Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Recharge IT

Google proved it is serious about Plug Ins with its new Recharge IT initiative. Here is part of the story.

Google.org to to Accelerate Plug-In Hybrid
and Vehicle-to-Grid Technology

Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google Inc. today announced the RechargeIT initiative that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and oil dependence by accelerating the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

As part of this initiative, Google.org awarded $1 million in grants and announced plans for a $10 million request for proposals (RFP) to fund development, adoption and commercialization of plug-ins, fully electric cars and related vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.

In addition, Google Inc. announced that it has switched on the solar panel installation at its Mountain View, Calif. headquarters, which will help the company reduce its environmental footprint and power its plug-ins with clean solar electricity. At 1.6 megawatts — and with an electricity output capable of powering approximately 1,000 average California homes — the Google project is the largest solar installation to date on any corporate campus in the United States and one of the largest on any corporate site in the world.

At today’s event, Google teamed with PG&E to demonstrate the bi-directional flow of electricity between plug-ins and the electric grid. “Clean energy technology can dramatically shift how we make and use energy for our cars and homes by charging cars through an electric grid powered by solar or other renewable energy sources, and selling power back to the electric grid when it’s needed most. This approach can quadruple the fuel efficiency of cars on the road today and improve grid stability,” said Dr. Larry Brilliant, Executive Director of Google.org.

The RechargeIT Initiative includes several elements designed to advance plug-in development and commercialization, including:

Grants: Google.org announced grants to the following organizations:
Brookings Institution :$200,000 to support a spring 2008 conference on federal policy to promote plug-ins;
CalCars : $200,000 to support its workto educate the public about plug-ins;
— Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) $200,000 to support its plug-in research and development program;
Plug-In America :$100,000 to raise public awareness and advocate for plug-in transportation;
Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) :$200,000 to enable RMI to launch the design of a practical plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, with additional support and collaberation by Alcoa, Johnson Controls, and the TurnerFoundation;
Dr. Willett Kempton, University of Delaware: $150,000 for megawatt scale vehicle-to-grid research and implementation planning." more

Google also intends to to invest approximately $10 million in technologies and companies featuring plug in hybrids, fully electric vehicles, vehicle-to-grid capabilities, batteries and other storage technologies , and the application of renewable energy and fuels to green vehicles.

“Google is committed to using its resources to help solve the global climate challenge,” said Dr. Brilliant. “Google.org is a hybrid philanthropy, bringing together the active engagement of the broader Google corporation, as well as investments in for-profits, traditional grants, policy work, and public information.

RechargeIT brings together all of these elements to help accelerate progress on plug-ins. By demonstrating new clean energy technologies and how they can be connected to the grid, we hope to spur demand and encourage car manufacturers to make these vehicles commercially available on a large scale on an urgent basis.”

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tata Takes On Air

With all of the accelerated development in advanced batteries, most car companies are focusing on that technological track. Here is an exception from the largest car maker in India.

Air-Car Ready for Mass Production

Bob Ewig
Popular Mechanics
May 31, 2007

The world's first commercial compressed air-powered vehicle is rolling towards the production line. The Air Car, developed by ex-Formula One engineer Guy Nègre, will be built by India's largest automaker, Tata Motors.

The Air Car uses compressed air to push its engine's pistons. It is anticipated that approximately 6000 Air Cars will be cruising the streets of India by 2008. If the manufacturers have no surprises up their exhaust pipes the car will be practical and reasonably priced. The CityCat model will clock out at 68 mph with a driving range of 125 miles.

Refueling is simple and will only take a few minutes. That is, if you live nearby a gas station with custom air compressor units. The cost of a fill up is approximately $2.00. If a driver doesn't have access to a compressor station, they will be able to plug into the electrical grid and use the car's built-in compressor to refill the tank in about 4 hours.

The compressed air technology is basically just a way of storing electrical energy without the need for costly, heavy, and occasionally toxic batteries. So, in a sense, this is an electric car. It just doesn't have an electric motor.


Unfortunately, the streets of North America may never see the Air Car, though; it's light-weight, glued-together fiberglass construction might not do so well in our crash tests. However, that does not mean the Air car (watch video) is confined to the sub-continent. Nègre has signed deals to bring its design to 12 more countries, including Germany, Israel and South Africa.
And this isn't the last we'll hear of the technology. The folks making the Air Car are already working on a hybrid version that would use an on-board, gasoline-powered compressor to refill the air tanks when they run low. Negre says that technology could easily squeeze a cross country trip out of one tank of gasoline. "

In other Plug in Partner News:

New York City Joins Plug-In Partners
In a March 22 letter to Austin Mayor Will Wynn, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg pointed out that New York City is “a leader in the use of alternative fuel vehicles, with the largest alternative fuel fleet in the country,” and added, “This campaign provides New York with a terrific opportunity to make further strides in improving its air quality.”

Bloomberg also said that “Integrating the use of plug-in technologies with the City’s already successful alternative fuel vehicle efforts will allow us to further improve upon our past successes, adding to our arsenal of energy saving, low emission vehicles that benefit all New Yorkers.”

Consumers voice desire for plug-in hybrids
Automakers are hearing consumer wishes for plug-in hybrids from a number of directions. A recent survey question asked by Toyota was: “In the future, what direction would you like to see hybrids go?"

The results, as reported in a pie chart in a company newsletter, were:
6% Higher power output.
18% Alternative fuel hybrid.
37% Higher fuel economy.
39% Plug-in hybrids.

Not only did plug-in hybrids top the voting, but plug-in hybrids can also address the second and third finishers as well. Plug-in hybrids will dramatically improve fuel economy by drastically reducing or eliminating gasoline use in the daily driving of millions and plug-in can be build with flexible fuel engines, further reducing the use of gasoline.

Demonstration Vehicles
Many partners have inquired about the possibility of obtaining demonstration vehicles. So far the possibilities are very limited although we may be able to report soon on some changes in the market for conversion of existing hybrids to plug-ins. At Austin Energy we recently converted two of the utility’s Priuses to plug-ins. We think this will be valuable in demonstrating that the technology works. Our focus, however, remains on persuading automakers to mass manufacture such vehicles by demonstrating a strong market for plug-ins.

Plug-In Partners goes international
At Plug-In Partners we have intentionally limited our efforts to the United States, figuring a national effort is enough for one utility. Recently, however, we’ve been getting international inquires. Our first international partner City joined last month, the city of Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver was followed by British Columbia Sustainable Energy Association (BCSEA), a coalition of government and businesses in British Columbia. They join Canadian companies Veridian Corporation and Feel Good Cars as Plug-In Partners.