Gas has reached over $4.50 a gallon here in Northern California, and there is no relief in site. Many people are turning to motorcycles as a more efficient way to travel, and now, electric bikes and motorcycles are leading the trend.
Brammo Enertia Electric Motorcycle: This bike runs on six Lithium Phosphate battery modules, has a top speed of 50mph, and travels about 45 miles between three hour charges. It costs about $12,000.
Electrobike Model Pi: This human-electric hybrid bike has a cool ergonomic shape, and it switches from pedal power to electric power with a switch on the handlebars. This bike will travel about 30 miles per three hour charge.
Matra MS1 Electric Bike: This French bike will travel 62 miles per charge. When you apply the brakes, the bike captures usable energy. An LCD on the handlebars displays your speed and remaining battery power.
Schwinn Bikes World GSE: This is a great commuter bike travels 60 miles on a single charge. The battery pack is removable, so you can charge it easily at work.
Optibike: This bike will will run at 20 mph on the battery alone, with light pedaling go 25 mph, and with some serious pedal action reach 35+ mph. At top speeds, the battery will only last for 30 minutes.
None of these bikes are cheap, but neither is a really good mountain bike (or gasoline). Hybrid pedal power just may be the solution for many city commuters.
When we first purchased our solar panels 15 years ago, the standard rule of thumb was it would take 10 years before your solar investment would pay off in saved utility bills. Now, new technologies are changing all of that. HP and Xtreme Energetics, are teaming up to develop a solar energy system that works on transparent transistor technology. Made from zinc and tin, the transistors provide a transparent electronic mechanism that maximizes the concentration of light. Other new solar technologies, such as Nanosolar, may make solar energy cheaper than coal to produce.
The use of Beluga Sky Sails towing kites to propel ocean-going freighters can save 10-50% of fuel usage. Imagine a kite the size of a football field pulling boats across the oceans. Instead of using a sail attached to a mast, like ocean crossing vessels of yore, a Sky Sails towing kite looks like a paraglider in the sky above the ship.
Based in Nicaragua, Llamadas Pedaleadas brings affordable, renewable cell phone service to the people. By using a car alternator, a vendor can use pedal power to charge the batteries on the cell phones and bring telephones to the people, who usually go to call shops rather than use their expensive personal cell phones.
Ausra Inc., a developer of utility-scale solar thermal power technology, has published a peer-reviewed study stating that over 90 percent of the U.S. electric grid energy needs, including the auto fleet, could be met by solar thermal power. David Mills, chief scientific officer and founder at Ausra, stated:
The U.S. could nearly eliminate our dependence on coal, oil and gas for electricity and transportation, drastically slashing global warming pollution without increasing costs for energy," . "This new study shows that our daily and annual energy needs closely match the energy production potential from solar thermal power plants with heat energy storage, and our models show solar thermal power will cost less than continuing to import oil.
The less appliances and gadgets I have the better, so combining a wall clock with a smoke alarm sounds like a great idea to me. The Quantys Solar Clock requires solar charging once a year and doubles as a smoke alarm. This atomic clock is silent and perhaps the modern equivalent of a sundial using the sun to power its batteries.
I am always up for gadgets that multi-task and simplify life, but I am not sure how I feel about the WashUP washer and toilet combination. This appliance takes soapy water that drains from the washing machine and uses it to flush the toilet. I think that is a good idea, and it would help keep the toilet cleaner by using greywater from the washer, but what happens when you unload the washing machine and drop a clean sock into the toilet?
When I took an alternative energy course at Humboldt State University over ten years ago, the Real Goods Solar Living Source Book was our textbook. This book is the definitive source for renewable technologies and sustainable living. Even if you don't plan to install solar panels in your home, you can learn a lot from this book. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Real Goods Solar Living Source Book includes brand new sections on Peak Oil, Climate Change, Relocalization, Natural Burial, Biodynamics and Permaculture. Other expanded chapters include:
Land & Shelter
Solar Hot Water Systems
This book covers it all and is a basic reference for almost all things green!