Tired of all the bad news? How about some good news? Starting next year, a service will be offered to convert your Toyota Prius into a "plug-in" hybrid gas-electric. THe conversion includes a switch to lighter and more powerful lithium batteries--meaning the car can travel around 30 miles on electricity alone--enough for most commutes. Anything over 30 miles the computer turns on the gas engine for recharging.
You really would just burn gas for long trips or a long errand, equalling over 100 miles per gallon.
Now here's the best part, true of all electric cars. If you charge up at night after 11 PM you are using off-peak electricity that is there every night but no one uses it! So there are real carbon reductions as those power plants have to run all night anyway.
Since 85% of passenger car mileage in the US is for commuting and most commutes are less than 30 miles, we could get rid of a substantial amount of foreign oil that we burn with our half-SUV mileage right now. If everybody got one of these plug-in hybrids.
The organization is going to expand beyond the Prius as well.
The car to bridge the gap between hybrids and zero-emission vehicles has already been invented. Prototypes exist, and DaimlerChrysler is the first major car maker to begin a public development program. What are variously called gas-optional, pluggable or plug-in hybrids (GO-HEVs or PHEVs) -- are like the current hybrids, but with larger batteries. This gives drivers the ability to run entirely on electric power at highway speeds for 20+ miles. For long trips, the battery never runs down -- its gasoline engine provides the usual unlimited range. The option to recharge at night at any 120-volt outlet gives drivers a cleaner, more economical daily commute and lets them avoid gas stations for weeks at a time.
PHEVs don't require behavior change from drivers. They're easy to drive, safer and cheaper to operate in the long run. We could have them now. Using proven technologies, they can reach the market quickly. But auto makers don't believe people will buy them, so they've been reluctant to build them. Individual, organizations, companies and public officials can take actions so everyone wins.
The California Cars Initiative (CalCars) is a non-profit startup formed by a group of California entrepreneurs, engineers, environmentalists and consumers to jump-start the market for plug-in hybrids. We've built a prototype PHEV and we are harnessing the collective vision and purchasing power of individuals and corporate and government fleets. CalCars aims to engage with a major car maker to produce plug-in versions of existing sedans and SUVs.
Combine that good news with the new Clipper Wind Turbine that can get up to 25% more energy from the wind than previous machines--and with slow-moving blades that eliminate bird-kills.
D-GEN®, THE INTELLIGENT DRIVETRAIN
Variable speed. Long life. Very quiet. From Clipper.
Gearbox and generator failure is the number 1 problem for today's megawatt plus turbines. Why? Because drivetrains have not kept pace with other advances in windpower. As turbines grew in size, drivetrains just got bigger and heavier with virtually no change in machine architecture to meet the much greater requirements. Now Clipper's D-GEN® has charted a new course in drivetrain technology, ideally suited for mega plus scale offshore and land based turbines.
THE CURE FOR TURBINE STRESS Overload is over.
Larger wind turbines with slower turning rotors exponentially increase torque, risking overloading gear teeth and bearings with stresses to the limits of the design. Gear and bearing failure often follows, resulting in downtime, expensive repairs and crucial loss of power generation. Clipper's breakthrough D-GEN® relieves high torque stresses by load sharing to multiple second stage gear sets and drives. It's the technological breakthrough for avoiding frequent gearbox failures in today's large turbines.
THE BALANCE OF POWER IS NOW IN YOUR FAVOR D-GEN®
Variable speed also increases turbine production.
Can a drivetrain actually increase a turbine's performance? Absolutely. D-GEN® delivers up to 6% more power kilowatt-hours, depending on wind speed, energy otherwise lost with fixed speed turbines. Advanced generator control technology provides D-GEN® variable speed, which improves turbine aerodynamic efficiency by adjusting to ever-changing wind velocities, storing energy from wind gusts that would otherwise overload critical components. Additionally, reducing dangerous torque spikes brings a greater margin of safety and longer operational life.
SAFETY IN NUMBERS
Multiple generators provide higher turbine availability.
Gearbox and generator failures account for more than one-third of total off-line time in large turbines. The single generator drivetrain risks "all or nothing" production. But the D-GEN®, with 8 generators, offers redundancy for continued operation, allowing a generator change-out when convenient. D-GEN® braking is also distributed to intermediate drive shafts for less stress to the system. The result is higher turbine availability, for your greater profitability.
LESS WEIGHT FOR A HEALTHIER BOTTOM LINE
Lower transportation and handling costs.
The D-GEN® costs less to transport and install because it weighs less than similar-size conventional drivetrains, and needs 2 to 3 meters less in nacelle length, also reducing weight. This saves money in lower freight and handling expenses and provides easier, more economical installation.
CUTTING THE CRANE DOWN TO SIZE
Modularity eliminates need for large lifting equipment.
The D-GEN® modular subcomponents are easier, quicker and cheaper to service. This cuts the financial drain of unscheduled maintenance on large turbines, since 60% of this expense is caused by gearbox or generator failure. It costs around $150,000 to mobilize a larger crane for changing out conventional megawatt scale components. Furthermore, statistics show that factoring in repairs and lost production can end up totaling about $290,000 - several years' worth of operating revenues. With the D-GEN®, a small nacelle-mounted crane can do the job in much less time, transforming disruptive unscheduled maintenance into low-cost servicing with minimum interruption of production.
LOAD DIVISION BRINGS LONGER LIFE
20 years in Class I winds; 30 years in Class II.
Reducing loads increases longevity. The D-GEN® is designed to operate in Class I winds for 20 years, and for 30 years in Class II winds. This extended lifespan is achieved through the load mitigation made possible by variable speed technology, and by dividing the load as it moves through the transmission system, absorbing shock and reducing wear. D-GEN® splits the load 16 times (Vs. 4 in most conventional transmissions) as power transfers from the rotor to generators.
QUIET IS GOOD, VERY QUIET IS BETTER D-GEN®
Sets the new standard for low noise.
Lower decibel levels are a big plus in developing new wind projects, particularly in noise sensitive areas. The D-GEN® load splitting architecture together with high contact ratio design takes the pressure off gear teeth, significantly reducing noise. Conventional drivetrains with highly loaded gears generate unwelcome noise levels that can jeopardize project development. D-GEN®'s very quiet operation opens up the range of turbine siting possibilities thus providing new areas of business potential.
The Turbine can get power from lower wind speeds and can thus be placed closer to the homes and businesses that need it. When that ability plus reduced transmission loss is figured in, the company estimates the new turbines will be a total of 25% more efficient in operation.
What does the combination of the two breakthroughs mean? I'll leave that to the engineers and physicists on KOS, but it seems we could be driving partially on wind power to work very quickly.
The cars convert and just plug-in and people save on the gas while the lithium batteries actually last the life of the car and don't have to be replaced, so people will buy these on their own. So what would converting say 20% of electricity production to the new wind turbines cost at about $1 million per installed MegaWatt? Don't forget that about 1/3 of the wind turbines will on average be producing at any one time.
What would that number be compared to the cost of the war in Iraq ($300 billion plus)?
It seems doable, no?
These are real breakthroughs and you get a real synergy when the two are done together.