Team Uber Qik Breaks EV Driving Record

Team Uber Qik has broken the unofficial electric vehicle (EV) coast-to-coast world record with an elapsed drive and charge time of just 58 hours and 55 minutes. Drivers Rodney Hawk, Deena Mastracci and Carl Reese departed from Los Angeles City Hall in a Tesla P85D on April 16 at 11:41 p.m. PST and arrived at New York City Hall on April 19 at 1:36 p.m. EST, setting two new records for the fastest U.S. coast-to-coast time and least charging time in an EV.

gI_115274_IMG_6682Accompanied by witnesses and timekeepers, Anthony Alvarado, Matt Nordenstrom and Johnnie Oberg, Jr., Team Uber Qik, led by Reese, broke the previous EV U.S. coast-to-coast time record of 67 hours and 21 minutes set by a team from Edmunds.com in summer 2014. While the team broke two records during this trip, Guinness only recognizes the “least non-driving time to cross the U.S. in an electric vehicle,” meaning the shortest amount of charging time. The team logged just 12 hours and 48 minutes plugged in at Tesla’s growing network of supercharging stations conveniently located along major freeways and free to use for all Tesla owners.

“I was inspired by my grandfather who took me on road trips as a child and Alex Roy who broke the cross-country record in a gasoline vehicle in 2006,” said Reese of Santa Clarita, California. “Tesla is such a compelling car company that is creating tens of thousands of American jobs, with Tesla Motors in Fremont, California, Giga Factory in Sparks, Nevada, and Space X in Hawthorne, California.” Reese prides himself on purchasing products only made in the U.S., from shoes and clothing to the Tesla the team drove across the country.

Global fleet tracking company GPS Insight sponsored Team Uber Qik’s record-breaking trip by providing the GPS tracking equipment necessary for third party verification, as required by Guinness Book of World Records. Other sponsors include InspectMobile.com, TeslaGrille.com and Chalkolot.com. The 691 horse-powered Tesla P85D used for the trip is owned by Reese and Mastracci. The team of timekeepers followed the drivers in a Chevrolet Suburban.

Solar Implementation Library Updated

DCE Solar has released the third installment in its Solar Implementation Library. The new report focuses on the unique installation challenges and opportunities present with landfills, also known as “brown fields,” and other locations where standard beam-driven rack mounts would be inappropriate or impossible.

“Land that is otherwise unusable for development or building holds tremendous potential for solar energy collection,” said Bill Taylor, CEO of DCE Solar. “By adding a new source of Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 11.03.21 AMrevenue generation for these properties, property owners can optimize their return on investment for a wide variety of real estate assets.”

In addition to presenting additional streams of income for property owners, DCE Solar’s report also highlights excellent earning potential for installers. The report states, “Ballasted ground-mount arrays are often another opportunity for developers to utilize low cost available land to create a nice ROI. This report is a guide that will assist those professionals in obtaining the results they expect.”

Common challenges such as corrosion prevention, anchoring and slippage, and streamlined assembly are also highlighted in the report. As well, considerations such as materials used in composition, the ability to pre-assemble off-site, and methodologies for minimizing maintenance are discussed. Like other instalments in the library, the report outlines a best-practices approach for the various sites that require zero-penetration applications.

“One of our goals for this report in particular is that it will attract additional opportunities for the solar energy industry,” added Taylor. “By reducing the cost, we expect to see continued expansion of the solar market.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1At a time when clean energy and water sources are critical to the health of our planet SunPower and the Surfrider Foundation have launched a partnership. Surfrider Foundation members can reduce their carbon footprints with solar, while locking in low electricity rates, and protecting oceans, waves and beaches around the world. As part of the program eligible Surfrider Foundation members and supporters can receive a $500 mail-in rebate on the purchase or lease of a high efficiency residential solar energy system from SunPower. Along with the rebate, SunPower will donate $1,000 to the Surfrider Foundation for each system installed.
  • Sungevity, Inc. has announced the appointment of Jan Slaghekke as Chief Global Officer, a new position for the company. Slaghekke is responsible for managing Sungevity’s expansion and strategic relationships in key markets outside the U.S., including its partnership with E.On as they work collaboratively to enter the German market.
  • DTE Energy has announced it is teaming with Domino’s Farms and Ford Motor Company to build and operate the two largest solar arrays in Michigan. DTE Energy has begun construction of a 1.1-megawatt photovoltaic solar installation at Domino’s Farms, just east of Ann Arbor, which will be completed and operational by the end of the year. The project will comprise more than 4,000 panels on property just north of M-14 and west of Earhart Road and have the capacity to generate 1,089 kilowatts of electricity.
  • Clean energy company Invenergy LLC announced the start of commercial operations of its 31.5 MW Grand Ridge Energy Storage project in La Salle County, Illinois. The project is located about 80 miles southwest of Chicago at Invenergy’s Grand Ridge Energy Center, which is comprised of a 210 MW wind farm; a 20 MW solar project; and an existing 1.5 MW energy storage unit.

Wash. State Researchers Make Biofuels from Fungus

Researchers at Washington State University are making a biofuel for jets from a common black fungus found in decaying leaves, soil and rotting fruit. This news release from the school says they hope to have a viable aviation biofuel in the next five years.

washstfungusbiofuel1The researchers used Aspergillus carbonarius ITEM 5010 to create hydrocarbons, the chief component of petroleum, similar to those in aviation fuels.

Led by Birgitte Ahring, director and Battelle distinguished professor of the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory at WSU Tri-cities, the researchers published their work in the April edition of Fungal Biology.

The fungus produced the most hydrocarbons on a diet of oatmeal but also created them by eating wheat straw or the non-edible leftovers from corn production.

Fungi have been of interest for about a decade within biofuels production as the key producer of enzymes necessary for converting biomass to sugars. Some researchers further showed that fungi could create hydrocarbons, but the research was limited to a specific fungus living within a specific tree in the rainforest, and the actual hydrocarbon concentrations were not reported.

Ahring’s group has previously been successful in using standard Aspergillus fungi to produce enzymes and other useful products, which have been patented and are under commercialization, so they decided to look into A. carbonarius ITEM 5010’s potential for biofuels.

The researchers got help from Kenneth Bruno, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who developed a method essential for the genetic manipulation of A. carbonarius. The research received funding from the Danish Council for Strategic Research under the program for Energy and Environment.

Biodiesel Part of ‘Round-the-World Boat Race

NBBvolvo1Boats stopping over in North America for an around-the-world race are refueling with biodiesel. This news release from the National Biodiesel Board says the fuel used for the Volvo Ocean 65 race boats that sailed into Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, is made from recycled cooking oil.

As a supporting sponsor of the May 5-17 stopover, the NBB is providing biodiesel blends for the race boats and for all of the diesel generators and land vehicles associated with the shoreside operations — helping the event to obtain certification by Sailors for the Sea as a “Platinum Level” Clean Regatta.

“Biodiesel stakeholders are excited to take part in this much-anticipated international regatta,” said Paul Nazzaro, NBB program manager. “It seems fitting that America’s first advanced biofuel will be featured at the U.S. leg of the race, where sustainability is such a prominent theme. Our entire team looks forward to sharing the many benefits of biodiesel over the course of this extraordinary event.”

“We’re in a ‘chicken or egg’ situation where boaters can’t readily purchase biodiesel because it’s not typically supplied by marinas, and the marinas don’t dedicate tanks to biodiesel because they aren’t sure if there will be sufficient demand” said Nazzaro. “We hope Volvo’s show of confidence in biodiesel to help power such a high profile event will help address this conundrum by educating consumers and raising demand.”

NBB points out that biodiesel blends can be used in many types of marine vessel, including inland and ocean-going commercial ships, research vessels, the U.S. Coast Guard Fleet, and recreational vessels.

Yellowstone Distributed Energy Project Powers Up

Old hybrid batteries have a new home on the range. Toyota has flipped the switch on a project that is reusing 200 old battery packs from Toyota Camry hybirds. The Lamar Buffalo Ranch field campus in Yellowstone National Park, now not only features buffalo, but an innovative distributed energy system that combines solar power generation with re-used Camry Hybrid battery packs. The result according to Toyota: reliable, sustainable, zero emission power to the ranger station and education center for the first time since it was founded in 1907. Solar panels generate the renewable electricity stored within the 208 used Camry Hybrid nickel-metal hydride battery packs, recovered from Toyota dealers across the United States.

Announced in June 2014, the partnership among Toyota, Indy Power Systems, Sharp USA SolarWorld, Patriot Solar, National Park Service and Yellowstone Park Foundation is an innovative effort to extend the useful life of hybrid vehicle batteries while providing sustainable power generation for one of the most remote, pristine areas in the United States.

Toyota_Yellowstone_Battery_001“Through our long-standing partnership with Yellowstone National Park and the Yellowstone Park Foundation, Toyota has helped preserve Yellowstone for future generations,” said Jim Lentz, chief executive officer, Toyota North America. “Today, our relationship with Yellowstone continues, as more than 200 battery packs that once powered Toyota Camry hybrids have found a new home on the range.”

On an annual basis, the solar system will generates enough electricity to power six average U.S. households for a year, or plenty of power for the five buildings on the Ranch campus. The hybrid batteries provide 85kWh of energy storage to ensure continuous power, as the system charges and discharges. Onsite micro-hydro turbine systems, capturing energy from a neighboring stream, are scheduled to join the power mix in 2016.

The Yellowstone system is the first of its kind to use recovered hybrid vehicle batteries for commercial energy storage. Each battery pack has been disassembled and tested, and every piece that could be was repurposed. New components were also designed and built by Indy Power Systems specifically for this application, including an onboard battery management system for each battery pack. The battery management system is designed to maximize battery life and will also provide important insights into real-world performance. These insights will help Toyota design future battery performance and durability improvements.

“Toyota’s innovative response to solve a difficult problem has helped Yellowstone move closer to its goal of becoming the greenest park in the world,” added Steve Iobst, acting superintendent of Yellowstone.

Advanced Disposal Opens Gas-to-Energy Plant

Advanced Disposal has opened the doors to a new gas-to-energy plant built on behalf of the Sarasota County, Florida landfill. To celebrate, elected officials, media and community members toured the landfill and facility including the new gas-to-energy plant built by Aria Energy Company. The plant is comprised of three engines that can produce as much as 4.8 MW of electricity. Gas produced by the landfill is converted by the plant’s generators. The power created at the facility, operated by Advanced Disposal, produces energy that will be sold around the state of Florida.

Sarasota County Landfill Tour“This is a really great opportunity for the county, as well as for Aria Energy, to take a resource that would otherwise be burned away into the atmosphere and use it to create something that is usable by the community,” said Sarasota County Public Utilities Solid Waste Engineer Jason Timmons.

Guests were also invited to participate in landfill facility tours. The company said in a news release this allowed consumers to better understand where the methane is created to power the generators.

Advanced Disposal General Manager Tim Ferris provided the landfill tours and answered guests’ questions. “This is an exciting time for Sarasota County Landfill,” said Ferris. “While we are not operating the new gas-to-energy facility, we are proud to operate the landfill that produces the gas, which in turn will provide energy to not only the local community, but also across the state.”

Biofuel Producers Thrive Despite Cheap Oil

According to a new report, “How Alternative Fuel Companies Will Compete with $50 Oil,image001many biofuel producers are still able to thrive despite dropping oils prices nearing $50 per barrel. Lux Research evaluated 25 alternative fuel producers to identify the ones most likely to compete with cheap oil and found that renewable diesel producers Neste Oil and Diamond Green Diesel, gasification specialist Red Rock Biofuels, and Edeniq, which makes cellulosic ethanol, were among 13 alternative producers of fuels best positioned for cheap oil.

Lux Research analysts used its database of 400 alternative fuel producers to select 25 companies – from seven technology families, four feedstock types and three stages of development – for detailed analysis.

Among their findings:

  • Neste Oil, Diamond Green are benefiting from cost cuts. Thanks to lowered production costs achieved through feedstock diversification, renewable diesel producers Neste Oil and Diamond Green Diesel were the clear leaders in Lux’s model. On the other hand, Solena Biofuels and Joule Unlimited were among the laggards on account of delayed production and commercialization.
  • Developers move to alternate markets. Amid low oil prices, high-profile companies such as Solazyme, Amyris, and Gevo have shifted decisively toward specialty chemicals and nutraceuticals this year. Sapphire Energy also has shifted away from fuels and now targets nutraceuticals, producing Omega-3 EPA from its algae.
  • Oil majors remain a pillar of support. Believing cheap oil to be a short-term phenomenon, oil majors have remained prominent supporters of alternative fuel developers across various technology platforms. For example, Total has added to its existing portfolio in biofuels and bio-based chemical companies by investing in Renmatix, a biomass-to-sugars company.

“$50 oil was never an afterthought for technology developers,” said Yuan-Sheng Yu, Lux research associate and the lead author of the report. “Many companies have technology roadmaps for cheaper alternative fuels. Not all of them will actually achieve that benchmark, but some will – while others will find alternate markets or, ironically, use support from oil majors to survive until prices rise again.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1 Azure Power, an independent power producer in the Indian solar power sector, has announced the commissioning of its largest (100 MW) solar plant under India’s National Solar Mission (NSM) policy in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Azure Power had won this project under the NSM Phase-2 Batch I to supply power to Solar Energy Corporation of India, for 25 years. With the commissioning of this project, Azure Power is now the single largest owner and operator of solar PV projects under the NSM with a cumulative operational capacity of 142MWs under this policy.
  • Atlantic Wind & Solar, Inc. subsidiary Atlantic Solar has announced that its new 130 KW AC/137.25 KW DC fixed solar array featuring 450 multi-crystalline modules, located in Ontario Canada, is now powering the grid. With the formal receipt of a notice of Commercial Operation (COD) from the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) this marks the final step in the construction and connection of this solar plant. The power will be sold to the Ontario Power Authority at a rate of 71.3 cents per Kwh for 20 years.
  • CenturyLink, Inc. has announced the opening of a new data center in central Washington, adding hydro-electric-powered data center services to CenturyLink’s hybrid IT services portfolio. The facility offers global enterprises low power costs, and its high resiliency and geographic location make it ideal for cloud and disaster recovery solutions. The data center, located in Moses Lake, Washington, will ultimately support up to 30 megawatts of IT load on the site, with an initial ramp to 8 megawatts.
  • The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, a USD 50 million investment in CEC Africa Investments Limited, a multinational power company headquartered in Nigeria and Zambia. CEC Africa (CECA) seeks to acquire and develop distribution and transmission assets and complementary greenfield generation projects throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. By investing across the energy value chain (generation, transmission, and distribution), CECA aims to reduce electricity losses while improving the overall economics in Africa’s power sector.

Auto Steer/GPS Attributed to #Plant15 Progress

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What technology is most responsible for rapid planting progress?”

#Plant15 is in full swing and many attribute the rapid progress to auto steering and GPS capabilities. Others commented saying larger equipment, lots of hard work and long hours come into play. I know all are true. Where would we be without technology?

Here are the poll results:

  • Automatic section control (ASC) – 5%
  • Variable-rate seeding – 6%
  • Precision seed metering – 21%
  • Auto steer/GPS – 31%
  • Faster planters – 16%
  • Other – 21%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, What is your favorite type of craft beer?

The Alltech’s Rebelation is right around the corner and no Alltech event is complete without craft beer. This year Alltech will kick off the educational festivities with the 2nd Annual Craft Brews & Food Fest slated for Saturday, May 16. In honor of that, we want to know what craft beer tops your list. Do your taste buds lean towards an IPA, wheat, stout or do you love them all?