich said. “We want to be first.”

For years, scientists have known that the building blocks in plant matter — not just corn kernels, but also corn stalks, wood chips, straw and even some household garbage — constituted an immense potential resource that could, in theory, help fill the gasoline tanks of America’s cars and trucks.

Mostly, they have focused on biology as a way to do it, tinkering with bacteria or fungi that could digest the plant material, known as biomass, and extract sugar that could be fermented into ethanol. But now, nipping at the heels of various companies using biological methods, is a new group of entrepreneurs, including Mr. Mandich, who favor chemistry.

They believe techniques borrowed from oil refining and other chemical industries will allow them to crack open big biological molecules, transforming them into ethanol or, even more interesting, into diesel and gasoline. Those latter fuels could be transported in existing pipelines and burned in existing engines without fuss. Advocates of the chemical methods say they may be flexible enough to go beyond traditional biomass, converting old tires or even human waste into clean transport fuel.

In Madison, Wis., a company called Virent Energy Systems is turning sugar into gasoline, diesel, kerosene and jet fuel, with the long-range plan of obtaining the sugars from biomass. In Ontario, Dynamotive Energy Systems is turning biomass into a form of oil, and in Chicago, a Honeywell subsidiary called UOP is doing something similar. In Irvine, Calif., BlueFire Ethanol is using acid to break down organic material for conversion to fuel.

Possibilities like these are coming to the fore at a time when rising oil prices have created an incentive to develop substitute fuels. Making them from biomass would be environmentally friendly in that, unlike standard gasoline or diesel, the fuels would not take long-stored carbon from underground and dump it into the air as carbon dioxide.

And unlike making ethanol from corn kernels, these techniques do not require significant amounts of natural gas or coal. Carbon dioxide, emitted in large volume when people burn fossil fuels, is the primary culprit in global warming.

Lately, these factors have resulted in a flood of investment capital into both biological and chemical techniques for using biomass. Experts consider both approaches promising, and they say it is too early to tell which will win.

“It’s not obvious, and I don’t think it will be obvious for a very long time,” Andrew Karsner, the assistant secretary of energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy, said in Washington. His department is awarding grants to support both approaches.

Experts say it is possible that more than one type of plant will reach commercial success, with the ideal technique for a given locale depending on what material is available to convert to fuel.

Range Fuels favors pine chips and other waste from softwood logging operations, largely because there is so much of it. Logging in Georgia, for instance, leaves behind about a quarter of the tree. “Bark, needles, cones, we use all of it,” said Mr. Mandich, chief executive of Range.

Range is a privately held company whose chief scientist, Bud Klepper, has been working on the two problems, creating gas from biomass and then converting it to liquid fuel, since the 1980s. The company is heavily backed by Vinod Khosla, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who has turned his focus to energy investments.

Range broke ground this week on the first full-scale biomass-to-fuel plant in the United States, in Soperton, Ga. “Today marks the beginning of a new phase of our effort to make America more energy secure,” the secretary of energy, Samuel Bodman, said at the event. The plant, its cost not publicly disclosed, is expected to produce 20 million gallons of ethanol a year, with more capacity to be added later.

In Georgia alone, enough waste wood is available to make two billion gallons of ethanol a year, Mr. Mandich said. If all that material could be captured and converted to fuel, it could replace about 1 percent of the nation’s gasoline consumption.

Biomass of various types is abundant in every state, some of it gathered daily by garbage trucks. A study two years ago by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that enough biomass is available in the United States to replace more than a third of the nation’s gasoline consumption, assuming the economics can be made to work.

The Bush administration is counting on biofuels to help limit the growth of petroleum demand, and environmentalists routinely include such fuels in their forecasts as a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. But to date, no one has shown that fuels from biomass can be made profitably, even when competing with gasoline at $3 a gallon.

Daniel M. Kammen, director for the renewable and appropriate energy laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, said, “I suspect we will have a trickle” of fuels from biomass in the next few years. But it will be only a trickle unless the government adopts quotas or offers additional support, he said.

Companies like Range that are trying to convert biomass by chemical methods follow one of two broad approaches. The first is to mix the material with steam to produce a gas known as synthesis gas, consisting of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. With additional processing, that gas can be converted to liquid fuels. The second technique does not break the material down as far, creating a product that resembles oil that can then be refined into liquid fuel.

Research papers and patents are flying these days as scientists struggle to improve these methods. As with oil refineries, the final stages typically produce a variety of chemicals, of varying value, and the trick is to maximize production of the desirable chemicals. “Everybody is dealing with a byproduct they don’t want,” said Arnold Klann, the chief executive of BlueFire.

Range Fuels is one of the companies that turn biomass into a gas before converting it to liquid fuel. The company wants to make ethanol, a form of alcohol, but its technique produces less valuable varieties of alcohol as well. Company scientists are tweaking their approach to maximize the ethanol yield.

The other day, laboratory technicians grabbed samples of a yellow liquid emerging from the machinery and swirled it like a suspect vintage of chenin blanc. An expensive chemical analyzer called a gas chromatography machine stood in the corner. By using it, engineers can calculate what changes in temperature, pressure and flow rates would work best to produce ethanol in a full-scale commercial venture.

Overseeing the operation, Mr. Mandich radiated confidence. “You can’t have so many people at bat without hitting something,” he said.

As the nation seeks to develop new types of fuel, Congress has leaned heavily toward ethanol made from corn kernels, and it is the only alternative fuel available today in large volume. Ethanol benefits from a tax break and a mandate that a significant amount of it be blended into gasoline.

Turning biomass into gasoline would be simpler, requiring no changes in the nation’s cars or pipelines, but federal policy is tilting many research programs toward ethanol.

Range, for instance, could make any of several types of fuel from its pine chips. Asked whether the company chose ethanol for the 51-cent-a-gallon tax break, Mr. Klepper declared: “It’s the American way.”

    Fuel Without the Fossil , NYT, 10.11.2007,
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/09/business/09fuel.html

 

 

 

 

 

Derailed:

Government's green promises

on transport policy

A green transport policy?
New figures show how 30 years of failure
has put Britain on the road to gridlock and pollution

 

Published: 18 July 2007
The Independent
By Ben Russell, Nigel Morris and James Macintyre

 

Dramatic new evidence that car travel has become far cheaper while buses and trains have soared in cost led to renewed attacks on Labour's transport policy last night, as MPs said the Government was undermining its own battle against climate change.

According to newly disclosed statistics, the cost of car travel has fallen by 10 per cent over the past 30 years, while the price of bus and train tickets has risen by more than 50 per cent. The respective trends have continued throughout Labour's period in office.

Campaigners warned that the figures, revealed by the Department of Transport in a parliamentary answer yesterday, laid bare the huge disincentive for Britons to choose environmentally friendly forms of travel.

The statistics show that Labour has failed to reverse the long-term trend. Since 1997 when the party came to power, the cost of running a car has fallen by 10 per cent, but the price of bus travel has increased by 13 per cent and train travel has become 6 per cent more expensive. British trains are already among the most expensive in the world, with further above-inflation rises certain in the future.

Over the same period, greenhouse gas emissions have risen in five out of 10 years despite government promises to tackle global warming. Unsurprisingly, over the past 10 years the inexorable rise in car travel has continued, with motorists clocking up almost 400 billion kilometres (270 billion miles) a year.

The statistics, disclosed by the Transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick, provoked uproar among politicians of all parties and from environmental groups.

News of the huge rises in public transport costs came amid growing concern that the cost of rail travel is due to increase still further by the end of the year following a series of deals between the Government and train companies. Stagecoach and Arriva are planning fare rises in the East Midlands and Cross Country franchises of 3.4 per cent a year in real terms. Go-Ahead plans to raise fares by 3 per cent a year on the London to Northampton route.

Susan Kramer, the Liberal Democrat transport spokeswoman, who obtained the figures, said: "When we're all concerned about climate change, government strategy that increases the cost of public transport while motoring costs fall is outrageous."

Colin Challen, Labour chairman of the parliamentary all-party group on climate change, accused the Government of being timid in its efforts to cut the rise in car usage. He said the increasing cost of public transport " sends all the wrong signals" to travellers. "We should be prepared to bite the bullet with putting up the costs of driving," he said. "The Government could have done a great deal more. Since the fuel protests in 2000 we have run rather scared of certain lobbies. We really have to face them down."

Peter Ainsworth, the shadow Environment Secretary, said: "This demonstrates how far off-beam the Government's policies are in delivering a low-carbon economy. They give serious cause for concern."

Theresa Villiers, the shadow Transport Secretary, added: "There's a good environmental case for encouraging people out of their cars and on to public transport. The increasing divergence in the cost between the two is not the way to achieve that."

Environmentalists echoed their concern, warning that ministers needed to take tough decisions to turn their rhetoric into results. Green campaigners have long argued that only aggressive policies, including road tolls and higher fuel prices, will encourage motorists to leave their car behind and use public transport. The pressure-group Transport 2000 has argued that a 10 per cent reduction in car use could be achieved by 2050, by measures including the introduction of more flexible and varied bus and train services.

Tony Bosworth, of Friends of the Earth, said: "These figures show one of the reasons why the Government is finding it so difficult to get people out of their cars and on to public transport." A Greenpeace spokesman said: "It appears Gordon Brown has been in hock to the motorist for too long. If he's serious about climate change he will face down opposition from the motoring lobby and promote green, low-carbon alternatives."

Sian Berry, the Green Party principal speaker, said: "If we're serious about tackling climate change we need to make public transport cheaper, easier and more efficient."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport said that spending on public transport had increased by more than 50 per cent in the past 10 years. She said: We are starting to see the results - public transport journeys have increased by 7 per cent since 2000.

"Government is also working to reduce the environmental impact of transport in other ways, for example by encouraging the use of biofuels and investing in new, clean technologies."

 

 

 

Why driving is cheaper

* Successive governments have shied away from taking on motorists and the motoring industry, while rail privatisation under the Conservatives ­ and its continuation under Labour ­ has resulted in repeated increases in fares.

* Governments since the 1970s have taxed fuel, and in 1993 the Conservatives introduced the Fuel Price Escalator, resulting in an increase in the price of fuel above VAT year on year. Gordon Brown abolished the scheme in 2000.

* Tax subsidies on company cars and continued road expansions, at the same time as rail companies are having to maintain their own tracks, has meant the trend away from public transport and on to the roads is continuing and may even increase.

    Derailed: Government's green promises on transport policy, I, 18.7.2007,
    http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/transport/article2779431.ece

 

 

 

 

 

Asthmatic Girl Used in NY Traffic

- Fee Ad

 

July 5, 2007

Filed at 6:34 p.m. ET

The New York Times

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

NEW YORK (AP) -- A sad-looking little girl squeezes an asthma inhaler, with a message imploring lawmakers to approve Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to reduce traffic and pollution by charging motorists who drive into Manhattan.

The tag line: ''She cannot hold her breath waiting for Albany to act.''

The flier is being mailed this week to 350,000 households throughout the city, urging residents to call lawmakers in Albany. The state Legislature would have to come back for a special session to approve the plan before a July 16 application deadline for federal funding.

The campaign was paid for by the Partnership for New York City, a business group that is a chief supporter of the mayor's plan.

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, an outspoken critic of the congestion pricing plan, said the image of the asthmatic girl is more of a political tactic than anything based on substance.

''The mayor's car tax is not a cure for asthma -- what it is is a giant bureaucracy funded by a regressive tax,'' said Weiner, D-N.Y.

Bloomberg's plan calls for a three-year pilot program that would charge drivers a fee -- $8 for cars and $21 for trucks -- in the city's most heavily congested zone. His administration says it would force more people onto mass transit, thereby reducing traffic and improving air quality, particularly for children who suffer from asthma.

''Does anybody want to look a parent in the eye and say, 'Well, we can wait for your child, we'll do it down the road, just let your child continue to breathe worse air than we could have had if we had the courage to stand up?' I don't think anybody wants to make that call,'' Bloomberg said Thursday at a rally in support of his proposal.

Medical studies, including one published in the Lancet earlier this year, have found links between air pollution and respiratory ailments. But it is unclear how much the traffic fee would change the city's asthma problem.

The Bloomberg administration predicts that traffic would decrease by 6 percent inside the zone -- the business district on the lower half of Manhattan. The city's asthma rates are highest in poor neighborhoods outside that area.

Backers of the traffic proposal, who include environmentalists and a number of elected officials, say that those outer communities would also benefit from the reduction in traffic, since many of the thruways leading into Manhattan snake through those neighborhoods.

City officials project that traffic would decrease by 1.8 percent in the Bronx, 1.5 percent in Brooklyn and 1.2 percent in Queens. The decline may seem small, city officials said, but it is significant because much of the relief would be concentrated on major arteries.

In London, where drivers have been charged traffic fees since 2003, residents complain about the ''parking lots'' that have formed outside the zone. Within it, traffic thinned by 20 percent and carbon emissions similarly decreased, Mayor Ken Livingstone said at a May environmental summit of mayors in New York.

The city health department says the number of New Yorkers with asthma has increased in the past two decades, although hospitalizations have declined. Among children, the hospitalization rate was 43 percent lower in 2005 than in 1997, with fewer than 9,000 compared with nearly 15,000. While it declined, the child hospitalization rate is still three times higher than the national rate, the health department said.

Asthmatic Girl Used in NY Traffic - Fee Ad,
NYT,
5.7.2007,
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Traffic-Fee-Asthma.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related > Anglonautes > Vocapedia

 

transportation

 

economy > commodities > oil > gas

 

energy

 

air pollution

 

global warming

 

health > cancer