Archive for the hybrid Category

Anarchism, capitalism, democracy and common sense

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, American politics, analysis, anarchism, banks, capitalism, China, class, consciousness, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, democracy, democratic deficit, ecological crisis, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, fascism, fascist, Feudalism, freedom, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, health care, human rights, hybrid, inspiration, Jefferson, Lenin, libertarian socialism, libertarianism, media analysis, money, must-read, neo-feudalism, oil, Orwell, peace, people's movements, philosophy, police state, policy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, politics of oil, propaganda, psychology, resources, social theory, socialism, sociology, sovereignty, sustainability, the world's other superpower, tipping point, truth, U.S., war, war crimes, war on democracy on October 25, 2013 by jtoddring

I am not inclined toward market anarchy, or anarchist capitalism, as I see it as being both non-viable, since capitalism without restraints invariably breeds monopoly capitalism, which is no longer capitalism in the sense of a free market, but a form of feudalism, since the few end up dominating and ruling over the rest; and because capitalism is based upon a two-tiered society of the owners of production, in Marxist terms, the people who have an unequal share of economic power, and hence also, social, cultural and political power, and those who must work for them in order to survive; and thus, capitalism is based upon the need (of the many, not the few) to rent yourself out for money, which is degrading and dehumanizing, as well as antithetical to freedom.

Renting yourself out for money was called wage slavery by Abraham Lincoln and others who opposed it. A more stark and honest term for what it means to rent yourself out for money is simply prostitution.

Unless you want to be a slave – or a slave master, if you are both lucky and also supremely unethical – or you are simply lost in confused thinking and illusions, you cannot support capitalism in any form: at least, not without strong legislation such as labour laws, minimum wage standards, workplace safety requirements, environmental protocols, and above all, anti-trust legislation to prevent and break up monopolies.

If you want capitalism, if you want an economic system and a society based upon wage slavery – though I do not see why any sane person would – then at the very least, you have to put restraints on it: you have to chain the beast, or it will devour you.

You certainly cannot support a form of capitalism that strips capital, and the controllers of capital, of all restraints – unless you are either a self-deluded ideologue, or you are a member of the business elite, or a wanna-be member of this class.

So I would say that the idea of market anarchy, or anarchist capitalism, is one that is propounded by two groups: the deluded, and the cynically dishonest and self-serving.

Of course the business elite like the idea of eliminating all government oversight and restraints on their actions. It would mean total freedom for them – freedom to loot and pillage at will, to play one nation, state, province and community against another in a race to the bottom, with ever lower wages and working conditions, and ever lower environmental standards, and by these and other means, to gather even more of the wealth, resources and power on the planet into their hands, even more rapidly and frantically than they are already doing.

The corporate elite also favour the elimination, not only of all governmental restrictions on their actions – although they are quite keen to push for a police state to restrain the actions of the people, and to further secure their power and their de facto rule; they also strongly favour the elimination of all social safety nets and all government programs that help the poor and unemployed.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, social programs that help the people cost money – and the corporate elite would rather their multi-billion and trillion dollar state subsidies increase; therefore, programs that help the people must be slashed and eliminated – the welfare state is supposed to provide for the rich, not the masses.

Secondly, and more essentially, the welfare state, and all social safety nets and social programs that help the poor and the unemployed, must be slashed and eliminated, so that the people will be driven to desperation, and will welcome their corporate masters, and beg to be shackled and chained for a mere few cents an hour, or a few crumbs of bread.

The business elite like to talk amongst themselves and in the business press about what they call pampered Western workers. They like Chinese workers much better, as the offshoring of production and the deindustrialization of the West make abundantly clear. They do not want to pay $30 or $40 an hour for labour, or even $10, or $7.50 an hour for a wage slave in North America or Europe, when they can get one for $1 an hour in Mexico, or $0.10 an hour in China. Destroying social programs and safety nets means that Western workers can be trained to accept Chinese standards of pay – which is to say, social programs and safety nets must be destroyed in order to make the pampered Western workers more compliant and malleable serfs.

The other means of creating an ultra-low cost labour pool is through slavery, and that is being vigorously pursued by the reigning corporate powers as well – it is called the prison system. Prison labour is a rapidly growing out-sourcing choice for large, profitable corporations. With prison labour, you can pay workers just pennies an hour, and if they get out of line, you can get the guards to beat them to a pulp.

But to return to the driving down of wages and benefits across the West…

This is the primary reason for the so-called austerity programs being foisted on the people, purportedly for their own good, and the reason for the attack on the welfare state and all social programs across the Western world: free the corporations of the bondage of having to pay wages that people can live on, by driving the people to utter desperation, where they can be more easily manipulated, and exploited on a greater scale, for the increased profits of the already astronomically rich few. It is a grand and noble vision indeed.

But the main attack on government is an attack by big business on government regulations applying to big business. (They are happy to see red tape, high taxes and bureaucratic hurdles thrown up for small business, but they want a fast-track and a back door, with zero restrictions and zero taxes for themselves. Taxes, laws and regulations are for the little people.) The business elite do not want government restrictions on their actions. They want the subsidies and the bailouts and the protection of an increasingly militarized police state and a welfare state for the rich, but they do not want any restrictions on their own actions. Fascism for the people, total freedom for the elite – that is what the corporate oligarchs who rule the world today want, and that is what we are rapidly being driven into, like corralled cattle, being herded down the cattle chute.

While the elimination of government would mean total freedom for the corporate elite, it would mean total subjugation under neo-feudal corporate rule for the rest of us, and therefore we should oppose it – vigorously and passionately.

If you want to abolish government, you had better abolish all great concentrations of economic power first, or you will not have anarchism, much less freedom – you will simply have unfettered corporate rule, and a new form of tyranny.

So no, I do not support market anarchism or anarchist capitalism. I would tend to favour libertarian socialism, or anarchist socialism, where collectivism and anti-statism come together in a valuing of both freedom and mutual aid, as Kropotkin, Rocker, Bookchin, Bertrand Russell, Chomsky and others have argued for. In the short term, however, I would be happy simply to see a government that truly is, of the people, by the people, for the people, and not simply a servant of ruthless corporate powers and the super-rich.

I do not believe that a truly free society is even attainable without a very strong degree of mutual aid and solidarity among the people, which is absolutely necessary to accomplish the goal of a free society. So freedom and mutual aid must go hand in hand. To dream of it being otherwise is sheer fantasy.

How we blend and balance freedom and mutual aid, or liberty and collectivism, is the question. Whether or not we must, is a non-issue.

*

The seizure of corporate property by the workers, or by the people otherwise, at the local level, I do see as frequently if not generally justified, and Rothbard gives some good examples, such as workers taking over any and all corporations that are tied to the military-industrial complex, since they are involved in mass murder, among other reasons.

We can also look to the example of Argentina, where workers took over factories and ran them themselves, very successfully, as the documentary, The Take, revealed.

Or we can look to the Spanish Revolution, which was a largely anarchist revolution. The anarchist experiment in Spain, which lived between 1936 and 1939, I believe, was extremely successful, and could certainly be repeated elsewhere, but it would take great international solidarity to keep it alive in the face of the predictable backlash by the presently reigning vested interests.

As Chomsky has said, what the elite fear most, is the threat of a good example. For that reason, any example of worker control or workplace democracy, of any alternative to elite corporate rule, will be viciously attacked, no matter how small or remote. We must be prepared for that; but that is not an insurmountable obstacle to real social change. The people always have the real power. They simply need to realize it, and act upon the fact.

The anarchist revolution in Spain unfortunately ended up being crushed by an alliance between Western business elites, Western governments and the Soviet Union – Bolsheviks despise worker control just about as much as capitalists do. (Lenin destroyed the worker councils immediately upon seizing power, and Kropotkin declared after the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia, that the revolution is dead. But the example of a successful anarchist revolution, and a proven successful anarchist-socialist model for an advanced industrial society, still lives, and it still offers a better alternative, by far, over what we have now.

But to return to the subject of appropriation – or reclamation, as it might better and more accurately be called – there are other good reasons which justify such actions, and make them entirely legitimate, aside from the ones mentioned by Rothbard.

First of all, if what is nominally called private property was gained through illegitimate means, then all claim to title is null and void. For example, if an armed band of thugs rolls into town, and steals all that the people have or possess at gun point, we would say they have no right to that property. If one nation sends in its military to seize the oil or other resources of people in a foreign land, then that nation has no legitimate claim to such property. If a slave owner amasses a great fortune by means of the labour of his slaves, then he has no right to that property, which is more justly the property of the slaves who produced that wealth – cotton for example, or sugar cane, and the revenues from it – and not the slave master who illegitimately lays claim to it. And there are less obvious reasons for the invalidation of claims to property rights, such as great imbalances of power. In essence, all of these examples involve the exploitation of an imbalance of power to acquire wealth, and the imbalance of power makes all such claims to property acquired through these means, null and invalid.

That is the case generally for large concentrations of wealth and economic powers, such as the big corporations have today – for reasons of imbalances of power, and special favours sought by means of what is essentially bribery to political candidates, through what is euphemistically called election financing, among other reasons. The claims of property rights on the part of the corporate giants are highly dubious at best, and in reality, groundless, invalid and illegitimate.

Of course, this raises fears and even terror in some, for fear that their property will not be regarded as sacrosanct. Where do we draw the line between legitimate property rights, and appropriation or reclamation of what are reasonably viewed as illegitimate claims on property or resources, is the question we must ask. We draw lines all the time, and it is not hard to imagine a reasonable balance being sought and found. For example, leaving all small and medium businesses intact, as well as all family farms, family homes and personal possessions, but endorsing and supporting an appropriation or reclaiming of resources and assets which are presently held by the largest corporations, forthwith to be held as the shared property of the people – just as we now share public parks and public roads, public libraries and public fire departments – with shares in these corporation distributed equally to the people (and full voting shares, of course).

This would break up the corporate giants, immediately strip them of their excessive powers, put some teeth in anti-trust measures, and most essentially, would bring an immediate end to the domination over the global economy, the political process and the media by the presently ruling corporate elite. And it would once again restore some semblance of equality and also accountability within our society, and would at the same time dramatically increase the justice in our society, and also the quality of life and well-being of the people, immeasurably. I would therefore urge that such steps be taken immediately.

And it does not have to be an all or nothing scenario. We could start with the worst offenders, the banks, for example. If you want to dethrone Wall Street, and reign in the banking elite, and thereby get money out of politics, as any sane person should want today, then break up the big banks. And what are you going to do with them, one might ask. Well, one option is to do just what I have described here: seize their assets, and distribute shares of ownership equally among the people, effectively turning them into democratically controlled co-ops, with dividends paid directly to the people.

You do not let such corporate criminals get away with such crimes, nor do you give them a mere slap on the wrist. They are said to be too big to fail. Well, they are too big to exist – unless they are controlled by the people. Confiscate their assets, and return the power to the people.

Six giant banks now dominate the entire American economy, as well as both major political parties. Seize these powers, and put them in the hands of the people, and you will have a revolution – and real social change.

And we can have a mixed economy. We do not have to move too fast, if that scares people. Look at Europe – mixed economies are the norm. Most European nations have universal public health care, which is essentially a socialist feature of their society, yet they have democratic governments, constitutions, freedom and civil liberties, and they have capitalist, market-based economies. Adopting a universal public health care system did not turn these countries into Communist regimes, no matter what the paranoid right may scream. They are mixed economies with essentially republican governments and market economies. We can drop the paranoia now.

Despite the red scare tactics and the misunderstandings, having a socialist medical system has not turned European nations into Stalinist regimes, or anything remotely of the sort. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of Americans have wanted a Canadian or European style health public health care system for decades – and it is half as costly as the for-profit private health care system of the United States. But this is an aside.

So we could easily imagine a mixed economy where we have excellent social programs, such as universal pensions, unemployment insurance and public health care, a market-based economy, open and transparent constitutional democracy with rights and freedoms for all enshrined in law and custom, and also have large sectors of the economy run as worker co-ops or publicly owned co-ops; run, not by the state, but by boards of directors and chief executives that are elected by the people directly, with the people being the majority or even the sole share-holders.

We are talking about taking giant, unwieldy, unaccountable and undemocratic corporations which are now out of control and running rampage, and turning them into accountable, democratically run co-ops, owned and controlled directly by the people. This would make a dramatic, and much needed, urgently needed change to our society. I see no reason to delay.

So yes, re-appropriation, or a reclaiming of resources by the people from the corporate oligarchs who have seized them and laid claim to them, is not only entirely justified and legitimate – it is also highly practical, workable, and an attainable goal which should be sought without delay.

In fact, I would say that if we do not take such measures, and soon, then the corporate elite will consolidate their power globally, with the results being that we find ourselves living in an Orwellian, technocratic, neo-feudal fascist regime, and a very dark age.

We must take bold steps now, to protect the people and ourselves from the clear and mounting threats of a full-blown corporate fascism. When six banks control 40% of the wealth of America; when six corporations control 90% of American media and can effectively manipulate the public mind; when Wall Street and the Fortune 500 fund the elections and effectively choose the political puppets of their liking; and when and a few dozen corporations, mainly banks, effectively control the global economy and rule the world, as a recent Swiss study showed, in a case of science confirming the obvious, then it is time for a bold and unhesitating response on the part of the people, without question.

Furthermore, with regards to claims of property rights: abuses of any great power also render all claim to that power null and void, as the Declaration of Independence states – and this applies to economic powers, such as those held by the business elite and the corporate giants, every bit as much as it applies to kings and queens, governments and political powers. If you abuse it, you lose it. And the corporate giants and the billionaire class who control them, are most definitely abusing their power.

A tax on tea sparked the American Revolution – it was a last, final insult, after myriad insults and injuries by an oppressive and tyrannical power. Such a tipping point is fast approaching again, when the people will say, No more, and the corporate empires will be swept aside, like so many empires that have fallen and been cast off in the past.

*

So I would say no to market anarchism, or anarchist capitalism, but yes to the people reclaiming the resources and assets that are held by the big corporations: for reasons of justice and equitability, for reasons of accountability, for reasons of environmental stewardship and the survival of the human race on earth, which is now in great peril, and because the corporate powers have become, and are now, simply tyrannical, by any reasonable definition or meaning of the word, and are causing great injury to the people as well as the earth on which we all depend for life.

If Thomas Jefferson could argue that a tax on tea is overly vexatious and justifies a revolution – I am exaggerating somewhat of course, to make a point, but we get the point of it – then surely today there is every justification for revolution against the new tyrants,  who are the reigning global billionaire class of the super-rich, and the giant corporations they control – who are infinitely more injurious to the people than King George ever dared to dream.

Two hundred years ago Thomas Jefferson warned that the corporations, and what he called the new moneyed aristocracy who controlled them, were already bidding defiance to our laws and challenging our democratic government to a contest of strength. And he said that he hoped the new moneyed aristocracy shall be killed in its infancy. He did not mince words, nor did he have any illusions as to the great dangers which confronted the people. We did not listen however, and that is why we are in trouble today. By now, any further delay in putting serious checks and balances on the new ruling super-powers of the corporate elite, would be nothing short of disastrous.

The powers and the abuse of powers, of and by the King of England, pale in comparison to the powers and the abuse of powers of and by the Bank of America or Goldman Sachs alone. It is time to dethrone the new tyrants. It is time to kick the corporate oligarchs out of the palace and into the streets – certainly out of government, and out of their present position as the de facto world government, and the unelected rulers of the world, as the business press itself calls them.

(The business elite prefer to call themselves the masters of the universe – and no, I am not joking – and their demonstrated egomania, power-lust and sheer madness only adds to the reasons to throw them from power.)

Gentleness is the best general rule, but there is a time for boldness. There is a time for the ferocity of a lion. And there is a time for the overturning of tables. Throw the money changers from the temple. They have overstepped their proper bounds, and have made themselves a menace. They must be deposed. And the most direct and effective way to dethrone this newest ruling class of would-be emperors, Caesars and Tsars who are the global corporate elite, is to reclaim their assets, and thereby to strip them of the very basis of their powers.

If a person on a rooftop with a rifle starts shooting at people, you disarm that person, and stop the violence. The big corporations and the business elite who control them are now wielding vast and unaccountable powers, which is reason enough to strip them of such powers; and in addition, they are demonstrably wreaking havoc, destruction and great suffering on the earth and upon the people. Therefore, they must be disarmed. And the only way to effectively disarm them, or to reign them in and halt their drive to fully dominate and control the global economy and the resources, the wealth and the nations of the world, which they are well on their way to doing, as anyone who is paying attention can clearly see; as well as to prevent them from destroying democracy completely, and to halt their clearly suicidal onslaught against nature and the earth, is to strip them of their powers – which means, stripping them of their assets.

It must be done. The people must reclaim their power. And no, Lenin, you were wrong, and we will not repeat your mistakes. No, this time, the revolution must come from below, and power must be returned to the people, and kept close to the people, at the level of the grassroots, and not in the hands of any ruling class or ruling elite of any kind – be it a political elite, a bureaucratic elite, a military elite, a religious elite, a self-proclaimed intellectual elite, or a business elite.

Freedom will come. And it will mean more than being able to choose between Coke or Pepsi, or choosing between which slavers will shackle your legs and make you their wage-slave.

A new day is being born. The writing is on the wall.

Stand now, people.

J. Todd Ring,
October 24, 2013

Baby Steps and Big Leaps: Greener cars are here

Posted in alternative, bicycle, bike, biodiesel, biofuel, car co-op, car sharing, carbon, economy, electric car, ethanol, fuel cell, global warming, green car, hybrid, hydrogen, renewable, sustainability, tesla on February 7, 2007 by jtoddring

Here is a look at some of the greener cars now available. Also included in this article are extensive links and references regarding various types of greener cars (not at all perfectly green), and various types of greener fuels. A short analysis and overview of some of the green car and green fuel technologies is also included. And, of course, some of the alternatives to private automobiles – the sacred cow of industrial society – are here as well . Have fun! This is a huge collection of resources. And let me know what I’ve forgotten. The subject is too vast to cover thoroughly in just one article, of course – but I tried. 😉

J. Todd Ring

February 2007

*****

The Best:

Neighbourhood electric vehicles (NEV’s)

Most people drive within a radius of less than 30km. Most trips are in-town. If you only go out of town once or twice a month, you can save a lot of money and reduce your environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions by buying an NEV to use for 90% of your trips, and renting a car or taking the bus or train for out of town trips. There are a number of cute, quiet, fun and practical NEV’s available, and they’re pretty affordable: $10-16 USD. You just plug them in when you go home at night. Electricity costs far less than gas, so you save big time.

Ideally, you have converted your home to be off-grid, powered by wind and solar, so there are no greenhouse gas emissions and no smog created from dirty coal-fired power plants that recharge your batteries. To do this you’d need $15-20k or so, depending on your power consumption. You would then have a truly zero emission car, and no energy bills or gas costs. Think of that at your next $40 fill-up at the gas station. 5,000 to 15,000 lbs (2,000 to 7,000 kg) of carbon dioxide emitted per year by the average petro-dependent car. Another 10,000 to 15,000 lbs a year of CO2 emissions from your home heating and electricity needs. Or, a $40k investment to wipe out your home and car CO2 emissions, and free yourself from gas and energy bills forever. Hm. Smart investment – in your future, and the future of all life on earth.

If your average heat and electricity bills come to a total of $250 a month, and you spend an average of $150 a month on gas for your conventional car or truck, it would take 100 months, or 8.3 years to recoup your investment, after which time you would be saving $400 a month. Over the span of 20 years, you would therefore save yourself $56,000! And that’s if gas and energy prices don’t go up – which of course they will. Is this a no-brainer or what? Of course, you have to have the cash to do this, or else take out a loan. For those who can, it only makes sense: financially as well as ecologically. You can make a higher return on investment in other ways, but ethically, this is a true win-win situation, others likely are not.

Zenn:

Zero emission, no noise vehicle – from a new Canadian car company, based in Toronto.

ZENN Motor Company – Welcome to the Web Site of the leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of electric vehicles.

ZENN Savings Calculator

Zap!

The only electric car presently available in the U.S.

ZAP

ZAP Xebra 100% Electric EV Sedan

ZAP Xebra 100% Electric EV Pick Up

Xebra Xero

ZAPTruck XL


Reva

A great little electric car from India.

Reva worldwide

REVA photo gallery

G-Wiz

World’s best-selling electric car. Very cute 4-seater hatchback.

G-Wiz electric car

G-Wiz testimonials – GoinGreen – Driving Down Pollution

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Where to buy them:

In Canada
ZENN Motor Company – Welcome to the Web Site of the leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of electric vehicles.

U.S.
ZAP

Europe
about GoinGreen – Driving Down Pollution

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Soon to arrive:

Electric cars that can take to the highway

The Tesla Roadster

A car that will prove the compatibility of electric vehicles with style, performance and power. An expensive top-end sports car that will open the door for the company to produce more affordable cars in the future. Release date: expected 2008 or 2009.
Mechanical Resonance: The Tesla Motors Press Intro, Complete With Governator – Jalopnik

Video of the Tesla Roadster testing on ice! (ok, you have to really love cars to appreciate this)

The Chevy Volt

Hopefully an affordable highway-ready electric car. Release date unknown. Hopefully 2009.
Detroit Auto Show: It’s here. GM’s plug-in hybrid is the Chevy Volt Concept – AutoblogGreen

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Second-best:

The hybrids

The Prius still takes the prize, but it’s good to see more choices available.
Compare Hybrid Cars

Hybrid SUV’s sound like a bad joke, but if you must haul your ass in nearly 4,000 Lbs of glass and steel, you might as well make that pig at least somewhat efficient.
Compare Hybrid SUVs

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Can’t forget the Smart car!

Smart Shows Diesel and Gasoline Hybrids, EV and CNG Prototypes of smart Car

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Bio-Fuel Babies:

Not the ultimate in green fuel cars, but arguably a step ahead at least

Ford Focus Flexi-Fuel
Green-Car-Guide.com

Saab 9-5 Turbo BioPower
Green-Car-Guide.com

And the coolest little cars I’ve ever seen: Obvio !
OBVIO !

Obvio ! model 828 specs

Obvio 012

One concept car – production date unknown:
Lotus Exige 265E
Road Test: Lotus Exige 265E

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The Bio-Fuel Option:

Bio-fuel is not a panacea, nor an ultimate answer, but it is a step, a step in the right direction, and for that reason, it is highly valuable as a technology. Bio-fuel from ethanol produces 70% less greenhouse gas emissions than gas or diesel, and cuts our dependence on oil. For these reasons, it should be pursued vigourously. It should be one facet of a multi-faceted strategy to cut our greenhouse gas emissions, to move in the direction of genuine sustainability, and to reduce and ultimately eliminate our dependence on oil.

Statement by Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren at a …

Brazil has just announced an investment of USD $8.4 billion (that’s billion, not million) over the next four years in bio-fuels – 77 new ethanol mills and 46 new biodiesel plants. Canada?

The Chinese government is not stupid. The world is running out of cheap oil. They know this, and are taking steps to secure their energy resources for the coming years and decades. While they are busy signing contracts, making investments and forming economic and military alliances to secure their access to the world’s remaining oil reserves, they are also busy diversifying their energy resources. China recently invested $350 million to build two giant bio-fuel ethanol plants in Sweden, to make bio-fuel from forest waste. As the Swedish Environment Minister has said, in a country that is 60% forest-covered, bio-fuel from forestry waste makes obvious sense.

Canada should join the 21st century and stop subsidizing oil companies, and start heavily investing in bio-fuel ethanol from forest waste.

We have among the largest remaining forests in the world, and if we practice sustained yield forestry, we will have for decades and generations to come. With all this foretry activity however, comes a huge waste issue. Only 30% of the wood cut in a typical forestry operation is used; 70% is waste. 70% of the cut wood is either burned as slash – a ridiculous thing to do as it releases enormous quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere, compounding our global warming problems – or is left to rot, which also compounds global warming as the rotting wood releases methane gas, another greenhouse gas. What makes sense is to turn that waste into ethanol. This is already being done, and bravo to those involved. But it needs to be accelerated and expanded many fold.

We have entire communities in Canada – many of them – that are almost entirely dependent upon the forestry industry. Many of these communities are struggling: job losses, economic decay, social decay, loss of hope, despair – not a pretty sight. The answer, along with value-added forestry industry development, is bio-fuel ethanol from forest waste. Jobs, prosperity, community economic recovery and strengthening, thriving, vibrant communities – and a cleaner, greener, renewable fuel system for our country. We should be dong this now. Take the $4 billion the former Liberal government was going to give away to big corporations as a measure of the money our federal government throws away. With just a quarter of this amount, we could quickly develop one of the world’s leading bio-fuel industries, with economic benefits to Canadians, jobs, and huge environmental benefits. Sweden is showing how an economy can be retooled to make it not just more environmentally sustainable, but also to shift its entire economic base toward environmental technologies. Here in Canada we can take the lead, or we can live in the last century.

Ultimately, we would want to shift the newly developed bio-fuel ethanol industry, based on forestry waste, to a full hydrogen system. By burning bio-fuel ethanol in vehicles we reduce emissions and oil dependency, but emissions are still there. By investing first in bio-fuel ethanol from forest waste, then later re-investing to shift to hydrogen production, we can make this a zero-emission fuel and energy system. The investment needed for this second phase would be large, but the economic as well as environmental benefits would be great. Solar, wind and tidal powered steam reformation is the technology that will take us from leading edge bio-fuel ethanol, to the ultimate: zero emission hydrogen from clean, renewable sources.

Cars are now being produced that can run on either gasoline or bio-fuel ethanol, depending on fuel availability. This is the transition technology. The ideal fuel source is described above. Add to this technology mix the dual-fuel hydrogen system demonstrated by BMW. BMW’s Hydrogen 7 can run on either hydrogen or gasoline, depending on fuel availability. Thus we now have the technology to have cars that will run on gasoline, bio-fuel ethanol, or hydrogen, depending on fuel availability. This technology will take us the rest of the way. We can then move seamlessly from oil-dependent smog-belching resource-depleting conventional gas and diesel automobiles, to bio-fuel, to hydrogen. From worst, to better to best.

Bio-diesel deserves mentioning, though it does not have the same benefits as bio-fuel ethanol. Bio-diesel is basically vegetable oil run through a conventional diesel engine. It burns cleaner, reducing engine wear as well as emissions. It is also a non-fossil fuel energy source that can help free us from oil dependency. But it does come from food crops, and this is its weakness. You can’t both feed the planet, and fuel your car with bio-diesel – there simply isn’t enough farmland. So bio-diesel makes sense, in that it will be a temporary measure, a stop-gap, a transition technology that helps us get from high carbon, high greenhouse gas emissions, and oil dependency, to a low carbon, low emission, oil-free society. It does not however, deserve to be our primary strategy, or anything close. It should be funded massively, to switch existing diesel engines to something that at least is a little better. But it will have to be a technology that exists along side electric vehicles, bio-fuel ethanol and hydrogen, all of which will be and should be more primary and far more predominant.

Bo-diesel from waste oil is highly praised in environmental circles, but it is a tiny niche only, not a mass-application: there simply isn’t enough waste oil to fuel even a small fraction of the automobiles on the planet. It’s great for a few people, but not an answer for a society.

Sweden‘s example:

“Using energy more efficiently and in particular reducing dependency on oil is critical…Sweden has used economic instruments for decades – and in particular a carbon dioxide tax since 1991. Biofuels are exempt. The effect has been significant….In a country where 60 per cent of the territory is covered by forests biofuels is an obvious choice. This will also generate more jobs, especially in the north and in the rural areas.

[Swedish] Parliament has passed a Government Bill to increase public access to renewable fuels. Under the new legislation, all large petrol stations in Sweden must offer renewable motor fuels, such as biogas or ethanol.

Sweden’s national policy on the promotion of biofuels also include tax relief on environment-friendly fuels and cars along with subsidies for the production of biofuels. Subsidies are also available for local incentives such as reduced parking fees and car parks dedicated exclusively to biofuel vehicles.

However, today’s challenges represent tomorrow’s opportunities – if we use them!

The Swedish government sees environmental technologies as an important sector for economic development and growth. According to Statistics Sweden, the environment sector in our country has annual sales of approximately 35.3 billion US dollars and employs some 90 000 people. The Swedish Environmental Technology Council has a database comprising more than 1 600 companies that are working in the sector. Bear in mind that Sweden only has 9 million inhabitants. So it is reasonable to say that environmental technology is currently one of most important sectors in Sweden.

Today we are focusing our attention on biogas and its potential.”

– Minister for the Environment, Sweden

Statement by Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren at a …

 

China invests in Swedish bioenergy

Swedish biofuel sales grow 270% in 2006

Making Sweden an OIL-FREE Society

Nordic Countries Design Sustainable Communities: The Natural Step for Eco-Villages

Portugal wants 45% renewable electricity output and 10% of all fuels to be biofuels

Renewable Energy World – Renewables global status update: Investment and capacity soar while support policies continue to multiply

BBC NEWS | Business | Biofuel raises global dilemmas

BBC NEWS | Business | Car firms and investors greet UK biofuel

Bioenergy pact between Europe and Africa

Wisconsin shooting for leadership in energy independence – AutoblogGreen

Inside Greentech is hosting a live web seminar examining cellulosic ethanol technologies in April – sign up now

Editorial: Thoughts on the performance and potential of ethanol – AutoblogGreen

Venture Capital jumps into the lobbying game for alternative fuels – AutoblogGreen

***Virgin Group pledges $3 billion to fight global warming at CGI – AutoblogGreen

*****

Most Honourable Mention:

BMW’s Hydrogen 7

Had we a hydrogen fuel distribution system in place to utilize it, BMW’s Hydrogen 7 would be the cream of the crop. As we are still waiting for such a fuel delivery system, the H7 is honourable, but not yet practical – at least outside of a few places like LA and Silicon Valley.
BMW officially announces the BMW Hydrogen 7 – AutoblogGreen

Honda FCX:

First hydrogen fuel cell car to be released in 2008.
Hydrogen Wonder – AOL Autos

*****

Hydrogen:

Dream of the future, now.

The nay-sayers can stop the sniping now. Hydrogen is here. It’s safe, it’s proven, and it works. Yes, there are two big remaining questions, but with a modest amount of creative intelligence and the necessary determination, these can be quickly overcome. What hydrogen means, is an alternative to oil addiction, a fuel (an energy carrier to be precise) that, when made from either water or waste using solar, wind or tidal power, is truly clean, green, renewable and sustainable. A hydrogen vehicle emits only water vapour out the tailpipe. And the hydrogen can be made from the two things we have in great abundance on earth: water and waste. (The water is returned to the atmosphere as the car burns the hydrogen, cleanly completing the cycle. And sewage, compost and landfill waste we are not likely to run out of.) Combined with solar, wind and tidal power, hydrogen is, as the president of Ford has recently said, the fuel of the 21st century.

The two big remaining questions for hydrogen are: distribution and source. There is only one place on earth that I know of where a hydrogen distribution system is being built – California. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has committed $100 million to build the world’s first hydrogen highway, with 200 fueling stations down the length of the state. He has also recently announced plans to extend the hydrogen highway to Vancouver, B.C. in Canada, and south into Mexico.

This, of course, is what Canada should be doing as well. When the former Liberal government was willing to give away $4 billion in additional tax breaks to big, profitable corporations, clearly we can afford to build a trans-Canada hydrogen highway. As a start, we would need a hydrogen fueling station every 100 miles across the 4,000 mile stretch coast to coast. At half a million dollars each (USD) that would be 40 stations costing USD $20 million, or $24 million CDN. Throw in another half million per station and we could make the hydrogen on-site, with solar and wind powered electrolysis hydrogen generation systems, or where water is scarce, with steam reformation of biogas – gas produced naturally from sewage, compost or landfills.

$50 million for a clean, green, sustainable trans-Canada hydrogen highway. With the equivalent of the Liberals’ $4 billion corporate give-away we could build such a hydrogen infrastructure 20 times over. What the hell are we waiting for? Obviously, no political party has yet to come to power in Canada with sufficient balls or brains, or such a vision would by now be a reality. Let’s put the pressure on to make it happen. This should be a project we get behind and get excited about – something on the scale of the historic trans-Canada rail line, but arguably far more important.

The second big question regarding hydrogen is the source of the fuel. If we let the oil companies control the coming hydrogen economy, they’re going to want to make hydrogen from natural gas – of course, since it would mean they stay in the game, and get high profits from polluting methods of hydrogen fuel generation. What would be infinitely smarter, would be to generate the hydrogen from solar, wind and/or tidal power, either from water, by electrolysis, or where water supplies are limited, from sewage, compost or landfill gas. Every city, town and county can thereby be energy self-sufficient, assuming some serious efforts are made at energy conservation and efficiency. We would then tell the big oil companies to take a hike.

Yes, generating hydrogen from electrolysis, from water, is energy inefficient, but with abundant solar, wind and tidal power, that is not a problem. Slaughter in the Middle East for oil is not a very feasible alternative, if we are at all still alive to our humanity, nor are the unending greenhouse gas emissions a viable option. Electric vehicles have their own inefficiencies, especially if they are plugged into a highly polluting energy grid that itself operates with very low rates of energy efficiency. Biodiesel makes sense, reducing oil dependency and greenhouse gas emissions, but turning crops into fuel while millions starve, is not all that ethical, one would have to admit. Biofuel ethanol spells the same thing, at least when the ethanol is produced from cropland. If it is produced from waste – such as forest waste – then it makes sense, but there will still need to be a number of technologies developed and implemented in order to wean ourselves off gas and oil as quickly as possible. Hybrids are great, but they’re still petrol-burners, and as such are not sufficient in themselves. They are a step in the right direction, not the ultimate answer. Now a flexi-fuel hybrid that can run on whatever fuel is available – gas, biofuel ethanol or hydrogen – backed by an electric hybrid system, would be the best possible transition system. One way or another, we have to get from an oil-dependent, carbon-heavy, highly wasteful, highly polluting society, to one that is clean green, low carbon and sustainable. Hydrogen is one technology that will help us get there.

All in all, hydrogen from electrolysis – from water – or from waste – municipal sewage, compost or landfill gas – makes very good sense, so long as the hydrogen generation systems are powered by truly clean, green renewable energy. We are talking about an energy revolution if we make this happen. No more monopolies over world energy supplies: community controlled energy sources. This is a social revolution, not just an ecological one. Control over energy means control in society. If big corporations control the energy that runs our society, then they control the levers of power. If communities control their own energy supplies, then they control their own fate. They are not pawns, spectators, cogs or consumers alone. Communities and individuals become empowered when control over energy is decentralized, brought down to earth. Hydrogen fuel, when combined with distributed generation that is in the hands of communities, powered by wind, water and solar, is a social revolution.

Whether we are talking about electric cars, bio-fuel cars or hydrogen cars, the source of the fuel is critical. Electric cars powered by coal plants is unsustainable. Bio-fuel cars powered by food crops is unethical and unfeasible on a global scale. Hydrogen cars fueled by natural gas-derived hydrogen would be a red herring. But all three are feasible and ecologically superior to petroleum if done with some forethought and clear-headedness.

Yes, electrolysis and stream reformation production of hydrogen are both low-efficiency processes, but with abundant solar, wind or tidal power that really becomes a non-issue. We are ultimately storing renewable energy in the form of hydrogen, which is a very convenient storage medium, and the power ultimately comes from the wind, water or sun. It should be remembered that the entire electric grid is grossly inefficient, from generating plant to transmission towers, and so too are gasoline and diesel cars terribly inefficient. The gas or diesel car utilizes only 15-20% of the energy of its fuel to move the car; the rest is lost in heat and friction. (And this does not include the enormous energy consumption and inefficiencies involved in the exploration, extraction, shipping and refining of the oil.) That’s not terribly efficient, and the electrical power grid runs at similar gross inefficiencies. So harping about the inefficiency of hydrogen production is not particularly appropriate or relevant, considering all of the above. The relevant question is one of cost, but that is one we have to suck up and subsidize, in order to create the needed infrastructure. Once we have built the infrastructure, the hydrogen generation and distribution network, using renewable energy sources, we have essentially free fuel. Pay now, or pay later. If we pay now, and invest in this smart technology, the fuel of the 21st century, we can save ourselves a lot of pain, in terms of environmental crisis, oil dependency, resource wars and global warming; and we can also reap economic rewards by becoming world leaders in leading edge environmental technologies.

And yes, hydrogen is an energy carrier, not an energy source – just as batteries in an electric car are an energy carrier, not an energy source. So what? The point is, hydrogen can be produced sustainably, cleanly and from renewable energy sources – using solar, wind and tidal power – just as electric cars can be powered by the same clean, green energies. Problem…? (In fact, storing energy for an electric vehicle can be accomplished either through batteries or with hydrogen fuel cells. The fuel cells operate as energy carriers just as the batteries do, only with potentially fewer disposal problems – battery disposal is an issue in itself. )I’d rather drive a BMW Hydrogen 7, powered by my own at home electrolysis unit, which in turn runs on off-grid clean solar and wind power, than run an electric car that sucks up its juice from a coal fired power plant – to make the comparison of energy sources clear. It makes a difference where the energy comes from, yes, and this applies equally to electric and hydrogen cars. Both are zero emission vehicles, and both require some energy source to run them. More nuke plants and coal plants to juice those millions of electric cars, would be a nightmare, just as hydrogen cars running on fuel made from natural gas would be stupid and unecological. But nobody in their right mind – outside the nuke lobby – is advocating more nuke plants, when we still don’t have a clue as to how to safely dispose of radioactive waste that has a half-life of a hundred thousand years; and no-one in their right mind would advocate more coal plants. We do have options. Bio-fuels make sense, particularly when the source used for producing it is carefully chosen. Electric (EV) and hydrogen cars both make sense, but are only at their best under certain very specific conditions. For EV’s, the power should ultimately come from clean, renewable energy sources such as wind, solar or tidal power. Exactly the same is true for hydrogen. And both are viable – right now. The problem with hydrogen is simply, will we do it? Will we cough up the investment for the needed fuel distribution infrastructure? We could build it in less than a year if we wanted to, and it wouldn’t cost that much. The trouble is, big oil has more clout in the capitals of Canada, the U.S. and Britain than brains have sway – as with many other nations. I hope this changes soon. The technology is ready, but are we? What in hell are we waiting for?


Hydrogen is happening:


Cutting through the fog – and the smog


ITS Hydrogen Highway Launch Event

British Columbia’s own Hydrogen Highway | Hydrogen Use

Hydrogen Bus Demonstration Completed In Manitoba, Partners Invest $600,000 In Technology

Hydrogen fuel station in Sweden…. ConocoPhillips buys E-Gas patents … fuel cell water taxi Diesel Progress North American Edition – Find Articles

Berlin, Shanghai and Amsterdam unveil hydrogen buses

London Hydrogen Action Plan

London Hydrogen Partnership – Peugeot

H2.ca – Hydrogen Water Taxi in Newport Harbor

BBC News | SCI/TECH | Iceland launches energy revolution

BMW’s hydrogen powered 7-Series

BBC NEWS Science-Nature Sun and hydrogen ‘to fuel future’

Canadian Group Produces Hydrogen from Water Using Solar Energy

SHEC Labs achieved breakthrough performance in manufacturing …

Sunlight Used To Produce Hydrogen From Water

US legislator wants to reward hydrogen inventors

Growing hydrogen for the cars of tomorrow – energy-fuels – 25 February 2006 – New Scientist

Treehugger Garbage to Hydrogen, Just Add Sun

Sewage turned into hydrogen fuel – 29 April 2002 – New Scientist

Nanotubes crank out hydrogen TRN 020905

Fuel Cell Vehicle Fleet Transports Inauguration Guests

EERC Demonstrates Hydrogen Production at Ethanol Facilities

NHA Renewables to Hydrogen Forum

Wal-Mart Completes Test of Fuel-Cell Pallet Trucks

H2 on-site refueling system – Nuvera to Provide PowerTap Hydrogen Refueling System

Green Car Congress: Two Dutch Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicles: NEV and Scooter

Canadian zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell bus

‘The Future of Racing’ Unveiled to Auto Industry Leaders and Motorsport Dignitaries in Detroit

California’s 2007 Guidelines for Renewable Energy Rebates, Including Fuel Cells

The Accept H2 Project: An international study funded by the European Commission

The US and Europe Getting Down to Business – Implementation of the Hydrogen Economy

Beyond Batteries: Portable Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Hydrogen Fueling Station Database for Canada & the U.S.

*****

Another option:

Don’t own, share

The Benefits of Car-Sharing – Co-operative Auto Network

Where can you find Car Sharing in North America

@World Car Share Consortium

Carsharing.ca

Car Sharing News

Zipcar : Green Benefits

AutoShare Toronto – Car Sharing

Vrtucar.com – Ottawa ON

The People’s Car Co-op – Waterloo Ontario

Cooperative Auto Network – Vancouver B.C.

CarSharing Handbook – How to start a car co-op in your community.

Peterborough UK City Council – Car share scheme aims to cut congestion and travel costs

Freewheelers: International Car Share Directory

*****

 

Other alternatives to cars:

Share a car for occasional use, rent a car for longer trips once in a while, and use transit, train, bus or bike as primary transportation. Before dismissing the notion, take a look at some of the options below.

*****

Cool bikes and electric scooters:

Dynamic Commuter Bike

Gowatt – electric bicycles

Gowatt – Scooter – E-Light

Segway

I gave up my car and saved $16,000

 

 

Where can you find this gem? An all-weather bike for $650 USD? Or is there a mistake on the price?
Shirouma Science’s All Weather Bicycle.

 

 

HPV’s (Human Powered Vehicles), Velomobiles, Hybrid HPV/EV’s:

The Leitra

Aerorider | Hybrid HPV/Electric Vehicle | Velomobiel

The go-one³

IHPVA velomobile page

 

North American Velomobilist website

 

Velomobile USA

 

The Velomobile Is Comin’ To Town

 

BentRider Velomobile guide

In search of an all-weather bike | GreenAsh

*****

 

 

Green car rentals, airport shuttles and taxis:

The Hertz Green Collection in Europe

PlanetTran – Eco-Friendly Airport Shuttle Service

thegreenguy: Reviewed: ecoigo, London’s newest green taxi service

globeandmail.com: Green cab, clean air, full pockets

Green Car Congress: New Yorkers Want Hybrid Taxis; Taxi Commission Isnt So Sure

Is That a Tinge of Green on New York’s Yellow Cabs? – New York Times

Microcabs: A Bloody Good Idea!: Taxi Cab | Hydrogen Fuel Cell | London, England

*****

Alternative fuels locater & other resources:

Hydrogen Fueling Station Database for Canada & the U.S.

MapQuest: Find alternative fuels

Oliomap is your Wikimap for biodiesel and VegOil services

Top 12 Greenest and Meanest vehicles of 2007, as defined by ACEEE – AutoblogGreen

Top 100 Green Cars – Yahoo! Autos

Federal and state purchasing incentives

Government Incentives in Canada – Environmental fiscal reform in Canada

Recommendations for Incentives – Green Budget Coalition Canada

35 mpg fuel conservation numbers from the Union of Concerned Scientists

Guess who made $1,252 a second, every second last year?

Alternative Fuel Choices – AOL Autos

Baby Steps and Big Leaps: Greener cars are here …

Posted in alternative, bicycle, bike, biodiesel, biofuel, car co-op, car sharing, carbon, economy, electric car, ethanol, fuel cell, global warming, green car, hybrid, hydrogen, renewable, sustainability, tesla on February 7, 2007 by jtoddring

Baby Steps and Big Leaps:

Greener cars are here

The Best:

Neighbourhood electric vehicles (NEV’s)

Most people drive within a radius of less than 30km. Most trips are in-town. If you only go out of town once or twice a month, you can save a lot of money and reduce your environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions by buying an NEV to use for 90% of your trips, and renting a car or taking the bus or train for out of town trips. There are a number of cute, quiet, fun and practical NEV’s available, and they’re pretty affordable: $10-16 USD. You just plug them in when you go home at night. Electricity costs far less than gas, so you save big time.

Ideally, you have converted your home to be off-grid, powered by wind and solar, so there are no greenhouse gas emissions and no smog created from dirty coal-fired power plants that recharge your batteries. To do this you’d need $15-20k or so, depending on your power consumption. You would then have a truly zero emission car, and no energy bills or gas costs. Think of that at your next $40 fill-up at the gas station. 5,000 to 15,000 lbs (2,000 to 7,000 kg) of carbon dioxide emitted per year by the average petro-dependent car. Another 10,000 to 15,000 lbs a year of CO2 emissions from your home heating and electricity needs. Or, a $40k investment to wipe out your home and car CO2 emissions, and free yourself from gas and energy bills forever. Hm. Smart investment – in your future, and the future of all life on earth.

If your average heat and electricity bills come to a total of $250 a month, and you spend an average of $150 a month on gas for your conventional car or truck, it would take 100 months, or 8.3 years to recoup your investment, after which time you would be saving $400 a month. Over the span of 20 years, you would therefore save yourself $56,000! And that’s if gas and energy prices don’t go up – which of course they will. Is this a no-brainer or what? Of course, you have to have the cash to do this, or else take out a loan. For those who can, it only makes sense: financially as well as ecologically. You can make a higher return on investment in other ways, but ethically, this is a true win-win situation, others likely are not.

Zenn:

Zero emission, no noise vehicle – from a new Canadian car company, based in Toronto.

ZENN Motor Company – Welcome to the Web Site of the leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of electric vehicles.

ZENN Savings Calculator

Zap!

The only electric car presently available in the U.S.

ZAP

ZAP Xebra 100% Electric EV Sedan

ZAP Xebra 100% Electric EV Pick Up

Xebra Xero

ZAPTruck XL


Reva

A great little electric car from India.

Reva worldwide

REVA photo gallery

G-Wiz

World’s best-selling electric car. Very cute 4-seater hatchback.

G-Wiz electric car

G-Wiz testimonials – GoinGreen – Driving Down Pollution

Where to buy them:

In Canada
ZENN Motor Company – Welcome to the Web Site of the leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of electric vehicles.

U.S.
ZAP

Europe
about GoinGreen – Driving Down Pollution

Soon to arrive:

Electric cars that can take to the highway

The Tesla Roadster

A car that will prove the compatibility of electric vehicles with style, performance and power. An expensive top-end sports car that will open the door for the company to produce more affordable cars in the future. Release date: expected 2008 or 2009.
Mechanical Resonance: The Tesla Motors Press Intro, Complete With Governator – Jalopnik

Video of the Tesla Roadster testing on ice! (ok, you have to really love cars to appreciate this)

The Chevy Volt

Hopefully an affordable highway-ready electric car. Release date unknown. Hopefully 2009.
Detroit Auto Show: It’s here. GM’s plug-in hybrid is the Chevy Volt Concept – AutoblogGreen

Second-best:

The hybrids

The Prius still takes the prize, but it’s good to see more choices available.
Compare Hybrid Cars

Hybrid SUV’s sound like a bad joke, but if you must haul your ass in nearly 4,000 Lbs of glass and steel, you might as well make that pig at least somewhat efficient.
Compare Hybrid SUVs

Can’t forget the Smart car!

Smart Shows Diesel and Gasoline Hybrids, EV and CNG Prototypes of smart Car

Bio-Fuel Babies:

Not the ultimate in green fuel cars, but a step ahead at least

Ford Focus Flexi-Fuel
Green-Car-Guide.com

Saab 9-5 Turbo BioPower
Green-Car-Guide.com

And the coolest little cars I’ve ever seen: Obvio !
OBVIO !

Obvio ! model 828 specs

Obvio 012

One concept car – production date unknown:
Lotus Exige 265E
Road Test: Lotus Exige 265E

The Bio-Fuel Option:

Bio-fuel is not a panacea, nor an ultimate answer, but it is a step, a step in the right direction, and for that reason, it is highly valuable as a technology. Bio-fuel from ethanol produces 70% less greenhouse gas emissions than gas or diesel, and cuts our dependence on oil. For these reasons, it should be pursued vigourously. It should be one facet of a multi-faceted strategy to cut our greenhouse gas emissions, to move in the direction of genuine sustainability, and to reduce and ultimately eliminate our dependence on oil.

Statement by Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren at a …

Brazil has just announced an investment of USD $8.4 billion (that’s billion, not million) over the next four years in bio-fuels – 77 new ethanol mills and 46 new biodiesel plants. Canada?

The Chinese government is not stupid. The world is running out of cheap oil. They know this, and are taking steps to secure their energy resources for the coming years and decades. While they are busy signing contracts, making investments and forming economic and military alliances to secure their access to the world’s remaining oil reserves, they are also busy diversifying their energy resources. China recently invested $350 million to build two giant bio-fuel ethanol plants in Sweden, to make bio-fuel from forest waste. As the Swedish Environment Minister has said, in a country that is 60% forest-covered, bio-fuel from forestry waste makes obvious sense.

Canada should join the 21st century and stop subsidizing oil companies, and start heavily investing in bio-fuel ethanol from forest waste.

We have among the largest remaining forests in the world, and if we practice sustained yield forestry, we will have for decades and generations to come. With all this foretry activity however, comes a huge waste issue. Only 30% of the wood cut in a typical forestry operation is used; 70% is waste. 70% of the cut wood is either burned as slash – a ridiculous thing to do as it releases enormous quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere, compounding our global warming problems – or is left to rot, which also compounds global warming as the rotting wood releases methane gas, another greenhouse gas. What makes sense is to turn that waste into ethanol. This is already being done, and bravo to those involved. But it needs to be accelerated and expanded many fold.

We have entire communities in Canada – many of them – that are almost entirely dependent upon the forestry industry. Many of these communities are struggling: job losses, economic decay, social decay, loss of hope, despair – not a pretty sight. The answer, along with value-added forestry industry development, is bio-fuel ethanol from forest waste. Jobs, prosperity, community economic recovery and strengthening, thriving, vibrant communities – and a cleaner, greener, renewable fuel system for our country. We should be dong this now. Take the $4 billion the former Liberal government was going to give away to big corporations as a measure of the money our federal government throws away. With just a quarter of this amount, we could quickly develop one of the world’s leading bio-fuel industries, with economic benefits to Canadians, jobs, and huge environmental benefits. Sweden is showing how an economy can be retooled to make it not just more environmentally sustainable, but also to shift its entire economic base toward environmental technologies. Here in Canada we can take the lead, or we can live in the last century.

Ultimately, we would want to shift the newly developed bio-fuel ethanol industry, based on forestry waste, to a full hydrogen system. By burning bio-fuel ethanol in vehicles we reduce emissions and oil dependency, but emissions are still there. By investing first in bio-fuel ethanol from forest waste, then later re-investing to shift to hydrogen production, we can make this a zero-emission fuel and energy system. The investment needed for this second phase would be large, but the economic as well as environmental benefits would be great. Solar, wind and tidal powered steam reformation is the technology that will take us from leading edge bio-fuel ethanol, to the ultimate: zero emission hydrogen from clean, renewable sources.

Cars are now being produced that can run on either gasoline or bio-fuel ethanol, depending on fuel availability. This is the transition technology. The ideal fuel source is described above. Add to this technology mix the dual-fuel hydrogen system demonstrated by BMW. BMW’s Hydrogen 7 can run on either hydrogen or gasoline, depending on fuel availability. Thus we now have the technology to have cars that will run on gasoline, bio-fuel ethanol, or hydrogen, depending on fuel availability. This technology will take us the rest of the way. We can then move seamlessly from oil-dependent smog-belching resource-depleting conventional gas and diesel automobiles, to bio-fuel, to hydrogen. From worst, to better to best.

Bio-diesel deserves mentioning, though it does not have the same benefits as bio-fuel ethanol. Bio-diesel is basically vegetable oil run through a conventional diesel engine. It burns cleaner, reducing engine wear as well as emissions. It is also a non-fossil fuel energy source that can help free us from oil dependency. But it does come from food crops, and this is its weakness. You can’t both feed the planet, and fuel your car with bio-diesel – there simply isn’t enough farmland. So bio-diesel makes sense, in that it will be a temporary measure, a stop-gap, a transition technology that helps us get from high carbon, high greenhouse gas emissions, and oil dependency, to a low carbon, low emission, oil-free society. It does not however, deserve to be our primary strategy, or anything close. It should be funded massively, to switch existing diesel engines to something that at least is a little better. But it will have to be a technology that exists along side electric vehicles, bio-fuel ethanol and hydrogen, all of which will be and should be more primary and far more predominant.

Bo-diesel from waste oil is highly praised in environmental circles, but it is a tiny niche only, not a mass-application: there simply isn’t enough waste oil to fuel even a small fraction of the automobiles on the planet. It’s great for a few people, but not an answer for a society.

Sweden‘s example:

“Using energy more efficiently and in particular reducing dependency on oil is critical…Sweden has used economic instruments for decades – and in particular a carbon dioxide tax since 1991. Biofuels are exempt. The effect has been significant….In a country where 60 per cent of the territory is covered by forests biofuels is an obvious choice. This will also generate more jobs, especially in the north and in the rural areas.

[Swedish] Parliament has passed a Government Bill to increase public access to renewable fuels. Under the new legislation, all large petrol stations in Sweden must offer renewable motor fuels, such as biogas or ethanol.

Sweden’s national policy on the promotion of biofuels also include tax relief on environment-friendly fuels and cars along with subsidies for the production of biofuels. Subsidies are also available for local incentives such as reduced parking fees and car parks dedicated exclusively to biofuel vehicles.

However, today’s challenges represent tomorrow’s opportunities – if we use them!

The Swedish government sees environmental technologies as an important sector for economic development and growth. According to Statistics Sweden, the environment sector in our country has annual sales of approximately 35.3 billion US dollars and employs some 90 000 people. The Swedish Environmental Technology Council has a database comprising more than 1 600 companies that are working in the sector. Bear in mind that Sweden only has 9 million inhabitants. So it is reasonable to say that environmental technology is currently one of most important sectors in Sweden.

Today we are focusing our attention on biogas and its potential.”

– Minister for the Environment, Sweden

Statement by Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren at a …

China invests in Swedish bioenergy

Swedish biofuel sales grow 270% in 2006

Making Sweden an OIL-FREE Society

Nordic Countries Design Sustainable Communities: The Natural Step for Eco-Villages

Portugal wants 45% renewable electricity output and 10% of all fuels to be biofuels

Renewable Energy World – Renewables global status update: Investment and capacity soar while support policies continue to multiply

BBC NEWS | Business | Biofuel raises global dilemmas

BBC NEWS | Business | Car firms and investors greet UK biofuel

Bioenergy pact between Europe and Africa

Wisconsin shooting for leadership in energy independence – AutoblogGreen

Inside Greentech is hosting a live web seminar examining cellulosic ethanol technologies in April – sign up now

Editorial: Thoughts on the performance and potential of ethanol – AutoblogGreen

Venture Capital jumps into the lobbying game for alternative fuels – AutoblogGreen

***Virgin Group pledges $3 billion to fight global warming at CGI – AutoblogGreen

Most Honourable Mention:

BMW’s Hydrogen 7

Had we a hydrogen fuel distribution system in place to utilize it, BMW’s Hydrogen 7 would be the cream of the crop. As we are still waiting for such a fuel delivery system, the H7 is honourable, but not yet practical – at least outside of a few places like LA and Silicon Valley.
BMW officially announces the BMW Hydrogen 7 – AutoblogGreen

Honda FCX:

First hydrogen fuel cell car to be released in 2008.
Hydrogen Wonder – AOL Autos

Hydrogen:

Dream of the future, now.

The nay-sayers can stop the sniping now. Hydrogen is here. It’s safe, it’s proven, and it works. Yes, there are two big remaining questions, but with a modest amount of creative intelligence and the necessary determination, these can be quickly overcome. What hydrogen means, is an alternative to oil addiction, a fuel (an energy carrier to be precise) that, when made from either water or waste using solar, wind or tidal power, is truly clean, green, renewable and sustainable. A hydrogen vehicle emits only water vapour out the tailpipe. And the hydrogen can be made from the two things we have in great abundance on earth: water and waste. (The water is returned to the atmosphere as the car burns the hydrogen, cleanly completing the cycle. And sewage, compost and landfill waste we are not likely to run out of.) Combined with solar, wind and tidal power, hydrogen is, as the president of Ford has recently said, the fuel of the 21st century.

The two big remaining questions for hydrogen are: distribution and source. There is only one place on earth that I know of where a hydrogen distribution system is being built – California. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has committed $100 million to build the world’s first hydrogen highway, with 200 fueling stations down the length of the state. He has also recently announced plans to extend the hydrogen highway to Vancouver, B.C. in Canada, and south into Mexico.

This, of course, is what Canada should be doing as well. When the former Liberal government was willing to give away $4 billion in additional tax breaks to big, profitable corporations, clearly we can afford to build a trans-Canada hydrogen highway. As a start, we would need a hydrogen fueling station every 100 miles across the 4,000 mile stretch coast to coast. At half a million dollars each (USD) that would be 40 stations costing USD $20 million, or $24 million CDN. Throw in another half million per station and we could make the hydrogen on-site, with solar and wind powered electrolysis hydrogen generation systems, or where water is scarce, with steam reformation of biogas – gas produced naturally from sewage, compost or landfills.

$50 million for a clean, green, sustainable trans-Canada hydrogen highway. With the equivalent of the Liberals’ $4 billion corporate give-away we could build such a hydrogen infrastructure 20 times over. What the hell are we waiting for? Obviously, no political party has yet to come to power in Canada with sufficient balls or brains, or such a vision would by now be a reality. Let’s put the pressure on to make it happen. This should be a project we get behind and get excited about – something on the scale of the historic trans-Canada rail line, but arguably far more important.

The second big question regarding hydrogen is the source of the fuel. If we let the oil companies control the coming hydrogen economy, they’re going to want to make hydrogen from natural gas – of course, since it would mean they stay in the game, and get high profits from polluting methods of hydrogen fuel generation. What would be infinitely smarter, would be to generate the hydrogen from solar, wind and/or tidal power, either from water, by electrolysis, or where water supplies are limited, from sewage, compost or landfill gas. Every city, town and county can thereby be energy self-sufficient, assuming some serious efforts are made at energy conservation and efficiency. We would then tell the big oil companies to take a hike.

Yes, generating hydrogen from electrolysis, from water, is energy inefficient, but with abundant solar, wind and tidal power, that is not a problem. Slaughter in the Middle East for oil is not a very feasible alternative, if we are at all still alive to our humanity, nor are the unending greenhouse gas emissions a viable option. Electric vehicles have their own inefficiencies, especially if they are plugged into a highly polluting energy grid that itself operates with very low rates of energy efficiency. Biodiesel makes sense, reducing oil dependency and greenhouse gas emissions, but turning crops into fuel while millions starve, is not all that ethical, one would have to admit. Biofuel ethanol spells the same thing, at least when the ethanol is produced from cropland. If it is produced from waste – such as forest waste – then it makes sense, but there will still need to be a number of technologies developed and implemented in order to wean ourselves off gas and oil as quickly as possible. Hybrids are great, but they’re still petrol-burners, and as such are not sufficient in themselves. They are a step in the right direction, not the ultimate answer. Now a flexi-fuel hybrid that can run on whatever fuel is available – gas, biofuel ethanol or hydrogen – backed by an electric hybrid system, would be the best possible transition system. One way or another, we have to get from an oil-dependent, carbon-heavy, highly wasteful, highly polluting society, to one that is clean green, low carbon and sustainable. Hydrogen is one technology that will help us get there.

All in all, hydrogen from electrolysis – from water – or from waste – municipal sewage, compost or landfill gas – makes very good sense, so long as the hydrogen generation systems are powered by truly clean, green renewable energy. We are talking about an energy revolution if we make this happen. No more monopolies over world energy supplies: community controlled energy sources. This is a social revolution, not just an ecological one. Control over energy means control in society. If big corporations control the energy that runs our society, then they control the levers of power. If communities control their own energy supplies, then they control their own fate. They are not pawns, spectators, cogs or consumers alone. Communities and individuals become empowered when control over energy is decentralized, brought down to earth. Hydrogen fuel, when combined with distributed generation that is in the hands of communities, powered by wind, water and solar, is a social revolution.

Whether we are talking about electric cars, bio-fuel cars or hydrogen cars, the source of the fuel is critical. Electric cars powered by coal plants is unsustainable. Bio-fuel cars powered by food crops is unethical and unfeasible on a global scale. Hydrogen cars fueled by natural gas-derived hydrogen would be a red herring. But all three are feasible and ecologically superior to petroleum if done with some forethought and clear-headedness.

Yes, electrolysis and stream reformation production of hydrogen are both low-efficiency processes, but with abundant solar, wind or tidal power that really becomes a non-issue. We are ultimately storing renewable energy in the form of hydrogen, which is a very convenient storage medium, and the power ultimately comes from the wind, water or sun. It should be remembered that the entire electric grid is grossly inefficient, from generating plant to transmission towers, and so too are gasoline and diesel cars terribly inefficient. The gas or diesel car utilizes only 15-20% of the energy of its fuel to move the car; the rest is lost in heat and friction. (And this does not include the enormous energy consumption and inefficiencies involved in the exploration, extraction, shipping and refining of the oil.) That’s not terribly efficient, and the electrical power grid runs at similar gross inefficiencies. So harping about the inefficiency of hydrogen production is not particularly appropriate or relevant, considering all of the above. The relevant question is one of cost, but that is one we have to suck up and subsidize, in order to create the needed infrastructure. Once we have built the infrastructure, the hydrogen generation and distribution network, using renewable energy sources, we have essentially free fuel. Pay now, or pay later. If we pay now, and invest in this smart technology, the fuel of the 21st century, we can save ourselves a lot of pain, in terms of environmental crisis, oil dependency, resource wars and global warming; and we can also reap economic rewards by becoming world leaders in leading edge environmental technologies.

And yes, hydrogen is an energy carrier, not an energy source – just as batteries in an electric car are an energy carrier, not an energy source. So what? The point is, hydrogen can be produced sustainably, cleanly and from renewable energy sources – using solar, wind and tidal power – just as electric cars can be powered by the same clean, green energies. Problem…? (In fact, storing energy for an electric vehicle can be accomplished either through batteries or with hydrogen fuel cells. The fuel cells operate as energy carriers just as the batteries do, only with potentially fewer disposal problems – battery disposal is an issue in itself. )I’d rather drive a BMW Hydrogen 7, powered by my own at home electrolysis unit, which in turn runs on off-grid clean solar and wind power, than run an electric car that sucks up its juice from a coal fired power plant – to make the comparison of energy sources clear. It makes a difference where the energy comes from, yes, and this applies equally to electric and hydrogen cars. Both are zero emission vehicles, and both require some energy source to run them. More nuke plants and coal plants to juice those millions of electric cars, would be a nightmare, just as hydrogen cars running on fuel made from natural gas would be stupid and unecological. But nobody in their right mind – outside the nuke lobby – is advocating more nuke plants, when we still don’t have a clue as to how to safely dispose of radioactive waste that has a half-life of a hundred thousand years; and no-one in their right mind would advocate more coal plants. We do have options. Bio-fuels make sense, particularly when the source used for producing it is carefully chosen. Electric (EV) and hydrogen cars both make sense, but are only at their best under certain very specific conditions. For EV’s, the power should ultimately come from clean, renewable energy sources such as wind, solar or tidal power. Exactly the same is true for hydrogen. And both are viable – right now. The problem with hydrogen is simply, will we do it? Will we cough up the investment for the needed fuel distribution infrastructure? We could build it in less than a year if we wanted to, and it wouldn’t cost that much. The trouble is, big oil has more clout in the capitals of Canada, the U.S. and Britain than brains have sway – as with many other nations. I hope this changes soon. The technology is ready, but are we? What in hell are we waiting for?


Hydrogen is happening:


Cutting through the fog – and the smog


ITS Hydrogen Highway Launch Event

British Columbia’s own Hydrogen Highway | Hydrogen Use

Hydrogen Bus Demonstration Completed In Manitoba, Partners Invest $600,000 In Technology

Hydrogen fuel station in Sweden…. ConocoPhillips buys E-Gas patents … fuel cell water taxi Diesel Progress North American Edition – Find Articles

Berlin, Shanghai and Amsterdam unveil hydrogen buses

London Hydrogen Action Plan

London Hydrogen Partnership – Peugeot

H2.ca – Hydrogen Water Taxi in Newport Harbor

BBC News | SCI/TECH | Iceland launches energy revolution

BMW’s hydrogen powered 7-Series

BBC NEWS Science-Nature Sun and hydrogen ‘to fuel future’

Canadian Group Produces Hydrogen from Water Using Solar Energy

SHEC Labs achieved breakthrough performance in manufacturing …

Sunlight Used To Produce Hydrogen From Water

US legislator wants to reward hydrogen inventors

Growing hydrogen for the cars of tomorrow – energy-fuels – 25 February 2006 – New Scientist

Treehugger Garbage to Hydrogen, Just Add Sun

Sewage turned into hydrogen fuel – 29 April 2002 – New Scientist

Nanotubes crank out hydrogen TRN 020905

Fuel Cell Vehicle Fleet Transports Inauguration Guests

EERC Demonstrates Hydrogen Production at Ethanol Facilities

NHA Renewables to Hydrogen Forum

Wal-Mart Completes Test of Fuel-Cell Pallet Trucks

H2 on-site refueling system – Nuvera to Provide PowerTap Hydrogen Refueling System

Green Car Congress: Two Dutch Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicles: NEV and Scooter

Canadian zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell bus

‘The Future of Racing’ Unveiled to Auto Industry Leaders and Motorsport Dignitaries in Detroit

California’s 2007 Guidelines for Renewable Energy Rebates, Including Fuel Cells

The Accept H2 Project: An international study funded by the European Commission

The US and Europe Getting Down to Business – Implementation of the Hydrogen Economy

Beyond Batteries: Portable Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Hydrogen Fueling Station Database for Canada & the U.S.

Another option:

Don’t own, share

The Benefits of Car-Sharing – Co-operative Auto Network

Where can you find Car Sharing in North America

@World Car Share Consortium

Carsharing.ca

Car Sharing News

Zipcar : Green Benefits

AutoShare Toronto – Car Sharing

Vrtucar.com – Ottawa ON

The People’s Car Co-op – Waterloo Ontario

Cooperative Auto Network – Vancouver B.C.

CarSharing Handbook – How to start a car co-op in your community.

Peterborough UK City Council – Car share scheme aims to cut congestion and travel costs

Freewheelers: International Car Share Directory

Other alternatives to cars:

Share a car for occasional use, rent a car for longer trips once in a while, and use transit, train, bus or bike as primary transportation. Before dismissing the notion, take a look at some of the options below.

Cool bikes and electric scooters:

Dynamic Commuter Bike

Gowatt – electric bicycles

Gowatt – Scooter – E-Light

Segway

I gave up my car and saved $16,000

Where can you find this gem? An all-weather bike for $650 USD? Or is there a mistake on the price?
Shirouma Science’s All Weather Bicycle.

HPV’s (Human Powered Vehicles), Velomobiles, Hybrid HPV/EV’s:

The Leitra

Aerorider | Hybrid HPV/Electric Vehicle | Velomobiel

The go-one³

IHPVA velomobile page

North American Velomobilist website

Velomobile USA

The Velomobile Is Comin’ To Town

BentRider Velomobile guide

In search of an all-weather bike | GreenAsh

Green car rentals, airport shuttles and taxis:

The Hertz Green Collection in Europe

PlanetTran – Eco-Friendly Airport Shuttle Service

thegreenguy: Reviewed: ecoigo, London’s newest green taxi service

globeandmail.com: Green cab, clean air, full pockets

Green Car Congress: New Yorkers Want Hybrid Taxis; Taxi Commission Isnt So Sure

Is That a Tinge of Green on New York’s Yellow Cabs? – New York Times

Microcabs: A Bloody Good Idea!: Taxi Cab | Hydrogen Fuel Cell | London, England

Alternative fuels locater & other resources:

Hydrogen Fueling Station Database for Canada & the U.S.

MapQuest: Find alternative fuels

Oliomap is your Wikimap for biodiesel and VegOil services

Top 12 Greenest and Meanest vehicles of 2007, as defined by ACEEE – AutoblogGreen

Top 100 Green Cars – Yahoo! Autos

Federal and state purchasing incentives

Government Incentives in Canada – Environmental fiscal reform in Canada

Recommendations for Incentives – Green Budget Coalition Canada

35 mpg fuel conservation numbers from the Union of Concerned Scientists

Guess who made $1,252 a second, every second last year?

Alternative Fuel Choices – AOL Autos

Posted in alternative, bicycle, bike, biodiesel, biofuel, car co-op, car sharing, carbon, economy, electric car, ethanol, fuel cell, global warming, green car, hybrid, hydrogen, renewable, sustainability, tesla on February 7, 2007 by jtoddring

Baby Steps and Big Leaps:

Greener cars are here

The Best:

Neighbourhood electric vehicles (NEV’s)

Most people drive within a radius of less than 30km. Most trips are in-town. If you only go out of town once or twice a month, you can save a lot of money and reduce your environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions by buying an NEV to use for 90% of your trips, and renting a car or taking the bus or train for out of town trips. There are a number of cute, quiet, fun and practical NEV’s available, and they’re pretty affordable: $10-16 USD. You just plug them in when you go home at night. Electricity costs far less than gas, so you save big time.

Ideally, you have converted your home to be off-grid, powered by wind and solar, so there are no greenhouse gas emissions and no smog created from dirty coal-fired power plants that recharge your batteries. To do this you’d need $15-20k or so, depending on your power consumption. You would then have a truly zero emission car, and no energy bills or gas costs. Think of that at your next $40 fill-up at the gas station. 5,000 to 15,000 lbs (2,000 to 7,000 kg) of carbon dioxide emitted per year by the average petro-dependent car. Another 10,000 to 15,000 lbs a year of CO2 emissions from your home heating and electricity needs. Or, a $40k investment to wipe out your home and car CO2 emissions, and free yourself from gas and energy bills forever. Hm. Smart investment – in your future, and the future of all life on earth.

If your average heat and electricity bills come to a total of $250 a month, and you spend an average of $150 a month on gas for your conventional car or truck, it would take 100 months, or 8.3 years to recoup your investment, after which time you would be saving $400 a month. Over the span of 20 years, you would therefore save yourself $56,000! And that’s if gas and energy prices don’t go up – which of course they will. Is this a no-brainer or what? Of course, you have to have the cash to do this, or else take out a loan. For those who can, it only makes sense: financially as well as ecologically. You can make a higher return on investment in other ways, but ethically, this is a true win-win situation, others likely are not.

Zenn:

Zero emission, no noise vehicle – from a new Canadian car company, based in Toronto.

ZENN Motor Company – Welcome to the Web Site of the leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of electric vehicles.

ZENN Savings Calculator

Zap!

The only electric car presently available in the U.S.

ZAP

ZAP Xebra 100% Electric EV Sedan

ZAP Xebra 100% Electric EV Pick Up

Xebra Xero

ZAPTruck XL


Reva

A great little electric car from India.

Reva worldwide

REVA photo gallery

G-Wiz

World’s best-selling electric car. Very cute 4-seater hatchback.

G-Wiz electric car

G-Wiz testimonials – GoinGreen – Driving Down Pollution

Where to buy them:

In Canada
ZENN Motor Company – Welcome to the Web Site of the leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of electric vehicles.

U.S.
ZAP

Europe
about GoinGreen – Driving Down Pollution

Soon to arrive:

Electric cars that can take to the highway

The Tesla Roadster

A car that will prove the compatibility of electric vehicles with style, performance and power. An expensive top-end sports car that will open the door for the company to produce more affordable cars in the future. Release date: expected 2008 or 2009.
Mechanical Resonance: The Tesla Motors Press Intro, Complete With Governator – Jalopnik

Video of the Tesla Roadster testing on ice! (ok, you have to really love cars to appreciate this)

The Chevy Volt

Hopefully an affordable highway-ready electric car. Release date unknown. Hopefully 2009.
Detroit Auto Show: It’s here. GM’s plug-in hybrid is the Chevy Volt Concept – AutoblogGreen

Second-best:

The hybrids

The Prius still takes the prize, but it’s good to see more choices available.
Compare Hybrid Cars

Hybrid SUV’s sound like a bad joke, but if you must haul your ass in nearly 4,000 Lbs of glass and steel, you might as well make that pig at least somewhat efficient.
Compare Hybrid SUVs

Can’t forget the Smart car!

Smart Shows Diesel and Gasoline Hybrids, EV and CNG Prototypes of smart Car

Bio-Fuel Babies:

Not the ultimate in green fuel cars, but a step ahead at least

Ford Focus Flexi-Fuel
Green-Car-Guide.com

Saab 9-5 Turbo BioPower
Green-Car-Guide.com

And the coolest little cars I’ve ever seen: Obvio !
OBVIO !

Obvio ! model 828 specs

Obvio 012

One concept car – production date unknown:
Lotus Exige 265E
Road Test: Lotus Exige 265E

The Bio-Fuel Option:

Bio-fuel is not a panacea, nor an ultimate answer, but it is a step, a step in the right direction, and for that reason, it is highly valuable as a technology. Bio-fuel from ethanol produces 70% less greenhouse gas emissions than gas or diesel, and cuts our dependence on oil. For these reasons, it should be pursued vigourously. It should be one facet of a multi-faceted strategy to cut our greenhouse gas emissions, to move in the direction of genuine sustainability, and to reduce and ultimately eliminate our dependence on oil.

Statement by Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren at a …

Brazil has just announced an investment of USD $8.4 billion (that’s billion, not million) over the next four years in bio-fuels – 77 new ethanol mills and 46 new biodiesel plants. Canada?

The Chinese government is not stupid. The world is running out of cheap oil. They know this, and are taking steps to secure their energy resources for the coming years and decades. While they are busy signing contracts, making investments and forming economic and military alliances to secure their access to the world’s remaining oil reserves, they are also busy diversifying their energy resources. China recently invested $350 million to build two giant bio-fuel ethanol plants in Sweden, to make bio-fuel from forest waste. As the Swedish Environment Minister has said, in a country that is 60% forest-covered, bio-fuel from forestry waste makes obvious sense.

Canada should join the 21st century and stop subsidizing oil companies, and start heavily investing in bio-fuel ethanol from forest waste.

We have among the largest remaining forests in the world, and if we practice sustained yield forestry, we will have for decades and generations to come. With all this foretry activity however, comes a huge waste issue. Only 30% of the wood cut in a typical forestry operation is used; 70% is waste. 70% of the cut wood is either burned as slash – a ridiculous thing to do as it releases enormous quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere, compounding our global warming problems – or is left to rot, which also compounds global warming as the rotting wood releases methane gas, another greenhouse gas. What makes sense is to turn that waste into ethanol. This is already being done, and bravo to those involved. But it needs to be accelerated and expanded many fold.

We have entire communities in Canada – many of them – that are almost entirely dependent upon the forestry industry. Many of these communities are struggling: job losses, economic decay, social decay, loss of hope, despair – not a pretty sight. The answer, along with value-added forestry industry development, is bio-fuel ethanol from forest waste. Jobs, prosperity, community economic recovery and strengthening, thriving, vibrant communities – and a cleaner, greener, renewable fuel system for our country. We should be dong this now. Take the $4 billion the former Liberal government was going to give away to big corporations as a measure of the money our federal government throws away. With just a quarter of this amount, we could quickly develop one of the world’s leading bio-fuel industries, with economic benefits to Canadians, jobs, and huge environmental benefits. Sweden is showing how an economy can be retooled to make it not just more environmentally sustainable, but also to shift its entire economic base toward environmental technologies. Here in Canada we can take the lead, or we can live in the last century.

Ultimately, we would want to shift the newly developed bio-fuel ethanol industry, based on forestry waste, to a full hydrogen system. By burning bio-fuel ethanol in vehicles we reduce emissions and oil dependency, but emissions are still there. By investing first in bio-fuel ethanol from forest waste, then later re-investing to shift to hydrogen production, we can make this a zero-emission fuel and energy system. The investment needed for this second phase would be large, but the economic as well as environmental benefits would be great. Solar, wind and tidal powered steam reformation is the technology that will take us from leading edge bio-fuel ethanol, to the ultimate: zero emission hydrogen from clean, renewable sources.

Cars are now being produced that can run on either gasoline or bio-fuel ethanol, depending on fuel availability. This is the transition technology. The ideal fuel source is described above. Add to this technology mix the dual-fuel hydrogen system demonstrated by BMW. BMW’s Hydrogen 7 can run on either hydrogen or gasoline, depending on fuel availability. Thus we now have the technology to have cars that will run on gasoline, bio-fuel ethanol, or hydrogen, depending on fuel availability. This technology will take us the rest of the way. We can then move seamlessly from oil-dependent smog-belching resource-depleting conventional gas and diesel automobiles, to bio-fuel, to hydrogen. From worst, to better to best.

Bio-diesel deserves mentioning, though it does not have the same benefits as bio-fuel ethanol. Bio-diesel is basically vegetable oil run through a conventional diesel engine. It burns cleaner, reducing engine wear as well as emissions. It is also a non-fossil fuel energy source that can help free us from oil dependency. But it does come from food crops, and this is its weakness. You can’t both feed the planet, and fuel your car with bio-diesel – there simply isn’t enough farmland. So bio-diesel makes sense, in that it will be a temporary measure, a stop-gap, a transition technology that helps us get from high carbon, high greenhouse gas emissions, and oil dependency, to a low carbon, low emission, oil-free society. It does not however, deserve to be our primary strategy, or anything close. It should be funded massively, to switch existing diesel engines to something that at least is a little better. But it will have to be a technology that exists along side electric vehicles, bio-fuel ethanol and hydrogen, all of which will be and should be more primary and far more predominant.

Bo-diesel from waste oil is highly praised in environmental circles, but it is a tiny niche only, not a mass-application: there simply isn’t enough waste oil to fuel even a small fraction of the automobiles on the planet. It’s great for a few people, but not an answer for a society.

Sweden‘s example:

“Using energy more efficiently and in particular reducing dependency on oil is critical…Sweden has used economic instruments for decades – and in particular a carbon dioxide tax since 1991. Biofuels are exempt. The effect has been significant….In a country where 60 per cent of the territory is covered by forests biofuels is an obvious choice. This will also generate more jobs, especially in the north and in the rural areas.

[Swedish] Parliament has passed a Government Bill to increase public access to renewable fuels. Under the new legislation, all large petrol stations in Sweden must offer renewable motor fuels, such as biogas or ethanol.

Sweden’s national policy on the promotion of biofuels also include tax relief on environment-friendly fuels and cars along with subsidies for the production of biofuels. Subsidies are also available for local incentives such as reduced parking fees and car parks dedicated exclusively to biofuel vehicles.

However, today’s challenges represent tomorrow’s opportunities – if we use them!

The Swedish government sees environmental technologies as an important sector for economic development and growth. According to Statistics Sweden, the environment sector in our country has annual sales of approximately 35.3 billion US dollars and employs some 90 000 people. The Swedish Environmental Technology Council has a database comprising more than 1 600 companies that are working in the sector. Bear in mind that Sweden only has 9 million inhabitants. So it is reasonable to say that environmental technology is currently one of most important sectors in Sweden.

Today we are focusing our attention on biogas and its potential.”

– Minister for the Environment, Sweden

Statement by Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren at a …

China invests in Swedish bioenergy

Swedish biofuel sales grow 270% in 2006

Making Sweden an OIL-FREE Society

Nordic Countries Design Sustainable Communities: The Natural Step for Eco-Villages

Portugal wants 45% renewable electricity output and 10% of all fuels to be biofuels

Renewable Energy World – Renewables global status update: Investment and capacity soar while support policies continue to multiply

BBC NEWS | Business | Biofuel raises global dilemmas

BBC NEWS | Business | Car firms and investors greet UK biofuel

Bioenergy pact between Europe and Africa

Wisconsin shooting for leadership in energy independence – AutoblogGreen

Inside Greentech is hosting a live web seminar examining cellulosic ethanol technologies in April – sign up now

Editorial: Thoughts on the performance and potential of ethanol – AutoblogGreen

Venture Capital jumps into the lobbying game for alternative fuels – AutoblogGreen

***Virgin Group pledges $3 billion to fight global warming at CGI – AutoblogGreen

Most Honourable Mention:

BMW’s Hydrogen 7

Had we a hydrogen fuel distribution system in place to utilize it, BMW’s Hydrogen 7 would be the cream of the crop. As we are still waiting for such a fuel delivery system, the H7 is honourable, but not yet practical – at least outside of a few places like LA and Silicon Valley.
BMW officially announces the BMW Hydrogen 7 – AutoblogGreen

Honda FCX:

First hydrogen fuel cell car to be released in 2008.
Hydrogen Wonder – AOL Autos

Hydrogen:

Dream of the future, now.

The nay-sayers can stop the sniping now. Hydrogen is here. It’s safe, it’s proven, and it works. Yes, there are two big remaining questions, but with a modest amount of creative intelligence and the necessary determination, these can be quickly overcome. What hydrogen means, is an alternative to oil addiction, a fuel (an energy carrier to be precise) that, when made from either water or waste using solar, wind or tidal power, is truly clean, green, renewable and sustainable. A hydrogen vehicle emits only water vapour out the tailpipe. And the hydrogen can be made from the two things we have in great abundance on earth: water and waste. (The water is returned to the atmosphere as the car burns the hydrogen, cleanly completing the cycle. And sewage, compost and landfill waste we are not likely to run out of.) Combined with solar, wind and tidal power, hydrogen is, as the president of Ford has recently said, the fuel of the 21st century.

The two big remaining questions for hydrogen are: distribution and source. There is only one place on earth that I know of where a hydrogen distribution system is being built – California. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has committed $100 million to build the world’s first hydrogen highway, with 200 fueling stations down the length of the state. He has also recently announced plans to extend the hydrogen highway to Vancouver, B.C. in Canada, and south into Mexico.

This, of course, is what Canada should be doing as well. When the former Liberal government was willing to give away $4 billion in additional tax breaks to big, profitable corporations, clearly we can afford to build a trans-Canada hydrogen highway. As a start, we would need a hydrogen fueling station every 100 miles across the 4,000 mile stretch coast to coast. At half a million dollars each (USD) that would be 40 stations costing USD $20 million, or $24 million CDN. Throw in another half million per station and we could make the hydrogen on-site, with solar and wind powered electrolysis hydrogen generation systems, or where water is scarce, with steam reformation of biogas – gas produced naturally from sewage, compost or landfills.

$50 million for a clean, green, sustainable trans-Canada hydrogen highway. With the equivalent of the Liberals’ $4 billion corporate give-away we could build such a hydrogen infrastructure 20 times over. What the hell are we waiting for? Obviously, no political party has yet to come to power in Canada with sufficient balls or brains, or such a vision would by now be a reality. Let’s put the pressure on to make it happen. This should be a project we get behind and get excited about – something on the scale of the historic trans-Canada rail line, but arguably far more important.

The second big question regarding hydrogen is the source of the fuel. If we let the oil companies control the coming hydrogen economy, they’re going to want to make hydrogen from natural gas – of course, since it would mean they stay in the game, and get high profits from polluting methods of hydrogen fuel generation. What would be infinitely smarter, would be to generate the hydrogen from solar, wind and/or tidal power, either from water, by electrolysis, or where water supplies are limited, from sewage, compost or landfill gas. Every city, town and county can thereby be energy self-sufficient, assuming some serious efforts are made at energy conservation and efficiency. We would then tell the big oil companies to take a hike.

Yes, generating hydrogen from electrolysis, from water, is energy inefficient, but with abundant solar, wind and tidal power, that is not a problem. Slaughter in the Middle East for oil is not a very feasible alternative, if we are at all still alive to our humanity, nor are the unending greenhouse gas emissions a viable option. Electric vehicles have their own inefficiencies, especially if they are plugged into a highly polluting energy grid that itself operates with very low rates of energy efficiency. Biodiesel makes sense, reducing oil dependency and greenhouse gas emissions, but turning crops into fuel while millions starve, is not all that ethical, one would have to admit. Biofuel ethanol spells the same thing, at least when the ethanol is produced from cropland. If it is produced from waste – such as forest waste – then it makes sense, but there will still need to be a number of technologies developed and implemented in order to wean ourselves off gas and oil as quickly as possible. Hybrids are great, but they’re still petrol-burners, and as such are not sufficient in themselves. They are a step in the right direction, not the ultimate answer. Now a flexi-fuel hybrid that can run on whatever fuel is available – gas, biofuel ethanol or hydrogen – backed by an electric hybrid system, would be the best possible transition system. One way or another, we have to get from an oil-dependent, carbon-heavy, highly wasteful, highly polluting society, to one that is clean green, low carbon and sustainable. Hydrogen is one technology that will help us get there.

All in all, hydrogen from electrolysis – from water – or from waste – municipal sewage, compost or landfill gas – makes very good sense, so long as the hydrogen generation systems are powered by truly clean, green renewable energy. We are talking about an energy revolution if we make this happen. No more monopolies over world energy supplies: community controlled energy sources. This is a social revolution, not just an ecological one. Control over energy means control in society. If big corporations control the energy that runs our society, then they control the levers of power. If communities control their own energy supplies, then they control their own fate. They are not pawns, spectators, cogs or consumers alone. Communities and individuals become empowered when control over energy is decentralized, brought down to earth. Hydrogen fuel, when combined with distributed generation that is in the hands of communities, powered by wind, water and solar, is a social revolution.

Whether we are talking about electric cars, bio-fuel cars or hydrogen cars, the source of the fuel is critical. Electric cars powered by coal plants is unsustainable. Bio-fuel cars powered by food crops is unethical and unfeasible on a global scale. Hydrogen cars fueled by natural gas-derived hydrogen would be a red herring. But all three are feasible and ecologically superior to petroleum if done with some forethought and clear-headedness.

Yes, electrolysis and stream reformation production of hydrogen are both low-efficiency processes, but with abundant solar, wind or tidal power that really becomes a non-issue. We are ultimately storing renewable energy in the form of hydrogen, which is a very convenient storage medium, and the power ultimately comes from the wind, water or sun. It should be remembered that the entire electric grid is grossly inefficient, from generating plant to transmission towers, and so too are gasoline and diesel cars terribly inefficient. The gas or diesel car utilizes only 15-20% of the energy of its fuel to move the car; the rest is lost in heat and friction. (And this does not include the enormous energy consumption and inefficiencies involved in the exploration, extraction, shipping and refining of the oil.) That’s not terribly efficient, and the electrical power grid runs at similar gross inefficiencies. So harping about the inefficiency of hydrogen production is not particularly appropriate or relevant, considering all of the above. The relevant question is one of cost, but that is one we have to suck up and subsidize, in order to create the needed infrastructure. Once we have built the infrastructure, the hydrogen generation and distribution network, using renewable energy sources, we have essentially free fuel. Pay now, or pay later. If we pay now, and invest in this smart technology, the fuel of the 21st century, we can save ourselves a lot of pain, in terms of environmental crisis, oil dependency, resource wars and global warming; and we can also reap economic rewards by becoming world leaders in leading edge environmental technologies.

And yes, hydrogen is an energy carrier, not an energy source – just as batteries in an electric car are an energy carrier, not an energy source. So what? The point is, hydrogen can be produced sustainably, cleanly and from renewable energy sources – using solar, wind and tidal power – just as electric cars can be powered by the same clean, green energies. Problem…? (In fact, storing energy for an electric vehicle can be accomplished either through batteries or with hydrogen fuel cells. The fuel cells operate as energy carriers just as the batteries do, only with potentially fewer disposal problems – battery disposal is an issue in itself. )I’d rather drive a BMW Hydrogen 7, powered by my own at home electrolysis unit, which in turn runs on off-grid clean solar and wind power, than run an electric car that sucks up its juice from a coal fired power plant – to make the comparison of energy sources clear. It makes a difference where the energy comes from, yes, and this applies equally to electric and hydrogen cars. Both are zero emission vehicles, and both require some energy source to run them. More nuke plants and coal plants to juice those millions of electric cars, would be a nightmare, just as hydrogen cars running on fuel made from natural gas would be stupid and unecological. But nobody in their right mind – outside the nuke lobby – is advocating more nuke plants, when we still don’t have a clue as to how to safely dispose of radioactive waste that has a half-life of a hundred thousand years; and no-one in their right mind would advocate more coal plants. We do have options. Bio-fuels make sense, particularly when the source used for producing it is carefully chosen. Electric (EV) and hydrogen cars both make sense, but are only at their best under certain very specific conditions. For EV’s, the power should ultimately come from clean, renewable energy sources such as wind, solar or tidal power. Exactly the same is true for hydrogen. And both are viable – right now. The problem with hydrogen is simply, will we do it? Will we cough up the investment for the needed fuel distribution infrastructure? We could build it in less than a year if we wanted to, and it wouldn’t cost that much. The trouble is, big oil has more clout in the capitals of Canada, the U.S. and Britain than brains have sway – as with many other nations. I hope this changes soon. The technology is ready, but are we? What in hell are we waiting for?


Hydrogen is happening:


Cutting through the fog – and the smog


ITS Hydrogen Highway Launch Event

British Columbia’s own Hydrogen Highway | Hydrogen Use

Hydrogen Bus Demonstration Completed In Manitoba, Partners Invest $600,000 In Technology

Hydrogen fuel station in Sweden…. ConocoPhillips buys E-Gas patents … fuel cell water taxi Diesel Progress North American Edition – Find Articles

Berlin, Shanghai and Amsterdam unveil hydrogen buses

London Hydrogen Action Plan

London Hydrogen Partnership – Peugeot

H2.ca – Hydrogen Water Taxi in Newport Harbor

BBC News | SCI/TECH | Iceland launches energy revolution

BMW’s hydrogen powered 7-Series

BBC NEWS Science-Nature Sun and hydrogen ‘to fuel future’

Canadian Group Produces Hydrogen from Water Using Solar Energy

SHEC Labs achieved breakthrough performance in manufacturing …

Sunlight Used To Produce Hydrogen From Water

US legislator wants to reward hydrogen inventors

Growing hydrogen for the cars of tomorrow – energy-fuels – 25 February 2006 – New Scientist

Treehugger Garbage to Hydrogen, Just Add Sun

Sewage turned into hydrogen fuel – 29 April 2002 – New Scientist

Nanotubes crank out hydrogen TRN 020905

Fuel Cell Vehicle Fleet Transports Inauguration Guests

EERC Demonstrates Hydrogen Production at Ethanol Facilities

NHA Renewables to Hydrogen Forum

Wal-Mart Completes Test of Fuel-Cell Pallet Trucks

H2 on-site refueling system – Nuvera to Provide PowerTap Hydrogen Refueling System

Green Car Congress: Two Dutch Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicles: NEV and Scooter

Canadian zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell bus

‘The Future of Racing’ Unveiled to Auto Industry Leaders and Motorsport Dignitaries in Detroit

California’s 2007 Guidelines for Renewable Energy Rebates, Including Fuel Cells

The Accept H2 Project: An international study funded by the European Commission

The US and Europe Getting Down to Business – Implementation of the Hydrogen Economy

Beyond Batteries: Portable Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Hydrogen Fueling Station Database for Canada & the U.S.

Another option:

Don’t own, share

The Benefits of Car-Sharing – Co-operative Auto Network

Where can you find Car Sharing in North America

@World Car Share Consortium

Carsharing.ca

Car Sharing News

Zipcar : Green Benefits

AutoShare Toronto – Car Sharing

Vrtucar.com – Ottawa ON

The People’s Car Co-op – Waterloo Ontario

Cooperative Auto Network – Vancouver B.C.

CarSharing Handbook – How to start a car co-op in your community.

Peterborough UK City Council – Car share scheme aims to cut congestion and travel costs

Freewheelers: International Car Share Directory

Other alternatives to cars:

Share a car for occasional use, rent a car for longer trips once in a while, and use transit, train, bus or bike as primary transportation. Before dismissing the notion, take a look at some of the options below.

Cool bikes and electric scooters:

Dynamic Commuter Bike

Gowatt – electric bicycles

Gowatt – Scooter – E-Light

Segway

I gave up my car and saved $16,000

Where can you find this gem? An all-weather bike for $650 USD? Or is there a mistake on the price?
Shirouma Science’s All Weather Bicycle.

HPV’s (Human Powered Vehicles), Velomobiles, Hybrid HPV/EV’s:

The Leitra

Aerorider | Hybrid HPV/Electric Vehicle | Velomobiel

The go-one³

IHPVA velomobile page

North American Velomobilist website

Velomobile USA

The Velomobile Is Comin’ To Town

BentRider Velomobile guide

In search of an all-weather bike | GreenAsh

Green car rentals, airport shuttles and taxis:

The Hertz Green Collection in Europe

PlanetTran – Eco-Friendly Airport Shuttle Service

thegreenguy: Reviewed: ecoigo, London’s newest green taxi service

globeandmail.com: Green cab, clean air, full pockets

Green Car Congress: New Yorkers Want Hybrid Taxis; Taxi Commission Isnt So Sure

Is That a Tinge of Green on New York’s Yellow Cabs? – New York Times

Microcabs: A Bloody Good Idea!: Taxi Cab | Hydrogen Fuel Cell | London, England

Alternative fuels locater & other resources:

Hydrogen Fueling Station Database for Canada & the U.S.

MapQuest: Find alternative fuels

Oliomap is your Wikimap for biodiesel and VegOil services

Top 12 Greenest and Meanest vehicles of 2007, as defined by ACEEE – AutoblogGreen

Top 100 Green Cars – Yahoo! Autos

Federal and state purchasing incentives

Government Incentives in Canada – Environmental fiscal reform in Canada

Recommendations for Incentives – Green Budget Coalition Canada

35 mpg fuel conservation numbers from the Union of Concerned Scientists

Guess who made $1,252 a second, every second last year?

Alternative Fuel Choices – AOL Autos

Posted in alternative, bicycle, bike, biodiesel, biofuel, car co-op, car sharing, carbon, economy, electric car, ethanol, fuel cell, global warming, green car, hybrid, hydrogen, renewable, sustainability, tesla on February 7, 2007 by jtoddring

Baby Steps and Big Leaps:

Greener cars are here

The Best:

Neighbourhood electric vehicles (NEV’s)

Most people drive within a radius of less than 30km. Most trips are in-town. If you only go out of town once or twice a month, you can save a lot of money and reduce your environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions by buying an NEV to use for 90% of your trips, and renting a car or taking the bus or train for out of town trips. There are a number of cute, quiet, fun and practical NEV’s available, and they’re pretty affordable: $10-16 USD. You just plug them in when you go home at night. Electricity costs far less than gas, so you save big time.

Ideally, you have converted your home to be off-grid, powered by wind and solar, so there are no greenhouse gas emissions and no smog created from dirty coal-fired power plants that recharge your batteries. To do this you’d need $15-20k or so, depending on your power consumption. You would then have a truly zero emission car, and no energy bills or gas costs. Think of that at your next $40 fill-up at the gas station. 5,000 to 15,000 lbs (2,000 to 7,000 kg) of carbon dioxide emitted per year by the average petro-dependent car. Another 10,000 to 15,000 lbs a year of CO2 emissions from your home heating and electricity needs. Or, a $40k investment to wipe out your home and car CO2 emissions, and free yourself from gas and energy bills forever. Hm. Smart investment – in your future, and the future of all life on earth.

If your average heat and electricity bills come to a total of $250 a month, and you spend an average of $150 a month on gas for your conventional car or truck, it would take 100 months, or 8.3 years to recoup your investment, after which time you would be saving $400 a month. Over the span of 20 years, you would therefore save yourself $56,000! And that’s if gas and energy prices don’t go up – which of course they will. Is this a no-brainer or what? Of course, you have to have the cash to do this, or else take out a loan. For those who can, it only makes sense: financially as well as ecologically. You can make a higher return on investment in other ways, but ethically, this is a true win-win situation, others likely are not.

Zenn:

Zero emission, no noise vehicle – from a new Canadian car company, based in Toronto.

ZENN Motor Company – Welcome to the Web Site of the leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of electric vehicles.

ZENN Savings Calculator

Zap!

The only electric car presently available in the U.S.

ZAP

ZAP Xebra 100% Electric EV Sedan

ZAP Xebra 100% Electric EV Pick Up

Xebra Xero

ZAPTruck XL


Reva

A great little electric car from India.

Reva worldwide

REVA photo gallery

G-Wiz

World’s best-selling electric car. Very cute 4-seater hatchback.

G-Wiz electric car

G-Wiz testimonials – GoinGreen – Driving Down Pollution

Where to buy them:

In Canada
ZENN Motor Company – Welcome to the Web Site of the leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of electric vehicles.

U.S.
ZAP

Europe
about GoinGreen – Driving Down Pollution

Soon to arrive:

Electric cars that can take to the highway

The Tesla Roadster

A car that will prove the compatibility of electric vehicles with style, performance and power. An expensive top-end sports car that will open the door for the company to produce more affordable cars in the future. Release date: expected 2008 or 2009.
Mechanical Resonance: The Tesla Motors Press Intro, Complete With Governator – Jalopnik

Video of the Tesla Roadster testing on ice! (ok, you have to really love cars to appreciate this)

The Chevy Volt

Hopefully an affordable highway-ready electric car. Release date unknown. Hopefully 2009.
Detroit Auto Show: It’s here. GM’s plug-in hybrid is the Chevy Volt Concept – AutoblogGreen

Second-best:

The hybrids

The Prius still takes the prize, but it’s good to see more choices available.
Compare Hybrid Cars

Hybrid SUV’s sound like a bad joke, but if you must haul your ass in nearly 4,000 Lbs of glass and steel, you might as well make that pig at least somewhat efficient.
Compare Hybrid SUVs

Can’t forget the Smart car!

Smart Shows Diesel and Gasoline Hybrids, EV and CNG Prototypes of smart Car

Bio-Fuel Babies:

Not the ultimate in green fuel cars, but a step ahead at least

Ford Focus Flexi-Fuel
Green-Car-Guide.com

Saab 9-5 Turbo BioPower
Green-Car-Guide.com

And the coolest little cars I’ve ever seen: Obvio !
OBVIO !

Obvio ! model 828 specs

Obvio 012

One concept car – production date unknown:
Lotus Exige 265E
Road Test: Lotus Exige 265E

The Bio-Fuel Option:

Bio-fuel is not a panacea, nor an ultimate answer, but it is a step, a step in the right direction, and for that reason, it is highly valuable as a technology. Bio-fuel from ethanol produces 70% less greenhouse gas emissions than gas or diesel, and cuts our dependence on oil. For these reasons, it should be pursued vigourously. It should be one facet of a multi-faceted strategy to cut our greenhouse gas emissions, to move in the direction of genuine sustainability, and to reduce and ultimately eliminate our dependence on oil.

Statement by Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren at a …

Brazil has just announced an investment of USD $8.4 billion (that’s billion, not million) over the next four years in bio-fuels – 77 new ethanol mills and 46 new biodiesel plants. Canada?

The Chinese government is not stupid. The world is running out of cheap oil. They know this, and are taking steps to secure their energy resources for the coming years and decades. While they are busy signing contracts, making investments and forming economic and military alliances to secure their access to the world’s remaining oil reserves, they are also busy diversifying their energy resources. China recently invested $350 million to build two giant bio-fuel ethanol plants in Sweden, to make bio-fuel from forest waste. As the Swedish Environment Minister has said, in a country that is 60% forest-covered, bio-fuel from forestry waste makes obvious sense.

Canada should join the 21st century and stop subsidizing oil companies, and start heavily investing in bio-fuel ethanol from forest waste.

We have among the largest remaining forests in the world, and if we practice sustained yield forestry, we will have for decades and generations to come. With all this foretry activity however, comes a huge waste issue. Only 30% of the wood cut in a typical forestry operation is used; 70% is waste. 70% of the cut wood is either burned as slash – a ridiculous thing to do as it releases enormous quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere, compounding our global warming problems – or is left to rot, which also compounds global warming as the rotting wood releases methane gas, another greenhouse gas. What makes sense is to turn that waste into ethanol. This is already being done, and bravo to those involved. But it needs to be accelerated and expanded many fold.

We have entire communities in Canada – many of them – that are almost entirely dependent upon the forestry industry. Many of these communities are struggling: job losses, economic decay, social decay, loss of hope, despair – not a pretty sight. The answer, along with value-added forestry industry development, is bio-fuel ethanol from forest waste. Jobs, prosperity, community economic recovery and strengthening, thriving, vibrant communities – and a cleaner, greener, renewable fuel system for our country. We should be dong this now. Take the $4 billion the former Liberal government was going to give away to big corporations as a measure of the money our federal government throws away. With just a quarter of this amount, we could quickly develop one of the world’s leading bio-fuel industries, with economic benefits to Canadians, jobs, and huge environmental benefits. Sweden is showing how an economy can be retooled to make it not just more environmentally sustainable, but also to shift its entire economic base toward environmental technologies. Here in Canada we can take the lead, or we can live in the last century.

Ultimately, we would want to shift the newly developed bio-fuel ethanol industry, based on forestry waste, to a full hydrogen system. By burning bio-fuel ethanol in vehicles we reduce emissions and oil dependency, but emissions are still there. By investing first in bio-fuel ethanol from forest waste, then later re-investing to shift to hydrogen production, we can make this a zero-emission fuel and energy system. The investment needed for this second phase would be large, but the economic as well as environmental benefits would be great. Solar, wind and tidal powered steam reformation is the technology that will take us from leading edge bio-fuel ethanol, to the ultimate: zero emission hydrogen from clean, renewable sources.

Cars are now being produced that can run on either gasoline or bio-fuel ethanol, depending on fuel availability. This is the transition technology. The ideal fuel source is described above. Add to this technology mix the dual-fuel hydrogen system demonstrated by BMW. BMW’s Hydrogen 7 can run on either hydrogen or gasoline, depending on fuel availability. Thus we now have the technology to have cars that will run on gasoline, bio-fuel ethanol, or hydrogen, depending on fuel availability. This technology will take us the rest of the way. We can then move seamlessly from oil-dependent smog-belching resource-depleting conventional gas and diesel automobiles, to bio-fuel, to hydrogen. From worst, to better to best.

Bio-diesel deserves mentioning, though it does not have the same benefits as bio-fuel ethanol. Bio-diesel is basically vegetable oil run through a conventional diesel engine. It burns cleaner, reducing engine wear as well as emissions. It is also a non-fossil fuel energy source that can help free us from oil dependency. But it does come from food crops, and this is its weakness. You can’t both feed the planet, and fuel your car with bio-diesel – there simply isn’t enough farmland. So bio-diesel makes sense, in that it will be a temporary measure, a stop-gap, a transition technology that helps us get from high carbon, high greenhouse gas emissions, and oil dependency, to a low carbon, low emission, oil-free society. It does not however, deserve to be our primary strategy, or anything close. It should be funded massively, to switch existing diesel engines to something that at least is a little better. But it will have to be a technology that exists along side electric vehicles, bio-fuel ethanol and hydrogen, all of which will be and should be more primary and far more predominant.

Bo-diesel from waste oil is highly praised in environmental circles, but it is a tiny niche only, not a mass-application: there simply isn’t enough waste oil to fuel even a small fraction of the automobiles on the planet. It’s great for a few people, but not an answer for a society.

Sweden‘s example:

“Using energy more efficiently and in particular reducing dependency on oil is critical…Sweden has used economic instruments for decades – and in particular a carbon dioxide tax since 1991. Biofuels are exempt. The effect has been significant….In a country where 60 per cent of the territory is covered by forests biofuels is an obvious choice. This will also generate more jobs, especially in the north and in the rural areas.

[Swedish] Parliament has passed a Government Bill to increase public access to renewable fuels. Under the new legislation, all large petrol stations in Sweden must offer renewable motor fuels, such as biogas or ethanol.

Sweden’s national policy on the promotion of biofuels also include tax relief on environment-friendly fuels and cars along with subsidies for the production of biofuels. Subsidies are also available for local incentives such as reduced parking fees and car parks dedicated exclusively to biofuel vehicles.

However, today’s challenges represent tomorrow’s opportunities – if we use them!

The Swedish government sees environmental technologies as an important sector for economic development and growth. According to Statistics Sweden, the environment sector in our country has annual sales of approximately 35.3 billion US dollars and employs some 90 000 people. The Swedish Environmental Technology Council has a database comprising more than 1 600 companies that are working in the sector. Bear in mind that Sweden only has 9 million inhabitants. So it is reasonable to say that environmental technology is currently one of most important sectors in Sweden.

Today we are focusing our attention on biogas and its potential.”

– Minister for the Environment, Sweden

Statement by Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren at a …

China invests in Swedish bioenergy

Swedish biofuel sales grow 270% in 2006

Making Sweden an OIL-FREE Society

Nordic Countries Design Sustainable Communities: The Natural Step for Eco-Villages

Portugal wants 45% renewable electricity output and 10% of all fuels to be biofuels

Renewable Energy World – Renewables global status update: Investment and capacity soar while support policies continue to multiply

BBC NEWS | Business | Biofuel raises global dilemmas

BBC NEWS | Business | Car firms and investors greet UK biofuel

Bioenergy pact between Europe and Africa

Wisconsin shooting for leadership in energy independence – AutoblogGreen

Inside Greentech is hosting a live web seminar examining cellulosic ethanol technologies in April – sign up now

Editorial: Thoughts on the performance and potential of ethanol – AutoblogGreen

Venture Capital jumps into the lobbying game for alternative fuels – AutoblogGreen

***Virgin Group pledges $3 billion to fight global warming at CGI – AutoblogGreen

Most Honourable Mention:

BMW’s Hydrogen 7

Had we a hydrogen fuel distribution system in place to utilize it, BMW’s Hydrogen 7 would be the cream of the crop. As we are still waiting for such a fuel delivery system, the H7 is honourable, but not yet practical – at least outside of a few places like LA and Silicon Valley.
BMW officially announces the BMW Hydrogen 7 – AutoblogGreen

Honda FCX:

First hydrogen fuel cell car to be released in 2008.
Hydrogen Wonder – AOL Autos

Hydrogen:

Dream of the future, now.

The nay-sayers can stop the sniping now. Hydrogen is here. It’s safe, it’s proven, and it works. Yes, there are two big remaining questions, but with a modest amount of creative intelligence and the necessary determination, these can be quickly overcome. What hydrogen means, is an alternative to oil addiction, a fuel (an energy carrier to be precise) that, when made from either water or waste using solar, wind or tidal power, is truly clean, green, renewable and sustainable. A hydrogen vehicle emits only water vapour out the tailpipe. And the hydrogen can be made from the two things we have in great abundance on earth: water and waste. (The water is returned to the atmosphere as the car burns the hydrogen, cleanly completing the cycle. And sewage, compost and landfill waste we are not likely to run out of.) Combined with solar, wind and tidal power, hydrogen is, as the president of Ford has recently said, the fuel of the 21st century.

The two big remaining questions for hydrogen are: distribution and source. There is only one place on earth that I know of where a hydrogen distribution system is being built – California. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has committed $100 million to build the world’s first hydrogen highway, with 200 fueling stations down the length of the state. He has also recently announced plans to extend the hydrogen highway to Vancouver, B.C. in Canada, and south into Mexico.

This, of course, is what Canada should be doing as well. When the former Liberal government was willing to give away $4 billion in additional tax breaks to big, profitable corporations, clearly we can afford to build a trans-Canada hydrogen highway. As a start, we would need a hydrogen fueling station every 100 miles across the 4,000 mile stretch coast to coast. At half a million dollars each (USD) that would be 40 stations costing USD $20 million, or $24 million CDN. Throw in another half million per station and we could make the hydrogen on-site, with solar and wind powered electrolysis hydrogen generation systems, or where water is scarce, with steam reformation of biogas – gas produced naturally from sewage, compost or landfills.

$50 million for a clean, green, sustainable trans-Canada hydrogen highway. With the equivalent of the Liberals’ $4 billion corporate give-away we could build such a hydrogen infrastructure 20 times over. What the hell are we waiting for? Obviously, no political party has yet to come to power in Canada with sufficient balls or brains, or such a vision would by now be a reality. Let’s put the pressure on to make it happen. This should be a project we get behind and get excited about – something on the scale of the historic trans-Canada rail line, but arguably far more important.

The second big question regarding hydrogen is the source of the fuel. If we let the oil companies control the coming hydrogen economy, they’re going to want to make hydrogen from natural gas – of course, since it would mean they stay in the game, and get high profits from polluting methods of hydrogen fuel generation. What would be infinitely smarter, would be to generate the hydrogen from solar, wind and/or tidal power, either from water, by electrolysis, or where water supplies are limited, from sewage, compost or landfill gas. Every city, town and county can thereby be energy self-sufficient, assuming some serious efforts are made at energy conservation and efficiency. We would then tell the big oil companies to take a hike.

Yes, generating hydrogen from electrolysis, from water, is energy inefficient, but with abundant solar, wind and tidal power, that is not a problem. Slaughter in the Middle East for oil is not a very feasible alternative, if we are at all still alive to our humanity, nor are the unending greenhouse gas emissions a viable option. Electric vehicles have their own inefficiencies, especially if they are plugged into a highly polluting energy grid that itself operates with very low rates of energy efficiency. Biodiesel makes sense, reducing oil dependency and greenhouse gas emissions, but turning crops into fuel while millions starve, is not all that ethical, one would have to admit. Biofuel ethanol spells the same thing, at least when the ethanol is produced from cropland. If it is produced from waste – such as forest waste – then it makes sense, but there will still need to be a number of technologies developed and implemented in order to wean ourselves off gas and oil as quickly as possible. Hybrids are great, but they’re still petrol-burners, and as such are not sufficient in themselves. They are a step in the right direction, not the ultimate answer. Now a flexi-fuel hybrid that can run on whatever fuel is available – gas, biofuel ethanol or hydrogen – backed by an electric hybrid system, would be the best possible transition system. One way or another, we have to get from an oil-dependent, carbon-heavy, highly wasteful, highly polluting society, to one that is clean green, low carbon and sustainable. Hydrogen is one technology that will help us get there.

All in all, hydrogen from electrolysis – from water – or from waste – municipal sewage, compost or landfill gas – makes very good sense, so long as the hydrogen generation systems are powered by truly clean, green renewable energy. We are talking about an energy revolution if we make this happen. No more monopolies over world energy supplies: community controlled energy sources. This is a social revolution, not just an ecological one. Control over energy means control in society. If big corporations control the energy that runs our society, then they control the levers of power. If communities control their own energy supplies, then they control their own fate. They are not pawns, spectators, cogs or consumers alone. Communities and individuals become empowered when control over energy is decentralized, brought down to earth. Hydrogen fuel, when combined with distributed generation that is in the hands of communities, powered by wind, water and solar, is a social revolution.

Whether we are talking about electric cars, bio-fuel cars or hydrogen cars, the source of the fuel is critical. Electric cars powered by coal plants is unsustainable. Bio-fuel cars powered by food crops is unethical and unfeasible on a global scale. Hydrogen cars fueled by natural gas-derived hydrogen would be a red herring. But all three are feasible and ecologically superior to petroleum if done with some forethought and clear-headedness.

Yes, electrolysis and stream reformation production of hydrogen are both low-efficiency processes, but with abundant solar, wind or tidal power that really becomes a non-issue. We are ultimately storing renewable energy in the form of hydrogen, which is a very convenient storage medium, and the power ultimately comes from the wind, water or sun. It should be remembered that the entire electric grid is grossly inefficient, from generating plant to transmission towers, and so too are gasoline and diesel cars terribly inefficient. The gas or diesel car utilizes only 15-20% of the energy of its fuel to move the car; the rest is lost in heat and friction. (And this does not include the enormous energy consumption and inefficiencies involved in the exploration, extraction, shipping and refining of the oil.) That’s not terribly efficient, and the electrical power grid runs at similar gross inefficiencies. So harping about the inefficiency of hydrogen production is not particularly appropriate or relevant, considering all of the above. The relevant question is one of cost, but that is one we have to suck up and subsidize, in order to create the needed infrastructure. Once we have built the infrastructure, the hydrogen generation and distribution network, using renewable energy sources, we have essentially free fuel. Pay now, or pay later. If we pay now, and invest in this smart technology, the fuel of the 21st century, we can save ourselves a lot of pain, in terms of environmental crisis, oil dependency, resource wars and global warming; and we can also reap economic rewards by becoming world leaders in leading edge environmental technologies.

And yes, hydrogen is an energy carrier, not an energy source – just as batteries in an electric car are an energy carrier, not an energy source. So what? The point is, hydrogen can be produced sustainably, cleanly and from renewable energy sources – using solar, wind and tidal power – just as electric cars can be powered by the same clean, green energies. Problem…? (In fact, storing energy for an electric vehicle can be accomplished either through batteries or with hydrogen fuel cells. The fuel cells operate as energy carriers just as the batteries do, only with potentially fewer disposal problems – battery disposal is an issue in itself. )I’d rather drive a BMW Hydrogen 7, powered by my own at home electrolysis unit, which in turn runs on off-grid clean solar and wind power, than run an electric car that sucks up its juice from a coal fired power plant – to make the comparison of energy sources clear. It makes a difference where the energy comes from, yes, and this applies equally to electric and hydrogen cars. Both are zero emission vehicles, and both require some energy source to run them. More nuke plants and coal plants to juice those millions of electric cars, would be a nightmare, just as hydrogen cars running on fuel made from natural gas would be stupid and unecological. But nobody in their right mind – outside the nuke lobby – is advocating more nuke plants, when we still don’t have a clue as to how to safely dispose of radioactive waste that has a half-life of a hundred thousand years; and no-one in their right mind would advocate more coal plants. We do have options. Bio-fuels make sense, particularly when the source used for producing it is carefully chosen. Electric (EV) and hydrogen cars both make sense, but are only at their best under certain very specific conditions. For EV’s, the power should ultimately come from clean, renewable energy sources such as wind, solar or tidal power. Exactly the same is true for hydrogen. And both are viable – right now. The problem with hydrogen is simply, will we do it? Will we cough up the investment for the needed fuel distribution infrastructure? We could build it in less than a year if we wanted to, and it wouldn’t cost that much. The trouble is, big oil has more clout in the capitals of Canada, the U.S. and Britain than brains have sway – as with many other nations. I hope this changes soon. The technology is ready, but are we? What in hell are we waiting for?


Hydrogen is happening:


Cutting through the fog – and the smog


ITS Hydrogen Highway Launch Event

British Columbia’s own Hydrogen Highway | Hydrogen Use

Hydrogen Bus Demonstration Completed In Manitoba, Partners Invest $600,000 In Technology

Hydrogen fuel station in Sweden…. ConocoPhillips buys E-Gas patents … fuel cell water taxi Diesel Progress North American Edition – Find Articles

Berlin, Shanghai and Amsterdam unveil hydrogen buses

London Hydrogen Action Plan

London Hydrogen Partnership – Peugeot

H2.ca – Hydrogen Water Taxi in Newport Harbor

BBC News | SCI/TECH | Iceland launches energy revolution

BMW’s hydrogen powered 7-Series

BBC NEWS Science-Nature Sun and hydrogen ‘to fuel future’

Canadian Group Produces Hydrogen from Water Using Solar Energy

SHEC Labs achieved breakthrough performance in manufacturing …

Sunlight Used To Produce Hydrogen From Water

US legislator wants to reward hydrogen inventors

Growing hydrogen for the cars of tomorrow – energy-fuels – 25 February 2006 – New Scientist

Treehugger Garbage to Hydrogen, Just Add Sun

Sewage turned into hydrogen fuel – 29 April 2002 – New Scientist

Nanotubes crank out hydrogen TRN 020905

Fuel Cell Vehicle Fleet Transports Inauguration Guests

EERC Demonstrates Hydrogen Production at Ethanol Facilities

NHA Renewables to Hydrogen Forum

Wal-Mart Completes Test of Fuel-Cell Pallet Trucks

H2 on-site refueling system – Nuvera to Provide PowerTap Hydrogen Refueling System

Green Car Congress: Two Dutch Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicles: NEV and Scooter

Canadian zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell bus

‘The Future of Racing’ Unveiled to Auto Industry Leaders and Motorsport Dignitaries in Detroit

California’s 2007 Guidelines for Renewable Energy Rebates, Including Fuel Cells

The Accept H2 Project: An international study funded by the European Commission

The US and Europe Getting Down to Business – Implementation of the Hydrogen Economy

Beyond Batteries: Portable Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Hydrogen Fueling Station Database for Canada & the U.S.

Another option:

Don’t own, share

The Benefits of Car-Sharing – Co-operative Auto Network

Where can you find Car Sharing in North America

@World Car Share Consortium

Carsharing.ca

Car Sharing News

Zipcar : Green Benefits

AutoShare Toronto – Car Sharing

Vrtucar.com – Ottawa ON

The People’s Car Co-op – Waterloo Ontario

Cooperative Auto Network – Vancouver B.C.

CarSharing Handbook – How to start a car co-op in your community.

Peterborough UK City Council – Car share scheme aims to cut congestion and travel costs

Freewheelers: International Car Share Directory

Other alternatives to cars:

Share a car for occasional use, rent a car for longer trips once in a while, and use transit, train, bus or bike as primary transportation. Before dismissing the notion, take a look at some of the options below.

Cool bikes and electric scooters:

Dynamic Commuter Bike

Gowatt – electric bicycles

Gowatt – Scooter – E-Light

Segway

I gave up my car and saved $16,000

Where can you find this gem? An all-weather bike for $650 USD? Or is there a mistake on the price?
Shirouma Science’s All Weather Bicycle.

HPV’s (Human Powered Vehicles), Velomobiles, Hybrid HPV/EV’s:

The Leitra

Aerorider | Hybrid HPV/Electric Vehicle | Velomobiel

The go-one³

IHPVA velomobile page

North American Velomobilist website

Velomobile USA

The Velomobile Is Comin’ To Town

BentRider Velomobile guide

In search of an all-weather bike | GreenAsh

Green car rentals, airport shuttles and taxis:

The Hertz Green Collection in Europe

PlanetTran – Eco-Friendly Airport Shuttle Service

thegreenguy: Reviewed: ecoigo, London’s newest green taxi service

globeandmail.com: Green cab, clean air, full pockets

Green Car Congress: New Yorkers Want Hybrid Taxis; Taxi Commission Isnt So Sure

Is That a Tinge of Green on New York’s Yellow Cabs? – New York Times

Microcabs: A Bloody Good Idea!: Taxi Cab | Hydrogen Fuel Cell | London, England

Alternative fuels locater & other resources:

Hydrogen Fueling Station Database for Canada & the U.S.

MapQuest: Find alternative fuels

Oliomap is your Wikimap for biodiesel and VegOil services

Top 12 Greenest and Meanest vehicles of 2007, as defined by ACEEE – AutoblogGreen

Top 100 Green Cars – Yahoo! Autos

Federal and state purchasing incentives

Government Incentives in Canada – Environmental fiscal reform in Canada

Recommendations for Incentives – Green Budget Coalition Canada

35 mpg fuel conservation numbers from the Union of Concerned Scientists

Guess who made $1,252 a second, every second last year?

Alternative Fuel Choices – AOL Autos