Electric Daihatsu Mira goes 623 miles on a charge, but not to a showroom near you

Want an electric vehicle with more than a piddly couple-hundred mile range? Apparently you have to build it yourself and follow in the footsteps of the Japan Electric Vehicle Club, which broke the Guinness World Record last weekend by driving 623.76 miles (just over 1,000km) on a single charge in its customized Daihatsu Mira. The trip took 27.5 hours traveling around what appears to be the famous Tsukuba circuit in Shimotsuma, Japan. The car was powered by 8,320 Sanyo li-ion cells, each weighing about 44 grams, for a grand total of 807lbs -- more than half the weight of a stock Mira. While we're sure Daihatsu helped with this build, it's worth noting that this is not an official project of the company, meaning the 100 mile Nissan Leaf is about as close as you're going to get to this feat for the near future.

Source: Engadget

Tesla, Toyota To Open Electric Car Plant

The heads of Tesla Motors Inc. and Toyota Motors Corp. surprised the auto world Thursday by announcing a partnership to develop and build electric cars at a recently shuttered auto plant in the San Francisco Bay area. Akio Toyoda, CEO of the world's largest automaker, said Toyota will invest $50 million in Tesla when the company begins selling stock to the public, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his company will purchase the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. factory, known as Nummi, in Fremont where the Model S electric sedan will be built. Analysts said the partnership enhances the credibility of Tesla, a Silicon Valley start-up just a few years ago, and boosts Toyota's image after being fined a record $16.4 million for its slow response to an accelerator pedal recall.

Biodiesel Demand on the Rise

Europe will consume about 20m tonnes a year of renewable biodiesel by 2020 due to stricter regulations driving up demand for the ‘greener’ product, says Matti Lievonen, president and chief executive officer for Neste, a leading producer of biodiesel. “Renewable energy will also very much be in demand in Asia. Based on an anticipated population increase of one billion by 2030, there will be a 50% increase in energy demand especially in the areas of biofuels, solar and wind energy.”

New Study: Solar Industry Poised to Create 200,000 Jobs with Stimulus Extensions

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) today released an independent study projecting the positive economic impact of the Department of Treasury Grant Program (TGP) and the Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit (MITC). The study found that extending the TGP and MITC by two years would add 200,000 new domestic jobs to the solar workforce and supporting industries in the United States. Additionally, it would result in 10 gigawatts (MW) of new solar installations by 2016 – enough to power 2 million homes. “The clean energy grant program created in last year’s stimulus bill allowed enough renewable energy to come on line to power four cities the size of Seattle and create over 140,000 new jobs,” Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said. “Extension of the Treasury Grant program is essential to continuing our nascent economic recovery and moving to a cleaner, more distributed 21st energy system.

iPhone Your Electric Car To See if it's Ready to Roll!

The groundbreaking Nissan LEAF is fitted with a system where the air conditioning can be programmed using a mobile like the iPhone or HTC Desire. When they are out and about, drivers can use their phone to communicate with the battery powered, electric vehicle. With just a few clicks, drivers can find out how much battery power the car has left and if they have left it charging, they can ask the vehicle to send a message when power has been fully restored. They can also request what temperature they would like the cockpit to be at when they return to the five-door hatchback.

Google Invests $38.8 Million in Wind Farm

It is the first of its kind for Google and the company may use the extra energy to power, at least partially, its many data centers. “On Friday we made our first direct investment in a utility-scale renewable energy project — two wind farms that generate 169.5 megawatts of power, enough to power more than 55,000 homes,” Rick Needham, Green Business operations manager at Google, wrote. “These wind farms, developed by NextEra Energy Resources, harness power from one of the world’s richest wind resources in the North Dakota plains and use existing transmission capacity to deliver clean energy to the region, reducing the use of fossil fuels. Through this $38.8 million investment, we’re aiming to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy — in a way that makes good business sense, too,” he added.

Durathon™ Battery for Utilities from GE

GE Energy Storage Technologies, a unit of GE Transportation unveiled today its Durathon battery technology for utility companies. As power consumption continues to grow, infrastructure ages, and new elements evolve such as renewables and electric vehicles, the grid is being asked to perform as never before. GE's Durathon battery technology offers an intelligent way to approach these issues. As part of a simple energy storage system, GE's Durathon battery provides an alternative to costly new power structures, which enables energy to be utilized when it's needed. Because of its proprietary chemistry, the Durathon battery has the ability to last up to two decades while providing optimal charge and discharge times. Durathon batteries are well suited for applications in extreme temperature environments because the need for an expensive controlled environment is not required to deliver peak performance. This minimizes installation costs along with the batteries high energy density.

Most Chinese prefer alternative-energy vehicles

Nearly 60 percent of Chinese consumers will consider purchasing plug-in hybrid vehicles or electric vehicles, according to a survey released by Ernst & Young Global Automotive Center on Thursday. This figure is five times higher than that of other countries, such as the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and France. One reason why Chinese consumers choose alternative-energy vehicles is they have a better understanding of them. The other reason is that Chinese tend to have a short commute, which is compatible with the short battery life of alternative-energy vehicles.

10 Green Giants That Could Change the World

While start-ups have played a crucial role in getting the green industry off the ground, the future will likely be dominated by large, sprawling conglomerates. Why? Green technology essentially involves revamping the physical infrastructure of the modern world: replacing coal-fired power plants with wind turbines, building homes from materials concocted in chemistry laboratories, and swapping out engines for electric motors. Established companies simply are in a far better position to muster the capital, technological depth, managerial expertise and factory capacity needed. Familiarity plays a big role too. Millions have flocked to play Farmville. You won't see the same sort of giddy enthusiasm for those installing high voltage power lines or sewage-to-drinking water plants. If the Internet boom was an under-30 billionaire, clean tech is a science teacher with a comb-over. With that in mind, here is my list of the top ten Green Giants, the companies most likely to produce, develop and promote the ideas an products that will have the widest ranging effects.

Strong Solar Growth in 2009 Despite Recession

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released the 2009 U.S. Solar Industry Year in Review, finding 2009 to be another year of strong growth despite the economic recession. Overall U.S. solar electric capacity, including both photovoltaic and concentrating solar power installations, increased by 37 percent. This was driven primarily by strong demand in the residential and utility-scale markets, state and federal policy advances and declining technology prices. As a result, total solar industry revenue reached $4 billion, a 36 percent increase over 2008.  The solar industry contributed to the overall economy by adding 17,000 new jobs from coast to coast. The solar industry today employs 46,000 U.S. workers and supports an additional 33,000 jobs in other sectors.

Zinc Fuel Cell Powers Taiwan Made Electric Car

Known as the "Salamander," this car operates on zinc oxygen energy fuel cells. Also known as ZOE, the fuel cell generates electricity through the metal's oxidation process. It can be recycled by using sun power to return the oxidized zinc back to the original metal form. 288 of these little cells provide enough power for the lightweight vehicle to reach speeds well over 200 miles per hour. Of course, 80 miles per hour is the design speed and combined with brisk acceleration makes it nimble enough to function well in modern traffic. Local Taipei news video of the car in action here.

Ireland to support electric cars with $5,000 euro grant

Buyers of electric vehicles will get the grant and be exempt from vehicle registration tax, the government said. Ireland's Electricity Supply Board is rolling out 3,500 charge points by December 2011, with roll-out already under way in Dublin and charging points due to be installed in Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick. Ireland said it's aiming for 10% of the country's vehicles to be electric by 2011. Nissan is due to roll the Leaf, an all-electric five-seater, early next year, and Renault will launch its Kangoo Z.E. electric vehicle later in the year.

Solar-Powered Plane Debuts

The aircraft made its maiden voyage Wednesday in Switzerland, as a team of engineers and adventurers marked an important step in a $93.5 million project to build the first aircraft capable of circumnavigating the globe without a drop of fuel. The plane itself, Solar Impulse, is an unwieldy beast. Wings as wide as those on a 747 are decked out with solar panels to provide enough power to keep the 3,500-pound craft cruising at about 44 mph. Test pilot Markus Scherdel managed to take the aircraft almost a mile above the Swiss countryside, executing simple turns during the 90-minute flight before making a successful landing.

UPS adds 200 more hybrids to fleet

United Parcel Service (UPS) has added an additional 200 hybrid delivery vehicles to its fleet of low-emissions and alternative energy vehicles. With this latest addition, UPS now has more than 20,000 green vehicles in its fleet! The 200 new HEV package cars are expected to reduce fuel consumption by roughly 176,000 gallons over the course of a year compared to an equivalent number of traditional diesel trucks. The hybrids also should reduce by 1,786 metric tons the amount of CO2 gases released annually into the atmosphere.

Tesla Wins Alternative Energy Rally

A Tesla Roadster has become the first electric vehicle to win the Monte Carlo Alternative Energy Rally and the first to win an FIA-sanctioned competition. Driven by Formula One driver Erik Comas, the Arctic white Roadster beat 96 competitors in range, efficiency and performance. The Roadster's victory in the three-day, nearly 1,000-kilometer challenge also marks the first time an electric vehicle has dominated a certified Federation Internationale de l'Automobile competition. The Roadster scored definitive victories in two additional categories, including the Efficiency Cup and the Electric Vehicles Cup.

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