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Google is offering millions in initiatives to help the environment

Using Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, the Mountain View, California company awarded a $1 million-grant for hybrid electric vehicle development and plans on offering up to $10 million in grants to support the vehicles.  The RechargeIT initiative "aims to reduce CO2 emissions, cut oil use and stabilize the electrical grid by accelerating the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid technology."  

Companies and universities interested in the grant money for alternative transportation research will have to present official proposals to Google later this summer.

"Climate Change:  mitigate the effect of climate change on the poor by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy efficiency, and supporting clean energy sources," is published on the front page of the official Google.org web site.

The $1 million grant was offered to help support the development and adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.  Plug-in cars are different than other clean-cars because regular hybrids use battery power but still rely on combustion engines -- plug-in cars are able to utilize electric power for up to 30 miles before having to rely on a gas engine.

Several companies -- including Toyota, Honda and General Motors -- are actively working on plug-in hybrid vehicles.  

In other environmental news, Google recently turned on the solar panels which cover much of the roof tops on the company's Mountain View corporate campus.  The panels are able to produce up to 1.6 megawatts of energy, which is enough to offer as much as one-third of the entire campuses energy use.  

Google previously announced a coalition of companies and organizations that plan to help save energy and reduce greenhouse gases.



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good effort....
By Souka on 6/20/2007 10:52:32 AM , Rating: 1
good effort, but it has been shown that the true CO2 output of such a car from cradle-2-grave is higher than conventional vehicles.

True, it reduces CO2 emmissions from the tailpipe, but the CO2 production is higher on the initial build of the vehicle and if it has plug-in capabilities, the CO2 output from the electricty comes from a power plant.

It would be nice if they came up with EPA CO2 output guidelines... showing CO2 produced making the car and estimated CO2 output per year from the car.... then tax appropirately.

My $.02 of ramblings....




RE: good effort....
By masher2 (blog) on 6/20/2007 11:09:45 AM , Rating: 4
> "it has been shown that the true CO2 output of such a car from cradle-2-grave is higher than conventional vehicles..."

I went tooth and comb through the report that claimed this, and I didn't see that their conclusion was warranted. My environmental views here are no secret; I certainly had a willingness to believe their figures.

The net reduction in CO2 from a hybrid certainly isn't as large as the mpg might lead one to believe, but it still seems to exist. Whether or not such reductions are neccesary (or even desirable) or not is, of course, a different issue.


RE: good effort....
By Hoser McMoose on 6/20/2007 2:21:11 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
good effort, but it has been shown that the true CO2 output of such a car from cradle-2-grave is higher than conventional vehicles.

Can you please point to ANY study which shows as much? The closest I've seen is a 'study' (using the term lightly) from a market research company that was paid to try and demonstrate what you state. They couldn't quite do so, but showed that if you drove a hybrid vehicle 1/3rd as much a non-hybrid then your cradle-to-grave CO2 output PER MILE was higher.

Any halfway reasonable analysis will almost always come up that the hybrids are better once they are drive 'x' km, with the exact value of 'x' varying from one vehicle to the other.

As for CO2 from the electrical grid, it's still generally less even if your electricity is coming from coal. Coal plants are able to manage about 35% efficiency (up to about 45% efficiency is possible in some advanced designs), and there are fairly minimal loses through the rest of the system (power transmission, charging the batteries and running the electrical motors). In all you'll probably end up with about 30% efficiency, end to end, if you're starting with a 35% efficient coal power plant. This is as good or better then the best internal combination engines + transmissions used in cars (one nice advantage of electric motors is that they don't need transmissions or can get by with a very simple design). Even a high-efficiency diesel is going to really struggle to meet that level and will only do so at certain rev range.

Add in any non-fossil fuel electricity sources (about 25% of electricity in the US) and you're easily in the clear.


RE: good effort....
By masher2 (blog) on 6/20/2007 8:29:19 PM , Rating: 3
> "In all you'll probably end up with about 30% efficiency, end to end, if you're starting with a 35% efficient coal power plant."

Not quite. Bulk power transmission losses will be in the 7.5% range. Coulometric charging efficiency of the batteries is about 70-75%. Electric motor efficiency is probably around 95-96%. So assuming a 35% efficient plant, you're in the 22-23% overal efficiency range end-to-end.

But as you say, 35% is on the low range for coal plants these days...some supercritical designs are supposedly getting close to 50% now. And of course, a good bit of the electricity in the grid doesn't come from coal, but from nuclear or hydro.


RE: good effort....
By Scrogneugneu on 6/20/2007 8:55:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And of course, a good bit of the electricity in the grid doesn't come from coal, but from nuclear or hydro.


True. A hybrid car over here, in Quebec, would reduce overall pollution a lot, since the very vast majority of electricity we have is from hydro. I think we have one small nuclear plant, and about 5 other kind of plants. Other than that, all hydro.

So, using electricity to power our cars wouldn't create more pollution. At least for us. I guess the rest of the world has to use nuclear power for that.

By the way, I kinda remember hearing about a new design of engine that had a very (very) high efficiency, something in the 90%+ range. A design which was... well, pulled. Gotta love oil companies.


RE: good effort....
By TomZ on 6/21/2007 12:08:44 AM , Rating: 2
How do you think your existing electric power generation stations will hold up if there was a large-scale changeover to electric vehicles? Canada would have to build a heck of a lot of new hydro plants for that. The environmentalists would have a fit!


RE: good effort....
By number999 on 6/21/2007 1:29:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The environmentalists would have a fit!

Cheap shot.

In the context that you put it in, you make it sound like environmentalists are neo luddites, opposed to progress while this story takes a different tact.

Google, trying to be progressive, is pushing into the future with these actions such as solar panelling and hybrid cars. Cars with higher tech powertrains. These measures are largely supported by environmentallists. This isn't progress? The only definition of progress is your definition?

As for opposition to hydropower, I'm sure that other people with different agendas (like their own land) will use whatever means (including environmentalism), to oppose this or any other large scale projects or to set their own agendas . Here's an example,

In 1993, a group called Mothers Opposing Pollution (MOP) appeared, calling itself "the largest women's environmental group in Australia, with thousands of supporters across the country." Their cause: A campaign against plastic milk bottles. It turned out that the group's spokesperson, Alana Maloney, was in truth a woman named Janet Rundle, the business partner of a man who did P.R. for the Association of Liquidpaperboard Carton Manufacturers-the makers of paper milk cartons.
Were they environmentalist? Doesn't look like it from the inside does it.

As for the effect of large scale changover to electric vehicles? How fast do you think it's going to happen? Overnight? There is plenty of lead up time considering that they don't even exist on the market yet in large numbers. Given the turnaround rate for durable goods like cars, replacement will take at least a decade even if today every vehicle in the market was to be electric. Given that time period, would you insist on the production of billion dollar investments (for crown corporations at that), that have no market? Very sound.

If necessary, the AECL states that an ACR 1000 (Advanced CANDU Reactor) can be constructed in 5 years. I doubt that a hydroelectric facility and the infrastructure to carry the electricity can be built in a shorter time period. Churchill falls took 5 years and is a 5000 MW facility. How many exploitable sites do you think exist? Ideally the ACR 1000 would be on the Gentilly site between Montreal and Quebec city, the main population centres, and along the highest population density corridor. With the ability to use the present high voltage lines and the nearby population centres, it is the ideal choice if it becomes necessary to add to the baseline power quickly. It would be also easier to add capacity to these lines and it would be far easier to site a new reactor at the site of a present one.

Lastly, if you meter the power correctly, it would have a lower impact on the system. You can easily mandate metering and monitoring upgrades to homes that decide to buy an electric car especially since all electrical work has to be done by professionals in Quebec and I doubt that you are plugging into a 15 amp circuit. By making it expensive to charge your car during peak periods, more people will charge overnight, creating better baseline usage and creating a better market for the building of large base power units such as hydro and nuclear.

Stop spreading this dogmatic stuff around and trolling. So you don't like environmentalists. Big deal. This story would obviously be of interest to those with an environmental bent. You don't like environmentalists, fine. So why bother reading and replying to the posts? Some perverted need? It added a big fat zero to the persons input, while showing a very dogmatic fanatical belief.


RE: good effort....
By rsmech on 6/22/2007 12:11:42 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The environmentalists would have a fit!
quote:
Cheap shot.


Hardly, just look to eastern WA. They are removing dams or taking water rights away from farmers for fish. I'm not going to argue on way or the other about the fish, but those dams & water rights have been in place for awhile. Good luck on a new dam.


RE: good effort....
By number999 on 6/23/2007 1:11:17 PM , Rating: 2
In the case of eastern WA, two groups supporting the removal of dams are native americans and fishermen. How about the water rights of the native americans?

The point is, these are stakeholders whose rights are as valid as the farmers. They too have the right to input and they have their own futures effected by any decision. How else are they to couch their arguements? The environment is pervasive and it affects the ability of many different stakeholders and their ability to live and make a living.

It is a cavalier attitude towards the entire environmental movement that I find sort of stupid. Of course an environmental organization is going to put it's arguemnts in it's own terms. I don't expect a nuclear organization to put arguments involving nuclear energy in their opponents terms.

Attacking the arguements that make up opposition or support is far better on an issue to issue basis then generalizations.

For one it shows an open mindedness to both sides of an arguement and the willingness to take facts before feelings and emotions.

Anyway, my point is the negative attitude to environmentalists by some people in this group is overly towards the movement, which makes no sense because of it's pervasiveness and not address arguements to some specific issue, some points of which are valid.


RE: good effort....
By masher2 (blog) on 6/21/2007 1:17:25 AM , Rating: 2
> "I kinda remember hearing about a new design of engine that had a very (very) high efficiency, something in the 90%+ range..."

Someone's been pulling your leg. A heat engine is limited by basic Carnot efficiency. If your car was burning gas at the temperature of the sun, it could hit 90% efficiency. Otherwise, its not going to happen.


RE: good effort....
By dnd728 on 6/20/2007 5:14:23 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, right. It's also been shown that our CO2 can't possibly hurt the enviroment, so who cares about those emissions?


RE: good effort....
By number999 on 6/21/2007 12:02:00 PM , Rating: 2
Please not that study again. It put the lifetime of the Hummer at over 30 years according to one critique of it.

http://www.pacinst.org/topics/integrity_of_science...

Not only that, it's an intensity measure based on consumption ... meaning even if I just drive a car around the block I'm actually lowering the CO2/mile measure of my vehicle, which is sort of idiotic as a measure of conservation, which people are trying to use it as.

Some of the figures that they use don't have any research to back them up. It's purely a marketing study and not a scientifically corroborated one, which is one of its major flaws.


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