Not selling – suburban transport EV dream.

The evidence to date suggests the socio-economic structure of suburban life is partly to blame for car dependent suburbanites rejecting electric vehicles. It might also explain the lack of patronage for City of Sydney recharging facilities infrastructure. And, now we have a political bidding war for public infrastructure in Western Sydney it will be even more difficult, or more correctly a major barrier is being put up to suppress the EV market even more.

The reference to City of Sydney patronage can be read on a previous post – Posted on February 27, 2013 by co2land – ‘Not selling – no better place to charge your EV!’ In particular the quote  “the first two power point stations were installed in September 2012: ”We haven’t had a customer yet,” but there have ”been a few drop-ins”.

When CO2Land org was researching the uptake of EV’s in suburbia it started with the premise of electric vehicles being a favoured solution, the dream technology is another way of putting it, and the best fit to solve our a families transport challenges and mitigate them from the economic and environmental impacts from oil dependence and how our lifestyles pose significant environmental threats. No such evidence exists that it will happen this way. The sales of EV’s are not happening as hoped, and the technology use indicates the problem occurs in a social context, and seemingly the discussion of electric vehicles has not included suburban social patterns among which electric vehicles might be adopted.

That said, someone else said, on 14 Feb 2013, we have looked deeper for the reasons and provided evidence . This was taken up by The Conversation and we quote “what Neil Sipe, Terry Li and I have assembled suggests the socio-economic structure of Australian suburbia, in combination with the distribution of public transport infrastructure, constitutes a major barrier to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles, especially among the most car-dependent households.

Relying on electric vehicles as a solution to energy and environmental problems may perpetuate suburban social disadvantage in a period of economic and resource insecurity.

Australia’s five largest cities are the most car-dependent national set outside the United States. Our previous studies (Dodson and Sipe 2007; 2008 have shown that outer suburban residents, especially those with lower socio-economic capacity, are among those most exposed to the pressures of higher transport fuel prices.

Future transport fuel costs are likely to be even higher (currently oil is approximately US$100 per barrel). Unconventional oil sources such as shale or tar sands may be abundant, but they have much higher production costs than conventional light crude. Their current production boom is underpinned by expectations that global oil prices will remain high or increase further over the long term.

Higher oil prices and the need to constrain carbon emissions will likely lead to much higher transport fuel costs than have prevailed in the past decade.

Electric vehicles are often presented as the most likely way to resolve this transport conundrum. Australia’s 2012 Energy White Paper alludes to a transition to electric vehicles as the economy of conventional fuels wanes.

Much of the Energy White Paper and the rhetoric around electric vehicles assumes an unproblematic transition – consumers will change their behaviour in response to price pressures. There is little discussion of potential barriers and impediments to this comforting, convenient narrative.

It makes sense that households who are most car dependent and least able to afford higher fuel prices would be the most eager to switch to an electric car. But, it turns out, the social structure of Australian suburbia means these groups are poorly placed to lead such a transition.

In our study of Brisbane we created datasets linking vehicle fuel efficiency with household socio-economic status. In our analysis, high vehicle fuel efficiency, including hybrids, serves as a proxy for future electric vehicles. We linked motor vehicle registration data with the Green Vehicle dataset on fuel efficiency, plus travel and socio-economic data from the ABS Census.

Our analysis builds a rich picture of how the spatial distribution of vehicle efficiency intersects with suburban socio-spatial patterns, using Brisbane and Sydney as case studies.

We found that the average commuting distance increases with distance from the CBD while average fuel efficiency of vehicles declines. So outer suburban residents travel further, in less efficient vehicles, than more centrally situated households. Outer suburban residents are also likely to be on relatively lower incomes than those closer in.

The result is those living in the outer suburbs have relatively weaker socio-economic status but are paying more for transport. For example, one-third of the most disadvantaged suburbs in greater Brisbane also have the most energy-intensive motor vehicle use.

A socially equitable transition to highly fuel efficient or electric vehicles ought to favour those with the highest current exposure to high fuel prices. Yet our research finds it’s not likely to happen.

26 February 2013, Jogo Dodson, Associate Professor and Director, Urban Research Program at Griffith University “

CO2Land org still maintains it is the politics that drives community attitudes and where it may be immoral, it is not illegal. Thought of today – more politicians face charges with illegal activities each year than illegal immigrants! Source ABC.


Not selling – no better place to charge your EV!

The promise of electric cars is getting down to the power point. The promise of the dream technology solving our transport challenges is now best described as uneven! The problem might just be the socio-economic structure around us, and where the most car dependent households are distributed.

It seems at odds, that for instance, the City of Sydney is staunchly promoting a sustainable future, that the leading edge they wish to protect and serve with examples of what is the correct thing to do is also being meet with stern and robust opposition. If we put aside the concerns over the city’s trigeneration project and the claims and counterclaims. A very interesting story develops from an article published on under the heading “Not Selling”.

The story centres on the City of Sydney council having held a press event last week. The announcement being it had bought 10 Nissan Leaf electric cars, and it planned to buy 50 similar vehicles over the next few years. The story said “the event was supposed to be a shot in the arm for electric vehicles, which have barely registered a blip on the sales charts. But instead, it provided an insight into the failure of the Better Place electric vehicle-charging network”. Co2Land org is now very interested in the history of the Better Place network as Canberra and others also touted the wonderful concepts and the advantages of such a network.

What happened to the wonderful network at Sydney: Again, published “In 2011, the City of Sydney put out a project to tender for 12 new electric car-charging stations – a perfect opportunity for Better Place to gain a foothold in Sydney. Better Place was considered, but ultimately the tender was won not by a multinational technology provider but a local electrician, who simply installed power points”.  It got down to there is no need for propriety displays and charge points – all based on subscription arrangements. What was needed according to the manager for strategy and assets at the council was 15-amp, 240-volt power points with a timer and flow meter. CO2Land org then though they already have them in most council owned caravan park around the country – interesting thought to think the old technology is suitable for the new, yet we were going to pay more without the need!

Council is also quoted as saying there is a lack of customers to even support installing the power points. The story continues to say after the first two power point stations were installed in September 2012: ”We haven’t had a customer yet,” but there have ”been a few drop-ins”.  Oh dear, or is it still too dear?

Wellness for Cities – Greenings naturally

Adapting with climate change, rather than ‘to’ is proving to have multiple benefits. At the city levels the buildings can be our food sources, and can be improved to be more energy efficient, even the street can be better designed to help shield the needs for more energy.

Posted on 9 Sept 2012 was a story of innovation on using cities as part of our food production “Another way to design for food production” this story is also a must read for it also tackles the city problems and the innovation needed to prepare for the future. Featured: Stockolm’s purpose build highrise gardens and a Melbourne Hatch System enterprise.

The following is a post on Chicago and how the city is doing more to prepare for coping with climate change: The scene is set with the iconic CITY HALL building installing an impressive green roof in the city. The building has a 7010m2 (23,000 square foot) green roof and serves as a test bed for researching and measuring the impact of green roofs. This one innovation saves the city about $3600 a year in heating and cooling for the building and can reduce the external surface temperature of the building by as much as 80 degrees Fahrenheit! The roof features a spectacular rooftop garden and grows more than 100 plant species. A rainwater collection system irrigates the roof and several bee hives pollinate the many flower varieties. The plants on the rooftop soak up the sun’s heat to evaporate water, keeping both the buildings underneath and the air above it cooler. It is further claimed an expanded similar project for all roofs in Chicago could save $100 million in energy every year, and help absorb stormwater runoff.

Chicago is known for its climate extremes and residents can endure days of summer when the heat index reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit. “The city’s annual average temperature has increased by 2.5 degrees since 1945, according to this climate assessment created by a consortium of scientists and commissioned by the city”. Of even more worry is that it is no longer about peak heat, the problem extends as an increase in ambient temperature rises.

To do more the city is working to engineer that it can stay cooler using less energy even as temperatures rise by putting into place innovative ideas and concepts. The green roof is one, and another combating the ‘urban heat island effect’. Simply, concrete and pavement, which absorb and trap heat, make cities like Chicago hotter than surrounding rural areas. Buildings soak up the sun’s rays during the day and release that heat into the night. Additional research (Joseph Fernando of University of Notre Dame) shows that Chicago is about four to five degrees warmer than the neighbouring rural town because of this effect. It is also a worrying trend discovered in research that it is shown that urban sites and rural sites are warming at about the same rate (Thomas Peterson, chief climatologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). It does appear by the evidence all life styles are suffering because of climate change: You should also read: Global climate data shows the Earth has been warming increasingly over time.

Hat tip to that city’s officials for the $7 billion plan to build a “new Chicago” (source: Karen Weigert, the city’s chief sustainability officer).  That means renovating citywide infrastructure from sidewalk to rooftop. The additional innovation and steps taken by the city include:

  • Chicago already has 359 green roofs covering almost 5.5 million square feet — that’s more than any other city in North America. City planners are pushing for even more.
  • Chicago has mandated that all new buildings that require any public funds must be “LEED” Certified — designed with energy efficiency in mind — and that usually includes a green roof. Any project with a green roof in its plan gets a faster permitting process. That combined with energy savings is the kind of green that incentivizes developers.

But the city is looking beyond buildings — they’re hitting the streets too:

  • That’s why they’re designing new streetscapes that integrate technology and design elements from widened sidewalks for increased pedestrian traffic to tree and plant landscaping that provide shade. The pavements are made of a light reflecting material mix that includes recycled tire pieces and lanes coated with a microthin concrete layer that keep the street from absorbing so much heat.
  • Chicago’s 3058 klms (1,900 miles) of alleyways traditionally absorb heat and cast away potentially cooling rainwater. But new ‘green alleys’ use permeable pavement that absorb rainwater. As that underground water evaporates that also keeps the alley and air around it cool.

CO2Land org enjoys hearing these stories and in particular where cities consider they need to be looking beyond buildings and streets as just a place where we move vehicles and goods. They need to be places that integrate technology and design elements for a better place.

Carbon price -positive posts today

Carbon price featured in two positive posts today. Both would give some certainty to farmers under carbon offsets schemes. The first was reported by AAP, 28 August 2012, on what CO2Land org has tipped and that is that the European Emission Trading scheme was in a state of change and ultimately, all markets will benefit from these changes: The Australian Government announced plans to link Australia’s scheme to Europe’s emissions trading scheme from 2015. Also announced was an equally important event, The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Carbon Farming Initiative team, announced the opening of Expressions of Interest for grants funding to develop carbon farming methods.

Why are the two linked? Aspects of both effect Australian companies that will be able to sell credits in Europe and farmers wanting some certainty to the ability to generate credits through changes to their land practices, and that had an issue in that it was well posted Australia might not have generated sufficient credits to meet the domestic demand.

The link is also important for project developers that are used to assigning risk to issuance of carbon credits and they can now be more certain that the projects will conform to pricing expectation without the need to vary or discount. Without it the only other option was to assign a risk to earlier transactions and take a greater discount.

What else is good? Currently Europe permits are trading for about 8 euro (high $9) and traders can offer that to you now to meet future liabilities. Sorry Tony, this means the carbon price will most likely be cheaper for Australian businesses by the effective date and possibly before, and the beauty of it is the European Union will be the one that will put the brakes on if things get too aggressive. Yes, someone else to watch over the price.

What else would farmers like? Current restrictions of the liability that can be met by overseas carbon schemes will be more price friendly through the European Scheme and that scheme will become a floating-price emissions trading scheme and the Australian linkage to Europe will be a free market with price advantages that can be traded without affecting the level of carbon cuts needed.

We will leave the clean energy advantages for another post.


renewable energy sector’s ‘holy grail’ – DECC UK Subsidy

In a show of support for innovation, in the UK the Department of Energy and Climate Change is introducing a subsidy for energy storage in the September 2012. The subsidy is part of that government’s willingness to create a market mechanism to help firms become more competitive.

Energy Live News interviewed Ian Ellerington, Head of Innovation Delivery at DECC and he said: “We see that in the long term electricity storage is going to be important so through the innovation programme at DECC we’re going to be supporting electricity storage through a scheme of grants that I’m hoping to announce formally in September this year”. Later he added: “We’re going to be giving assistance to companies to demonstrate technologies so they can get funding and bring their costs down to make them more competitive and I would hope that suitable market mechanisms can be found.”

CO2Land org is aware many companies in Australia have sought similar assistance here, and often move offshore to get the opportunity to prove there products out of Australia. This could be one such opportunity through the UK package. You may have noticed through posts on electric vehicles that we in Australia are dubbed as having a grid network that makes alterative electrical power transport more polluting than similar petrol driven vehicles, and you might agree if it was possible to fit energy storage support into the energy grid it would be a real boost to the renewable industry, it could make the energy system more cost effective, and if storage can be part of that then it would be good to have the commercial mechanism in place to take advantage of the benefits that can be realised.

It follows that energy storage is seen as the renewable energy sector’s ‘holy grail’ for the role it can play in storing energy from renewables, for example by storing electricity produced at periods of high wind or during the day time from photovoltaics and then used as a high demand management response tool. Good move, as the component of peak demand where price is high is about 20% of the time and when renewable power struggles to make a contribution to base load. It also follows that about 5% of the time energy prices are traded at levels that would break most supply companies if sustained and is one of the reasons we pay higher bills than we could have otherwise.

Source: Energylive News ( Energy Storage Subsidy to be announced in Autumn.

Bolt on and revolve with a hybrid car

Bolt on hybrid engines will be mainstream as a way to revolve our old cars –according to Valeo EU and Voorhies USA that have proof of concept cars running the respective technology.

The Valeo example is reported that “Valeo said it has recently launched an affordable hybrid concept for the mainstream”. Claimed is that it has developed a powertrain electrification solution, Hybrid4All, which enables car manufacturers to turn a traditional engine –diesel or gasoline- into a hybrid engine, at an affordable price by using simple and standardized components. The architecture is based on a compact motor/generator which uses a low voltage electrical system (48V), and can be installed in different positions: in front of the engine, after the gear-box or between the two. This solution also integrates Stop-Start, regenerative braking and torque assist functions. Claimed fuel savings is more than 15 percent on an average petrol engine vehicle. The system installed as an original alternator size unit can provide up to 15kW of power boost and mainstream availability expected in 2017.Referenced on 25 July 2012, by Anne-Françoise PELE, and visit SmartEnergy Designline for greater detail on this system and more of design, technology, product, and news articles of clean technologies.

The Voorhies example is installed in a Honda Civic station wagon as an in-wheel electric rotor and is designed as a plug in system for front wheeled drive cars. Early adopters are told to expect a fitted cost around $3000US and those that hang off a little longer can expect lower prices because of improved battery technology and economies of production scale.  Fuel reduction claims are from 25 to 50%.  This system is developed by Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) .

CO2Land org say wow, and fancies being able to keep the old favorite car and upgrade to the new technology – fantastic. How do you calculate the LLC of that revolve?


Farm Post program.

Australia Post’s launched a pilot ‘paddock to plate’ venture is called Farmhouse Direct and combines things successfully with the other AusPost delivery network. The promise of the service is to connect “you directly to the best local produce” and make local farmers markets and “artisan” produce an everyday experience.

The pilot program is reported to have started out as a collaboration with the Victorian Farmers’ Markets Association and was successful enough to lead to a national roll-out involving 70 producers and 680 products. There is sufficient confidence that it will continue to grow and that confidence is shown by Australia Post having set up a website – at – where farmers set up shop for free and set their own prices. Quoted is that “Users can explore the website by region, product, produce and even by local farmers markets like the Flemington Farmers Market to order online. Farmers prepare the shipments, which are either picked up by Australia Post from the farmer or handed in to a depot, and Australia Post looks after the delivery.”

CO2Land org accepts that this is an interesting project that has the hallmarks of being a success. Not just a number improvement, but a innovation with a low risk and excellent opportunity for farmers to be better off in the market space. It is a genuine attempt to move with the times – without a huge price tag in setup costs. Keep you eye out for the official launch of the program not to far off, and expected sometime in 2012.

Aircraft CO2 Metrics Standard – International measures

On 11 July 2012, at Saint Petersburg, in the Russian Federation, an important step towards establishing a worldwide CO2 Standard for aircraft was made. The International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO’s) Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) unanimously agreed on a CO2 metric system that characterizes the CO2 emissions for aircraft types with varying technologies. ICAO is a United Nations specialist agency, and the announcement is covered in COM15/12.

The ICAO Council President is quoted as saying: “The new CO2 metric system agreed today by States, as well as intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, addresses emissions from a wide variety of aircraft on a fair and transparent basis….. It includes factors which account for fuselage geometry, maximum takeoff weight and fuel burn performance at three different cruise conditions and is a major move forward.”

The new aircraft CO2 metric system will now move onto the next stages in the development of an ICAO CO2 aircraft Standard, and includes the definition of certification procedures to support the agreed metric system and the Standard’s scope of applicability. The criteria for appropriate regulatory intervention will be analyzed, looking at technical feasibility, environmental benefit, cost effectiveness and the impacts of interdependencies.

The ICAO’s Environment Branch Chief, said “highlights that there is a great deal of motivation in every quarter of our sector to achieve real progress on aviation environmental performance.” CO2Land org applauds the courageous for tackling carbon risk in this way.

Nanophosphate EXT technology – evolutionary improvement for electric cars

Missing from full electric, and hybrid vehicle promotions is the Achilles heel for Li-ion. Extreme temperatures are the enemy of battery range and when the battery is also the fuel tank, a hot or cold day can stop electric vehicles in their tracks.

For best operating results and also longevity, EV batteries need to be maintained within a fairly narrow temperature band. To get around this, “thermal conditioning” is used to regulate battery temperature. Typically electric and hybrid cars require liquid coolant and battery heating to cope with the extremes. All this adds to the cost and complexity of the operational needs of the vehicles.

CO2Land org has taken note of the words of Steve Kealy, that Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research is well advanced in testing new technology called Nanophosphate EXT (EXtreme Temperature) and the company promoting the system, A123, is claiming that the lithium-ion variant can operate at both high and low temperatures without requiring conditioning. Nanophosphate EXT technology is expected to start volume production in 20Ah prismatic cells in the first half of 2013. The Nanophosphate EXT cells retain more than 90 percent of their energy capacity after 2,000 full charge-and-discharge cycles conducted at 45 degrees Celsius.

Testing in extreme cold suggests the new cells will deliver 20 percent more energy than conventional cells at -30 degrees C. This better power delivery implies they could be used to create smaller, lighter batteries for both electric and conventional cars.

So if that problem is solved, we still need to address the problem of tackling Generator Emissions Standards at the recharging points for electric vehicles. Maybe the carbon price will take care of that problem?

Electric Motoring: The Technology Every Fleet Manager Should Know About

A global debate occurred today 6 July 2012, after James Knight of The Fuelcard Company  in the UK posted a guide – Electric Motoring: The Technology Every Fleet Manager Should Know About. A guide for Fleet managers are looking to greener technologies to combat fuel costs and emissions.

CO2Land org played the devil’s advocate by quoting Origin Energy’s comparision posted on . The quote being “A new generation of plug-in cars could do more to damage the environment than a Holden Commodore…..Origin Energy, Australia’s largest energy supplier, has compared the running costs and carbon dioxide emissions associated with a Nissan Leaf electric car against a similarly sized Mazda3 small car and Toyota’s environmental hero, the Prius.

Nissan come back with ‘‘It’s mostly Victoria that has the brown coal issue…Even in NSW (which uses black coal-fired power) the CO2 data are better…. ‘While it’s a most parochial angle, brown coal-fired Victoria is probably the least attractive to electric vehicles at the moment…’But this is changing with the carbon tax et al, and, as Nissan has said in the past, we can deliver the ultimate emission free technology but we can’t fix everything (like the source of energy) for which governments and energy producers are ultimately responsible….the Commodore’s emissions figures would look even worse if – similar to accounting for the emissions from electricity generation – the CO2 output of refining oil to make petrol was taken into account.

CO2Land took note of the comment and an interesting point prevails – what is the full life cycle cost of any of each of these types of cars? No real answer came forward, however on the grid emissions matter affecting electric cars environmental performance, the response from Ron Benenati in California USA was worth taking notice of: “The grid is everything. I suspect this bodes worse for Australia’s electric generation than for electric vehicles. It is one of the filthiest grids in the world. Coal fired electric plants are dinosaurs on their way out. THIS IS WHAT WE MUST GET BEYOND. It is the whole package. I have seen no other research as severe in its conclusions”.Then in defence of electric cars, Ron said: “But, three things I would add…The technology is new, and will only improve. Grids, in most, countries are getting better -rapidly. Renewable energy now provides 20 percent of electric worldwide according to the IEA. In my country, states like California have set a target of 60 per cent clean electric generation in the near future. So, dirty fuel generation is not really the failure of electric cars.

In hybrids vs conventional, MPG/MPK, certainly means a lot in terms of emissions. It also means a lot in terms of spills, contamination from processing before we even get to car emissions… 

If we are going to have a future, I suspect electric cars will be a part of it”.

Sheepishly, this writer has to say, seeing we live with such a dirty fuel generation system in this country, the preferred vehicle in this garage is POWERFUL – vroom vroom – for another couple of years anyway!