Sixth Annual Energy Technology Conference

14 Oct

Ardour Capital Investments, LLC and Baker & McKenzie LLP are hosting a energy technology conference on October 16, 2008, at the Baker & McKenzie Conference Center (New York). The following is their press release concerning the event:

Ardour Capital Investments, LLC, a leading research and investment bank focused on Energy Technology / Alternative Energy & Power / Clean & Renewable Technologies in conjunction with global law firm Baker & McKenzie LLP, announce the 6th Annual Energy Technology Conference to be held on Thursday October 16th, 2008. Thirteen companies in the sector will present to some of the largest investors in the space. Keynote addresses will be given Dr. Rohit T. Aggarwala- Director of The Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Carol Battershell, Senior Advisor- U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

New York, NY (Vocus/PRWEB ) October 13, 2008 — As leaders in their respective fields, Ardour’s Energy Technology Banking Group and Baker & McKenzie’s energy practice, have created a venue where key players in the alternative energy marketplace converge to discuss trends, explore opportunities, and forge relationships. Expect a lively discussion on the current issues facing the energy technology space, including the recently extended ITC/PTC subsidies; continued commercial developments of the presenting companies; and the impact on the sector of the upcoming Presidential election.

Companies scheduled to attend, speak and be available for one-on-one sessions include:

  • American Superconductor Corp. (AMSC)
  • Capstone Turbine Corp. (CPST)
  • Colorep (Private)
  • Comverge, Inc. (COMV)
  • FuelCell Energy, Inc. (FCEL)
  • Metabolix, Inc. (MBLX)
  • Open Energy Corp. (OEGY)
  • Plambeck Neue Energien (PNE3.DE)
  • Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies (QTWW)
  • Satcon Technology Corp. (SATC)
  • Spire Corp. (SPIR)
  • Ultralife Corp. (ULBI)
  • Zenergy Power Plc (ZEN.L)

Admission is by invitation only, so please register soon as space is limited. For more information or to register for the conference please contact Brian Greenstein at (212) 375-2956.

Ardour Capital Investments, LLC is a full service, FINRA registered investment bank and securities research firm focused on energy technology since 2002. Ardour provides a wide range of financial services for both public and private companies, including road shows, private placements and equity offerings.

Baker & McKenzie’s Alternative Energy & Technology Group advises a broad range of alternative energy industry participants, including private developers (public and private companies, utility subsidiaries, and others), electric utilities, municipalities, natural gas companies, construction and equipment suppliers, lenders, equity investors and power marketers in relation to all phases of activity involved in alternative energy related projects. << CONFERENCE DETAILS HERE >>

Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid Vehicle – BlueHybrid

09 Oct

The following is the MBUSA press release for the Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

The Mercedes-Benz S400 bluehybrid includes a lithium-ion battery
The Mercedes-Benz S400 bluehybrid includes a lithium-ion battery

Mercedes-Benz is launching its first passenger car model equipped with a hybrid drive system in summer 2009 – the S 400 BlueHYBRID. The combination of a modified V6 petrol engine and a compact hybrid module makes the S 400 BlueHYBRID the world’s most economical luxury saloon with a spark-ignition engine. The NEDC combined fuel consumption is a mere 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres. This makes for the world’s lowest CO2 emissions in this vehicle and performance class – just 190 grams per kilometre. These exemplary figures go hand in hand with assured performance. The 3.5-litre petrol engine develops an output of 205 kW/279 hp, the electric motor generates 15 kW/20 hp and a starting torque of 160 Nm. The result is a combined output of 220 kW/299 hp and a combined maximum torque of 385 newton metres. Moreover, the new S 400 BlueHYBRID is the first series-production model to be equipped with a particularly efficient lithium-ion battery specially developed for automotive use. This is another major contribution by Mercedes-Benz to the electrification of the car.

The new Mercedes-Benz S 400 BlueHYBRID is based on the S 350, and features an extensively modified drive train. This encompasses a further development of the 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine, an additional magneto-electric motor, the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission specially configured for the hybrid module, the necessary operating and control electronics, the transformer and a high-voltage lithium-ion battery.

The compact hybrid module is a disc-shaped electric motor that also acts as a starter and generator. The system offers a double benefit, as it both helps to save fuel and increases driving enjoyment. This is partly due to the booster effect of the electric motor, as it powerfully backs up the petrol engine with a maximum additional torque of 160 newton metres during the high-consumption acceleration phase. The driver benefits from the combined action of these two units in the form of even more impressive torque characteristics and smooth, effortlessly superior acceleration.

The hybrid module also has a comfortable start/stop function, which switches the engine off when the vehicle is at a standstill – for example at traffic lights. When it’s time to move off again, the electric motor almost imperceptibly restarts the main power unit. This likewise makes a contribution to fuel economy and environmental protection: because the engine restarts first time, and practically instantly, emissions are also minimised during the starting phase.

When the vehicle is braked the electric motor acts as a generator, and is able to recover braking energy by a process known as recuperation. Working in finely tuned partnership, the electric motor supplements the braking effect of the petrol engine and the wheel brakes to deliver a smoothly progressive braking action. The recuperated energy is stored in a compact yet highly efficient lithium-ion battery in the engine compartment, and made available when required. This complex system is managed by a high-performance control unit, which is likewise located in the engine compartment.

A milestone on the road to electrification

The centrepiece of the modular, very compact and highly efficient hybrid drive system is the new high-voltage lithium-ion battery, which was specially developed for automotive use and is the first such unit worldwide to be introduced in a series-production vehicle. In this way Mercedes-Benz is making a trailblazing contribution to the electrification of the car, with the S-Class once again playing the role of the technological trendsetter.

Major advantages over conventional nickel/metal hydride batteries include a higher energy density and better electrical efficiency, together with more compact dimensions and a lower weight. Thanks to space-saving installation in the engine compartment, where it replaces the conventional starter battery, the generous interior space and boot capacity of the S 400 remain unchanged. The lithium-ion battery not only stores energy for the electric motor, but is also connected to the 12-Volt onboard network via the transformer to supply power to other standard consumers such as the headlamps and comfort features. The completely newly designed battery system consists of the cell block with its lithium-ion cells and the cell monitoring system, the battery management function, the high-strength housing, the cooling gel, the cooling plate, the coolant feed and the high-voltage connector.

Optimized thermal efficiency lowers the engine’s fuel consumption

The 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with variable valve control has been throughly re-engineered and improved. In the process the development engineers made use of the advantages offered by the Atkinson principle,where the expansion phase is longer than the compression phase. The intake valve is kept open slightly longer between the intake and compression phases, which improves the engine’s thermal efficiency while reducing the specific fuel consumption and untreated emissions. A new cylinder head, different pistons and a modified camshaft with different camshaft control increase the output by 5 kW/7 hp to 205 kW/279 hp – while reducing fuel consumption at the same time.

Especially on rural journeys and on motorways, the S 400 BlueHYBRID achieves a further efficiency improvement by moving the so-called operating point of the petrol engine to produce a lower specific fuel consumption. The extremely high start-off torque made possible by the boost effect of the electric motor gives the driver a particularly exhilarating feeling of powerful acceleration, while fuel consumption and emissions are reduced.

The electric motor improves efficiency

Advances in technology improve the driving performance as well as the environment.
Advances in technology improve the driving performance as well as the environment.

The compact, disc-shaped electric motor, which is space-savingly installed in the torque converter housing between the engine and the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission, improves efficiency even further. This is a 3-phase AC external rotor magneto motor, which develops a peak output of 15 kW/20 hp and a starting torque of 160 newton metres with an operating voltage of 120 Volts.

This compact motor also acts as a starter and generator, adopting the functions of both these conventional ancillary units.

Sophisticated interaction with the internal combustion engine makes numerous additional functions possible that positively influence the emissions and agility of the S 400 BlueHYBRID in equal measure. Moreover, this disc-shaped motor effectively dampens torsional vibrations in the drive train, thereby further reducing noise and vibrations in the interior. The result is even more ride comfort for both driver and passengers.

“Boost” effect for even more driving pleasure

The overall system offers extensive benefits: firstly by helping to save fuel, and secondly by increasing driving pleasure with the help of the “boost” effect, where the electric motor gives powerful assistance to the petrol engine with its maximum torque of 160 newton metres right from the beginning of the fuel-intensive acceleration phase. This means that the hybrid drive system of the S 400 BlueHYBRID moves off powerfully even from very low engine speeds, as the torque curve impressively confirms. The additional torque of the hybrid module also has a consistently positive effect during subsequent acceleration phases. In all driving situations, the driver therefore benefits from the interaction between the two units in the form of powerful responsiveness and muscular torque – but without an increased fuel consumption.

The S 400 BlueHYBRID accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 7.2 seconds, and reaches an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h. The S 400 BlueHYBRID betters the already very favourable NEDC fuel consumption of the conventionally powered S 350 by up to 2.2 litres per 100 kilometres. CO2 emissions are reduced by 21 percent.

The start/stop function already saves fuel when rolling to a stop

In addition the hybrid module features an extremely comfortable and efficient start/stop function, which already switches the engine off when the vehicle is rolling to a stop at less than 15 km/h, for example before stopping at traffic lights. When it’s time to move off again, the electric motor immediately and imperceptibly restarts the main engine as soon as the driver releases the brake pedal or operates the accelerator. This likewise contributes to fuel economy and environmental conservation: as the engine restarts practically instantly, emissions are also minimised during the starting phase. The vibrations and jolts that are unavoidable when starting with a conventional starter are also reduced to a minimum.

Steering and climatic comfort remain unchanged, as both the steering servo pump and the refrigerant compressor are electrically powered. Both systems therefore continue to operate even when the vehicle is at a standstill with the engine automatically switched off. The intelligent control logic is able to detect whether the driver is executing a turning or parking manoeuvre. In this case the automatic start/stop function is temporarily deactivated, so that these manoeuvres can be carried out in comfort.

Every braking action generates electric power for the battery

When the vehicle is braked, the electric motor acts as a generator and uses a process known as recuperation to convert the kinetic energy into electrical energy. This energy is stored in the compact yet highly efficient lithium-ion battery, and made available when required.

In the process the electric motor assists the engine braking effect of the internal combustion engine in two smooth, seamless stages: In stage one, on the overrun with no braking action, the electric motor acts as a generator and begins to recuperate energy. Stage two commences as soon as the driver lightly operates the brake pedal: the generator output is then increased proportionally, and perceived as heavier deceleration by the driver. Only when more brake pedal pressure is applied are the wheel brakes activated in addition to recuperation. In this way more electrical energy can be generated, while saving wear and tear on the hydraulic braking system at the same time. To make the best possible use of this double benefit, Mercedes engineers also developed a new braking system with a new brake pedal module for the S 400 BlueHYBRID.

Cleverly located control electronics

Dedicated control electronics are required to operate the 3-phase AC electric motor in the 120-Volt high-voltage DC network. The current converter is accommodated in the space formerly occupied by the starter. As the control electronics heat up as a result of electric currents measuring up to 150 amps, the system is equipped with its own, additional low-temperature cooling circuit.

Mercedes-Benz engineers have accommodated the transformer in the right front wheel arch, where it facilitates the exchange of energy between the 120-Volt high-voltage network and the 12-Volt onboard network – and also allows the option of emergency starting with jump leads if the standard battery should lose its charge. To ensure a consistently high level of electrical efficiency, the transformer is likewise cooled by a low-temperature circuit. The 12-Volt lead/acid battery is installed in the boot, and not only supplies the standard consumers but also the monitoring system for the high-voltage components with energy. Thanks to its interaction with the lithium-ion battery, it is considerably smaller in size and lighter than usual.

Tried-and-tested automatic transmission with a new configuration

Mercedes-Benz developers also adapted the well-proven 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission to suit the hybrid drive, with newly programmed software for the transmission management system. A newly developed auxiliary oil pump ensures reliable lubrication of the transmission even during phases when the internal combustion engine is switched off.

This complex system is managed by the modified high-performance engine control unit. This incorporates extensive functions, and distinguishes between operating conditions such as city traffic, rural journeys, motorway driving or slow manoeuvring.

Hybrid status is shown in the instrument cluster

The driver is also able to monitor the status of the hybrid drive system visually. The instrument cluster has a separate, centrally positioned, display showing the energy flow during boost and recuperation phases, as well as the battery charge status.

Seven-stage safety concept in addition to the Mercedes-Benz standard

As is usual at Mercedes-Benz, the development engineers gave safety aspects their very special attention. Know-how incorporated into the series-production car included long years of Daimler research experience with fuel-cell technology. The challenge lay in not only complying with all the worldwide and in-house legal crash test requirements, but also in ensuring the greatest possible safety for the electrical components. This safety system already applies in production, includes workshop personnel during servicing and maintenance, and also takes the emergency services into account when passengers need to be recovered following an accident.

Accordingly the hybrid technology of the S 400 BlueHYBRID is equipped with an extensive 7-stage safety concept.

  1. In the first stage all the wiring is colour-coded to eliminate confusion, and marked with safety instructions. This prevents assembly errors in production, and makes the regular quality checks easier to carry out.
  2. The second stage comprises comprehensive contact protection for the entire system by means of generous insulation and newly developed, dedicated connectors.
  3. As part of the third stage, the world’s first lithium-ion battery to be used in a series-production model has been given a whole package of carefully coordinated safety measures. This innovative battery is accommodated in a high-strength steel housing, and also secured in place. Bedding the battery cells in a special gel effectively dampens any jolts and knocks. There is also a blow-off vent with a rupture disc and a separate cooling circuit. An internal electronic controller continuously monitors the safety requirements and immediately signals any malfunctions.
  4. The fourth stage of the safety concept includes separation of the battery terminals, individual safety-wiring for all high-voltage components and continuous monitoring by multiple interlock switches. This means that all high-voltage components are connected by an electric loop. In the event of a malfunction the high-voltage system is automatically switched off.
  5. Active discharging of the high-voltage system as soon as the ignition is switched to “Off”, or in the event of a malfunction, is part of the fifth stage.
  6. During an accident, the high-voltage system is completely switched off within fractions of a second (stage six).
  7. As the seventh and last stage, the system is continuously monitored for short circuits.

Thanks to its compact dimensions and modular design, the additional weight of the overall system is only 75 kilograms – including the comprehensive safety systems. The superior driving experience for which a Mercedes is known is therefore ensured by this trailblazing and very versatile technology, which can be used for practically all Mercedes-Benz model series. Moreover, the payload remains unchanged at 595 kilograms.

The intelligent high-performance engine management system responds very sensitively to different driving conditions, and optimally configures the drive system for the relevant application, ensuring that both fuel consumption and emissions are kept to the lowest possible level.

  • At standstill the petrol engine is usually switched off, and therefore consumes no fuel. The electric drive of the refrigerant compressor and steering servo pump allows uninterrupted operation of the air conditioning and power steering. Comfort is in no way compromised, and is at the same high level as in all S-Class models.
  • Moving off and acceleratingaway gently remains a smooth and comfortable procedure. A driver who kicks down the accelerator for a brisk start benefits from the boost function of the electric motor, which produces considerably more dynamic acceleration.
  • At constant speedsthe intelligent electronics recognise situations such as relaxed motorway stretches, and automatically adjust the load point of the internal combustion engine to achieve a lower specific fuel consumption, thereby helping to save fuel and reduce emissions.
  • When rolling to a stopthe recuperation function is activated as soon as the drive is interrupted in any way (foot off the accelerator, engine braking). Once the vehicle speed falls below 15 km/h, the petrol engine is automatically switched off.
  • If the driver brakes using the brake pedal, the electric motor initially begins to convert the vehicle’s kinetic energy into electrical energy. In this case the electric motor acts as a generator, storing the kinetic energy as electrical energy in the lithium-ion battery. This process feels like a stronger engine braking effect to the driver. The conventional disc brakes at the wheels are not yet employed, saving wear and tear. The disc brakes are only activated if the driver applies heavy pressure to the brake pedal, braking the car together with the engine brake and recuperation.
  • Once the driver selects “R” (reverse) in the 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission when manoeuvring, this automatically activates the Manoeuvring mode and prevents the start/stop function from switching off the engine at short, frequent intervals.
  • The advantages of the hybrid drive system really come into their own in city traffic, with frequent stops at red traffic lights. Already switching off the petrol engine as the car frequently coasts to a stop significantly lowers the fuel consumption and emissions, while the long recuperation phases increase the battery charge. The electric motor ensures particularly comfortable and rapid restarting when the start/stop function is active.
  • On rural roadsthere are frequent changes between boost, constant speed and recuperation phases. Depending on the nature of the route, large quantities of recuperation energy are available to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. The more braking and acceleration phases there are, the better: uphill and downhill gradients, as well as winding, dynamic stretches, make for the largest savings.
  • The hybrid effect is inherently less important on motorways, however thanks to specific modifications to the V6 petrol engine and the 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission, the driver is also able to achieve significant fuel savings and correspondingly lower emissions on fast road stretches like these.

The S 400 BlueHYBRID is produced at the Sindelfingen plant, together with the other S-Class models. The petrol engine, 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission and electric motor are first put together to form a hybrid module, then delivered to the production line as a unit. The market launch in western Europe is planned for June 2009; China is expected to follow in August 2009 and the USA in September 2009.

Modular technologies for the environmentally friendly future of the premium car

The new S 400 BlueHYBRID exemplifies the strategy of Mercedes-Benz, whose declared aim is to offer the brand’s customers economical and environmentally compatible premium cars – without compromising in terms of typical brand attributes such as safety, comfort and a superior driving experience.

Major areas of development focus include modular drive technologies, which are used on a stand-alone basis or in combination depending on the vehicle class, operating profile and customer requirements – Mercedes-Benz has already described how this applies to the product portfolio in its “Road to the Future”. In this context Mercedes-Benz also provides an outlook on the future of the internal combustion engine, with the innovative DIESOTTO engine in the F 700 research car.

Dedicated solutions for different requirements

The requirements for the cars of the future are complex and multi-facetted. This is because the world population, and therefore the demand for mobility, are set to increase drastically over the next few decades. At the same time the world’s natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce and therefore more and more expensive for both consumers and car manufacturers. Depending on the world region, there are also sometimes very different legal requirements with respect to the environmental compatibility of vehicles. Examples include the environmental zones already established in many European cities, or the legally prescribed quotas for emission-free vehicles in California.

These developments are already having a noticeable effect on customer behaviour. In addition to economic factors – above all increasing fuel prices – the environmental compatibility of a car is becoming increasingly important as a buying criterion. What is more, the day-to-day driving requirements of customers are becoming more and more individual and distinctive: drivers covering long rural distances have different requirements from those who mainly or even exclusively drive in densely populated urban areas.

In the view of Mercedes-Benz, there is therefore no single technology that will provide the ideal solution for sustainable mobility in the future. Instead the company offers versatile, tailor-made solutions to meet these very varied requirements. The individual technologies deliver their benefits in terms of optimal fuel consumption and emissions in the specific areas of application concerned. The approach taken by Mercedes-Benz envisages vehicle concepts with modular drive technologies, which ensure that customer benefits and environmental compatibility are always jointly emphasised.

Roadmap for sustainable mobility

The corporate development strategy is aimed at safeguarding the leading position in the premium segment on a lasting basis. To this end three areas of emphasis were defined in the roadmap for sustained mobility:

  • Vehicle optimisation with the latest internal combustion engine technology – for example by downsizing, high-pressure charging, direct injection and the environmentally friendly diesel technology BlueTEC – as well as specific vehicle improvements in the areas of aerodynamics, lightweight construction and energy management (BlueEFFICIENCY), for example.
  • Further efficiency improvements by means of need-related hybridisation in various development stages – from the start/stop function to the two-mode hybrid operating under electric power alone.
  • Locally emission-free driving with fuel-cell and battery-powered vehicles.

The company is also actively involved in the development of clean and alternative fuels that do not compete with the production of foodstuffs – particularly in SunDiesel, which is obtained from plant waste.

An intelligent mix of drive systems as a solution for the mobility of the future

Mercedes-Benz has already brought numerous answers to the challenges of tomorrow to market. The most recent examples are the BlueEFFICIENCY models in the A-Class, B-Class and C-Class, the natural-gas-powered B 170 NGT and the powerful yet economical and clean BlueTEC SUVs, which were first introduced into the US market this year. A mix of modular drive systems, from the latest internal combustion engines with BlueTEC or direct injection, with or without hybridisation, right up to locally emission-free battery and fuel-cell-powered vehicles, provides all the conditions that will enable Mercedes-Benz to offer its customers need-related mobility to the brand’s customary high standard into the long-term future.

Post Debate T. Boone Pickens Rally

07 Oct

Interested, I visited T. Boone Picken’s website to review the much advertised energy plan. While at the site I signed up for the newsletter updates. And today, around 6:30PM, I rec’d an invitation to participate in what the folks promoting Pickens’ energy plan hope is the largest internet rally for energy independence in history; scheduled at 10PM Eastern time, 30 minutes before the debate ends. The rally is featuring Carl Pope, the Executive Director of the Sierra Club and Pickens on video.

“Your chance to show Senators McCain and Obama the we mean business when it comes to getting off of foreign oil.”

Here’s a copy of the landing page from the email link rec’d:

The second Presidential debate will take place on October 7 at 9:00 pm EDT. T. Boone Pickens and Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope will be hosting an online rally at PickensPlan.com during and after the debate. The rally will feature live video from Pickens Plan HQ in Dallas and you will have an opportunity to submit questions and comments about America’s energy future. We will be delivering a copy of your questions and comments to both Presidential candidates, so don’t miss this opportunity to lend your voice to the call for American energy independence! RSVP today! (landing page).

If you can’t view the video above, use this link: Pickens’ Energy Plan e-rally video

Here’s one of the follow-up videos:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgv3e4_O_aQ[/youtube]

In other news concerning Pickens’ Energy Plan:

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., pledged Tuesday (Oct. 7, 2008) to push for congressional passage of an energy independence plan being pushed by billionaire Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens.

Chambliss said Pickens’ proposals to develop new domestic sources of energy while expanding proven American technology share much in common with bipartisan energy legislation he is sponsoring in the Senate.

“Boone’s got great ideas,” Chambliss said during a meeting with Atlanta Business Chronicle editors and reporters. “He knows I agree with him.”

Bailout Bill Big Win For Wind, Hybrids and Solar

07 Oct

Passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush, the bailout legislation includes a $17 billion energy tax package; a big win for solar, wind and hybrids.

Here’s a summary of articles on the topic with links to the publishers and their full stories:

Wired.com: Bailout Bill Benefits Wind and Solar Power Companies.

The general public may not be thrilled with the $700 billion “financial rescue” package that the House approved and President Bush signed Friday, but the alternative energy industry cheered its passage because the legislation includes renewals of tax breaks that company executives had worried would expire at the end of the year.

ClimateProgress.com: The biggest winner is certainly solar. As Scott Sklar, former head of the Solar Energy Industries Association and now President of the Stella Group summarizes:

This package extends the 30-percent federal investment tax credit for both residential and commercial solar, small wind, ground-coupled heat pumps installations from 4 – 8 years. This bill also completely eliminates the $2,000 monetary cap for residential solar electric installations. This bill also provides a incentive tax credit (ITC) for water energy applications
(tidal, wave, and ocean currents and thermal) and combined heat and power. The federal production tax credit was extened for biomass power, geothermal and wind energy as well.

Also according to ClimateProgress.com, the 8-year extension of the ITC is a crucial step in ensuring the success in this country of one of the most critical climate solutions – solar baseload or concentrated stored thermal electric, which the solar industry considers one of the single most important issues the federal government needs to address for stable growth.

Plug in hybrids also benefit from the bailout package as reported by the Green Car Congress:

The credit is a base $2,500 plus $417 for each kWh of battery pack capacity in excess of 4 kWh, to a maximum of $7,500 for light-duty vehicles; $10,000 for vehicles with gross vehicle weights of more than 10,000 but less than 14,000 pounds; $12,500 for vehicles with a GVW of more than 14,000 but less than 26,000 pounds; and $15,000 for any vehicle with a GVW of more than 26,000 pounds.

Phaseout of the credit is to begin after the total number of qualified PHEVs in the US sold after 31 December 2008 is at least 250,000.

Qualifying vehicles must have a battery pack with at least 4 kWh of capacity–a provision that will preclude the inclusion of the first generation of Toyota PHEVs as well, potentially, as other lower all-electric range plug-ins.

ClimateProgress.com: This is a heck of a kickstart for plug-in hybrids, especially since $1 billion has been set aside for this tax credit. The Electric Drive Transportation Association also reports “The credit is available against the alternative minimum tax,” which is very good news. That means the upscale first buyers of this $45,000 car will actually be able to take advantage of this credit (see here).

Lots of other clean technologies benefited. For instance, “The measure increases the tax credit limitation for fuel cells from $500 to $1,500 per half kilowatt of capacity.” Frankly, $500 was the equivalent of doing nothing, whereas $1,500 may actually make some stationary fuel cells competitive. Geothermal
heat pumps
and cogeneration systems both get a well-deserved new 10% ITC.

DailyKos: A comprehensive article on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (the “Bailout Plan”).

Oil Obit – Building the Coffin

05 Oct

Will McCain or Obama help us write the obituary for our dependence on foreign oil? Both are proposing they will.

John McCain
“Elimination of our dependence on foreign oil is a fundamental key to us restoring our economy, creating millions of jobs and also ensuring that America is secure and not dependent on oil from people like Hugo Chavez or other parts of the Middle East, which as we know, could be destabilized under certain sets of circumstances,” John McCain said during a campaign stop in Iowa. McCain adamantly supports lifting the ban on drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf and he wants to give the decision making power to the states; each state should decide if they want to allow drilling off their shores according to McCain.

Barack Obama is less clear on the offshore oil drilling issue in my opinion. He says he wants to allow it but  isn’t making a clear commitment for it. He repeatedly claims offshore oil drilling won’t help lower gas prices for years, which is a weak argument – no new energy alternative will quickly lower gas prices either. And, lowering gas prices isn’t the issue; decreasing demand is and the higher price of gas lowers demand. We all know that decreasing gas prices increases demand and the popularity of gas-guzzling SUVs during the past two decades is a clear indication of this fact. Obama also states he wants any offshore drilling to be part of a comprehensive energy plan. Clearly, we all want a comprehensive energy plan that includes alternative energy supplies.

To lower our demand on foreign oil supplies, McCain is proposing a $5,000 tax credit for each citizen that buys a zero emissions car. Obama is setting a goal of one million plug-in hybrid cars to be on the road by 2015. Obama also wants to offer tax credits to automobile manufacturers to retool their plants to produce fuel-efficient cars; he is proposing tax credits of up to $7,000 to consumers who buy them.

With respect to nuclear energy, McCain is clear; he has proposed building 45 nuclear plants by 2030 and ultimately, 100 new plants. Once again, Obama isn’t as clear on this issue either – he says the country should explore nuclear energy as part of the energy mix, but has expressed concerns about the storage of nuclear waste. We are, and have been for decades, concerned about the storage of nuclear waste. What’s Obama’s proposed solution for nuclear waste storage? Or McCains?

Mercedes-Benz S 400 BlueHYBRID

04 Oct

S400 BLUE Hybrid Mercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz is launching the S 400 BlueHYBRID, its first passenger car model equipped with a hybrid drive system, in summer 2009. The combination of a modified V6 petrol engine and a compact hybrid module makes the S 400 BlueHYBRID the world’s most economical luxury saloon with a petrol engine.
The NEDC combined fuel consumption is 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres. This makes for the world’s lowest CO2 emissions in this vehicle and performance class – 190 grams per kilometre. These exemplary figures go hand in hand with assured performance. The 3.5-litre petrol engine develops an output of 205 kW/279 hp, the electric motor generates 15 kW/20 hp and a starting torque of 160 Nm. The result is a combined output of 220 kW/299 hp and a combined maximum torque of 385 newton metres.

The compact hybrid module is a disc-shaped electric motor that also acts as a starter and generator. The system offers a double benefit, as it both helps to save fuel and increases driving enjoyment. This is partly due to the booster effect of the electric motor, as it powerfully backs up the petrol engine with a maximum additional torque of 160 newton metres during the high-consumption acceleration phase. The S 400 BlueHYBRID accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.2 seconds, and reaches an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h.

The hybrid module also has a comfortable start/stop function, which switches the engine off when the vehicle is at a standstill – for example at traffic lights. When it’s time to move off again, the electric motor almost imperceptibly restarts the main power unit. This likewise makes a contribution to fuel economy and environmental protection: because the engine restarts first time, and practically instantly, emissions are also minimised during the starting phase.

When the vehicle is braked the electric motor acts as a generator, and is able to recover braking energy by a process known as recuperation. Working in finely tuned partnership, the electric motor supplements the braking effect of the petrol engine and the wheel brakes to deliver a smoothly progressive braking action. The recuperated energy is stored in a compact yet highly efficient lithium-ion battery in the engine compartment, and made available when required. This complex system is managed by a high-performance control unit, which is likewise located in the engine compartment.

Milestone on the Road to Electrification
The center piece of the modular, very compact and highly efficient hybrid drive system is the new high-voltage lithium-ion battery, which was specially developed for automotive use and is the first such unit worldwide to be introduced in a series-production vehicle. In this way Mercedes-Benz is making a trailblazing contribution to the electrification of the car, with the S-Class playing the role of the technological trendsetter.

Major advantages over conventional nickel/metal hydride batteries include a higher energy density and better electrical efficiency, together with more compact dimensions and a lower weight. Thanks to space-saving installation in the engine compartment, where it replaces the conventional starter battery, the interior space and boot capacity of the S 400 remain unchanged.

Additional Resources

Green Car Journal – Article coverage of the Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

The 2009 S400 BlueHYBRID will be Mercedes-Benz’ first hybrid passenger car and also the first mass-production hybrid with a lithium-ion battery that’s been specially developed for automotive use. The S Class hybrid will go sale in Europe in June 2009 and be available in the U.S. three months later.

Based on the S350, The S400 BlueHYBRID has a 3.5-liter V-6 gasoline engine mated to a 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission with reprogrammed management software for the hybrid application. It also has a new auxiliary oil pump for transmission lubrication even when the engine is switched off.

Links to Energy Careers and Jobs

02 Oct

Resources for careers in energy and energy-related job listings.

Career Information

Association of Energy Engineers

A source for information on the dynamic field of energy efficiency, utility
deregulation, facility management, plant engineering, and environmental compliance.

Careers in Hydrogen and Fuel Cells

Lists resources that discuss the kinds of education and skills, both technical
and non-technical, that will be in demand in this new and exciting field.

Careers in Renewable Energy

A U.S. Department of Energy fact sheet that gives an overview of the career
opportunities in the renewable energy field.

DOE Career Opportunities

Features information about career opportunities at the U.S. Department of
Energy and its laboratories.

Engineering: Go For It!

Magazine style guide ($4.00) that opens up the world of engineering careers to high school students.

Environmental Career Center

Helps people work for the environment through comprehensive environmental
and natural resources job listings, career news, inside tips and advice, employer
interviews, and career research reports.

The Environmental Careers Organization

Features information on its career services and educational resources to help
the next generation of environmental professionals.

Junior Engineering Technical Society

Provides programs and resources for high school students interested in engineering
careers.

Occupational Outlook Handbook

A key word search using “energy” will locate information on career opportunities
in energy.

The Solar Energy Institute

Offers a one-week summer program in Arizona that gives high school students
the opportunity to learn about the solar energy field through lectures, tours,
and hands-on research.

Welcome to the World of Engineering!

A guide from the American Society for Engineering Education for high school
students interested in engineering and engineering technology careers.

Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Program: Energy Careers

Features links to information on energy careers, energy education programs,
and employers in the energy industry.

Job Listings

American Wind Energy Association: Wind Energy Career Center

Provides links to employers in the wind energy industry.

Centre for Alternative Technology

Posts vacancies of European companies in the renewable/sustainable development
sector.

DOE Jobs Database

Features a searchable database of available jobs at the U.S. Department of
Energy, as well as an automated job application system.

Energy Jobs Listings

A list of energy-related employers in the Northwest from the Energy Ideas
Clearinghouse.

environmentjob.co.uk

Features listings of renewable energy and energy efficiency jobs and volunteer
opportunities in the United Kingdom.

Fuel Cells 2000: Employment Resources

Lists fuel cell companies and helps match qualified job seekers with fuel
cell companies.

Green Energy Jobs

A listing of jobs in the renewable energy industry.

Hydro Research Foundation: Job Postings

Posts job listings in the hydropower industry.

National Society of Professional Engineers: Energy Job Board

Features job listings, online resume posting, career tips, mentoring programs,
continuing education opportunities, and resources for high school and college
students.

National Energy Technology Laboratory Careers and Fellowships

Provides information on position vacancies and research opportunities at the
Lab.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory: Employment

Features current job openings at the Lab.

PowerPlantPro

Posts jobs listings for power industry professionals.

If you would like to add to our listing, please use our “Contact Us” form here.

The Green Mercedes-Benz

21 Sep

Lithium-Ion Batteries to Power a New Class of Mercedes-Benz Hybrids

We have learned that Mercedes-Benz has announced plans to produce the first hybrid cars with powerful lithium-ion batteries. The cars are slated for the assembly line in 2009. Expect Mercedes-Benz to unveil additional details this week concerning the new car battery to be used in the luxury S-class line of hybrids.

You can read about what we know so far at AMG Market | Mercedes-Benz Enthusiasts.

This is a significant advancement in battery technology when compared to the nickel batteries used in the Toyota Prius. Sources claim the nickel batteries in the Prius have about a five year life before they need to be replaced, which costs the owner upwards of $5,000.  If true, the resale values of the Prius with original batteries will plumet in the coming years.

Toyota hopes to eventually replace the old nickel batteries with the lithium ion, as an article in Businessweek stated: “Yet Toyota should soon be giving the environmental lobby something to cheer about. In an interview with BusinessWeek on Feb. 16, Chief Executive Katsuaki Watanabe confirmed that Toyota’s third-generation hybrid cars, due out in late 2008 or early 2009, will use lithium-ion batteries.” (source: Toyota Prius Battery); website includes extensive info on the Prius batteries).

Toyota has previously delayed making the switch due to safety concerns even though the change could result in significant improvements to the Prius. Conversion kits are reportedly available in the aftermarket today. Using a battery made by Hymotion and A123 systems, you can get an aftermarket kit that converts the Prius into a plug-in hybrid. Subsequent to the conversion, one can drive up to 40 miles at the beginning of a trip on electric power alone. With the kit installed, the company claims drivers can expect 150 MPG city and 100 MPG highway.

Back in February of this year, Treehugger.com reported on the manufacturing facility slated to produce the batteries for Mercedes-Benz:

John Reed in the Financial Times reports that Johnson Controls and Saft, a U.S. supplier group and French battery producer, respectively, are set to break ground on a factory dedicated to the exclusive production of advanced lithium-ion batteries for cars. The facility, which will supply a range of automakers, including GM, Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz, is based in Nersac, France; its yearly production capacity will initially be 5,000 battery packs with the option to scale up if demand warrants it.

Bottom Line “Green” Strategies for Businesses

19 Sep

Everyday business owners and managers are meeting to discuss operating expenses and profits. But how often do you see “Green Strategies” as a line item on the agenda? Not often enough but more often now than in the past for a good reason; green business strategies increase profitability.

When a business implements green strategies they reduce waste, increase efficiency and lower their operating costs. Not only do you help improve the environment, you profit by doing so. Where do you start?

There are a significant amount of resources available from organizations, companies and government agencies.

Industrial Technologies Program (ITP): Leads national efforts to improve industrial energy efficiency and environmental performance. ITP is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and contributes to its efforts by partnering with U.S. industry in a coordinated program of research and development, validation, and dissemination of energy efficiency technologies and operating practices. There is a wealth of information available on their website including additional details concerning the Industrial Assessment Centers (more info below).

Industrial Assessment Centers: The Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs), sponsored by EERE’s Industrial Technologies Program, provide eligible small- and medium-sized manufacturers with no-cost energy assessments. Additionally, the IACs serve as a training ground for the next-generation of energy savvy engineers. Manufacturers can request an energy audit from IACS. A team of energy specialists will visit your facility, perform an energy audit and help you identify projects that conserve energy and reduce waste.

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE): DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Established in 1995, DSIRE is an ongoing project of the North Carolina Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I have conducted dozens of environmental audits in North Carolina. The state does a fabulous job providing information to businesses, consultants and the public. If you can’t find what you need on their website, give them a call – they are very helpful.

Monterey Bay Area Green Business Program: Partnership of environmental agencies, utilities and nonprofit organizations that assist, recognize and promote businesses and government agencies that volunteer to operate in a more environmentally responsible way. To be certified “green,” participants must be in compliance with all regulations and meet program standards for conserving resources, preventing pollution and minimizing waste; all of which result in lowering costs and increasing profits. The program was initially developed by local governments in the San Francisco Bay Area in collaboration with US EPA, Cal EPA Department of Toxic Substances Control and the business community. Although the program is focused on the Northern California area, they offer a variety of business resources you can use to reduce waste including “Green Business Checklists” such as the following for:

Buying Green Power in Your State – Green Power Network: The U.S. Department of Energy’s Green Power Network provides news and information on green power markets and related activities. This site provides state-by-state information on Green Power Marketing in Competitive Electricity Markets and Utility Green Pricing Programs. In addition, the site lists marketers of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) (also known as green tags or tradable renewable certificates), which represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from a renewable energy project. Whether or not consumers have access to green power through their local utility or a competitive electricity marketer, consumers can purchase RECs without having to switch electricity suppliers.

Wind Powering America: The U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Powering America site provides state-by-state wind project information, including validated wind maps, anemometer loan programs, small wind guides, legislative briefings, wind working groups, and state-specific news.

Profitable Green Solutions: More and more focus is being placed on total carbon emissions; your carbon “footprint” so to speak. First, you must accurately measure your carbon emissions using global standards. There are numerous ways to measure and subsequently reduce carbon emissions that result in cost-savings. Profitable Green Solutions, a private consulting firm, solicites new business by offering free carbon audits.

Environmental and Waste Management Industry Global Outlook Report

16 Sep

The environment and waste management industry is subject to various laws and regulations governing the environment across the world; known as “cradle to grave” laws here in the United States that regulate the treatment, handling and disposal of hazardous substances and the discharge of pollutants. Editors at Global Industry Analysts recently published a report on the global outlook for the industry. The following is their press release concerning the report. Read more