Top Electric Car Makers for the United States Market

By John Addison (original post at Clean Fleet Report)

By 2011 year end, competition will be intense for electric car leadership. The Clean Fleet Report Top 10 Electric Car Makers describes our best guess about the market share leaders for delivered plug-in vehicles on the United States roads in 2011, although not necessarily in order of 2011 installed market share.

Tesla is the first to sell 1,000 electric cars for the U.S. highways. Like its Roadster, the company is going zero to sixty in less than four seconds. In August the company reported its first profits. With $465 million in DOE loans, the company is developing a roomy Model S hatchback that starts at $57,400, about half the price of the Roadster. The Roadster is battery-electric with a 240 mile range; the Model S may have a remarkable electric range of 300 miles per charge.

Nissan (NSANY) will be the first auto maker to put over 10,000 electric cars on U.S. highways. Major cities have already committed to over 10,000 Nissan Leaf and over 10,000 charge stations. Nissan will start taking dealer orders from individuals in the spring of 2010. Nissan plans to make the 5-seat hatchback affordable, but sale and/or lease options have not been finalized. The Nissan Leaf is battery-electric with a 100 mile range per charge.

Toyota (TM) Prius Plug-in Hybrid (PHV) will build on the million car success of Toyota hybrids. At first glance, the PHV looks like another Prius until you spot the J1772 plug for smart charging. Five hundred PHV are now being put into fleet trails from cities to car sharing services. In 2011, U.S. dealer orders should begin. Toyota will initially control costs by only using a 5kWh battery for a 14 mile electric range. In 2012, Toyota will expand its offerings to include a pure battery-electric FT-EV.

General Motors wants to be the plug-in leader with the Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid with 40 miles of electric range and up to 500 miles by engaging a small gasoline engine to act as a generator. Bob Lutz says than Chevy hopes to build at least 8,000 in 2011. GM has a complete E-Flex roadmap which envisions added offerings. Converj may become the Cadillac of extend-range electrics. In the future, Opel may offer a diesel plug-in hybrid in Europe. Look for a range versus cost battle with Toyota, as the Volt achieves more electric range by adding to vehicle cost with a 16kWh battery.

Accenture (ACN) forecasts 1.5 million electric vehicles in the United States by 2015. Over 10 million electric vehicles are easily possible by 2020.


Read the complete Clean Fleet Report Top 10 Electric Car Makers John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences. He is the author of the new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – now selling at Amazon and other booksellers.

EcoCAR’s Top 10 Green Resolutions of 2010

by Richard T. Stuebi
 
I’ve been crunched for time over the holiday season, so I’ve dropped the ball on writing original content. Sorry about that. To fill the gap, I received the following email from Katy Rohlicek representing EcoCAR, which I’m posting verbatim:

“When it comes to making a fresh start at the beginning of the year, we usually listen to ‘experts’ – leaders, celebrities, doctors, coaches, therapists, etc. In 2010, we say, let’s listen to our youth. Better yet, how about a group of young engineers from 16 universities across North America who are part of a competition to design and build a greener car of the future. They’re part of the EcoCAR Challenge, which means they think about green automotive engineering 24/7. But that wasn’t quite enough – they wanted sustainability to touch all aspects of their lives. So, EcoCAR students from Victoria, Canada to Daytona Beach developed the following list of ten green resolutions to help them, and others, live a more sustainable, eco-friendly life in 2010:

1. Drive smart. We appropriately begin with a no-brainer resolution for the EcoCAR teams. There are many small changes you can make to green your time behind the wheel. Planning trips to avoid traffic and stop lights, maintaining steady and legal speeds, slowly accelerating, limiting use of air conditioning, heated seats, and rear window defoggers, and avoiding unnecessary heavy loads can all improve fuel economy.

2. Set car-free goals. Whether it is biking to work or running errands on foot, it’s easier to stick to a greener transportation plan if you set goals. University of Wisconsin EcoCAR team member Dan Grice set an ambitious goal for 2010: 3,000 commuter miles by bike. He says, ‘Bike commuting is my goal. I want to average four days a week which would eliminate 3,000 miles of driving in 2010.’ No bike? EcoCAR’s Mississippi State University team takes advantage of the free bicycle-share program. Look around or start one in your area.

3. Try sharing. Car pooling may have been an invention of necessity to dodge traffic, but it’s greener than ever even if it’s still not the most popular option – 77% of Americans drive to work alone. EcoCAR’s Texas Tech University team is doing its part and has started car pooling to their garage daily. Local car sharing programs are taking off too and chances are we could all benefit from taking up one of these options. EcoCAR’s University of Waterloo and University of West Virginia teams both take part in new campus car share programs which rent hybrids by the hour.

4. Drop mileage from your food. Country of origin labels, wait lists for CSAs and the overcrowded farmer’s market scene add up to one thing: Americans are paying more attention to where their food comes from. Beth Bezaire from Ohio State University’s EcoCAR team says, ‘Purchasing food that has to fly across the world has become less appealing.’ The teams suggest buying local as much as possible and setting a goal, like resolving to incorporate one local food product into your meals every day. Push your school or office to incorporate local foods into the menu, like they did at the University of Victoria in Canada (UVic) cafeteria, or eat out at restaurants that support regional farms.

5. Grow a garden. Seriously. Take a page from food author Michael Pollan and don’t be afraid to grow a garden, even if you only have a small space. You may discover it’s easier than you think. If land is at a premium, find a community garden. UVic’s Campus Community Garden rents 15 foot long plots for $30 a year and they currently have a waiting list! Get one started on your campus or sign up for a space in your local community garden.

6. Read or watch something new. The EcoCAR teams may know a lot about green engineering, but they are also challenging themselves to learn about other issues this year as well – whether it’s sustainable food, water footprint or other environmental issues. Jeff Waldner from UVic says, ‘I find that knowing more about the problem makes me think more about the solution. The first time I picked up a book about global climate change, I was shocked at how much I didn’t know about the issue.’

7. Remember the little things. Switch your light bulbs, look for products made from recycled or lower footprint materials, buy energy efficient electronics and appliances, go paperless, and conserve heat and water. The EcoCAR teams say it’s easier for young adults to start small, especially when time and money are often a factor. Also, these behavioral changes may seem minor, but they add up.

8. Don’t forget the trees. It’s easy to toss a plastic bottle or empty can into a recycling container, but it’s paper that typically gets the cold shoulder. The average American uses 650 pounds of paper per year and a lot goes to the landfill – paper products make up the largest percentage of waste at about 36%. Find simple ways, especially at work, to make sure paper gets tossed into the recycle bin. University of Wisconsin EcoCAR team member Brian Lee offers this tip: ‘Get an empty cardboard box, put it under your desk and when it gets full, empty it in the actual paper recycling bin. This works for me because I don’t have to go out of my way and since the box is right at your feet, I always remember to recycle.’

9. Assess energy. Alternative energy sources are becoming more affordable and there is new funding available for smaller solar and wind installations. If you can’t consider renewable energy at home, look at the other areas of your life. For the EcoCAR teams, that means getting involved and encouraging their schools to go green. At UVic, solar panels heat the indoor swimming pool, parking ticket dispensers and lights around campus. An added selling point is hiring local renewable energy companies to do the job.

10. Speak up. Don’t be afraid to say something to help change behavior. Dana Bubonovich who is on Penn State University’s EcoCAR team says, ‘I remind people on campus to throw their bottles in a recycling bin. It may cause a little embarrassment, but they recycle it.’ If that’s not your style, share ideas and advice or get involved. Go to city meetings on sustainability topics and offer opinions, volunteer with local organizations or keep tabs on your government’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.

I look forward to your feedback and hope you’ll be interested in working together to spread the word. You can read more about the teams on their website (http://www.ecocarchallenge.org/) or blog (http://www.greengarageblog.org/).”

Well, I did my part. Best wishes for 2010 to everyone.

Richard T. Stuebi is a founding principal of the advanced energy initiative at NorTech, where he is on loan from The Cleveland Foundation as its Fellow of Energy and Environmental Advancement. He is also a Managing Director in charge of cleantech investment activities at Early Stage Partners, a Cleveland-based venture capital firm.

Personal Rapid Transit

By John Addison (original post at Clean Fleet Report)

Your heart sinks as you watch your missed plane fly away while you are trapped in gridlock. Parking lots are full. More parking lots attract more cars. Streets jam and more gridlock. Public transit, airport buses, shuttles, and taxis can all help.

The best ground transportation solution that I encountered was when I attended a meeting in Chicago. We landed at O’Hare International Airport, walked to our meeting at the Airport Hilton, and then flew back to our homes after the meeting. The next best solution was at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport where I took the escalator up from baggage claim, boarded the Marta rail system, and returned to my home in the suburbs. Actually, the best solution was the web conference and collaboration that eliminated the need to fly.

London Heathrow Podcar PRT

People are continuing to fly in record numbers so better ground transportation is a necessity. As London readies for record travelers during the 2012 Olympic Games, Heathrow airport is installing a personal rapid transit in the form of six seat cars that take you from terminal to parking garage on dedicated pathways. Heathrow’s podcars are like horizontal elevators – no driver needed; just push the button.
David Holdcroft, BAA’s (formerly British Airports Authority) PRT Manager states, “This innovative system forms part of BAA’s plan to transform Heathrow, improve the passenger experience and reduce the environmental impact of our operation through the development of cutting edge, green transport solutions.” The Heathrow system is scheduled to start running in spring 2010 and expand to 18 pod cars with 3 stops over a 2.4 mile path.

San Jose Personal Rapid Transit

By 2015, San Jose plans to have a more extensive PRT system (map) that connects major hubs within two miles of the airport including connections to VTA bus rapid transit, Caltrain rail that connects to the cities within Silicon Valley and terminates in downtown San Francisco, Santa Clara University, major hotels, major employers, and the Kiss N Ride lot. By the end of the decade, also important will be nearby connection to BART and the new 800 mile California High-Speed Rail system.
Yesterday, I shared an hour discussing transportation with San Jose’s Acting Director of Transportation, Hans Larsen. San Jose is the nation’s tenth largest city. With a million people, it has four times the space of nearby San Francisco. With less urban density, get high numbers of people to walk, bike, and use transit. Yet, San Jose plans major increases in all those areas as it plans for a population expansion of 400,000 people by 2040. PRT will be important to connecting people at the airport and major regional transportation systems. San Jose Transportation
Back for the International PRT Conference in Sweden, Mr. Larsen is impressed with the feedback from other PRT implementers and with a test ride of one system. Conference Videos
Mr. Larsen now has a budget of $4 million to assemble a team of PRT experts, start plans, and evaluate alternative systems. Half the money will be for matching funds for the public and private partnerships necessary to get the first phase of San Jose Airport’s PRT system up and running. The $4 million funding allocation is from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), the transit agency, and countywide transportation planning agency for the San Jose Metro area (the 15-city area within Santa Clara County).

Global PRT Projects

A 2010 personal rapid transit conference is being discussed. San Jose would like to host it. Presenters are likely to include early implementers of PRT such as London, Masdar, Suncheon, South Korea, and Sweden where four cities are competing to be the first selected.
Globally PRT is under consideration in a number of areas where high numbers of people can be moved within a few miles such as airports, university campuses, corporate campuses, industrial parks, and city centers.
Different cities require different solutions. Some are best elevated; others can be kept on the ground. Some will use dedicated roadways designed for self-guided vehicles. Others will use tracks under the pods, or elevated guideways above. Some will use battery electric vehicles; others will always be connected to the electric grid – back to that horizontal elevator comparison.

No doubt that some will dismiss PRT as a short-term waste of money rather than a long-term investment to accommodate San Jose’s 40 percent population growth. Nearby are some innovators that were initially dismissed for having solutions that were limited, buggy, or expensive compared to the incumbent. Their names include Intel, Google, Cisco, Adobe, and EBay.

Innovation is a key to better transportation. We need intermodal choices. The modes need to be connected.
Today, many feel that the car is their only choice. In the future, we will have many choices, especially if we make connections fast and convenient.

Our transportation future will be increasingly intermodal. Each day our web or smartphone app will suggest the best way to meet our preferences. One day it could suggest car pooling to work, the next using the plug-in minivan to take the kids to a game, the next a connection of transit to PRT to rail.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences. He is the author of the new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – now selling at Amazon and other booksellers.

An Evening With Ernest Moniz

by Richard T. Stuebi

Last week, the MIT Club of Northeast Ohio hosted a talk at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland by Professor Ernest Moniz, the Director of the MIT Energy Initiative, and a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Over the course of about an hour of spirited commentary and responses to questions, Prof. Moniz made a number of interesting points. A few highlights:

  1. Arguably the key challenge facing the energy sector is the virtual monopoly that petroleum has on the transportation sector. Producing more non-petroleum options/alternatives for transportation will be pivotal to a better future. By virtue of its considerable domestic resource and lower carbon intensity, natural gas is an attractive option — either as a transportation fuel directly (e.g., CNG), or in generating electricity to support electrified vehicles.
  2. One must never lose sight that energy is a capital-intensive commodity industry subject to “complex politics”, which in turn means that the asset base changes very slowly, and (unlike other economic sectors such as consumer products) is driven first-and-foremost by considerations of cost. Technologies exist today to address most of our challenges, but “inconveniently” they are considerably more expensive, which is not attractive to either customers or politicians.
  3. Although more study at greater detail is always helpful, climate scientists have erred in framing public debates via increasingly sophisticated analysis. Over a century ago, predictions were made about carbon dioxide levels and planetary impact that are a good first-order approximation of what is being evidenced today. Rather than being required to prove that human-induced climate change is occurring, the burden of proof should be on others to show convincingly that human-induced climate change isn’t occurring — that second- and third-order effects (such as feedback loops and consideration of other variables) are somehow dominating the first-order linkages between carbon dioxide concentrations and average planetary temperatures.
  4. The exact future impacts of climate change are unknown, but the distribution of probable planet-wide average outcomes is fairly well described. An increase of 2 degrees Celsius by 2050 — what many consider to be the point beyond which planetary impacts become much more problematic — is on the lower-end of the range of possibilities even if global per capita carbon dioxide emissions are cut by 80% from today’s levels. If status quo is maintained, there’s virtually no statistical chance of containing temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius by 2050.
  5. From a technological standpoint, advancements in all forms of low-carbon electricity generation — nuclear, renewables, and coal with carbon sequestration — will need to be pursued intensively. In addition, because some amount of future climate change is virtually predetermined given our past history, adaptation strategies and technologies should get much more attention. Although premature to employ, and scary because of the principle of unintended consequences, serious research should at least begin on planetary engineering approaches (e.g., deliberate emissions of sulfates) to offset the effects of an increased level of carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.
  6. The recent climate negotiations at Copenhagen never had much of a chance of producing a meaningful agreement without U.S. Congressional action. Hopefully, Congress will act to pass good legislation on climate change, because the prospect of EPA regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as pollutants under the Clean Air Act is “horrific”.

In Prof. Moniz’s view, there is significant urgency for action, and a good chance of a not-very-good outcome. But, all we can do is the best we can do, so we have to move forward in a mood of determined optimism.

Richard T. Stuebi is a founding principal of the advanced energy initiative at NorTech, where he is on loan from The Cleveland Foundation as its Fellow of Energy and Environmental Advancement. He is also a Managing Director in charge of cleantech investment activities at Early Stage Partners, a Cleveland-based venture capital firm.

From Japan: Eco Products Exhibition 2009

It’s that time of the year again where the world gets together to see what we can do about solving energy and climate problems. That’s right, I’m reporting from Tokyo! This is bigger than that thing going on in Denmark.

This year’s Eco Products Exhibition (Dec 10 to 12) was well attended by over 180,000 from all over the world and representative from over 1500 companies, NGOs, and other organizations (note: only 40,000 showed up in Copenhagen, so you know where the party really is!). Eco Products is the largest fair of its kind in Asia and features the most energy efficient technologies for homes, offices, and industries. Here are couple of the highlights.

Ecotwaza
Bringing back the old is the way to go. In pre-industrialized Japan, people were able to live off the resources that were available to them. Instead of the non-stick Teflon pans that are used in the modern kitchen, traditional cast iron (nambu tetsu) was used. Even today, these pans still have numerous advantages over high tech kitchenware. They are extremely durable, conduct heat quickly and evenly, and are completely benign to the environment.

This product and many others are now being marketed by Ecotwaza. I was able to catch up with Reina Otsuka and Nanao Sonobe from this novel company based in Tokyo. They kindly took some time from their busy schedule to talk about their work and their hopes for a sustainable future.

Ms. Otsuka, the president, says the idea of Ecotwaza came while she was studying at the University of California at Berkeley when she realized the number of great environmentally friendly technologies that Japan had to offer but had not been able to market well due to various barriers.

A full version of this interview will be up in a couple weeks.

Zephyr
Can dolphins fly? Apparently Zephyr thinks so. They are developers of the Air Dolphin, a small wind turbine with a tail shaped like that of a dolphin.

In contrast to the big megawatt size turbines that we hear about in the media, these small sized devices are ideal for residences and rural regions that do not have good access to the grid. It has a rated power output of 1 kW with a maximum output of 3.2 kW. Much like the residential solar PV, these generators also require power inverters. In their demonstration, the Sunny Boy was used.

Ricoh
How many times can you reprint paper? According to Ricoh, about a thousand times. They have a developed a plastic sheet that is printed using a thermal printer. With exposure to some heat, the printed sheet becomes blank again. Ideal for applications like ticketing and office documents, this technology is claimed to save paper and energy. It would still be interesting to do a life cycle analysis on the equipment and supplies needed to keep it going.

More Greenbacks for Greentech

By John Addison – original post at Clean Fleet Report

Investments Grow for Electric Cars, Energy Storage, Smart Grid

More venture capital will be invested in innovative greentech firms and more IPOs will happen in 2010 predict some of the world’s smartest venture capitalists and investment bankers at the Venture Summit Silicon Valley. In most circles, greentech is called cleantech, but with the 2009 IPO of A123 leading to a billion dollar valuation, venture capitalists are seeing green.

Cleantech encompasses the growing array of technology, services, and corporations that provide for a future with lower greenhouse gas emissions: energy efficiency, renewable energy, electric cars, smart grids, pure water, and even next generation building materials.

Continued investment is needed to bring us the next generation of batteries, solid state lighting, smart grid components, electric cars, lighter and stronger materials, and solar power so efficient that it makes no sense to build another coal power plant. Greentech is now 25 percent of venture capital investment reported Eric Wesoff, Senior Analyst, Greentech Media. Greentech has become the third major area of investing for the venture capital community that has focused on information technology and life sciences.

2010 IPO and M&A Growth

Forty IPOs of venture-backed firms were predicted for 2010, up from less than ten in 2009. More importantly, 600 venture-backed firms are likely to be purchased in 2010 through mergers and acquisitions (M&A) by large companies eager to expand their total offerings. The AlwaysOn Venture Summit included top private equity executives from Google, Qualcomm, Motorola, and dozens of companies with a history of acquisition. Hallways and lunch tables overflowed with investors, entrepreneurs, and corporate giants pitching, listening, and networking.

The severity of the recent recession has left brilliant ideas unfunded, lithium battery plants delayed, and gigawatts of renewable energy plants without project financing. Innovators at early stages depend of private equity. Venture capitalist raise billions in funds from large university endowments and pension plans who in turn suffered lost billions in the stock market and real estate downturn. Successful 2010 IPOs plus M&A will generate cash for VCs and bring new endowment and pension funds.

Lithium battery maker A123 Systems (AONE) is a poster-child of cleantech IPO success. This year it raised $391 million with an IPO priced higher than expected. A123 has never made money, only had $68 million of revenue last year, and will have less than $90 million revenue this year. Its stock still trades above the offering price with over a billion in market capitalization, even though Chrysler cancelled electric vehicle plans that include A123 batteries. Investors continue to be optimistic about A123 in markets like power tools, grid storage, and automotive.

A123 CFO Mike Rubin explained that the IPO provided important credibility with the battery maker’s major customers. It also gives A123 a strong balance sheet and the ability to fund more R&D and weather difficulties.

Yes, government funding and loans are also critical to American leadership in cleantech. Headquartered in Massachusetts and founded in 2001, A123 was funded initially with a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

In 2010, it may be IPO offerings like Tesla or Silver Springs Networks that get cleantech investors excited. Stay tuned.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences. He is the author of the new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – now selling at Amazon and other booksellers.

SPG Solar CEO vs Bill O’Reilly on Solar

Bill O, the Art of Journalism and Me.
By Tom Rooney, CEO of SPG Solar

Journalism, says the wag, is the art of speaking with absolute authority about something you know nothing about.

Earlier this week, America’s most dominant cable TV news host, Bill O’Reilly, of course, took that definition to a new level when he went on a jag about solar power.

Solar power is just too expensive and too complicated for Bill O.

“I’d like to put solar panels on my house,” said Bill O . “And heat my house through the sun. I would like to do that for a reasonable amount of money. I don’t want to buy the oil every month. They can’t do it for a reasonable amount of money, number one.

“And its so complicated … I can’t do it. … So don’t tell me about my grandchildren. If they can figure out the solar panels, they can have them. But its all bunk. It’s all bull at this point for a guy like me. …I want a clean planet. But I’d like the stuff to work.”

But in meeting the definition of journalism, Bill O also broke its first rule: If your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Bill O did not.

His curiously uninformed comments came just hours after the Irvine Unified School District selected my company, SPG Solar, to install solar panels on each of its 21 solar panels on 21 of its schools — the most comprehensive school solar project of its kind.

The district will soon be getting about 45 percent of its energy from solar, as well as a 10 percent reduction in its energy bills.

And all for no money.

People in the business know this works because the cost of buying and installing panels has gone down so much, and the incentives are so strong, that the energy savings from Irvine basically financed the deal.

That’s it, Bill O. Nothing expensive or complicated about it.

You want complicated? Go to one of our solar installations at the Far Niente winery in Napa Valley, one of the finest in the world, where we built a solar energy array on top of a pond of water. The panels actually float. The first such project ever built in the world.

Maybe it was a bit challenging to build. But that is what we do.

But as far as running it, all the winery has to do is watch the sun shine and enjoy paying less for energy.

That’s it, Bill O.

You want complicated? How about building five acres of solar panels in one of the most desolate — and beautiful places on earth: Furnace Creek Hotel and Resort in the middle of Death Valley.

Same in Livermore, California, where we installed the largest solar array ever on a movie theater. The movie patrons never even knew we were there.

Whether you are in Death Valley or Napa Valley or anywhere in between, all you have to do is pretty much the same: Just sit back and watch the sun shine.

If the sun doesn’t shine, your other power takes over and you don’t do anything. You would not even notice, Bill O.

All Bill O has to do with his solar energy system is ask his accountant how much money he would save every month.

Then sit back and smile.

Bill O is fond of telling us that bloviating is his job. So is being informed about how more and more Americans tare taking charge of their energy future with easy, and inexpensive, and simple solar energy systems.

See the O’Reilly video here, about 3:23 into this six minute clip.


Tom Rooney is the President and CEO of SPG Solar, one of the largest solar integrators in the US. You can find SPG at www.SPGSolar.com. Tom Rooney is a guest blogger on CleantechBlog.com, and the opinions stated here are his own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the team at Cleantech Blog.

On Climate-Gate

as posted to Huffington Post

While thousands of climate change scientists, policy-makers and thought-leaders gather in Copenhagen to consider what to do about the future of our planet, most climate change skeptics are stuck on dissecting a scandalous incident that occured in the virtual world last month.

This so-called “Climate-Gate” stems from the efforts of a hacker who accessed a number of files and emails at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, one of the most respected institutions in the world conducting climate science analysis.

The information obtained from the CRU includes a variety of commentary by leading climate scientists that personally disparages high-profile climate skeptics, and includes attempts to coordinate efforts to retaliate against them in various ways. I suppose the bitterness is a natural human reaction to criticism, which has become very personal and nasty in recent years, but it’s petty and reflects badly on the scientists: they should be above the fray and mentally/emotionally strong enough to withstand sometimes insulting challenges from others by the virtue of the unquestioned quality of their work.

Of more consequence are the allegations that data was fudged to produce results that misleadingly suggest that the climate is worsening far more than it is in actuality. To the extent there is one, the “smoking gun” of Climate-Gate — which some skeptics are comparing to the publishing of the formerly-secret Pentagon Papers as a watershed turning the tide against the Vietnam War — is the following passage in a confirmed email from Prof. Phil Jones, Director of the CRU:

“I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” (emphases added)

Of course, the climate skeptic community has jumped on this trove of emails with glee. The conspiracy-theorists smell blood. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), who has long dimissed the climate change issue as a hoax, called for hearings on the matter. A variety of anti-climate-change blogs have wondered why mainstream media haven’t given sufficient (in their view) coverage to Climate-Gate (see example posting).

Referring back to Prof. Jones’ damning email, I personally have no problem with the use of the word “trick”. I’ve used it, and heard it used many times in many contexts, to colloquially describe a series of analytical steps that are completely legitimate but novel and clever to compress what would be a lot of work requiring a lot of time to a little bit of work that can be done quickly and efficiently.

However, I am more troubled by Prof. Jones’ use of the highly dubious and damaging phrase “hide the decline”, and it’s not so easy to completely wash this away. It appears that certain temperature data in question were considered spurious and were dismissed by many as somehow in fundamental error, so another set of data were used as a proxy in its place — producing a result that showed a greater increase in planetary temperatures.

To be clear, I think there’s a lot of science and a lot of data that show — and still show compellingly — that something is happening to the climate that is likely to be human-induced. In other words, I don’t think that Climate-Gate brings down the entire edifice of climate science — a stance well-articulated by a recent article in The Economist. But, this particular episode involving Prof. Jones doesn’t smell right — and in fact, as of December 1, Prof. Jones has stepped down as Director of the CRU, pending an investigation. Whether or not the analytic approach and data assumptions were/are valid, it sure gives an appearance that the results were jury-rigged to produce an answer more desirable to the authors.

And this is the point of John Tierney’s excellent article in the December 1 New York Times: that the scientists were “oblivious to one of the greatest dangers in the climate-change debate: smug groupthink. These researchers…seem so focused on winning the public-relations war that they exaggerate their certitude — and ultimately undermine their own cause.”

It is inaccurate to claim, as some have, that climate science is “settled”. I have long said that climate science is far from certain, and that there are lots of unknowns that merit further study to gain better understanding. I have also said that there probably is enough known about climate change that we should do something about it — because we’ll never have perfect information, just as we never have perfect information about important issues requiring tough choices that we must nevertheless decide upon, such as battle plans (or even going to war in the first place) or rescuing the financial system.

Unfortunately, both sides of the climate debate — passionate scientists and policy advocates vs. heated skeptics and supporters of the status quo at any cost — have moved beyond rational debate into the mystical. Indeed, as reported by The Telegraph in the U.K., a British judge has recently ruled that “a belief in man-made climate change … is capable, if genuinely held, of being a philosophical belief for the purpose of the 2003 Religion and Belief Regulations”. In other words, belief in climate change can be considered a religion.

Is this what we’ve come to: holy wars about the climate?

Let’s bring things back to some basic precepts about which no rational person can argue. First, carbon dioxide is a potent greenhouse gas. Second, the human race is pumping roughly 25 billion tons per year of that stuff into our atmosphere — 25 billion tons per year that wouldn’t otherwise be in our atmosphere. Third, the Earth is the only known planet we can plausibly inhabit.

The truth is we really don’t know how the carbon dioxide we artificially introduce into the atmosphere will manifest itself in climatic impact. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conduct this thought-experiment and conclude that such emissions could have an important impact, and might even have a serious and damaging impact, on the long-term well-being of our planet.

Do we really want to keep conducting a global experiment with the only place in the universe where we can live for the foreseeable future? Especially if we can mitigate the experiment at modest economic costs? (By modest, I mean modest relative to the size of expenditures on discretionary human phenomena such as wars and bailouts.)

I take encouragement from hearing a voice of sanity emerge from an unlikely source, cutting through the din of the irrational diatribes in the wake of Climate-Gate. Last week, James Murdoch, the Chairman and CEO of Europe and Asia for News Corporation — the parent company of Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, two outlets not generally sympathetic to the climate change issue — wrote a very thoughtful editorial that was published in The Washington Post. His punchline:

“You do not need to believe that all climate science is settled or every prediction or model is perfect to understand the benefits of limiting pollution and transforming our energy policies — as a gradually declining cap on carbon pollution would do. This is the moment to champion policies that yield new industries, healthy competition, cleaner air and water, freedom from petroleum politics and reduced costs for businesses.”

With a simple statement like this, maybe Murdoch can achieve what the climate scientists at CRU and elsewhere have been unable to accomplish with attempts at sophisticated analysis. Given Murdoch’s credentials, perhaps some segments of the climate skeptic community can begin to see more clearly the need to adopt energy policies that can improve our economy and our environment, even while acknowledging the limitations of our understanding of climate science.

Let’s not waste time investigating the crimes of the robbers behind Climate-Gate, as Richard Graves has suggested on The Huffington Post. Let’s move on past Climate-Gate, and take action towards building a better future for ourselves.

Cleantech 2010 Top 10 Predictions

My good friends over at Cleantech Group put out their 10 for 2010 cleantech predictions after Thanskgiving, and after our usual “webside” chats on the future of the sector, chastened me into responding with a set of counter predictions. What’s in store for cleantech 2010?

1. Private capital recovers. Nick Parker predicts that private capital will recover and we’ll see global cleantech fundraising set records. I like this prediction, and hopefully for more than just projecting the results I’d like to see. But it does feel like a lot of cash on the sidelines, a lot of policy beginning to bite and drive demand, and few other exciting places to put cash. And according to the Cleantech Group who has more data on it than anyone else, the fundraisings are gearing up.

2. Carbon Rules – One of the Cleantech Group’s longtime theses has been on the increasing interaction between different commodities (like water and energy and carbon), and they predict 2010 is the year the “non carbon” commodities come to the forefront and the commodity tradeoff debate intensifies. I call this one a bust. It’s all about carbon. 2010-2013 is the start of 4 years of carbon mashup. We’ll spend it dealing with fallout from Copenhagen, wringing the last drops from Kyoto, beginning in the US to commence planning to handle the EPA reporting rules and the to be finalized in 2010 CARB rules in California, and new EPA regulations and maybe, just maybe, our own private cap and trade scheme. Water still won’t yet matter. But we may finally get a picture on how much the carbon overlay on energy will end up biting. And part of the reason I’m calling this a bust is we’ll still be in a viciously flat to weak economy in 2010, which means definitely energy, along with most commodity prices, are more likely to be deflationary not inflationary. And when commodity demand is weak, the interactions bite less.

3. Energy efficiency eclipses solar. This is a fascinating prediction on Nick’s part, and made me stop and think for a moment. I’m going to cry cautious bust on this one. Solar has carried cleantech almost by itself so far. And I don’t think the run is over. And if my prediction above on weak demand growth for energy holds, it feels like it’s a bit early to start passing the mantle to energy efficiency, which is traditionally late to the party.

4. I will, however, make a call on solar. I will call solar’s emergence into real scale power (RSP) starts in 2010. Real plants, 5MW-100 MW, big enough to produce more than a thimbleful of power. We’ll start to get enough of them globally to get real data on costs and issues at scale. And while RSP for solar is still lilliputianland in real energy, 2010 will be the first year solar starts to run with the big dogs. With the massive demand void left by Spain to fill, and the industry learning how to take costs out like a real manufacturing sector does, now we find out if solar’s got game. And I think we’ll find it will, but it’s going to end the year feeling a little battered and bruised on 2010 playground.

5. And I’ll make another call on smart grid. Real business, M&A, and maybe even an IPO or two by 3Q or 4Q. Ignore energy efficiency, smart grid will matter in 2010.

6. Biofuels bust. The last petal of the last bloom off the biofuel rose falls by the anniversary of Pearl Harbor in 2010. The cleantech investment community will finally figure out that small scale experiments in pretty labs do not a business make, and that they don’t have the horsepower, expertise, or balance sheet to play this big boy game.

In short, I believe that 2010 does mark a watershed year in cleantech. The blue norther of the GFC, as the Australians all refer to the global financial crisis, has slammed straight into a rising warm air mass of cleantech and renewable energy policy, and forced cleantech to grow up. So maybe, just maybe to quote Winston Churchill, for cleantech it’s not the end, and not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Neal Dikeman is a partner at merchant bank Jane Capital Partners, and is Chairman of Carbonflow and Cleantech.org.

Toyota and GM Fight for Plug-in Market

By John Addison, original report at Clean Fleet Report

Electric cars and hybrid cars are prominent here at the LA Auto Show. GM highlighted big plans for the Chevy Volt. Toyota, owning some 65 percent of the U.S. hybrid market, displayed the Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) along with a growing family Toyota and Lexus hybrids. The Volt will have triple the electric range of the PHV. Toyota may have a $10,000 price advantage over the Volt.

For extended driving, the Toyota plug-in will normally blend power from the 1.8L gasoline engine and from the 60kW electric motor, just as the Prius does now. The Volt, however, is powered purely with its electric drive system, with a one liter gasoline engine configured in series to act as a generator. Although series designs have been used for years, GM insists that the Volt is in a unique category – the extended range electric vehicle (EREV). What may be unique is consumer confusion. Clean Fleet Report refers to both the Volt and Prius Plug-in as plug-in hybrids.

In 2010, Toyota will put 500 PHV into fleet tests with car sharing services, corporate and government fleets, and some individuals; 150 will be in the United States. At first glance, these PHV look identical to the 2010 Prius. The Prius Plug-in however use lithium-ion batteries instead of the NiMH batteries of the Prius. The PHV can travel 13 miles in electric range at up to 60 miles per hour. The PHV’S 5kWh Panasonic lithium-ion batteries can be recharged in 1.5 hours with 220 three different pack configurations will be tested.

The Volt will have a 40 mile electric range; triple that of the Prius Plug-in. The Volt has a 16kWh battery pack being jointly developed by GM with LG Chem. A 220 volt recharge may take 4 hours. GM 16 kWh hours may add $10,000 to the vehicle cost over Toyota’s 5 kWh hours. Neither automaker has announced sale prices or lease rates.

Both automakers will first emphasize the California market. Most of the nation’s 40,000 electric vehicles are now on the road in California, a state with zero-emission vehicle mandates and greenhouse gas cap-and-trade being implemented.

GM has produced 80 Volt prototypes so far. In late 2010, Chevrolet starts taking orders for the Volt. In his keynote speech, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz estimated 2011 Volt deliveries at 8,000. Early in 2011, 400 Volts will be put into 2 year tests similar to GM’s successful Project Driveway that placed 100 Equinox Fuel Cell vehicles. Four utility partners will deploy 100 Volts each: Southern California Edison, Sacramento Public Utility District, Pacific Gas and Electric, and the Electric Power Research Institute. In parallel with these tests will be dealer sales to consumers and fleets.

These utilities and EPRI have worked closely with automakers to establish the new smart charging standard J1772. They have tested V2G, which will someday allow customers to sell power from the vehicle batteries at peak hours. All utilities have expressed interest in repurposing the lithium batteries in utility applications after 10 years of use in autos.

Plug-in hybrids will more aggressively use batteries than hybrids. Bob Lutz expressed confidence in a 10 year life for Volt batteries; he said the will use an 80/30 charge discharge cycle.

Premium Hybrids

The initial plug-in market share battle will extend up and down the product line of both automakers. Lexus currently offers four hybrid models; two have such good fuel economy that they are part of the Clean Fleet Report Top 10 Hybrids.

In the luxury model, GM may offer the Cadillac Converj plug-in hybrid to leapfrog Lexus. Converj is a concept car with breathtaking design; it has attracted cars at auto shows. The roomy luxury coupe would utilize the Volt drive system.

As competition gets interesting between Toyota and GM, they will have dozens of competitors to worry about. Nissan is actively promoting its battery-electric Leaf. Ford will be offering several models of battery-electric and plug-in hybrid.

What is Next?

Jim Lentz, TMS president, said, “Toyota’s hybrid leadership will continue to expand in the U.S. and around the globe. With 10 new hybrid models between now and 2012 in various global markets, we plan to sell one million gas-electric hybrids per year, worldwide, sometime early in the next decade.”

Toyota has announced that it wants all of its cars to have a hybrid option by 2020. Ford wants the hybrid option for 90 percent of its cars much sooner. Competition will force Toyota to keep moving forward.

Toyota will start volume manufacturing of the Plug-in Prius in 2012 according to Reuters. 2012 manufacturing of 20,000 to 30,000 Prius Plug-ins are expected. Toyota has not yet finalized 2012 pricing. With only a 5kWh battery, Toyota could under price the Chevy Volt, price near the Volt and enjoy profit margins, or offer a PHV with a larger battery. Competition will keep both companies on alert.

In 2012, Toyota will also start selling the less expensive 2-door FT-EV, a pure battery electric vehicle. This little car will probably be similar to the IQ concept car that it has shown for a few years. In the U.S. in 2012 Toyota will face intense EV competition with Nissan, Ford, and dozens of innovative younger companies such as Tesla.

The customer will be the winner in the battle for electric car market share.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences. He is the author of the new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – now selling at Amazon and other booksellers.

Cracking the Codes

by Richard T. Stuebi

One of the big line-items in the energy-related provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was energy efficiency. Over $3 billion was allocated to efficiency investments, with the expectation of a 7:1 economic return, based on previous results of the DOE’s State Energy Program since its inception in the late 1970’s.

Alas, it’s becoming evident to some observers (see article) that results will not be so good this time around. Part of this is almost certainly due to declining marginal returns: the $3.1 billion in ARRA efficiency investments is fully 70 times the normal annual investment by DOE in efficiency. Thus, it should be no surprise that returns will be diluted with such a huge one-time spike in funding.

But one of the big, and highly unfortunate, impediments to good returns on these ARRA energy efficiency investments is the obsolescence of building codes around the country. As building professionals know so well, building codes tend to be difficult to change, often due to resistance from builders and trades who prefer to maintain the status quo because…well, just because they’re more comfortable with and accustomed to the status quo.

While retrofit opportunities represent a large portion of the potential energy and emissions savings afforded by increased efficiency — and many of these, as analysis by McKinsey suggests, can be done at negative societal costs — it will be important to surmount this inertia and opposition to establish new and more stringent baselines for our new building stock, if we’re going to tackle our energy and environmental challenges in a permanent fashion.

Richard T. Stuebi is a founding principal of the advanced energy initiative at NorTech, where he is on loan from The Cleveland Foundation as its Fellow of Energy and Environmental Advancement. He is also a Managing Director in charge of cleantech investment activities at Early Stage Partners, a Cleveland-based venture capital firm.

United States Half Way to 2020 CO2 Goal

By John Addison (original post in Clean Fleet Report)

For the fifth consecutive year, EPA is reporting an increase in fuel efficiency with a corresponding decrease in average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for new cars and light duty trucks. Average CO2 emissions have decreased by 39 grams per mile, or 8 percent, and average fuel economy has increased by 1.8 mpg, or 9 percent, since 2004.

“American drivers are increasingly looking for cars that burn cleaner, burn less gas and won’t burn a hole in their wallets,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “We’re working to help accelerate this trend with strong investments in clean energy technology – particularly for the cars and trucks that account for almost 60 percent of greenhouse gases from transportation sources. Cleaner, more efficient vehicles can help reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, cut harmful pollution, and save people money — and it’s clear that’s what the American car buyer wants.”

Progress surprisingly slowed during the recession. For 2008, the last year for which EPA has final data from automakers, the average fuel economy value was 21.0 (mpg). EPA projects a small improvement in 2009, based on pre-model year sales estimates provided to EPA by automakers, to 21.1 mpg. When the tax payers handed GM and Chrysler $70 billion weren’t we promised more progress than that?

The 10 Best 2010 Hybrids achieve 30 to 50 .

The EPA report confirms that average CO2 emissions have decreased and fuel economy has increased each year beginning in 2005. This positive trend beginning in 2005 reverses a long period of increasing CO2 emissions and decreasing fuel economy from 1987 through 2004, and returns CO2 emissions and fuel economy to levels of the early 1980s.

While the Senate debates if it is possible to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by 17 percent by 2020 from the 2005 level, Americans already have us half the way there in the transportation sector. Americans are cutting car use with flexwork, car pooling, and transit. Gas guzzlers are being replaced with fuel misers and even electric cars.

In addition, new buildings use much less electricity and heat due to better insulation, HVAC systems, and even LED lighting. Emissions will really dip if we stop subsidizing oil and coal, and put a price on carbon emissions.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences. He is the author of the new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – now selling at Amazon and other booksellers.