Archive for July, 2008

Week of July 21st

Monday, July 21st, 2008

A busy week again! I spent much time at Plug-In 2008, learning more about electric vehicles, like what vehicle and battery manufacturers are up to, timelines to production of many products, etc. I was surprised to hear that tens of thousands of the one million Prius’ sold have been converted to plug-in for longer electric car mode, even absent of possible warranty voidance. I listened to Andy Grove’s (Intel) proclamation that we convert 10 million pickups, SUVs and vans in the US to electric only operation within four years to save enough fuel consumption to actual reduce fuel prices, reduce emissions and advance electric and hybrid vehicle technology. It was horribly apparent that there are few electric/plug-in hybrid vehicle choices today, and that GM and Ford seem to be way behind and undervalue or underestimate consumer demand. It seems that smaller, niche manufacturers will fill the void over the next few years.

I was also lucky enough to test drive an electric motorcycle. Although I raced motorcross when I was a teenager, I am pretty darn afraid of motorcycles, but I had a blast on this hot-rod, all electric motorcycle. It was based upon a Ducati street sport bike and had amazing acceleration, control and balance. Getting up to freeway speeds was as easy as moving the throttle to as fast as you wanted to go, and slowing down was again merely a control of the throttle position. No shifting required, ever. Wow, no shifting was far better than I ever expected and actually IMPROVED control. This coming from a guy who has always preferred manual transmissions. Brakes were only required when below about 5 mph, as regenerative braking took care of the rest. I was amazed at the performance and loved the quiet ride without all of the obnoxious noise associated with many motorcycles. If you might be interested in investing in an all electric motorcycle company, write me and I’ll connect with you the excellent founder of this start up company.

Week of July 14th

Monday, July 14th, 2008

In addition to client work and learning how to take full advantage of the myriad of exciting new features on his brand new Prius, I also attended Data Center Dynamics in San Francisco on Friday, where hundreds of data center experts were attending, listening to workshops, many focused on data center energy efficiency and some on development of data centers. I enjoyed Chris Crosby’s (DRT) talk about standarized design of the data center, something I and others have been trying to do as much as possible as we develop new data centers. I’m also going to work with the DC Dynamics team on some ideas for new sessions at future conferences.

I also attended InterSolar in San Francisco, learning about concentrating photovoltaic companies, technologies, economics, and more. I was impressed with the show and hope to attend again.

I had dinner with the founder of a new electric vehicle company. (I need to keep the name and product quiet for now, but if you are interested in funding a great new electric vehicle concept, write me.) We talked about battery technologies, the product niche, their market and company position, and challenges. It was a great learning experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. And I’ve been offered a test ride on the prototype which I am definitely looking forward to as it should be a blast.

While electricity prices in the US typically increased each year about equal to GNP, which has been roughly 1.5%, the last 5+ years have seen annual average increases in retail electricity rates of about 6%. This week the The Energy Information Office released a revised report predicting that US electricity rates will increase by 9.9% in 2009. How about we just call it 10%?

In 2000, I purchased a large quantity of natural gas at just under $2.00/mmBtu. We are now seeing natural gas prices between $12-14/mmBtu while Asia is paying over $16, so expect natural has to continue to rise. This compounded with coal price increases, especially transportation and future emissions costs, makes wind very attractive on a cost/kWh basis. But storage and other base load power generation is necessary.

Latest Events, Week of July 7th

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Last week, I attended a DoE/EPA sponsored data center workshop in Seattle focused on energy efficiency of data centers and the devices within them, including specs for EnergyStar servers, networking and storage equipment. He actively participated in ways to positively influence folks to adopt higher energy efficiency practices with their data center infrastructure.

The event was hosted by Microsoft, who provided excellent facilities, a beautiful site and day accommodations. The weather in Seattle during the two-day event was as perfect as weather can be. I believe the workshop was attended by about 100 folks, invite only.

I also attended the SVLG’s Energy Summit all day Friday, hosted at Stanford by the Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency. Great speakers, well attended, renewables and energy efficiency were the highlights. I was also lucky enough to have a small meeting across a small table with Andy Karsner, US Assistant Secretary of Energy, Renewables and Energy Efficiency, where we talked about energy efficiency programs and energy efficiency of data centers.

KC was also lucky enough to have dinner with Martin Eberhard, founder and past-CEO of Tesla Motors, makers of the ever cool Tesla all-electric hot-rod roadster. We talked about Tesla, his latest entrepreneur interests, electric vehicle systems and life.

KC rounded out the week by picking up a new Toyota Prius to make his car travel lower emissions and reduce fuel consumption. I’m going from 28 to 46 mpg, so a good improvement but from from the triple digit mpg averages we should be getting today. However, the best choice today for my driving needs. My new model is top of the line touring with leather and navigation. It’s been a blast to drive; way more fun than I expected. This should serve my driving needs well until a 100+ mpg equivalent vehicle is ready to meet my needs. I’ll work on trying to achieve over 50 mpg regularly.