Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Another Spawn of PowTalk

For a US military-focused version of PowrTalk's relentless renewable energy tech coverage, see The DOD Energy Blog.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

PowrTalk Moving On/Up

Dear loyal reader(s),

May 2008 marks an important transition for our blog as we've been picked up by the Discovery Communications News site. All new posts can be found here.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Taxi? ... taxi? .. TAXI !!!!

Here we go - the real world, dollars and cents, non tree-hugger benefits of new energy are beginning to appear in Manhattan. NYT reports taxi owners and drivers on the cusp of calling the Ford Escape Hybrid a superior financial vehicle, so to speak.

It's not a clear slam dunk due to current lease cost differences and evolving maintenance cost factors such as battery pack replacement frequency and costs and marginally higher costs for some parts. But if the anecdotal evidence in this article is correct, it appears they may have reached break even with gas at $3.00 and may be moving into clear increases in profitability at $3.50 and above.

I remember thinking a while ago that this is where we'd see it first. In the non-stop, stop and go daily grind of urban taxi companies, where hybrids' regenerative braking gains and low fuel burn in traffic would give them a big advantage. Acquisition and maintenance costs are the downside, while ever rising gas prices create the upside. Next steps are maturation of gas hybrids and the appearance on the NY Taxi test track of plug-in hybrids and full electrics.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New Museums Walk the Talk

The best science museums explain and excite, using whatever materials they have at their disposal, donated or otherwise. Often the exhibits are confined to a defined space within the museum walls. But sometimes ... and increasingly, they creep out of their confines and do much more than advertised. The Water + Life Museums in Hemet, California is one of those cases, and this article describes not only the museum's LEED Platinum rating, but its massive solar installation that provides approximately half the power. (Editorial note: the 540 Watts cited is a bit less than you'd expect from a three thousand panel installation. The article may be off by a decimal point or two ... or more.) Nevertheless, renewable exhibits that power themselves and their museums are a wave of the future. Mark my words ...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

New Energy Workforce begins Punching In

Renewable energy is going to change the world in more ways than one. For me, it's come to occupy a significant part of my after hours scene. For many other folks, it may well become their day job. Here are a few examples of real jobs that didn't even exist until recently:
  • Carbon trader
  • Eco-investor
  • Corporate climate strategist
  • Green recruiter
  • Environmental banker
They all sound suspiciously similar to other more familiar positions, but all have a new energy twist that makes them different. If the US can become the locus of this new economy, we won't have to worry about a serious economic downturn for at least another 50 years or so.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Oil Goes Up a Dollar a Day from Now On - OK ???

$100 ... 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115 ...

At this rate, we'll be well into in the upper 300s for a barrel by the end of 2008. That alright with you? Still interested in who's taking the early lead in the American League East? Who's looking hot on American Idol? Which Democratic candidate dodged the MSM People Magazine-esque questions more successfully tonight? Still want more horses under that hood?

I'm writing from Harrisburg, PA tonight where the price of a gallon of gas is $3.35 and diesel is well over 4 bucks. The Renewable Energy technology advocate in me is ecstatic. But this kind of a price climb scares me. This isn't how it's supposed to play out. It can't keep going up like this, right? Right ???

Sunday, April 13, 2008

There's a great future in plastics. Think about it.

Much like Mr. McGuire urging Ben to understand that plastics were the future in the 1967 movie "The Graduate," Amory Lovins continues to push automakers to give plastics (that is, lightweight composite carbon) a look.
Mr. Lovins, et al make the strong case for light cars in Winning the Oil Endgame. When you consider that less than one percent of the gas you use moves your passengers, or that ninety-nine some odd percent has to move the vehicle, putting cars on a diet makes sense.

What you've gotta love about Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute folks is their willingness to go beyond their compelling ivory castle pontifica (buttressed with good, hard science), by developing patented prototypes to further lure some enterprising automaker to a future in plastics.

To date, composites have been cost prohibitive. But with oil prices up, and likely to stay up, and steel prices up, with no foreseeable letup in demand, automakers ought to run the math again.

The future is looking light.
(For the nostalgiac, here's Mr. McGuire delivering the hot tip.)