Category Archives: alternative energy

Hydroptere docked at Kewalo Basin Harbor

IMG_4640 The 60-foot trimaran hydrofoil Hydroptere made the transPacific crossing from Los Angeles, leaving on June 22, 2015 with the intent to break the transPacific speed record. Their ulterior motive was to meet up with the arrival of the solar powered plane, Solar Impulse. Designed to catch the wind and skim over the water, Hydroptere reached record speeds of more that 60mph. Due to the lack of winds and a detour to avoid a large debris patch the Hydroptere took nearly 11 days to arrive in Hawaii, far behind the record time of 4 days, 19 hours, set back in 2005. Nevertheless, the timing was perfect as the two clean tech pioneers Bertand Piccard (Solar Impulse) and Alain Thebault (Hydroptere), got to rendezvous in Honolulu. The Solar Impulse, piloted by Andre Borshberg arrived early Friday morning, July 3, 2015. Hydroptere also arrived on July 3rd. The trimaran is currently docked at Kewalo Basin Harbor where I was able to snapped these photos and periscoped this walk around. It's great to see these two high tech marvels at the same time in Honolulu.

Energy Excelerator gets major Navy funding

energyexceleratorNavy commits $30 million to Hawaii’s energy startup program The Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR), under the Asia Pacific Technology Education Program, announced today that it will invest $30M dollars in the Hawaii-based Energy Excelerator. The Energy Excelerator helps innovative energy startups succeed in Hawaii and the Asia Pacific region with non-dilutive funding, strategic relationships, and a vibrant ecosystem. The startup program has helped 17 energy companies bring technologies to market and raise follow-on funding of over $38M. The new Navy commitment triples the funding that the program operated with over the past 3 years, showing that they recognize the value of Hawaii as an ideal place for new energy innovation. The Energy Excelerator funds seed-stage and growth-stage startups with compelling energy solutions and immediate application in Hawaii. “Hawaii has the best economic conditions for launching a clean energy company on the planet. We have electricity prices that are quadruple the average on the U.S. mainland, we pioneered the most aggressive clean energy goals in the country because our government is very serious about getting off imported oil, and we already have a deep bench of renewable resources that we are looking to integrate more powerfully,” says Dawn Lippert, Senior Manager of the Energy Excelerator. The Energy Excelerator looks for technologies that can solve real-time problems such as managing renewables on the grid, integrating smart energy efficiency technologies, and reducing the use of oil in transportation. Once companies have proven their technologies and successfully delivered in Hawaii, they become very attractive to island nations in the Asia Pacific, as well as certain markets on the U.S. mainland. “The Energy Excelerator is unique in that they’re not afraid of hardware companies. They know what will succeed in these markets, and they’re very focused on helping companies win customers,” Patti Glaza, Principal of Arsenal Venture Partners. For seed-stage companies with a working prototype, the Energy Excelerator awards nondilutive funding up to $100,000 to develop and execute their go-to-market strategy, aided by a team of experienced mentors. For growth-stage companies with significant customer traction, the program awards up to $1M of grant funding for a project in Hawaii. Growth-stage projects require 50/50 cost-share with customer financing or private capital. “The Energy Excelerator was transformative for us,” says Michael Pfeffer, CEO of Ibis Networks. “We went from a cool technology with big aspirations to a company with angel investors, a differentiated value proposition, and real customers. It’s exciting to see ONR doubling down on this excellent program.” The Energy Excelerator is currently accepting applications for its next round. The program attracts hundreds of applicant companies, and selects less than 5% for funding.  

Chevy Volt Test Drive – Day 5

Chevy Volt Test Drive I love these screens on the Chevy Volt's dashboard. This one shows the ratio of electric miles verses gas miles between charges. These are helpful as you hone your driving patterns to get the most efficient mix of electric and gas powered driving. As gas prices go up, obviously you want to fuel up at charging stations. If you are plugging in at home it's best to be equipped with a PV system or else you will be refueling with expensive HECO gas generated electricity. I was impressed with the overall performance of the Volt. I can't compare it to other EVs but relative to my Acura TSX, the Volt had pretty good pick up. Something I did not expect from an electric car. As far as the ride goes, the  Volt was not as smooth as my TSX. Let's face it, I am spoiled. One of the things you need to consider is whether you are dependent on the air conditioner. In the summer the AC is a must, especially in afternoon rush hour traffic. Keep in mind this will sap your electric charge. The AC will in consume 16% of the power from the battery. With the AC off the climate electrical consumption was 3%. I drove the car around with the AC off most of the time. For recharging, one of the dashboard screens gives you an estimate of how long it will take to charge up from  a 120V vs. 240V outlet. Generally speaking if you plug it in at home you will need about 8-10 hours to fully recharge. A full charge was taking about 4 hours from the Better Place charging station at Topa Tower. Overall it was a fun experience driving the Chevy Volt. I must thank Chris Colquitt from GM and especially Shauna Goya from Comm Pac for allowing me to park at Topa Tower, easily accessing the charging station. That made all the difference. An electric vehicle is definitely in my future. It will just depend on price point and relative ease of recharging. Now I know what to expect.

Chevy Volt Test Drive – Day 4

Chevy Volt Test Drive Driving around town during Thanksgiving will easily take you beyond the 44 mile range of the Volt's battery pack. When driving an electric car the first thing you will notice is how quiet it is. There is no revving of the engine and the car moves as silent as the wind. So I was curious what it would sound like once the engine kicked in. Let me tell you, it was pretty uneventful going from battery to gas generator. I would not have noticed had it not been for the change in the power flow graphic. As soon as the gas generator engages, the engine appears in the graphic. Up until then it was just the graphic of the battery. In the Volt, the gas generator is not an engine per se. It is not connected to the transmission. Instead the gas generator is used to generate electricity to move the car. It does not fully recharge the battery although I did notice a small charge in the battery when idling. The gas generator works in tandem with the battery and in this mode gas efficiency seems better than a purely gas powered car. Once I pulled into the garage, I did notice the gas generator running. It made me think about the next time I would be able to charge up the battery to save my gas. Day 5 - Overall performance.

Chevy Volt Test Drive – Day 3

Chevy Volt Test Drive There are obvious driving patterns that conserve battery power. I noticed when driving around town, where there is a lot of braking and accelerating the battery will deplete faster than when you are on the freeway. Another observation is that the battery us used less if you are going downhill. But if you are doing round trips like be back and forth to town, then going downhill one way will result in going uphill on the return trip. It evens out in the end. I did notice that if you could minimize rapid acceleration and braking, battery power is preserved. At the end of the day, the Volt used more battery miles from town to Pearl City and less from Pearl City to town. This due to the  downhill effect going from Pearl City to town. Much of the car's battery performance is visible real time. The Chevy Volt has a power flow screen that is addictive to watch. It shows when the battery is feeding the transmission and when it is getting a regenerative buffer. Unlike the Toyota Prius, the Chevy Volt does not recharge the battery. Regenerative buffer is just a small charge flowing back into the battery. Day 4: Activating the gas generator.

Chevy Volt Test Drive – Day 2

Chevy Volt Test Drive The main thought that crossed my mind was to come up with a plan to get recharged each day. When Chris Colquitt (GM) gave me the overview yesterday, we were in the parking garage of Topa Tower. The building conveniently provides 4 stalls with EV charging stations from Better Place. The good thing is that Better Place is providing free charging until the end of December 2012. The bad thing was only 2 EV stations were working. To hedge my bets I left home early and claimed a stall at 6am in the morning. I usually go for a run first thing in the morning but I did not want to take a chance that the two working stalls would be occupied. Lucky I did that since stall 3 & 4 were still out of order. I went for my run after parking at Topa Tower. Lesson of the day, you become very conscious of the battery charge. Fully charged you get 44 miles. As soon as you go beyond 44 miles the gas generator kicks in. Psychologically the system makes you want to minimize the use of gasoline as much as possible. It's as if that tank is held as a precious reserve. When I picked up the Chevy Volt at the end of the day it appeared the Better Place stalls 3&4 were repaired and operational. The BP promotion is a timely one and if you can take advantage of it, you should. To find EV charging stations near you, including the BP ones you go to this site built by local app developers, Mavens LLC. Day 3: Optimal driving patterns

Chevy Volt Test Drive – Day 1

Chevy Volt Test Drive Thanks to Shauna Goya of Communications Pacific and Chris Colquitt from GM for the one week test drive of the Chevy Volt. I've not only wanted to drive an electric vehicle (EV) but wanted to understand the subtle changes in driving routine when filling up with electricity. The following posts will be my experience over the course of the week driving the Volt to and from work. For starters, Chris gives me the 10 minute data dump on electric car operations and how to get the most efficient use out of the electric storage system. I thought when I upgraded from my Acura Integra (1996) to the TSX (2010) I went through a quantum leap in technology. Going to an EV is another quantum leap. The Volt has an electric battery that covers about 44 miles on a full charge. After that a gasoline engine charges the battery extending the vehicle another 300 miles. Starting the car is with a push of a button and everything is controlled from the display screen. I drive out of the parking lot at about 2 miles per hour as I try to adjust the AC and find the radio. Once I hit the road it's like regular driving. By the time I get to Pearl City the electric gauge has 20 miles on it, enough to get back to town. Tomorrow, I need to figure out my logistics for getting a full electric charge.

Hawaii Energy Study

Hawaii Energy StudyIn an effort to help people better understand their energy usage, the Hawaii Energy Study, sponsored by Blue Planet Foundation, Kupu and Kanu Hawaii, have launched a 300 home pilot to deploy The Energy Detective (TED). Dwight Streamfellow from Living Systems installed TED at my home as part of the Study. The installation is pretty straight forward but probably best done by a trained electrician. A couple of inductance coils are placed on the main electric circuit for your house. It is then attached to the Measuring Transmitting Unit (MTU) which measures the amount of electricity you are using in real time. All this resides in your circuit box. Inside the house the Gateway unit collects data off the MTU and stores it. The MTU and the Gateway communicate over the electric power line. The trick here is to find a low "noise" electric circuit for the MTU and Gateway to talk to each other. We spent a fair amount of time going through the house looking for an outlet that enabled the Gateway to receive readings from the MTU. Unfortunately the outlet that did work was some distance from my Internet router so right now it is not Internet accessible. The third key component is the wireless display. This unit takes the readings from the Gateway and displays realtime readings of watts being used. This afternoon, while we were doing the installation, we had the dryer going and you could see the watts jump to 6000 for the period that it is on. The display also shows the estimated amount you are paying for depending on your usage. The average cost per kW-hour was set during installation at $.30. So like filling up your gas tank, you can tell how much you are paying based on your usage. You can watch your costs increase as the water heater, microwave, drier or any appliance gets turned on or goes off. You can even watch the display change as you turn on a light or a fan. Of course this is the whole point of the Hawaii Energy Study, to get us to understand what our energy usage is like. The idea is if we can do small changes, like using CFLs, minimize use of air conditioners or getting a timer for the water heater we can cut down on our electricity usage. This meter is a direct display of that usage. In the meantime, I am going to see if I can attach a wifi dongle to the Gateway to see if I can get my Air Port to access it. Then over the course of the study period graph my usage patterns. It's the beginning of the quantified home. Exciting times!

SunRun offers Home Solar in Hawaii

SunRunSunRun announced today that it will offer its solar power service in Hawaii to residential customers. SunRun will offer homeowners rooftop solar systems for as little at $0 down. The homeowner then pays SunRun for monthly solar electricity. The estimated monthly savings is up to 15% less than current electric utility rates. SunRun owns, monitors, insures and maintains the solar panels at no additional cost. In the States that SunRun offers this service (which include Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania), SunRun teams up with local solar system installers. In Hawaii, they've teamed up with two major solar integrators, Sunetric and RevoluSun. This supports the local economy with jobs and opportunities. According to Alex Tiller, CEO of Sunetric,
This program opens the floodgates for every homeowner who wants to switch to solar. Thanks to SunRun, Hawaii will reduce its dependence on fossil fuels while taking control of its power bills. Additionally, Sunetric will be able to grow its team and stimulate much-needed job growth in the Islands.
In researching this announcement. I found this video of Lynn Jurich, President and co-founder of SunRun speaking on a panel at the Scientific American Rountable: Meet the Future. In section 7, Lynn describes the challenge of solar power adoption and SunRun's solution. It is an informative overview of what they have in mind for homeowners in Hawaii. If you find this interesting and want to find out more, tune in on Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 5:00pm to Bytemarks Cafe on 89.3FM KIPO - Hawaii Public Radio. We will have Lynn Jurich on the show by phone. Joining her in the studio will be Mark Duda of RevoluSun and Alex Tiller from Sunetric. If you have any questions on how this "Power Purchase Agreement" works this will be a perfect time to call in  (808) 941-3689.