Geothermal energy

A Case for Geothermal Energy, the Constant Sustainability

Geothermal energy The more I think about Geothermal energy, the more it becomes obvious it is the most sustainable energy system we currently have. The problem is that despite geothermal’s obvious advantages, little has been done to facilitate the energy system. However, a few bills are changing that.

The geothermal energy potential

When you boil it down, geothermal energy holds tremendous potential. It has a relatively low footprint and is always on. It doesn’t depend on time of day or year. It works all the time, despite atmospheric changes, and that makes geothermal one of the most constant sustainable system. It works very simply. Drill down to tap into the earth’s molten layers, pour water, which turns into steam driving generators. Voila, you now have a continuous source of renewable energy. Still, for how great geothermal energy is, it only accounts for 16.9 million megawatt-hours, or 0.41% of the total US electricity produced as of April 2013, according to Wikipedia:

Promising geothermal energy bills

While solar energy has taken off tremendously, geothermal has inched along slowly. The few energy companies that planed to install geothermal energy in the US were confronted with lack of support and lengthy yearly permits. Most of these projects have migrated to China, East Africa, and Turkey. Still, all is not lost. A few bills are making their way to federal level making a strong case for geothermal energy.

RenewableEnergyWorld reports that three bills and two hearings in U.S. Congress subcommittees are pushing for geothermal energy. The first one is the Geothermal Energy on Federal Lands Act, HR 1363, which aims to streamline the NEPA process for a geothermal test project which will allow a geothermal project to quickly move forward if resources are found. The other is the Geothermal Production Expansion Act HR 2004, which would allow for non-competitive geothermal leasing on federal land adjacent to private lands. The third is the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act of 2013, HR 596, which aims to promote the development of renewable energy on public lands.

Meg Cichon, Associate Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com reports that on a panel conference call during the Geothermal Energy Association’s (GEA) National Geothermal Summit held in Reno, Nevada, GEA executive director Karl Gawell said: “The geothermal industry is poised for really strong growth in the years ahead, the question is what happens at the state level. We can’t count on Congress any time soon, so we’re relying on states like California and Nevada.”

California is introducing the geothermal bill, SB 1139 calling for 500 MW of geothermal procurement by 2024. What is special with SB1139 is that it separates the state renewable portfolio standard (RPS). It would mean 1,700 MW of geothermal in the area by 2032. Nevada is looking into updating its RPS that has surpassed its previous goals of 20 percent geothermal energy by 2020 and 25 percent by 2025 set in 2007. To sweeten the deal further and boost the economy, Nevada is enticing companies to purchase renewable energy, something Apple jumped on by moving some its data center in the state.

What’s holding back geothermal energy?

You might have guessed that congressional inaction and a focus on wind and solar have slow down the advance of geothermal. It takes an average of 1.5 years for a wind or solar project to become a reality. However, it takes five to seven years for a geothermal project, compared to three to five years for oil and gas projects.

Click here to understand more about geothermal energy.

And for those who will be rightfully quick to point to the fact that we don’t have enough water in the state, there are closed loop systems now that reduce water intake to almost none. Geothermal energy will grow in leaps and bounds in the next few years.

Energica Ego – The new Electric Superbike Beast

energica ego

article by Adam Yamaada-Hanff

Have you heard of the Energica Ego?  You probably haven’t as the company is just getting started and hasn’t even sold any models of it’s electric motorcycles yet.  However, you should take note as this Italian superbike is a hell of a beast.   Some quick stats;

  • Top Speed of 150mph
  • A permanent magnet oil cooled electric motor that pumps out 195 Nm of Torque, from 0 RPM all the way to the redline
  • 0-60 of under 3 seconds
  • 11.7 Kwh Battery good for 1,200 charge cycles
  • 30-minute DC mode Fast Charge, 3.5 hours to full charge
  • 120 miles of real world riding
  • Marchesini Forged Alloy wheels
  • Pirelli Diablo Roselli tires
  • A frame made of lightweight Aluminum
  • Brembo brakes, front and rear

Sounds like the Energica Ego is pretty cool right?  On top of all these performance features on this electric motorcycle the bike is also going to have Bluetooth and internet connectivity.  Just what a web obsessed world would want right?  This is so you can tell all your friends about the cool rides you have on the Ego, boosting your ego.

CRP, the European company behind the Ego, also want you to know that they are using F1 and Aerospace grade technology on the superbike.  The Italian motorcycle company also has showcased that the bike will use innovative 3D printing technology in the production process.  Best part of the bike?  It has no emissions so you could ride it inside.  That is if you find somewhere that will let you. :)

I should say that charging does technically produce emissions but it is minimal compared to a gas powered motorcycle.  Also the cost to run an Energica Ego is waaaay lower than the gas bike counterparts.  Even in the most expensive parts of the US where electricity rates are high it might cost  only $8-$10 maximum a month to charge and ride an electric motorcycle.

Energica recently announced a partnership with Chargepoint, the largest open charging network in the world.   This should make it easier for Energica riders to utilize charging stations so they don’t worry about “range anxiety” like so many electric vehicle owners.

The company is trying to utilize slick marketing to cater to consumers too.

Energica just finished a tour in the US called “Where is My EGO?”  Jay Leno, a well known auto and motorcycle enthusiast, even made it out to see the next generation of motorcycles.

jay leno

While electric motorcycles are a very tiny fraction of the bike market currently, there is hope.  Even big and bad Harley-Davidson is touring an electric bike concept called the LiveWire.  Harley-Davidson hopes is to attract a younger crowd to it’s motorcycles… that is if forward thinking companies like Energica don’t get there first.

Are you convinced?  So you do you buy one?  Unfortunately the Energica Ego will not be available for sale until the beginning of 2015.  That means if you want to buy this electric motorcycle you will have to wait.  We will have to see whether the wait is worth it but our feeling is it definitely is for this Italian electric motorcycle superbike.

This is a guest post courtesy of Cross Keys Exxon.  A friendly and reliable Baltimore Auto Repair shop located in North Baltimore. 

Alternative energy and electric vehicle news

Alternative energy and electric vehicles Monday news

Alternative energy and electric vehicle newsHere are a few alternative energy and electric vehicles stories to get you up and going on this Monday morning.

OK, so the title might be a little alarmist, but the articles talks about a common problem the private sector and politics have, where does one help the other, or infringes upon the other. While Massachusetts ranks 4th for most solar installed state, a legislation, officially known as H.4185 relative to net metering, is pending at the State House that could remove the net metering limits. You know who would profit most form this.

This is an article I wrote on Teslarati, but I was surprised at the comments, which made me wonder. Do people really read articles, or do they just skim over and lash out comments behind anonymity? The gist of the article was that anything connected has a potential vulnerability, that we are complacent when it comes to it and that the news media will exploit our fears over it.

Geothermal energy is the greatest type of energy. Always on, truly renewable and sustainable with its relatively small foot print is not taking off as well as it should. However, China is now looking into it more closely.

Over at Electricnick, we love new technologies and breakthroughs, but none have spiked our interest more than flow cell batteries. The Quant e Sportslimousine promises serious performance and range. How will Tesla respond to that one?

Sometimes study point to the obvious, but for those who absolutely demand the nut and bolts, bottom line numbers, this one speaks loudly. The reason why fleet managers adopt electric vehicles is because they started out with an interest in testing them in the first place.

  • Tesla juggles Supercharger, Gigafactory, Model X and Model III, as well as the Chinese market.

Yes, the Tesla Motors headquarter must be busier than an ant farm, crossed with a beehive managed by the Borg. Tesla Motors is juggling no less than five huge potential projects, all crucial parts of its future success. The MOdel X is about to launch in a few months, but we still don’t know how many orders there are. We know the Model E is now called the Model III and will launch in three years. All of this hunges upon the $5 billion dollar success of the Gigafactory, and that is if the Chinese market develops successfully. Can you say mad house?

I guess you save the best for last, but this is probably one the best, and most potentially dangerous news. If 25 utilities in 14 states currently offer special rates for EV owners at the average equivalent “price per gallon” of $0.75 when the average cost of gasoline in these states is $3.70 a gallon, what do you think will happen to the overall industry?

Having said, I look forward to your comments and hope you have a great week. It’s a big world out there, and there is much to do.

AB 2188 California affordable solar energy

AB 2188 Makes California Solar Affordable

AB 2188 California affordable solar energyA Bill in California, called AB 2188 aims at making solar energy more affordable.

AB 2188 makes California solar affordable

The very promising solar bill, AB 2188 is currently making its way through the California Legislature, with a good shot at taking the sting out of solar energy costs. As the U.S. and China fight a desperate tit-for-tat war on solar panel tariffs, consumers are left paying the extra fees, reducing our energy independence progression.

According to the ECOreport, the Californian bill AB 2188 would streamline the permit process, something that is still very much needed in the Sates, despite recent moves to make it easier to install solar energy. This could be the result of Sunrun, a company that recently released a report stating it could deliver an additional $5 billion into the State’s sagging economy.

Bill AB 2188 passed Assembly

So far, the bill passed the Assembly  by a clear victory of 58 against 8. It is now going to the senate. CleanTechnica printed the interview ECOReports conducted with Walker Wright, Director of Government Affairs at Sunrun.

Soft costs hinder residential solar energy progression

The gist is that, soft costs are still slowing down the progression of solar energy for residential areas. The cost of solar panels and associated electronics might have come down dramatically over the last few years, but the non-hardware costs (soft costs), are negating the price declines. In other words, the soft costs associated with alternative energy are still a high barrier to making solar energy affordable. Europe has already done much to lower these soft costs, but the U.S. trails other countries there.

Soft costs include the permitting, customer acquisition, labor, installations, etc., and account for up to 50-70% of the total installation cost. In other words, if your solar array hardware cost is $10,000, be prepared to spend anywhere from another $5,000 to 7,500 more for the installation. Add to this that the permits can run an extra 5-20% of the total cost, depending on your location and size of the system, and you can see how many shy away from installing their own energy system.

Money talks to politicians

Petitions might be great, but bottom line dollars is still what talks most to politicians eager to keep California’s chronic budget mismanagement problems under control. By streamlining the permitting process across municipalities, this will reduce the costs, which will make solar more affordable to many homeowners across various income levels. This in turn, helps grow the California energy economy, while creating clean economy jobs, other wise known as green collar jobs.

Specifically, AB 2188 would enforce short permit time lines, with inspections happening within 5 days of the request and the application review within 24 hours. This would cut down on the current weeks it takes to approve a solar energy project for a residential rooftop. We hope AB 2188 goes through the California Senate and help boost the economy, which is to everyone’s advantage.

Mitsubishi PV

Iowa Supreme Court Allows Solar Turnkey Solutions

Utility fight consumer energy choiceA historic ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court allows Eagle Point to provide its solar turnkey solutions services where utilities are. Why is this important? The consequences are far reaching.

Supreme Court allows residential solar energy

According to CleanTechnica, The Iowa lower court ruling nullified a previous finding by The Iowa Utilities Board that had ruled Eagle Point’s activities classified it as a public utility. This means that it could not operate within another utility’s service area, in this case, Alliant Energy.

It’s a shame the majority of utilities are stalling the inevitable with residential energy making. It must happen, will happen, and in many ways, is already happening. Going against it is a certain way to make sure they will be left behind as irrelevant business models. Fighting with lobby power against the wish of consumers will only further the negative image they already have.

Iowa Supreme Court allows Eagle Point to provide its solar turnkey solutions services

The Iowa Supreme Court sets a precedent allowing smaller solar energy companies to install an energy turnkey solution on the rooftops of private homes where utilities already operate.

“According to the district court, Eagle Point’s provision of electric power through a “behind the meter” solar facility was not the type of activity which required a conclusion that Eagle Point was a public utility.

“The district court further found that  although it was conceivable under some circumstances that an entity that was not a public utility could nevertheless be an electric utility under the applicable statutory provisions, Eagle Point’s proposed arrangement with the city did not make it an electric utility for purposes of the statutes.”

Thanks to Power purchase agreements (PPAs), distributed solar installations on residential rooftops is becoming a feasible possibility, alluring many families eager to tame the country’s ever-decreasing power of purchase and ever-rising inflation. In other words, the push from consumers to take back some power of decision by becoming energy makers with the help of solar panels on their rooftops is finally a reality with PPAs, something utilities are fighting back against.

In the end, I’m left with the words Ed Kjaer from Southern California Edison (SCE) told me back in 2008 that SCE is not interested in building new power centrals, but becoming energy efficiency managers. This is also a good definition of what a smart grid is, efficiently managing energy production form various sources, in a redundant way.

Make no mistakes, this court ruling will create waves among the utility circles, who will surely show they will be fighting it tooth and nail.