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U.S. Departments of Energy and Interior Announce New Solar Energy Demonstration Projects

The first project will advance renewable, solar created electricity at a former nuclear weapons testing site in Nevada.

by on Jul.09, 2010

Funding is by a combination of private and taxpayer supplied dollars.

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada have announced the site of a “Solar Demonstration Zone” for emerging solar energy technologies.

The Solar Demonstration Zone will be located in the southwest corner of the Nevada Test Site, a former nuclear site, on lands owned by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and administered by DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Secretaries Chu and Salazar signed an interagency Memorandum of Understanding that will enable the Department of Energy to develop “innovative solar energy projects” there.

These projects will serve as proving grounds for new solar technologies, providing a link between DOE’s advanced technology development and full-scale commercialization efforts.

“The Nevada Test Site is about to play a new role in securing America’s future – but instead of testing nuclear weapons, we will test new solar technologies that will help put America on a sustainable energy path,” said Secretary Chu.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management oversees 23 million acres of Southwestern lands with solar potential, and could play an important role in supporting renewable energy goals.



“These projects on BLM land in Nevada can significantly reduce the costs and environmental impacts of utility-scale solar power facilities and demonstrate the commercial viability of these facilities,” Secretary Salazar said.


Mississippi State University EV Wins 2010 EcoCAR

Virginia Tech, Penn State finish second, third with student cars.

by on May.27, 2010

The Mississippi State hybrid had a 21.3 kWh battery pack with an electric range of 60 miles.

Students from Mississippi State University placed first in the 2010 EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge finals in San Diego today after designing and building a biodiesel extended-range electric vehicle (EREV).

Virginia Tech earned second place with an ethanol-powered EV design. Penn State came in third place with a biodiesel fueled electric vehicle.

Mississippi State beat 15 universities in the second of a three-year competition sponsored by taxpayers via the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors, ditto on taxpayers providing the money.

During the contest,  North American engineering students rework a GM-donated vehicle to minimize fuel consumption and emissions, while maintaining its “utility, safety and performance.”

Mississippi State designed a hybrid with a 21.3 kWh A123 Systems battery pack, which provides an electric range of 60 miles. (Figure on $1,000 per kWh of storage at current prices, less than  tuition at some of the schools.) It’s also equipped with a 1.3-liter GM turbo-diesel engine and 75 kW generator in a series plug-in configuration.

During testing, the vehicle’s fuel economy was rated at 118 miles per gallon gas equivalent (combined city/highway cycle). In addition to the overall award, Mississippi State won nine additional awards, including performance events in autocross and acceleration runs.

“This was our most challenging year and stakes were high to have our vehicle ready for inspections. To finish a year of hard work and long hours in first place is an incredible honor for me and my teammates,” said Matt Doude from Mississippi State.


Coda Battery Systems Wants U.S. Taxpayer Funds for Chinese Electric Car Imports

Company submits proposal to the Department of Energy to build a U.S. battery factory to help import a Chinese EV.

by on Jun.09, 2009

Coda Electric Sedan

Chinese maker Hafei will build the electric car.

The list of companies lining up for taxpayer dollars from  the U.S. Department of Energy increased today as  Coda Battery Systems LLC announced it had applied under a DOE stimulus grant program for funding to build a manufacturing facility in Enfield, Connecticut. The Coda Battery facility expects to employ 600 U.S. workers.

Coda Battery Systems is itself a joint-venture between Connecticut-based Yardney Technical Products, Incorporated and California-based Coda Automotive. The controversial part of the deal comes from Coda, which was just launched this month.

Coda says it will import to California by the fall of 2010 a four-door, five-passenger electric sedan built it manufacturing partner, Hafei, a state-owned Chinese manufacturer of automobiles and airplanes.

More Promises of Chinese Cars

Critics note that many plans for the importation of Chinese vehicles have been announced, but none have appeared thus far, as delays are always incurred.  It was not immediately clear how the Department of Energy would view the grant application. Thus far no such grants have been approved.

At first, the sedan will be sold with a battery system from a joint venture between Coda Automotive and Chinese-based Tianjin Lishen Battery Company, a large supplier of lithium-ion batteries. If the U.S. plant appears, batteries from it would be substituted to power the Chinese car.

Even here taxpayer subsidies would go the Chinese, since Coda intends to make Lishen part of the U.S. manufacturing joint venture. (more…)

Chrysler Wants $224 Million from U.S. for EVs

If granted, the company will match the federal money.

by on May.26, 2009

Bob Nardelli, Chairman and CEO, Chrysler LLC, introduces the Jeep EV and Dodge EV to automotive journalists at the Company's World Headquarters in September of 2008. Chrysler LLC announced today that it has packaged new, production-intent advanced electric-drive technology in three different vehicles - one for each of its brands, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge. Chrysler said at least one model is targeted to be produced in 2010 for consumers in North American markets, and in European markets after 2010. The Dodge EV is an all-electric sports car. The Jeep EV is a Range-extended Electric Vehicle with Wrangler capability.

In September of 2008, Chrysler said that at least one model was targeted to be produced in 2010 for consumers in North American markets. The Dodge EV is an all-electric sports car. The Jeep EV is a "range-extended" electric vehicle.

Chrysler LLC is asking the U.S. Department of Energy for $224 million from the department’s Transportation Electrification Initiative to finance the development of electric vehicles (EVs). It joins a long list of competitors also seeking federal funds.

The list of vehicles targeted from the program includes the Dodge Ram 1500 Plug-in Hybrid-electric Vehicles (PHEV), Chrysler Town & Country PHEVs and Chrysler Town & Country Electric Vehicles.

“Department of Energy (DOE) initiatives aimed at vehicle electrification “demonstrates how Chrysler LLC, with its partners and the DOE, can work together to promote technological innovation and energy independence in the United States,” Chrysler said.

Chrysler LLC applied for two programs established by the DOE: the Electric Drive Vehicle Battery and Component Manufacturing Initiative; and the Transportation Electrification Initiative.

Both are designed to speed up development, demonstration, evaluation and manufacturing of EVs and PHEVs. The programs represent a 50/50 cost-share opportunity with $224 million from Chrysler LLC and its partners, combined with a matching $224 million from the DOE. These funds will accelerate the market introduction and penetration of advanced powertrains.    (more…)

Fisker Automotive Wants Treasury Funding

It wants to plug into taxpayer funds to develop a smaller car.

by on May.13, 2009

Before delivering one hybrid car, a new one is promised. Is that a plug-in hype-bred.

Before delivering one hybrid car, a new one is promised. Is that a plug-in hype-brid?

Henrik Fisker, the founder and chief executive officer of Fisker Automotive, said his fledgling auto company could have a smaller, less expensive vehicle with broad appeal ready for market within 29 months if it succeeds in obtaining funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Fisker Automotive is one of the companies vying for funding under a special Department of Energy loan program approved in 2007 designed to help carmakers improve fuel economy. The program is separate from the federal bailout of GM and Chrysler and has attracted the interest of several carmakers and battery makers. It has also attracted a number of unproven start-up companies with little or no auto experience.

The upheaval in the car business now unfolding represents “the most dramatic change in the history of cars,” Fisker said following an appearance at the Automotive Press Association in Detroit.

“It’s the first time in 30 or 40 years where new start-up car companies have a real chance. They really haven’t had any chance in the last 30 or 40 years because they would just come up with another gasoline-powered car and nobody needs that,” said Fisker, whose firm is preparing to launch a new plug-in hybrid in early 2010.  (more…)