BMW ConnectedDrive is Here

bmw-connected-drive

In recent months, the phenomenon of automated driving has come more and more into focus, thanks to major car manufacturers like BMW who have invested in the somewhat controversial driving method.

Still, the BMW Group has pressed on in their initiatives with automated driving, and are prepared to present BMW ConnectedDrive at the upcoming 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The vehicle being featured, the BMW i3, is an all-electric model.

In a release, the Germany-based auto maker explained ConnectedDrive focuses on the link between the driver and vehicle and outside world through the use of an expanding range of assistance systems, in addition to infotainment and entertainment features. The ConnectedDrive Driver Assistance systems also include navigation and traffic assistance, plus concierge services.

Another innovative feature BMW purports to offer is through their i Remote app, where drivers can share information with the vehicle at any time via their smartphone, including the amount of charge left on their electric BMW vehicle. This Apps for Automotive technology by BMW allows drivers to use smartphones applications to connect with the car and gives them a chance to send text messages either by voice or text. The apps allow a driver to lock/unlock the vehicle, use the car horn remotely, precondition the temperature or, according to BMW, “keep you entertained at all times” while the car is in theory able to control itself. The vehicle also offers active cruise control with Stop & Go ability and ensures the highest level of visibility day and night.

At the convention BMW Group will also reveal details of its current research and development project for highly automated driving. The upside of the automated systems is they are supposed to increase safety, comfort and efficiency for the driver and traffic systems. However, until there are more cities set up with systems that can communicate with the technology inside the vehicle automated driving won’t be widely used among everyday drivers.

During BMW’s tenure in Vegas in early January, test drives of the i3 will be offered to purveyors. Those who are fortunate enough to get inside will be among the first consumers to do so. It could be a good indication of whether the vehicles will make a successful transition into consumer marketplace.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

In Focus: Green Transformers

green-transformer-2

When you see a power substation, probably the last thing you think about is green technology. After all, aren’t all those transformers laced with PCBs and other hazardous chemicals? Well, some of them still are, but there is an increasing trend toward green transformers. These are starting to radically transform the environmental footprint of substations, as well as many other applications where transformers are used.

Transformers operate at high voltages, and therefore the high voltage transformer parts need to be well insulated. The traditional way of doing this is to fill the transformer with a non-conducting oil that prevents electrical arcs from the transformer to the ground, as well as coronal discharges – where the area around the transformer becomes electrically charged and glows blue. The same insulation approach is also used with certain other types of electrical equipment, including some high-voltage capacitors, switches and circuit breakers.

One of the best types of fluid for doing this is a class of compounds known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – largely because these fluids are not flammable. However, the problem with PCBs is that they don’t break down when they are released into the environment – instead they build up in plant and animal tissues. Here, they can mimic hormones, causing toxic and mutagenic effects – including cancer and serious deformities. PCBs also release other highly toxic compounds when they are burned – including dioxins.

However, the effects of PCBs only started to be noticed in the early 1970s, and so they were widely used until then. Once the effects were known, PCBs were banned and substitutes started to be used – such as mineral oils. While these weren’t as dangerous as PCBs, they still did have a negative effect on the environment. However, the big problem was that PCBs dissolve in mineral oil – so when the PCBs were replaced, the mineral oil often became contaminated.

Now, mineral oil is starting to be replaced in new green transformers by other more eco-friendly compounds. For example, back in July, Siemens announced that it had produced the first large-scale transformer in the world that uses vegetable oil. All of the oil in the transformer comes from sustainable sources, is biodegradable and is actually less flammable than mineral oil. The vegetable oil also acts as an efficient coolant for the transformer, matching the performance of mineral oil for this purpose. The Siemens transformer is due to be installed at a substation near Karlsruhe, Germany, where it will connect the substation to the grid.

Another technology which is gaining traction is gas-insulated transformers. In these, the mineral oil is replaced with an inert gas – usually sulfur hexafluoride. This has good insulating properties, and also allows the size of the transformer to be reduced. This type of transformer is already in use at a number of power generation plants around the world, particularly in the Far East. However, the technology hasn’t made it into North America until very recently – the Bagnell Dam plant, located in Ameren, Missouri, is the first and only electricity generation plant in North America to deploy these transformers. The last of three gas-insulated units was installed there in September, and the plant expects to phase out its old transformers by 2014.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

UK to Increase Solar Use by 800%

uk-solar-flagAccording to an article published on Bloomberg.com, Energy Minister Greg Barker has pledged to increase the nation’s use of solar power by 800 percent. Barker released a 38-page, solar-power plan on October 8th, which reveals that he is engaged in discussions with energy companies about how the government can accomplish this goal.

Recent research estimates that the United Kingdom will produce 10 gigawatts of solar power within the next 10 years. Some put the number as high as 20 gigawatts. This is a substantial increase from a June study that estimated the country’s output at 2.4 gigawatts.

In the spring, Barker intends to issue a policy on how to achieve this goal, after he gathers and reviews all of the available data.

Energy costs are rising in the United Kingdom

Barker’s report was issued one day before SSE, a company that delivers energy to more than 3.5 million homes across the nation, published a press release that reveals its plans to increase rates by 8.2 percent on November 15th.

SSE references two main justifications to support its decision:

  • Costs to purchase energy from international sources have increased by 4 percent.
  • The government has instituted taxes on energy bills that increase energy costs by up to 13 percent.

The last time SSE raised its rates was in the October of 2012, and consumer-advocacy groups contend that other energy companies will follow suit. SSE states that the additional cost will average 2 pounds per week for customers that use electricity and gas. This rate increase adds fuel to energy-crisis fears, which have been hotly debated throughout the week in Parliament.

Among the many topics being discussed are wind-power farms. The government is locked in combat with grassroots organizations that claim that these farms disfigure the natural beauty of the countryside.

“New solar installations must be sensitive to public opinion and mindful of wider environmental and visual impacts,” says Barker. “The impacts of deployment on grid systems balancing, grid connectivity and financial incentives will also have to be considered, ensuring the challenges of deploying high volumes of solar PV are addressed.”

Barker claims that the best approach to quelling the energy crisis is for policymakers to pass legislation that financially advocates solar power. In order to have a real chance of becoming a mainstream source of energy, solar power must contend with traditional forms of energy.

The Energy Minister’s figures show that the use of solar power has increased from 94 megawatts three years ago. Many government officials believe that solar energy will allow Britain to reach its European Union goal of extracting 15 percent of its total energy consumption from renewable sources.

Some research suggests that renewable energy can diminish carbon emissions by 34 percent before 2020. However, it must make financial sense to accomplish this goal.

Renewable heat energy is an economical way to help the environment


Innasol.com, a leading provider of renewable heat energy products, offers businesses and individuals the chance to use clean energy for their heating needs. We turn government energy grants into savings for consumers.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

The World’s First F1-Inspired Electric Superbike

electric-superbike1

It’s been called peculiar, outrageous, and even bison-esque. Everyone may have a different opinion on the aesthetics of the ‘Storm Trooper bike,’ but there’s no denying the emergent Saietta electric motorcycle’s look is anything but conventional.

Named after the Italian slang for ‘thunderbolt,’ this flashy e-bike is perfect for those who like to turn heads about town without making the environment pay.

Crashing the e-Bike Space

Dreamed up by former Formula One designer and aerospace engineer Lawrence Marazzi, the Saietta was introduced to Europe in 2011 by Agility Global Ltd., which has tinkered with race-winning EVs for years.

Now the Saietta eagerly anticipates its 2014 debut on the American side of the pond. While e-motorbikes are still niche in the U.S. and EU, entrepreneurs like Marazzi see an auspicious future for innovative electric transportation that will make combustion-based travel seem like dinosaur fare.

The analytics seem to confirm this vision. A recent report by Navigant Research forecasts North American e-motorcycle and e-scooter sales will grow from 4,000 in 2012 to more than 36,000 in 2018—a nearly ten-fold expansion. Navigant’s Dave Hurst notes the market will grow as fundamentals like battery range and performance improve over time.

Superbike Specs

To that end, the Saietta is designed to impress. The zero-emission ride packs a powerful Axial Flux Permanent Magnet electric motor with an 11-kWh Li-ion battery, good for nearly 100 hp, top speeds of 85 mph and 94 lb-ft of face-whipping torque.

With a 0-60 time under 4 seconds, the Saietta’s acceleration capabilities are impressive even compared to the fastest bikes in the world. Ducati’s petrol-juicing 899 Panigale, by comparison, can claim just 74 lb-ft of torque.

Built like an F1 racer, the Saietta’s low center of gravity, curtailed wheelbase and aerospace-derived chassis let it conquer city streets with instantly responsive handling and stylish aplomb. This space-age crotch rocket isn’t shy about its abilities, either.

Billed as a ‘guerilla commuter,’ the 485-lb e-bike is ideal for slick urban movement, boasting a city range of 112 miles-per-charge. A lower-range ‘S’ model is available for about $6,500 off the higher-performing R’s base tag of $22,650.

The Saietta takes 8 hours to reach a full charge, but you can reach 80 percent in just one hour. There is an optional fast charging system that slashes the full-charge wait time to 3.5 hours.

The Saietta is not the only superbike on the block, however. Competitors like the all-new Voxan Wattman and the record-breaking Lightning Motorcycle Electric Superbike are bent on taking the throne reserved for the world’s most powerful electric motorcycle. 2014 is set to be a dramatic year for the stars of the exploding e-motorbike scene.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Leonardo DiCaprio Assembles Formula E Team

dicaprio-formula-e

He’s already a major star in Hollywood, but longtime environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio is interested in more than just Oscars – he’s in the hunt for a racing championship.

The actor announced he’s entering into a joint venture with Venturi Automobiles to put together a tenth team to compete in the new FIA Formula E Championship. The competition, which begins in September 2014, is the first-ever entirely electric car race series.

DiCaprio’s team, co-founded by him and Gildo Pallanca Pastor, founder and pioneering EV manufacturer of Venturi Automobiles, also includes Bert Hedaya and Francesco Costa. The crew will be based primarily in Monaco.

The next step now is for Venturi Grand Prix to be put forward to the FIA to get approval as the tenth squad in contention for a title in the zero emissions series. Other groups from around the world who are putting their alternative fuel cars on the track are IndyCar outfits Andretti Autosport and Dragon Racing, European crews Drayson Racinge.damsAudi Sports ABT and Virgin Racing, as well as Asia’s China Racing,Super Aguri and Mahindra Racing.

“The future of our planet depends on our ability to embrace fuel-efficient, clean-energy vehicles,” DiCaprio said in a statement. “Venturi Grand Prix has shown tremendous foresight in their decision to create an environmentally friendly racing team, and I am happy to be a part of this effort.”

While Venturi is currently focused on perfecting the racing vehicle, Venturi’s team also describes itself as a leader in high performance electric cars that will eventually include urban and utilitarian options. The company currently holds the world land speed record for an electric vehicle at 495 kilometers/hour.

Also on the horizon? Venturi’s own Formula E car, using a powertrain based on the one used in its 3,000 horsepower electric streamliner (the Venturi VBB-3) which was unveiled last year in Monaco by Prince Albert II.

“Venturi has been a pioneer in electric high performance vehicles for more than a decade and Formula E gives us the fantastic opportunity to further improve our advanced technologies through motorsport,” Gildo has said. “It also gives us the chance to be part of a new racing program with a project that really shares Venturi’s values for clean mobility, innovation in the field of electric propulsion and energy efficiency optimization.”

So while it’s nice to have a name like Leonardo DiCaprio on your roster, Venturi’s commitment to low emission technologies and greener vehicle alternatives has a long and successful history, with their latest venture poised to be another step toward making the hybrid ideology, dare we say, cool.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

In Focus: 3D Printed Cars

3d-printed-car

While most 3D parts created are plastic, some 3D printers are already printing metal parts. From air vents to cylinder heads, the type and amount of auto parts produced will increase dramatically using the 3D printing process.

If 3D car printing sounds like sci-fi to you, it’s the here and now. Engineers have found ways to build not just cars, but auto parts and restoration models using CAD drawings, 3D printers and molten polymer.  Will these 3D cars and parts change the auto industry as we know it?

What Is 3D Car Printing?

In a nutshell, 3-D car and auto parts printing is where designers and engineers create a CAD drawing of the part or vehicle and using software, upload the design to a 3D printer. Once the printer is given its instructions to recreate the CAD drawing, the “human” job is done.

Wired Magazine offers that Jim Kor of Kor Ecologic used this process to design the energy-efficient Urbee 2. Kor achieved his dream of creating a polymer plastic, energy-efficient vehicle (it runs on part electricity, part ethanol), however, manufacturing time is approximately 2500 hours — almost 15 weeks.  3D auto parts printing is done via the same process.

How it Could Revolutionize the Auto Parts Industry

3D car printing also offers the ability to also create auto parts. According to Popular Mechanics, the 3D printers that engineers are using to make vehicles have the ability to create parts exact in measurement and as designed.

One would also have to consider the aftermarket parts industry where custom or customer desired parts would be created, such as bumpers with unique paint designs that don’t require the painting process.

The Green Effect of 3D Printing

With the popular trend to reduce companies’ carbon footprints, 3D car printing could revolutionize the auto industry’s energy-sucking reputation. By using fewer raw materials, 3D printing is a greener choice. A recent study performed at Michigan Tech unveiled that polymer structures maintained their strength and used less energy to produce. While vehicles are much more complex, this study suggests a roadmap for saving energy. Here are a few other green benefits of 3D printing:

  1. No needless manufacturing: If it were possible to print a vehicle on demand, it would do away with needless manufacturing and save a lot of embedded energy.
  2. Fewer raw materials wasted: 3D printing uses additive processes, where successive layers of materials are laid down in different shapes. Traditional machining processes often use subtractiveprocesses, where cutting or drilling is used to remove unneeded parts of the object (to create holes and gaps, for example). These redundant bits of material are wastes.
  3. Longer lives for products: If your car gives up, what do you do? Sure, you could try to seek out a replacement part, but that might cost you a pretty penny. If you had a 3D printer, you could potentially print your own level replacement, thus extending the life of an otherwise perfectly-usable vehicle.
  4. Easier recycling: As it stands, all objects created by 3D printing are made from a single raw material, making the recycling process a lot more straightforward.

The Effect of 3D Auto Printing on the Insurance Industry

There are also benefits to the auto insurance industry with 3D car printing. Everyone from those who own an Aston Martin to a Volkswagen Beetle would have the ability to seek car quotes from places likeautoinsurance.us and provide them a 3D car-scanned appraisal to place a more accurate value on the vehicle.

Popular Mechanics says David Kettner of Fused Innovation recommend the 3D printing car appraisal process, “We can laser scan the entire vehicle as an insurance policy in case of damage.” Even more, if the vehicle is in an accident and needs repairs, those 3D scans will show exactly how the car was put together — even down to the tiniest bolt.

Car Restorations Will Be Easily Managed

If you always wanted a 1971 Pontiac GTO with that powerful V8 engine, unique front grille and all those added chrome extras, with 3D car printing, you may not have to “buy” one and restore it.

Imagine the exact vehicle designed exactly to original specifications, turned into a CAD drawing and once the 3D printing starts, the resto-mod vehicle of your dreams is possible. In addition, as time goes by, it has classically been more difficult to find parts to restore old classic or antique cars, but not with the advent of the 3D car printing. With this technology, old parts can be fabricated on demand, meaning that classic cars will be more easily restored.

With a little tweaking to the process, in fact, they could even possibly be made to meet the tougher emissions standards of today (this has always been a challenge for older cars, which have to obtain particular license tags in many states to circumvent emissions laws). The subsequent effect on the environment could be significant.

Proponents of the 3D auto creations see it as another step in technology. Still, there are those who tout the result is imitated and then there’s the matter of a downsized workforce. In any event, 3D auto printing is here, so stay tuned!

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Audi’s 190 Mph Hybrid

audi-hybrid-109-mph

Buying a hybrid car is one of the best ways of reducing your environmental footprint, and can also dramatically reduce your ongoing costs of driving. However, hybrids do have a reputation of being staid family cars, without the get-up-and-go that you see in a traditional high-performance vehicle. Sure, sports cars such as the all-electric Tesla Roadster can do 0 to 60 in less than 4 seconds, and have a top speed of 125 miles an hour, but with only about 2400 cars sold globally over the four years that the model was in production, this is not mainstream automotive technology. What we haven’t seen is one of the major carmakers step up with a hybrid with true high-end performance – until now.

Back at the Frankfurt motor show in September, Audi came out with a new concept car that redefined what a hybrid car can be. The Audi Sport Quattro is a plug-in hybrid that is intended to be a preview of a production model that Audi intends to launch as its flagship luxury performance car in the coming years. This means, for example, that if you live in New London, Connecticut, you may see the Audi Sport Quattro showing up at your Connecticut Audi dealer in the not too distant future. Not only that, but the car is built on the Volkswagen MLB platform, which is also going to be used in high-end Volkswagen, Bentley and Porsche models – so we may be seeing similar performance in these brands as well.

To put the scope of Audi’s achievements in context, here are some numbers. The car’s engine, which combines a twin-turbo 4.0 L V8 engine with a 150 bhp electric engine, develops an eye-watering 690 bhp in total – making it the most powerful car that Audi has ever produced. For comparison, a Porsche 911 GT3 develops 475 bhp. The torque is equally impressive, coming in at 516 lb ft. What does this translate into? The Audi Sport Quattro will go from a standing start to 60 mph in about 3.7 seconds, and will keep on accelerating from there up to a top speed of no less than 190 mph. For a hybrid concept that is intended to make it into production, that’s truly astounding.

However, hybrid cars are supposed to reduce the environmental impact of driving, so isn’t this level of performance completely at odds with going green? Unbelievably, no it isn’t. The Audi Sport Quattro does 113 mpg – yes, you heard that correctly – and emits just 59 g/km of carbon dioxide. And, if the car runs out of gas, the electric motor has a range of up to 31 miles operating standalone. In other words, its green credentials are better than any other hybrid on the market today.

Of course, when it does make it to market, the Audi Sport Quattro is likely to be priced at well over $100,000 – so it’s not quite a family car yet. However, what it does show is just how far hybrid technology can be taken. Like most major automotive advances, this technology is going to start at the top and then work its way down in to cars that we can all afford.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

How to Green Old Electronic Gadgets

motorola-8500

With the ever-rising level of technology it’s easy to build up quite the stock of unused and unwanted electronics. The problem is that in most of these electronics, especially things like phones, computers, and cameras, there are really only one or two components that are considered “outdated”. It’s already bad enough that you may find yourself constantly upgrading to newer devices and other electronics to stay up to date, but what does that mean for our environment? And how can we dispose of unused electronics in greener ways?

Impact on the environment

The amount of fossil fuels and other resources it takes to manufacture computer chips is extremely high. Take a look at your computer or your smartphone. It may be nice and shiny, but it’s also made from several components of metals and plastics, to glass and other non-renewable sources. And while a lot of these gadgets boast that they were designed in America, that doesn’t mean that they were actually manufactured here. Most of our consumer electronics are assembled from components all around the world, assembled in other countries and shipped to us in cardboards and plastics for protection during transit. It’s a hard realization to accept that with the exponential growth of technology, by the time you get that new computer or phone into your hands, it is practically obsolete. That doesn’t mean that it’s not great, or that it can’t give you everything you want from it. Just that by the time something is built and shipped out to you, people are already working on how to improve upon these electronics and manufacture newer, better ones. You may find yourself with a room and several boxes of old monitors, keyboards, mp3’ players, phones, and so on. When you finally get around to cleaning all of these sad, lonely components out, what do you do with them? If you’re like most of us, you throw them out, where they end up in a giant compost pile.

Going Green

But there are green solutions. For one, you don’t have to throw away your old electronics. There are recycling options for your old gadgets. Let’s look at some quick facts that the EPA has put out about recycling old electronics:

  • Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year.
  • For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

And before you even decide that your gadgets are too old to keep using, try upgrading the parts. Many smartphones and computers are fairly easy to upgrade when it comes to memory or processing speed, and you can always donate or recycle the parts you don’t need anymore. Trade-in and recycling options are becoming more and more prevalent too. Many phone companies offer trade-in programs for your old phones when you upgrade, and stores like offer a recycling program. If you’re looking to make a little bit of money to ease the dent in your wallet that your new electronic will make, you can also sell on online marketplaces as there are always people looking for cheaper alternatives to the big name retail stores. So next time you look at that overflowing box of your old electronics, consider going green with them whether you recycle, donate, or put back on the market.


Abigail Winters, from Lakeside, began writing about conservation and became an advocate for green living after being exposed to reality of the sheer amount of waste that new technology brings.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Elon Musk Fires Back

tesla-drive

In a world where rapid technological advancement is the norm, the search for the perfect car has never been more exciting. For many, that search ended when Tesla Motors unveiled their Model S electric car. This innovative mix of luxury and eco-friendliness has gained the attention of famous celebrities and engineers alike. Not only is this car stylish, expensive, and completely electric, but Tesla also claims that the Model S is “the safest car in America.”

That claim has been put to the test as increasing reports of car fires involving the Model S have risen to the surface. Last month, Model S fires were reported in Washington State and Mexico, with an additional car fire taking place in Tennessee earlier this month. According to police reports, the fires in Washington State and Tennessee were caused by highway debris striking against the car’s lithium-ion battery pack from underneath, while the fire in Mexico was the result of a crash. For the record, all passengers escaped unharmed from the three accidents.

Consequently, U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced they will be investigating the car company in an effort to get to the bottom of these accidents, and to determine if any agency action would be required. Some experts suspect the NHTSA will look for possible design flaws in the Model S’s battery pack that could make it more susceptible to fires.

The car fires and pending investigation could not have come at a worse time for the young car company, who is struggling to maintain an impressive sales volume and regulate a fluctuating stock price. If the investigation goes poorly for Tesla, stock prices could drop, and costly product recalls would likely be implemented.

He further purported Tesla’s original safety claim by stating:

While it is true that the Model S received the highest possible rating in the NHTSA’s crash test, Tesla has taken further precautions to make their vehicle safer by amending the warranty on the Model S to include fire damage. Tesla has also raised the suspension of every Model S on the road to avoid further undercarriage strikes. This was done through wireless transmission to the cars’ onboard computers.

The point of a federal investigation is moot in Musk’s eyes, as he announced on his blog yesterday, saying it is unlikely that the NHTSA would find anything of concern. He also said there was a larger issue at stake:

“If a false perception about the safety of electric cars is allowed to linger, it will delay the advent of sustainable transport and increase the risk of global climate change, with potentially disastrous consequences worldwide. That cannot be allowed to happen.”

So the question remains, are these fires merely isolated incidents, or do they signify a possible trend in electric car safety flaws? Karl Brauer, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, told reporters at Bloomberg.com, “While only three Tesla fires have occurred, that’s three more than I’m aware of for [other electric cars].”

The Tesla Model S might be the closest thing we have to the ideal electric/luxury car, but it still has flaws. And while the future of alternative transportation can at times be uncertain, electric car technology can only get better—even if it requires a federal investigation.


Connor Adkins Connor Adkins is a mechanic and loves working on classic cars. Connor helps people stay healthy and fit, and enjoys spending time with his wife and three children. He also writes for Diamond Honda of Glendale, CA.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

10 Reasons to Use Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy, #10

Awareness of the environmental drawbacks of fossil fuels—coal, oil and natural gas—is on the rise. So is interest in eco-friendly alternatives for meeting society’s energy needs. Although fossil fuels generally remain abundant and cheap, rival energies have gained traction in recent years amid an unprecedented wave of green energy investments.

Among the most promising of the rising green stars is geothermal energy. The advantages linked to this abundant subterranean resource are many. Check out our list of the top ten reasons we should consider a future in which geothermal energy figures prominently.

 

1. 100% Renewable

Geothermal power is based on heat energy stored underneath the ground. This intense heat is trapped in enormous quantities inside water reservoirs in the earth’s crust. In fact, it is considered essentially limitless.

The superheated aquifers tapped for geothermal production are continually replenished by geologic forces originating in the core of the planet. These inexhaustible natural processes make geothermal energy an eminently renewable resource.

 

2. Clean-Burning and Low-Emission

Geothermal energy is considered clean because it can be extracted and converted without burning any fossil fuels. The ‘emissions’ from a geothermal plant are mainly benign water vapors.

For evidence, we can look to Iceland whose capital Reykjavik—where 95 percent of buildings are geothermally heated—is considered one of the world’s cleanest cities.

 

3. High Energy Potential

Oil and other ‘fossil’ fuels are just that—finite fossils that took a long time to form millions of years ago. As a result, there is only so much valuable oil we can extract from identified reserves. At some point, it could simply become cost-ineffective to drill for what’s left of the world’s petroleum—not to mention prohibitively destructive of the global climate.

Geothermal resources have astonishing energy potential by comparison, estimated at 2 terawatts globally—about 15,000 times more than estimated worldwide oil reserves.

 

4. Scalable Production

Some level of geothermal energy is available in most places. There is potential for geothermal development throughout the United States, and the process is highly scalable.

Geothermal lends itself to large and commercial-scale plant operations as well as local and residential applications in the form of ground pump heating and cooling systems. Smaller operations are cheaper and can be dug at shallower levels, while large geothermal power plants can efficiently convert huge amounts of heat into electricity to feed the grid.

 

5. Base Load Stability

Unlike renewables such as solar and wind power, geothermal energy maintains an ideal stability night and day, regardless of lighting and wind conditions. That makes it eligible to supply base load electricity to the grid.

The base load forms the primary bulk of demand for a grid’s electricity. A reliable and constant supply of power is required to meet this demand. Geothermal’s inherent stability also carries over to the price of electricity, which would see less cost fluctuation.

 

6. Light on Carbon

A geothermal system is an excellent way to substantially reduce a building’s carbon footprint. Zoe Reich, an environmental specialist with engineering firm Edwards & Zuck, says a correctly installed geothermal pump system can shave a building’s utility costs by up to 60 percent.

While geothermal energy is not entirely carbon-free, it releases a fraction as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as fossil fuels. Additionally, power is generated on-site at geothermal plants, saving the costly energy associated with transporting and processing pricey fuels.

 

7. Low-Maintenance Versatility

Geothermal energy can replace both heating and cooling systems in buildings—and do both jobs more efficiently than conventional air-cooled systems. Why? Subsurface temperatures remain constant year-round.

Moreover, the elegant operational simplicity of a typical system and the absence of carbon fouling due to combustion mean geothermal systems are easy to maintain.

 

8. Smart Land Use

Geothermal energy has the smallest land footprint of any major power source. It doesn’t require much additional real estate—a boon in dense urban zones.

Additionally, underground geothermal systems aren’t exposed to the elements. This is important during extreme weather as it protects crucial energy supplies from natural disasters that threaten aboveground units.

 

9. Green Economy

The uncapped energy potential of hydrothermal reservoirs means there will never be anything like ‘peak geothermal.’ This has serious implications for job creation and the strength of the green economy.

It takes a lot of workers to build and run geothermal power plants. Each phase of development represents valuable jobs for electricians, pipefitters, engineers, recruits from top geology programs, and more.

 

10. Promising Technologies

While geothermal production has its own exploration risks and cost foibles, its product research risk is less than in many other renewable energy industries.

And now, emerging technologies could let engineers use lower temperatures and drill deeper, potentially expanding access to geothermal power in more locations. The long-term outlook for this plentiful source of clean energy is quite bright.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Green Campuses: Fading in Popularity?

green-college-campus

Since its inception, the concept of using green energy to turn a profit has slowly infiltrated our world. To be fair, many environmental specialists would agree that the planet at large is still in jeopardy for the consistency with which its inhabitants burn fossil fuels and reject the notion that reusable energy is a credible alternative to harming the environment.  That said, many college campuses, nearly 300 in the U.S alone, have been classified as green campuses. Of these, many embrace reusable energy and the conversation of our natural resources as the central theme on which to base their operations. Let’s examine a few.

College of the Atlantic

This campus in Bar Harbor, Maine is a relatively small one, chiefly for the fact that it’s only major is Human Ecology, the study of how humans interact with species in their natural habitats. This college was responsible for starting one of the most important trends in U.S. history with respect to the conversation of our natural resources. Their decision to pledge carbon neutral has been mirrored by almost 300 college campuses in the interim.

Evergreen State College

This Washington State college  has lived up to its name, running on green power alone. If having a compost reactor were not enough for Evergreen State College to have earned itself the title of a green campus, consider the organic farm from which they purchase their product. This one-acre farm produces enough food to support the needs of the campus dining service for a full year and still walk away with surplus, the proceeds of which are funneled back into student initiatives and funding for local farm projects.

Middlebury College

Vermont is home to a host of natural attractions. From skiing and whitewater rafting to lodging affording patrons breathtaking views of the Green Mountain foliage, this New England state is famous for its ecological preservation efforts. Middlebury College, regarded by many as fertile ground for climate activism, has been a green campus for years. Recently, a group of Middlebury student activists convinced the board of trustees to approve a plan of action that would render the campus completely carbon-neutral by 2016. In the interim, students continue to promote and pursue the preservation of the climate by opting for public transportation over personal vehicles with respect to commuting short distances both on and off campus, and residence halls compete with each other to see who can save the most energy.

Oberlin College

This Ohio campus has been green since 2005, using a system that monitors water and energy consumption in the residence halls. This system affords students feedback and helpful suggestions with respect to keeping campus energy expenditures to a minimum. The implementation of this monitoring system continues to result in lower energy costs for the campus at large. Residents have also collaborated with organizations off-campus to create a program whereby commuting students share cars under the pretext of reducing fossil fuel emissions.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Deciding Between Gasoline, Hybrid, or Diesel

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When it comes to choosing the right vehicle, there are a number of options to pursue, but finding the right balance between what you want as a consumer and what is truly best for the environment can be a trickier endeavor.

Deciding between a gas powered, electric run or hybrid car is a situation many vehicle buyers will find themselves in over the next few years, especially as more and more manufacturers are focused on making environmentally viable cars.

Certain experts think they’ve come up with an answer for those who might still be wondering which engine is right for them: choose gasoline if you’re a low-mileage driver, a hybrid car if you’re driving mostly in the city and a diesel-powered vehicle if you do high-mileage (mostly highway) driving.

While some may cringe at the idea of promoting the purchase of gasoline-powered cars when there are increasingly more earth-conscious choices available, if a driver isn’t exceeding 7500 miles per year in a car, they won’t match the premium they would have to pay on a hybrid or diesel car. That could change though as hybrid and electric cars become more affordable over the next five years or so.

For consumers who want the best overall value in a car, hybrids are the clear winner if they cover a lot of ground in stop-and-go city traffic or constantly clogged expressways because the braking actually recharges the car battery, which powers the electric motor. Those who are especially conscious of braking early and smoothly will see even more of a benefit in hybrid cars while stuck in traffic.

Diesels are the ideal candidates for people who log hours on highways because they have the best cost-per-mile numbers, and they tend to have a higher trade-in value than gasoline-powered cars. Plus, consumers who are looking at premium or sports cars where premium quality fuels are required also get the best value with diesel-powered engines.

So when it’s time to consider which kind of engine is best, consumers have to weigh several factors and determine what’s most important between economic and environmental value. As well, how long they plan to keep the car (five years? Seven? Ten?) should be heavily considered, because with more hybrids in development, it could significantly impact their price by the end of the decade. Plus, while the average vehicle retains just 38% of its value after five years, those with hybrid counterparts (think Ford Fusion, Honda Civic, etc) often see a residual value that’s 1-2 percentage points lower.

With so much information to consider, buying a car has never been more complex, but with a plethora of options, the right vehicle for each consumer’s needs is certainly within reach.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Top 3 Common Residential Solar Mistakes

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Are you interested in residential solar power systems? They can be a great way to save money over time on energy bills. However, these systems are expensive, and unfortunately, many people make costly mistakes before and during the installation process. Knowing what to avoid can save you money and increase your overall satisfaction with your decision to go solar.

1. Forgetting about Overall Energy Efficiency

Prior to doing anything else, you should evaluate how energy efficient your home is as a whole. An energy audit is the best way to accomplish this, and if necessary, you can hire someone to assist you with one. An energy audit will point out ways that you can save money each month by using less power. For instance, you may need to add insulation to your home or make a few changes to your duct system so that it is more efficient. Once that is finished, you can move on to installing a residential solar power system. At that point, the system should take care of all of your energy needs on its own.

2. Trying to Install the System Yourself

While you may be quite handy, installing a solar power system is a complicated job. Most installers are trained fairly extensively, and they know where to put your system so that it will be able to generate the most power. They also know how to handle issues that might crop up along the way, like a leaky roof. Finally, a professional installer can guide you when it comes to the permits and paperwork that you will have to complete.

3. Thinking You Can’t Afford It

While it’s true that solar panels can be quite expensive, there are other options that can put you on the path to sustainability and still help you save a bit of money at the same time. Perfect for those just starting on a “green” path, plug and play solar kits don’t cost as much as solar panels and will cut back on your power usage. They are small and easy to use. You simply put them outside, on a flat service, and make sure they are near an outlet. You want the systems to be pointed at the sun as well, so that they draw in the sun’s rays. That’s all there is to it.

When it comes to the solar panels themselves, remember that there are financing and leasing options available to you. Some systems cost tens of thousands of dollars, which puts them out of reach for the average family. However, if you choose to finance, you won’t have to pay as much money up front. In addition, leasing can save you on equipment and installation fees. You would only be responsible for the power that your system generates on a monthly basis.

If you are ready to embark on the journey toward a greener life, solar power can certainly help you achieve your goal. However, it is important to steer clear of the most common mistakes homeowners make in order to get the most out of your investment.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Toyota and BMW Work on Hybrid Car

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If ever there was going to be a “cool” car amongst hybrids, the brainchild of Toyota and BMW would likely go to the top of the list.

While the Japanese automaker has held the upper hand in almost every category of “new wave” vehicles since the late 1990s, the tag “elite” isn’t applied as often to cars bearing its name (or the Lexus name) as much as they’d like. But teaming up with BMW and the cache their moniker carries could bring Toyota to that elusive upper echelon.

The talk now indicates the two companies are set to create a $300,000-plus hybrid sports car that will be the first of its kind. The car will reportedly build on some of what Lexus models have done well in terms of luxury offerings, but hopefully will take more of a hold with consumers than Lexus’ offerings have so far.

This isn’t going to be a one-time collaboration between the sides either. Toyota and BMW are said to have signed a two-year deal and will make other vehicles if this first venture goes well.

So what will this hybrid endeavor offer consumers? It will reportedly be a two-door, carbon-fiber hybrid, with 600+ horsepower. Considering the hefty price tag it will carry, the amount of power it produces will be critical to some. However, it will be interesting for many to see which kind of carbon fiber the manufacturers go with. While BMW uses carbon fiber reinforced plastic on their current hybrid models, Toyota has spearheaded a lot of research into genuine carbon fiber, which could end up being the route they take.

What kind of fuel economy this new hybrid is able to offer remains somewhat in question, but given that Toyota, a company that always gave off an air of wanting to better the environment with their hybrids over their bottom line, may be willing to make certain sacrifices in order to elevate the overall brand.

For BMW, the move seems motivated by a desire to break into the burgeoning hybrid market with a company that has lead the way in it since the start, while also maintaining their commitment to luxury. It’s actually a very smart match from a business perspective.

Still, how will consumers respond? Will people line up to shell out more than $300,000 for a two-door hybrid just because it could beat a Prius in a drag race? Time will tell as more information becomes readily available. But all signs point to this vehicle being a top priority for both sides so it could be here before we know it.

Let the judgement begin.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal