Press Announcement (11/1/11)
REC Solar, a subsidiary of Mainstream Energy Corporation, has teamed with GE Energy Industrial Solutions, a leading supplier of power generation and energy delivery technologies, to distribute the GE WattStation™ electric vehicle (EV) charger. The partnership signals the movement toward the inevitable collision of two rapidly growing sustainability movements – solar and electric vehicles – for a cleaner, more secure world.
Solar-powered charging stations expand the economic benefits of EV ownership, while enhancing the environmental and energy saving benefits. Looking ahead to a future transportation system freed from dependence on fossil fuels, REC Solar and GE are taking steps to create an end-to-end solar EV charging system that will enable our cars to literally run on sunshine. The intersection of solar and EV industries means greater reduction of greenhouse gases and independence from fossil fuels – while at the same time delivering economic benefits to drivers. The cost of driving a solar-charged EV may be 66 percent less than a gas-powered car, according to a recent study by GTM Research.
GE’s WattStation is an easy-to-use Level 2 electric vehicle (EV) charger designed to help accelerate the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles by significantly decreasing time needed for charging – delivering a full charge in just four to eight hours compared with standard overnight charging that can take as much as 12 to 14 hours. Its smart grid-enabled technology could also help utility companies manage the impact of EVs on the local and regional grids. As a distributor of the GE WattStation, REC Solar will make it easier for its thousands of commercial, government and residential customers to incorporate EV charging capabilities. The WattStation is the ideal complement to the growing trend towards solar carports, but its simple installation makes it suitable for any type of solar installation.
“We are excited to be a distributor for the GE WattStation, known for its charging speed and beauty, to address growing demand from our large residential and commercial customer base for the integration of EV charging stations into the solar installation process,” said Lee Johnson, CEO of REC Solar. “With expectations of one million EVs entering America’s roadways by 2016, the need to establish a sustainable EV infrastructure is here today. By incorporating solar, our electrical grids won’t be overwhelmed by the influx of EV chargers. And of course, the more solar energy is used with electric vehicles, the cleaner the environment becomes.”
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Customers Control Smart Charging
By John Addison (11/11/09)
Smart Grid EV Charge
By 2020, 219,000 customers of PG&E may say goodbye to those trips to the gas station. No more spinning dials at the pump – $20.00, $40.00, $80.00, etc. Instead drivers will conveniently plug-in their electric cars at home or work. The fill-up will be electrons, not gasoline.
Across the country, electric utilities are preparing to offer smart charging boxes for the garage and charging stations for work and downtown locations. For a fraction of gasoline cost, you will be able to charge plug-in vehicles.
Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), for example, is a utility that is planning to service between 219,000 and 845,000 battery electric cars and plug-in hybrids by 2020, under three different planning scenarios presented at Greentech’s The Networked Grid Conference. PG&E currently provides electricity to 5 million customers, including a few thousand that currently drive electric cars. Currently, most of these electric cars are 25-mile per hour neighborhood vehicles that are popular in college and university towns. A few hundred can zoom past you on a freeway, such as the Tesla Roadster.
This year, Newsweek ranked PG&E as the greenest utility in the country due to its strong commitment to customer energy efficiency programs and renewable energy (RE) programs. PG&E serves 15 million people in northern and central California with 123,054 miles electric distribution lines needed to cover 70,000 square miles of its service area. Natural gas is 46 percent of PG&E’s source for electricity, nuclear 20 percent, hydro 16 percent, and out-of-state coal only 2 percent.
Renewable Energy > Coal + Natural Gas by 2020
Renewable energy is 14 percent of PG&E’s total delivered electricity today. It will miss its legal requirement to be at 20 percent by the end of 2010 due to NIMBY roadblocks to large solar thermal plants in the desert. PG&E needs approvals to install the high-voltage lines necessary to bring utility-scale RE to PG&E customers, thereby adding to its current 18,610 circuit miles of interconnected transmission lines.
Hal LaFlash, PG&E Director of Emerging Clean Technologies, outlined how the utility will have 34.8 TWh of RE in 2010 and 77.6TWh of RE in 2020, the year when California utilities must generate 33 percent of their electricity from RE. By 2020, renewable energy may be the utility’s #1 source of energy. The RE mix will be (1) solar thermal, (2) photovoltaics, (3) wind, (4) geothermal, with bioenergy and ocean adding to the total.
With terawatts of nighttime wind power, PG&E may have more electricity at night than it needs. One million electric vehicles could easily be supported provided that they charge off-peak, preferably at night. Smart charging allows customers to plug-in; yet not have charging begin until a preferred time, such as when excess electricity is available to the grid. PG&E hopes to secure regulatory approval for time-of-use pricing so that customers have an incentive to charge at night.
Utility executives worry that people will charge whenever they feel like it. Since charging an electric car is like powering an entire home, the concern is valid. People are still buying gas guzzlers as pump prices rise, so they many may ignore price incentives to charge at night. So far, early customers of plug-in vehicles have been environmentally concerned, and have shown a preference for charging with renewables including their own solar rooftops. Automakers, utilities, and regulators are working to make it easy for new electric car customers to select night time and even renewable energy charging through web browsers, smart phones, and even vehicle dash displays.
Smart Charging and Renewable Energy
Between the electric cars and renewable energy will be a smart grid. Every vehicle charging device will include a smart meter. PG&E is leading the nation with 1.6 million smart meters now installed. It is installing an average of 13,000 per day, and will have 10 million smart meters installed by 2012.
Andrew Tang, PG&E Senior Director of the Smart Energy Web, expects 35 different models of plug-in vehicles to be available within the next two years. PG&E actively meets with auto makers to make sure that smart charging networking is compatible and in place. Only some homes and communities are now ready with dedicated 240V/30A circuits for the 4-hour charging that electric car leaders, such as Nissan recommend.
Although smart charging provides for two-way communication, electricity will only be delivered one-way from the grid to the vehicle. Mr. Tang expressed skepticism about vehicle-to-grid (V2G) being cost-effective and acceptable to customers and automakers, even though PG&E has done V2G demonstrations within its own fleet, with Tesla, with Google, and elsewhere. PG&E is looking at MW grid storage alternatives such as pumped hydro and compressed air, such as the 300MW compressed air storage in Kern Country that PG&E has applied for a federal grant. Sulfur Sodium batteries that could scale to hundreds of MW were also presented at the conference.
Infrastructure issues may be greatest in communities that are now adopting hybrid cars at fast rates. For example, in Berkeley, 18 percent of new car sales are hybrids. As electric cars sell briskly in some communities, PG&E will likely need to upgrade substations to handle the increased distribution of electricity.
With the advanced planning outlined in PG&E’s presentations and with regulatory support for time-of-use pricing, renewable energy, and high-voltage lines, PG&E will be ready to power a new generation of vehicles for a fraction of the cost of gasoline. Increasingly, these electric cars will be powered by solar, wind, and other renewables.
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Obama MIT Speech about Energy Innovation
By John Addison (10/23/09)
President Barack Obama called for a clean energy future in his speech today at MIT. America has long been the innovation global leader thanks to great universities and research institutions. He called on the students and researchers to help harness more energy from “the wind, the waves, and the sun.”
The Recovery Act, now law, represents the largest single boost in scientific research in history. The proposed Senate Climate Bill (Boxer-Kerry) with cap-and-trade provisions will accelerate clean transportation, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and start grid innovation and jobs. If we have new climate and energy legislation, it will be easier for you to get an electric car and have it powered by renewable energy through a smart grid.
Powering more cars and public transportation with wind and solar energy, reduces our dependency on oil. The President referred to a Pentagon study that documented how our dependency on oil to be a national security threat.
The timing of the speech was no accident. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is co-sponsor of the energy and climate bill being debated in the Senate. Market co-sponsored the House ACES bill that was approved. Passage of a Senate bill could save the December Copenhagen agreement, which in turn could save our children from draughts and food shortages increasingly connected with the warming caused by green house gas emission increases.
With global leaders negotiating energy and climate issues, United States recalcitrance makes any agreement difficult. Obama warned that the closer the Senate gets to an agreement, the more that some will fight change, and the more visible they will make their claims. The President said, “There will be those who contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence.” He warned of those how say that we have lost our “can-do” American spirit. “I reject that.” He said, and then referred to Americans entrepreneurs, innovators, and inventors are all around us. He said, “This is the nation that harnessed electricity.”
Thanks to MIT computer science innovation, my former employer Digital Equipment came into being, and transformed computing. Digital disrupted the mainframe-centric industry, only to find itself disrupted by personal computing and the Internet. Digital is now part of Hewlett-Packard. Thousands of computer science innovations have been dismissed as unworkable lab experiments, then fought as job killers, and finally embraced as a more efficient way to work. If the naysayers of past decades had stopped progress, we’d still use our fingers for counting instead of using smart phones.
In past decades, we could have done nothing. As a result we would have saved the jobs of
keypunch operators. Now, we can do nothing and save some oil and coal jobs or we can move forward and make the United States a world leader in transportation, energy efficiency, and harvest the abundance of sun and the wind.