Green isn’t just for camouflage any more. The US military recognizes the need to become more efficient, less dependent, and more sustainable.
From a green economy perspective, this legislation could not be more important. The military’s huge demand for energy translates into enormous market pull. By creating a market for biofuels and green technology, the military can spur further research and drive down the price of clean energy to levels that would be competitive with traditional energy sources. According to analysis presented at a congressional briefing on the Defense Department’s Deployment of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, section 526 sends positive signals to the green energy sector by reassuring clean energy producers that their investments will be met with steady demand from the DoD. Such stability is critical for any burgeoning industry.
Read the rest at the Epoch Times.
Fuelishness! Feed: 1,418 Miles Between Fill-ups; VW’s Eco-Driving Program; Waste up to 45%; Drivers, not cars, to blame; Bio-fuels 10 years after 9/11
It’s been a little while since I’ve posted a Fuelishness! Feed, so this one is overdue. Eco-driving seems to be creeping into the wider American consciousness. Now it’s less about global warming, more about saving money. Here are some of the best stories of the past week or so:
- 1,418 Miles on a Single Tank of Gas, Avg 64MPG — Throughout their journey, in a standard-issue 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid, the drivers averaged 64.55 mpg, and 1,418 miles on the road before having to refill the tank…Taking the recommended approach can net the driver a 45% savings in gas over the course of a year, no matter what vehicle we’re talking about.
- A day at the Volkswagen Eco Driving Programme — Even though I was already a light-footed driver, I still learned a thing or two that will help me save more fuel. The computer that measured our driving really captured all kinds of mindbogglingly useful data which could be graphed and charted.
- Your choices can cut gas cost up to 45% — Less aggressive and slower driving can save up to 30%, so pick your times to let it out. Don’t be perpetually impatient, particularly when it’s not really saving any time and is really costing you gas.
- Cars Don’t Waste Fuel. Drivers Waste Fuel — Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CERT) are developing a new way of boosting fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent without changing a car’s powertrain at all.
- Using biofuels to reduce American dependance on foreign oil — 9/11 refocused attention on energy security. It has remained one of the three foundations of US energy policy in the decade thereafter, the others being economic competitiveness and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The influence of each changes over time but the three are linked inextricably.
There’s one narrative that still needs telling – the connection between safe and efficient drivers. More on that later…
Bob Stanton is one of the most forward-thinking fleet managers in the country. He runs the Polk County, Florida government fleet, and has been referenced here in Fuelishness! and BrightFleet.com several times for his experience implementing a highly successful eco-driving program in Polk County. Today he gives a insight into his motivations and successful execution of his program in an article published at Government Fleets called “Incentivizing Drivers to Conserve Fuel“.
By only reading industry publications, one might presume fuel conservation success can be achieved by technology alone through the use of alternative fuels, hybrid, or all-electric vehicles. The Clean Air Act of 1990 certainly steered governments in that direction and now, 20 years later, it’s clear that legislation failed to achieve tangible results. Governments at all levels nationwide have collectively invested billions in technology, which at best has yielded marginal fuel conservation success, and at worst, the technology, hardware, and vehicles have been scrapped at enormous cost. A negative return on investment (ROI) is certainly hard to justify for any organization, public or private.
Mr. Stanton makes a great point, that the focus on a technology-based approach to fuel efficient fleets has nearly completely ignored the contributions of the vehicle operator to the safe and efficient use of the vehicle.
…In summer 2008, Polk County went where few other fleets have gone — to its drivers. All studies show the largest single contributor to fuel use and/or conservation is the driver. Polk County decided the quickest route to meaningful fuel conservation was to target driver behavior and modify it where possible.
A three-pronged approach was used to modify driver behavior. First, the maximum travel speed of the County’s on-highway vehicles was limited to 55 mph. An in-house Eco-Driver training program was developed to train, reinforce, and promote driving habits proven to reduce fuel consumption and assure driver buy-in, and the County added an incentive program to allow employees to share monetarily in their own conservation success.
There are numerous studies, from reputable government and industry sources around the word, that have shown a direct relationship to operator performance and fuel efficiency, with additional benefit to driver & general road safety.
As noted above, the driver is the greatest single factor influencing fuel economy. According to Bridgestone’s Real Answers magazine, up to 35 percent of a vehicle’s mpg is directly attributable to the driver.
The County endeavored to modify behind-the-wheel driver behavior by developing an in-house “Eco Driver” training program to educate drivers about the simple driving techniques that result in tangible mpg improvements.
Bob Stanton’s own project has netted Polk County significant benefits in fuel efficiency and accident reductions:
Over the two years since implementation, Polk County achieved the following results:
- Fuel consumption reduced by 13.4 percent, or 436,000 gallons.
- Reduced 6.2 million lbs. of carbon.
- Reduced preventable accidents by 22 percent.
- Crash damage severity reduced by 35 percent.
These results are irrefutable. The overall hard dollar savings seen by Polk County due to these incentives have exceeded $1.5 million. The cost of the program is minimal. Beyond the $800 decal cost and the one-hour training time, the program has cost the County nothing.
Even the incentive payouts came at little cost. The incentive payouts originated from dollars saved versus dollars spent.
As a result of its success, the Polk County School Board adopted the 55-mph restriction in May 2010 and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is currently studying the program for statewide adoption.
As oil prices continue to rise to pre-economic-collapse prices at the same time austerity measures are being discussed at state and federal levels, eco-driving is a proven method that fleet drivers and average motorists can take immediate action to see real reductions in both fuel consumption and accident rates.
Between 2009 and 2010 we ran a poll on the homepage of FuelClinic.com asking for feedback as to “what motivated you to become interested in eco-driving”. Tonight while going through some materials on my mess of folders on my hard-drive, I found the chart I created of the results. Thing is that I don’t think I’ve posted it previously. (A quick google of the site didn’t turn it up either.) So I’ll post it now.
The results: “Saving Money” was the response of nearly 58% of the 919 respondents, followed by “Reducing Foreign Oil Imports” at nearly 25%, leaving roughly 16% of respondents indicating that “Reducing CO2 Emissions” was their prime motivator.
Eco-driving is a great way to save money, it’s free and easy to do, works in any vehicle – no matter the fuel source, and there are some excellent online training courses becoming available online and at some driving schools. (I know of several courses currently in development, and will blog about them when they are online.)
But what’s also interesting is the strong desire among people who took the poll to reduce foreign oil imports – even above “saving money”.
Most of the time eco-driving is discussed it is in the context of being “good for the environment”, and surely it is. No matter what side of the climate change argument you park your car on, judging from this dataset you’d have to acknowledge that many eco-driving initiatives may be missing the mark by painting it solely as an environmental issue.
Eco-driving has demonstrated significant results in improving driver safety, reducing fuel consumption, reducing emissions and pollution for those drivers who practice the techniques as part of their normal driving. Fleets with eco-driving programs have demonstrated considerable cost savings and improvements in safety thanks to the sheer size and organization of fleet management. But I still do not believe that eco-driving has had any impact on reducing oil imports or reducing the cost of fuel – simply because it hasn’t been used widely enough. We need to convince a significant portion of the driving public that it’s in their interest to make these simple changes.
I think that painting eco-driving with a singular “green” brush may actually be working against the ultimate goals of eco-driving interests, and turn-off a vast percentage of the motoring public who might otherwise give it a try. It’s this arguing between political and social “camps” that keeps the status-quo in place instead of allowing good ideas to be recognized as good ideas. It’s also clear that eco-driving appeals to a wider audience than the “green” camp, and the signal sent in these alternate directions needs to be amplified and repeated.
One estimate I read recently (will link to source if I can find it again) put the realistic potential savings at about $800/yr per eco-driving daily commuter. That’s at least a car payment, maybe a mortgage payment in some parts, but is it “enough” to convince your average motorist that it’s “worth it”? I don’t know. With all of the bad news about the rising cost of gas and oil – some experts expect $5 gas in 2011 or 2012 – it’s likely more people will seek out ways they can reduce the amount of fuel they use.
I’ve been rambling a bit, so I’ll turn it over to whoever is interested enough to tell us what you think.
We can boycott and punish BP for their crimes… and it is a crime. And on election day we can hold the government accountable for it’s dereliction of duty in this disaster, but the next set of derelicts we elect may be no better. In between we can day-dream of a future when all of our cars are electric and run on sunshine and windmills.
But time is short, and we can “do better” sooner. We can take meaningful action now, every day, starting today.
Leonardo da Vinci inspires me with this quote:
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
We must do.
I day-dream about the impact of 3/4 million people waking up tomorrow, starting to work, and quietly deciding that today they will not compete with the other drivers on the road for position. Today they will not race to the next stoplight. Today they will try to maintain more distance in front of them to allow a little coasting before braking. Today they will move to the middle or the right on the highway and slow down 5 or 10 MPH. This week those people will go an additional 25 or 50 miles on a single tank of gas – possibly more, maybe enough to skip a fill-up for a day or two.
If all 750,000 squeezed another 50 miles from a full tank of gas this week, that’s 37,500,000 “carbon-free” miles traveled. At $0.12/mile avg. cost that’s $4.5 million dollars saved – ($6/ea) to be saved or spent elsewhere. Repeat that process each week, and you see it can add up to significant numbers very quickly. And that’s ONLY considering 750,000 people – imagine what would happen if each of them told two friends about what they are doing and impressed them to try.
It’s easy to do. You can track your personal per-tank mileage by setting your trip odometer at each fillup. If you want better data, keep your receipts and use a notepad, a spreadsheet, or a free website like FuelClinic to track your MPG over time, and look for ways to improve your score (see links below for additional techniques).
We all feel the urgency. We know what to do. The only questions is – are we willing? If you are willing, then you must DO.
Learn more fuel-efficient driving techniques here:
Now consider that commercial fleet vehicles are driven further (on average twice as many miles per year), they have to drive to stay in business (not really an option to stop driving), and fleet size can range from less than a dozen vehicles to thousands. The “power of scale” creates HUGE incentives for companies to take control of their fuel spend and improve their fuel efficiency.
Fuel remains one of the most costly items on a fleet’s bottom line – typically ranked number two, right behind driver wages and benefits – so carriers are deploying an ever-widening variety of methodologies to keep fuel costs under tight control…
…During a presentation here at Manhattan Associates “Momentum 2010” user group meeting, Braslavsky and Nick Cook, vp & CIO for refrigerated carrier FFE Transportation, stressed that even tiny savings in fuel costs on a per-gallon basis can reap big savings for fleets.
CalArk, for example, operates 650 tractors and 2,000 trailers nationwide – consuming roughly one million gallons of diesel per month. Braslavsky said just saving one penny per gallon translates into $10,000 in savings per month on the company’s fuel bill….
…Such fuel and route optimization methodologies are going to become even more critical in the future, Braslavsky pointed out, as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 program kicks in.
“There was a time when it was taken for granted that you could tell a driver to get there and he’d make it – those days are long gone,” he said. “Now we must be really, really creative with the time constraints put on our drivers – and better routing is the key to that.”
He also said new functionality such as actual loaded weight is being added in as well to allow for even more accurate fuel accounting. “We all know pulling 80,000 pounds consumes more fuel than pulling 45,000 pounds,” Braslavsky added. “The next level of optimization is going to take that into consideration.”
Source: Fleet Owner
“Eco-Driving” training should be a part of any fleet’s effort to save fuel costs, since saving 5% is generally considered the minimal savings a fleet can expect with a fairly minor effort. Fleets that are more determined to change company culture and commit to fuel efficient driving at all levels save 15% or more.
The most successful are those innovative fleet managers have incorporated employee-incentive programs to reward drivers who deliver measured fuel-efficiency improvement. Of course you need to be able to track and measure driver performance – what you can’t measure, you can’t manage – or reward.
Fuelishness! Feed: Fuel Economy still the Next Big Thing; Study: Fuel Costs Must Double; Biofuel-Fed A-10 Warthogs; Oil Prices Continue 2-month Climb
- Still the next big thing: Fuel economy — “We’re all in a race again,” he said. “From the standpoint where we [as manufacturers] kept bringing out new products to meet emission targets, now we’ll be aggressively focusing on fuel economy.”
- Study: Fuel costs must (at least) double to reduce GHG emissions — The team concludes that the only way to change the status quo in America — to reduce GHGs 17% by 2020 — is to adopt a mix of stringent rules that substantially increase fuel costs and increase vehicle mileage. To do this, the Harvard study suggests starting with a $0.50 a gallon tax in year one and adding another half-buck tax a year until the tax reaches $3.36 per gallon in 2020.
- Air Force Debuts Biofuel-Guzzling Warthog — In a bid to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels, the Pentagon has been looking to new energy alternatives. Under the Air Force’s current energy plan, the goal is to acquire 50 percent of the domestic aviation fuel from an alternative blend by 2016. Terry Yonkers, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics, said in a statement the goal was to encourage a major shift in the way the service powers its aircraft. “Our goal is to reduce demand, increase supply and change the culture and mindset of our fuel consumption,” he said.
- Oil rises above $84, extending 2-month rally — Oil prices have jumped from $69 a barrel in early February on investor expectations that a gradual recovery in the U.S. economy this year will eventually boost crude consumption.
Take a look at this graph of average gas prices courtesy of GasBuddy.com and you’ll see that prices continue to rebound from the “crash” of 2008… which shouldn’t be a shock to anyone.
Not much has changed as far as our “oil addiction” since the “crash”. Looking back, it seems that Cash for Clunkers was the only national attempt at dealing with oil’s monopoly since the collapse, and the merits of that program as an energy policy are laughable.
It took a global economic collapse to undercut the oil gouging, something we can not afford to repeat. (I continue to assert that the uncertainty of affordable fuels contributed to the economic tsunami that brought world markets to their knees that summer.)
What are we going to do to shift oil from a strategic political and economic weapon to just “another” commodity that must compete with alternative sources?
1. I’ve long been a proponent of Flex-Fuel vehicles, since they offer the simple option to use purely petroleum based gasoline or alternative alcohol-blended (up to 85%) gasoline replacement fuels. Manufacturers “promised” to add Flex-Fuel capabilities into much of their fleets by 2010, yet most only add the systems to the most inefficient models, taking “credit” for making their fleet more efficient instead. Having Flex-Fuel vehicles on the road in great numbers will be an incentive for stations to carry more alcohol-blends, and at the same time allow motorists to travel far and wide without worry that they won’t find a filling station specific to their vehicle while the network of supply is created by the opportunity to serve this demand.
2. Small efficient diesel engines are hot sellers in Europe – 50% of all new car sales across the pond are diesels. Why? Because they are clean, quiet, powerful, last a long time, and get upwards of 65 to 80 MPG every day of the week. Plus you can fuel them with bio-diesel, and reduce the amount of petroleum based diesel fuel. Again, you can travel far and wide, taking advantage of bio-diesel when available – an incentive for stations to carry the product. Since bio-diesel is made closer to home, distribution is cheaper, jobs are created locally, and competition controls costs.
3. Hybrids are great technology for getting slightly better mileage from a gallon of gas – but they are all still 100% petroleum-dependent. Flex-Fuel Electric or Diesel Electric hybrids would allow motorists to offset even more of their oil addiction to alternatives, not just kick the can down the road a little further.
4. 100% electric vehicles are still not a replacement for the family car in most cases. High costs, limited range, and long recharging times limit options and create a situation where drivers must change habits (and hardware) to participate. Plus there is the battery problem, making exotic metal ore addiction the replacement for oil addiction.
5. Conservation (aka: eco-driving) is first-aid remedy immediately available for free (better than free when you consider the money savings) available to everyone right now. With modest changes to your driving habits, you can increase your fuel mileage 5% to over 25% no matter what you prefer to drive (including Hummers and Hybrids). And while “ecodriving” sounds like “hypermiling” to some people, in fact eco-driving is easy, courteous, and safer driving. It does require you to pay attention to operating your car (shouldn’t you be?), but relieves you from the urge to compete against those other drivers around you, and instead compete against the gas pump.
In the end, as we approach the future still addicted to oil we limit our geopolitical power and remain at the mercy of markets we do not have much control over politically. We have been at war for years thanks to oil, with no end in sight. While our planets poorest nations are prime real-estate for several bio-fuel industries that could lead them from poverty to prosperity, the “powers that be” lobby and maneuver to protect their monopoly on your mobility.
What are you doing to make progress? What do you see as our future?
Fuelishness! Feed: Hard to recoup on EV; DOE grants for fuel efficiency programs; Gasoline zips to $3 again; Diesel fuel spike causing trucking trouble
- Study: Buyers unlikely to recoup extra cost of electric vehicles — As automakers aggressively pursue electric vehicles, a study released today shows the cost targets behind the plans are unlikely to be achieved, making it hard for consumers to recoup the extra cost of buying electric.
- Massive DOE grant program aims to boost truck fuel economy — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is spreading $187 million in grants around the truck manufacturing industry to significantly improve fuel efficiency for heavy- and light-duty trucks, all while maintaining current exhaust emission curbs. “Improving the fuel efficiency of heavy trucks can make significant contributions to reducing America’s oil consumption within a short timeframe,” DOE spokesperson Jen Stutsman told FleetOwner. “While heavy-duty vehicles make up only 4% of the vehicles on the road, they account for nearly 20% of the fuel consumed in the U.S.”
- Gasoline prices zip toward $3 mark — Gasoline prices on Monday continued their push toward $3 per gallon. The only question now is when? Prices have been jumping on the back of a strong oil market where the cost for a barrel has spiked 20 percent in the past month on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
- Trucks at Work Blog – Containing fuel costs — Diesel fuel prices are on a tear all of a sudden – not surprising, given the recent deep freeze across the U.S. Diesel, as we all know, is made from the same petroleum distillate as home heating oil, so when the temperature plummets (like it’s doing now), refineries start cranking out more heating oil at the expense of diesel. Thus, you get a crimp in supply even as demand remains the same – thus, a shortage, and thus (tah-dah!) price increases at the pump.
Fuelishness! Feed: Saving Money Motiviate Drivers; Oil & Gas Not Prepared for Risk; New Drilling Tech vs. Peak Oil; Doubts about 2016 Efficiency Goals
- Money proves biggest motivator for a motorist’s eco-driving choices — When it comes to fuel efficiency, saving money trumps saving the environment for most people who have recently bought – or are thinking of buying – a new vehicle.
- Oil and Gas at Risk From Climate Change but The Industry is Not Prepared — A new Acclimatise report backed by IBM, entitled Global Oil & Gas – The Adaptation Challenge has identified top five impacts of climate change to the oil and gas industry. While three quarters of the world’s oil and gas companies surveyed believe climate change could impact their business, only 19 percent are taking action as noted in this Acclimatise report.
- New Techniques Oil Companies are Using in Drilling for Oil — As the politics and philosophical arguments about “Peak Oil” continue to rage, science continues to move steadily onward, progressively creating new and better ways to both find and extract oil that we never could have previously discovered, as well as get a lot more bang for our buck by more effectively utilizing the oil that we currently have readily available to us in our current reserves.
- Fuel efficiency up, but many miles to go — EPA report shows small gains in ’08, casts doubts on meeting 2016 goals — Americans bought slightly more efficient cars and trucks in 2008 compared with a year earlier, and are expected to do so again this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Friday.
A few days ago the results of the global Intelligent Transportation Society (ITS) Congestion Challenge were announced at the VenCorps blog (registration required), and we were pleased to learn that FuelClinic.com had won 2nd place from a starting field of over 90 competitors:
The winners of the ITS Congestion Challenge were announced today in front of global transportation leaders at the ITS World Congress in Stockholm, Sweden. iCarpool won first place for $50,000 and 50,000 points, FuelClinic.com took second place for 25,000 points and iCone secured third place for 10,000 points.
These three companies will join the VenCorps portfolio, called the Launchpad. They will be able to use their points to grow by incentivizing our community to help them solve business problems big and small.
Judging from the results released at VenCorps, our little community turned out in force to compete against some very well established competition. Taking a look at the graph published at the VenCorps blog, you can see that iCarpool was simply unbeatable in this competition, able to motivate a virtual tsunami of voters for their cause.
Rachel and I would like to send a heart-felt “Thank You!” to each of you who took the time to lend your support for FuelClinic, and who believe in our efforts to improve our roads and highways through advanced driver education.
A 1st place finish included a $50K seed-funding award, unfortunately there was no such award for 2nd place in this contest. We continue to seek seed-funding to turn our prototype system into a commercial application. We continue to work to meet our shared goals of helping people save money, reduce our oil dependence, cut pollution, and create safer and more intelligent drivers.
The month long contest was held in August 2009, and was sposored by The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), IBM , Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations (STCI), and partners.
Fuelishness! Feed: $700B Gains from Energy Efficiency; Bio-Engineering Algea; Cash for Clunkers FAIL; Cellphone Use as Deadly as Drunk Driving; Merits of a Gasoline-Diesel ‘Cocktail’
- McKinsey Tallies $700 Billion Gain from Energy Efficiency – A massive efficiency push over the next decade could save the U.S. economy $700 billion. That is, while efficiency measures would cost about $520 to put in place, they would save $1.2 trillion through 2020. In the process, efficiency could meet 23% of America’s future electricity demand.
- Algae: From Biotech to Frankenfuels? – Algae, say scientists and industrial titans alike, could jumpstart a viable biofuels industry because it reproduces quickly and can be turned into fuel without taking food from the world’s plate.
- Is the Cash-for-Clunkers Program an Environmental Dud? – As Congress debates adding $2 billion to the program, some calculations show that it may have only negligible environmental benefits.
- US safety agency hides dangers of using cellphones while driving – Driving while dialing and driving while texting is more dangerous than you knew. A federal report proves it, with some really scary numbers that show it is as dumb and deadly as drunk driving and DUI, driving under the influence.
- Gasoline-diesel ‘cocktail': A potent recipe for cleaner, more efficient engines – Based on tests by the University of Wisconsin-Madison engine research group headed by Rolf Reitz, would be a diesel engine that produces significantly lower pollutant emissions than conventional engines, with an average of 20 percent greater fuel efficiency as well.
I’ve been working on the FuelClinic idea now for a few years. When talking to people about FuelClinic, I’ve found that many times I’ve put people into the “glazed eyes” trance when trying to explain what FuelClinic is, what is can do for them today, and what it will be in the near future.
In an effort to explain our idea, to motivate new drivers, and to reduce the glazed-eyed stares – we’ve created a new animation to help explain what FuelClinic “for consumers” is all about.
Learn more about eco-driving and how you can take control of your oil habit. Use FuelClinic.com to help monitor and manage your own oil consumption, find proven methods for improving your own efficiency in the car you already own, and join the thousands of people who have decided to do more with less. Save money, reduce foreign oil dependence, cut emissions – and improve the safety of yourself and the other drivers on the road.
While FuelClinic is quickly growing into something much bigger than it’s roots, we will always endeavor to provide consumers with the information, tools, and suggestions they need to monitor and improve their fuel efficiency while improving their personal safety, and the safety of those traveling the roads around them.
Fuelishness Marathon! – Part 4: Cellulosic Ethanol Could Have “Unintended” Environmental Consequences; $25 Billion For Green Cars;
- MIT Study Says Cellulosic Ethanol Could Have “Unintended” Environmental Consequences : Producing cellulosic ethanol from non-food feedstocks has been studied extensively at a local scale, but it’s difficult to estimate the environmental impacts on larger, heterogeneous regions. In this study, researchers evaluated two potential consequences of diverting usable land to biofuel production: either existing agricultural operations are intensified, or large areas of natural forest are cleared to increase cropland.
- $25 Billion Federal Loan Fund For Green Car Manufacturing Still Untapped : The program wasn’t funded until September 2008, and DOE reports that 43 of the initial applications landed during the final three days leading up to a Dec. 31, 2008 deadline.
- 1936 Chevy Sedan gets the electric car conversion treatment [w/video] : Shade tree mechanics. A 1936 Chevy Sedan. Down home narrator vibe. Yup, this video from a local TV station in Oklahoma has got everything you might be looking for to prove that electric cars are as American as apple pie.
Fuelishness! Marathon – Part 3: What is cellulosic ethanol; Algae Farming; Most Efficient Way to Travel 350 Miles
- What is cellulosic ethanol and how does it fit with green cars? : There is a lot of controversy surrounding biofuels. Various studies have shown that crop-based biofuels contribute to global warming more than they help prevent it, that ethanol is no better than gasoline, and that South East Asian rainforests are suffering for biofuels, to name just three. The most dramatic recent claim was that ethanol was the worst type of renewable energy.
- Algae Sizzle and Algae Steak : Bionavitas “Light Rod” idea called Light Immersion Technology that looks like a giant tapered optical fiber that places light at depth into algae cultures. Ingenious as ideas go, with a near stunning amount of coverage on Wednesday the idea might get some financial and research legs. What has been left out is the details about the light. The photos seem to leave out the top of the rod or fiber or just show a shaft, whose top area sets the amount of light; no matter how deep it is distributed. The idea solves a problem in algae culturing, getting light deep so that the culture isn’t just a thin layer at the sunlit surface.
- How Many Gallons of Fuel Does it Take to Travel 350 Miles? : GOOD Magazine, in collaboration with Robert A. Di Leso, Jr., explores fuel use by various modes of transportation. In what is essentially a fancied up bar chart, we see how many gallons of fuel it takes for a passenger to travel 350 miles by cruise ship, Amtrak, Boeing 737, Sedan, hybrid, etc. A couple of non-fuel modes of transportation are included as well using caloric conversions. It’ll take about 48 Whoppers with cheese to walk 350 miles. Good to know, especially since I was planning on walking 350 miles today. Totally kidding. I’m walking 360. Like a circle.
The was a minor kerfuffle last week as one blogger did the math and determined that the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry would fail CAFE fuel economy standards…
The vehicles owned by the Obama administration’s auto team were released in a list today by The Detroit News. While Detroit is focusing on the fact that the “Big Three” are underrepresented amongst the auto-owners on the federal task force, I just did some back-of-the-envelope math and made a shocking discovery…The federal task force fails CAFE standards.
I’d like to mention that both the CAFE and EPA ratings have very little to do with _actual_ fuel mileage (fleet or personal), and can be exceeded in nearly any car by anyone taking the initiative to practice simple “eco-driving” techniques.
Obama’s task force could track their actual fuel mileage using their existing cars on a website like FuelClinic [www.fuelclinic.com] and use the eco-driving techniques to show the nation the easily repeatable efficiency improvements _anyone_ can make – and it wouldn’t cost a dime.
Fuelishness! Feed: $81,400,836,908 For a Tank of Gas?, Obama Declares War on Oil, Shovel-Ready Crude Stimulus
- Your gas tank’s full; that’ll be $81,400,836,908 : When a commuter pulled into a gas station in Richland, Wash., to fill up the tank of his 1994 Camaro on Tuesday, he thought the $90 he had on his PayPal debit card would easily cover the $26 bill…The transaction, Juan Zamora told the newspaper, was recorded as $81,400,836,908.
- Obama’s budget upsets oil and gas industries : President Barack Obama’s first budget wallops the oil and gas industry by eliminating $31.5 billion in tax breaks while blaming the administration of former President George W. Bush for perpetuating the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels… “I am just absolutely flabbergasted,” said Houston oilman Bruce Vincent, vice chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. “It’s like putting a dagger in the heart of the oil and gas industry in America. If you actually did all these things, it would kill the industry.”
- Shovel-Ready Crude Stimulus : How about one that’ll create at least a million jobs, give our economy a multitrillion-dollar boost, make our nation energy-secure and won’t cost us a penny? • $8.2 trillion in additional GDP. • $2.2 trillion in total new state and federal tax revenues. • 1.2 million new jobs at high wages. • $70 billion in added wages to the economy each year.
Today’s economic doom-and-gloom pallet cleanser; a start-up biodiesel manufacturing company in El Paso Texas who just bought additional equipment to triple their biodiesel output, because they have more demand than they can currently meet.
Global Alternative Fuels, LLC of El Paso, Tex. has purchased an additional 10 million gallons of [biodiesel] capacity. Added to the existing 5 million gallon plant, Global Alternative Fuels is working to meet regional demand for sustainably produced biodiesel.
“El Paso is in a desert area, so we chose Greenline’s waterless biodiesel platform for our initial 5 million gallon plant,” said Carlos Guzman, Co-founder, President & COO of Global Alternative Fuels, LLC. “Once we discovered that 5 million gallons would not be enough to meet demand in our area, we asked Greenline to add another 10 million gallons of capacity…”
Global Alternative Fuels started producing biodiesel on January 3rd of this year and already has a need to increase capacity. “We have a buyer for every drop of fuel we make,” said Guzman. So, Greenline has begun work on increasing plant capacity to 15 million gallons and adding a feedstock blending unit. “The Greenline feedstock blending unit allows us to utilize multiple sustainable feedstocks including locally sourced animal tallow and Iowa soybean oil,” said Guzman.
Wow. That’s refreshing. :)
Fuelishness! Feed: Plug-In Tax Credits; Reducing Travel Intensity; Chu Doesn’t Know What to Do; The Electric Car Re-Thought
- Stimulus Bill Provides Major Increase in Plug-in Vehicle Purchase Credit Program : Under current law, a credit is available for each new qualified fuel cell vehicle, hybrid vehicle, advanced lean burn technology vehicle, and alternative fuel vehicle placed in service by a taxpayer during the taxable year. In general, the credit amount varies based on technology, weight, fuel efficiency, and other factors. The credit generally is available for vehicles purchased after 2005. The credit terminates after 2009, 2010, or 2014, depending on the type of vehicle. The alternative motor vehicle credit is not allowed against the alternative minimum tax.
- Two Studies on Regional Options for Reducing GHG Highlight Need for Reduction in Travel Intensity : Achieving targeted regional reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector will require concentrated efforts to change travel behavior and reduce vehicle miles travelled in addition to advances in vehicle technology and fuels, according to two recent studies.
- As OPEC Prepares to Meet, Chu Focuses on U.S. Energy : Energy Secretary Steven Chu — whose agency has long taken the lead on global oil-market policy — said Thursday he doesn’t know what the Obama administration would urge the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to do at its meeting next month.
- Better Place – Electric Recharge Grid Operator : Instead of gas stations on every corner, the ERGO would blanket a country with a network of “smart” charge spots. Drivers could plug in anywhere, anytime, and would subscribe to a specific plan—unlimited miles, a maximum number of miles each month, or pay as you go—all for less than the equivalent cost for gas. They’d buy their car from the operator, who would offer steep discounts, perhaps even give the cars away. The profit would come from selling electricity—the minutes. [ Video : 33min ]
A few weeks ago, Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska issued a statement after members of Congress introduced a bill to permanently prohibit drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Governor Palin writes she is “dismayed that legislation has again been introduced in Congress to prohibit forever oil and gas development in the most promising unexplored petroleum province in North America – the coastal plain of ANWR, in Alaska”…
…”Americans know that gasoline and other refined crude oil products will keep fueling our transportation system for the foreseeable future. Further, the soaring prices of food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and other products illustrate the importance of petroleum to the health and well-being of America.”
She made the following points, among others…
* Oil from ANWR represents a huge, secure domestic supply that could help satisfy U.S. demand for more than 25 years.
* ANWR sits within a 20 million acre refuge (the size of South Carolina) but thanks to advanced technology like directional drilling, the aggregated drilling footprint would be less than 2,000 acres (about one-quarter the size of Dulles Airport). This is like laying a two-by-three-foot welcome mat on a basketball court.
* Incremental ANWR production would help reduce energy price volatility. Previous price disruptions demonstrate how even relatively low levels of oil production influence world prices.
* Federal revenues from ANWR – cash bids, leases, and oil taxes – would help reduce the multi-trillion dollar national debt, and we’d circulate U.S. petrodollars in our own country instead of continuing to send hundreds of billions of our dollars overseas, creating jobs and stronger economies in other countries.
What do you think:
- Is this political payback time?
- Is banning (forever) drilling in ANWR smart for the country or economy?
- How does banning drilling in ANWR help America?
The EU has a plan know as 20/20/20 – binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions reductions (-20%) and increasing share of renewable energies (+20%) to be accomplished by 2020.
There is a new publication available from IEA Energy Efficiency Indicators Workshop describing, in general terms, the EU’s 20/20/20 energy efficiency targets, the importance of improving energy efficiency in reaching those goals, and the difficulties they face collecting reliable energy efficiency metrics.
Energy efficiency is a top policy priority in EU. They have binding targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (-20%), increasing share of renewable energies (+20%) and a politically endorsed target to save 20% primary energy in 2020 compared to projections.
Document available at Energy Savings Indicators for Policy Development in EU, more information about the European Commission involved is available at Directorate-General Energy and Transport.
I’ve recently found a good source of links to main stream energy-related commentary and opionions at the OpinionSource.com website. This edition of Fuelishness! Feed will include some of the best discussion material from the past few weeks.
- NYT Op-Ed: But who will drive them? …with gas below $2 a gallon and recession-ravaged consumers hanging tight to their wallets, even the cheaper hybrids have to compete with cars that run on boring old internal combustion engines. The Prius was the flavor of the month when gas prices soared to $4. But in December, Prius sales plummeted 45 percent compared with the same month a year earlier — more than the 36 percent drop in all car sales…
- Honda Unveils a Cheaper Hybrid Challenger to Toyota’s Top-Selling Prius – It is smaller and less fuel efficient than the Prius, but it is expected to sell for as little as $18,000, about $4,000 less than the Prius. “It’s the first direct competitor to the Prius,” said Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis at the Power Information Network of J. D. Power & Associates. “And it’s from Honda, so I think it’s going to be a major success.”
- WaTimes Commentary: Oil and the economic crisis – Saudi Arabia said recently that oil prices should be at $75 per barrel, an idea other OPEC members have welcomed with enthusiasm. So when the group met recently, it decided to reduce output again, this time by more than 2 million barrels daily. However, the Saudis clearly did not want to assume all the reduction and insisted other producers, including Iran and Venezuela, not only approve the new cuts, but also implement them, which will lead to additional pressure on Venezuela’s already dwindling export volumes.
- ABG: First stage of Nevada algae biodiesel completed successfully – Researchers at the University of Nevada-Reno have been testing a pair of outdoor algae ponds to evaluate the viability of growing fuel algae in the region. The first phase was a success with algae growing in a pair of 5,000 gallon ponds even with overnight temperatures in the 20s.
- NYT Op-Ed: Geothermal future – [Can we replace coal with geothermal plants? -ed.] In 2006, a panel led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology surveyed the prospects for electricity production from enhanced geothermal systems. Its conclusions were conservative but very optimistic. The panel suggested that with modest federal support, geothermal power could play a critical role in America’s energy future, adding substantially to the nation’s store of renewable energy and more than making up for coal-burning power plants that would have to be retired.
As always, your comments are encouraged and appreciated.
If we had a reasonable demand for alcohol-blended fuel, investment for producing ethanol and methanol both here in the US and abroad would skyrocket – a significant and world-changing “boom”.
What’s needed is a marketable demand for the fuel. Unfortunately most cars on the road can not use alcohol-blends greater than 20% or so, some of the older cars and equipment like lawn mowers, construction equipment, and boats can’t even use that much of a blend.
There is a technology called “Flex Fuel” that has been around for over 10 years, and is already built-in to some cars sold in the US (about 3% on the road). “Flex Fuel” involves improvements to some of the fuel system components to resist alcohol-corrosion, adding a sensor that can determine how much alcohol is in the fuel going to the fuel injectors, and programming the computer that runs the engine in the car. It costs between $100 to $200 to add these components during production of a new car. All “Flex Fuel” cars can run on regular gas, or any combination of alcohol-and-gas.
So 3% of vehicles can run on alcohol-blends currently. It costs a gas station operator about $60,000 to install the “blending” pump required to distribute the fuel, and possibly much more if they need to upgrade their storage tanks.
Few gas station so far have thought this was a good investment for them to make. 3% of their customers can use it – if they even know their car is capable (not many people know for sure). Not a very impressive market to service.
American automakers have previously promised to build Flex-Fuel technologies into 80% of their new cars starting in the next few years. If they stick to their promises, then a viable alcohol-blended market will start to build. If we could convince foreign makers to build Flex-Fuel vehicles, then a world-market for alcohol-blended fuels will emerge, creating a robust world market for the fuel.
My favorite side-effect of a robust Ethanol and Methanol market is that it would turn places like Africa, Asia, and South America into competitive energy-producing power-houses; using crops like sweet sorghum, sugar cane, and jatropha. We could easily diversify our sources of energy (we don’t have to grow it all ourselves) and at the same time enable some of humanities most needy countries to build viable and renewable energy industries that would ultimately enable local economies to pull themselves out of poverty, build infrastructure, power their own future on alcohol-blends, etc…
Another benefit of a robust market is a huge drop in demand for oil, as alcohol is used to replace up to 85% of the oil currently consumed by transportation. We don’t decimate the oil industry – we will still require oil for some transportation as well as the other products oil is a fantastic raw material for – but we can stop wasting our limited oil supply, sending it out our tailpipes.
Check out this recent Pew Research Center poll data:
Economy, Jobs Trump All Other Policy Priorities In 2009
“Going green” must be economical in order to be widely embraced. We need to be able to be greener and save money at the same time. “Green” must also mean jobs, economic recovery, and strength – not “going without”.
The poll indicates “global warming” is losing ground in the public’s attention span. Judging by the Pew poll, and my own little poll at FuelClinic, it’s simply not a strong motivator right now – it’s in dead last place.
I suggest that any persuasive new argument/marketing approach regarding developing “green” initiatives should not be based solely around global warming (or it’s new name “climate change”).
Instead a strong argument would focus on immediate and mid-term cost-savings, creation of jobs, benefit to national economy, and improvements to energy security. The long-term payoff being plentiful clean energy for the future and improving the environment.
But, it all boils down to money. In the end, the tipping point is the same as always – the wallet. It must be cheaper.