Today in Cleantech

Utilities talk about preparing for the flood of electric and plug-in vehicles to come — but are they really getting ready? According to a report from IDC Energy Insights released this week, utilities will be hard-pressed to upgrade their systems to manage the anticipated 540,000 EVs to be sold globally in 2012. IDC says advanced transformers to manage increased loads in certain neighborhoods, and perhaps separate metering systems to manage plug-in loads, may be required. It will also take collaboration between automakers and utilities — as well as potentially independent charging infrastructure players — to manage such issues as customers that live in one utility’s region, but charge their cars in another.

Surprise: Electric Cars Not Actually Zero-Emission

eta-report-electric-shockThe findings you’re most likely to hear this morning from a new report by the European lobby group Transport & Environment include these three hot-button points: electric cars could increase carbon emissions, could “speed climate change,” and may not reduce oil dependency.
But a closer read of the report reveals its basic premise shouldn’t actually be that controversial. Electric cars have a role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, the group argues. But the electricity supply will have to be cleaned up by adding renewables (like solar and wind) to the power grid (with a push from government), and the cars “must be more energy-efficient than state-of-the-art conventional vehicles on a ‘tank to wheel’ basis” (which they already are) in order to realize significant environmental benefits.
Read More about Surprise: Electric Cars Not Actually Zero-Emission

19 Electric Car Players Pitch San Francisco

The office of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said today that it has received 19 responses to its request for information to electrify the city’s fleet. The responders include electric car players, like Better Place and ZAP, huge consultancies, like Booz Allen Hamilton, and a number of unknowns.

Daimler to Electrify Autobahn With “e-mobility Berlin”

Berlin’s autobahn will be getting a charge from the “e-mobility Berlin” program Daimler AG officially unveiled today. The automaker is working with German utility RWE to put more than 100 electric cars on the city’s roads by 2010. Under terms of the joint venture, Daimler will provide electric vehicles from its Smart and Mercedes-Benz lines while RWE will install some 500 charging points around the city.

The announcement gives no legs to the rumors circulating about Daimler’s possible partnerships with a slew of cleantech startups. Last week, the Financial Times reported that electric car poster child Tesla Motors would be supplying the batteries for the Smart cars, but the release doesn’t say whose batteries will be in them. Read More about Daimler to Electrify Autobahn With “e-mobility Berlin”

Where the Presidential Candidates Stand on Plug-In Cars

The presidential and vice presidential candidates have been laying out their energy policies at their respective party’s conventions over the past two weeks, but they’ve largely left out the details in acceptance speeches. So Calcars.org, the group following all things plug-in-vehicle-related, has compiled the candidates’ positions on, what else, plug-ins. Obama’s stance is clearly more aggressive than McCain’s when it comes to tax incentives, federal purchases and loans for carmakers, though the group says, regardless of which candidate is elected, “plug-in hybrids will have an advocate in the White House.”

Here’s Calcars.org’s lineup:

Obama:

  • $7,000 consumer tax credit for purchase of new plug-in cars
  • Some level of tax credits for conversions of cars
  • $4 billion in loans and tax credits to carmakers for factory retooling
  • White House fleet all-plug-in within a year (as security permits)
  • 50 percent of cars purchased for the federal fleet will be plug-in by 2012
  • 1 million plug-in cars on our roads by 2015
  • Raise fleet fuel economy 4 percent per year

McCain:

  • $5,000 consumer tax credit for purchase of new “zero-carbon vehicles”; near-zero PHEVs would get a percentage of that level
  • $300 million prize for advanced battery technology that delivers a 70 percent improvement in batteries to get to 30 per cent of their current cost
  • Specific support for the Chevy Volt: “the future of America and the world.”

FCC votes to ease cable-franchise rules

Scoring a win after a tough week, FCC chairman Kevin Martin on Wednesday pushed through a bunch of rules designed to make it easier for telephone companies to offer video services. The 3-2 party line vote was expected, as was the vociferous opposition from the minority Democrat members. Up next: expect court battles to decide whether the rules (which include a 90-day deadline for local governments to grant franchises, and no requirements to “build out” services to all parts of a geographical region) are actually enforceable, since the FCC’s jurisdiction in the cable arena is legally sketchy, according to some in the game.

Lafayette votes today for city-wide fiber optic network

The citizens of Lafayette, Louisiana vote today to approve the funds needed to build a city-wide fiber optic network for high-speed internet connectivity.  The city won a legal challenge by the two private sector companies that serve Lafayette earlier and if the voters choose to approve the network this city in the heart of Cajun country could be the impetus to other cities throughout the country. 

If Lafayette is successful in winning support for its network, it could help rally citizens in the 14 states where municipal networks have already been banned or limited, said Joey Durel, president of Lafayette Parish.

"What the cable and phone companies do a lot better than provide service to customers is work politicians," he said. "Unless towns like Lafayette get moving, I’m afraid that more states could pass laws limiting these kinds of networks. If this referendum passes here in Lafayette, I think we’ll start to see some states undoing those laws."

(via CNET)