The Next Big Thing in Cleantech Venturing

As always, the venture community is looking for its next big thing. The cleantech world is no exception. Despite the dearth of exits, so much capital has flowed into the cleantech sector that investors need new places to put it. So despite my promise to certain friends not to blog certain funding rumors in each category, the top 4 contenders are:

  1. Green building materials – I’m not sure it would be my thing, but investors across the board seem to think this area is ripe for a hit.
  2. Carbon IT – With some sort of cap and trade a near certainty, the interest is picking up in one of the few areas in carbon that looks like a “venture bet”. I should know, I have one of these companies myself.
  3. Food related technologies – High food prices and rising fertilizer costs, what can I say?
  4. N-generation solar technologies – Everyone not in the first wave is looking to get in to the 4th wave. Not sure venture investors will fare better in the 3rd or 4th wave than they did in the second, but they are going to try.

I had a chance to visit one of the Gaia Hotels, which bills itself as a new eco-hotel chain, this weekend. The experience put those four contending areas in a bit of a new light, as the creator of the Gaia ecotel concept toured me around and shed some light on the decisions that went into them from the demand side. (Note: “ecotel”, “bit of a new light”, “shed some light”, “demand side”, all good cleantechisms).

After launching a LEED Gold Certified facility in Napa Valley a little under two years ago, Gaia opened a new one in Northern California, focused on outdoor recreational travelers, which they expect to achieve at least LEED Silver. I had lunch with Wen Chang, the creator behind Gaia, this Saturday. When it came to green building materials, I was frankly amazed how much impact the LEED program had on the design and materials selection, and how big a selling point LEED was to this concept. Everything from using photovoltaic panels and Solatube daylighting, to low flow shower heads, low water usage and local landscape selection, and chemical free gardening and stormwater management, all the way to the carpet made from recycled materials, CFLs in the night stand, and sustainable forest products. Talk about demand stimulus, after an extensive tour, I was ready to buy a green building materials company myself. Especially since the ecotel was booked solid!

And of course front and center in the lobby, there were Renewable Energy Credits (though not carbon credits) purchased from our friends at Renewable Choice Energy, to offset the power usage, and a monitoring system to show power and water usage, and solar production.

Moving on to the food technology, the Gaia Anderson restaurant is not yet open, but is intended to be an organic and locally grown food (I assume that Napa will count as “local” for the wine, but I did not ask!).

No eco friendly building in this day and age would be complete without a solar panel on the roof. Gaia Napa’s solar system is apparently providing 10% of the electricity needs on site, while at the Gaia Anderson, the panels have not yet arrived. But perhaps the most telling for would-be solar barons, Wen Chang did not know or care whose technology powered the solar panels. Only that they arrived and worked.

All in all, quite an eye opening one day “deep dive” into the demand side of the four top contenders for cleantech’s next big thing. (Pardon the expression deep dive, I’ve always found that term amusing, especially since cleantech VCs use it all the time now to describe the 6 conferences they went to and 12 business plans they read to become an expert in, say, solar, so I couldn’t resist.)

Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is the founding CEO of Carbonflow, founding contributor of Cleantech Blog, a Contributing Editor to Alt Energy Stocks, Chairman of Cleantech.org, and a blogger for CNET’s Greentech blog.

An Ode to Wacky Ideas

by Richard T. Stuebi

Over the years, I’ve been exposed to many cleantech concepts that are just, well, wacky. I’ve seen articles on tethered airborne windturbines and mile-high thermal generation towers, heard from entrepreneurs touting cold fusion devices and floating solar collectors for thermal electricity generation, and even witnessed what seemed to be a demonstration of a gizmo that purportedly harnesses the ambient magnetic flux in the universe. (Against the accepted laws of physics, mind you.)

Last week, I was sent a link to a story on MSNBC of a Canadian gentleman who is working on man-made tornadoes for electricity generation. This one might take the cake. To quote Bob Uecker from Wild Thing, “Juuuuust a bit outside.” See what you think.

Most mad-scientists are oblivious to the fact that, just because something theoretically is doable, doesn’t mean it should be done or is economic to do.

In the end, though, I gotta give these folks their due. If it weren’t for oddballs pushing the species, humans would probably still be sitting around in caves saying “Ugh”. It’s probably going to be a couple of what are initially considered wacky ideas that produce the necessary breakthroughs to truly solve our energy and environmental dilemmas. So, for that reason, I try to be somewhat open-minded in looking at the crazy stuff that sometimes comes across my transom.

Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc.

A Scooter That Can Really Scoot

by Cristina Foung

My favorite green product of the week: the RMartin EVD Electric Scooter

What is it?
The RMartin EVD is an all-electric scooter. Its 3000-watt motor gives you a top speed of 50 MPH and it boasts a range of 40 to 50 miles per charge (although I’m told the manual actually says you can get 75 miles if you go 19 miles per hour). It accelerates from 0 to 50 in 8 seconds. It also recharges in 6 to 10 hours.

Why is it better?
Okay, okay, you caught me. Yet again, I find myself writing about something cool and electric – yes, I know I did that here, here, here, and sort of here too. Forgive me. But they’re just plain neat! I can’t help myself.

On to the EVD – Well, the EVD is indeed all-electric which means its well-to-wheel fuel efficiency and overall emissions are significantly lower than any traditional gasoline hog. It also means you don’t contribute to the noise pollution of the world since it’s so quiet (while I love a good motorcycle, I’m not very keen on the roar of the engine). Also, when it comes to electric scooters, it goes pretty fast, unlike some which top out at about 25 MPH.

The reviews I’ve read have been highly favorable overall – the only drawbacks noted were with a bit of difficulty putting on the windshield, removing it from the shipping frame, the throttle is a bit sensitive, and it’s a heavy machine so it takes a little more effort to maneuver.

Where can you find it?
You can order the EVD (or the higher torque model, the EVD+ which has better climbing ability but a lower top speed of 40 MPH) directly from the RMartin Bikes website for a very reasonable price of $3,599. And you can get it in black, red, black/red, white/red, or blue (because clearly the paint job is the most important decision).

Besides her green products column on Cleantech Blog, Cristina is a passionate advocate for green living at the Green Home Huddle at Huddler.com, which focuses on electric cars, energy efficient appliances, and other green products.

Hydrogen Goes Public in Southern California

By John Addison (6/26/08). On April 20, 2004, after 40 years of fighting it was all smiles between auto executives from Detroit and the regulators of California’s health and emissions. That day a new governor signed the historic California Hydrogen Highways Executive Order. California would be energy independent, instead of consuming more oil than all nations except the USA and China. You read that right. 38 million Californians uses more oil each year than all of Japan, all of Germany, and more than over one billion people in India.

Terry Tamminen, then Secretary California Environmental Protection Agency, now an energy and environmental consultant to governments and author of Lives per Gallon, walked to the podium and delivered a powerful address:

“More than six generations of Californians have relied upon petroleum to power everything from our industries to trips in the family car. But the basic motor vehicle has changed little in over a century, while air pollution sends one in seven children in this region to school every day carrying asthma inhalers. The health of our businesses is also threatened by rapidly rising fuel prices – – with no end in sight.

We cannot build a 21st Century economy on 19th century technology. Four decades ago, President Kennedy’s bold leadership sent Americans to the moon using hydrogen fuel and fuel cells. Today we can certainly harness that same technology to take us to work, to school, and on a family vacation.”

Terry Tamminen now drives a Honda FCX hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. The car is an electric vehicle that uses an electric motor, not an engine, and captures braking energy into advanced batteries. The car also has a fuel cell which takes hydrogen from the onboard storage tank and makes continuous electricity. From his home in Santa Monica, Terry can drive almost 200 miles then pull into a hydrogen station and refuel. Terry leases the car from Honda for $500 per month. The lease includes all maintenance and collision insurance. In the future, he may lease Honda’s latest fuel cell vehicle, the FCX Clarity for $600 per month, and get a range of almost 300 miles.

Unlike most places in the United States, Terry can find over ten hydrogen stations in the nearby Los Angeles area for a fill-up. Conveniently nearby is a new Shell gas station that also includes a hydrogen pump. The hydrogen is made from H2O at the station. Yes, water is split into hydrogen and oxygen. Customers like Terry can fuel their hydrogen vehicles in five minutes then drive off, an advantage over battery electric vehicles that are typically charged overnight.

With his zero-emission vehicle, Terry gets convenience while staying true to his environmental values.

This Thursday, June 26, Shell opened a new public hydrogen fueling station, conveniently located near two of the world’s busiest freeways – the 405 and the 10. The station looks like any other Shell Station.

You can also stop and fill-up with gasoline, buy snacks, use the restroom, even inflate your tires for better mileage. “California is leading the way with clean fuels,” said Graeme Sweeney, Executive Vice President for Shell Future Fuels and CO2 at the official opening of the station.

The electrolyzer will make enough hydrogen for about seven cars per day with 40kg of storage. Hydrogenics provided the integrated hydrogen fueling station, including electrolyzer, compressor, storage, and dispensing systems. In order to meet the demanding space requirements of the fueling station, Hydrogenics implemented a canopy system where all the components are mounted on the roof of the station canopy, minimizing the footprint of the hydrogen station.The electrolyzer is powered with Green Energy from the LA Department of Water and Power. By paying an extra 3 cents per kilowatt hour, Shell uses renewable energy generated by wind, solar, bioenergy, hydro and geothermal.

The station’s added capacity will be welcome by California’s fleet users of over 100 hydrogen vehicles who need refills on some of their trips. These fleet users include the nearby City of Los Angeles, City of Santa Monica, and UCLA. Most of California’s 24 hydrogen stations serve only their own fleets; some offer courtesy fills to other fleets. Shell competitor, BP, also offers a public hydrogen station at LA Airport, but this is not a full service station with gasoline filling.

The new Shell hydrogen station is also near the rich and famous who are starting to drive hydrogen vehicles. The station is easily accessed from Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Brentwood, and Santa Monica. Early customers of the new Honda FCX Clarity include actress Jamie Lee Curtis and filmmaker husband Christopher Guest, actress Laura Harris, and film producer Ron Yerxa.

Over the next three years, Honda will be leasing 200 FCX Clarity four-door sedans. In California, a three-year lease will run $600 a month, which includes maintenance and collision coverage. Although Shell will be selling hydrogen for about double the gasoline equivalent, the new Honda is speced at 68 miles per gallon equivalent (your mileage may vary), so drivers replacing gasoline vehicles that get less than 34 miles per gallon are likely to be money ahead in fuel costs.

The new FCX Clarity demonstrates the continuous improvement that Honda has made since its early fuel cell vehicles and electric vehicles with limited range: an advanced new four door, four-passenger sedan design, a greater than 30 percent increase in driving range to 280 miles, a 20+ percent increase in fuel economy, and a 40 percent smaller and 50 percent lighter new lithium-ion battery pack. Its fuel efficiency is three times that of a modern gasoline-powered automobile, such as the Accord.

American Honda has been recognized four consecutive times as America’s “greenest automaker” by the Union of Concerned Scientists, most recently in 2007, and has maintained the highest automobile fleet-average fuel efficiency (lowest fleet-average CO2 emissions) of any U.S. automaker over the past -years. In addition to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, Honda is expanding its offerings of hybrid vehicles. My mother, who has carefully watched every dollar since her childhood in the Great Depression, loves the fuel economy of her Honda Civic Hybrid. The company is rumored to be planning a new hybrid for next year, priced well under $20,000 to reach a broader market.

Although Honda can deliver 280 mile range with hydrogen at the lower pressure 5,000 psi (35 mPa) delivered at this new hydrogen station, and at most stations, most other auto makers need double the pressure of 10,000 psi (70 mPa) to get adequate range.

General Motors is putting 100 of its larger crossover SUV Hydrogen Equinox on the road with fleets and individuals. For example, in Burbank the Walt Disney Company is using ten of the GM Equinoxes in a 30 month trial. They fill at a private 10,000 psi (70 mPa) station in Burbank to achieve a 160 mile range. Anyone filling an Equinox at the new Shell station is likely to only get an 80 mile range at the lower pressure. Burbank and Irvine have the only 10,000 psi (70 mPa) stations in California. GM’s Project Driveway

GM is placing a bigger bet on its Chevy Volt, the sleek 4-door sedan plug-in hybrid targeted to start selling in 2010. The vehicle will travel 40 miles on an electric charge, then use a small gasoline engine to extend its range. GM will eventually offer a family of vehicles using the Volt’s E-Flex architecture. One E-Flex concept car that GM has demonstrated, uses a fuel cell not a gasoline engine to give extended range. Plug-in hydrogen vehicles may be in GM’s future.

Both Honda and GM will face competition from Daimler which has over 100 hydrogen vehicles in use by customers. 60 are Mercedes F-Cell passenger vehicles, 3 are Sprinter delivery vans used by UPS and others, and close to 40 buses that transport thousands globally on a daily basis.

By using green energy to power the electrolysis, Shell provides a zero emission source-to-wheels solution. This overcomes the problem at half of California’s hydrogen stations where hydrogen is remotely reformed from natural gas, then truck transported, providing modest lifecycle GHG benefits when compared with the most fuel efficient gasoline hybrids. Newer stations, however, use approaches that dramatically reduce emissions such as pipelining waste hydrogen, onsite reformation, and electrolysis using renewable energy.

Over the next twenty years, hydrogen will neither be the sole solution to energy security and global warming, nor will it fail. There will not be a Hydrogen Economy. Nor, as some critics claim will there never be hydrogen vehicles.

Most likely, hydrogen will follow the success of natural gas vehicles. There are about five million natural gas vehicles in operation globally. Over 90% of the natural gas used in the USA is from North America. Transportation use of natural gas has doubled in only five years. Natural gas vehicles are popular in fleets that carry lots of people: buses, shuttles, and taxis. Los Angeles Metro uses 2,400 natural gas buses to transport millions. Most of the City of Santa Monica’s 595 vehicles run on natural gas, be they buses, trash trucks, or heavy vehicles.

Natural gas is primarily hydrogen. The molecule is four hydrogen atoms and one carbon. Steam reformation makes hydrogen from CH4 and H2O. Hydrogen is used in fuel cell electric vehicles with far better fuel economy than the natural gas engine vehicles that they replace. For example, at Sunline Transit, their hydrogen fuel cell bus is achieving 2.5 times the fuel economy of a similar CNG bus on the same route. Specifically 7.37GGE to the CNG vehicle’s 2.95GGE. Sunline has a new fuel cell bus on order with even great expected gains. NREL Report

Some major auto makers and energy providers calculate that it will only take about 40 public hydrogen stations and reasonably priced vehicles to the hydrogen dilemma of which comes first, vehicles or stations. By targeted the area from Burbank to Irvine, in Southern California, both are happening.

Public education will also be critical for hydrogen to be embraced by the public. In addition to the new hydrogen pump at the Santa Monica Boulevard Station, Shell has converted an unused service bay into a visitor center to help educate drivers about the use of hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles.

From London to Los Angeles, from Shanghai to Santa Monica, cities are planning for a zero-emission future. To encourage the transition, cities like London have imposed pricey congestion fees, but exempted zero-emission vehicles such as battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell. In response, auto makers have accelerated their electric vehicle development and providers like Shell are planning on hydrogen stations for these cities.

Southern California will have cleaner air and less gasoline usage for several reasons including: electric rail, more fuel efficient vehicles, plug-in hybrids and electric cars. In an upcoming article, I will also document the growing success of public transportation in Southern California. The advances being made by major providers such as Honda, GM, and Shell are part of the solution.

Copyright © 2008. John Addison. Portions of this article may be included in John Addison’s upcoming book. Permission to reproduce if this copyright notice is included.

HMC, GM, RDSA, DAI, BP

Death of a Dream?

by Richard T. Stuebi

Last week, both CNN and the Wall Street Journal ran stories that similarly raised the heretical question: is the American dream of suburbanism being killed by high gas prices? Increasingly, the answer seems, yes.

Eastern philosophies teach us that our strengths are also our weaknesses. In the case of the U.S., our abundance of land led to a pervasive trend of sprawl in the last half of the 20th Century. We fled cities and towns to massive homes on big tracts in subdivisions, premised on the convenience afforded by independent vehicles on running on low-cost roads and gasoline.

The boon of growth has now become our bane. No longer can people rely upon cheap fuel, and as gasoline purchases fall, so too will the quality and/or affordability of the road infrastructures as Departments of Transportation become underfunded. In short, many Americans are now trapped living in a system of deteriorating fundamentals.

The pathway out of the conundrum may lie in the concept of New Urbanism — a smart-growth philosophy based heavily on transit-oriented development (TOD). TOD implies mixed-use clusters of green buildings, highly-walkable communities, nested around mass transportation nodes. TOD seems increasingly inevitable as a response to the new realities of the 21st Century.

It won’t (can’t) happen quickly, but I speculate that America will slowly but surely begin to look more European: cities and towns with refocused density, linked by mass transit corridors (e.g., rail), allowing the rural countryside to re-emerge in its glory between the developed areas. CleanTech innovators and entrepreneurs are well-advised to be working with this macro-trend in mind.

Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc.

Solar and commodities rise, broad markets retreat (week ending 6/20)

Author: Mark Henwood

Emerging Markets, EAFA, and S&P500 all fell more than 2% this week. With the exception of Solar, all Camino’s PurePlay followed the markets downward.

Solar’s stong showing came on a variety of positive news for the sector. We learned of potential involvement of large player (IBM and INTC), supply deals (ESLR) and potential production expansions in thin film. There was no negative news on the regulatory front. All of this translated into a 4.5% advance narrowing its YTD loss to 20.2%

After writing this column for 15 weeks I’m starting to better understand the key price drivers for the strategies. In Solar I see investors driving prices down on potential reductions in governmental support and concerns on silicon supply. Orders and realized growth drive prices up. In Renewable Electricity power solicitations and resulting equipment orders drive stocks up, project problems drive prices down. In Biofuels prices reacti to the fuel margin, as measured by futures contract prices, and actual earnings. In Fuel Cells its progress against business plans with any slippage driving prices down.

Mark is the founder of Camino Energy, an information provider specializing in globally traded sustainable energy stocks. He also is an investor in sustainable energy stocks and has positions in Renewable Electricity. Mark will be traveling in Africa so the next column will be for the week ending July 11.

The Smell Of Freshly Cut Grass (Without The Gasoline Spills)

by Cristina Foung

My favorite green product of the week: the Neuton CE 6.2 Battery Powered Lawn Mower

What is it?
The Neuton CE 6.2 Mower is a cordless electric lawn mower. It has a removable, rechargeable battery with 360 watt-hours of energy which will work perfectly for the average 1/3 acre lawn. The battery recharges in about 8 hours.

Why is it better?
Americans use 800 million gallons of gasoline per year to mow their lawns. And on top of that, every year, 17 million more gallons of fuel are spilled while refueling lawn equipment (that’s more than the oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez). Not so good, huh? So needless to say, electric yard equipment is really a better option.

The Neuton CE 6.2, in its battery powered glory, only costs about 10 cents per charge and costs less than your high-end gasoline powered mowers. On average, you’ll use about $3 worth of electricity a year (while for the same amount of mowing you’d use over $35 in gasoline, not including spillage). That’s a pretty solid ROI right there.

So not only can you keep your lawn looking neat and clean, you can do it without the greenhouse gas emissions and gasoline spills. Plus the Neuton is cool looking, so you can be the hippest mower on the block. I haven’t actually used one myself but I hear they are solid machines.

Where can you find it?
You can order it from the Neuton website for a regular price of $499.00 but right now it’s on sale for $474.00.

Besides her green products column on Cleantech Blog, Cristina is a passionate advocate for green living at the Green Home Huddle at Huddler.com, which focuses on electric cars, energy efficient appliances, and other green products.

Cleantech Blog Looking for Bloggers

Bloggers wanted. I have been blessed with leading a great group of bloggers on Cleantech Blog for nearly three years now, including people like Richard Stuebi (renewable energy and policy), Heather Rae (green marketing and home), John Addison (transportation), with recent additions Mark Henwood (stocks) and Cristina Foung (green consumer products), and support over the years from like industry gurus like Joel Makower and Felix Kramer. But the sector is outgrowing even us. So we want more! And of course I am reaching out to our readership to find them.

We are looking to add one or two more bloggers. No previous blog experience needed (though happy to do a “blog merger” if you wanted to). We would love someone in solar, carbon trading and climate change, and biofuels. Excellent writing skills needed, of course. Good opinions. Expert on or working in the field you are writing about.

Keep in mind, Cleantech Blog does not do all the news all the time. We rely on our friends at CNET, Cleantech Media, Greentech Media, GreenBiz.com, and Earth2Tech to take care of that. Each blogger does a weekly column on opinions, analysis and discussion of the issues and news that matters. Basically, I’m looking for the next Rob Day or Jim Fraser (thanks to them for the years worth of insights – some of you know I started Cleantech Blog with inspiration from Jim’s Energy Blog and Rob’s Cleantech Investing). If you think you can out blog Rob or Jim, drop me an email to ndikeman@gmail.com, with writing samples or links to your blog, what you want to blog about, and why you know it well. If you don’t know Rob or Jim, they’re on our blog roll, or find them at http://cleantechinvesting.greentechmedia.com/ and http://thefraserdomain.typepad.com/energy/.

Thanks,

Neal

Turbo Diesels Take on Hybrids

By John Addison (6/17/08). Last week, I test drove of the new Volkswagen Jetta TDI Diesel. It accelerated on to the freeway faster than my Toyota Prius. Driving freeways and stop-go city, I wondered which would be the bigger seller, the new European turbodiesels or the Japanese Hybrids.

For Detroit, May was the cruelest month, as they were outsold by Asia for the first time. Fuel economy is in; gas guzzling is being punished. General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler combined for a record low market share of 44.4 percent, compared with 48.1 percent for 10 Asian brands, according to the Autodata Corporation, the industry statistics firm. Toyota and Honda continued to gain market share. In the months ahead, Detroit will also lose share to the new fuel efficient diesels from Europe where diesel vehicles outsell gasoline alternatives.

The VW Jetta TDI Diesel has an EPA rated mileage on 41 mpg highway and 30 city with a 6-speed stick; 40/29 with an automatic. With 140 horsepower, the Jetta has plenty of performance. The diesel Jetta has a combined EPA rating of 33, compared with 25 for its gasoline cousin. In other words, diesel delivers over 30 percent better mileage, making a real difference to the pocket book even with diesel fuel’s higher prices, and to reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Over 1.5 million Toyota Priuses are now on the road. The 2008 Priuses has an EPA rated mileage of 48 city and 45 highway. Notice that this hybrid with regenerative braking actually gets better mileage in stop and go than on freeways where there is added wind resistance. The Prius computer automatically disengages the engine most of the time when stopped and going slowly, making it more quiet than diesels. The Prius has a bit more passenger room than the Jetta. Both have the same trunk space.

Using both an electric motor and an engine, the Prius has always delivered more performance than I’ve needed, whether accelerating on a freeway or climbing a steep and icy mountain road. With its powerful electric motor, the Prius has plenty of torque and good acceleration.

Honda is not happy with Toyota’s success in selling four hybrids for everyone that Honda has sold. In John Murphy’s interview with Honda about their green image, Honda CEO Mr. Fukui stated that “Honda’s image was better but has evened out with [Toyota] because of the strong image of one single model, the Prius, which Honda feels is a problem. Next year, we will come up with a dedicated hybrid vehicle. We feel this model will have to overwhelm and overtake Prius.” It is rumored that the new Honda hybrid will be priced well under $20,000 and reach a broader market. Wall Street Journal Interview

In the next two years, Honda is also likely to bring diesels to the U.S. including the Acura, the Odyssey minivan, and the CR-V SUV,.

In the USA, many prefer SUVs to sedans. SUVs have more cargo space. Some can seat more than five people, but not the more fuel efficient SUVs. They ride higher. Some drivers feel safer, although sedans like the Prius and Jetta score better than some SUVs in front and rear collisions and are loaded with air bags and advanced vehicle controls.

The Ford Escape Hybrid is the most fuel efficient SUV on the market with an EPA rating of 34 mpg highway and 30 city. The VW Tiguan is a somewhat comparable compact SUV, but less fuel efficient with 26 mpg highway and 19 city using a six-speed shift; and only 24/18 with an automatic. The Tiguan is a light-duty vehicle that is roomy with 95 cubic feet for passengers and 24 for cargo. Drop the back seat and you have 56 for cargo.

The new VW Jetta Sportswagen offers many SUV lovers with an appealing alternative. It achieves the same mileage as the Jetta sedan of 41 mpg highway and 30 city with a 6-speed stick; 40/29 with an automatic. With 33 cargo cubic feet, it beats SUVs like the Escape and Tiguan. Drop the back seat and you have 67 cubic feet. Watch VW take market share from SUVs that get half the miles per gallon of this new turbo diesel.

The Prius, Jetta, Jetta Sportswagen, Tiguan and Escape all seat five people. All have ways to accommodate a fair amount of cargo when the back seat is dropped. The four-door sedans offer much better fuel economy. In the new era of $4 per gallon gas prices, sedans are gaining market share at the expense of SUVs and light trucks, like the once best selling Ford F150.

For those who enjoy both performance and luxury, Mercedes and BMW have new turbo diesel cars with about 30% better fuel economy than their gasoline counterparts. Last summer when I was treated to test drives of the Mercedes E320 Bluetec and the BMW 535D. I was impressed with the quiet, smooth, performance of these larger sedans and with the roomy luxurious experience. Mercedes and BMW are also bringing concept hybrid diesels to auto shows.

The new turbo diesels are not your diesels of the past. They are quiet. I could smell no emissions. Emissions are far lower than those of the previous decade, meeting the tough new 50 state requirements including using ultra-low sulfur diesel.

Forget putting B100 biodiesel in these new engines with common rail and very high pressure injection. Don’t think about home brewed vegetable oil or recycled restaurant grease. Even B20 voids the warranty in the U.S., although not in Europe where biodiesel quality is better. B5 is the limit in the U.S. Biodiesel’s Future

For the moment gasoline hybrids give most people better fuel economy than the new turbo diesels in the U.S. The diesel hybrids being developed by VW, Audi, Mercedes, and BMW could change the game. Most significant are diesel plug-in hybrids. The VW Golf TDI Hybrid concept is demonstrating 69 mpg. The full-hybrid supports an all-electric mode.

Volkswagen is serious about hybrids and electric drive systems. In announcing a new lithium-ion venture with Sanyo, Prof. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of the Volkswagen Group stated that VW’s future “will be directed more strongly at making electrically powered automobiles alongside ones driven by more efficient combustion engines.” Volkswagen’s Audi is also demonstrating a plug-in hybrid concept Quattro.

Toyota is well aware of the success of diesel in Europe. Toyota is developing an advanced diesel engine in both the Tundra and Sequoia. Toyota plans to expand its use of hybrids in a wide-range of vehicles. Currently Toyota is constrained by trying to increase battery manufacturing enough to meet its current exploding demand for hybrids. Toyota also plans a plug-in hybrid by the end of 2010.

General Motors does not intend to watch Asia and European rivals take all its market share. In late 2010, it plans to offer both gasoline and diesel plug-in hybrids that will give the average driver over 100 miles per gallon. In the USA it will introduce the Chevy Volt gasoline plug-in hybrid. In Europe, GM will sell a diesel plug-in hybrid under the Opel brand.

Are there other offerings of hybrids, diesels, and other fuel efficient alternatives? Yes. A good starting point to compare vehicles is at the EPA’s Fuel Economy site.

Different people need different types of vehicles. Hybrids benefit everyone who spends part of their driving in cities and/or stop-go traffic. The new turbo diesels tend to get thirty percent better performance than their gasoline counterparts. Two long-term trends are converging – the expanded use of more fuel-efficient diesel engines and the expanded use of electric drive systems for hybrids, plug-in hybrids and for electric vehicles.

Cleaner vehicles, however, are not the whole solution. When gasoline hit $4 per gallon, Marcia and Christian convinced a car dealer to take their two vehicles as trade-in, including a large SUV, for one more fuel efficient SUV. Living and working in a city, only one vehicle was needed because both could use public transportation and car pool with friends. They save over $5,000 per year by sharing one vehicle. Now that is a real solution to save at the pump and help all of us by saving emissions.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report.

Tech Giant Intel Joins IBM and Applied in Big Solar Bet

Following on the 2006 and 2007 announcements of technology giants Applied Materials and IBM moving into the solar sector, Intel has joined the fray in 2008 with the spinout of SpectraWatt, its newly created solar division.

I had a chance to chat with Andrew Wilson, a longtime Intel guy who is the CEO of Spectrawatt, about what he is doing. The venture is the result of the last 3 years of extensive business planning, that Andrew said grew out of an off the cuff conversation he had internally four years ago.

While they have very early stage development in the works for some new and novel technology to reduce the manufacturing costs of solar cells, they are not sharing details. The Spectrawatt core business today will be about building a company to manufacture crystalline silicon based solar cells. In the near term the business will be buying wafers and manufacturing cells. According to Andrew, they have a significant supply of silicon secured, and while he cannot say who the vendors are, at least one of those vendors will likely be announcing soon, as the Spectrawatt contract is a material event for them.

So the first question is why x-Si and not thin film? Besides the obvious that it is far and away the biggest market today and a natural fit for Intel, Andrew added two more. Customers care about per kwh cost, and all things equal, how much energy they can get out of the real estate they have (read, efficiency matters). So they think x-Si makes a lot more sense than thin film, especially given the additional issues around stability, manufacturing complexity and materials resource constraints.

Andrew did say that they may vertically integrate later. So I asked why did they start at cells? Andrew explained that since the business comes out of Intel, and Intel is accomplished at processing wafers into products, cells made sense to start with. And at the end of the day they hold the view that the biggest point of value in solar value chain is in creating the cell, moving from low value silicon to high value device. They consider it the largest single value add step.

Andrew and I are in agreement that 2004 was a kind of a magic year changing what the photovoltaic industry is. Andrew stated it was the first year where the average company in every segment of the value chain in solar became profitable. So given today’s environment Intel and Spectrawatt could have conceivably started at numerous places in the value chain. This is where the vertical integration may come in. His view on the silicon supply is that no glut is coming, or at least not a long lived one. The end demand market is growing at 30 to 40% per year, and the silicon supply that is coming on line is in large part subject to long term contracts with fixed prices. The silicon supply additions then are pretty much already spoken for. In Andrew’s mind while growth at the margin will definitely cause some level of boom bust cycles, those long term supply contracts may moderate it more than other people believe. If he is right, and he has secure supplies, a horizontal business like cell manufacturing is a great place to be. If he is wrong, he sees continued vertical integration to manage the growth issue as one of the major avenues industry participants will go done. In this he and I also agree, rapid movements in supply cycles tend to reward vertical integration. And if he gets big enough with Spectrawatt, vertical integration could be a move Spectrawatt makes, too.

It is great for the solar industry to see more technology giants like Intel joining the fray, and perhaps helping drive down crystalline product costs the same way Applied Materials and IBM are looking to drive down then film costs.

Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is the founding CEO of Carbonflow, founding contributor of Cleantech Blog, a Contributing Editor to Alt Energy Stocks, Chairman of Cleantech.org, and a blogger for CNET’s Greentech blog.

Aloha

by Richard T. Stuebi

I have the pleasure of writing this posting from one of the most beautiful places on the planet, Hawaii, where I am lucky enough to travel regularly to visit family.

In 1995, while lounging on the Big Island, I decided to shift my career away from conventional energy towards alternative energy. I saw what was then considered a big windfarm at South Point — 37 Mitsubishi 250 kw turbines. Many of the hulking machines were not turning, even though the wind was consistently strong, no doubt because of mechanical difficulties. Still, I was intrigued, and foresaw the need and possibilities for renewable energy — especially in places like Hawaii that rely upon imported oil for virtually all of its energy needs. I had just been reading The Prize, Daniel Yergin’s awesome history of the oil industry, and it wasn’t hard to conclude that we as a society needed to move off of oil for a variety of environmental, economic, and geopolitical reasons.

Every time I return to Hawaii, I take measure of how much renewable energy has been installed. Solar, wind and bioenergy technology and economics have improved considerably, and of course oil prices have skyrocketed. The local utility companies, owned by Hawaiian Electric Industries (NYSE: HE), have actively pursued collaborative integrated resource planning efforts to engage the public in shifting to a more diversified and cleaner energy supply.

And yet, 13 years after I first took note of the situation and opportunity, oil still dominates Hawaii energy supply, even though there’s been significant additions of renewable energy. Solar panels are nowhere near ubiquitous. A few new windfarms have been installed, but considerable potential remains untapped, stymied presumably by aesthetic issues. With its history of sugar production, biofuels should do well here — but they aren’t much of a factor so far. Even the geothermal resources associated with the volcanic activity is not fully exploited.

If renewable energy can’t make massive/rapid inroads in Hawaii, where can it do so? It seems to me that the Aloha State represents an excellent laboratory for CleanTech Revolutionaries to study the barriers to widescale advanced energy technology/infrastructure adoption — and more importantly, how to overcome them. At minimum, Hawaii represents a cautionary tale of how hard and slow it will be for CleanTech to change our world.

Richard T. Stuebi the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc.

Fuel Cells buck stock trends and rise, commodities rise again 0.9% (week ending 6/13)

Author: Mark Henwood

Emerging Markets and EAFA fell, S&P500 traded even this week. With the exception of Fuel Cells, all Camino’s PurePlay Indices followed the international markets downward.

Fuel Cells came off their 52 week low with a 1.9% increase driven by big increases in two stocks. Ceres Power (CWR.L) rose 37.4%. After checking the news and discussing the increase with our advisors, we can’t explain the sharp increase on Friday. Maybe we’ll learn next week what drove the trading starting at about 10:15 AM Friday. ITM Power (ITM.L) also rose an impressive 32.5% after one of the analysts covering the stock reiterated their buy rating (whileincreasing their estimated losses for the company). While the company has GBP 25 million in cash providng some breathing room, I’ve commented previously that the company’s short range PEM fuel cell car doesn’t seem compelling.

Biofuel was the real story this week falling 6.9% with two of the US based ethanol producers suffering big decreases. Biofuel (BIOF) was off 34.2% and Pacific Ethanol (PEIX) was off 26.4%. Driving these and other declines was a continued deterioration in the basic economics of US corn based ethanol production. With September corn closing on the CBOT at USD 7.456/bushel and December ethanol closing at USD 2.78/gallon the “corn crush” margin has fallen to a slim USD 0.2/gallon. Other revenues from selling feed and subsidies just don’t provide enough margin.
Last week I commented that with more capacity coming on line it was hard to see how economics for ethanol producers was going to improve. With concerns about the corn supply being affected by mid-west flooding, apparently some of the producers have reached similar conclusions and Citi reported on Friday that 5 small to mid-sized plants have been shut-in. With new plants scheduled I’m looking for more similar announcements particularly involving less efficient plants. So even in the one sustainable sector whose product directly benefits from high petroleum prices the companies are down 36.9% for the year.

LED-Lighting continued its sharp sell-off dropping 9.5% for the week. Arima (6289.TW), Neo-Neon (1868.HK), and Zhgiang Yankon (600261.SS) were all down over 15% for the week and are at their 52 week lows. While this is certainly a very promising area with the potential for game changing breakthroughs, investors are not currently being rewarded for future potential.
Mark is the founder of Camino Energy, an information provider specializing in globally traded sustainable energy stocks. He also is an investor in sustainable energy stocks and has positions in Renewable Electricity.

Beware the Allure of Ethanol Investing

I am a fan of ethanol. The addition of corn ethanol to our US fuel supply chain has had a significant impact in keeping gasoline prices way lower than they otherwise would have been, and has paid for the subsidies many times over. But that has not translated to gains for ethanol stocks, which are down on the order of 50% over the last year according to the Camino Energy index, and it won’t change anytime soon.

As the bellwether US ethanol pureplays are finally down to earth, and my predictions have come to pass. Two years ago ahead of Verasun’s (NYSE:VSE) IPO, I blogged an analysis saying I thought Verasun should trade in the $3 to $8 range, depending on the margin, PE, and growth assumptions. The bankers and the market thought I was nuts, treating VSE and Aventine (NYSE:AVR) which listed near the same time as technology style growth stocks. The company listed at several times my target range, and then traded way up from there. But as I had predicted, the margin pressures from a range of commodity price movements and the relatively low barriers to entry for capacity additions came to bear. But the fall is probably not over.

I stated then and reiterate now that ethanol companies are basically small refiners with potentially worse economics. And refiners traditionally trade at single digit PEs, and single digit PE. Worse, refiners don’t always do well when commodity prices rise or their markets grow fast, as the spreads they make their margin on are often affected as much by relative capacity contraints as the raw commodity prices themselves. In fact, fast moving commodity prices in either direction in either refined products or feedstocks can sometimes bode ill for refining profits, depending on what’s happening in capacity.

VSE now trades under $5. Right in the middle of range I predicted it should. And the PEs for VSE and AVR are finally down in the range close to the independent refiners group I follow, Valero (VLO), Sunoco (SUN), and Tesoro (TSO). BUT. And there is a but. The TEV/EBITDA multiples for VSE and AVR, which are way down, are still 2-3x those of the refiners, and the PEG ratios are still richer as well. This likely means more room to fall, or at least languish.

The next wave of venture backed ethanol companies, mostly cellulosic, are beginning to break ground on pilot plants, and given the penchant for certain ethanol crazed venture investors to IPO deals when windows open, it is likely we will see some of these soon. And it is likely that they will be sold to the market the same way, as high growth stocks based on great technology and macro conditions justifying stratospheric PEs on unsustainable margins. Then they’ll hit their first commodity cycle, the margins will compress, the bloom will come off the rose, the multiples will come down, and the investors who bought and held post IPO will get crushed.

We’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again. Try not to get caught this time.

Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is the founding CEO of Carbonflow, founding contributor of Cleantech Blog, a Contributing Editor to Alt Energy Stocks, Chairman of Cleantech.org, and a blogger for CNET’s Greentech blog.

Hydrogen Heaven

by Cristina Foung

My favorite green product of the week: the Honda FCX Clarity Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle

What is it?
The Honda FCX Clarity is a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. It takes hydrogen and oxygen to generate the electricity needed to power the vehicle. It has a range of about 270 miles and a top speed of 100 MPH.

Why is it better?
As you may have noticed I’m rather fond of clean, interesting vehicles. Of course, as they say in the TV spot, wouldn’t it be great if you could replace something harmful with water? Yes, indeed. That would be great!

But which of these is unlike the other: the Tesla Roadster, the cityZENN, the Vectrix motorcycle, and the Honda FCX Clarity?

You guessed it. It’s the FCX Clarity. Unlike the first three, the Honda runs itself on electricity generated from hydrogen, and emits only water vapor and heat into the air. And as much as I hear hydrogen isn’t worth the hype, the FCX Clarity is a pretty cool zero-emissions vehicle (and will be certified by CARB).

Where can you find it?
If you live in Southern California, you’re in luck. A limited number of FCX Clarity vehicles are going to be leased in Torrance, Santa Monica and Irvine come summer. The lease amount will be around $600 per month for three years and it includes maintenance.

If you don’t live in Southern California, you’ll have to wait a bit longer. According to the Honda website, they’ll roll out vehicles as the hydrogen infrastructure develops (assuming it does ever develop).

Besides her green products column on Cleantech Blog, Cristina is a passionate advocate for green living at the Green Home Huddle at Huddler.com, which focuses on electric cars, energy efficient appliances, and other green products.

DOE Signs Agreement with Wind Energy Industry Leaders, Aims at 20% Electrical Generation

DOE Signs Agreement with Wind Energy Industry Leaders, Aims at 20% Electrical Generation

by 2030June 02, 2008HOUSTON, TX. — On June 2, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Alexander Karsner, announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between DOE and six leading wind industry turbine manufacturers: GE Energy, Siemens Power Generation, Vestas Wind Systems, Clipper Turbine Works, Suzlon Energy, and Gamesa Corporation.

This two year collaboration aims to promote wind energy in the United States through advanced technology research and development and siting strategies to advance industrial wind power manufacturing capabilities.

“The MOU between DOE and the six major turbine manufacturers demonstrates the shared commitment of the federal government and the private sector to create the roadmap necessary to achieve 20% wind energy by 2030,” Assistant Secretary Karsner said. “To dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance our energy security, clean power generation at the gigawatt-scale will be necessary to expand the domestic wind manufacturing base and streamline the permitting process.”

As part of President Bush’s 2006 Advanced Energy Initiative, wind energy has the potential to play an important role in our nation’s long-term energy strategy. Investments in wind energy will fundamentally change the way U.S. homes and businesses are powered, in an environmentally friendly manner.

The agreement builds on a recently released DOE report, 20% Wind Energy in 2030: Increasing Wind Energy’s Contribution to U.S. Electricity Supply. This report examines the technical feasibility of harnessing wind power to provide up to 20% of the nation’s total electricity needs by 2030. Most notably, the report finds that by using wind power to meet 20% of our nation’s electricity needs, we can eliminate 7.6 cumulative gigatons of CO2 by 2030, then 825 million metric tons in 2030 and every year thereafter.

In 2007, U.S. cumulative wind energy capacity reached 16,818 megawatts (MW)—with more than 5,000 MW of wind installed in 2007. Wind contributed to more than 30% of the new U.S. electricity generation capacity in 2007, making it the second largest source of new power generation in the nation, surpassed only by natural gas. The U.S. wind energy industry invested approximately $9 billion in new generating capacity in 2007, and has experienced a 30% annual growth rate in the last five years.

To learn more, visit the Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program page.

The Voluntary Carbon Market Does Not Reward Complexity

I had a lively discussion with Susan Wood, the CEO of SCC Americas, at the Carbon Finance North America Conference last week. SCC Americas is the US arm of Syndicatum Carbon Capital, one of the largest developers of Kyoto based CDM carbon credit projects in the world, and Susan herself has been doing emissions trading for over a decade, after starting out as an environmental engineer.

The punchline in our chat was quite fascinating – the US voluntary carbon market does not reward complexity in projects, Susan says. Basically, US carbon credit developers are only doing a few limited types of projects, like methane destruction. Why? Because the buyers, who dictate the voluntary markets, tend to be scared off by anything complex that they do not understand, or anything that does not appear to be future proofed against coming US regulations. This stands in stark contrast to the CDM market, where complexity is often the hallmark of the major developers since the methodology and standards process is trusted to a much greater degree by compliance buyers than the voluntary standards are.

One other way to look at this issue is that much of the innovation in new ways to abate carbon is coming from CDM under Kyoto, not the voluntary markets. A bit sad, and a challenge to the voluntary standards community to get its act in order. Possibly the rise of new standards like Voluntary Carbon Standard and Green-e Climate will help fix the crisis in complexity, but we have been saying that for a while. As Susan puts it, we need it to happen yesterday.

Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is founding contributor of Cleantech Blog, a Contributing Editor to Alt Energy Stocks, Chairman of Cleantech.org, and a blogger for CNET’s Greentech blog. He is also the founder of Carbonflow, a provider of software solutions for the carbon markets.

Into the Blue

by Richard T. Stuebi

Last week, the International Energy Agency released a study entitled Energy Technology Perspectives 2008, in which the agency estimated the shifts in the world’s energy system required to reduce CO2 emissions substantially.

In their so-called “BLUE” scenario (I haven’t figured out what “BLUE” refers to), a 50% CO2 reduction from 2005 levels by 2050 — what many scientists believe is about what needs to occur to stabilize the climate — is only achievable by tackling emission reductions that have a marginal cost of over $200/ton CO2. Ouch!

Even more provocatively, IEA estimates that the BLUE scenario would imply a widespread move to near-zero carbon buildings and the deployment a billion electric/hydrogen vehicles plus annual investments between 2010 and 2050 of 55 coal plants with carbon sequestration, 32 nuclear plants, 17,500 utility-scale wind turbines, and 215 million square meters of solar panels. By their accounts, this represents $45 trillion of investment above and beyond business as usual.

In IEA’s words, “BLUE is only possible if the whole world participates fully” in shifting to “a completely different energy system.”

Does anyone doubt the magnitude of the CleanTech challenge/opportunity in the coming decades?

Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc.

Blogroll Review: Beer and Design

by Frank Ling

Green Beer

It looks like you no longer need to wait until St. Patrick’s to get green beer. Soon, Adnams of the UK will be selling carbon-neutral beer.

Called East Green, this new beer is not only made with higher energy efficiency, the manufacturing and distributions processes are also optimized for ecological friendliness.

Jaymi Heimbuch writes in EcoGeek:

“It is made with local, high yielding, naturally aphid-resistant hops, decreasing the use of pesticides and transportation of goods. It is processed, bottled, and distributed from their already in-place eco-friendly systems. These factors shrink CO2 emissions down from 583g per bottle to 432g per bottle. They offset this amount through Climate Care, a highly transparent carbon offset project.”

The product is so highly regarded that the Carbon Trust is allowing their logo to be used on Adnams’ packaging.

Now, if only beer can also cure cancer! 🙂

Design Reboot

Corporations are starting to embrace the notion of green products through their design processes, up and down their supply chains.

In a report released by IDEO and Businesses for Social Responsibility, an A-B-C-D approach to environmentally friendly design.

Joel Makower writes in his blog how the strategy can be summarizing as:

” * Assessing material impacts of projects and design capacity in an organization

* Bridging functions and people to make valuable, tractable product redesigns

* Creating generative internal and external learning projects

* Diffusing lessons and accountability mechanisms that build literacy and affect better decision making around the organization”

What is most inspiring about this article is that Makower concludes that in meeting sustainability goals, a company may have to redesign itself.

Frank Ling is a postdoctoral fellow at the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) at UC Berkeley. He is also a producer of the Berkeley Groks Science Show.

All Sustainable Energy Indices fall, commodities rise 4.9% (week ending 6/6)

Author: Mark Henwood

Broad market indices (Emerging Markets, EAFA, S&P500) all fell this week. Camino’s PurePlay Indices followed the broad markets and all indices fell. Commodities (DJP) rose 4.9%.


Solar fell 1.9% even after the 63.3% premium Robert Bosch GmbH is paying for control of ErSol. Without this transaction, the Solar index would have been down 3.3% for the week. The commentators that continue to try to link solar stock performance to oil had to be disappointed this week with the two moving strongly in opposite directions. This week’s movement knocked the 30 day correlation of Solar and the OIL ETN from .39 down to .20.

Renewable Electricity, despite its low beta (.18 over the last 100 days), followed the broader markets lower. Nothing has changed for the companies in this sector due to the broader economic concerns and I expect the index will continue its YTD out performance of Camino’s other indices. EarthFirst Canada (EF.TO) had the largest decline of any company in Camino’s indices falling 19.1%. With not reported events to drive this change, the company’s low daily trading volumes probably were a factor in the big drop.

Biofuel ethanol producers Verasun (VSE), Pacific Ethanol (PEIX), and Aventine (AVR) all had declines greater than 10% this week. Verasun led the way down declining every day of the week after it announced Monday it had closed a USD 125 million credit facility to be used for “general corporate purposes”. This followed Pacific’s financing last week, Bill Gates reducing his holding in Pacific, rising corn prices, and volatile ethanol prices. For the year the sector is down 32.2% and obviously hasn’t been helped by high oil prices. With more capacity coming on line this year it’s hard for me to see how the economics for the sector can improve much without some basic change.
Mark is the founder of Camino Energy, an information provider specializing in globally traded sustainable energy stocks. He also is an investor in sustainable energy stocks and has positions in Renewable Electricity. He has a position in EF.TO

Be A Model Citizen In An Electric cityZENN

by Cristina Foung

My favorite green product of the week: the electric cityZENN by ZENN Motors

What is it?
With the ZENN Hatchback neighborhood EV already on the road, ZENN Motors has been looking to get out their highway speed vehicle. Enter the cityZENN. With a planned top speed of 80 MPH and a range of 250 miles, the cityZENN will be powered by EEStor barium-titanate ceramic ultracapacitors.

Why is it better?
As we’ve seen, it looks like 2010 will be a big year for the electric car. And as gas prices go up, going electric will let you avoid the pump (and the emissions). ZENN reports that its operating costs will be 1/10th of a typical internal combustion engine. In fact, ZENN stands for zero-emission, no-noise. All of those aspects to the cityZENN are major bonuses.

The cityZENN is a great option for an EV because of its expected range (as a comparison, the Tesla Roadster has a range of 200 miles and the highway speed Myers Motors NmG, formerly known as the Corbin Sparrow, gets 30 miles per charge). With EEStor, which is currently operating more or less in stealth mode, the EV will be rechargeable in less than 5 minutes.

Where can you find it?
Well, that’s the one drawback. You have to wait for the cityZENN. Right now the target launch is fall of 2009 (let’s just cross our fingers that doesn’t get pushed back).

But keep checking for updates on Huddler’s Green Home and on the ZENN Motor Company website.

Besides her green products column on Cleantech Blog, Cristina is a passionate advocate for green living at the Green Home Huddle at Huddler.com, which focuses on electric cars, energy efficient appliances, and other green products.