Rare Earths, Metals & Oxides

“CREATIVE DESTRUCTION:  the competition from the new commodity, the new technology, the new source of supply, the new type of organization – competition which commands a decisive cost or quality advantage and which strikes not at the margins of the profits and the outputs of the existing firms but at their foundations and their very lives”.
Joseph A. Schumpeter

Here I will post some of my updates to the rare metal blog, covering the arrival of our new green energy, e-mobility age. In the decade ahead, it might just keep the world out of falling into a new depression. China which supplies the world with 95% of rare metals, is curtailing exports, and ending exports of them entirely in 2015. They will need all of their own supply as they build out their own green energy network, upgrade their lifestyle, and attempt to remediate 30 years of expansion at the expense of the environment and pollution.  In the rest of the world, the race is on to find new supply and to bring it to market in a commercially successful manner. Profit, at the end of the day, still has to drive "success". Click on the link for the bigger picture of our rapidly changing world.  http://www.raremetalblog.com/

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”

Wm. Shakespeare

October 29, 2010 GE Steps Up for EV

An order the size of GE’s probably would come from several vehicle makers, Smith said.

Though I don’t normally post on a Friday this article was too good to pass on. As important as the actual order for the vehicles will be when it comes next week, the real boost to EVs will come next year from the feedback GE will provide from operating them. As with all new and relatively untried technology, in the real world things rarely go as planned for very long. Up till now, most real world tests have been limited, and while the feed back has been slowly developing, this action by GE will put EVs through their toughest test to date. My guess is that all failings and weaknesses will be quickly corrected by the manufacturers.

GE Plans Biggest Electric-Vehicle Order in ‘Huge’ Industry Step

Oct. 29 (Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co. may jump-start the electric-vehicle industry with an order that Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt said will be the largest in history.

GE, whose power-generation equipment provides a third of the world’s electricity, will order “tens of thousands” of the vehicles in about a week, Immelt said yesterday in a speech in London, without giving a total or identifying a manufacturer.

“This is a huge step up,” said Brett Smith, a vehicle technology analyst at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “It’s the biggest order to date I’m aware of, by a lot.”

Expanding the world’s fleet of electric vehicles would bolster GE as it expands so-called clean-energy technology such as car chargers, solar panels and wind turbines. For every dollar of electric-vehicle sales, GE estimates it may get 10 cents in revenue, said Gary Sheffer, a spokesman.

Immelt said half of GE’s sales force of about 45,000 will drive electric vehicles. The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company also has a vehicle-leasing division through its GE Capital finance unit. Financial terms and other details about the order aren’t yet being disclosed, GE said.

GE is investing $10 billion over the next five years in clean energy across its business lines, including power- transmission software and so-called smart-grid technologies. Its products include lithium-ion batteries for cars and trucks via a venture with A123 Systems Inc. and sodium-based batteries for use in large vehicles such as locomotives.


Our problem now still remains in getting viable, profitable, non Chinese mines into production. Back on July 29th I first covered our arriving e-mobility age in “The Electric Mobility Age”. GE is about to give it a big push forwards.

Graeme Irvine, London.

Enterprise to offer LEAFs
The Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid was the first hybrid vehicle developed in 1899 by Ferdinand Porsche. It was a series hybrid using wheel hub motors mounted in each wheel, and powered by electricity delivered from both batteries and a small generator. In concept and general layout, it presaged the Volvo ReCharge Concept, the Chevrolet Volt, the Opel Flextreme, and other modern series hybrids.

This morning more follow up on the release of the Nissan LEAF electric car in sceptical America. While Europe, Japan, and China are more enthusiastic about the prospects for the arriving e-mobility age , in America for once there’s a distinct lag in the public’s perception of progress. In part it’s down to media advertising dominated by entrenched interests in the old way of doing things. In part I think it’s because there is a lack of awareness of the many hands-on testing schemes just getting underway this year and next. We open with Enterprise Holdings adding 500 electric cars to their US fleet of 680,000 cars and 8,000 hybrids. They plan to offer other manufacturers models as they become available later next year.

Enterprise Orders 500 Nissan LEAF Electric Cars

By John Addison updated 9/14/10

Enterprise Rent-A-Car will be renting the Nissan LEAF electric car in key locations in 2011. In January it will start taking delivery of the LEAF with plans for 500 by the end of 2011. This is the first phase of its plans to offer electric vehicles (EVs) at select offices throughout its neighborhood network of more than 5,000 U.S. locations.

To get more details, I had breakfast with Lee Broughton, director of sustainability for Enterprise Holdings, which owns and operates Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent A Car, National Car Rental, and WeCar Sharing. Enterprise Holdings will also offer customers electric vehicles from other manufacturers as they become available. Enterprise Holdings owns and operates the world’s largest fleet of passenger vehicles.

Mr. Broughton said, “With airport and neighborhood locations within 15 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population, our Enterprise Rent-A-Car offices are uniquely positioned to test the market viability of new alternative fuel technologies like the electric vehicle with daily commuters nationwide.” The LEAF’s 100 mile range per electric charge will meet the needs of most car rental customers.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car initially will offer electric cars to customers in 8 markets where over 10,000 charge stations are being installed, including Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Knoxville and Nashville, Tenn.; San Diego; Los Angeles; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle.

Beginning this October 2010, Enterprise will start pilot tests with its first Nissan LEAF in Carson, California, where it is installing its first charge station. In 2011, charging stations will be installed at select locations, including several of the Enterprise “hybrid branches” – nearly 100 designated locations which offer hybrids. Some charging will be from solar parking structures at some Enterprise locations.

---- Enterprise Holdings rents 8,000 hybrid vehicles to its individual and fleet customers. This is the world’s largest hybrid fleet


Another entrant in the hybrid sector debuted earlier this month at the Paris Motor Show, though to start with it will only be available in Japan. The rest of us have to wait until sometime next year. My guess is that Enterprise will be adding it to their 8,000 hybrids at some point next year.

The new hybrid from Honda stable

In tune with its focus on continuing with combining hybrid attempts and smaller size, Honda is offering another hybrid – the smallest and cheapest. This fall, Honda’s Fit will be on sale in Japan priced at 1.6 million yen hoping to become an instant hit. Honda will be launching the cute little car in the 2010 Auto Show at Paris in October under the name Honda Fit Hybrid. Its petrol version, called Jazz/Honda Fit is already in the markets. The Hybrid Fit will have the distinction of being the first hybrid subcompact car model marketed by Honda.

---- Reports indicate that Fit will be fitted with Honda’s 1.3 litre/4-cylinder petrol unit to work in tandem with a 9.7kW electric motor and is expected to generate about 97hp. Plans are afoot to launch the automatic (CVT) version as well as the manual Fit Hybrid version.

All features like brake-energy regeneration that are usually found in Honda hybrids are found along with an Economy button for maximum fuel efficiency.

----- Making its advent in the 2010 Auto Show at Paris, the sales are expected to start by 2010 end or early 2011.


In other hybrid developments Spain is taking the lead in hybrid, fast charge electric buses. While the writer suggests recharging at every bus stop, something very unlikely to be practical or needed, I can see where they’re going with this idea for inner city bussing. If nothing else, most cities noise pollution levels look set to fall.

Opbrid introduces Busbaar; an overhead rapid charger for hybrid, electric buses

Oct 8th 2010 at 7:02PM

When Spain-based Opbrid Transporte Sostenible S.L. chief executive officer, Roger Bedell, threw this quote into the company's press release regarding its overhead rapid-charging system for hybrid and electric buses, we couldn't help ourselves and immediately went digging for more:

With this system, it is possible to change most of the urban bus systems in the world from petroleum to electricity simply by changing diesel buses to fast charged hybrids and installing these charging stations. We can do this now, and we need to do this now.

Bedell, speaking about the company's revolutionary Busbaar – an overhead, pantograph-based rapid-charging station for buses – is ecstatic for good reason. You see, the Busbaar system leverages the rapid charge capability of lithium-titanate batteries and employs an end-of-route high-power charging (250 kW) system that operates without plugging in. Its simplistic operation could forever change the bus industry. The Busbaar system functions like this: as buses pull in to either pick up or drop off passengers, the overhead charger swings into action. Within five to six minutes, the bus' charge is sufficient to continue on to the next stop where it repeats the process again.

Opbrid suggests that properly outfitted hybrid and electric buses, charged by the Busbaar system, could handle the daily task of transporting people to-and-fro without using a drop of diesel.


Elsewhere, e-mobility is gearing up for the coming recharging build-out. I’ll close for the day with under reported developments in Southeast Asia. Under reported in the UK, at least, possibly better reported elsewhere.

Bosch Establishing E-mobility Service Platform in Singapore; Open Platform Accommodates Third-party Integration

8 October 2010

The Bosch Group has successfully bid for a pilot project in Singapore that includes a software-based service platform for e-mobility, as well as the necessary charging and communication infrastructure that goes with it. The target customers and users of the platform are people who drive or rent electric vehicles.

The internet-based eMobility Solution not only helps drivers find available charge spots, but also lets them reserve spots in advance. The eMobility Solution is designed to be open and flexible, so that additional business models and value-added services can be integrated, such as the option for drivers to reserve power from renewable sources at the corresponding “eco-rates" or plan routes including alternative forms of transportation.

The many possibilities this integrated service platform offers are becoming especially apparent in megacities. The Singapore government has recognized this opportunity and is now working together with Bosch to make this pioneering technology a reality.

—Franz Fehrenbach, chairman of the Bosch board of management

----The service platform was specifically designed to be open enough to allow competing companies—public utilities, for example—to participate as well, or other providers to integrate their charge spots. The approach deliberately encourages unrestricted competition for creative ideas relating to e-mobility.


One way or another, e-mobility is arriving and will only increasingly get better. But to “only get better”, will require many rare metals mines to get into profitable commercial production outside of China, to meet the coming demand. 2011 looks to be the crossover year in e-mobility, the year commercial operators of EVs get valuable feedback from the early adopters, and get feedback on the practical difficulties or running existing EVs. Like all new technologies, unexpected difficulties get exposed as they are adopted. Better ways of doing things become apparent rather than the way that was planned at the start. If we only match the rate of change of the 1900s automakers, or only match the rate of change of the first age of electrification 1885-1905, we are in for big change this decade, and big profits to the early rare metals miners who keep costs under control.

"If rare earth minerals were used up, how would the world and China deal with the problem?"

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao .

Graeme Irvine. London.

Exclusive: Boeing Launches Search for Crucial Rare Earth Elements
By Jeremy Hsu, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
Boeing has signed a deal to deploy remote sensing technology to map out U.S. deposits of rare earth elements.

The rare earth family of minerals is the real-life version of the precious element "unobtanium" in James Cameron's movie "Avatar." They are used to make everything from military hardware to humble cell phones, but could soon be in short supply as worldwide demand outstrips mining production in China.

The aerospace and defense giant announced today that it will confirm rare earth mining claims held by U.S. Rare Earths, Inc. at locations in Idaho and Montana and also aid in the search for new deposits

"They’re very interested in finding and validating domestic reserves," said Patrick Kennedy, public relations coordinator for U.S. Rare Earths.
This marks the latest step in a global race to hunt down rare earth deposits. China currently supplies as much as 97 percent of the world's rare earth oxides, but has recently taken steps to cut back on exports and feed the growing demands of its own industries.
New rare earth mines in the U.S., Australia, Canada and South Africa won't start up until at least 2014, based on industry estimates. But major corporations such as General Electric and Toyota have begun quietly moving to secure their own supplies in case of a shortfall.

20 September 2010 8:01 AM ET
September 2, 2010. Electric Vehicles 2020
A modern electric car has only about five main moving parts compared with hundreds in an internal combustion engine. There are no regular visits to the dealership for an EV. No oil changes, no filters – even brake pads last two-to-three times longer than in conventional cars, because EVs like the THINK City use regenerative braking to recapture the energy that would otherwise be lost while braking. Your first trip to the dealership with an EV for scheduled maintenance is at 40,000 miles to check the brake pads. Eventually, you’ll need new wiper blades and tires. But that’s about it!

Humour me, but it is 2020. Electric vehicles have broken through but I will just stay with cars. The then equivalents of Toyota’s Prius, the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, Tazzari Zero, G-Wiz, Citroen C1, Fiat e500, and all the rest, are now selling about equally with their fossil fuel equivalents. Even the hybrids like the Prius, have now converted over to total EV. In the many crowded, small street, cities of Europe, EVs are exempt from local congestion charges and pay lower annual taxes and cost less to insure. Firms operating them get accelerated depreciation, and relief from the many forms of carbon taxes. Purchase prices have fallen to parity with fossil cars, but with crude oil at $200 a barrel, operating costs greatly favour EV over fossil vehicles. Parking restrictions favour EV over fossil vehicles.

From a rare metals perspective this is good and bad news. Thanks to improved technology, most models now only require 150 grams of Neodymium and 25 grams of Dysprosium, per vehicle, but supply is still struggling to keep up with demand. Performance gives 0-60 mph in under 5 seconds. Top speed on most is a cool 120 mph where authorities allow. Formula 1 allows electric roadsters to compete head to head with declining fossil vehicles. A single charge takes most 4 seater EVs a minimum of 200 miles. A flash charge of 90% takes less than 5 minutes, though most still use the cheaper overnight charge at their home or new overnight commercial charge points.

How did this breakthrough happen? EV motoring simply became cheaper for most than old fashioned oil. Even little old ladies knew how to fill up, and liked the freedom from congestion restrictions. The much lighter vehicles simply handled better too. Showing up in a fossil vehicle was “so old fashioned” and just for the oldsters and very not for the young. Image is everything when you’re young.

Below, why I think we under estimate the coming EV change in the next 5 years.

Celadon Applications Announces the Release of the Road2™ Mobile Application to Eliminate Range Anxiety for Electric Vehicle Drivers

Celadon Applications, (www.CeladonApps.com ), creator of intelligent green energy and transportation software applications for the electric vehicle and alternate energy markets, is announcing the release of their newest application for eliminating "range anxiety" in electric and hybrid vehicles, Road2™.

Iowa City, IA (PRWEB) August 25, 2010

Celadon Applications, (www.CeladonApps.com ), creator of intelligent green energy and transportation software applications for the electric vehicle and alternate energy markets, is announcing the release of their newest application for eliminating "range anxiety" in electric and hybrid vehicles, Road2™.

Road2 is an advanced vehicle simulator that enables drivers of electric and hybrid vehicles to determine accurately and easily how far they can drive on specific battery charge level over a route of their choice. The application is essential for electric and hybrid vehicles of all types. Road2 is not a theoretical calculation like many rudimentary approaches, but uses specific sensor data, individual vehicle characteristics, weather, topographic and road conditions and other elements to provide an accurate measure with which the driver can feel confident.

Drivers must know they can drive somewhere and get home again, never being stranded. The EV market will require many elements for growth, but most important to a driver's buying decision is eliminating driver "range anxiety".

Road2 is an application which drivers can use with their Smartphones, desktops, on the internet, and even in their vehicles. Simply select where you want to go, and Road2 will tell you which route is fastest, shortest or uses the least battery energy while insuring you get there and back. Locations and specifications of charging station opportunities along the way are provided. Road2 bases all calculations on your specific vehicle configuration, route, weather, topology and many other factors, every 0.1 meter.

-------Top tier auto supply companies such as Magna International have purchased Road2. Celadon is in discussions with other manufacturers and suppliers. The Iowa Department of Economic Development and the Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (http://www.iowajpec.org/) have recognized Celadon as a high potential company and in the forefront of providing applications for the blossoming electric car market such as Nissan Leaf, GM Volt, Tesla, Honda, Toyota Prius, etc.


Citroen C1 electric car conversion

The Electric Car Corporation Plc (ECC) announces the launch of the UK’s first 4 seater, ‘all electric’ production car, which is available to buy today.

The launch coincides with the Government’s announcement to support and subsidise electric car use and their commitment to make the UK ‘a world leader’ in producing and exporting electric cars. This is further supported by the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, who has announced his plan to introduce 25,000 ‘juice points’ (charging stations), for electric cars throughout the city.

Called the Citroën C1 ‘ev’ie’, this is the first all electric, 4 seater car, to offer the purchaser the comfort, performance and a full range of standard safety features expected from a petrol car. With a range of 60-70 miles when fully charged and a top speed of around 60mph, it provides the driver with a pleasant and completely “normal”, yet silent, driving experience, but at a fraction of the running costs.

The C1 ev’ie can be fully charged in 6-7 hours from a domestic 13 amp socket at a cost of around 90p, making it an ideal city car for either professional or domestic use.


Tesla opens Flagship London Store

Tesla Motors, which sells world’s only highway-capable electric vehicle, opened its European flagship store in the heart of London’s exclusive Knightsbridge district on June 25.

The 5,000 square-foot showroom on Cheval Place is in walking distance from Harrods department store and convenient to Heathrow Airport – a high-profile expansion of Tesla’s international presence. Tesla will also have regional sales and service centres in Monaco, Munich and Zurich, and four new stores in the United States. All stores provide test-drive opportunities to prospective customers and information on the growing number of electric vehicles.

Teslas qualify for numerous incentives in European countries and cities, including waivers of luxury tax, reductions in VAT, free parking and free charging. In London, Teslas are exempt from the congestion charge, a saving of up to £2,000 per year for commuters.

---- The Roadster is the first electric vehicle to travel more than 200 miles on a single charge, and the first ever EU and US-certified lithium ion battery electric vehicle. The Roadster gets the equivalent of 256 miles per gallon, travels more than 240 miles on a single charge and produces zero tailpipe emissions.

Tesla is also taking reservations for the Model S sedan, which Tesla expects to produce starting in late 2011. The Model S, which will likely be the world’s first mass-produced, highway-capable EVs, will have unrivalled passenger and cargo space and travel up to 300 miles per charge


Tazzari Zero electric car comes to the UK

Retailer EV Stores will sell the Italian-built, lithium-ion-powered Tazzari Zero for £21,500. From BusinessGreen, part of the Guardian Environment Network

Wednesday 1 September 2010 16.08 BST

Specialist electric vehicle retailer EVStores has announced it will begin selling the Tazzari Zero electric vehicle in the UK from later this month.

The company said the Zero, a compact two-seat vehicle, purpose built for battery electric propulsion, will be available from its London showroom from 12 September.

The Zero is powered by lithium-ion batteries that boast a range between charges of around 140km or about 87 miles. The car is also expected to reach an electronically capped top speed of 100 km/h (62mph) and will deliver acceleration from zero to 50km/h (31mph) in less than five seconds, ensuring the Zero should feel sufficiently powerful for urban roads.

The car is built by Tazzari, an Italian firm with a background in aluminium casting and other engineering services. Unsurprisingly, the Zero makes substantial use of aluminium in its construction to provide a light and strong frame. Including its 142kg battery pack, the Zero weighs under 550kg, or about 200kg less than a petrol-powered Smart ForTwo city car.


With $1-billion windfall, Stronach plunges into new ventures

Published On Wed Sep 1 2010

----This time, Stronach was in pursuit of what he considers the next big thing: electric cars.

The part-time Magna chairman and full-time visionary wants to make sure the manufacturing powerhouse gets in front of the pack and stays there.

---- It was the middle of a three-week trek by a Magna team studying and scouting opportunities on what can and can’t work in the emerging world of electric vehicles for the masses.


Think city electric car heads to the Alps

----Norwegian electric carmaker, Think and its Swiss distributor, M-Way, have teamed up with eco-tourism specialists Alpmobil to offer visitors to its resorts totally carbon-neutral transportation for use on their vacation.

A fleet of 60 THINK City EVs has been made available in the Goms and Haslital region of the Swiss Alps, and will be available for hire through some 30 hotels, resorts and other touristic hot spots in the area. Better still, the car’s will be recharged using electricity generated from the natural power of the area, making it truly zero emission driving. EV charging is made accessible around the region thanks to more than 20 battery charging points that have been installed in the area – powered by renewable hydroelectric generated electricity derived from local mountain waters, reservoirs and dams.

---------The latest generation THINK City can cover 160 kilometres on a single charge (via conventional household outlet) and has a top speed of 110 km/h.


As a matter of urgency we simply have to get some rare metals mines into production outside of China. As a matter of urgency, I would suggest all investors start to seriously research the arriving “e” revolution. If Canada's "Henry Ford" is getting into EV, I want in too.

London August 18, 2010. Utility-Sized Energy Storage.

The growth of this sector[USA] is expected to be significant. According to a report by GTM Research, the current amount of energy storage for the purposes of mitigating short-term supply disruptions is just 49MW, of which the vast majority is in the form of pumped hydropower. However, GTM expects this to rise to 479MW by 2015 and could peak at 7,317MW in the US and 37,828MW worldwide.

This morning part two on batteries in a slight change of plans to cover President Obama’s visit on the 16th to ZBB Energy Corp in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, “Wisconsin’s largest village”. Battery investment is in, among those who have access to the finest advisors in the world. They clearly think we are on the verge of a meaningful breakthrough. According to the Toronto Star Monday:

“Bill Gates became one of the world’s richest men as a business-savvy software guru, but these days the multibillionaire co-founder of Microsoft Corp. has become more of an energy guru.

He’s invested in a number of clean energy ventures, including algae fuel developer Sapphire Energy and a nuclear start-up called TerraPower that is trying to develop a reactor that never needs refuelling and uses primarily waste uranium as its fuel. Gates says he has investments in several advanced battery start-ups as well.”

Who am I to tell the great man and some of the world’s finest investment experts that they are wrong. Happily for me I don’t have to, because I too think getting utility-sized energy storage to work is going to succeed and put solar and wind energy into a commanding position. At heart, they don’t have to pay for the sun to shine or the wind to blow, a tremendous cost advantage over coal, oil, gas, and nuclear. Below, Bloomberg’s coverage of President Obama’s visit to ZBB Energy Corp.

Obama Says Commitment to Clean Energy Will Boost Jobs
Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama said government incentives to expand clean-energy industries will help restore jobs, citing a battery maker in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, where he is highlighting the impact of the economic stimulus.

Obama used the example of ZBB Energy Corp., which is using a $1.3 million loan from the legislation to keep 12 workers on staff and eventually hire 80 more as it expands production.



Founded in 1986 to advance Zinc Bromide flow battery technology, ZBB today offers innovative energy storage and power control platforms designed to ensure optimal efficiencies, scalable and adaptable to future requirements.


Below, a little more detail on Zinc Bromide batteries from ZBB.

The primary features of the zinc bromine battery are:

• High energy density relative to lead-acid batteries

• 100% depth of discharge capability on a daily basis

• High cycle life of >2,000 cycles at 100% depth of discharge, at which point the battery can be serviced to increase cycle life to over 3,500 cycles

• No shelf life limitations as zinc-bromine batteries are non-perishable, unlike lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries, for example.

• Scalable capacities from 10 kW•h (0.036 GJ) to over 500 kW•h (1.8 GJ) systems

• The ability to store energy from any electricity generating source

I am not qualified to express an opinion on the future of zinc bromide batteries, but I doubt that President Obama’s advisors picked them because they thought ZBB was destined to fail or their technology was likely to become a dead end.

Others in the utility scalable battery sector include Texas based Xtreme Power, with projects with Ford in Michigan and in Hawaii. Below, some of the recent news that encourages me to the battery breakthrough is here. Run it out another 5 years and I think our progress to green energy will be irreversible

Oahu, Hawaii, July 14, 2010 - Xtreme Power, a provider of Dynamic Power Resources (DPRs) for utility-scale power management and energy storage systems, marked the groundbreaking of the company’s second project in Hawaii in the past year. Xtreme Power will supply a 15 MVA, 10 MW/hour power management system at First Wind’s Kahuku Wind Project on Oahu.

The groundbreaking comes on the heels of Xtreme Power’s successful commercial pilot at First Wind’s Kaheawa Wind Project (KWP). Located on Maui, the 30 MW Kaheawa Wind Project consists of 20 GE wind turbine generators, supported by a 1.5 MW Xtreme Power energy storage and power management system. Results from the Kaheawa project demonstrated the ability of Xtreme Power’s DPR to control ramp rates (both up and down) during changes in wind conditions, and to simultaneously store curtailed wind power for redeployment during times of peak demand.

Xtreme Power is taking a different approach. It is working to commercialise a fibre-glass dry-cell battery which, thanks to being composed of solid materials, is able to deliver high efficiency power coupled with high levels of reliability, to the point where the company claims its device can still function after being riddled with bullets.

----Xtreme Power has stated that the batteries would cost about one-tenth of comparable lithium-ion systems and their modular set-up allows individual installations to scale up to 100MW.

But Umesh Padval, a partner with Bessemer Ventures, which invested in the new financing round, said that Xtreme is further along than some competitors, and that its technology is safer and less costly than A123's. Padval describes the capital-efficient technology as based on lead and other chemistries. "There are no liquids. It's very safe. And they've had a pilot project going in Hawaii since last October," he added.

Besides Bessemer, investors in Xtreme include the venture arms of Fluor Corp. and Dow Chemical, and previous investor SAIL Venture Partners.

Xtreme Power Enables Wind Power


Why More Hybrids Could Revolutionize... Our Electric Utilities

---- “Energy storage is the game changer,” he said—and widespread availability of lithium-ion battery packs of 10kW or more might just lead to what he called “Electric Utilities 2.0”.

The mass production of large-format Li-ion cells and packs for vehicles could provide, he suggested, for local energy storage—both for homeowners and at power generation facilities. After all, aside from dams—effectively huge energy storage devices—the power that utilities produce has to be consumed within fractions of a second, because there are few cost-effective ways to store it. But battery packs might change that.

Imagine, Kjaer said, a home energy storage and management system with a 1.5kW photovoltaic array added to a 10-kWh battery pack. Right now, 3kW of PVs costs about $27,000. If you cut that in half, but add a $5,000 battery, a home can not only create but store power from the sun, and for that matter, from the power company, for less than $20,000. (For perspective: A 10kW battery pack costs several times $5,000 today, but the price is not unreasonable looking out a few years, after production builds and costs decline.)

With smart meters and demand-variable power pricing, the home could remove itself from the grid whenever power gets too costly—or, in emergencies, at the utility’s request—and possibly even feed power to the grid, known as reverse metering.

At a larger scale, the same principle applies for 1- to 2-MW energy storage substations at wind farms. The challenge to renewable energy like wind, of course, is that the power isn’t always produced when it’s most needed. Wind power, for example, tends to be most prolific after dark—when it’s least needed. Already, two utilities are testing large battery packs racked into experimental storage facilities to see whether they can raise the utilities’ compliance with increasingly stringent mandates for their Renewable Portfolio Standard.


More tomorrow on compressed air storage and flywheels.

Graeme Irvine. London.

August 3, 2010. Grid energy storage - The solution for wind farms?

Last Friday, the following wind energy announcement caught my attention. America’s Department of Energy finalized a $117 million loan guarantee for a long stalled wind power project on Oahu, Hawaii. 30 megawatts if all goes to plan and creating some 200 construction jobs in the process, although the final number of permanent jobs will be much lower, perhaps only 5%- 10%. So what is interesting or new about yet another wind farm project, albeit one located in exotic Hawaii? Well this one just might be different if all the technology holds up to promise, with the innovative new battery storage technology coming to the project from Kyle Texas based Xtreme Power Inc.

The project is to link 12 2.5 MW Clipper Windpower wind turbines, a US company with interestingly a London AIM listing, together with Xtreme’s 10 MW battery storage system to even out power usage and availability. Over simplifying, if all goes to plan, excess power generation is stored at non peak times and used as needed when demand peaks, the wind stops blowing, the turbines need maintenance, or when the wind is blowing too hard. If this works as I think it will, there’s a big future ahead for both turbines and Xtreme’s added value storage batteries.

Significantly, Xtreme’s patented battery technology, doesn’t rely on yet more dependence on rare metals, since their approach relies on “a fibre-glass dry-cell battery which,

thanks to being composed of solid materials, is able to deliver high efficiency power coupled with high levels of reliability,” to the point where the company claims its device can still function after being “riddled with bullets.” Presumably that last need is a vital necessity for some parts of the world. If all works as I think it will, wind turbine power generation, along with some solar, tidal and water turbine generation, will take a giant step forward towards eliminating the need for standby power stations. But is there enough neodymium for all the magnets? Plus, do we really want to make them all in China? This decade will see a giant leap in commercial energy storage and power management release.

DOE Backs Hawaiian Wind Power Project
Published: 30 July 2010

Washington D.C. – Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) has finalized a $117 million loan guarantee for the Kahuku Wind Power project. The 30-megawatt (MW) project is located in Kahuku, Hawaii and will create over 200 jobs on the island of Oahu, according to DOE.

The project is expected to be the first to meet reliability requirements for wind and solar energy set by Hawaiian Electric Company. Ifthis project proves successful, more wind power is in store for Hawaii, said DOE.

The Kahuku wind power plant will use twelve 2.5-MW Liberty wind turbine generators manufactured by Clipper Windpower and a 10-MW battery energy storage system (BESS) manufactured by Xtreme Power Inc. The BESS will modulate and smooth fluctuations in power output caused by changes in wind levels.

When completed, Kahuku will produce the first combined installation of Clipper wind turbines and Xtreme's battery energy storage system.

First Wind Holdings, LLC, the project sponsor and independent U.S.-based wind energy developer, built and currently operates Hawaii's largest wind energy facility, the 30-MW Kaheawa Wind project in Maui, which meets nearly nine percent of Maui's annual electricity needs


“Xtreme Power is taking a different approach. It is working to commercialise a fibre-glass dry-cell battery which, thanks to being composed of solid materials, is able to deliver high efficiency power coupled with high levels of reliability, to the point where the company claims its device can still function after being riddled with bullets.”

“In addition, we believe Kahuku Wind will demonstrate the tremendous potential for battery storage solutions to maximise the efficiency of utility-scale wind projects by smoothing output and providing some energy at off-peak times.”

First Wind built and currently operates Hawaii’s largest wind energy facility, the 30 MW Kaheawa wind farm in Maui, which serves 9% of the island’s electricity needs with renewable energy.
Graeme Irvine. London.

July 29, 2010. The Electric Mobility Age.

Yesterday we ended with the news that the UK government had exempted its subsidy program for electric cars from its austerity cuts. The subsidies become available from next year. While in America, GM had just announced details and availability of their electric car entry the Chevy Volt. Between, the newly arriving, and subsidised electric cars, e-bikes and e-trikes, e-scooters and growth of electric mobility vehicles for the elderly and infirm, we stand at the start of a world on the threshold of switching from petrol to electricity for personal mobility. To state the obvious, all these vehicles require batteries, and all require some method of recharging the batteries. To some extent of other, that requires access to the rare metals that this blog covers so well. The dawning of the electric mobility age, is another of the reasons behind China’s decision to restrict exports of rare metals and earths. As the electric mobility age gets up to speed across the decade ahead, bad pun intended, China recognises that they will need pretty much all of their specialty resources for their own economy. So today we take a quick review of recent global events in the dawn of the age of electric mobility. It is “1910” and the age of the horseless carriage is coming into its own. While most of the public is still probably very sceptical of electric vehicles, think back to where the motor car went from 1910 to 1920.

To those readers already familiar with most of these developments, my apologies. To the others, though the UK is only one of the smaller players in the electric vehicle field, from London it really does look like, double dip recession or not, electric vehicle critical mass is here. Below, electric mobility gets the big brother treatment. Like it or not, electric mobility is here to stay.

GM Volt: Electric Car Set to Debut this Year
General Motors is set to release its electric car, the Volt, at the end of 2010. It has a purchase price around $33,500, after a $7,500 federal tax credit. However, the lease price is probably what will draw consumers in. For a 36-month lease, consumers can expect to pay about $350 a month, with $2,500 to be paid at signing. This includes 5 years of GM’s OnStar service.

The Volt is powered by a lithium-ion battery, but also has a backup four-cylinder gasoline engine.


Nissan LEAF: Another Entry into the Electric Car Market
By Reid Schram Epoch Times Staff Created: Jul 28, 2010 Last Updated: Jul 28, 2010

The Nissan LEAF is a all electric five-door hatchback designed for customers who desire a emission-free car.

The Leaf will be 100-percent battery driven and Nissan says its first electric car will be able to go 100 miles on a single charge.

The actual distance will vary, as the type of driving, weather, and weight in the vehicle can cause that number to range between about 70 to 140 miles on a charge.

Regardless of the range, the more-than-600-pound $18,000 battery will make up most of the car in both weight and price.
The battery is expected to keep 70 percent to 80 percent of its full capacity over 10 years.

Nissan has enabled the Leaf to be charged via three different modes. A standard 120 volt outlet will take 20 hours, 240 volts will take 8 hours, and a special 480 volt 125 amp connection quick charge can bring the battery to 80% of its full charge in as little as 30 minutes.

-----Nissan is extending buyers a eight-year 100,000-mile warranty on the battery.


DC 2010: BMW says Mini E drivers "delighted" with their electric cars
by Sebastian Blanco on Jan 27th 2010 at 12:55PM

----At the Washington Auto Show, though, the message was pretty much all good, all the time. One of the biggest complaints about EVs is their limited range. BMW found, though, that the Mini E's range (officially given as 100 miles, but it varies in the real world between 70 and 100) were "sufficient for most trips." The drivers got used to planning their drives with the limit in mind, said Rich Steinberg, manager of electric vehicle operations and strategy for BMW of North America. Part of getting used to the Mini E, Steinberg said, was becasue the drivers have fun in their EVs (i.e., what some people call the EV grin). In fact, the cars worked so well that, once they had the Mini E, the participating households said they used it for 90 to 100 percent of vehicle trips. In fact, all respondents said that they didn't use their other vehicles as often once the Mini E was available to them


New Smart Electric Vehicle

The Smart EV is designed to bring a breath of fresh air to the streets. It’s the natural product of smart’s unswerving commitment to the environment and innovation and not to mention fun. It isn’t available to buy just yet, but it isn’t a million miles off.

Think of a fortwo. Then think of an electric socket concealed behind what used to be the fuel cap. Picture the complete absence of exhaust fumes, so no CO2 emissions from the rear. Close your eyes and hear… no sound at all coming from the engine. Imagine no engine oil, no road tax, and no London congestion charge and you’ll start to get a sense of what really makes the new smart ev tick.

Powered solely by electricity, the smart ev can achieve the equivalent of 300 mpg – that amounts to a saving of up to 80% in fuel costs over the already highly economical smart fortwo. The ev can travel up to 71 miles between charges, which typically take around 5 hours, ideal for charging at work between your morning and evening commutes.

Powered solely by electricity, the smart ev can achieve the equivalent of 300 mpg – that amounts to a saving of up to 80% in fuel costs over the already highly economical smart fortwo. The ev can travel up to 71 miles between charges, which typically take around 5 hours, ideal for charging at work between your morning and evening commutes.


Honda Civic IMA Hybrid

---The 1.3 engine has the performance of a 1.8 petrol engine yet the efficiency of a 1.0 litre engine. It uses the small petrol engine to accelerate with an electric motor-generator to power the car while cruising on level roads.

Prices start from a reasonable £16,300 and for this you get a comfortable four door saloon with the performance you would expect from a car of this size. Economy figures of 61.4mpg are quoted from Honda on a combined cycle although in real life driving, especially out of town driving and on motorway driving this figure will be far off. A range of 720miles is achievable from one tank of fuel, however petrol is not the only saving. The Honda Civic Hybrid also benefits from a low insurance group, low tax due to its 109g/km CO2 emissions and like all hybrids is except from the London Congestion Charge.
The batteries never need to be plugged in, they are charged by the regenerative braking system. Other clever bits are the 7 speed CVT Auto gearbox and the fact the cars switched it self off when the car is stationary and idling saving you more fuel and not emitting any emissions. The hybrid system is covered by Honda for 8 year warranty.


28 per cent of all Lexus UK sales are hybrids

The surge in customer demand for hybrid power has reached new heights, accounting for almost one in every three new Lexus models sold in the UK. Motorists are making a considered choice to opt for the unmatched combination of lower emissions, fuel efficiency and performance offered by Lexus Hybrid Drive technology, helping push sales to record levels.


Electric car subsidy spared cuts by government
By Richard Scott Transport correspondent, BBC News
Motorists who buy an electric plug-in car from January next year will get a grant worth up to £5,000 from the government.


In electric bike news, it isn’t just Asia anymore, although Asia will probably remain the leading market. The 120 million Chinese e-bikes already on the road, mostly use lead-acid batteries. These will all be replaced in the decade ahead with newer less polluting technology. The giant markets of China and India are an end in themselves.

China’s EPA Subsidizes Electric Bikes

China’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is subsidizing a wide selection of electric bikes, including one they call a bike which is obviously a scooter – since it has no pedals. These pedal-less models go as fast as 40kph

Until Nov. 30 2010, residents of China who purchase an electric bike — with or without pedals — can apply for a one-time NT$3,000 subsidy from the EPA, officials said.

The EPA has given the subsidy to more than 36,000 owners of electric bicycles since 2001, said Yang Ching-shi, ¬director-general of the EPA’s department of air quality protection and noise control.

With the new pedal-less models, the EPA expects to subsidize an additional 5,000 bicyclists each year, he said.

Although the pedal-bicycles are in actuality “light weight motorcycles”, operators will not need a license.

Consumers should consider buying an electric bike now, because the pedal-less models cost around NT$25,000 or NT$26,000, so the subsidy would mean a 10 percent discount, Yang said.

“The discount will be given at retailers, so consumers will be able to enjoy the benefits immediately. The retailers will then apply for the subsidy with us,” he said.


Electric Bikes Go Mainstream

BRUSSELS, Belgium …..

The e-Bike industry is looking forward to the introduction of the new EN 15194 standard for ‘Electronically Power Assisted Cycles’ (EPAC). This will take place on April 30 , 2009.

Here is the complete EPAC implementation time table.

• January 14th, 2009 was the date when the definitive text for EN 15194 was sent to all European National Standards Bodies and was accepted by them.

• Sixth month after the acceptance of the definitive text all European National Standards Bodies will have implemented the standard as national standard and any previous national standards shall be withdrawn before this date. This date is July 31st 2009.

• The date of announcement by which the standard shall go into force is April 30th, 2009. The standard will be announced by the European National Standards Bodies and the text of the complete EN 15194 standard for ‘Electronically Power Assisted Cycles’ (EPAC) will be available at the National Standards Bodies in the various European countries.


The Swiss Are Embracing the Ebike
Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – E-bikes are beginning to take off in Geneva. According to statistics, the typical rider of an electrically-assisted bicycle is a woman who leaves her car at home and rides about 6 or 7km to and back from work in downtown Geneva.

Several of Geneva’s outlying communes help buyers with subsidies that go as high as CHF500 in Grand-Saconnex or Meyrin.

Users are motivated as much by ecological reasons as health or the difficulty in finding parking space downtown. About 10 percent of Geneva citizens are likely to be using this form of transportation by 2030.

There are two classes of bike. Those with a maximum speed of 25km/hour do not require more than a bicycle sticker from the post office. Top of the line models will go faster than 40km/h and need a yellow licence plate – similar to what a small scooter requires


Italian Government Works to Popularize The E-bike

Rome, Italy — The Italian government allocated € 8.75 million at the end of April to help popularize the consumer purchases of bicycles. The plan was such a success that the money was spent in just a few weeks. Now the Ministry for the Environment has decided to add another € 10 million towards the purchase of bikes, and expects that it will lead to the sale of 120,000 bicycles.

The government incentives are having a huge positive impact on bike sales. It contributes as much as 30% (up to a maximum of € 700) of the retail price of a bicycle or e-Bike. This financial reward caused sales to double in April, and the spurt continued over to the first weeks of May


Graeme Irvine. London.