Even if they haven't installed a solar array in their backyard, a new OnStar program lets Volt drivers recharge their plug-in hybrids with renewable energy.
OnStar is working with electric power systems operator PJM Interconnection to develop technology that could give drivers a choice of the type of electricity used to recharge their Volt. The new system would let drivers establish a renewable energy preference for the Volt and help them use renewably generated electricity to recharge their cars.
PJM monitors the percentage of renewable energy available on the electrical grid, and uploads the forecast to OnStar's cloud. … Read more
Think factory-built homes, and you might immediately imagine design that is wholly uninspired. But Simpatico Homes builds prefabricated homes that were inspired by Joseph Eichler, known for bringing mid-century modern architecture to California communities.
The modular homes are not only stylish, but sustainable and energy-wise too. And because they're prefabricated, they don't take as long to put together. SmartPlanet's Sumi Das takes a tour of a prototype home in Emeryville, Calif. Watch the video to see just how fast they can "set" (install) a house.
This video originally appeared on SmartPlanet with the headline "… Read more
Armed with little more than data sets, APIs, pizza, and beer, a group of software developers this weekend set out to demonstrate the power of information technology to help the environment.
The Cleanweb Hackathon attracted about 100 developers in New York City as well as a panel of judges that included New York City's chief digital officer and the U.S. chief technology officer. The first hackathon took place last September in San Francisco.
Yesterday afternoon, 15 teams, including one from Columbia University, showed off their "hacks" and received awards. The Web and mobile applications touched on … Read more
You may think you know how much electricity you're using, but there's a whole lot more you could--and should--know.
Despite living in the information age, most of us are basically in the dark when it comes to electricity bills, with just a rough idea of how much we consume every month and what it will cost.
Over the last few weeks, I've been testing a whole-house energy monitor from startup Wattvision, which actually answers basic questions, such as how much and when you consume electricity and how it trends over time. I also hooked up my home's real-time electricity feed to another startup's analytics Web service called PlotWatt to get more detail on what's consuming energy.
A couple of hardware gadgets made it all possible, but using the services showed me that a lot of the action in home energy is moving to software and up into the cloud. In the case of energy monitors, back-end analytics can provide insights and recommendations a simple metering device can't. And if you have a smart thermostat or home automation system, you can remotely control your heating, cooling, lights, and appliances from a smart phone or PC.
But before getting into the gadgetry, one has to ask: why bother with energy monitoring? Is it green? Does it help me lower my bills? Is there a good payback? … Read more
Making fuel and chemicals from crops such as corn and sugar cane requires significant quantities of land and fresh water, creating competition for resources with agriculture. Macroalgae such as seaweed, by contrast, grow in salt water and are relatively productive energy sources because they are 60 percent carbohydrates and don't contain lignin, which binds up useful molecules in many earthbound … Read more
With only 700 ActiveEs to lease, you'll have to move fast if you want to be one of BMW's electric pioneers.
Months later than expected, BMW officially opened the order books for the all-electric ActiveE field trial today. The manufacturer was supposed to take reservations last year, but delayed it to streamline the delivery process. The first electric sedan has already been delivered to EV veterans Tom and Meredith Moloughney, who lease an electric MiniE from the manufacturer. If you think you're ready to go electric, don't drag your feet--availability will be on a first-come, first-served … Read more
Electric carmaker Coda Automotive thinks its car batteries are versatile enough to buffer the electric grid.
The company today announced a venture called Coda Energy, a business unit created to build stationary energy storage systems.
The expertise Coda acquired in designing lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles translates directly to the grid energy storage world, the company said. Its battery system includes an active thermal management to keep batteries at a safe temperature and it has a manufacturing partnership with Lishen in China to make products at large scale. It plans to make modular energy storage systems that can be … Read more
Conventional fluorescent tube light fixtures officially need to die now that a Japanese company has announced a Wi-Fi-equipped LED fluorescent tube lamp replacement worthy of being on a spaceship.
The 40W LED light panel from NetLED is networkable to the cloud, allowing users to dim the lights to various intervals of brightness (and wattage) from a computer, smartphone, RFID-enabled device, or motion/light sensors. An iOS app for NetLED is already available, and according to AV Watch, an Android version is in the pipeline as well.
As with any other technology way ahead of its time, there's a rather large cost involved with NetLED's fixtures. Each individual main tube costs 19,800 yen ($257), but the main tube can drive up to three secondary lights, which cost 14,000 yen ($182). Then you need the primary NetLED server, which sets you back another 60,000 yen ($781) and supports up to 100 lights.
Using LED lights in an office is a wise power-saving solution that currently presents a rather large initial cost, but NetLED offers some compelling control schemes. … Read more
For many, the ballyhooed smart home of connected devices will start with the lowly thermostat.
Startup EnergyHub today is releasing data from a study of customers who bought a Wi-Fi enabled thermostats tied to EnergyHub's Web service. It found that letting consumers operate the thermostat from a familiar PC or smartphone application, rather than on the thermostat itself, makes a dramatic difference in how often the programmable features are used.
An Internet-connected thermostat also allows people to remotely control home heating and cooling. Being able to adjust home temperature from the office or commute, for example, appears to be … Read more