Technology to go with your clean car
Today’s top technology can connect you to a greener life
Without groundbreaking technology in green living, it would be difficult for homeowners and business owners to make changes toward a more sustainable way of life. Simplifying, conserving water and energy, and reducing overall waste output goes a long way, but it’s technology that makes the biggest difference in our quest for a more environmentally responsible future.
This year, the US is expected to make leaps and bounds towards a greater reliance on renewable energy sources. While new policies and changes at a corporate level play a huge role in these changes, individuals like you are making a big difference by living a greener life each and every day. If you are jumping on board with green living this year, consider these top technologies in 2016 that can help you go green.
More Affordable Solar Technology
Make your electric car part of a green tech system
In cities like Los Angeles, the top producer of solar power, we have seen how technological advances are making it easier for individuals in a wide variety of income brackets to invest in solar technology for their homes. One such advance is a newly discovered production method for photovoltaic cells that results in a cell that’s able to produce more energy. And when solar cells produce more energy, you’re able to invest in fewer solar panels, which saves you money on the overall investment that comes with making the switch.
Decreasing Prices of Electric Cars
Most conventional vehicles rely on fossil fuels, which produce harmful emissions that pollute the environment. To make a full switch to green living, you should consider not only your home, but the vehicle you drive. Electric cars, specifically zero-emissions vehicles, are a much greener option since they release zero harmful emissions in operation. In the past, electric vehicles have been out of reach for individuals living on a more modest income, but advances in technology are allowing for more cost-effective production of green vehicles. For instance, the 2017 Chevy Bolt EV will sell for $30,000 (after tax credits) and can be driven as much as 200 miles on one charge.
Using the Cloud to Reduce Waste and Increase Productivity
We spend much of our time in our workplace, and this often results in a lot of wasted products and energy. The cloud, or online storage of software, documents and programs, isn’t necessarily new technology, but it’s more widely used on a large scale now than ever before—especially for businesses. When employers rely on the cloud, they can eliminate costly onsite data storage and reduce their company’s paper waste. In some cases employees can cut their commutes and utilize the secure access of the cloud from home on any Internet-capable device.
A solar connection adds to the zero-emission miles of your EV
By John Addison
Excerpt from the Prologue of Save Gas, Save the Planet: John Addison’s book about hybrid and electric cars, pathways to low carbon driving, and the future of sustainable transportation. © 2009 John Addison. All rights reserved.
As a small child, I was distraught to learn that Santa Claus was not the person that I imagined. And after reading Harry Potter, I searched the Internet trying to book a stay at Hogwarts. We want to believe in magic.
When I tell people that I write about clean transportation, they often lecture me about their one magical solution. Some tell me it is the plug-in hybrid; some say diesel. One fellow was angry that I did not immediately accept that the one answer is railroads. Another felt the same way about motorcycles.
Some believe that the answer is electric vehicles. Others believe that electric vehicles will only encourage people to use cars without guilt; these enthusiasts want car-free cities and zero suburbs. Some promote ethanol; still more don’t believe that the answer is converting food to fuel.
Some believe that the future is a hydrogen economy; others believe that hydrogen is an evil conspiracy. Some believe that energy efficiency is everything. Others will take 10-percent efficient solar power over 40-percent coal power any day. Too many people argue that there is no problem. These people do not like change. Surprisingly, the people who do not lecture me are those who walk, bike, and live car-free. Perhaps these people, free from the stress of driving in gridlock, are more flexible and optimistic.
Even the friendly walker cannot escape the critic. By one calculation, if two people walk a mile and a half, then replenish the burned calories by each drinking a glass of milk, less greenhouse gases would be emitted by driving. This contrived example works because cows emit lots of methane and milk must stay refrigerated throughout the delivery chain. Skip the milk, and the argument falls apart. Ditto, if the car is driven solo. We all need a little exercise and more than a little common sense.
There is no one magical solution. Save Gas, Save the Planet captures over 120 different ways that people are making a difference by riding clean, riding together, and riding less. Many people can avoid some driving but not all. Not everyone can take transit or carpool all the time. A busy parent in the suburbs with three kids has different requirements than someone with no children who lives in a city. As you read Save Gas, Save the Planet, you will discover a number of ways to burn less fuel without needing a new car. When, and if, you are ready for a new car, you will make a better choice.
Visit Amazon for free look inside or discount on paperback and kindle ebook.
© 2009 John Addison. All rights reserved.
Al Gore Keynote at SEJ
By John Addison (10/12/09). Vice President Al Gore is optimistic about a meaningful agreement in Copenhagen that includes the United States and China. During his keynote speech at the Society of Environmental Journalists Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, he acknowledged that negotiations are going slowly, because climate change is complex and involves consensus of almost all nations, but that a new agreement is likely.
The need for a global agreement is urgent as the burning of coal and oil heat the earth. Melting glaciers and depleted aquifers make healthy water scarce for more Americans and unavailable for a billion people. Draughts are causing damage to many states. Lack of water affects the ability to grow food. Interrelated eco-systems are showing their stress and the problems are starting to get visible on Main Street. Mr. Gore observed, “Never before in human history has a single generation been asked to make such difficult and consequential decisions.”
Mr. Gore stated, “We’re borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change.”
At SEJ, I asked Vice President Gore about the most promising innovations to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels such as coal and oil. Mr. Gore identified a number of areas where Americans are innovating.
Energy efficiency tops his list for innovation that is making an immediate impact. Many new buildings have a fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions of the buildings they replace due to innovative design, materials, windows, and water management. Older buildings are made more energy efficient with better insulation.
Mr. Gore identified wasted heat as an underestimated opportunity. He sees room for significant innovation in combined heat and power and in the reduction of wasted heat.
Super Grid will Spur Innovation
He sees the super grid as an opportunity for a high level of efficiency. The super grid envisions a national network of high capacity electricity transmission. It would include energy storage, high reliability, and smart grid intelligence. High voltage lines have far less energy loss than lower capacity. A super grid could deliver much of America’s needed energy from untapped wind that blows in middle states from the Dakotas to Texas. Super Grid Wikipedia Description
Mr. Gore feels that a super grid could bring a transformation comparable to the Internet. The super grid and smart grid technology is already attracting major investments from firms like KPCB where Al Gore devotes part of his time as a partner. KPCB Greentech Portfolio He pointed to energy storage and demand response as major super grid areas of opportunity.
A portfolio of renewable energy solutions can power the nation according to Mr. Gore. Wind supplied 40 percent of the incremental energy added in the United States in 2008. Concentrating solar power is another renewable that is promising where up to 15 hours of energy storage, such as molten salt, can be used. Vice President Gore sees the greatest innovation in solar photovoltaics as a “distributed distribution architecture” is put in place.
Enhanced geothermal at one to two kilometers underground has the potential to meet our need for baseload grid power. Gore said, “There is an estimated 35,000 year supply of enhanced geothermal to meet U.S. energy needs.” This industry will benefit from the drilling and drill bit innovation existing in the oil and gas industries.
Historic Transformation of Automobile
In the future the need for getting baseload power from coal will be diminished by grid energy storage innovation. Gore said, “There will be a historic transformation of automobile fleets to and plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles. That vehicle fleet will serve as a massively distributed battery.” Electric Vehicle Reports
He continued, “Innovation of battery storage is likely to be extremely significant.”
Video of Vice President Gore’s discussion of energy solutions.
New Climate Agreement in Copenhagen
“We have all the tools to solve three or four climate crises.” Vice-President Gore expressed a level of optimism that surprised a number of the 500 journalists in attendance. He is optimistic that the Senate will approve some form of the Boxer-Kerry legislation and that it will be Conference Committee pending when Copenhagen convenes. It will have compromises that will discourage some environmentalists and some business interests. Gore said, “The large number of defections from the National Chamber of Commerce is a sign that business leaders want to be part of the solution.”
He reminded those concerned about a climate crisis that in 1987 the Montreal Protocol was also criticized as too weak. In Montreal, Canada, on September 16, 1987, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed into agreement by 24 major countries of the world, including the United States. These countries recognized that it was critical to be leaders, rather than wait years for all nations to agree. The agreement was ratified and then signed by President Ronald Reagan.
A process for nations to phase-out production of dangerous CFCs and halons was established. Developing countries were giving extra years to comply. Years later the agreement was strengthened in Copenhagen. Now 191 nations have agreed to the Montreal Protocol and are phasing-out the destructive gases from China to Chile and from India to Indonesia.
The Montreal Protocol is proof that the major nations of the world can agree to stop destroying our atmospheric shield.
A new climate agreement in Copenhagen would accelerate innovation and growing commercial success of efficient buildings, fuel efficient transportation, a transformative super gird, and renewable energy.
Mr. Gore’s new book – Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis – will be available November 3. It will include the important role of innovation in reducing our dependency on fossil fuel.
The complete audio recording of the speech can be heard on the Society of Environmental Journalists.
Wind Power Grew 51% in U.S. 2008
According to the latest figures published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its “Electric Power Monthly” report released on March 24, 2009, non-hydro renewable sources of electricity enjoyed double-digit growth during the past year while coal, natural gas, and petroleum experienced notable declines and nuclear power remained stagnant.
Specifically, EIA reports that net electricity generation in the United States dropped by 1.0 percent from during 2008 compared to 2007. Coal-fired generation was down by 1.1 percent, natural gas declined 2.2 percent, and petroleum liquids decreased by 37.1 percent.
Nuclear generation during 2008 was essentially stagnant – increasing by only 0.3 percent compared to the prior year.
On the other hand, EIA figures show that renewable energy, including conventional hydropower, increased by 5.9 percent during 2008 — reflecting a combined increase of 0.9 percent in conventional hydropower coupled with a 17.6 percent increase in non-hydro renewables (i.e., solar, wind, geothermal, biomass).
In particular, according to EIA, net generation from wind sources was 51.0 percent higher than it had been in 2007 while solar electric generation jumped by 36.1 percent. More modest increases were enjoyed by geothermal (2.5 percent) and wood + other biomass (0.6 percent).
In 2008, conventional hydroelectric power provided 6.1 percent of the U.S.’s total net electricity generation, while other renewables (biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind) generated a bit more than 3.0 percent of electric power.
However, non-hydro renewables’ share of the nation’s electricity supply has been increasingly steadily. As of December 2008, non-hydro renewables had expanded their contribution to 3.4 percent. By comparison, non-hydro renewables accounted for 2.5 percent of electricity generation in 2007.
“Thirty years after the March 28 accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, growth in that industry appears to have screeched to a halt,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “On the other hand, renewable energy is continuing the pattern of meteoric growth that it has been enjoying in recent years and likely to continue in the foreseeable future.”
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The data cited above are taken from Table ES1.B of the Energy Information Administration’s “Electric Power Monthly – March 2009” (released March 24, 2009). It can be found at: http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/execsum.pdf
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The SUN DAY Campaign is a non-profit research and educational organization founded in 1993 to promote sustainable energy technologies as cost-effective alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels.
My ninth trip to teach a workshop at Two World Trade Center never happened because of the great tragedy 9/11. For years Sun Microsystems, my former employer, had invited me to conduct a series of workshops about technology and strategy. Much of the Wall Street ran on Sun servers, Java applications, and Sun network technology. Reliability, performance, and the ability to recover from disaster were reasons that New York continued to run after the disaster. Sun’s tagline was reality – “The Network is the Computer.”
On September 11, 2001, thanks to heroes like Avel Villanueva the hundreds of people working for Sun Microsystems in Two World Trade Center all quickly evacuated the building and survived. When Avel saw the damage and fire at One World Trade Center, he paged everyone at Sun to leave Two World Trade Center as quickly, “Please, with calmness, go to the nearest exit. This is not a drill. Get out.” He repeated this from the reception area several times. Only after several pages and inspecting the vast 25th and 26th floors did Avel personally leave. Three minutes later the second plane hit Two World Trade Center.
Although it must have been difficult to continue working after such a tragedy, the people at Sun understood that New York depended on their ability to keep working. Within 24 hours almost all Sun employees were doing their jobs at other Sun locations, homes, even nearby cafes. Sun effectively used its own networking technology with an iWork program that enables employees to work at home, at an office near their home, or be highly productive anywhere with a mobile device and wireless network connection.
Flexwork is one way that we are now more secure. The vital work of millions can continue even if a building cannot be accessed or part of a city is closed. Wireless and Web 2 enable collaboration, communication, and knowledge work to continue anytime and anywhere. People are most effective working some days at one location, other times at home, others at a customer or supplier location. We can take advantage of the new flexible workplace solutions to annually save millions of wasted hours and billions of dollars of fuel. Flexible Work Article
Every time that we go through an airport, we are aware that important steps have been created to make U.S. entry and travel more secure. Yes, despite the hassle and loss of some privacy, Homeland Security has been valuable in keeping terrorism at bay.
As our current president reminds us, “We are addicted to oil.” As we continue to spend billions for oil for countries hostile to our way of life, we continue in the words of Thomas Friedman to “finance both sides of the war on terror.” In his new book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, the Pulitzer Prize winning author shows us how to be free of this addiction.
Americans are not waiting ten years to replace a fraction of our foreign oil with new oil from Alaska. Americans are reducing our oil use now. Confronted with high prices at the pump, U.S. citizens drove 12 billion fewer miles in one month. People are taking advantage of flexwork, public transit, car pooling, sharing rides and sharing vehicles. Two car households are buying fuel efficient cars and increasingly keeping their gas guzzlers parked. 40,000 Americans now drive electric vehicles that do not use a drop of oil. In ten years, we will be driving millions of electric vehicles. EV Reports
Twenty-three percent of our increased supply of electricity in 2007 was from renewable energy. We have enough wind to power the nation including transportation. We have enough solar. Scientific American Article Yes, it will take time, money, high-voltage lines to major markets, and added jobs. Green is producing green. While many areas of our economy are currently suffering, renewable energy and energy efficiency are growing rapidly creating jobs and corporate profits.Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2008
Real security requires more than airport checks, less foreign oil, and cleaner transportation. Real security starts with the commitment to give our children a better world. Future generations deserve nourishing food, clean water, and protection from disease. Global warming has now put over one billion at risk of not getting enough water and food. Glaciers are disappearing. Water systems are stressed as oceans rise and water tables deplete. Hurricanes attack our coastal cities with increased intensity. Draughts weaken our ability to grow food at affordable prices.
Yes, there are those in Congress who are chanting “drill, drill, drill,” but we cannot end our addiction to oil with more oil. Elected to represent their people, not special interests, these legislators threaten to stop funding renewable energy unless Big Oil can drill anywhere it pleases. Others want to undermine states rights, removing their ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions within their state.
Fortunately there are wise leaders in both parties committed to put a limit on our greenhouse gas emissions, encourage conservation, put us on a path to a sustainable future that is more secure for our children.
In Mr. Friedman’s new book he recalls a Chinese proverb, “When the wind changes direction, there are those who build walls and those who build windmills.” America can renew its world leadership with innovative solutions to an emerging climate crisis. We can lead in wind power, solar, geothermal, building efficiency, materials that are lighter and stronger, zero emission cars and zero emission cities. From information technology to clean technology, from flexwork to sustainable communities, let’s build windmills not walls.
We can be inspired by heroes like Avel Villanueva who got everyone to safety. We can also celebrate the millions of ordinary heroes who are building a more secure future for our children by living a more sustainable life today.
Copyright 2008 © John Addison. Excerpt from John Addison’s book – Save Gas, Save the Planet.