Monday, April 19, 2010

Post Peak Oil Two-Wheeled Fun


I'm a sucker for two-wheeled vehicles, but I've been discouraged lately from the acquisition of petroleum-powered machines by both the nature of the fuel and the CO2 generation. Bicycles are great, but in a rural area with few bike paths battling autos for a tiny sliver of space on a skinny backroad can get dicey.

The introduction of a new electric scooter, the ZEV7000, as profiled by Gizmag, looks like a healthy way to enjoy two-wheeled travel without the pollution problem.

The battery power specs for this machine, billed as the fastest electric scooter on the market, look pretty good:

Range for the ZEV7000 is similar to the Vectrix at between 55 and 70 miles between charges, which take 25 minutes for a 75 percent top-up, or around 2 hours for a full charge. You can extend the vehicle's range or choose to access higher power by using what the company calls its "electronic transmission" - a switch that lets you choose how many amps the engine is running at. Low amps means low power but extended range, higher amps will drain the battery faster but give the bike substantially more beans.

Put up a wind turbine to recharge it at night and you've got a non-petroleum mode of transport that promises to be a kick and a half to ride.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Energy used for Cloud Computing


Large-scale data centers place tremendous demand on the electrical grid, a demand that is increasing rapidly as cloud computing becomes more common as a business strategy for many corporations. As more than one pundit has pointed out, the source for powering these data centers is often generated by coal--modern technology energized by an eighteenth century fuel that is a global warming nightmare.

Heather Clancy in a ZDNet post thinks that corpoations ought to make a strong effort to boost the visibility and acceptance of renewable energy sources, as in an example she cites about Kaiser Permanente and Recurrent Energy installing solar power systems.

When they are completed, the systems will carry approximately 10 percent of the power load at sites in Vallejo and Santa Clara in Northern California and Fontana and San Diego in Southern California.

Kaiser is developing the systems with Recurrent, which will actually own them. Kaiser will buy the power through solar power purchase agreements. And, low and behold, this will make recurrent eligible for a 30 percent tax credit because Kaiser is a not-to-profit organization.

Kaiser will look to additional renewable energy sources in the future to continue building out its distributed system.

So far, Kaiser has managed to save up to $10 million per year in its energy conservation efforts.

The inspiration for this piece, a Greenpeace report on the ramafications of cloud computing, suggests that industry IT leaders, such as Microsoft, IBM, Google, Facebook, and Apple, ought to begin wielding their influence to speed the adoption of renewable energy systems.