I’ve harped on about Google a fair bit over the years – but i do like some of the stuff google.org is doing on climate change

It’s All About Reversing Global Warming

The climate crisis requires a radical reduction of greenhouse gases to minimize the impact on human health and the environment. Greenhouse gas emissions from energy use are responsible for over two-thirds of global emissions, therefore curbing this threat will require a major transformation in how we make and use energy – for transportation and for electricity.

What is RechargeIT doing?

RechargeIT is an initiative within Google.org’s Climate Change Program aimed at accelerating the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (“plug-in hybrids”) and vehicle-to-grid (“V2G”) applications. As a “hybrid” philanthropic venture itself, Google.org can apply a broad mix of resources – investments, grants, policy, public engagement – to addressing the climate crisis. Check out the highlights:

Plug-in Hybrid Demonstration Fleet at Google: Google has created a small demonstration fleet of plug-in hybrids and eventually plans to include over 100 plug-in hybrids in its corporate fleet as demand grows and cars become commercially available. Google.org has contracted with Hymotion to retrofit 4 Toyota Priuses and 2 Ford Escapes. Google.org is demonstrating the capabilities of this technology, collecting actual data on the performance of these vehicles, and making this information available to the public. All of these cars are outfitted with data recording devices that track technical and environmental performance, use patterns and charging history. You can see the actual data which is uploaded from the vehicles. Both electricity and gasoline use data is being used to calculate the total energy use for each vehicle to get ‘real world’ performance data on these cars. In order to compare this data to other cars under similar conditions, we are equipping existing stock hybrids and conventional cars with the same data recording devices. With this data, we hope to be able to measure the mileage of plug-in hybrids vs. conventional gas and hybrid vehicles under realistic driving conditions. To date, our plug-in hybrids are averaging about 75 miles per gallon of gasoline which is four times that of the average car on the road in the US today.

Solar Charging at Google: We will be connecting the Google fleet of cars to solar charging stations on campus to demonstrate the role that renewable electricity can play in replacing gasoline and other fossil fuels in the transportation sector. Learn more about the solar panels at Google.

V2G Demonstration at Google with PG&E: RechargeIT is also exploring ways to develop and deploy V2G technology. With the help of PG&E, Google will be demonstrating how electricity might be transmitted back and forth between plug-in hybrids and the grid. V2G offers the potential to use plug-in hybrids as a battery storage to make better use of our energy and stabilize the grid. Similar to the plug-in hybrid vehicle demonstration, the objective is to collect real world data to understand the benefits of V2G and enable future adoption.

Strategic Grant-Making and Investments: Later this summer Google.org will publish a formal request for proposals (RFP) on our website, focused on investment opportunities in companies and projects accelerating the commercialization of alternative transportation that reduces vehicle fossil fuel use and climate emissions. We are looking to invest approximately $10 million in technologies and companies featuring plug-in hybrids, fully electric vehicles, vehicle-to-grid capabilities, batteries and other storage technologies, and the application of renewable energy and fuels to green vehicles. We believe that our investments in green vehicle technology commercialization, coupled with additional R&D and policy grants, will help accelerate progress in addressing the climate and energy challenges of today’s transportation sector. To date, Google.org has already made $1 million worth of grants to support several outstanding organizations. Read more about our grantees.

Google Fleet: To encourage alternate forms of commuting, Google will offer a free car-sharing program to its employees at its Mountain View, CA headquarters. This program will provide employees who come to work by carpooling, taking public transport, riding the Google shuttle, or self-powered commuting (bicycling, walking, etc.) with the ability to use a car during the day. This corporate car-sharing program enables employees who need to go to business meetings or run errands to avoid driving to work in a single occupant vehicle. This program is based on a partnership with Enterprise Rent-A-Car who will manage the fleet.

Why Plug-in Hybrids?

Transportation related greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for roughly one third of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and at least 20% globally. In the US, over 60% of the transportation emissions result from gasoline consumption for personal vehicle use. We believe that plug-in hybrids capable of running on biofuels are the best near term option for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles can achieve 70 -100 miles per gallon, quadrupling the fuel economy of the average car on the road today (~20 mpg), and doubling the fuel economy of a regular hybrid car such as a Prius (~45 MPG). A plug-in hybrid is different from today’s hybrid because it has a higher capacity battery and the car can be plugged into a regular 120-volt outlet for charging. Because it is operating primarily on electricity for the first 20-40 miles, the car operates much more efficiently and uses dramatically less gasoline. Manufacturers are now designing plug-in hybrids that may not use any gasoline at all for those first 20-40 miles, and since more than 70% of Americans drive less than 33 miles per day, many will not use any gasoline in their daily commutes — but they retain the flexibility of using the hybrid gas engine for longer trips. In addition, plug-in hybrids will often recharge at night using excess power from base-load power plants that are already running, so they won’t generally add to peak electricity demand. During daytime peak power usage, plug-in hybrids may be able to sell power back to electric utilities, potentially earning drivers as much as $2,000-$3,000 per year (see http://www.udel.edu/V2G/).

People often ask whether this won’t just shift pollution from cars to power plants, but even without adding any new power plants, the existing U.S. electrical grid has sufficient capacity to fully fuel three quarters of the nation’s 217 million passenger vehicles, assuming the average car drives 33 miles per day. This integration of hybrid cars with the electric power grid could reduce gasoline consumption by 85 billion gallons per year. That’s equal to a 27% reduction in total U.S. greenhouse gases, 52% displacement potential of U.S. oil imports, and $270 billion avoided in gasoline expenses (see http://www.pnl.gov/energy/eed/etd/pdfs/phev_feasibility_analysis_combined.pdf).

Broader Energy Management – Vehicle-to-Grid Transmission

Increasingly, there are ways for each of us and for corporations to generate electricity through renewable resources and store electricity that can be sold to a power company. There is significant potential for plug-in hybrids to also become power suppliers. This vehicle-to-grid (“V2G”) approach may be particularly attractive when there are peaks in power consumption that a utility may not be able to handle through normal power generation. When utility demand exceeds normal generation capacity, the utilities resort to stand-by power generating sources (which often cause higher levels of emissions) and in extreme cases instituting rolling brownouts. At significant scale, plug-in hybrid batteries could help deliver power during peak times when it is often the most expensive. This could generate revenue for the car owner and help the utilities deal with peak demand.






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