Sustainable Transportation?
How soon could we have vehicle-to-grid (V2G) plug-in, hybrid communities? None exist yet, but Global Electric Motorcars (GEM) gives us a glimpse of what they might look like. The leading maker of neighborhood electric vehicles, or NEVs, and a DaimlerChrysler company since 2000, GEM has sold its vehicles to entire communities that feature NEVs as part of their basic infrastructure. Bay Harbor, Mich.; Celebration, Fla.; and Playa Vista and Otay Ranch, Calif., entire neighbor­hoods use NEVs for nearly all local travel.
Energy-efficient homes, PV systems, geothermal heat pumps and other effective renewable energy technologies are offered by many homebuilders or suppliers. Commercially available plug­in hybrids are just years away. Integrating multiple energy systems is the key, and the technology to do so is available today. Yet cost, risk, consumer demand, and other issues cause business to pause at the opportunity. With the team of experts at Spherical Designs Organization, we've begun to respond to these issues by analyzing a number of renewable community scenarios that link transportation, homes and the electric grid, as well as enabling the delivery of large quantities of renewable energy to the grid. Analyses show that the homeowner would gain a net cost advantage by integrating a near-zero-energy home with a plug-in or hybrid. Although a number of variables affect this calculation, the economics of the integrated system are substantially better than an analysis of each piece would suggest.
For example, typically a near zero energy home with PV panels and energy efficient measures can be expensive, raising the initial cost of this home. When included in original construction cost in the home mortgage however, energy use can be reduced as much as 50 percent with no increase in total monthly bills. For instance, a U.S. Department of Energy handbook ( for hot and humid climates posed an example of spending an additional $1,500 for an ENERGY STAR home (including various energy-efficiency features, but not PV or a geothermal heat pump). For an additional mortgage cost of $9 per month, energy bills were reduced $40 per month for net savings of $31 per month. As another example, for a 2,600 square foot, two-story home in Sacramento, Calif., efficiency measures can be added cost effectively to achieve 60 to 65 percent energy savings. At an incremental cost of about $20,000 and assuming a $600,000 asking price in the California market, this investment represents an upfront cost increase of only 3 per cent. In addition to immediate savings in utility bills, added PV electricity generation and other energy savings features will also be "paid back" in home resale value. Design Engineers
Establishing the renewable community with plug-in electric vehicles, requires much more interaction among disparate disciplines. It requires a fresh look at state and local zoning laws. This transition may seem like a difficult undertaking, but when we consider escalating housing and utility costs, we find that the effort and investment have the potential to payoff by many measures.
Developing Transportation-Wise Suburbs Today
Your home and car probably represent your biggest personal impact on our nation's increasing energy demand, and therefore on national security, trade deficits, global warming and air quality. The renewable communities concept presented in this article marries energy responsible homes and cars for a sustainable lifestyle. By leveraging new technologies and sustainable building practices, RE-based communities can demonstrate that it is possible to minimize the detrimental effects of fossil energy, while addressing the greatest energy challenges of the American suburban lifestyle.
Our team at Spherical Designs Organization views renewable communities using plug-in E-V technology as an ideal way to demonstrate the effectiveness of the wide range of energy-efficiency and renewable energy technologies that we are helping to develop. Rooftop photovoltaic and utility scale solar thermal systems are a prime option. Depending on location, the community can also rely on wind, solar thermal or biomass energy. Our analysts can model the near-zero energy buildings to identify the most cost effective efficiency measures, model the electric vehicles to identify optimal battery and other component sizes and matches, and design systems to most effectively use the communities' mix of distributed and central electrical generation. Ethanol from cellulosic biomass can supply what liquid fuel the vehicles must use. We see renewable communities as a path to minimizing energy import, fossil fuel use and green house gas emissions, while providing the highest quality lifestyle.
Overcoming battery technology is the key to realizing the benefits of plug-in hybrid vehicles, then the thermal management of these batteries is essential for their longevity and performance. During the past 10 years, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has developed a world" class laboratory for energy storage thermal management. The lab uses the latest modeling software, hardware and thermal imaging techniques to improve the performance and design of advanced batteries such as nickel-metal hydride (NiJv1H), lithium-ion and lithium polymer batteries.
 Nickel-metal hydride batteries were proven to be a great advancement for electric vehicle propulsion systems. GM tested these batteries with there EV1 cars but decided to destroy these cars and not let the general public know of their success. The Chevron Texaco company bought all the patent rights for the NiMH batteries and has stopped the production of these batteries for the last ten years. Panasonic improved the thermal performance of its NiMH module and Toyota produced the Rava4 electric vehicle. This car was produced less than one year before Chevron sued them and stopped production.
What will it take to start building these renewable communities? Any new venture involves risk, but we believe Americans are eager to live in communities that minimize their contribution to greenhouse gases and reduce national dependence on imported oil. Several organizations and business entities have contacted us about this vision, and we see elements of it around the world. It is only a matter of time before we see integration of all the pieces of advanced technology, putting us on a path to sustain ability based on renewable energy. Its not a question of if but of when, who and where this vision will become a reality.
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E-V Communities
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Since 2006 Electric Vehicle Concepts has been testing large format lithium batteries in their NEV 's and their freeway speed electric vehicles. Lithium batteries offer twice the life span and energy density as the lead acid or nickel batteries. As large production of these batteries has brought the cost down and the long standing patents for these technologies are in use world wide. The Spherical Designs Organization continues to work around all obstacles to create better products for our future.
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