Friday, April 24, 2009

Solar-Powered Movies


Employing unique cylindrical tubes, rather than panels, to capture solar energy, an installation on the roof of a Livermore, California movie theater has become the largest solar-powered cineplex. As described in an article for The Mercury News by Jeanine Benca, these solar modules work well in areas where windy conditions make it difficult to use solar panels.

For theater owner Dave Corkill, financial incentives were a factor, but there were other motivations.

"I just think it's the responsible thing to do in this world as a business owner. I think you have to be eco-conscious," he said.

In conclusion, the article notes Environmental Protection Agency estimates: the Livermore system will prevent the emission of more than 3,400 metric tons of greenhouse gases over the next 25 years.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Reservations Strong for Tesla Model S


GM and Chrysler are practically giving their vehicles away and still can't find takers. Even perennial market leaders Honda and Toyota are in the sales doldrums. But, even in this economic climate, Tesla Motors collected 520 pricey reservations (at $40,000 a pop) for an electric car that won't be delivered until 2011.

No ordinary car, the Tesla Model S has specifications that put electric vehicles on an equal footing with petroleum-powered machines, the only serious drawback the steep $49,900 price tag, which can be offset to the tune of $7500 by a tax credit. The Model S has a range of 300 miles, zips from 0 to 60 in 5.6 seconds, seats 7 (if you count the two tiny baby seats in the hatch), offers a 45-minute quick charge, and provides cargo space that rivals a station wagon.

Clearly the demand is there:

"Frankly the number of cars reserved in the first week has exceeded our optimistic internal projections," said Tesla CEO, Chairman and Product Architect Elon Musk. "Enthusiasm surrounding the Model S is proof that there's pent-up demand for more affordable, fuel-efficient vehicles -- including those made in America."

No matter how many electric cars we put on the road, we can't drive ourselves out of the current climate destabilization path that the world is on. The electricity that charges the Model S can just as easily come from a coal-fired plant as it can from a community wind farm or even a solar installation on the garage roof. The Model S does show that a practical electric car is a feasible mode of transportation while we're busy restoring our railway systems, revamping public transportation, and rethinking city planning paradigms.

More on this intriguing machine can be found on Treehugger or on the Tesla Motors site.