November 30, 2008
In Hollywood, you know you’ve arrived when They start advertising you, your book, album or movie. Aside from a few generalized Alternative Energy commercials during this past election year in the United States, solar and wind power developments have pretty much been on the Q-T. This is especially strange when there have been large solar energy farms in desert regions for quite some time now… but Alternative Energy has definitely gone mainstream. How can you tell? It isn’t just that the Governor of New Jersey ordered a billion dollars of wind turbines installed 20 miles offshore, or that a city in Florida made solar buy-back mandatory, or even the Green communities and the governments’ solar investments. It’s the ads.
In the past few days, the Internet, and Google in particular, has started firing off commercial solar power ads. We’re not talking about the old Popular Mechanics ads that amount to a school science project, or the little solar lawn lights that kinda snuck in at Warmart, Lowe’s and Home Depot when nobody was looking. These are major, full-blown websites offering analysis of your solar needs, and quotes for a full-house installation. CoolerPlanet.com and BellaEnergy.com sites are amongst those which have paid Google ads, and very professional websites for their very professional services. There’s even a site advertising Solar as a gift to impoverished nations! Astute businessmen, pay heed: Solar Power has arrived!
November 29, 2008
Spain is literally leading the way to solar supremacy over their dead bodies. The country’s habitable regions have limited free space for solar installations, so they’re getting very practical about it all, using up every bit of open space that they can find. ANY space. While Spin has put solar farms in cemeteries before, Santa Coloma de Gramenet, a working man’s town outside of Barcelona, has mounted 462 solar panels atop the graves themselves, and is now piping that solar energy back into their local grid that supplies electricity for the 124,000 people who live within a mere 1.5 square miles.
This solar power use in Spain is being heralded as both sensible and noble. That solar array will produce energy to power 60 homes, while eliminating 62 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Esteve Serret, the director of Conste-Live Energy, said “The best tribute we can pay to our ancestors, whatever your religion may be, is to generate clean energy for new generations.” Would that the rest of the world would adopt such wisdom. In this sense, using the graveyard for solar power is noble as well.
Spain offers generous subsidies to solar manufacturers. The country has abundant sun, and along with that comes a high demand for air conditioning. To facilitate the jump-starting of solar power, Spain has initiated feed-in tariffs which guarantee up to triple the market price for solar energy — guaranteed — for the next 25 years. New legislation would require all new buildings to include solar technology. Spain really is pushing for solar supremacy, even if that means generating it over their dead bodies. Read more
November 29, 2008
Video: Macworld portable solar laptop chargers
In a market that’s becoming increasingly Green, and a world that’s quickly realizing they’ll need to keep up the good work to stay on top, Solio’s innovative designs continue to capture the leading edge of their market. For the price of a OEM laptop charger, you can get one of Solio’s USB-based hybrid chargers that will capture electricity form the sun’s rays, or from a wall outlet, and keep it for you in a battery that lasts up to a full year! Some of these clever compact designs have fold-away solar panels, making a small football when they’re stored away. Solio even offers color options — how cool is that?!
You do have other choices besides their Classic solar battery charger. The H1000 is fitted into a neat concise case that’s just under 2″ wide by 8″ long, and integrated into into a caribiner and cable assembly that can be recharged with the sun or a USB port attached to your computer. Every Solio hybrid charger comes with a variety of interchangeable tips and interfaces, with other optional connectors as well, making them some of the top rated portable solar laptop chargers.
Clever as that is, innovative though it may be, that doesn’t give you the term “leading edge” in our book. But their new Magnesium Edition offers increased power, more efficient solar cells, and packs it all into a magnesium case that’s a mere 1.5″ wide by 4″ long! Traditional wall-mount battery chargers are at LEAST that big!
With these compact solar choices available to you, there’s no need to worry about bringing extra batteries, running the car and an inverter, or any of the other ecologically compromised second choices. Solio solar battery chargers continues to be on the leading edge of the Going Green revolution! Read more
November 28, 2008
William C. Ford, Jr., is a rare man, indeed. The 51 year old grandson of Henry Ford, who founded the company with his Model-A, has been taking Going Green seriously for some time now. Though he and his company have also been hit hard by the economic times, Ford is the only one of the big 3 U.S. auto manufacturers which is NOT asking Congress for any money right now. This would seem to confirm that this scion of the Ford legacy is indeed a man prone to looking to the future.
William Ford, Jr. has been meeting directly with President-Elect Obama since August (long before he was elected) and working on Green transportation solutions. This alone speaks volumes about the purity of his intent. Mr. Ford would like to see the United States free of foreign oil, but points out that we must also develop our own battery solutions, so that we don’t become dependent upon Asian countries for the batteries instead.
President-Elect Obama’s Governor Jennifer Granholm (D, MI) a member of the president-elect’s economic advisory team, speaks well of Mr. Ford, saying that he “has tremendous credibility with respect to the serious issues related to renewable energy and energy security for this nation.” Indeed, while remaining solvent, Ford has managed to put out the first hybrid SUVs, and will be making a new engine design available within the year, offering a 20% savings in fuel efficiency. But Ford is ready to go a step further, to step back from the “Ford Tough” trucks that have been their mainstay and focus on the company’s smaller fuel-efficient vehicles.
While Toyota may have developed the Scion line of automobiles, it seems the scion we want to watch is the Ford. Alternate-Power.org tips its hat to Ford Motor Corporation for their continuing dedication to a Greener, energy-independent United States of America. Read more
November 27, 2008
When we read the news, “Renovating the U.N., with Hints of Green,” we were prepared to be excited about the idea of the U.N. doing some sort of Green retrofit that would reduce energy use, lower carbon footprint…. SOME hint of positive direction. The truth was disappointingly different. While the U.N. building IS undergoing a renovation (which will mean five years of that mammoth structure standing unused while alternative offices are occupied,) the only hint of Green is both color and money. How much? Two BILLION dollars.
Let’s make sure we’re getting this right. The United Nations, which is funded by taxpayers, us going to redecorate and spend 2 BILLION dollars and five years to do so? What could the engineers of this plot possibly be thinking of? The world’s economy is on a runaway downhill slide, and you want to displace 5000 U.N. workers, spend money to rent some OTHER place for them, while you leave that structure unused during a 5-year 2 BILLION dollar renovation of the existing structure — because you don’t like the wall colors and paintings?
It’s possible one of us isn’t thinking clearly, or has lost the plot altogether. The Powers That Be don’t seem to mind spending that money to “green” things up in terms of ambiance. Here’s a novel thought: How about a much more worthy and justifiable pursuit?
What else might that same two BILLION dollars do? How about purchasing wind turbines that would provide Green electricity for something like 250-500 THOUSAND homes? Seems that would be a lot more Green than a couple coats of paint in the U.N. house.
To be fair, some of the renovation may be in order. Increasing security features for the structure, for example. After all, we’re in a war on Terrorists, right? Then again, if we were paying more attention to Going Green, maybe the terrorists would be busy leaving us alone, and we wouldn’t have to worry about being attacked for our politics and philosophical persuasions. Just a thought — a truly Green thought.
November 26, 2008
President-Elect Barack Obama has been very assertive in statements about his intentions to get the United States on the fast-track to going Green. One of those goals includes putting a million American-made plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2015. That’s GREAT! Now how are you going to make it happen, Mr. President? Enter Heather Zichal, a member of the President-Elect’s Energy and Environment Policy Transition Team, who explains that with the auto industry hurting, they’re more likely to be receptive to helping the people of the United States achieve those goals. To facilitate that, P.E. Obama has proposed providing up to fifty billion dollars in retooling assistance to help build advanced-technology vehicles. She also suggests the P.E. would offer a $7000 tax credit for those who have purchased a hybrid that year, to make the car more affordable to them.
Also on the boards is improving and increasing mass-transit, both so that it is more widely available and feasible, and also to improve its environmental friendliness.
On the Alternative Energy gameplan, Obama is again labeled as aggressive, pushing for us to have 10% of our energy coming from renewable resources by 2012. To assist that, he intends to provide investment tax credit for those involved in building wind farms, solar and transmission infrastructures.
Finally, could the government be made to be Green, to lead by example? This seems like a HUGE concept. Ms. Zichal points out, on Obama’s behalf, that in 2008 the Federal government spent fourteen billion dollars in fuel and energy. Amongst his proposals is a mandate that all new Federal constructions be 40 percent more efficient, and that existing Federal structures be refitted to comply with a demand for 25% higher energy efficiency.
Yes, all of this is going to cost a lot of money. On the other hand, under the Bush administration, Iraq recently LOST (as in cannot find) some 15 billion dollars, so we’ll be able to make up a lot of the cost of these energy investments simply by not being in Iraq any more. More to the point, though, whatever it costs, it will also be saving – both money and our future.
We’re with you, President (Elect) Obama! Get as aggressive as you like, as aggressive as you can, and let’s get serious about Going Green!
November 26, 2008
ELV Motors Takes Center Stage as the Only All-Electric Vehicle Company!
For electric bicycle and scooter start-up, ELV Motors, having your booth placed right next to one of the Big Three auto makers at the week-long San Francisco International Auto Show might prove intimidating. But according to ELV Motors’ founder, Doug Schwartz, ELV had the same, if not more, foot traffic than their next door exhibitor, General Motors. Maybe it was because, despite all the green hype, ELV was the only all-electric vehicle company in attendance at the show.
“We were very happy with the turnout, said Schwartz. “Many of the auto manufacturers had hybrids on display at the show, but only AAA had one completely electric car. Because ELV was the only all-electric vehicle company in the show,” added Schwartz, “our booth had very steady traffic.”
The big hits in the ELV booth were the company’s new A2B electric bike, the UM 24 folding electric bike and the E1600 all electric scooter. The A2B attracted the age 16-30 crowd said Mr. Schwartz. The company’s UM 24 appealed to commuters and baby boomers and the E1600 scooter appealed to all age groups.
“People commented that they are interested in buying electric because they know that gas prices will rise again,” said Schwartz. “Also, they liked the idea of driving something that is better for the environment. Of course, they all said that the bikes and scooters are fun to ride.”
Press Release: Gas Guzzling Cars Take Back Seat to Electric Bikes and Scooters for Holiday Giving
Environmentally conscious people are thinking green this Christmas. Instead of expensive cars or gas scooters and motorcycles that pollute more than cars, many high school and college students are asking their parents for planet friendly electric bicycles and scooters.
Electric bicycles and scooters are perfect for people who:
• Care about the environment
• Commute less than 20 miles
• Run errands close to home
• Live on or near campus
• Hate spending time looking for parking spots
• Carry a bike on public transportation
• Dont want to waste money on car expenses and gas
According to AAA the cost of driving a car 15,000 miles a year (depreciation, insurance, maintenance, registration, and fuel) is 52 cents a mile. Compare that to 3 cents a mile for an electric bicycle and 10 cents a mile for an electric scooter.
New hi-tech and stylish electric bicycles like the A2B and fun to ride electric scooters like the E-1600 are great alternatives for students who need transportation but not the expense of a car, said Douglas Schwartz, President & CEO of ELV Motors, Inc.
In California electric bicycles fewer than 1000 watts do not require a license, insurance, or registration.
They can travel 20 miles on a 3 cent charge at speeds up to 20 mph. They can be driven anywhere a bike can go as well as taken on most forms of public transportation. And if you want a good work out, simply turn the motor off and start pedaling. (Check laws in your state)
Electric scooters under 2hp in California require a M2 motor scooter license, insurance and a one time registration fee. They can travel up to 40 miles on a 10 cent charge with a top speed of 30mph. With storage both under the seat and in the back, and with the ability to carry a passenger, they can replace a car for many errands. (Check laws in your state).
With prices under $4,000, even Santa would want one.
Contact ELV Motors at www.elvmotors.com or call 408-850-8191 for more information or for dealership inquires.
November 23, 2008
That’s what my grandpa used to say. Grandpa was a pretty smart guy, too. Didn’t much matter what it was, he’d take it apart, find the problem, and fix it. A lot of the time, it didn’t even need a new part. It just needed a bit of maintenance, some attention, to be working right again.
What does this have to do with Going Green? When we talk about home consumption, there are a lot of things that waste energy, sucking up electricity needlessly. But which ones, and how much? Unless you want t go turning everything off, unplugging it all all of the time, you’re going to have to figure out where the leaks are. That’s where Power Monitors come in.
We took a look at some of the monitors available from ChangeForGreen.com. It is really amazing how much information these things can gather! Hook up the monitor to any 3-prong outlet, plug your appliance to it, and you’ll quickly know exactly how much that device is costing you — both in watts and dollars. When you identify an item that uses a lot of phantom power, you can decide if it’s worth it to you to unplug it and reset the clock, or just leave it plugged in all the time. You can also find out just how much those new florescent bulbs are actually saving you’re getting from them, and how much you really do love having them around!
They’ve got one model which monitors your entire household’s consumption. This one features a nifty backlit blue screen, and works on a remote, so you can be sitting in the living room and tell what your usage is costing you! They’re all designed so that they don’t interfere with the signal, and are accurate to about 5%.
Check out these power monitors from ChangeForGreen.com. After all, you can’t fix your house’s energy consumption if you don’t know what’s broken!
November 22, 2008
Mega-publisher Ziff Davis Media has informed us that it will no longer be printing it’s flagship periodical, PC Magazine. The online version will remain, they say, but the costs of printing and decrease in paper advertising just don’t add up. Ziff Davis Media says that 70-80 percent of their revenue now comes from the online site anyway. The final hardcopy edition will be the January 2009 issue.
No matter how venerable it may have been, this is good news for the ecology. The magazine’s circulation was at 1.2 MILLION copies a month in the late 1990′s, sometimes as much as 600 pages thick each. Even last year, it was still putting some 600,000 printed copies of the magazine on the shelves every month. Trees and forests everywhere will weep and rejoice!
There seems to be a sweeping trend in pulp publication mortality. Some of it is simply attributed to the age of instant information. A publication can be put online today, and any typo corrected real-time. The news is actually news, not already old news by the time it hits the stands. There’s a very strong case here for getting rid of most, if not all, physical periodical publications.
Other publications preparing to go online-only include “The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,” which has been printed since 1945, “The Christian Science Monitor”, a daily publication which is going online with its weekday editions, and the Hearst Corporation’s CosmoGirl.
Some die-hards claim that print-advertising will continue to be essential to magazines, but the many publications that are online-only, some of which have never been in hardcopy form, prove otherwise. Online publications are able to support hundreds of thousands each year in budget, and continue to pay journalists a liveable wage — $30k to start, up to an average of $60,000 per year, plus benefits and perks. Seems pretty clear that pulp publications are about to be gone for good… and that’s a good thing for our planet.
November 21, 2008
Frank Asbeck, CEO of the German SolarWorld corporation, has made an unlikely offer to help out GM. It’s ironic that a Green company making solar panels should be in a position to help the auto giant. That’s still not as unlikely as the offer itself — if you can even call it that. The offer was for 250 million euros in cash, and an additional 750 million euros in the form of a loan which would have to be paid back. For that sum, about 1.1 billion dollars at today’s exchange rate, Asbeck wants the four German plants producing the Opels that GM owns, the Opel name and plans, as well as a 40,000 euro severance package for each of the German employees. Oh, and to add to the bizarre terms, the German government must guarantee GM’s repayment of the debt. By the time all is said and done, GM would make nothing in the sale.
GM’s CEO, Rick Wagoner, has already made it clear that Opel isn’t for sale (though Hummer is. Go figure.) So what was the point of Asbeck’s offer? Was he trying to prove he’s not Italian by making an offer than anyone would refuse? Was he trying to humiliate GM by suggesting that they’d need a Green company’s help? Was it a subtle marketing angle targeting the general public with the notion that investing in Green technologies is better than owning gas-guzzler stock, or were they just trying to get SolarWorld’s name out there in some free press?
Whatever the reason, GM isn’t biting, and for once, nobody could blame them for not taking the money. C’mon, Asbeck! Sure, everybody wants something for nothing but gimme a break! What’s with the paper ring? It’s all for the best, regardless. If SolarWorld wants to get into the automobile business, they’re going to need a lot lighter a car than the Opel to pull it off… Or would they?
Best bet is that it’s just a chance to get some free publicity. But what if it isn’t? The Opel is small, attractive, has a decent reputation in the right circles for such a thing. Maybe Asbeck really did want to pick up Opel and begin electric car development. It’s a low-ball offer, but perhaps Asbeck was hoping Wagoner would make a counter-offer. Or maybe GM will take that deal, bizarre as it seems, when the U.S. Congress refuses to bail them out. But no, the German government’s backing is part of the offer. C’mon, Frank! Let us in on the joke. It’s okay, you can tell us. We can keep a secret. What were you thinking?