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A driving need for fuel economy, Source: IEA

July 31, 2013 in EV News, IEA, Oil

Tesla Model S, all-electric, zero-emissions Washington Auto Show Photo courtesy of US Department of Energy

Tesla Model S, all-electric, zero-emissions
Washington Auto Show
Photo courtesy of US Department of Energy

Transport offers the easiest path for reducing oil dependency in theory: simple, readily available solutions promise a 30% to 50% improvement in fuel economy, depending on the country, while reducing carbon emissions by several gigatonnes of CO2 each year.

Technologies now available to reduce fuel use include better engines and transmissions, improved aerodynamics and tyres, and more efficient auxiliary power systems such as lights, heating and air conditioning. By 2020, such advances promise a 15% gain in efficiency for new vehicles powered by conventional gasoline engines: 28% for diesels and 44% for full-hybrids, the United States National Research Council says (versus a 2005 conventional gasoline vehicle). By 2035, down-sized gasoline- and diesel-engine vehicles should be nearly 50% more efficient than today, with hybrids nearly two-thirds more efficient.

But while auto manufacturers steadily deploy new technologies in vehicles, uptake for efficiency is slow, as with hybridisation, or the gains are used for purposes other than improving fuel economy, such as increased power.

Roadblocks to higher efficiency

Several market-related barriers reduce both manufacturers’ and consumers’ incentives for greater fuel economy.

To make informed decisions, consumers need to know about the efficiency of a vehicle. Trustworthy and widespread information about fuel economy requires labelling and ratings based on improved testing methods that reflect real-world driving conditions. Owners also must accept realistic discount rates for cars to correctly calculate repayment periods.

Low prices, and especially subsidies, for fuel limit efficient vehicles’ economic return to individuals and companies, making it hard to justify any extra up-front cost. Similarly, uncertainty about oil prices can discourage buyers from purchasing more efficient vehicles.

These factors affect the payback period, with advanced gasoline engine and hybrid vehicles requiring a lengthy five-plus years. On a societal basis, however, fuel savings and forgone emissions over the average life of a car far exceed the cost of the new technology.

Educating drivers and equipping vehicles with gear-shift indicators and fuel-use displays can correct wasteful driving habits. Eco-driving measures can lift fuel economy by up to 10%. Smoother road surfaces can save up to another 10%, while better traffic flow reduces rolling resistance as well as stops and starts.

Implementing the right policies – now

In the prize-winning reports Technology Roadmap: Fuel Economy for Road Vehicles and Policy Pathway: Improving the Fuel Economy of Road Vehicles, the IEA tells how countries can encourage more efficient road transport. Some countries have long had programmes aimed at greater fuel economy, but such major OECD markets as the United States, Japan and the European Union only recently adopted strong measures. China, too, has adopted tough policies, but most other major emerging economies lack fuel economy standards, fiscal measures or even fuel economy labelling programmes.

Time is running out. It takes a government up to two years for the full analysis, stakeholder engagement and final rule-making required to plan and develop a policy. In addition, manufacturers need at least two years from the final development of the policy to respond with changes to their product plan; three to five years offer full flexibility for them to meet the requirements at a lower cost. Allowing the three to five years also permits tougher targets because manufacturers can react more effectively and improve the cost-effectiveness of their solutions.

The IEA recommends a ten-year horizon for regulation to give a clear signal for tighter standards coming in the future.

This article was written by François Cuenot, who joined the IEA Energy Technology Perspectives transport team in 2009 and heads work on the Mobility Model that helps project fuel demand and associated emissions to 2050. He also leads IEA efforts in the Global Fuel Economy Initiative and the Sustainable Low Carbon Transport partnership.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) produces IEA Energy, but all analysis and views contained in the journal are those of individual authors and not necessarily those of the IEA Secretariat or IEA member countries, and are not to be construed as advice on any specific issue or situation.

This article is a repost, credit: International Energy Agency,

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DOT’s Transportation Technology Center puts American-made Cities Sprinter through its paces, Source: DOT

July 31, 2013 in Electric Vehicles, EV News, Trains

By Joseph Szabo

FRA Administrator Szabo stands near Cities Sprinter locomotive at the TTC; photo courtesy Amtrak, Chuck Gomez Courtesy of US DOT

FRA Administrator Szabo stands near Cities Sprinter locomotive at the TTC; photo courtesy Amtrak, Chuck Gomez
Courtesy of US DOT

In May, the first of Amtrak’s new fleet of electric locomotives, called Cities Sprinters, rolled out of the Siemens plant in Sacramento. They were manufactured in America by Americans, and they featured parts and materials from more than 70 different American suppliers in 60 different U.S. cities. They are faster, more reliable, more sustainable, and easier to maintain than the locomotives they’ll replace.

And, at the DOT Transportation Technology Center (TTC) in Pueblo, Colorado, the Federal Railroad Administration is making sure that they are-first and foremost-safe.

Photo courtesy of US DOT

Photo courtesy of US DOT

Earlier this week, I joined Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman and Siemens U.S. Rail Systems President Michael Cahill at the TTC to get an update on the testing program and to observe a testing demonstration. Since the three of us are enthusiastic train fans-to say the least-it was an exciting day.

“We built and designed these to U.S. standards, which are some of the most stringent standards in the world when it comes to rolling stock in terms of safety, sustainability, and reliability,” said Cahill.

As Amtrak’s Boardman said, “These locomotives will be the new workhorses of the Amtrak fleet in the Northeast and they must meet our performance-based specifications and reliability needs so we can keep the region’s people and economy moving.”

The two locomotives at the TTC are undergoing tests for maximum speed, acceleration and braking, operating with Amtrak passenger coach cars attached, and overall performance capabilities. Engineers are also validating the on-board computer systems and software, as well as evaluating ride quality by measuring noise and vibrations. Additional tests will ensure the locomotive is operating and performing as designed and that it is ready to provide the reliable service Amtrak passengers expect.

But our number one priority is safety, and the testing regime demonstrates the extraordinary standards FRA requires manufacturers and railroads to meet when building passenger rail equipment.

We’re not just testing Amtrak’s new workhorses in Pueblo. A third locomotive will run field tests on the Northeast and Keystone Corridors this summer and be used to train Amtrak engineers and mechanical crews. And because we want to see how the Cities Sprinter performs in extreme heat and cold, a fourth will be tested in a special climate-controlled chamber.

One in seven Americans lives along the Northeast Corridor, and as demand for passenger rail service continues to grow there and across the country, FRA will continue to ensure that rail equipment is safe, reliable, and efficient.

This article is a repost, credit: Federal Railroad Administration Administrator, Joseph Szabo, Department of Transportation,

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Georgia Advocates Help Push State Commitment to Clean Energy, By Brian Foley, Sierra Club

July 31, 2013 in Environment, EV News, Greentech, Solar, Wind

Photo courtesy of Sierra Club

Photo courtesy of Sierra Club

Georgia has taken a huge step toward planting the seeds needed to grow a clean-energy economy.

As part of Georgia Power’s 20-year energy plan, the Georgia Public Service Commission voted to not only approve Georgia Power’s plans to retire 20 percent of its oldest and dirtiest coal plants; the commission also issued an additional order directing the Southern Company subsidiary to add 525 MW of solar to its fuel mix by 2016. This addition means that Georgia will have 1 gigawatt of clean wind and solar energy online by 2017. Georgia is fifth in the nation for solar energy potential, yet languishes in 38th place for the total number of solar power projects currently installed.

Photo courtesy of Sierra Club

Photo courtesy of Sierra Club

“This was the most important news anyone can remember,” said Georgia-based Sierra Club organizer Seth Gunning. “Whereas we used to see the Public Service Commissioners as rubber-stampers for Georgia Power’s agenda, this huge ruling shows that this is no longer the case and represents a monumental shift for the potential of the state’s clean energy future.”

The commission’s decision in part reflected efforts by the Georgia Beyond Coal Campaign to build bridges with some unlikely allies: the state’s conservative Republicans and Tea Party members from the Savannah and Atlanta areas, in addition to consumer advocates and the solar industry.

This played a role in compelling the all-Republican Public Service Commission to pass the proposal that added the solar program to the 20-year plan in the face of a heavy fossil-fuel-funded lobbying effort that sought to defeat the solar proposal. Before the vote, about 50 clean-energy advocates held a counter-demonstration in response to a rally funded by the Koch brothers.

“The clean-energy rally filled the rotunda inside the capital,” said Gunning. “None of this would have happened without the leadership and hard work from our Smart Energy Team, our staff, and the attorneys at GreenLaw. In the months before the decision, dozens of volunteer leaders made phone calls, wrote letters, testified, organized and attended public hearings demanding that the Commission reduce Georgia Power’s coal capacity and increase solar.”

Clean-energy advocates are excited for the future of the state.

“Before the Commission proposed this new solar development, Georgia Power’s long-term energy plan had no program to add clean energy,” said Ashten Bailey of GreenLaw. “With this new initiative, we’re no longer at the back of the pack and can truly compete to be a clean energy leader in the Southeast.”

Congratulations to our wonderful activists and volunteers in Georgia!

This article is a repost, credit: Brian Foley, Sierra Club,

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Florida Project Produces Nation’s First Cellulosic Ethanol at Commercial-Scale, Source: DOE

July 31, 2013 in Environment, EV News, Greentech

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz Photo courtesy of DOE

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz
Photo courtesy of DOE

WASHINGTON – The Energy Department today recognized the nation’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol production at INEOS Bio’s Indian River BioEnergy Center in Vero Beach, Florida. Developed through a joint venture between INEOS Bio and New Planet Energy, the project uses a unique hybrid of gasification and fermentation technology – originally developed with Energy Department support starting in the 1990’s – to convert wood scraps, grass clippings and other waste materials into transportation fuels as well as energy for heat and power.

“Unlocking the potential for the responsible development of all of America’s rich energy resources is a critical part of our all-of-the-above energy strategy,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Today’s announcement of commercial-scale cellulosic production represents an important benchmark for American leadership in this growing global industry. It also demonstrates the need for early-stage investment in innovative technologies that will help diversify our energy portfolio, reduce carbon pollution and lead to tomorrow’s energy breakthroughs.”

As the President’s Climate Action Plan made clear, biofuels have an important role to play in increasing our energy security, fostering rural economic development and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. The Energy Department’s research and development efforts are helping to bring innovative, cost-cutting biofuel technologies on line, test the latest engineering advancements and accelerate commercial production.

The Indian River County BioEnergy Center (Center) will have an annual output of eight million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year from vegetative, yard and municipal solid waste as well as six megawatts of clean, renewable power annually – enough to run the entire facility and provide excess power to the local community.

The project’s gasification-fermentation technology – which produces fuel, heat and power – has its roots in a University of Arkansas research project, supported by a $5 million Energy Department investment over fifteen years. The Department’s early support helped this technology obtain a number of patents, with the core intellectual property purchased by INEOS Bio in 2008.

In 2009, the INEOS Bio-New Planet Energy joint venture was awarded a $50 million Energy Department grant to design, construct, commission and operate the Indian River BioEnergy Center. With a $130 million total project cost, the Center created more than 400 direct construction, engineering and manufacturing jobs during its development and has 65 current full-time employees. More than 90 percent of its equipment was sourced by U.S. manufacturers across 10 states. The Vero Beach project will serve as a test bed for producing commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol with this innovative conversion technology – helping to inform future INEOS Bio facilities as well as other advanced biofuel projects across the country.

Find more information on the Energy Department’s broader efforts to grow America’s biofuels industry at

This article is a repost, credit: US Department of Energy,

Tesla Cleaning the Air

July 31, 2013 in Electric Vehicles, EV News, Oil, Tesla

Normal, IL, Tesla Supercharger station Photo courtesy of Tesla

Normal, IL, Tesla Supercharger station
Photo courtesy of Tesla

Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants the company to have a 25% gross margin average in Q4.  This gross margin goal is independent of any zero emission vehicle credits (ZEV revenue).  Tesla plans to clear the air in more ways than one.

This zero emission Model S (photo right) is charging for free in an enclosed lot in Normal, IL.  The owner of this vehicle can charge at any Supercharger station for free, for life!

Tesla has initiated the development of its European Supercharger network in Norway.  With petrol prices approximately double the United States, Europe is obviously a great long-term market for Tesla.  People can quantify free, and there is no shortage of people that want to be free of gasoline.

European leaders are well aware of the limits of oil supply.  Oil field declines in the North Sea have been highly publicized in Europe.  In response, the Norwegian government devised some of the most aggressive electric vehicle adoption policies in the world, and this is despite the country being a major oil exporter.  Of course, Tesla management is thinking long-term as well, with plans to sell a mass-market electric car, the generation III, in a few years.  However, there is a great landmass and ocean between the Fremont factory and the shores of Europe.  If the company is confident about the generation III timeframe, it would be best to start planning ahead.

Tesla stock (TSLA) closed today at $134.28 per share, up 1.93%.  The stock hit a new record high yesterday at $137.49.

The US Energy Information Administration weekly petroleum inventory report showed that Cushing Oklahoma oil inventories dropped to 42.1 million barrels, which helped lift the price of WTI oil over $105 per barrel.  WTI should trade more in-line with the price of Brent (currently $107-$108).  US domestic crude production was approximately flat in the report, a little north of 7.5 million barrels a day.

High oil prices are being maintained despite economic weakness in China (#2 oil importer) and India (#4 oil importer).  The US Department of Energy should greatly increase its efforts to educate the American public about the benefits of electric vehicles.

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