Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Gas Prices killing you part 2

Yesterday, you read about Darrell Dickey and his no-gas RAV-4 EV. Today, is Stephen Weitz.


Stephen Weitz, who holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry, says four things prompted him to buy an electric truck and charge it with solar energy: 1) global warming and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS); 2) Albert Einstein; 3) nitrogen "overdose"; and 4) open habitat and species destruction."

NAS began warning of the dangers of rising carbon dioxide levels on global temperatures due to the greenhouse effect years ago," says Weitz, who lives in Oakland, California. "And Einstein won the Nobel Prize for describing the 'photovoltaic effect,' inaugurating the age of quantum physics and making photovoltaic solar panels a theoretical possibility."

Regarding nitrogen overdose, scientists have been documenting that harmless nitrogen (air is 80 percent nitrogen) is converted into potent fertilizer by internal combustion engines. This fertilizer is then deposited on soils, harming native plant ecosystems and endangered species.

"Some call it drive-by ICE (internal combustion engine) extinction," Weitz says. "Using 'green fuels' like ethanol and biodiesel would continue the problem, and hydrogen fuel cells are no solution because they cost too much, they're less efficient than battery-powered vehicles, and hydrogen is made by stripping fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide and exacerbates global warming."

Weitz wanted a source of energy for his electric vehicle that didn't originate from combustion. "By putting solar panels on the roof of my house, I could make use of an endless energy supply to charge my electric vehicle and operate and heat the house. Your house and your vehicle are the two biggest contributors to global warming, so making both carbon neutral strikes at the heart of the problem."

Rooftop mounting of solar panels also eliminates the need to convert undeveloped habitat into solar generation facilities. "We need to save open space for ecosystems, and we have so many empty roofs across the nation," he says. He points out as well that terrorist attacks and earthquakes are less destructive when power generation is distributed diffusely, rather than in concentrated spots like nuclear power plants or nuclear waste disposal sites.

For his PV system, Weitz contacted NorCal Solar (http://www.norcalsolar.org/), which lists state-approved contractors. He obtained multiple bids, arranged two site visits, and got a "significant" rebate from the state for installing the system. He has Time of Use metering, and in the summer he gets a greater dollars-per-kilowatt credit for his solar-generated electricity than he spends at night to charge his electric truck. "PG&E (the local utility) is happy because their peak power needs are highest when my solar panels are putting out the watts, and lowest at night when I'm charging. The PG&E bill for operating my house and electric vehicle is almost zero."

There are two types of EV's, he explains: highway capable battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs). "Buy only what you need," he advises." If you drive mostly around town and take long trips once a year, get an NEV and rent a car for the long trip. If you must do lots of freeway driving, buy a BEV—just realize it will cost more and use more energy."

Weitz searched the Web for his electric vehicle, and recommends eBay, http://www.evnut.com/, and http://www.eaaev.org/. "I was lucky and found one of the rare vehicles in the movie "Who Killed the Electric Car" that hadn't been crushed by the auto industry—a factory-built Chevy S10 pickup. I had it shipped from Arizona and an electrician installed a 220-volt charger in my garage."

Millions of Americans, Weitz says, want the option to drive on cleaner, cheaper, domestic electricity. Many have banded together in the nonprofit Plug In America (http://www.pluginamerica.org/) to demand that automakers give consumers a choice.

2 comments:

joshua said...

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