Electric vehicle industry going global as Asia invests in energy storage

October 27 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2011   Rating: 9 Hot

Want to think about a tough pill to swallow? Electric cars are not likely to make countries more energy independent. The US and Europe are likely to trade ‘foreign’ oil, for ‘foreign’ energy storage systems! And this might not be a bad thing. If we expect to transform the largest industries in the world (energy and transportation) it will have to be a global effort.

Key to Electric Vehicles – Asia & Energy Storage
If we look closely at recent announcements around electric vehicles, the future is looking very globally integrated and interdependent. Even as the US tries to grow its manufacturing base around ‘cleantech’ industries, Korea, China, and India are making strategic investments in the future of energy storage systems (batteries, fuel cells and capacitors) to power electric vehicles.

In the last few weeks Warren Buffet placed a $233 million bet on China’s BYD, a US firm purchased a Koren battery maker, India’s Tata announced plans to sell electric cars in Europe, and GM picked the unit of Korea’s LG Chem to supply batteries of its Volt electric car.

Today, Green Car Congress picked up a Reuters report that Korea’s number one refiner SK Energy is in talks with major automakers such as Daimler and Ford on the joint development of next-generation batteries used in electric cars. SK Energy is looking to leverage ‘separator’ components for lithium ion batteries that prevent overheating. SK joins the crowd of Exxon, Chevron and Toshiba who are getting involved in battery materials.

Selling a new message: The Eco benefits of being Global
In the months and year ahead leaders in the US and Europe might have to change their simplistic and nationalistic message of independence to reflect the complexities of the energy industry and the future. It will likely be globally integrated.

If the US and Europe expect to kill the combustion engine, and end the monopoly era of liquid fuels, they will need Asia and the rest of the world to join in the effort. This new message might better reflect the brutal facts of the global economy and fate of the planet – we’re all in it together whether we are talking energy finance, energy resources, energy emissions, energy software or energy storage.

The solar industry is growing globally. The wind industry is growing globally. Why not electric vehicles? Could that be an easier pill to swallow and a better image of the future?

Related posts:
Could China help the world move beyond the combustion engine
CBS Video on Future of Electric Car
Detroit to World-Nobody Killed the Electric Car
GM picks Korean battery company for Volt

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[Video] T Boone Pickens on 60 Minutes

October 27 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2009   Rating: 6 Hot

After airing a special on the future of electric cars CBS 60 Minutes had energy pundits glued to the screen again with Charlie Rose leading an interview with Billionaire Texan T Boone Pickens. Pickens has generated international media attention with his ‘Pickens Plan’ to rearrange the US energy mix emphasizing natural gas and wind in a complicated scheme to wean the US off ‘foreign oil’. What is not entirely clear is how the utilities will respond to the challenges of wind power (without effective storage to manage intermittent power generation), and how Pickens expects free market driven companies to avoid buying ‘foreign’ natural gas if prices are lower than US domestic supplies.


Related posts:
Could China help the world move beyond the combustion engine
CBS Video on Future of Electric Car
Detroit to World-Nobody Killed the Electric Car
GM picks Korean battery company for Volt
Warren Buffet invests in Chinese battery maker
Could China launch age of electric vehicles?
India’s Tata to produce electric cars for Europeans

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NASDAQ OMX - Welcome to complicated world of energy derivatives and carbon trading!

October 23 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2010   Rating: 2

The world of financial trading around energy resources, power generation and carbon emissions is now a bit more complicated and, more important, globally integrated.

NASDAQ OMX has completed its acquisition of Nord Pool International. The combined companies will launch a new offering, ‘NASDAQ OMX Commodities,’ based on Nord Pool’s energy and carbon derivatives products to banks, brokers, hedge funds and other financial institutions, as well as power utilities, industry, manufacturing and oil companies.

“With NASDAQ OMX Commodities, our intent is to create a global leader in energy derivatives and carbon products,” said Bob Greifeld, Chief Executive Officer of NASDAQ OMX. “Combining Nord Pool’s footprint in the commodities market with NASDAQ OMX’s global distribution capabilities and customer base puts us in a unique position to create a financial center for energy related derivatives. As one company we can meet our customers’ demands for trading in multiple asset classes, allowing us to grow liquidity in both existing and new markets.”

Why is this important?

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'Green Oil' by 2020? UK invests in algae biodiesel

October 24 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment   Year: 2020   Rating: 6 Hot

Could carbon-eating algae change how we produce liquid fuels by 2020? Can we ‘grow’ energy rather than pull it out of the ground? A British energy R&D firm believes the answer is yes.

UK-based Carbon Trust, which works to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, has launched the Algae Biofuels Challenge with an ambitious mission: to commercialize the use of algae biofuel as an alternative to fossil based oil by 2020.

Carbon Trust’s multi-million pound investment will be led through its Advanced Bioenergy Accelerator and focused on microalgae that can be cultivated and manipulated to produce high yields of oil using carbon-rich feedstocks.

This effort is another signal that the long-term future of bioenergy is more likely to tap the power of microbes (algae/bacteria) rather than plant based resources like corn, soy and palm oil.

Carbon Trust’s initial forecasts suggest that algae-based biofuels could replace over 70 billion litres of fossil derived fuels used worldwide annually in road transport and aviation by 2030 (equivalent to 12% of annual global jet fuel consumption or 6% of road transport diesel). This would equate to an annual carbon saving of over 160 million tonnes of CO2 globally and a market value of over £15 billion.

Algae fuels? A Future inspired by the Past
The Industrial Revolution has been based on capturing energy released from breaking chemical bonds of carbon and hydrogen. We blew up coal’s chemical bonds to for steam engines, then gasoline inside internal combustion engines and repurposed coal for large centralized electric power plants. Now the 21st century could be partly shaped by closing that carbon-hydrogen loop using molecular systems within biology?

Ironically this future vision of energy is inspired by the past! Coal is ancient biomass- likely ferns. And oil is likely ancient microbes that lived in shallow oceans. Both are made of complex chains of hydrogen and carbon assembled by Mother Nature’s molecular machines of algae and bacteria. As long as chemical bonds drive the economy, we need to figure out a way to keep carbon in the energy loop by binding it with hydrogen, not oxygen. This UK algae challenge is an important step in closing that cycle in the 21st Century.

Image by Memebox LLC The Energy Roadmap.com

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Are We Preparing Enough Scientists? - Defining Challenges in US Research [Video]

October 23 2008 / by joelg
Category: Education   Year: 2008   Rating: 3 Hot

by Joel Greenberg

Scientists and engineers are going to develop the solutions to our energy challenges. An obvious fact, but what if we’re not preparing people for those careers in the US? At the recent NanoTX’08 conference, Dr. Zvi Yaniv, CEO of Applied Nanotech, Inc. discusses the challenges of educating scientists and engineers in the US. All is not rosy, but all is not lost.

Dr. Zvi Yaniv is an expert in LCD technology. He received his PhD in Physics at the Kent State Liquid Crystal Institute in 1982. Shortly after he graduated, he was recruited by Energy Conversion Devices to run their LCD laboratory. Three years later, he spun out Optical Imaging Systems, OSI, Inc. “The premier Liquid Crystal Display Company in America, designing displays for our avionics, for F22, phantoms, helicopters,” he says. “And I loved it!”

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Artificial Trees that can Power Cars and Homes

October 20 2008 / by jvarden
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 2

By Jenna Varden

In an innovative burst of biomimicry, Solar Botanic will harvest both sun and wind energy with their Solar Botanic Trees and Nanoleaves . Like other methods of obtaining renewable energy, Solar Botanic is clean and renewable, but the company also faced and possibly answered questions of efficiency, practicality, and aesthetics.

Solar Botanic Trees are artificial and yet lifelike trees that can collect not only solar and wind power, but also rain. Solar Botanic trees are powered by the Nanoleaf, which uses photovoltaic and thermovoltaic cells to capture and convert solar energy into electricity. Rustling through the Nanoleaves, the wind moves the voltaic material embedded in wooden portions of the tree, stems, branches, and twigs. This movement creates electricity from wind power. Unlike real trees, Solar Botanic Trees live year-round and will always continue to harness renewable energy.

With its multiple modes of power, a Solar Botanic “tree with a canopy of about 6 sq meters can create enough energy to provide for the needs of an average household” (Source). These trees can be planted in front of homes, along highways, in the street, in parks where children play, or in groves. Solar Botanic Trees could also assist in desert reclamation, as they provide both shade from the blazing sun and energy.

While Solar Botanic Trees are still in the making, multiple governments have offered research facilities for Solar Botanic to create its wonder-trees and the company is still searching for business partners to assist them in their quest to provide the world an aesthetically pleasing, practical renewable energy collector.

Image: [Wohnai] Flicker CC License

BMW releasing electric Mini Cooper in US market; Another effort to abandon combustion engine?

October 18 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2009   Rating: 5 Hot

BMW will unveil its electric version of the Mini Cooper at the Los Angeles Auto Show on November 19 and 20, 2008. The company is claiming to be the world’s first manufacturer of premium automobiles to deploy a fleet of some 500 all-electric vehicles for private use in daily traffic. The MINI E will be powered by a 150 kW (204 hp) electric motor fed by a high-performance rechargeable lithium-ion battery, transferring its power to the front wheels without a sound. The MINI E is expected to accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.5 seconds. With its top speed electronically limited to 152 km/h (95 mph).

The battery technology will have a range of more than 240 kilometers, or 150 miles. Sales are expected to focus on private and corporate customers in pilot projects in California, New York and New Jersey.

Electric Motors vs Combustion Engine
BMW’s announcement follows along with recent industry plans to electrify the world’s auto fleet. We might interpret these announcements as a response to the ‘oil problem’ or ‘climate change’ regulations. But what if the real reason is based on a desire to abandon the design and manufacturing complexities of the combustion engine? Forward looking industry insiders hope that a new low cost manufacturing platform could emerge around the combination of wheel based electric motors, drive by wire systems, and the tight integration of batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and capacitors.

We have highlighted recent electric vehicle commitments of production vehicles (2009-2011) from automakers GM, Nissan, Tata Motors-, BYD, and Chevrolet.

We believe there is something happening in the auto industry that goes beyond oil and climate change The end game might be to change how we build and sell cars, not how we fuel them. If the real problem really is the combustion engine, and not oil, BMW’s plans might really be an effort to accelerate its shift to a new vehicle platform.

Press Release

[Video] The Future of Paper Batteries

October 16 2008 / by joelg
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 5 Hot

By Joel Greenberg

Among the talk of thin-film solar, nano self-assembly, among other ideas at NanoTX’08 conference in Dallas, TX, was a researcher talking about his work with paper batteries. Dr. Mangilal Agarwal of Louisana Tech University talks about how paper batteries work and what problems they solve.

DuPont team wins US Military Wearable Power Prize

October 14 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment   Year: 2009   Rating: 3

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded its $1 million top prize for the Wearable Power Prize competition to the team of DuPont/Smart Fuel Cell (SFC) based on a direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC)system.

Announced in July 2007, the US Department of Defense Research & Engineering 2008 Prize challenged energy companies to develop a lightweight, wearable power systems capable of producing 20 watts average power for 96 hours and weighed less than 4 kilograms. The prize conclude in October 2008 with the following awards:

$1 million First Place
DuPont / SFC Smart Fuel Cell – the prize confirms DuPont’s ability to help transform energy systems through basic science and applied materials. DuPont is already a major contributor to next generation energy materials used in solar cells, fuel cells, and biomaterials. Smart Fuel Cell is also a leading company in fuel cell power systems.

$500,000 Second Place
Adaptive Materials based on its propane-powered solid oxide fuel cells. According to the team’s press release they lost by weight of 28 grams!

$250,000 Third Place
Little is known or published about third place winner Jenny 600S system of Middleburg, Virginia. [We are investigating!!]

Why portable power?
The US military’s efforts are clear – reduce the weight of energy systems for soldiers carrying an increasingly diverse array of electronic equipment from GPS devices, communication devices to vision glasses. The military is also looking for high density systems to power tiny field sensors, urban surveillance robots and unmanned aerial and mobile vehicles (UAVs).

Portable power is equally disruptive for non-military applications. Effective electron storage systems could lower the costs of electric vehicles powered by batteries, fuel cells and capacitors; reinforce national electricity grids; and improve performance and reliability of distributed power systems in urban and rural settings. The science and technologies behind this prize are certain to go well beyond military applications.

Future contests?
The US military has a number of contests that push innovation. The most disruptive is its Grand Challenge for fully autonomous vehicles. But in the world of energy, the next logical step beyond portable power storage will be on site power generation! So we’re imagining small appliances that can take any material and convert raw inputs into usable forms of electricity, hydrogen or liquid fuels.

Keep reading for more details…

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India's Tata Motors will produce electric vehicle in 2009 (for Europeans!)

October 15 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment   Year: 2009   Rating: 6 Hot

Imagine standing in front of global auto executives in 1999 and presenting a forecast that within ten years an Indian Automaker would be planning to build and sell electric vehicles in Europe. You might have walked away with that negative ‘futurist’ stereotype of a fringe corporate strategic thinker thinking way too far ahead!

Now India’s Tata Motors has announced plans to build an electric vehicle for European markets in 2009.

The company’s UK subsidiary has acquired a 50.3% holding in Miljø Grenland/Innovasjon of Norway to advance solutions for electric vehicles. The move brings Tata closer to realizing its vision of building affordable, clean electric motor vehicles powered by a combination of batteries, fuel cells and capacitors.

The first generation of Miljø produced electric vehicles will use Electrovaya Lithium Ion SuperPolymer® batteries. Tata plans to launch Indica EV in Europe during 2009 as a 4 person vehicle with a predicted battery charge range of up to 200 km (125 miles) with an acceleration of 0-60 kmph (40 mph) in under 10 seconds.

Recent stories on electric vehicles:
- Could China help the world move beyond the combustion engine?
- Start up Better Place planning to build out Hawaii’s electric vehicle infrastructure
- Warren Buffet invests in Chinese battery & electric car maker
- Detroit to World: Nobody has Killed the Electric Car
- GM plans to kill Combustion Engine

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Radiating Good News

October 15 2008 / by Will / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 4 Hot

Cross posted from Where There’s A William by Will Brown

In an attempt to show I’m not entirely in the tank for any particular nuclear energy provider, I direct your attention to the following. Via Jerry Pournelle’s Current Mail link for Tuesday (10/14/08) comes notice of this NRC map of new nuclear power stations in the construction approval process.

I note that Texas has four such new plants already. Given the depressing quantities demanded on my electric utility bill this just-ended atypically cool summer, and in anticipation of the amounts no doubt to be claimed during the upcoming winter, I can only encourage more and faster, please.

Investors betting on biological future for biofuels - We can 'grow' energy!

October 13 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment   Year: 2011   Rating: 7 Hot

Growing energy?
Can we grow our own energy resources by feeding power plant carbon emissions to algae and bacteria? We have featured videos by Juan Enriquez and Steve Jurvetson- on the feasibility of growing energy using the power of biology. Now mainstream investors are starting to bet that this future might be closer than we imagine.

Investments are now flowing into next generation biofuels that should surpass corn ethanol. But if we expect to ‘grow’ energy then we need to make choices. When do we tap the power of plants versus algae and bacteria? Will we train our students to become chemical engineers or biologists and synthetic bio-engineers?

Our world is built upon ancient bioenergy
Most of our energy resources come via biology. Coal is ancient biomass- likely decomposed ferns. And oil is likely ancient microbes that lived in shallow oceans. We power our world by blowing up these hydrogen-carbon chemical bonds in our power plants and combustion engines. It is cheap but also inefficient and dirty because we release ancient carbon.


Two paths forward – chemistry and biology
Biofuels are expanding along two paths. One future is based on creating fuels using chemical engineering processes. Biodiesel uses a process known as transesterification which exchanges molecules from fatty acids (like vegetable and oil oil) to create usuable fuels. Corn ethanol uses a process known as fermentation. Chemical conversion processes usually tap oil (fatty acids) from plants, fruit seeds or industrial waste streams.

The other future uses the power of biological energy conversion. This is the world of carbon-eating algae that create biodiesel and hydrogen producing bacteria. Biological energy production usually taps carbon emissions or waste streams (e.g. carbohydrates and sewage) as its feedstock.

Advocates of chemically driven biofuels say they offer scalability and reliability. Biology advocates want to transform carbon emissions into a resource for algae and bacteria and think their solution has a lower cost advantage, safety and fewer waste byproducts.

While there are many reasons to imagine profitable biologically driven bioenergy solutions within five years, we have yet to see a company overcome the challenges of scaling up production. So the mood among investors and analysts is ‘cautiously optimistic..!

Latest announcements contributing the bioenergy hype

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