Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Pickens Plan 2.0

From T. Boone Pickens:
I have always been for an all-the-above approach to this nation's energy policy, but that doesn't mean we need to jam a square peg in a round hole. Solar, wind, electric and natural gas all have their place, but it must be in accordance with an appropriate application. President Obama tried to grease that square peg into a round hole, choosing energy favorites with a hefty $2.7 billion, supplied by Volkswagen. Now, there is an opportunity for the states to correct that mistake and implement a more effective energy plan.

As you likely know, Volkswagen was caught cheating on its emissions tests, resulting in vehicles on the road that far exceed federal NOx emissions standards. The German car manufacturer was sued by the Obama EPA and settled for $16 billion with $2.7 billion going to the states, primarily for the creation of medium and heavy-duty vehicle grants to mitigate the NOx.

Each state will receive an allotment of the $2.7 billion, and the Governor of each state must appoint a department to create a plan for spending the funds that follows the terms of the settlement. However, favoritism is standing in the way of a cost-effective, energy-efficient, market-driven plan.

While all alternative fuel types are eligible for grants of 25 percent of the vehicle cost, guess which technology was granted special treatment to receive 75 percent of the vehicle cost? You guessed it: electric vehicles (EVs). Some argue that they are cleaner because they have zero emissions. Well, they have zero tailpipe emissions, but plenty emissions are produced at the generation facility that creates the electricity. Keep in mind that many are still fired by coal and very few are utilizing even a small amount of solar or wind. In fact, when you look at the NOx emissions produced to create the electricity to power an EV compared to the tailpipe emissions of a near-zero natural gas vehicle (NGV), the NGV is at least equal and likely cleaner. For example, the South Coast Air Quality Management District of California views the new near-zero natural gas engines to be zero-emission equivalent based on the district's mix of electric generation supplying their grid - and they have one of the cleanest grids in the country. So, natural gas engines for heavy-duty trucks are far cleaner than diesel engines and as clean as electric vehicles.

While comparable in regard to NOx emissions, NGVs and EVs are miles apart on cost. An all-electric medium or heavy-duty vehicle can cost twice the amount or more of a similar vehicle powered by a near-zero natural gas engine. As for buses, an EV bus can cost you north of a million dollars.

So you can see, there is no environmental or economic case for favoritism of EVs over other alternative fuel vehicles. In fact, there should be no favoritism at all. I have always been for fair and equitable market competition - government should not reach in and pick the winners and losers. If the idea is to mitigate the most NOx emissions with a set amount of funds, states should be free to accomplish that goal in the most effective way. Now, it's becoming clearer that the focus should be on getting medium and heavy-duty trucks running on natural gas.

That's where America's Governors come in. The 75 percent funding level for EVs is a ceiling. Governors can correct Obama's multi-billion dollar give-away to the EV lobbyists by creating an even playing field for all alternative fuels, by providing grants in the amount of 25 percent of the vehicle cost regardless of whether it runs on propane, natural gas or electricity. Furthermore, providing the lower 25 percent will mean more vehicles get funded and thus more emissions reduced.

So the question presents itself: Will you, Governors, continue the Obama give-away or will you put in place a market-driven plan to deploy cleaner and cheaper vehicles on the road?

The choice is easy - it's up to each of you to do what's right for our nation.

- Boone

Saturday, August 5, 2017

"L.A. Metro Buses with CWI Near-Zero NG Engine are Super Clean"

"[A] study found that a Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) bus equipped with an ultra-low emission natural gas engine performs significantly cleaner than its certification standards across all duty cycles.
“We have tested two of the ISL G near-zero 8.9 liter engines, one in a refuse hauler and one in a Metro bus. In both cases, the NOx emissions were surprisingly low and 99 percent cleaner than the current standard and 99.96 percent cleaner than the 2004 standard,” said Kent Johnson, associate research engineer for CE-CERT and lead researcher on this study.

Highlights of the study include:
  • The engine tested below Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) NOx (smog-forming) emissions certification level of 0.2g/bhp-hr.
  • The engine tested below the California Air Resources Board voluntary limit of 0.02 /bhp-hr. This is the only engine to meet the California standard.
  • Emissions for some driving patterns, such as stop-and-go traffic were even lower still.
  • In some driving conditions the bus tested as low as 0.0007g/bhp-hr, or practically zero emissions.

Additional info, including a link to the study's final report can be found in this article.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Temperature anomalies arranged by country 1900 - 2016. Created by Antti Lipponen, a researcher at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the video uses temperature anomaly data from NASA to show that despite year-to-year variations, communities across the globe are experiencing significantly warmer temperatures since the early 20th century.

Monday, July 3, 2017

US Gas Vehicles Here's an opinion piece by US Gas Vehicles on the subject of the Paris Climate Agreement.
At this critical moment in US history, when our national leaders have abdicated from global climate responsibility, we must focus more than ever on implementing the solutions that can be put to work by cities, states and companies. Together we can fill the void in Washington to meet and exceed the goals of the Paris Agreement and reduce the planet-warming gases that risk the health and livability of this planet for our children and grandchildren.

Solar Installer Info

Here's a website that lists solar installers, including average cost per watt and customer reviews.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

From the Wall Street Journal:
European Cities Are Just Saying 'No' to Scandal-Tinged Diesel Vehicles

Mayors, pressed by courts and activists, are banning or curbing diesel use to combat health-threatening smog

By William Boston

Updated June 27, 2017 12:35 p.m. ET

BERLIN—Large European cities from Munich to Madrid are banning or restricting diesel vehicles amid mounting alarm over toxic emissions, presenting a major challenge to European car makers who sell millions of them.

National governments have been slow to react to a string of scandals that have exposed diesel engines as far bigger polluters than advertised. But these cities, goaded by environmental groups, are emerging as the leaders of an antidiesel movement that is forcing Europe's car industry to rethink its future.

Among the cities considering or seeking a ban on diesel vehicles or an environmental tax are BMW AG's BMW 0.99% hometown Munich, and Stuttgart, which hosts Daimler AG DMLRY 0.08% and Porsche SE . POAHY 1.43% Their message to Europe's car makers: If you can't clean diesel, we will. "Cities are sending a signal to the public and manufacturers that there is a preference for clean vehicles," said Ray Minjares, a researcher at the International Council on Clean Transportation. The group uncovered emissions cheating by German car maker Volkswagen AG that has drawn attention to the issue over the past two years.

The scandal, which has since spread to other auto makers, started in the U.S. But less than 5% of U.S. cars are diesels, compared with half of all new European cars sold—some 85 million on the road.

The European Union took center stage after it set aggressive targets to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions to fight climate change. European auto makers, especially the Germans, bet big on diesel as their main tool to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. Diesel burns more efficiently than gasoline, so it gets better mileage and emits less carbon dioxide. The industry pushed it and won support from European governments, which have subsidized diesel through lower taxes since the 1990s.

Climate change isn't the only issue. A study co-authored by Mr. Minjares concluded that just one pollutant from diesel engines caused 107,600 premature deaths world-wide in 2015. Around 80% of them were in Europe, China and India.

But car makers will be hard-pressed to shift from diesel and still meet European greenhouse-gas targets. Demand for electric cars is still less than 2% of global auto sales. All sales of new electric vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, accounted for just 1% of the 14.6 million new cars sold in the EU last year.

German car makers and unions are worried about the impact on their livelihoods. More than half the European sales of Germany's top brands, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Porsche, sport diesel engines.

Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler, which owns Mercedes, said this week that "driving bans are a political response, but will not lead to real change because they can't really be implemented."

Germany's largest industrial union, IG Metall, also objects, in part because they say bans would disproportionately hurt poorer drivers. Car makers, it says, should make older engines cleaner while politicians should promote electric vehicles and invest in technology to improve traffic flows.

"Such a sweeping demand is nonsense," Roman Zitzelsberger, head of IG Metall's southwestern Germany chapter, said this week.

The German auto industry is offering a trade off: It has offered to update software on middle-age diesel vehicles on the road in Germany to bring them in line with modern emissions standards if bans are dropped. But nearly half of the 15 million diesel cars on the road in Germany are too old to fix.

The mayors driving the movement say they have little choice. As traffic hubs, they suffer some of the world's most toxic air. And since the Volkswagen scandal discredited "clean diesel," a barrage of court orders is forcing them to address the issue.

In car-crazy Germany, where Rudolf Diesel invented the eponymous engine, Stuttgart will begin next year to ban all but the most modern diesels, around 90% of them. Munich, which is considering a similar step, must present a plan by week's end to drastically cut the city's chronic pollution, in response to a court ruling.

Paris, which prohibits any diesel vehicle made before 1997 from driving in the city, will extend the ban in July to diesel vehicles made before 2001. That will affect nearly a fifth of the nation's heavy goods vehicles and a smaller percentage of passenger vehicles.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan is creating an ultralow-emission zone with a system of prohibitive road tolls. "The air in London is lethal," Mr. Khan said in April as he unveiled plans to steeply raise the toll on the most polluting vehicles starting in 2019.

Oslo, the Norwegian capital, enacted a diesel ban in January as winter smog smothered the city, fining violators nearly $180. The ban, in effect from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., was lifted once winds picked up and the air cleared.

The strategy is gaining traction beyond Europe. Mexico City joined Paris, Athens, and Madrid at a mayors' conference in December in a pledge to ban all diesel vehicles from their cities by 2025. Seoul plans to ban diesel made before 2006 from driving in the city's central districts. "It is correct and important to discuss driving bans," Dieter Reiter, Lord Mayor of Munich, said this month.