Olympia School District Goes to School with Propane

Olympia-Schools-Propane-Bus1-X2Stanford, Illinois students are traveling around town in school buses fueled by propane. The Olympia Community Unit #16 School District, a rural district covering 377 square miles, converted to propane-fueled buses to meet the district’s needs for reliable, lower-cost buses. The school buses travel an average of 20,000 miles per year.

According to John Olsen, assistant superintendent for Olympia, the district tested propane with two school buses and now has 12- nearly one-third of their 33 bus fleet. The remaining buses run on diesel fuel. He estimates each bus saves the district $2,500 per year in fuel and maintenance and is expected to serve the district for 10 years. He figures that the buses will save the school district $300,000 over the 10-year life of the buses.

According to information about propane autogas, propane engines do not require diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) and diesel particulate filters, and oil consumption can be reduced as much as 50 percent, making propane powered buses less expensive to operate and maintain. Propane fuel costs, currently lower than diesel fuel, make up the difference and more.

The savings are not the only benefit of the propane buses, says Olsen who notes they are also quiet and cleaner-burning. “I love the fact that when our buses pull up to the schools at the beginning or end of the day, we’re not sitting there creating a cloud of fumes right outside the school,” he added.

Evergreen FS, based in Bloomington, IL works closely with Olsen to supply the fuel. They also set up and continuously service and maintain the four 1,000 gallon propane tanks on-site. Typically the storage onsite provides a seven to eight day supply of propane. Olsen and the school district will continue to work with Evergreen FS, a member cooperative of GROWMARK, who keep him up-to-date on technical advances that will make the fleet even more cost efficient over time.

#COP21 Attendees Travel Carbon Free

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 12.07.22 AMThere is an incredible amount of news this week coming from Paris during COP21. Much of the focus this week is getting commitments from 143 countries to significantly reduce their carbon emissions, and many key attendees are practicing what they are preaching – traveling carbon free to and from the events. This week a network of carbon-free trains arrived in Paris from Asia and across Europe and many of these trains are also contributing to producing new renewable energy due to an agreement between ECOHZ and the International Union of Railways.

“We are delighted to support carbon-free travel to a United Nations COP meeting. The use of renewable energy is a key issues for our future. The UIC strategy for 2030 and 2050 aims at carbon-free railway operation in Europe and very-low carbon rail transport worldwide,” said Nick Craven from the International Union of Railways.

ECOHZ has provided Guarantees of Origin (GO) to the Train to Paris project and provided certificates to the International Union Railways. In addition, ECOHZ has delivered a GO2 solution that will unleash financing of new renewable energy production.

“We know that many people traveling to Paris really care about their carbon footprint. Choosing to travel by train is clearly more environmentally friendly than by air or private cars. Unfortunately a significant share of the electricity on the European grid comes from fossil fuels. So traveling by electric trains or electric cars is not clean unless you have a guarantee of origin,” explained ECOHZ CEO Tom Lindberg.

“Our solution GO2 has the additional benefit of contributing to unleashing financing of new renewable energy sources,” continued Lindberg. “Hundreds of renewable energy projects are not realized because they lack top-financing, and we have established a mechanism to funnel funds through to new renewable energy production. Our vision of the future is that individuals will demand to consume products and services that are clean from fossil fuels. The tools exist today and more and more leading companies adopt renewable energy solutions as part of their business strategy.”

Renewable Energy has been, in fact, a key focus to reducing carbon emissions with two major initiatives launched leading up to the official start of COP21: Mission Innovation and Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

Study: Affordable Technology Can Reduce U.S. GHGs

A new study from the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) details how the U.S. can reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) in line with the goal of limiting any additional temperature increases due to climate change by 2 degrees Celsius. The two-volume report finds that reductions are technologically feasible and economically affordable.

Pathways to Deep Decarb Volume 1Volume One, “Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States,” an update from last year, reviews technology requirements and costs of different options for reducing GHGs by 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050. The analysis, that looks at every piece of energy infrastructure from power plants to water heaters, was conducted by the San Francisco-based consulting firm Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc. (E3), in collaboration with researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

“This is by far the most rigorous and detailed study of what it will take to achieve a transition to clean energy in the United States,” said Dr. Dan Lashof, chief operating officer of NextGen Climate America, one of the sponsors of the research. “It demonstrates that a climate-friendly transformation of our energy system is not only achievable, it would increase our prosperity, protect our environment, and strengthen our national security.”

Policy Implications of Deep Decarb Volume 2The second volume, “Policy Implications of Deep Decarbonization in the United States,” provides a guide for what policy makers at the national, state, and local levels must do to enable a low carbon transition. It describes how businesses and whole regions could benefit in an energy economy where the dominant mode shifts from purchasing fossil fuel, with historically volatile prices, to investment in efficient, low carbon hardware, with very predictable costs.

“I think our work throws down a gauntlet to those who claim that decarbonization of the US energy system is impractical and out of reach,” said report lead author Dr. Jim Williams, chief scientist at E3 and director of the DDPP. “The more deeply you look at the energy system, the more optimistic you feel. Arguments that the US can’t achieve this technologically or economically don’t hold water – they are political arguments dressed in technical clothing.”

The reports are a part of a series by the DDPP, an international collaboration of research teams from the world’s 16 highest-emitting countries. This year it has issued country-specific strategies for deep decarbonization in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

20 Countries Pledge “Mission Innovation” at #COP21

Leading up to the World Climate Summit and #COP21 that kicked off in Paris today, three major announcements were make regarding the acceleration of technological developments in clean energy and clean technologies. The first announcement came from Bill Gates about the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, that will will working directly with Mission Innovation, a “pledge” by 20 countries to commit to doubling its governmental and/or state-directed clean energy research and development investment over the next five years. More countries are encouraged to join the efforts.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 11.29.02 AMThe third announcement came from President Obama who announced the U.S. will be participating in the Mission Innovation initiative.

According to the Mission Innovation website, all new investments will be focused on transformational clean energy technology innovations that can be scalable to varying economic and energy market conditions that exist in participating countries and in the broader world. The goal of the initiative is to reinvigorate and accelerate global clean energy innovation with the objective to make clean energy widely affordable.

The Mission Innovation website states that accelerating widespread clean energy innovation is:

  • An indispensable part of an effective, long term global response to our shared climate challenge;
  • Necessary to provide affordable and reliable energy for everyone and to promote economic growth; and
  • Critical for energy security.

In line with the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, Mission Innovation was formed to fill accelerate the time between innovation, scale-up and commercial scale availability.

Gates Launches Breakthrough Energy Coalition @ #COP21

In Paris this past weekend, leading up to COP21 and the World Climate Summit, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame, launched a new clean energy initiative, The Breakthrough Energy Coalition. Gates announced the news on his blog, “Gates Notes,” where he wrote that a global group of investors are taking innovative clean-energy ideas out of the lab and into the marketplace. The primary goal of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, says Gates, is as much to accelerate progress on clean energy as it is to make a profit.

The Principles of the Organization:

Technology will help solve our energy issues. The urgency of climate change and the energy needs in the poorest parts of the world require an aggressive global program for zero-emission energy innovation. The new model will be a public-private partnership between governments, research institutions, and investors. Scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs can invent and scale the innovative technologies that will limit the impact of climate change while providing affordable and reliable energy to everyone. The existing system of basic research, clean energy investment, regulatory frameworks, and subsidies fails to sufficiently mobilize investment in truly transformative energy solutions for the future. We can’t wait for the system to change through normal cycles.

The foundation of this program must be large funding commitments for basic and applied research, and here governments play the key role. Only our governments have the mandate to protect the public interest as well as the resources and mechanisms to do this. We know government investment in research can lead to the creation of industries that advance the common good and are driven by private capital. We have seen big successes before with government-funded research programs in space, defense, technology, and medical research, seeding private creativity which has produced many of the innovations that define our current way of life. The political will is emerging to do this again, through aggressive increases in government funding for basic and applied energy research, which can lead to breakthrough technologies for our energy future. However, current governmental funding levels for clean energy are simply insufficient to meet the challenges before us.

Gates writes that the Coalition will focus on early state companies that have the potential of energy future that produces near zero carbon emissions while providing everyone with affordable, reliable energy. He also announced the Breakthrough Energy Coalition will work in conjunction with Mission Innovation, a commitment by more than ten countries to invest more in research on clean energy that was also announced this weekend.

Watch Bill Gates’ video to learn more about why these global tech leaders launched Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

Cornell, McGill U Win Chem-E-Car Competition

Cornell University and McGill University tied for first place in the 17th Annual Chem-E-Car competition. The collegiate event features cars ranging in size from shoeboxes to fire hydrants powered by alternative fuels. The competition is sponsored by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and its goal is to teach chemical engineering students to think creatively about alternative fuels. Cornell’s winning car Drifter was powered by a zinc alkaline battery, while McGill’s Navona Car was powered by a lead flow battery.

First place winner (tie) in the Chem-E-Car Competition Cornell University.

First place winner (tie) in the Chem-E-Car Competition Cornell University.

“The Chem-E-Car competition is a great avenue for students to apply chemical engineering principles in a creative way and in a group setting, they are critically important skills for these young professionals to have as they begin their journeys in the industry,” said Cheryl Teich, AIChE President.

For the competition, the teams create a car using a variety of materials and fueling methods, showcasing their innovation and creativity. For the first time ever, three teams used 3D printing to make parts of their cars while other teams used beef liver and hydrogen peroxide, Vitamin C, and dyes to produce a chemical reaction to power their car.

First place winner (tie) in the Chem-E-Car Competition McGill University.

First place winner (tie) in the Chem-E-Car Competition McGill University.

An hour before the competition, the students are told the load of water their car must carry and the distance it must travel. The students then must calculate the appropriate chemical reaction that will propel the car as close as possible to the distance goal. This year, the cars had to carry 230 milliliters of water for 20.3 meters, and the winning teams were 5 centimeters from the finish line, both taking $2,000 first place prizes.

McGill has only participated in Chem-E-Car for the past two years and is now national champions. This is Cornell’s fourth national championship, having won Chem-E-Car in 2008, 2010, and 2012. The third place award went to the University of California, Davis. Their vehicle, Leadfoot, was powered by a lead acid battery. Chem-E-Car Competition prizes are sponsored by Chevron.

Portland Int’l Airport Adds EV Charging

Portland International Airport (PDX) has become the airport with the largest number of electric vehicle (EV) chargers in the country. PDX installed 42 L1 PowerPost EV charging stations that are designed and manufactured by Telefonix. EV drivers are able to recover about 5 miles of range for every hour they are plugged in. The range lost in a typical commute of twenty miles is recovered in about 4 hours at a cost to the facility of less than 75 cents. The PowerPost EV charging stations will be free to use for employees and visitors.

“This installation makes a huge statement,” said Bill Williams, business development manager for Telefonix, EVSE Division. “The electric vehicle movement is gaining steam and will continue to do so. Facilities like PDX are acknowledging this growing community and sending a signal that they support those who are embracing electric vehicles by installing stations for both airport employees and travelers.”

Telefonix Inc. (PRNewsFoto/Telefonix Inc.)

Telefonix Inc. (PRNewsFoto/Telefonix Inc.)

According to Telefonix, Portland International Airport chose PowerPost level 1 electric vehicle charging stations for their integrated, retractable cord reel, which keeps cables off the ground, reducing maintenance and tripping hazards. They were also selected because they are level 1 units, which have low current requirements and allow for an efficient use of energy. Level 1 charging is well suited for long-dwell parking that is typical at airports and workplaces. In addition, the low-current requirements of level 1 also allowed the airport to install more charging stations as compared to more powerful chargers that often require costly upgrades to the electrical supply.

“We are excited to support our travelers and employees with these new EV charging stations,” said Vince Granato, Port of Portland chief operations officer. “Voted America’s Best Airport in 2013, 2014 and 2015 in Travel + Leisure’s Reader Survey, we take pride in delivering a memorable and positive experience to those who use our facilities. The installation of EV charging stations is one of our many environmental initiatives, which are central to how we do business and serve as good community stewards.”

Williams added, “Airports are really taking an aggressive approach to delivering on the need for electric vehicle charging infrastructure,” “Given that customers parking for 4 hours or more represent over 85% of all occupied spaces at an airport and the fact that airports often have sustainability initiatives in place, it’s a perfect fit.”

The Quest for a Sustainable Highway

The Mission Zero Corridor Project in Troup County West Georgia is trying to build a ‘green highway’. The travel corridor would, according to Innovia Technology, who has been commissioned for the project, rethink the purpose and function of infrastructure to generate social, environmental and economic value.

Ray-C-Anderson-Memorial-Highway-Exit-14-artist-impressionSome of the technologies being looked at for the project include algae biodiesel gas stations, smart solar-powered roads, moon-cycle adjusting lights, wildlife bridges, driverless cars, electric-car charging lanes and cultural greenways.

“Worldwide the highway infrastructure is continuously maintained, rebuilt and expanded at considerable economic and environmental cost. The Mission Zero Corridor Project is proposing an alternative future where highways have a positive impact on our communities. It’s very exciting to be involved in making this vision a reality,” said Alastair MacGregor, CEO of Innovia Technology, of the challenge ahead.

The late Ray C. Anderson, founder of Interface, Inc. developed the Mission Zero framework to eliminate Interface’s environmental impact while maintaining productivity and still turning a profit. The aim was a promise to “eliminate any negative impacts the company may have on the environment by 2020” and the framework created a blueprint for business sustainability. As a memorial, the Ray C Anderson Foundation is using a 16 mile stretch of Interstate 85 as the living experiment of the “regenerative, restorative and sustainable highway”.

To get the project started the Foundation and Interface funded a vision study through The Georgia Conservancy’s Blueprints for Successful Communities program. Using Interface’s Mission Zero framework as a roadmap, graduate students in the School of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology, with studio instruction from a team of architects from Perkins+Will in Atlanta, explored how a highway could be a tool of change. The outcome was an inspirational report that identifies a broad range of potential technologies and opportunities. Innovia’s role is to provide a creative exploration of new opportunities, evaluate the technologies for viability and scalability, and to propose a strategy to bring the vision to life.

Louisiana Clean Fuels Honors Republic Services

Louisiana Clean Fuels has awarded its Fleet of the Year Award to Republic Services of Baton Rouge for their use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). Republic’s collection company, BFI Waste Services has reduced its use of petroleum and emissions by using CNG. Louisiana Clean Fuels presented the Award at its 15th annual Clean Fuel Leader Awards Gala in Baton Rouge on Thursday evening, May 21.

“We have a responsibility to lead by example, and reduce vehicle emissions whenever possible,” said Alexander Burgess, area president of Republic Services. “We believe that we can make a meaningful difference in the communities we serve by doing our part to preserve the natural beauty of the Gulf Coast for future generations. Our employees are proud to call Louisiana home, which makes this recognition special on a personal level for every member of our team.”

Republic Services CNG truckRepublic added 42 CNG powered collection trucks and installed a new natural gas fueling station to support its expanding fleet in Baton Rouge in 2014. Republic plans to deploy 18 additional CNG powered trucks this summer. This expansion, combined with the CNG fleet already serving customers in the Shreveport area, is expected to make Republic Services’ collection company the largest natural gas fleet operator in the State of Louisiana.

“Louisiana Clean Fuels is dedicated to educating both public and private fleets on the benefits of alternative fuels as well as assisting them in their efforts to transition to cleaner burning, domestically produced alternative fuels,” said Ann Shaneyfelt, executive director of Louisiana Clean Fuels, a designated Clean Cities Coalition. “That’s exactly what Republic Services is doing in our area and nationwide. We congratulate Republic for their progress in converting their Louisiana Fleet to CNG. This year, we are proud to honor them with the Louisiana Clean Fuels ‘Fleet of the Year’ award for their successful roll out of their CNG refuse haulers at their Baton Rouge Division.”

According to Republic Services, they operate a fleet of more than 2,200 CNG vehicles and 36 natural gas fueling stations nationwide, and their CNG fleet helps to save roughly 18 million gallons of diesel fuel annually.

SMART Adds Propane AutoGas

SMART has added 61 new Connector paratransit propane autogas fuel system buses. This, says SMART, makes them the second largest propane autogas powered paratransit fleet in Michigan and one of the top five largest in the country.

“SMART is committed to responsibly and eco-consciously serving the communities in southeast Michigan. By using domestically produced propane we help support local jobs and our economy,” said John C. Hertel, IMG_4653general manager. “In addition, using the autogas technology will improve our operations, lower costs and preserve the environment in which we work, live and play.”

SMART says the propane autogas investment will reduce emissions, save money, and extend the life of the vehicles. The total fuel and maintenance savings is projected to be $1.1 – $1.7 million over the lifetime of the fleet with a return on investment of less than four months. In addition, SMART says the cost of building on-site refueling stations at each of its three terminals was determined to be less expensive than other refueling station options. The vehicles and propane stations are grant funded.

“Residents in Southeast Michigan are breathing easier due to SMART’s decision to fuel paratransit buses with propane autogas,” said Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech, whose company did the propane autogas conversions. “Plus, this abundant alternative transportation fuel means reduced operating and ownership costs for the transit agency.”

Delivery of all 61 SMART Connector autogas vehicles has been on-going since February and to date 14 vehicles have been placed into service. The full fleet is expected to be in service by the end of July.