All posts by Kyle Field

ChargePoint Launches European Expansion With New InstaVolt Partnership

Originally published on CleanTechnica

ChargePoint has announced a new partnership with InstaVolt to install more than 200 ChargePoint rapid charging systems. This represents the first major milestone in its European expansion.

UK electric vehicle charging network InstaVolt has signed a contract to purchase more than 200 of ChargePoint Express Plus systems. These systems will be installed by InstaVolt along popular routes in the UK with an aim to enable drivers to quickly recharge their EVs on longer road trips.

As we shared back in January, the ChargePoint Express Plus charging system is a modular solution that allows operators to install the charging station and then increase the charging speed of the systems as more vehicles capable of fast charging enter the market. This is critical because it gives operators confidence that the initial investment will not be lost as technologies change over time, but instead allows them to change with the times and increase charging speeds up to 400 kW … which is 3 times faster than any vehicle on the market today.

Tim Payne, CEO at InstaVolt, said of the partnership:

“We are delighted to partner with ChargePoint to deliver a best in class EV charging infrastructure. We own, install and maintain rapid electric vehicle charging units all over the country, giving landowners the opportunity to earn a rental income by housing them, and giving EV drivers access to the fastest charging available.

“ChargePoint will fulfill two important criteria for us: the charging units are future-proofed so the units can be configured to meet the precise requirements of any site and can be scaled incrementally as demand for higher rate charging increases. This is particularly important as EV manufacturers begin to bring out new models with increased battery capacity. We are also committed to making sure the units are working 24/7 and so the reliability of the ChargePoint solution is one of the cornerstones of our offer.”

The move into the European market for ChargePoint and this new partnership with InstaVolt represent major milestones in the rollout of the fast charging network of the future. To date, the fastest non-Tesla charging stations available top out at 50 kW, whereas these new ChargePoint units allow for dramatic expansion in the future.

This turns the notion of installing 6.6 kW chargers that will be out of date in a few years on its head. For the first time, it gives the public the confidence they need to buy an EV with the knowledge that public chargers exist that can support them over the life of the vehicle. Whether consumers will need to own vehicles in 10 years is another story altogether. …

EV Drivers Want (or Require) Superfast Charging

Worth highlighting here is that many of today’s EV drivers demand or at least greatly desire superfast charging in their next EVs. Depending on the type of electric vehicle they drive today (a non-Tesla fully electric car, a Tesla, or a plug-in hybrid) and where they live (Europe or North America), 32–92% of the respondents we surveyed said they required superfast charging in their next EV.

Survey results from our new EV report. Responses came from over 2,000 EV drivers across 26 European countries, 49 of 50 US states, and 9 Canadian provinces. Responses were segmented according to region — North America vs Europe — and type of electric car — plug-in hybrid vs Tesla vs non-Tesla fully electric car.

Looking at desires instead of requirements, the figures ranged from 45% (European non-Tesla fully electric car drivers) to 86% (North American Tesla drivers).

Survey results from our new EV report. Responses came from over 2,000 EV drivers across 26 European countries, 49 of 50 US states, and 9 Canadian provinces. Responses were segmented according to region — North America vs Europe — and type of electric car — plug-in hybrid vs Tesla vs non-Tesla fully electric car.

BYD Refuse Truck to Saves $13,000 Per Year In Fuel & Maintenance

Originally published on CleanTechnica

BYD announced a new electric long-range class 8 refuse truck at the ACT Expo in Long Beach this week that is estimated to save operators more than $13,000 per year in fuel and maintenance when compared to a diesel-based refuse truck.

Read that again. $10,000 per year in savings just by driving a different vehicle. It also comes with a hefty improvement in maintenance costs with another $3,000 saved on maintenance per year. This is a result of the reduction in parts required to move the vehicle around coming from the simplified electric drivetrain. Regenerative brakes support this by reducing the wear and tear on pads and rotors.

The new vehicle builds on the electric BYD trucks that were launched last year and represents the start of a flood of purpose-built electric trucks coming from BYD. The trucks make use of BYD’s proprietary iron phosphate battery technology, which is built to last longer but at the cost of a slightly heavier pack than more traditional 18650 lithium ion cell-based packs.

refuse truck

The new 10-ton payload trash truck can achieve 76 miles per charge with minimal battery degradation. These trucks are some of the first to roll off of the new production lines at BYD’s recently expanded Lancaster, California, Bus and Coach Factory. It complies with all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) to ensure maximum adoption in the North American Market.

Low speed, high torque vehicles with lots of starts and stops throughout the day, like mail delivery vehicles, parcel delivery vehicles, city buses, and refuse trucks with relatively predictable routes or fixed zones of operation, represent prime targets for electrification, as the vehicles can be purpose-built with en-route charging or perfectly sized batteries to maximize the financial returns for operators. Seeing BYD move into these spaces with intention is exciting and bodes well for increased fleet adoption in the North American market.

While it comes with a compelling set of figures, it is sure to be an uphill fight for BYD to move in on trash haulers with a new set of gear that’s going to have a higher cost up front. Educating operators about the fundamentals of electric vehicles, charging systems, new maintenance best practices and schedules are just a few of the real world challenges the team is faced with. But BYD continues to move forward. The silent giant in the world of plug-in vehicles doesn’t listen to the doubters, but it does keep taking orders and with each new order, continues to widen its lead as the top-selling plug-in vehicle manufacturer in the world.

The full specs on the new vehicle are below. Let us know what you think about this new entry down in the comments.

refuse truck

Tesla Model 3 Production On Track as Tesla Ramps Up Supporting Infrastructure

Originally published on CleanTechnica

Tesla announced earnings for the first quarter of 2017 today and the message is loud and clear about the Model 3 — Tesla is on track for the move to production and ramping up its infrastructure across the board in support of the launch.

Model 3

Starting with the most foundational of Model 3 activities, Model 3 production is on track with all production-ready manufacturing equipment set to start working in July for honest-to-goodness manufacturing:

“Model 3 activities related to vehicle development, manufacturing equipment installation and supplier readiness remain on plan to start production in July.”

The letter continues by unpacking the work Tesla is doing to improve its overall geographic footprint across the globe.

“We are significantly expanding our infrastructure to support Tesla owners by increasing the density and geographic footprint of our presence.”

This comes on the heels of Tesla’s focused announcement that the Tesla Supercharger network will be doubling in 2017.

All signs point to Tesla’s gamble on installing production-capable manufacturing equipment right off the bat vs installing special, essentially disposable equipment and then upgrading to full-volume equipment after the release candidate vehicles are validated. The release candidate vehicles have been built so that improvements can be taken back to the manufacturing process to ensure it is capable of supporting Model 3 production at scale — at quality targets.

As the world has already seen, release candidates are also getting out in public for real-world road testing as part of the validation process.

Digging into the details of the manufacturing lines, Tesla has brought its latest Schuler press line up and has started the commissioning process for it in preparation for Model 3 production. This timing is in-line with the planned Model 3 ramp and allows “sufficient time to install and tune die sets ahead of volume production.”

Work continues across the Fremont factory, with the paint shop getting an overhaul as well as upgrades in the new Model 3 body welding process and general assembly lines, with Tesla noting that these are all on track.

On the supplier front, Tesla is also pounding on the upstream suppliers to ensure it doesn’t hit any roadblocks like those encountered with the Model X production ramp, which had serious issues with the components required for the second-row seats, supersplendulous windshield, and falcon-wing doors.

Service Improvements

Beyond just physical service centers, Tesla has moved forward with mobile service teams and is ramping up from the pilot of just a single mobile service vehicle to a fleet of over 100 mobile service vehicles by the end of Q2 2017. Tesla notes that it has built its vehicles to be largely serviceable without the need for a lift, which means mobile service is much easier to accomplish at the home or business of a customer, which saves the customer the time and effort of traveling to and from a service center (SC) as well as the non-value-add logistics associated with a SC visit.

I personally found the Ranger Service to be extremely user-friendly when a tech came to my home to swap out a door handle on my Model S while I made dinner for my family in the next room.

Tesla has also done work to continue to drive service times down. Specifically, it has continued to leverage proactive and reactive remote diagnostics to identify and flag service items before they leave a driver stranded on the side of a road. This has the potential to drive the uptime of Tesla vehicles up higher than any other competitor, as no other automotive manufacturer has or is using this type of advanced, remote diagnostic capabilities today. The work done to drive service times down this year has resulted in reductions of repair times by 35% this year alone.

A 30% increase in physical footprint density is also in the works for this year, with over 100 new retail, delivery, and service locations globally in parallel to the previously communicated doubling of the Supercharger network in 2017 to 10,000 stations and a 4-fold increase in the destination charger network density to 15,000.

Tesla is also moving into the body shop business, which is a part of the service model that it has historically outsourced. Body work has been a source of significant headaches and delays for users, with the rear quarter panels being a known constraint that regularly cause delays of several months due to their complexity, lead time for parts ordering, and the sheer effort required to remove and rebuild that section of the vehicle.

On the investors call, which CleanTechnica joined, the Tesla team noted that there has been a significant ramp in the number of loaners the company is keeping ready to ensure owners have a Tesla to borrow when their vehicle is in for service. The company noted that it is stocking well-equipped vehicles to give owners the best experience and to make service a positive experience to the point where they will be sad when it’s over. If a fleet of loaner Model X P100Ds are sitting at the ready, Tesla may see an increase in service requests from owners. 🙂

That positive experience could also lead to more upgrades and Model X or S sales. As reported in our freshly released second-annual EV report, the largest percentage of current EV drivers in Europe and North America plan to next buy a Tesla Model 3, but another large portion of initial EV drivers plan to buy a Model S or X next. In fact, among current Tesla drivers, approximately 26% plan to next buy a/another Model S and 10–11% plan to next buy a/another Model X.


Pluto AI Aims To Transform Wastewater Treatment With Applied AI

Originally published on CleanTechnica

Artificial Intelligence startup Pluto AI has raised $2.1 million in VC funding in order to inject intelligence into the traditionally mundane world of wastewater treatment. Modern plants are flush with sensors and automated controls, but they typically operate independently and often require user intervention. Pluto AI aims to take these treatment plants to the next level by gulping up all the data produced by the array of sensors and controls equipment already in place, then provide intelligent insights to save time, money and water.

From the company’s recent blog post,

“Pluto is an analytics platform for smart water management. We enable water facilities like treatment plants or beverage processing plants to prevent water wastage, predict asset health, and minimize operating costs. We use cutting edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) to achieve this. Our pilot customers include some of the largest water and beverage companies in the world.”

As a startup, Pluto is not yet competing with the big players in smart water management systems like IBM’s Intelligent Water, but has a solid product that many industrial facilities, publicly owned treatment works (POTW), power plants, and other facilities that consume or process a significant amount of water could use.

As the Pluto team likes to say:

“If you have timestamped water data originating from sources such as sensors, meters, or other devices, our platform can ingest it and do a lot of great things with it.”

The solution lives in the cloud, meaning no local hardware or IT support is required. Pluto aims to make the addition of intelligence to water treatment systems a no brainer, just enable timestamped controls data to flow to the secure Pluto system and the the Pluto team takes it from there.

Because the solution resides in the cloud, it is easily scalable to meet the needs of the customers, which are largely based on the volume and frequency of data being processed by Pluto. As such, the service is billed as a Software as a Service (SaaS) wherein the customer pays monthly or annual fees for the services provided, but would not typically own any of the hardware or have any significant up-front capital cost to implement the system.

Pluto plans to use the injection of cash to ramp up its enterprise sales team to scale its offerings to get the solution into the hands of the world’s largest corporations and government agencies.

Just as electric vehicles and AI-powered autonomous driving technology are disrupting the auto industry as we speak, Pluto AI hopes to disrupt the stagnant water treatment industry where over 2.1 trillion gallons of clean water is lost each year in the US alone.

Source: TechCrunch | Pluto AI

EV Charging Startup EVmatch Connects Private Charging Station Owners With EV Drivers

Originally published on CleanTechnica

EV charging startup EVmatch aims to connect private charging station owners with EV drivers looking for a charge. The Los Angeles pilot launches this week, with free charging in the EVmatch system for the pilot users until 4/11/17.

EVmatch

What is EVmatch?

The EVmatch solution fills a gap in electric vehicle charging infrastructure by providing a platform and a compensation model that connects privately owned EV charging station owners with EV drivers. With home charging station installations generally tracking with EV adoption rates, EVmatch seeks to tap into privately owned charging infrastructure to expand charging options for EV drivers, eliminating range anxiety along the way.

Beyond just charging, EVmatch includes a reservation system which gives drivers assurance that the charger will be held for them during a fixed window. This is something no other public charging system does well and is a key differentiator, as it is very common to arrive at a charger only to find that someone else is there charging.

EVmatch

Finally, EVmatch facilitates connections between real people that are interested in and likely advocates of EVs. It’s difficult to put a price on community, but as someone who has been driving EVs, charging EVs at public infrastructure, and advocating for EVs for years, this is exciting for me.

Startup History

EVmatch is the brainchild of co-founders Heather Hochrein and Shannon Walker, who developed the solution together as part of the eco-entrepreneurship tract of the graduate program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Since graduating in June of 2016, the duo has kicked the startup into high gear with a proof-of-concept launch in Santa Barbara, California, supported by the development of the software solution.

EVmatch

The solution initially made use of Google Docs and Google Calendar and quickly evolved into the development of a web app–based solution that brings all the learnings from the proof of concept together into a single solution that delivers compatibility on iOS, Android, PC, Mac, and Linux platforms.

Payments from users to hosts are determined by an intelligent algorithm that takes into account electricity rates that are entered by the host to determine which tier or time of use mode they operate in. The Smart Pricing algorithm takes into account charging speed, the cost of electricity, and a “profit per hour” that is set by the host. These are multiplied by the total charging time, which uses an honor system–based reservation duration for the pilot. The team has plans to implement a hardware/software integration that will provide customer recognition and real-time electricity metering to track total kWh used instead of an estimation. Finally, a service fee is applied as the primary revenue stream for the folks at EVmatch. In over-simplified terms, it looks like this:

[(Price per kWh)*(Charging Speed) + Host Markup per hour] * Length of Reservation + EVmatch Service Fee = Charging Session Price

This model was well received by hosts and users in the proof of concept. These initial test users were generally more excited to support EV adoption than they were about making a profit. Whether this excitement scales or not is one of the big questions the team is looking to answer with the pilot. Payments to hosts are currently made through weekly payments to keep the money flowing to hosts, but the frequency and method of payments may change after the pilot.

EVmatch

The Big Launch

EVmatch built a proof of concept in the Santa Barbara area but then kicked things into high gear last week when it launched the pilot of the solution, which expands the footprint to the greater Los Angeles area. In the limited-release pilot, the team will scale the solution to a broader user base to validate the new end-to-end solution before developing platform-specific apps and expanding the network to the rest of California and beyond.

Customers who have already pre-registered for the pilot launch on the EVmatch site have now received a formal invites to the pilot, which officially kicked off on March 28. The pilot features free in-network charging through April 11, 2017, and will be celebrated by a launch party in Los Angeles in the next couple of weeks.

More information about the pilot, including instructions for signing up as a charging site host or charging system user can be found over on the EVmatch Pilot site or on the main site at www.evmatch.com. I know I’ll be watching over the next few weeks and months to see how the EVmatch solution performs with a larger set of users, and I hope that it will be able to deliver on its goal of giving people enough confidence in the public charging network to buy an EV.

Images courtesy of EVmatch

Global Concerns Over China’s “Manufacturing 2025” Initiative Highlighted In New EU Report

Originally published on CleanTechnica

A new Financial Times article reveals that the core technologies that China wants to lead the world in as part of its overarching Manufacturing 2025 initiative are coming under fire from other nations.

manufacturing 2025

China first laid out its Manufacturing 2025 initiative in May of 2015, which included objectives to internally develop nationwide competencies in 10 critical sectors, including New Energy Vehicles, Rail Transport Equipment, Automated Machine Tools and Robotics, and Power Equipment (which includes Solar and Wind Technologies).

This push is the next iteration in the country’s journey towards a better future as it takes a look at the past and maps out a better life for its 1.4 billion citizens. China has long been known to be a technology copycat, with Chinese tech giants Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent walking a tenuously similar path to those first mapped out by US tech titans Google, eBay, and Facebook. However, the new plan crafted in Beijing seeks to change not just this perception of the country, but also the reality underneath it.

The initiative maps out strategies for not only fostering “indigenous innovation” but also for forcing foreign companies to divulge details of critical technologies in exchange for access to Chinese markets. A newly published European study on China’s Manufacturing 2025 initiative highlights several examples of the way the initiative seeks to accomplish its objectives and how they are already causing global concerns:

“Under recently passed legislation in the new energy vehicle (NEV) industry, for example, European business is facing intense pressure to turn over advanced technology in exchange for near-term market access; in the field of industrial robotics, government subsidies are contributing to overcapacity in the low- and mid-tiers of China’s market; and in the information technology industry, European business is seeing market access constrict further. “

The report details how, in addition to these domestic-friendly policies having the potential to strip technologies from foreign companies coming into China, the Manufacturing 2025 initiative is creating a market that heavily favors domestic companies.

Whether these early concerns are just manifestations of the growing pains in the next chapter of Chinese manufacturing or are truly representative of the new position China is taking to protect itself and its citizens from global competition will have to play out over the next few years or decades. But one thing is certain — nations around the world are taking notice and are not receiving the news favorably.

The balance of increased innovation coming from China and market access as a result of Manufacturing 2025 is not perceived as healthy or sustainable, with the short-term impacts summed up in the European Chamber report in a single statement: “the world would benefit from additional innovative Chinese products and services, but not at the expense of inhibiting market forces through state-driven schemes. “

manufacturing 2025

Highly automated Tesla production line. Image Credit: Tesla

This push from China comes as the global manufacturing hub seeks to evolve away from the low-value, labor-driven economy it has become known as towards a tech-centric, automated future. The push aims to automate low-value manufacturing jobs though the implementation of autonomous robots. Compared to other nations, China has been very slow to adopt such technology.

Automation of these positions will continue to keep manufacturing costs low in the country in the face of rising wages. Though, the larger impact to employment numbers in a country of this size is a major concern.

Source: European Chamber ReportFinancial Times via Monica Araya

The Rise Of The Stealth Plug-In (aka, The Day Plug-In Vehicles Went Mainstream)

Originally published on CleanTechnica

It hit me for the first time on the highway driving into the middle of a tornado of traffic in the heart of Los Angeles. Cars cluttered the highway in no intelligible pattern, aimed in every direction except with the flow of traffic, the glare of brake lights turning the masses of metal into a blurred mess that felt more like hell than a highway.

To make the mess more manageable — I’ve convinced my kids that counting plug-in cars on the highway is a game. In Southern California, it’s actually quite entertaining since there’s a sufficient quantity of them to keep us on our toes while still not so common as to overwhelm us … but that’s starting to change.

plugin

“Count the Plugins”

Early trips down to my in-laws house (some 78 miles away and 1.5 to 4 hours away, depending on traffic) used to net game-winning scores in the teens … just a handful of years ago. Then we hit a milestone at 50 last year, which we were extremely proud of … then, on our recent trip, we hit 68, but we knew there were more out there that we just couldn’t identify.

We would catch the occasional Mercedes B-Class Electric, a Ford C-Max Energi or Ford Fusion Energi, and even the occasional Fiat 500e, but we knew tons were slipping by unnoticed. We could feel them near us, almost teasing us as they zoomed by unnoticed. Even the new Chevy Volt looks a bit mainstream, and the new Bolt has been wrapped in an urban camouflage so well done that it looks like a gasmobile.

I know, I know … it’s just a game Kyle, calm down. But it’s not. This is a critical point in the journey towards electrifying transportation … the point where plug-in vehicles go mainstream. This is the point where my former co-worker, who’s now driving 2 hours each way to work, started with a Prius but then upgraded to a Volt … because it just makes sense. This is the point where people are switching to the technology en masse because it’s simply better on just about every level.

This is huge, folks.

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The Will of the Masses

When my wife and I bought our first electric car (for her), my only request was that she would pick an electric car … or at least a plug-in hybrid. There were ~12 EVs to choose from, but only a handful that really met our criteria. We still had our half-gasmobile Prius hybrid for longer trips, so it just needed to get her to work and back for a daily average of no more than 30 miles — well within the range of most ~84 mile range EVs.

After spending several hours looking over pictures of cars and specs online, we narrowed it down to the BMW i3 and the Mercedes B-Class ED (now called the B250e). She eventually went with the B-Class because it didn’t look like an electric vehicle. The i3 stands out like a natural gas–fired power plant operating in the middle of a field of solar panels, and the Nissan LEAF isn’t much better (though, that may be changing soon).

The experience of purchasing the B-Class opened my eyes to the fact that not everyone will drive an EV just because it’s better, safer, and cheaper to operate — some people most people just want a “normal” looking car.

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You Guys Rock!

More than anything, I just wanted to take a minute to celebrate this moment because it wouldn’t have happened without you. You care about electric cars, are passionate about them, and are probably going to be a resource for friends and neighbors as they first discover electric cars (have you heard of this Tesla thing? …yeah, Chris, I’m talking about you). You will help them consider their first plug-in vehicle purchase and help with running the numbers (Brian ended up in a white Volt if you were wondering) or try to figure out if solar really is a good deal or if it’s a scam (Melissa was put off by the flood of door-to-door solar salesmen but eventually signed with Vivint).

It is the passion and the wisdom of individual people being passed along and shared like a glass of cold orange juice on a warm summer afternoon that brought this transformation to life. So, I just wanted to say thanks … and congratulations.

Thanks for being ambassadors for clean technology in your world, to your friends, and to your family.

I have a confession to make, though. It didn’t happen on any particular day. But it did happen. It is happening. And I’m going to kick some serious butt on our next round of “count the plug-ins” because I can see the plug-ins no matter how much camouflage they put on to trick those mainstream buyers that have no idea how long those of us who have been in the know have been waiting for this moment.

If you are looking to purchase a new Tesla, feel free to use my referral link (here) which will save you $1,000 on the purchase while also helping me to write better content for the site. 

 


Tesla Model S EV Annex Carbon Fiber Upgrade

Originally posted on CleanTechnica

The good folks over at EV Annex have the shelves stocked deep with custom designed and built Tesla accessories like the Center Console Insert and the Cubby Compartment that really fill in some the functionality gaps. They also have a wide variety of custom designed and built accessories that offer a different take on the design aesthetic of the Model S and X.

spoiler

Carbon Fiber Blade Spoiler

They sent a few of their carbon fiber accent items over to spruce up the exterior of my Model S. Unfortunately, I’m no professional installer but thankfully, all of the interior products I have tested out to date have been easy and straightforward to install. This time around, I was happy to find that their exterior products follow suit, while adding nice touches of class to the exterior of the Model S — a challenging feat considering how great it looks already.

For starters, adding the EV Annex Blade Spoiler adds an amazing pop of class to the car and does so at a much more approachable price point of just $589 compared to the Tesla version which will set you back a staggering $1500. Granted, the Tesla version includes installation, but even if professionally installed, the EV Annex version comes in at a much lower price point and with quality that is nearly indistinguishable from OEM.

The addition of a carbon fiber spoiler to the Model S stands out in contrast with the smooth lines and uniform color of the car, with a flash of glossy carbon fiber. It takes the rear of the car from smooth to standout with a bold new line that cuts away from the car, often inciting a double take to catch the extra pop of flair.

spoiler

Carbon Fiber Nose Cone Applique

Up at the front of the Model S, the EV Annex guys created a carbon fiber nose cone applique that cuts around the Tesla emblem with such precision, it looks almost as if the carbon fiber were poured in around it as a liquid (it wasn’t).

While the carbon fiber that the spoiler is made from is rigid, the applique for the nose cone, while also made with real carbon fiber, is comprised of a flexible layer of carbon fiber covered with a protective rubberized coating that serves a very similar function to the clear protective paint coatings many high end cars come with (like opticoat). The front of the car is extremely prone to chips in paint — or in this case, a carbon fiber applique — so I was happy to see that it came with its own protection.

Speaking of protective coatings, I chose to remove my protective paint coating prior to installing to ensure the best bond with the car. After all, this new beauty would both improve the aesthetics as well as protect the car. so it was a win-win. To remove the coating, I worked my way to the edge of the upper nosecone section to where the coating ended and just started pulling it back, like a large vinyl sticker. After a few minutes, it was off.

spoiler

I gave the nosecone a quick cleaning with window cleaner, then some alcohol, to ensure a tight bond with the new piece, and was ready to apply it. I read the instructions once more (read twice, apply once :)) and was ready to go. I removed the backing on the rear side to expose the adhesive, and from there it was a simple matter of taking my time to fit the piece onto the car. It went surprisingly quickly and fit like a glove.

spoiler

I stepped back to admire it and was extremely pleased at just how quickly and easily it upgraded the look of the front of the Tesla. The carbon fiber nosecone applique adds a nice pop of class to the front of the car, which is especially nice for Teslas with the old nosecone.

Check out the gallery below for a full array of shots of these beautiful pieces on my “No Gasmobile” and head on over to EV Annex to check out the Carbon Fiber Blade Spoiler and the Carbon Fiber Nosecone Applique for the Model S.

If you are looking to purchase a new Tesla, feel free to use my referral link (here) which will save you $1,000 on the purchase while also helping me to write better content for the site. 

All Images Credit: Kyle Field 

Lighting Science L-Bar is the Perfect Drop-in Replacement for Fluorescents

Originally published on CleanTechnica

Lighting Science, the manufacturer of the durable lightbulb, aka the Durabulb that also just happens to be powered by LEDs, has released another innovative LED lighting product that aims to replace standard 4′ x 2′ fluorescent light enclosures, called the L-Bar.

What is the L-Bar?

The L-Bar looks much like a single 4′ fluorescent tube would look if mounted directly to the ceiling but amazingly, the L-Bar puts out 4,500 lumens, which Lighting Science believes is sufficient to replace a traditional 4′ x 2′ fluorescent troffer.

l-bar

The L-Bar is revolutionary on just about every level — it comes in at half the price of both legacy fluorescent lighting installations and traditional LED replacement solutions while also putting out an impressive 150 lumens per watt. This makes the L-Bar an attractive option for new construction as well as for energy efficiency retrofit projects.

Small & Light = Easy Installation

The L-Bar doesn’t just bring sexy data sheet specs with it, but it also packs all this performance into a slender package, weighing in at just 19 ounces, which is a testament to the fact that it also uses ~95% less material to make than a standard 4′ x 2′ fluorescent lighting troffer.

This svelte form factor also makes installation a breeze compared to traditional fluorescents which typically weigh around 25 pounds. That isn’t a showstopper when carrying something at ground level but installing a 25 pound awkward metal tank overhead can be cumbersome and takes longer to install than these diminutive L-Bars that barely tip the scales in comparison at a mere 19 ounces.

l-bar

I put this to the test with the L-Bar and found that the removal of a traditional 4-ft x 2-ft fluorescent light troffer was cumbersome and nearly required two people.

Conversely, installing the L-Bar was a very simple matter and simply required mounting 3 small brackets to which the L-Bar clips into. Installation was no issue as the L-Bar is featherlight in comparison to the troffer I had just removed.

Not content to let the L-Bar be lost amongst the vast sea of LED offerings for legacy fluorescent retrofits, the Lighting Science team built the L-Bar to be wet-rated, which opens up new installation locations for it including parking garages, stairwells, and public areas in addition to the more traditional medical facilities, schools, and retail shops where legacy fluorescent installations reign supreme.

See the Light

To size this up, I put the L-Bar to the test in a real-life scenario in my garage, replacing an existing fluorescent troffer. As I noted above, installing the L-Bar really was much easier than removing the existing fluorescent troffer due to its lower size and weight. After wiring it up, I flicked on the power and after a brief delay, the little tube blasted to life.

The extremely bright, cool LED light poured out of the unassuming fixture in what looked like a flood from heaven. The fixture is so bright, it’s hard to look at considering how concentrated the light source is, and makes it easy to see that it puts out as much or more light than many fluorescent enclosures.

l-bar

In my small garage, the L-Bar is a clear winner in terms of light delivered in the space, and it’s not hard imagining that improvement translating to a larger space like an open office. The fact that the same light, or even a bit more, which was previously coming from 2 or 4 fluorescent bulbs was now coming from something the size of a single bulb was somehow irrelevant.

Given the affordable price, easy installation and long life expectation of the LED-powered L-Bar, it’s no wonder installers are flocking to it in droves for installations both new and old. It is an impressive piece of technology that serves as the new benchmark for LED fixture light output in a beautifully efficient package.

The L-Bar is not only a great fit for home garages and offices, but given the wet rating it carries, it can be installed in parking garages, exterior corridors, small businesses and even in more creative lighting installations.

The seemingly familiar form factor of the L-Bar stands out in stark contrast to traditional lightingl-bar solutions as all the light, and the entire shape of it, is contained in the form factor of a single fluorescent bulb.

That gives interior designers, installers and businesses new freedom in how they think about and implement lighting in their spaces. I don’t get excited about many products but LED lighting solutions — especially ones that improve on traditional lights in just about every way and make great candidates for fluorescent enclosure retrofits — represent easy cost savings on materials, lower installation costs, and energy efficiency improvements we should all be getting behind, as Scott documented so well.

In Summary

Lighting Science’s entire LS Earth Series of products (including the L-Bar) aim to develop and deliver high quality lighting solutions that make more efficient use of the materials that go into them, require less packaging, are easier to recycle AND save energy.

By all these measures (and maybe a few more that aren’t in the Lighting Science mission statement), the L-Bar is a beaming success and truly raises the bar for fluorescent-equivalent LED lighting.

Pete Rumsey, Executive Vice President of Business Development for Lighting Science puts a pretty nice bow on it:

“This is the type of LED solution that people have been waiting for to finally make the switch from traditional fluorescents. The L-Bar costs 50 percent less than both traditional LED and legacy fluorescent solutions while providing 150 lumens per watt. That’s pretty incredible performance for a lamp weighing in at a mere 19 ounces.”

For more information about the L-Bar, check out the official product page for all the juicy details or head straight to Amazon to pick a few up. I know I’m going to be looking for more opportunities to install these over the next few months.

Disclaimer: Lighting Science provided the L-Bar at no cost for review purposes, however, we were under no obligation to write anything, positive or negative about it.

Sources: Lighting Science and the Business Wire Press Release 

Images Credit: Lighting Science

 


Residential Energy Pilot Explores Use Of Storage To Balance Neighborhood Solar Generation

Originally posted on CleanTechnica

A new residential energy storage pilot seeks to better understand how batteries installed in homes can be used at the neighborhood level by grid operators to absorb solar power generation excesses during the day and discharge them when needed later in the day.

A partnership between battery manufacturer Moixa, electricity distributor Northern Powergrid, and the community energy company Energise Barnsley aims to put the idea to the test with a new pilot. Specifically, 40 homes will have Moixa lithium-ion batteries installed, including 20 x 2 kWh batteries and another 20 x 3 kWh batteries.

Simon Daniel, CEO of Moixa, said:

“Solar homes with batteries can halve their electricity bills, and this solution will become increasingly popular as costs of storage and PV fall.

“We are working closely with Northern Powergrid and this project will deliver insights to develop incentives which we hope will allow us to roll out solar plus storage to tens of thousands of homes in their region, by creating a business case for homeowners to invest and also by increasing the number of solar connections allowed on each substation.”

These 40 batteries and homes will be linked into a Virtual Power Plant (much like what Next Kraftwerk is doing today but on a smaller scale) which the utility can then utilize to absorb power when solar production is peaking. Conversely, at night when the sun isn’t shining on all those glorious solar panels, or anytime demand exceeds production, the utility can tap into this Virtual Power Plant to supply power to the grid.

neighborhood

Most of the homes in the pilot already have photovoltaic (PV) solar installed (30 of the 40 homes) which will allow the pilot operators to better understand how residentially installed solar PV can play well with residentially installed lithium-ion batteries.

In this pilot, the batteries will be installed at no cost to the residents, with all funding provided by Northern Powergrid in an effort to support the masses of solar being deployed by Energise Barnsley.

Andrew Spencer, System Planning Manager for Northern Powergrid, said:

“This partnership is one of a number of ways we’re working to explore innovations that can benefit our customers and the communities we serve.

This pilot probes some of the potential solutions for problems grid operators around the world are quickly encountering as more residential PV solar is brought online and as battery prices continue to drop.

neighborhood

Does it make more sense to install and subsidize solar at the utility level or residential? Is storage better for the grid at the utility scale or residential, or when residential installations are pooled together into a virtual power plant?

The future for residential storage and PV solar is packed with opportunity and it’s great to see progressive utilities and energy companies working together so closely with manufacturers like Moixa on neighborhood-scale pilots like this to work out the kinks.

Source: Moixa Press Release and Solar Power Portal UK

Images Credit: Moixa

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