New regulations toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions were finalized by the Obama administration. The new rules will require the fleet of new cars and trucks to average 54.5 miles per gallon in 13 years, up from 28.6 mpg at the end of last year. The administration says the changes will save families more than $1.7 trillion in fuel costs and bring an average savings of $8,000, over the lifetime of a new vehicle sold in 2025.
Automakers will need to introduce new technology to make vehicles cleaner and more efficient. Some bigger models may disappear, and dealers could offer more efficient gas-electric hybrids, natural gas vehicles and electric cars. There will be smaller motors, lighter bodies and more devices to save fuel, such as circuits that temporarily shut off engines at traffic lights.
The changes will raise new car prices, but the government says that will be more than offset by savings at the pump. Companies such as General Motors, will roll out features to comply.
The Power Above: Kite Power Seeks High Altitude Power
A startup in northwest hills of Italy called, Kite Gen Research, is working in generating electricity from flying big kites. The idea is to unreel a great piece of fabric into mile high winds that will drag the kite very quickly. Tether the fast spinning string to earthbound alternators to produce megawatts of power.
The main advantage is that, since higher altitude winds blow more constantly and faster than those at ground , the company is expecting to have an “energy returned on energy invested” (EROEI) that’s 160 times better than conventional wind turbines..
The engineering is still a work in progress, and the company hopes to raise $62 million to perfect its technologies and build a 150-megawatt farm. So far the European Union, private investors and SOTER (Society for the Transition to Renewable Energy) have supported the company’s efforts.
Indian Solar Panel Manufacturer Set to Double Panel Output
According to experts in the solar industry, India is about to become one of the fastest-growing solar markets. A manufacturer of Solar Energy Systems called Surana Ventures Ltd., is planning to double production after oversupply from Chinese manufacturers pushed prices down by almost 34 percent in the past year. Surana wants to increase output of panels to 30 megawatts this year and invest 250 million rupees ($4.5 million) in a solar cell plant.
With India struggling to add electricity generation capacity to meet peak demand, the shortage in coal supply and the Indian’s government initiatives to turn India into a global hub, with rules to help almost triple manufacturing capacity to 5 gigawatts by 2020, the company sees a great opportunity in the shift towards solar power.
Microbes Make Methane from Waste Wind Power
Scientists from Stanford and Pennsylvania State universities have discovered a process to convert electricity into methane, — the main constituent of natural gas — using microbes. This microbial technology could turn excess electricity that comes from wind farms and solar photovoltaic power plants, into useable fuel.
During the microbial electrosynthesis process, electricity flows through a cathode, the microbes pick up the electrons and metabolize them, releasing methane as a byproduct.
The researchers are working with different technologies to increase methane production, and making electrodes from more cost-effective materials than the precious metals currently used. Eventually, they foresee large-scale application of the technology in natural gas pipelines, and used to fuel everything from airplanes to cars. The first prototypes could be ready in three years.