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Fossil Fuel Divestment Hits $50 Billion Mark

September 22, 2014 in Climate Change, EV News, Oil, Pollution

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with bicameral leadership of Congress regarding foreign policy, in the Oval Office, Sept. 9, 2014. Participants include: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with bicameral leadership of Congress regarding foreign policy, in the Oval Office, Sept. 9, 2014. Participants include: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

NEW YORK CITY – The growing movement to divest from the fossil fuels causing climate change and invest instead in clean, sustainable energy reached an historic milestone today: $50B.

Over 800 global investors have now committed to divest their holdings in fossil fuels. New signatories encompass a broad diversity of sectors and regions— including foundations, individuals, faith groups, health care organizations, cities and universities around the world. Their pledge was revealed at a news conference in New York today, and will be presented tomorrow at the United Nations Climate Summit where over 120 world leaders will gather.

A leading advocate of the movement, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, called on institutions and people of conscience to divest in a video recorded for the announcement: “Climate change is the human rights challenge of our time. We can no longer continue feeding our addiction to fossil fuels as if there is no tomorrow, for there will be no tomorrow.” He called for a freeze on all new fossil fuel exploration as the companies cannot safely burn 75% of known reserves.

The fossil free Divest-Invest movement has grown explosively since its launch three years ago. Today’s announcement includes over 650 individuals and 180 institutions, including 50 new foundations added to the 17 who pledged in January. Together these institutions hold over $50 billion in total assets. Signers pledge to divest from fossil fuels over five years, taking a variety of approaches.

The foundations announced today include the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, whose original endowment comes from wealth generated in the Standard Oil Company. The Fund will be divested first from coal and tar sands by the end of this year, with more to come thereafter.

“John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil, moved America out of whale oil and into petroleum,” explained Stephen Heintz, President of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

This article is a repost, credit: Divest-Invest.

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New world record set with the Nissan LEAF in the lead

September 22, 2014 in Electric Vehicles, EV enthusiast, EV News, LEAF, Nissan

CUPERTINO, Calif. – California has witnessed the world’s largest ever parade of electric vehicles (EVs), 507 cars in one place … and most were Nissan LEAFs. This new record was set during Plug-in America’s National Drive Electric Week, at a time when EV sales continue to climb for Nissan.

“We are currently at around 61,000 sales in the United States since the launch of LEAF four years ago. It is number one in the market (and) number one in the world. It is a natural fit for an opportunity like this to come out and be at this event and set a Guinness World Record on largest number of electric vehicles in a parade at any given time,” said Toby Perry, director, Nissan EV marketing.

As the exclusive automotive sponsor for National Drive Electric Week this September, Nissan had a message to share: EV sales are rising – and the trend is going to continue.

“The fact that there are more manufacturers coming in now proves that it is a viable alternative out there and that we are doing the right thing. To see Kia coming into the market – now Volkswagen in a couple of months – they will be very mainstream vehicles, and it makes us look even stronger as the leader,” said Perry.

National Drive Electric Week is a nationwide grassroots celebration of electric vehicle technology. The annual event shows the fun, convenience, clean-air benefits and cost-savings of electric vehicles through activities taking place from Hawaii to Vermont.

“So many cities came to us and said ‘we can’t do it on a Saturday or a Sunday,’ and so we made this an entire week for greater flexibility,” said Zan Dubin Scott, communications director, Plug In America.

“I love it. I save so much time and money on not having to go and fill up with gas. And I just charge at Google, where I work, so it is awesome,” said Christiana Bush, EV parade participant, Nissan LEAF owner, on the benefits of driving an electric vehicle.

Plug In America reported that plug-in vehicle sales hit the first quarter-million mark in the U.S. on Sept. 10, as a record number of cities were preparing to celebrate this week’s events.

“We want to get people to drive electric, to try it out and get the electric smile – to see how awesome it is and leave gas behind. Join the future man,” said Nicholas Littlejohn, EV parade participant.

This article is a repost, credit: Nissan.

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BYU electric car breaks 200 mph barrier to set new land speed record

September 22, 2014 in Electric Vehicles, EV enthusiast, EV News

‘Electric Blue’ now retiring with mark that could stand for long time

An electric car built by BYU engineering students has once again set a world land speed record, this time besting the previous mark by nearly 50 mph.

Electric Blue, an E1 streamliner designed and modified by more than 130 BYU students over the past 10 years, averaged 204.9 mph on two qualifying runs this month. The new mark obliterates the previous record, 155.8 mph, which coincidentally was set by the same BYU car in 2011.

“When we set the record three years ago we felt like we left a lot on the table,” said BYU student and team captain, Kelly Hales. “On paper we thought we could get 200 mph but we never had the conditions just right—until now.”

The car notched the record this month in front of approximately 180 teams and their cars at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Jim Burkdoll, president of the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association, drove the car to set the record, which was certified by the Southern California Timing Association.

Electric Blue is called a streamliner because it has a long, slender shape and enclosed wheels that reduce air resistance. BYU’s car is in the E1 category, which means it is electric and weighs less than 1,100 pounds. Other streamliners, notably one built by Ohio State University students, have achieved higher speeds but in much heavier vehicles requiring different weight classes.

BYU students custom-built the lightweight carbon fiber body of Electric Blue over a six-year period, with the help of computer programs that model wind tunnels. Aerodynamic performance and lithium iron phosphate batteries helped the car reach its high speeds over the last four years of runs.

“We were going to retire the car last year when head faculty advisor, Perry Carter, left for an LDS mission, but we petitioned for one more year,” Hales said. “Now the car will officially retire with a record we think will be unbeatable for a while.

About half the students who have worked on the streamliner program over the years have been manufacturing engineering technology majors, about 40 percent mechanical engineering majors, and the rest from various other disciplines, including electrical engineering. Many worked on the car as part of an annual capstone course, but most were unpaid volunteers.

Manufacturing professor Mike Miles, who stepped in for Dr. Carter as faculty adviser last year, said the generous support of Ira Fulton made all the difference in providing students with an incredible experience.

“This was kind of the last hurrah; we wanted to give them one final shot,” Miles said. “Ira Fulton kept chipping in financial support and we’re so grateful he did because the results were fantastic. I congratulate Perry Carter, Kelly Hales, and all of the students who worked on this project, for an amazing achievement.”

As for its final resting place of Electric Blue, that remains undecided. It could end up in a racing museum or on display in BYU’s engineering building—but it certainly won’t be dismantled.

This article is a repost (9-18-14), credit: BYU.

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New Walking Strategy in Sydney Puts People First

September 22, 2014 in Environment, EV News, Politics, Pollution

The City of Sydney’s first-ever walking strategy will create a more accessible city that is easier for people to move around, while boosting the health of the local economy.

The draft Walking Strategy and Action Plan details a series of projects and targets to make walking easier and more attractive for residents, workers and tourists.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the walking strategy was about building a city with a safe and convenient walking environment, backed up with clear wayfinding and engaging public art.

“We are continually upgrading our walking infrastructure, because when you create a better environment for walking, you improve people’s health, reduce road congestion and help local business,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The City is investing $50 million to improve the appearance and safety of the most popular walking routes in central Sydney with upgraded footpaths and improved lighting. A further $10 million is being invested in a wayfinding network that will clearly direct people to landmarks and other places of interest.

“Walking already accounts for 92 per cent of trips in the city centre and plays a major role in the economy and transport network.

“With the number of people living in the city set to reach 280,000 by 2036, and the number of city workers to top 570,000, it’s vital we work to better accommodate them on our footpaths and promote transport choices that are easy and reliable.

“It’s also important that we prepare for the upcoming construction of the new light rail network and pedestrianisation of George Street by improving options for people to walk around our city and assisting them in finding alternative ways of getting where they need to go.”

Actions in the strategy designed to make walking quick, convenient and easy include:

  1. Creating at least five kilometres of additional pedestrianised streets and laneways;
  2. Breaking up large city blocks with laneways, arcades and roads;
  3. Rolling out improved pedestrian lighting and footpath networks;
  4. Working with the NSW Government to improve pedestrian waiting times at crossings;
  5. Investigating and promoting safer routes to schools;
  6. Developing local walking maps;
  7. Upgrading main streets to support the local economy;
  8. Implementing an integrated wayfinding system across the City of Sydney;
  9. Working with neighbouring local governments to improve walking infrastructure;
  10. Making public areas accessible for all; and
  11. Designing new developments and urban renewal areas with a ‘people first’ approach.

“Research shows that the more people walk, the more economic benefits are delivered for local businesses, because people who walk visit shops more often and spend more money,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We also know that walking delivers incredible health benefits. Inactivity costs the Australian economy $13.8 billion a year, and at least 60 per cent of the population is either overweight or obese.

“Our new walking strategy aims to make the city centre and surrounding villages easier to navigate, more interesting and better connected, while building a happier and healthier community.”

The City of Sydney has a number of walking targets, including:

  1. Walking to account for 60 per cent of local trips within the city;
  2. Walking to make up one-third of commuter trips by city residents;
  3. Reducing walking times by 10 per cent across key walking routes;
  4. Increasing footpath capacity by 20 per cent on main activity streets; and
  5. Halving traffic accidents involving people.

The draft Walking Strategy and Action Plan will be put on public exhibition to coincide with the world’s leading conference on walking, Walk 21, which the City of Sydney is co-hosting from 21-23 October.

This article is a repost, credit: City of Sydney.

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Five Things You Didn’t Know About The Potential for Wireless Vehicle Charging

September 22, 2014 in Electric Vehicles, EV charging, EV News, Greentech, Politics

By Natalie Committee, Energy Department

Research shows abundant possibilities for wireless charging in the future.  Image courtesy of Oak Ridge National Lab.

Research shows abundant possibilities for wireless charging in the future.
Image courtesy of Oak Ridge National Lab.

In an increasingly fast-paced and mobile world, consumers are interested in being able to use technology wherever, whenever — with as little hassle as possible.

Taking a cue from some smartphones that can charge wirelessly, automakers, federal researchers and equipment manufacturers have recognized an opportunity for plug-in electric vehicles, known as PEVs. Wireless charging has the power to greatly increase the convenience and accessibility of plug-in electric vehicle charging for drivers.

Also known as inductive charging or wireless power transfer, wireless charging involves transferring power from the electric grid to a PEV battery without the use of wires, cords or plugs. It requires only a ground-based transmitting coil, or charging pad, and appropriate grid-side power electronics to transfer energy to a vehicle with a corresponding receiving coil installed. When the system is activated, the driver can simply park the vehicle over the charging pad and the system automatically recharges the vehicle.

Since launching the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, the Department of Energy has initiated projects to develop wireless charging solutions, integrate them into commercially available PEVs, and demonstrate the technology in the real world.

Here are five things you may have not known about wireless charging for electric vehicles:

  1. Plug-in electric vehicles that are already available to consumers could be adapted to include wireless charging capability.

The Energy Department, national laboratories, automakers and others are working together to develop systems and standards so that any PEV can charge with any wireless charging system. PEV drivers interested in wireless charging could install it as an aftermarket system in PEVs such as the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf. Several other automakers are working on production PEVs that have wireless charging systems built in and available at the time of purchase. Toyota and Volvo have reported verification testing on wireless charging systems for PEVs, but have not announced a timeline for market availability.

  1. Wireless charging could help significantly reduce harmful emissions.

By making PEVs more convenient and easier to charge, wireless charging can help drivers use their PEVs more often and drive more miles on electricity rather than gasoline. Even charged with the nation’s average electricity mix — which includes generation using fossil fuels — PEVs driving on electricity produce 30 percent fewer lifecycle greenhouse gases than the average conventional vehicle.

  1. Wireless charging systems could provide PEVs with as much power and efficiency as today’s Level 2 charging stations.

Commercially available wireless charging systems provide comparable power to what today’s PEVs can receive from Level 2 (240V) charging stations often used at residential and commercial properties. At this rate, it takes a PEV about four to six hours to recharge its battery. Testing has also shown that wireless systems could approach the efficiency of plug-in charging systems. Partnering with the Energy Department, Oak Ridge National Laboratory has demonstrated a wireless charging unit with 85 percent system efficiency — meaning only 15 percent of the energy is lost in the transfer from the grid service to the vehicle’s battery when charging wirelessly.

  1. Electric buses could charge quickly and more conveniently with wireless charging.  

Researchers investigating wireless charging and its applications have primarily focused on stationary charging between a transmitting coil on the ground and a receiving coil mounted on a vehicle’s underbody. However, researchers are also exploring opportunistic, or “quasi-dynamic,” charging, which involves shorter bursts of high-power charging that better meets the needs of most public transportation vehicles. Opportunistic charging is ideal for large cities with electric buses in their transit systems, allowing the buses to get a quick charge while pausing to pick up passengers.

  1. Electric vehicles have the potential to receive power wirelessly while in motion.

Researchers are testing in-motion, or “dynamic,” charging that would allow drivers to “connect” to the grid and receive power to their PEVs while driving. In-motion charging involves embedding durable power transfer coils in the highway and grid connection stations at various intervals along the road. As the vehicle drives over the electrified highway, it receives a brief but high-level charge — comparable to the power output of DC Fast Charging — giving the vehicle an energy boost. Electrified roadways are at the very early stages of development, but innovative researchers and engineers are investigating ways to make it happen.

Like many alternative fuel vehicle technologies, widespread adoption of wireless charging for PEVs will require collaboration, cost reduction and technology improvement. The Energy Department recognizes PEVs as a means to reduce America’s petroleum consumption and recently announced a new multi-million dollar investment in the research and development of PEV technologies.

Learn more about the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge and current plug-in electric vehicle activities happening at the Vehicle Technologies Office.

This article is a repost, credit: Energy Department.