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Driving on Solar Miles

Driving on Solar Miles: Integrating Residential Solar and Electric Vehicle Charging panel at the 2018 State Energy Conference of North Carolina

Heather Brutz of NCCETC introduces the panelists of Driving on Solar Miles: Integrating Residential Solar and Electric Vehicle Charging at the 2018 State Energy Conference of North Carolina. Photo by Nicole Deck.

Industry experts discussed options available today for integrating residential solar with electric vehicle charging at the 2018 State Energy Conference of North Carolina last month. Panelists addressed some of the most commonly used technologies as well as the future of residential solar, electric vehicle charging and the grid.

The three panelists were Bharat Balagopal, a doctoral student at North Carolina State University; Stew Miller, President of Yes Solar Solutions; and Stan Cross, CEO of Brightfield Transportation Solutions. Heather Brutz, Transportation Finance and Operations Manager at NCCETC, was moderator.

Stan Cross (Brightfield Transportation Solutions) shared a map of electric vehicles and charging stations in North Carolina, and discussed the statistics of annual community benefits per 10,000 EVs:

• Approx. EV miles driven annually = 120M miles

• Barrels of Oil Avoided by EVs = 221K barrels

• GHG reduced from gasoline to grid power = 44M lbs.

• GHG reduced when Solar Driven = 84M lbs.

• EV-related fuel savings = $8.2M

• EV-related maintenance savings = $3.6M

• EV-related $$ Retained in the Community = $7.6M

Stew Miller (Yes Solar Solutions) said that the average gas-powered vehicle emits the equivalent of 11,435 lbs. of CO2 annually.  And on average, using the NC electric grid to charge an EV releases 4,185 lbs. of CO2 each year.

Daily Cycle of Solar & Storage graphic by Yes Solar Solutions.

Miller said that by using solar and storage like Tesla Powerwall to generate and store the electricity needed to power their vehicles, EV drivers can reduce their transportation-related emissions to zero. Powering EVs with a home solar system is typically cheaper than charging your car with electricity from the grid as well, Miller said.

Bharat Balagopal discussed electric vehicle charging and integration with the smart grid.

According to Balagopal, benefits of community charging are:
• EVs are flexible loads that can improve the stability of the grid
• Sooth the adverse effect of renewable fluctuations by quickly changing the charge rates
• Improve the power quality by peak shaving (reducing the load) and valley filling (increasing the load)

However, risks include:
• Uncontrolled charging of multiple EVs can destabilize the grid
• Simultaneous charging of EVs can introduce huge load to the grid

To alleviate those risks, Balagopal said, researchers at Advanced Diagnosis, Automation, and Control Lab (ADAC) devised a method for smart charging of EVs to maximize benefits and minimize the risks of EV integration. Their technology, he said, can intelligently schedule the charging of the EVs based on energy needs, working schedule, renewable energy generation and load pattern.

There are two main enabling technologies that allow them to intelligently control the charging of the EVs — the Collaborative Distributed Energy Management System and the Smart Battery Gauge. To learn more, click here.

Continue reading

Posted by Nicole Deck

CFAT awards & new funding

NCCETC Awards $1.2 million in Air Quality Improvement Grants
New round of funding released

The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) announced the results of a call for projects through the Clean Fuel Advanced Technology (CFAT) Project. The 2017-2018 $5.6 million initiative, focused on reducing transportation-related emissions, is supported with federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality funding from the N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT). More than $1,245,300 is being awarded for eight projects to a variety of public and private entities. A new round of funding has also been released, and the applications are due June 8, 2018. Apply here!

The awards include: 

    Alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) leasing by BuildSense, Inc.

    AFV conversions and idle reduction technology by City of Charlotte

    Idle reduction technology by Convoy Solutions and Viatec Incorporated

    AFV conversions by Gaston County North Carolina Propane Gas Association (NCPGA), and City of Winston Salem

    Diesel retrofit by North Carolina Department of Transportation Rail Division

The CFAT project operates in counties that do not meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards. More than half of North Carolinians live in counties that have unhealthy air. In total, the awarded equipment displaces 353,265.16 gallons of diesel/gas a year, reducing 97.02 kg of daily emissions.

Round 2 of funding request for proposal period has opened and awards will be announced by September 2018. Up to $1,455,000 in federal funding is being awarded for projects to a variety of public and private entities. The deadline to apply for this final CFAT round of funding for 2018 is June 8, 2018. For the application and more information, click here.

Posted by Nicole Deck

Particle Falls art exhibit in Winston-Salem

Particle Falls projected on the Stevens Center building in downtown Winston-Salem, NC. Photos provided by Clean Air Carolina
The orange fireball represents the amount of particulate matter in the air in real time, a form of pollution that can negatively affect your health just by breathing.

Winston-Salem’s 10-story tall Stevens Center was illuminated last month, displaying a giant animated light art projection of a blue waterfall turning into a fireball.
But the art wasn’t just for show — the spectacle represented the amount of particulate matter in the air in real time, a form of air pollution that can negatively affect your health just by breathing.
The animation, Particle Falls: Air Made Visible, was designed by artist Andrea Polli, Art and Ecology professor at the University of New Mexico, by using specialized computer software. It is generated by translating real-time particulate matter data from the surrounding air, using a nephelometer — an instrument that takes in air samples and gathers data about the concentration of particle pollution. A computer program then transforms the data into visual bursts of color over the background of blue light.
“With this particular exhibit, it’s so beautiful … yet it stands for something that can be so ugly,” said Dr. Stephanie Dance-Barnes, Associate Professor of Cellular & Molecular Biology at Winston-Salem State University.
Particulate matter, which occurs year-round, is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets, the smallest measuring 2.5 microns or less in diameter – just 1/30th the width of a human hair, according to Clean Air Carolina. While larger particles known as soot affect your health, it is the fine particulate matter that is more dangerous because it can be inhaled deeply into the lungs, enter the bloodstream and cross the blood-brain barrier.
There is no safe level of particulate matter.
“Most air pollution in North Carolina is invisible, so it’s not on most people’s radar at all,” said June Blotnick, Executive Director of Clean Air Carolina. “So this particular public art installation gets people’s attention, and gets them to start asking questions.”
Winston-Salem has been ranked as the 142nd most polluted cities in 2016 and traditionally ranks above the national average of US cities for average annual particle pollution, according to Clean Air Carolina.
Sources of particle pollution in Winston-Salem include cars, trucks, diesel buses and construction equipment, landscaping tools, agriculture, industrial facilities, power plants, biomass, and residential wood burning.
“For climate deniers, for climate believers — it’s something that you can come down and say, ‘You know what? I may not believe about the climate changing, but I know that I’m breathing that in, and what that means for me,'” said Wendell Hardin, Sustainability Manager of City of Winston-Salem.
For more information about Particle Falls, check out this video.

Posted by Nicole Deck

First Responder Clean Transportation Demonstration Day

Ron Luttrell of Zero Motorcycles talks to a guest test driving a Zero Motorcycle at First Responder Clean Transportation Demonstration Day. Photo by Mark Lienhard, EVOLVE GT LLC
First responders of all types got a chance to trade their typical mode of transport for a day and test drive several different alternative fuel vehicles, including LPG, CNG, PHEV and electric motorcycles, on a closed track.
About 60 first responders attended First Responder Clean Transportation Demonstration Day at the NC Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR), where they got a chance to learn about alternative fuel vehicles and clean transportation technology applications for law enforcement, fire and rescue, and emergency medical services.
The day started out with testimonials, real-world case study presentations and learning sessions, and was followed by vehicle test drives on NCCAR’s closed 2-mile, 40-foot wide serpentine road course in Garysburg, NC.
First responders and guests take a look at an ICOM Alternative Fuel Systems vehicle. Photo by Mark Lienhard
The NCCAR Road Course from above. Provided by North Carolina Center for Automotive Research
Most attendees took a lap around the track, said Richard Sapienza, Clean Transportation Program Director at North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center – many reaching more than 100 MPH.
“It was a lot of driving and a lot of fun,” Sapienza said. “I wanted to be able to push the vehicles and see their performance in a safe environment, and that was achieved.”
The vehicles at the event were two Ford Explorer Interceptors, a Ford F350 PU, Chevy Tahoe, Ford F150 PU, Police Plug-In Focus and two Zero Motorcycles. The idle reduction technologies on display included a Smeal SG-09 APU Fire Truck, ZeroRPM REV Group Ambulance, Stealth Power Chevy Police Tahoe, and LGS Group Vehicle Technologies.
An up-close shot of a Zero Motorcycle. Photo by Mark Lienhard
First responders and guests check out the Charlotte Fire Department firetruck. Photo by Mark Lienhard
The two Zero Motorcycles featured the Z-force motor — a single moving part with no fluid, clutch or transmission, according to www.zeromotorcycles.com. Several attendees commented on both the motorcycles’ ability to pick up speed quickly while also remaining strikingly quiet, especially when comparing to most gas-powered motorcycles’ recognizable rumble.
The ambulances and fire trucks used idling technology, which minimizes the amount of time vehicles need to idle and allows them to use less of their engine or generator.
Attendees learned that all of the alternative fuel technologies could be used to save money, improve efficiency and extend vehicle service life.
Because of the event’s success, NC Clean Energy Technology Center hopes to repeat a demonstration day in the future.

“Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest

The NC Clean Energy Technology Center at North Carolina State University is sponsoring a student art contest on the topic of ways that we can take action to reduce air pollution from cars and trucks. Students from kindergarten through college can submit artwork for the contest. Winners will have their artwork featured on billboards across the state to help spread the word about ways that we all can help keep the air clean. All billboards will direct people to learn more at www.fuelwhatmatters.org. Winners will also receive 4 hockey tickets to the Canes vs. Capital game, January 12, 2018, at the PNC Arena, courtesy of WRAL and Capitol Broadcasting Company.

Artwork can be submitted through November 26 at midnight. November 27 through December 10 will be the voting period. You can submit your artwork online here or you can email it, together with the Art Contest Permission form to hmbrutz@ncsu.edu. You can read the full contest rules on the WRAL website.

Only North Carolina residents’ artwork will be considered. Prizes will be given out by grade levels: elementary school (grades 5 and below), middle school (grades 6-8), high School (grades 9-12), college (students must be currently enrolled in a 2 or 4 year college or university).

Please focus your artwork on on the theme of actions that individuals and families can take to reduce the amount of air pollution from vehicles. Examples of actions that people can take to help reduce pollution from cars and trucks includes: walking, biking, using public transportation, car-pooling, using alternative fuels (such as electric vehicles, biofuels, and more), and not idling your car unnecessarily. Please make your artwork family-friendly and non-partisan.

After you submit your artwork, your friends and family will have the opportunity to vote on it through social media. The popularity of submissions will be one of the major considerations in choosing winners. Winners will ultimately be chosen based on the following: relevance and appropriateness of the message, visual design,  and votes on social media.

Thank you for helping us persuade people to Keep Our Air Clean!

Posted by NC Clean Energy Technology Center

Everyone can take steps to reduce vehicle pollution

Pollution from vehicles is a major cause of health problems such as asthma. We all benefit from clean air. No matter who you are, there are actions you can take to help reduce the amount of pollution that comes from cars. Everyone, from kids to adults, can help make a difference. Here are some things that you can do.

    1. 1. Ride a bike or walk.

If you are only going a short distance, consider riding a bike or walking instead of driving. You can get exercise and enjoy the fresh air while getting where you need to go!

2. Take public transit.
If you need to go somewhere that is along a bus or light rail line, consider taking public transit instead of going in a car.

3. Carpool.
When going to school or work, try to carpool together with other people who are headed in the same direction. You can save money and reduce the amount of fuel burned at the same time.

4. Avoid idling.
When idling, you waste fuel by burning it when you aren’t moving. If you will be in the same spot for more than a minute or two, consider turning off your vehicle’s engine (as long as it is safe to do so).

5. Use alternative fuels.
Alternative fuels are cleaner than regular gasoline or diesel. Alternative fuel vehicles include electric vehicles and flex-fuel vehicles that can use ethanol blends. Most new electric vehicles now have a range of over 100 miles, which meets most people’s daily commuting needs. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and extended range electric vehicles use gasoline as well and therefore do not have a range limit. Flex-fuel vehicles can use ethanol blends that are up to 85% ethanol and regular cars that are newer than 2001 can use ethanol blends that have up to 15% ethanol. Ethanol is made from crops such as corn and helps support American farmers.

None of these options work for everyone all the time. But all of us can take steps to reduce pollution from cars and trucks.

Posted by Growth Energy

500M miles on E15

The national yearly average price of gasoline will rise from $2.13 (in 2016) to $2.49 (almost 17%) in 2017, according to GasBuddy Organization Inc. Americans are estimated to shell out $52 billion more to fill up this year due to an 18% jump in oil prices as a result of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other nations reaching an agreement to reduce their output.

This implementation could leave numerous Americans wanting an alternative to the impending steep price tag of gasoline. “E15, which contains 15 percent ethanol, is an even better choice for their wallets, their engines, and the environment,” said Emily Skor, Growth Energy CEO. “That’s why more than 400 stations across 28 states are selling E15, and demand continues to grow.”

Growth Energy, leaders in the national effort to increase awareness of ethanol, has announced that drivers across the U.S. have more than 500 million miles driven on E15, making it the most tested fuel on the road. This number is based on sales and consumption data reported over the past 12 months by major gasoline retailers. E15’s fuel performance, safety, and value have been tested by the U.S. Department of Energy proving that vehicles can run without a problem for up to 120,000 miles. Automakers even approve of its use in nearly three-quarters of new cars.

According to Skor, “ethanol is already in 97% of the gasoline sold in the United States” and works for any vehicle manufactured since 2001. A complete list of flex fuel vehicles is available here.

Posted by Cobb County, Georgia

21st Century Fleet

In today’s age of technology, connectivity and smart-everything, fleets from across the country are looking to use the latest tools and trends to keep their vehicles on the road longer and with lower maintenance costs. Telematics, computers, and analytics have recently helped Cobb County, Georgia, stay on top of their more than 2,300 assets.

“We try to manage our fleet based on a lot of data which we examine constantly, and then integrate it with other resources and come up with a solution. The details involved require some extra time and effort, but in the end, we believe that we do a very good job for the taxpayers,” according to Al Curtis, the Cobb County, Georgia fleet manager.

The county keeps track of vehicle downtime, turnaround time, cost per mile, and other analytics to help make data driven decisions about vehicle replacement. These measures have helped the county identify the worst performing vehicles and reduce inefficient spending.

Aside from improving efficiency, these measures have also helped Cobb County identify the best scenarios for incorporating alternative fuels into their fleet. With this knowledge, Cobb County can determine the best alternative fuels for each duty cycle. This has led to the introduction of hybrid, propane, and electric vehicles into the fleet.

“Our alternative-fuel vehicles have traveled over 150,000 petroleum-free miles with no major problems. We have saved over $246,000 from the reduction in fuel usage, lower maintenance costs, and leasing the vehicles instead of purchasing them.” – Al Curtis.

This blog post includes excerpts from WorkTruck Online. You can view the entire story here.

Posted by Plug-in NC

In the Market for an EV?

Are you in the market for a new electric vehicle? Well, now is the perfect time to consider making that purchase.

Nissan just announced special pricing available to Plug-in NC Stakeholders on their 100% electric Nissan LEAF.  Under this new incentive, Nissan is offering a rebate of $10,000 per vehicle. Combine this rebate with the $7,500 federal tax credit and you’ve got yourself a great deal!  These incentives take a total of $17,500 off of the MSRP of a Nissan LEAF. Find out more about the offer here.

We’re excited that Nissan and Plug-in NC have worked together to help bring more electric vehicles to the roads in North Carolina. Stay tuned for more exciting incentives and opportunities like this in the future!

About Plug-in NC: Plug-in NC has been working since 2011 to establish North Carolina as a leader in electrified transportation. A state-wide program, Plug-in NC promotes electric vehicles through education and outreach, consulting and resource development. Plug-in NC also strives to provide a collaborative opportunity for stakeholders to work together to ensure seamless integration of plug-in electric vehicles into North Carolina’s local communities.

Featured Photo courtesy of Karlis Dambrans.

Fuel Up on E15

Our partners at Growth Energy recently put together a fantastic website to help consumers find the closest fueling stations that provide both E15 and E85 blends of Ethanol across the state of North Carolina and the entire country. We’re incredibly excited about this resource, as it helps consumers diversify their fuel choices and helps them select cleaner burning options. So why should you be interested in filling up with E15/E85?

Three simple reasons: it’s good for the environment, our engines, and our wallets.

  1. Environment – Compared to regular gasoline, E15 is carbon reductive. Each year, ethanol production and use decreases greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equivalent to removing 20 million cars from the road!
  2. Engine – E15 is a high-performance fuel, with a naturally high octane. It burns cleaner and cooler than regular gasoline.
  3. Wallet – E15 gives consumers a more affordable option when fueling up. Today, our country consumes more than 19 million barrels of oil each day – one-fourth of which has to be imported from hostile foreign nations. That costs a lot – and prices fluctuate constantly based on turmoil in the Middle East.

To find out where you can fuel up with E15 or E85, visit www.GetEthanol.com.

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