green technologies

U.S. Military Plan: get off oil By 2040

U.S. Military Plan: Get Off Oil By 2040

By Bill Moore

In September, the Center for New American Security (CNAS) issued a 36-page study entitled Fueling the Future Force: Preparing the Department of Defense for a Post-Petroleum Era. Now if the title weren’t suggestive enough, the target date of 2040 — 30 years from now — should set off klaxons from Maine to Guam.

Prepared in close consultation with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as well as the major branches of U.S. Armed Forces and other government agencies, the key authors — Christine Pathemore and John Nagl — conclude that the military has three decades to dramatically reduce its dependence on petroleum, the fuel that powers 77 percent of the America’s fighting machinery.

Why the urgency and why get off of oil? The map at the end of the commentary shows why. It has to do with who has the oil and how fast they are extracting it. The lighter the shades of blue, the shorter the time span until the process of extraction becomes economically unfeasible. Soberingly, CNAS analysts project the United States has just 11 years of reserve-to-production (R/P) capacity. Neighboring Canada, our largest external supplier, 28 years. Meanwhile, Venezuela, Iraq, Iran, the Emirates and Saudi Arabia all have 100 years of R/P capacity………………

full story at


First owner-occupier solar power station in UK gets greenlight

 First Owner-occupier Solar Power Station in UK Gets Greenlight

Somerset County Council has given the go ahead to the country’s first owner-occupier solar photovoltaic (PV) power station. 


Husband and wife team Nicholas and Lynne Gould are behind the 450 kilowatt (kW) solar scheme, which will be located on their private land in the village of Long Sutton in South Somerset. The micro generation power station is the first of its kind in Somerset and the second to get the greenlight in the UK.

Launched on the back of Government solar subsidy, the Feed-in Tariff (FiT), the array is expected to produce enough electricity to power up to 70 homes…………………..

Full story at

The Energy Efficient Path to 100% Renewables

The Energy Efficient Path to 100% Renewables

Published October 08, 2010

One of the Cradle to Cradle principles is to power with 100 percent renewable energy as one means to maximizing an organization’s positive environmental, social and economic impacts. Energy use provides one of the clearest examples of the Cradle to Cradle idea of moving beyond the traditional sustainability goal of only reducing negative impacts (eco-efficiency), to creating a wholly positive or beneficial footprint on the planet. 

The Energy Efficient Path to 100% Renewables

The energy-efficient use of non-renewable energy still saps resources, pollutes the planet and can harm local communities, although they do so more slowly than non-efficient operations. On the other hand, operations designed to be powered by renewable energy create green collar jobs, avoid climate change emissions and foster domestic energy production.

This does not, however, mean that energy efficiency isn’t important. In fact, energy efficiency represents a vital path towards becoming renewably powered, as it reduces the amount of energy required to be 100 percent renewable.

Read more:

Are Smart Meters really that smart?

Are Smart Meters really that smart?

Good information is a Good Thing. Nobody doubts that, for some people and organisations, improved information about their electricity (and even gas and water) consumption and its costs could provoke some behaviour change, or trigger energy saving investments. Indeed, current UK laws assume this is the case when it comes to buying potatoes, as current metes, if used in farmers  markets, would provoke prosecute by the local trading standards people.

But is this believe enough to justify a ~£10 billion+ investment that will cost every consumer some £500. It is not just the cost of the meter, but the communications infrastructure, and the processing of unimaginably vast (and almost totally useless) information. Instead of 0, 1 or even 6 readings a quarter, the utilities will have to process perhaps 9000 readings, and perhaps even 130,000. Can you seriously believe that this will happen smoothly, or effectively? The IBMs and Ciscos of the world are slavering at the prospect of all that kit.

But for the vast majority of domestic consumers, a smart meter, and its attendant processing, will tell them very little that they do not already know. And is it reasonable that we should all have to pay so much just to educate the few who are too idle to understand?

Full story at

China’s car-straddling bus — and its technical creativity

China’s car-straddling bus — and its creativity in clean tech

By Deborah Gage | Aug 6, 2010

This picture from China News shows China’s latest scheme for handling both its traffic jams and its air pollution — a combination bus/train that would straddle the road so cars could drive underneath it.

The project was exhibited in May at the Beijing International High-Tech Expo by the Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co Ltd., according to the news service China Hush.

It runs on electricity or solar energy. Passengers would sit on the top level (the bus can accommodate 1200 to 1400 people) while cars drive beneath them.

Its creators claim the straddling bus could reduce traffic jams by 25 to 30 percent, partly by getting people out of their cars and partly because the bus would move along with the cars underneath it rather than being one more vehicle on the road.

See full story and video at

Localization and Carrying Capacity – reducing resource intensity

Localization and Carrying Capacity


By Chris Nelder
Friday, January 8th, 2010

………………..What is the true carrying capacity of America, if the San Joaquin Valley’s water problems persist? About one-fifth of California’s total electrical power demand is used to pump water; about four-fifths of the water pumped in California is used to irrigate agriculture.

The ability of the state to build sustainable power supply — like those turbines in Tehachapi — has direct implications on the nation’s food supply. Likewise, much of the population of Los Angeles could not exist without the massive pipeline system that brings the city water from the Colorado River.

How will the little mining towns of northwestern Arizona fare as fossil fuels decline? They’ll still be able to ship their minerals by rail along the freight tracks I paralleled on Route 66, but they’ll need to have alternate sources of revenue if peak oil quenches economic growth.

Supporting those proposed solar arrays and grid connections could mean the difference between thriving and shrinking, which explains why in a parched, windswept, and sun-baked land like Mohave County, the need for local water and energy supply is urgent enough to override the usual political bent and make strange bedfellows of Republicans and renewable energy advocates. Such alliances will become more common in a century of decline. Necessity wins over ideology every time.

In the Bay Area where I live, the last few years has seen an increasing incidence of water main breaks and exploding transformers, sewage spills, bridges becoming unsafe, and roads becoming more patch and pothole than pavement, as its aging infrastructure crumbles and fails. Governor Schwarzenegger went begging the federal government this week for financial aid, and proposed privatizing prisons in an effort to close a budget gap that now runs into the hundreds of billions. A downgrade of the state’s debt rating seems inevitable for a state that is too big to not fail. Where will the revenue come from to fix all this, and keep the water flowing to the San Joaquin Valley, plus build out a new renewable energy and rail infrastructure?

Arizona’s in only slightly better shape. A week before Christmas, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer told her cabinet to slash spending sharply and push criminal alien prisoners back onto the Feds as quickly as possible, as she faces the prospect of borrowing $700 million a month to stay operational, and a looming 2011 fiscal year deficit of $3.4 billion. Solar power could be a massive financial boon to the state, but popular support has been sluggish and the leadership has been slow to understand the energy-water nexus. The solar potential of Arizona is far greater with photovoltaics and air-cooled CSP than water-cooled CSP.

The food production of the San Joaquin; the wind turbines in Tehachapi; the oil fields of Kern County; the solar resource of Arizona; the water resources of the Rockies that sustain its dense low desert populations… these all depend in one fashion or another on a complex, interconnected infrastructure of commerce powered by cheap fossil fuels.

No one has even begun to seriously add up the costs of transitioning it to renewable power and rail transport. The tab will run into the double-digit trillions for the state of California alone. If the state fails — and I think it could — then where will the investment come from? Can we still imagine a debt-based federal infrastructure spending program that would utterly dwarf the New Deal? If not, then the transition will be financed and built from the bottom up… or not at all.

I’m still betting that trillions of dollars will be spent over the coming decades to cut waste, build more wind turbines and solar plants, erect a long distance HVDC transmission grid, implement a smart grid with micro-islanding capabilities, stimulate a rail renaissance, and try to keep the American machine humming.

That’s why I call it “the greatest investment event of the century.” The investment opportunity in the Southwest is absolutely staggering, if the capital can be found.

But should those efforts prove too little, too late — and by my count, we’re already 30 years too late — the long-term fate of individual communities will be largely decided by what they do in the next two decades. What they have at the end of that period may be what they’ll have to live with for many decades afterward. The resources they depend on today may be stranded.

My family may indeed fall back on the old cross-cut saw to cut our firewood. The Tehachapi locals may have power, but struggle to maintain food supply. The mining towns of Arizona may wish they’d done more to deploy solar, especially water-pumping solar systems, when the getting was good.

Communities that localize their supplies of food, water, and energy, with a sharp eye on local carrying capacity (which is to say, those who have the ability to disconnect from the complex systems around them and be self-sufficient), could have a reasonably good future. Those that don’t may find themselves following the deer of the Kaibab Plateau.

The question for investors is this: Fifty years from now, will Route 66 be a blasted wasteland of ghost towns, a Mad Max relic of the fossil fuel age… or a string of small, self-sufficient oases, each with their own solar arrays, wind turbines, backyard gardens, and railroad depots?

I’ll have more to say on that subject next week when I write for Green Chip Stocks.

Until next time,

full story at

Toyota’s recognition that PHEVs’ time has come

Email from CalCars

Here’s CalCars’ comment: “We applaud Toyota’s recognition that PHEVs’
time has come. The technology is good enough to get started and the
solution offers a good business case. We hope as this hybrid pioneer
watches large and small competitors start selling PHEVs a year
earlier, it will accelerate its timetable and raise production levels.”

(Shortly after it goes out on email, this posting will also be
viewable at — there you can
add CalCars-News to your RSS feed.)

THE PRIUS’S TIMELINES TO TODAY: It’s taken a long time. Toyota
introduced the Prius as the first-mass-production hybrid in Japan in
1997. It went global in 2001; the second-generation vehicle arrived
in 2004, the third in 2009, and over two million have been sold.
Meanwhile CalCars did the first Prius conversion in 2004, sparking
the growth of an aftermarket industry. Since 2006, a thousand plug-in
Prius conversions showing what was possible helped build awareness
and support for PHEVs, and the company’s public comments evolved from
dismissive to open-minded (see ).

Toyota showed its first PHEV prototype in 2007. Until this week, the
company had announced plans only for fleet leases of 600
demonstration/test units in Japan, the U.S., and Europe, with
consumer sales only a possibility. Now it will start selling them in
2011, with tens of thousands in showrooms in 2012 at a “affordable”
price tag. Reporters say Toyota has concluded that PHEVs “will become
the market mainstream.”

NFORMATION SOURCES: Toyota has a new website with basic explanations
and specifications at . And see the
illuminating 20-slide presentation by Toyota Chief Engineer Yoshikazu
. At
read Green Car Congress’s summary and postings. Following are our
comments based on announced specifications.

BUSINESS DETAILS: Tanaka’s presentation projects “full-scale
commercialization in two years, on the order of several ten
thousands, with widely affordable pricing.” Toyota EVP Uchiyamada
indicates (below) that the vehicle could sell for under $33,770. With
U.S. Recovery Act tax credits of up to $7,500 for the first 200,000
plug-in vehicle from each manufacturer based on battery capacity; the
PHV’s 5.2 kWh battery pack, from its joint venture Panasonic EV
Energy, makes it eligible for about $2,500.

If prices hold, we’ve been on the right track in saying Toyota might
sell a plug-in Prius for little more than $3,000 over a non-PHEV
model. A 3.4 useful-kWh pack at $1,000/useful-kWh would cost $3,400.
The $1,000 saved by eliminating the NiMH battery could offset a
similar cost for a charger and a beefed-up DC:DC converter. As those
battery prices decline with the credits, PHEVs could approach the
cost of standard hybrids.

Operating costs for a 30km trip compared to gasoline vehicle, based
on Japanese petroleum and electric rates, are 58% better when
charging at peak times and 77% better off-peak.

TECHNICAL DETAILS: Comparing the vehicle with the 2010 Prius on which
it’s based (specs at ),
its weight (3,284 pounds/1,490 kg) increases by 242 pounds/110 kg.
The engine and motor appear identical, and modified electronics will
allow more power from the electric motor.

The PHV uses over 60% of the its 5.2kWh lithium-ion battery pack’s
capacity to get 23.4 km/14.5 miles all-electric driving at speeds up
to 100 km/62 miles/hour. (For Japanese drivers traveling shorter
distances, the 20 km “sweet spot” covers 53.7% of daily driving and
51.2% of weekend driving.) Recharging is 180 minutes at 110-120
volts, 100 minutes at 220 — offering good opportunities to double
the vehicle’s effective range for those who can charge mid-day at work.

Petroleum and greenhouse gas reductions depend on multiple
assumptions — we can simply say that using the new JC08 driving
cycle yields over 100 MPG of gasoline. See
for a discussion of the PHV’s fuel efficiency under different
conditions; this discussion leaves out consideration of the
difference between CAFE and sticker numbers.

FEATURES: The vehicle’s new screens’ full integration with the
navigation system and information about the battery will give drivers
feedback about optimizing fuel economy. The car can be cooled in
advance while still plugged in for comfort and fuel efficiency.