February 18, 2013 in EV News
By Andy Gavil, Debbie Feinstein, and Marty Gaynor
Consumers once shopped predominantly at their local stores; but first mail order catalogs and today the Internet have created new ways to shop for and purchase a wide range of goods and services. Similarly, consumers once arranged for taxis by hailing one from a street corner or by calling a dispatcher; yet today, smartphones and new software applications are shaking up the transportation industry, creating new business opportunities and new services for consumers.
In buying cars, however, these new ways to shop may not be available to consumers. For decades, local laws in many states have required consumers to purchase their cars solely from local, independent auto dealers. Removing these regulatory impediments may be essential to allow consumers access to new ways of shopping that have become available in many other industries.
In this case and others, many state and local regulators have eliminated the direct purchasing option for consumers, by taking steps to protect existing middlemen from new competition. We believe this is bad policy for a number of reasons.
American consumers and businesses benefit from a dynamic and diverse economy where new technologies and business models can and have disrupted stable and stagnant industries, often by responding to unmet or under-served consumer needs. When that occurs in an industry long subject to extensive regulation, existing businesses—like automobile dealers—often respond by urging legislators or regulators to restrict or even bar the new firms that threaten to shake up their market.
Out of 15 million cars sold in the U.S. in 2013, Tesla accounted for a little over 22,000. This hardly presents a serious competitive threat to established dealers. What it could represent is a real change to the way cars are sold that might allow Tesla to expand in the future and prove attractive to other manufacturers, whether established or new ones that have yet to emerge, and consumers. Efforts to litigate, legislate, and regulate to eliminate Tesla’s perceived threat have forced it to battle jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction for the simple right to sell its automobiles directly to consumers.
When the automobile industry was in its infancy, auto manufacturers recruited independent, locally owned dealers to reach consumers in localities across the country. State laws progressively embraced wide-ranging protections for these dealers due to a perceived imbalance of power between the typically small local dealers and major national manufacturers. Dealers persuaded lawmakers that they needed protections from abusive practices by manufacturers. Federal laws, too, developed to protect auto dealers from abuse.
These protections expanded until in many states they included outright bans on the sale of new cars by anyone other than a dealer—specifically, an auto manufacturer. Instead of “protecting,” these state laws became “protectionist,” perpetuating one way of selling cars—the independent car dealer. Such blanket bans are an anomaly in the broader economy, where most manufacturers compete to respond to consumer needs by choosing from among direct sales to consumers, reliance on independent dealers, or some combination of the two.
Dealers contend that it is important for regulators to prevent abuses of local dealers. This rationale appears unsupported, however, with respect to blanket prohibitions of direct sales by manufacturers. And, in any event, it has no relevance to companies like Tesla. It has never had any independent dealers and reportedly does not want them.
FTC staff have commented on similar efforts to bar new rivals and new business models in industries as varied as wine sales, taxis, and health care. We have consistently urged legislators and regulators to consider the potential harmful consequences this can have for competition and consumers. How manufacturers choose to supply their products and services to consumers is just as much a function of competition as what they sell—and competition ultimately provides the best protections for consumers and the best chances for new businesses to develop and succeed. Our point has not been that new methods of sale are necessarily superior to the traditional methods—just that the determination should be made through the competitive process.
Change is a critical dimension of that competitive process. Manufacturers in a variety of industries now reach consumers directly through websites, providing extensive information that was once only available from dealers or by phone or mail inquiry. And consumers routinely turn to the Internet as a convenient way to comparison shop and buy products and services.
Such change can sometimes be difficult for established competitors that are used to operating in a particular way, but consumers can benefit from change that also challenges longstanding competitors. Regulators should differentiate between regulations that truly protect consumers and those that protect the regulated. We hope lawmakers will recognize efforts by auto dealers and others to bar new sources of competition for what they are—expressions of a lack of confidence in the competitive process that can only make consumers worse off.
Andy is the Director of the Office of Policy Planning, Debbie is the Director of the Bureau of Competition, and Marty is the Director of the Bureau of Economics. The views expressed are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Commission or of any individual Commissioner.
This article is a repost, credit: FTC.
America’s First Geothermally Heated University Campus Adds 3.5 Megawatts of Clean Electricity Generation
WASHINGTON—The Department of Energy recognized the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) for boosting its use of clean energy at the first campus in America to be heated by geothermal energy, achieving a major milestone toward its goal of making all seven campuses in the university system carbon-neutral by 2020. Partially through Energy Department support, the Klamath Falls campus will utilize 1.5 megawatts (MW) of newly installed geothermal capacity combined with a 2 MW solar array, making OIT the first university in North America to generate most—if not all—electrical power from renewable sources.
“The Department’s investments at the Oregon Institute of Technology are another example of how partnerships with academia, industry and the private sector can help cut energy waste and pollution while reducing energy bills,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “OIT’s use of cutting-edge technology and its commitment to a clean energy future help diversify our energy supply while also bringing us closer to the Administration’s goal of doubling renewable energy for a second time by 2020.”
The school’s Geo-Heat Center has been tapping its geothermal resources to heat campus buildings for nearly fifty years. Beginning in 2008, the Energy Department helped fund further development of the geothermal resources beneath the campus and supported the purchase of an initial 280 kilowatt (kW) geothermal power system. By 2010, the small binary unit was producing power for the school’s facilities, and the groundwork was laid to utilize additional geothermal energy through an Energy Department investment of $3.5 million, with a matching cost-share by the university.
An additional $1 million investment through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act developed an innovative technology to generate electricity from low-temperature geothermal resources at an estimated 20% cost savings over conventional binary systems. Industry partner Johnson Controls, Inc., provided $4 million in cost-share to demonstrate this novel, nearly emission-free technology at Klamath Falls, leveraging the previously funded work on the OIT campus.
The Energy Department’s Geothermal Technologies Office funds more than 150 research, development, demonstration and analysis projects, representing over $500 million in total combined investment. Learn more about Low-Temperature and Coproduced Geothermal Resources, follow research and development progress with the 2013 Peer Review Report, or view program achievements in the 2013 Annual Report.
This article is a repost (4-23-14), credit: DOE.
BEIJING, April 23, 2014 — At the recent delivery ceremony of Tesla’s first batch of Chinese orders in Beijing, two PV charging systems caught the eyes of the guests. The system was requested by Tesla Motors, and designed and manufactured by Hanergy Solar Group. Hanergy thin-film flexible PV system was Tesla’s first choice for the first PV Supercharger station in China. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors, said at the ceremony, “In the future, Tesla will work with partners to build supercharger network. The first charging station in Beijing was built in cooperation with Hanergy Solar Group. Tesla will continue to invest in the construction of superchargers in China, aiming to quickly expand the network.”
Hanergy Solar Group will deliver two solar carports, each in Beijing and Jiading, Shanghai. The Beijing carport, a mobile carport designed to be assembled and transported, adopts Hanergy’s GSE flexible thin-film solar modules. The Shanghai carport will be a fixed structure, and adopts Hanergy’s MiaSole CIGS high-efficiency modules. The first phase of both carports has been completed.
In Elon Musk’s first interview on “Dialogue,” a China Central Television program, the American billionaire said that China is a key market and Tesla would make big investments in China, including investments in environment for charging, building seven super charging networks, and providing uninterrupted solar power supply 24 hours per day. The first batch of charging stations will be built up in cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
The PV charging system by Hanergy Solar Group protects vehicles like ordinary carports while converting sunlight into electricity utilizing its designated rooftop. At the same time, the system charges the electric vehicle through its energy storage system. The system uses the CIGS thin-film PV technology, the most advanced in the world. With conversion rates peaking at 20.5%, this technology offers light weight, flexibility, excellent low-light performance and advanced packaging. More importantly, no fixed column is required, which significantly reduces the cost. The carport is mobile, beautiful, modern in appearance, and a perfectly integrated to city surroundings, providing convenient and fast charging services to electric car owners.
Ms. Zhang Qingliang, Vice President of Hanergy Global Solar Power and Application Group said, “We are pleased to be the one to provide Tesla the first batch of solar powered Supercharging stations in China. As a technology-driven company, Hanergy has been actively exploring ways to utilize its thin-film photovoltaic technology to provide solutions through technological innovation and cross industrial integration. We have been working with multiple domestic and foreign automobile manufacturers to integrate solar, and is also researching on energy storage, photovoltaic car roof and other solar-automobile applications.”
In his interview, Elon Musk also stressed that the charging stations that Tesla is building in China can work 24 hours per day. Utilizing solar power and energy storage systems, the charging stations reduce the impact of electric coal on environment. The batteries are charged during the daytime with solar power; then can supply power for vehicles at night. In fact, under the double pressure of escalating oil price and increasingly strict emission standards, the electric vehicle industry has become a strategic industry all over the world.
Electric coal is currently the dominating source of energy. The EV industry still suffers from the traditional energy supply pattern. Combining the electric automobile industry and that of renewable energy, the cooperation between Tesla and Hanergy is an active practice towards cross-industrial technological innovation. It is a first step towards freedom from the traditional energy pattern and the plight of traditional fossil energy on which the current electric auto industry relies upon.
This article is a repost, credit: Hanergy.
By Rob Parker, Renewable energy team (Google)
Just because Earth Day is over doesn’t mean we’re done doing good things for the planet. Yesterday we announced our biggest renewable energy purchase yet: an agreement with our Iowa utility partners to supply our data center facilities there with up to 407 megawatts of wind energy.
Today, we’re taking another step towards a clean energy future with a major new investment. Together with SunPower Corporation we’re creating a new $250 million fund to help finance the purchase of residential rooftop solar systems—making it easier for thousands of households across the U.S. to go solar. Essentially, this is how it works: Using the fund ($100 million from Google and $150 million from SunPower), we buy the solar panel systems. Then we lease them to homeowners at a cost that’s typically lower than their normal electricity bill. So by participating in this program, you don’t just help the environment—you can also save money.
SunPower delivers solar to residential, utility and commercial customers and also manufacturers its own solar cells and panels.They’re known for having high-quality, high reliability panels which can generate up to 50 percent more power per unit area, with guaranteed performance and lower degradation over time. That means that you can install fewer solar panels to get the same amount of energy. And SunPower both makes the panels and manages the installation, so the process is seamless.
This is our 16th renewable energy investment and our third residential rooftop solar investment (the others being with Solar City and Clean Power Finance). Overall we’ve invested more than $1 billion in 16 renewable energy projects around the world, and we’re always on the hunt for new opportunities to make more renewable energy available to more people—Earth Day and every day.
This article is a repost, credit: Google.
- Siemens and BAIC will form joint venture
- “Beijing Siemens Automotive E-Drive System Co., Ltd.” shall produce high efficient motors and inverters for hybrid and battery electric vehicles
- Prototype and small volume production starts in 2014, new production facility for mass production will follow in 2015, with planned capacity of more than 100,000 units per year
- JV supports Chinese government’s plans to safeguard higher environmental standards
Siemens AG, a global player in the field of electric drivetrains and Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., Ltd. (BAIC), one of the major Chinese carmakers, will join efforts to bring further green automotive drive-technologies to the China market. The two companies signed a joint venture at the 2014 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition and outlined their plan to utilize Siemens’ electric drive train components in a range of BAIC vehicles.
The JV, Beijing Siemens Automotive E-Drive System Co., Ltd., will manufacture components for the electric drivetrain including power-electronics and electric motors. The new electric drivetrains consist of a safer and higher power density inverters and highly energy efficient motors. In 2014 the prototype and small volume production will start. In a new Beijing based factory the mass production will start in 2015. The production volume is planned to be more than 100,000 units per year with upside potential.
“This cooperation will further strengthen our leading position in high efficient drive technologies,” said Siegfried Russwurm, member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG and CEO of Siemens Industry Sector, adding that this joint venture brings two strong brands together. “BAIC is a major player in one of the fastest growing markets for e-Mobility. Siemens is a global innovative pioneer for electric power train solutions. We will pave the way for a higher share of e-Mobility on tomorrow’s roads.”
Mr. Xu Heyi, Chairman of BAIC said, “This in-depth cooperation between BAIC and Siemens regarding EV motors is a big move for BAIC. We will develop NEVs via integrated global resources and continuous open and integrated innovation. This cooperation will bring the technology of BAIC’s NEV products to the next level. With world-leading motors as the core component, BAIC’s NEV cars, with the strength this partnership adds, will be distinguished even further during this important start-up phase for NEVs in China.”
Through EV technology and manufacturing, Beijing Siemens Automotive E-Drive System Co., Ltd. will contribute to Chinese government’s initiative in establishing higher environmental standards by pushing New Energy Vehicle (NEV) technologies. As the first customer of the new Siemens-BAIC joint venture, BAIC plans to utilize the electric power train products for its S, C and L car series. The performance scale of these models ranges from 45 to 200 kW.
The Siemens Industry Sector (Erlangen, Germany) is the world’s leading supplier of innovative and environmentally friendly products and solutions for industrial customers. With end-to-end automation technology and industrial software, solid vertical-market expertise, and technology-based services, the Sector enhances its customers’ productivity, efficiency, and flexibility. With a global workforce of more than 100,000 employees, the Industry Sector comprises the Divisions Industry Automation, Drive Technologies and Customer Services as well as the Business Unit Metals Technologies. For more information, visit http://www.siemens.com/industry
Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., Ltd. (BAIC Group) is one of the top-5 domestic Chinese carmakers, with a history of over 50 years. It has now evolved into a comprehensive modern enterprise group, with whole vehi- cle production as the key business, and business expansion to automobile R&D, spare parts production, automobile service and trade, education, investment and financing, as well as general aviation. BAIC Group is also considered as one of the Chinese carmakers with the most complete automobile products, and as a new energy vehicle (NEV) enterprise with R&D and independent production capability for the three core components of NEVs. It has provided more than 30 categories of NEVs, taking the leading role in China in both category and quantity. BAIC Group has business in more than ten municipal cities and provinces in China, and has overseas factories in more than ten countries, including Russia, Iran, Pakistan and India. In 2013, BAIC Group sold about 2 million units of whole vehi- cles, with sales revenue of RMB 266 billion, and profit of RMB 16 billion, making itself into the first tier of China’s automakers. It ranked 336 on the 2013 Fortune Global 500.
This article is a repost, credit: Siemens.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In celebration of Earth Day – and as a way to encourage the widespread use of non-polluting energy sources – The Climate Group and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) have teamed up to create a Facebook campaign designed to accelerate the adoption of solar energy in the United States.
The “I LIKE SOLAR” initiative centers around solar energy’s widespread popular appeal – demonstrated by a recent national Hart poll which shows that 9 out of 10 Americans favor more solar deployment – as well as the power of social media to spread the “buzz” about solar energy. In fact, researchers at the University of Texas, Austin found that interaction with a friend, relative or neighbor with solar can spur someone to “go solar” three times faster.
According to SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch and The Climate Group Executive Director Amy Davidsen, the primary goals of this innovative, new Earth Day campaign include:
- Substantially increasing the use of residential solar in America
- Significantly reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions
- Harnessing Facebook’s powerful social network to create a virtual solar neighborhood
- Optimizing solar messaging on Facebook and other social media platforms
According to the most recent GTM Research and Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) Solar Market Insight Year in Review 2013 there are 13 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity in the United States. When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, that’s enough clean electricity to displace 14.2 billion pounds of coal or 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline. Put another way, it’s the equivalent of taking 2.7 million passenger cars off U.S. highways.
“As we celebrate Earth Day, we are facing a watershed moment in our nation’s history,” Resch said. “Today, climate change is a real and growing threat to America and the rest of the world. It’s indisputable. Sea levels are rising. We’re experiencing more intense and unpredictable storms. And droughts plague the world. Clearly, climate change threatens our economy, our future progress, our health and safety, and even our way of life. Every day, the Earth suffers a little more from human neglect. We can’t wish this problem away, and pointing fingers won’t solve it, either. There’s no better way to celebrate Earth Day – and pay respect to our planet – than to embark on a campaign which can have a positive, demonstrable and measurable impact on our environment.”
Amy Davidsen, The Climate Group Executive Director U.S., said, “The recent Working Group II and III reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlight the need for rapid and ambitious scale-up of low carbon technologies to reduce emissions – the good news is that 70 to 80 percent of these technologies are available today. Residential solar is a leading renewable energy technology that will reduce a household’s energy bills and emissions footprint. The ‘I LIKE SOLAR’ initiative will capitalize on the declining costs of installation, which SEIA reported as declining by 15 percent during 2013, and create a grassroots movement to highlight the benefits of solar to a potential audience of millions of Americans.”
Solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the United States, employing 143,00 Americans and accounting for nearly 30 percent of all new electric generation capacity installed in 2013 – second only to natural gas. In fact, more solar has been brought online in the past 18 months than in the prior 30 years combined. All totaled, solar is now generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to effectively power nearly 2.5 million homes.
“We are excited about this new collaborative effort,” said Resch and Davidsen. “Facebook has 180 million users in the United States and reaches 71 percent of all online adults. Creating a robust community of solar owners to share their stories and offer personal testimonials about the value of solar – both from an economic and environmental standpoint – will certainly pay dividends in our fight against pollution and climate change. Working together, we plan to make this an Earth Day that will be long remembered.”
Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2014, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to champion the use of clean, affordable solar in America by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at http://www.seia.org.
About The Climate Group
The Climate Group is an award-winning, international non-profit. Our goal is a prosperous, low carbon future. We believe this will be achieved through a ‘clean revolution’: the rapid scale-up of low carbon energy and technology.
We work with corporate and government partners to develop climate finance mechanisms, business models which promote innovation, and supportive policy frameworks. We convene leaders, share hard evidence of successful low carbon growth, and pilot practical solutions which can be replicated worldwide.
Our offices are in Greater China, North America, India and the Europe. 2014 is The Climate Group’s 10th Anniversary.
This article is a repost, credit: SEIA.