Trash-to-gas power, more transport and #EV updates

April 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

toyota biogas plantToyota is collecting waste gas (methane) from a landfill site near its factory in Georgetown, Kentucky, to generate electricity: when up and running, the power plant will generate enough power to build around 10,000 cars a year, generating one megawatt per hour (enough to power 800 average American homes). And handily, greenhouse gas emissions from the landfill site will be cut by as much as 90%, Toyota claims. Partner in this is Waste Services of the Bluegrass (what a great name!); they are to build a network of wells and pipelines to feed the generators. More here. (On a similarly feel-good note, Toyota’s Kentucky operations has a zero-waste policy including producing compost, which is used in an on-site garden, which has already delivered over half a tonne of healthy produce donated to local food banks.)

  • Audi A3 e-tron drivers (in Germany) are being offered a renewable electricity deal with Hamburg-based energy provider LichtBlick for all domestic energy needs including car charging: it’s hydro power, at less than nine euros a month and 26.76 cents per kilowatt-hour.
  • Report from TU Dresden on “The True Costs of Automobility – external cost of cars“, looking at accidents, noise, land use/similar effects and overall costs to tax-payers as well as air pollution, contribution to climate change; concludes that Europeans travel by car “far too much”, that European drivers are heavily-subsidized by other people/regions; a reduction in vehicle kilometres travelled is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and that urgent political action is needed.  So far so uncontentious, but not so sure about their last sentence (near-silent EVs with zero tailpipe emissions, anyone?): “Technology measures such as biofuels or electric vehicles focus mostly on higher energy efficiencies and on reduction of greenhouse gases. Their effects on all other cost components of external costs are smaller. Noise and air pollution, as well as the large cost component of accidents, remain high, causing ongoing negative effects on society”. I’d go back and look at that JRC report (see previous post). Noting as well that there are very big differences between different types of biofuel, and indeed, different ‘types’ of electricity, dependent on source and production/supply pathway.
  • And the unpalatable factors of car-dependency – low-income households in poor neighbourhoods may need to drive more – or gain access to cars – in order to increase their employment and economic opportunities, due to inadequacies of public transport, says a study from the University of Maryland/UCLA, blogged-about at Atlantic Cities. It does mention car clubs/pay-as-you-go rentals. Goes back to the idea that transport modal ‘choice’ is often the preserve of the affluent.
  • The number of electrified vehicles – full-EV, RE-EV, plug-in hybrid – on the world’s roads doubled last year, according to German agency ZSW: it’s now standing at 400,000-odd, with the million mark expected at the start of 2016. More here.
  • Next-generation lithium-ion batteries for EVs: silicon nanoparticle anodes and sulphur cathodes show cost-effective potential, according to a paper from USC Viterbi, reported here.
  • A second-generation biofuels project (fuels from waste, rather than crops) is at pre-pilot stage in Mexico, looking at the scaling-up of fuel production to industrial scale. The national programme is looking at different types of refinery for different areas, such as one fuelled by agave waste from the cheese industry in the Highlands of Jalisco; more here.
  • Very useful paper on natural gas for transportation, and move to biogas/e-gas, from the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
  • Am going to refrain from making opportunistic comments about the UK air pollution alert for today and tomorrow.
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