|Written by Megan Treacy on July 2010
A Virginia company called Evatran has debuted their prototype for an EV charger that works without plugs, cables or a flow of electricity between the vehicle and the charger.
This new charging system doesn't work by magic, but by induction. To recharge an EV with this system, the vehicle pulls up to the charging station and parks over a floor-mounted parking block. An adapter fitted to the vehicle and the parking block both contain metal coils that become aligned by magnetic sensors. The control tower for the charging station converts electricity into the right frequency for the charger and when the coils are aligned, the electricity creates a strong magnetic field in the parking block's coils that induces a flow of electricity in the coils in the vehicle's adapter, which charges the battery.
Induction is what's used in electrical transformers and has been used for charging smaller devices like cell phones and electric toothbrushes, so it was only a matter of time before we saw it used in EV charging.
The company is running a pilot program throughout the year and hopes to commercially release the system next April. So far, Evatran has been able to achieve an 80 percent efficiency with the induction charging, but hopes to hit 90 percent by the time production units are released
|New York State Drafts Major Solar Thermal Plan
|Written by Megan Treacy on June 2010
New York has big plans for solar thermal heating. A new program paves the way for the installation of one million systems by 2020, amounting to a 2 GW capacity.
In New York, where winters get mighty frosty, 60 percent of energy consumed in buildings goes to heating and hot water, so this new plan could have a major impact. The state could see annual savings of 6 million gallons of oil, 9.5 million cubic feet of natural gas and 320 GWh of electricity. The financial savings would amount to $175 million each year.
These systems would be spread among residential and commercial buildings throughout the state, making hot water and creating steam for heating systems, with residential buildings making up a much larger chunk at 70 percent of the systems installed.
The plan, which was drafted by the state's Solar Thermal Consortium, includes incentives for installing the technology, education and training for installers, research and development for better technology and improvements in the permitting process. It sounds amazing; let's hope the state government implements it.
via Renewable Energy World
Marine Protected Areas give Animals the Room to Grow
As Californians, we surf and sunbathe on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world -- sharing them with otters, seals, and sea creatures large and small.
Unfortunately, the delicate marine ecosystems are at risk -- wildlife populations are dropping fast. We're working to establish protection for turtles, otters and other wildlife by establishing marine protected areas, which work like national parks in the ocean.
Right now, state officials are considering putting a new protected area that would range from offshore of Santa Barbara down to San Diego, and we're working to make sure it happens. Please join us, and send an e-mail to the state commission today.
I also wanted to let you in on some great news for solar power. The governor signed two new bills that help people cash in on going solar -- making utilities fairly compensate solar customers who provide electricity to the grid. One law requires utilities to write a check to their customers for generating surplus solar electricity in a given year (AB 920) and the other creates a market for giant solar installations on warehouses, parking lots and other large open areas. It was an uphill battle with utility opposition in the current political climate, but with your help, we were able to overcome those challenges. And that's why I'm also confident we can convince the state to protect sea animals with marine protected areas.
Marine protected areas serve one main purpose: They give sea critters a place to live, feed, breed and thrive without being subjected to large-scale industrial fishing.
Large-scale commercial fisheries take everything they can with no thought to longevity. They use huge factory trawlers that destroy ocean habitat -- clear-cutting the ocean floor.
The evidence of their unsustainable practice is clear: 90 percent of big predator fish are now gone. And to get the remaining 10 percent, fishing industries use methods that kill everything in their path, such as dolphins, sea otters and thousands of small fish that these animals depend on for food.
To make it worse, most of the fished areas are also the areas that are most ecologically important, areas where animals come to mate and spawn.
There is a solution. By setting aside key areas, we can protect sensitive sea life and habitats while leaving the majority of coastal waters open for fishing and other uses. With a network of marine protected areas, we can help ensure the long-term health and sustainability of California's ocean and the animals that live in it.
The state set up a commission to investigate marine protected areas but the outcome is far from certain.
The fishing companies don't want any limits put in place -- despite the fact that marine protected areas help revitalize fish populations.
That's why we need more people to take action, and protect our ocean wildlife:
Thanks for leading the way,
Environment California Legislative Director
|Written by Megan Treacy 10/09
A new idea for a large substation based in Clovis, New Mexico has the potential to solve one of the biggest hurdles to clean energy growth: transmission. The SuperStation, as its being called, would link the three largest grids - the east, west and Texas - allowing renewable energy producers to sell electricity across the country instead of just within their own grid.
The basic setup of the SuperStation would be a huge substation using superconducting cables to transmit electricity. The cables would carry 5 GW of electricity to and from the substation where it would be converted from AC from the grids to DC and then back to AC on its way back out. The cables are chilled to 300 degrees below zero which lets them carry more electricity, more cheaply. Tres Amigas, the company that hopes to build the project, would charge a fee for the SuperStation's use.
As more renewable energy projects are planned and built, it's infrastructure like this that will ultimately allow that clean electricity to make it into our homes. This project is expected to encounter lots of red tape because of the heavy regulation of power transmission, and it comes with a $1 billion price tag, so, for now, we can only hope it makes it. via Wall Street Journal
|Written by Megan Treacy 10/09
For the past week, 20 teams took over the National Mall with their best attempts at a net-zero, solar-powered home, all with hopes to win this year's Solar Decathlon. Today, after competing in ten different contests, the winners were crowned, and for the second time, Germany took first place.
The cube-shaped surPLUShome, covered on all sides by dark metallic solar panels, produces more than twice the energy it uses. The roof is covered with single-crystal silicon panels and the sides with thin-film copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) panels. The entire system has a capacity of 11.1 kW.
Just as impressive was the efficiency of the home. The team got a perfect score in the Net Metering contest. Features like one large multi-purpose room with different "zones" instead of separated rooms, vacuum insulation structural panels, a boiler/heat pump system for hot water and heat and louver-covered windows created an energy-sipping home.
Two U.S. teams also placed in the competition: Team Illinois took second and Team California took third. All of the entries showcased innovative and beautiful designs. Check out virtual tours of all the entries here and let the inspiration begin. via Inhabitat
The windmill goes on tour
Environment California is bringing some much-needed visibility to the energy debate unfolding right now in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C. -- by setting up a giant, 14-foot windmill in cities across California.
Here's our plan:
• Hold rallies featuring our windmill in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and finishing up in Sacramento.
• Gather thousands of petition signatures at these rallies and deliver them to lawmakers in Sacramento.
• Get hundreds of people to call their legislators while at these rallies.
for more info go to: www.environmentcalifornia.org
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