Google.org launches alternative energy initiative RechargeIT.org

On June 18, Google.org is launched a new project to create a smarter energy future: cars that plug into an electric grid powered by solar energy. I am very hopeful that the mindpower concentrated in Silicon Valley can revolutionize energy production just like they have computers and networks.

Excerpts from the official Google Blog are below.

Link: Official Google Blog.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (“plug-in hybrids”) can achieve 70 -100 miles per gallon, quadrupling the fuel economy of the average car on the road today (~20 mpg). As we demonstrated at today’s event, plug-in hybrids can sell power back to the electric grid when it’s needed most through vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology

As you may know, one of Google.org’s core missions is to address climate change. In the U.S., transportation contributes about one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions –- with more than 60 percent of those emissions coming from personal vehicles. By accelerating the adoption of plug-in hybrids and vehicle-to-grid ("V2G") technologies, this new project, RechargeIT.org, aims to reduce emissions and dependence on oil while promoting clean energy technologies and increasing consumer choice. Linking the U.S. transportation system to the electricity grid maximizes the efficiency of our energy system. From these efforts, we believe the environment will benefit — and consumers will have more choices to fuel their cars.

We’ve been working with Google engineers and Hymotion/A123Systems to build a small fleet of plug-in hybrids, adding an external plug and additional batteries to a regular hybrid car so that it runs on electricity with gasoline (or even better, biofuels) to extend the driving range for longer trips.

Since most Americans drive less than 35 miles per day, you easily could drive mostly on electricity with the gas tank as a "safety net." Our goal is to demonstrate the plug-in hybrid and V2G technology, get people excited about having their own plug-in hybrid, and encourage car companies to start building them soon.

In the preliminary results from our test fleet, on average the plug-in hybrid gas mileage was 30+ mpg higher than that of the regular hybrids. In conjunction with Pacific Gas and Electric, we also demonstrated the bidirectional flow of electricity through V2G technology, and have awarded $1 million in grants and announced plans for a $10 million request for proposals (RFP) to fund development, adoption and commercialization of plug-ins, fully electric cars and related vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology. (Here’s the full release.)

As for Google Inc., today the solar panel installation we announced last October is now producing clean, renewable electricity for our Mountain View, CA headquarters.

The system will offset peak electricity consumption at the solar powered offices and the newly constructed solar carports have charging stations for the plug-in hybrids. At 1.6 megawatts — with an electricity output capable of powering approximately 1,000 average California homes — the Google project is the largest solar installation on any corporate campus in the U.S. to date, and one of the largest on any corporate site in the world. To see how much electricity these panels are producing right now, visit our new performance monitoring site.

To learn more about the initiative, we encourage you to explore the rest of RechargeIT.org.

Green Marketing via Seth

Marketing whiz Seth Godin describes how to leverage the competitive spirit of American drivers to improve gas mileage. (I think he’s a closet Green-Neck.)

Link: Seth’s Blog: [More] or (Less)

…require all new cars to have, right next to the speedometer, a mileage meter. And put the same number on an LCD display on the rear bumper. Once there’s an arms race to see who can have the highest number, we’re on the right track.

Newt Gingrich promotes Green Conservatism

Gingrich writes that Green Conservatives want the private sector to lead the change to energy independence and a healthier environment. I hope this is a tipping point for the green movement, where the Democrats and Republicans offer competing visions of a green America, instead of the denial and rejection that characterizes the pro-oil Bush administration.

The private sector can move more quickly and efficiently than government in developing and implementing functional solutions for significant problems. If Gingrich is sincere here, not just trying to win votes and sell books, then perhaps his influence will help conserve clean air and water and preserve what is left of wilderness.

Link: Atlanta Journal Constitution, 5/6/2007

The time has come to define a fundamentally different approach to a healthy environment and a healthy economy. The time has come for the development of "Green Conservatism" as an alternative to big bureaucracy and big litigation liberal environmentalism.

So what is Green Conservatism?

Green Conservatives favor clean air and clean water.

Green Conservatives understand biodiversity as a positive good.

Green Conservatives believe that economic growth and environmental health are compatible in both the developed and developing worlds.

Green Conservatives favor minimizing carbon loading in the atmosphere as a positive public value. And while we don’t buy into the doomsday scenarios currently being peddled by the left, we believe there is sufficient scientific evidence to tell us that carbon loading is occurring. But as to what we can and should do about it, there is still a lot to learn.

And lastly, Green Conservatives believe in energy independence. A new generation of clean energy will enable us to achieve three simultaneous conservative goals: To be liberated from dependence on dangerous dictatorships; to be effective in worldwide economic competition; and to provide for a much cleaner and healthier future.

Of course it’s easy to talk about achieving lofty environmental goals without damaging either our liberty or our economy. But how do we actually make Green Conservatism a reality? We do so by taking advantage of markets and incentives to achieve our environmental goals far more effectively than is possible through higher taxes. We emphatically reject as ineffective the liberal environmentalists’ focus on bureaucratic command-and-control regulations to preserve our natural world. Instead, Green Conservatism believes that we can realize more positive environmental outcomes faster by shifting tax code incentives and shifting market behavior than is possible from litigation and regulation.

The United States is ideally suited to achieving tremendous environmental progress precisely because we have such a dynamic and economically efficient free enterprise system. In this way, Green Conservatism builds on our inherent strengths as a nation, whereas liberal environmentalism actually undermines the very economic growth and efficiencies that so decisively contribute to environmental progress.

One of the reasons I am optimistic about the future of America is that we will experience between four and seven times as much new scientific knowledge and innovation in the next 25 years as we have had in the past 100. This means that America will excel at precisely those capabilities that will be required to renew and protect our environment —- unless, of course, we saddle ourselves with higher levels of regulation and taxation.

Green Conservatism aims to take advantage of this coming explosion in scientific knowledge and innovation by offering incentives that will direct this scientific progress toward our shared environment goals. One way to do this is to significantly invest in prizes as a competitive alternative to the current peer-reviewed process of scientific research. We should, for example, offer prizes for the development of high-gas- mileage cars and other carbon reduction challenges. Finding common- sense, pro-market ways to reduce our carbon emissions is the right thing to do.

Americans excel at using the power of the free market to make our lives better. Green Conservatism uses this strength by seeking the least economically destructive and least governmentally empowering ways to protect the environment.

Our generation faces the extraordinary challenge of bringing to bear science and technology, entrepreneurship and the principles of effective markets in order to enable people to have both a good life economically and a good life environmentally.

Conservatism shouldn’t ignore this challenge, we should embrace it. After all, we can stand toe to toe with liberals anywhere in America when it comes to wanting to build a better future for ourselves and our families. America’s 400-year experience of sound science, entrepreneurship and free markets to create better solutions for a better future has far outstripped what the lawyers and bureaucrats have ever done. It’s no different when it comes to the environment. Green Conservatism is an idea whose time has come.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and co-author with Terry L. Maple of "A Contract with the Earth," to be released this fall by Johns Hopkins University Press.