Google gets into green transport policy
Prince Charles style move by ad colossus
Noted bot-vs-bot information nexus Google has joined Prince Charles in swerving away from core business to offer environment strategies.
The internet ad-men have had a scratch of their heads, and reckon they've got the answers to green transportation and energy use. To be specific, the Google flavour of green involves plug-in hybrid cars, rooftop solar panels and smarter power grids.
A plug-in hybrid, as opposed to a normal hybrid car like the successful Toyota Prius, has a bigger battery pack able to store more electrical power - and this larger battery can be plugged into a power socket to charge up. The plug-in hybrid operates "primarily on electricity for the first 20-40 miles ... and since more than 70 per cent of Americans drive less than 33 miles per day, many will not use any gasoline in their daily commutes," according to Google. Longer trips would still be possible, drawing on the car's combustion engine.
"Integration of hybrid cars with the electric power grid could reduce gasoline consumption by 85 billion gallons per year," the company adds.
"That’s equal to a 27 per cent reduction in total U.S. greenhouse gases, 52 per cent displacement potential of U.S. oil imports, and $270 billion avoided in gasoline expenses."
Of course, it might throw a bit of a load on the electricity grid, which could easily translate to increased carbon emissions from power plants. Google reckon that there won't be a need for any new plants, though.
"Even without adding any new power plants, the existing U.S. electrical grid has sufficient capacity to fully fuel three quarters of the nation’s 217 million passenger vehicles, assuming the average car drives 33 miles per day," say the ad-men.
This would be because plug-in hybrids would be charged up mainly at night, when demand for electricity is low and existing powerplants have spare capacity.
Google also reckons that "Vehicle to Grid," (V2G) tech would be a good idea. The firm said that plug-in hybrids parked with juice in their batteries at times of high demand could sell power back into the grid, and utility companies wouldn't need to fire up dirty standby generation plants. They think that plug-in hybrid owners might make $2-3,000 a year like this, though they'd presumably have to drive home from work burning petrol because their batteries were flat.
In fact, on the face of it V2G would appear to transfer workday peak burden from utility-company standby generators out of town to car engines in the cities, at least in the case of daily commuters. The standby power would have to be pretty dirty for that to make sense. Maybe the Googlers are on about cars which do an average of ten miles or less each day, and would be able to spare some juice as well as do the day's work. In that case, though, why not just leave your spare battery capacity at home rather than lugging it back and forth every day?
It's all very puzzling.
Google are also very proud of their rooftop solar panels, which deliver "30 per cent of Google's peak electricity demand in our solar powered buildings at our Mountain View, CA headquarters."
Much more from Google here.®
Just introduce free public transport in every town and city
It would be a lot simpler and solve a lot of problems if governments just got over their religious hangups about free market ideology and offered free public transport to everyone in every major town and city. A bus can carry 40+ people. Heck even when it is half full, it will still have at least 20 people.
That would cut back a heck of a lot of driving, allow for big reductions in CO-2, save dwindling supplies of fossil fuels and lessen the need for potentially billions of hefty energy intensive, chemically nasty batteries.
This is something that could begin tomorrow morning unlike all the hand wringing over new technologies of every variety.
The simplest solutions are always the best.
Barrirers to acceptance.
Hybrids are expensive as they have to be filled with batteries which use chemicals only found easily in some countries and need much work to use. If we switch to batterries for all cars we will quickly be in the War for Batteries instead of the War for Oil. We need a cheap solution and available solution to portable energy sotrage.
The next barrier as the PP said is the look. I think the best solution to this is to convert existing well loved cars to new energy sources, seperating the power train and the user interface in assesments.
If hydorgen isn't ready then compressed air should be strongly considered. It's far cheaper than batteries and doesn't require any exotic materials. Using an automated air tank exchange and slow charging of the tanks in the filling station it's very efficient too!
As for supply, we need to be using more renewables, not just wind (idiots complain about noise) and PV cells (too expensive and not enough kw/m). Stirling engines are simple, cheap and efficient and can be heated from geothermal or various configurations of mirrors. Fusion will come online soon enough too.
It has nothing to do with environmental ethics...
All they want is somewhere to charge up their Segways!!!