Lake Erie Wind Turbine Project Halted

In an earlier post I detailed the threat to migratory songbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, and bald eagles with the proposed wind turbine project planned for the shores of Lake Erie.

Source: bsbobird.org
Source: bsbobird.org

In a recent development, one of several wind turbine projects planned for the shores of Lake Erie, in one of the greatest bird migration corridors in the Western Hemisphere, has been halted following submission of a letter of intent to sue from American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO), reports birdingwire.com.

The two groups had vigorously opposed the project due to its exceptionally high risk to federally protected wildlife.

The announcement formalizing the decision to halt the project was made via a letter from Air National Guard Headquarters-the National Guard Bureau, Department of Defense, in Andrews, Maryland-to the public interest law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal (MGC) of Washington, D.C, which represents ABC and BSBO.

The petition campaign and letter of intent to sue the Ohio National Guard (ONG)), along with an ongoing petition campaign that has acquired over 5,000 signatures, charged that efforts in connection with the wind project at Camp Perry Air National Guard Station west of Port Clinton, Ohio, violate the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other federal conservation and environmental laws.

The letter from the National Guard Bureau states: “After carefully considering your objections … I have decided to withdraw the FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact) for the project effective immediately. … Since the FONSI has been withdrawn, the project will not go forward at this time.” The letter was dated Jan. 28 and was signed by Colonel Peter A. Sartori, Director, Installations and Mission Support.

Camp Perry is in the "red zone" of ABC's Wind Development Bird Risk Map, indicating an extreme risk to birds. The red area that crosses Lake Erie is a high-density migration corridor.
Camp Perry is in the “red zone” of ABC’s Wind Development Bird Risk Map, indicating an extreme risk to birds. The red area that crosses Lake Erie is a high-density migration corridor.

“The victory sends a strong message to other wind energy developers in this ecologically sensitive region that conservationists will be closely watching their actions. This is a heartening outcome for the environment and for birds,” said Dr. Michael Hutchins, National Coordinator of ABC’s Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign.

“We are absolutely elated that the Air National Guard has halted this project, at least temporarily and possibly for good,” said Kimberly Kaufman, Executive Director of BSBO.

“We certainly owe thanks to the thousands who voiced their opposition to the project via the petition.”

“This is a big win for the vast numbers of birds that migrate through the Camp Perry area, which have been using these routes and stopover habitats for centuries,” said Kenn Kaufman, internationally acclaimed author of bird field guides and a local resident.

“It’s also a win for the local economy and for the businesses that rely on tourism dollars from the tens of thousands of visiting birders. Let’s hope that the suspension is a permanent one.”

ABC and BSBO assert that the placement of the project at the Camp Perry facility—and those proposed for the surrounding areas—presents an extremely high risk to migrating songbirds, especially the federally endangered Kirtland’s Warbler. This imperiled species was nearly extinct less than 40 years ago and, while rebounding due to costly and intensive management efforts, still numbers only in the low thousands.

Kim Kaufman and Mark Shieldcastle of Black Swamp Bird Observatory (Source: bsbobird.org)
Kim Kaufman and Mark Shieldcastle of Black Swamp Bird Observatory (Source: bsbobird.org)

Additional birds at risk include other migrating songbirds, raptors, Bald Eagles, endangered Piping Plovers, and waterfowl. Also of concern to local residents is the possibility that projects like these may discourage birding tourism. Currently, visiting birders inject $37 million into the local economy every spring.

The two groups announced their intention to sue via a letter sent by MGC, stating that the environmental review process was unlawfully circumvented and that the development is taking place in violation of the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.

They pointed out that the Camp Perry turbine would sit in the middle of a major bird migration corridor directly adjacent to a national wildlife refuge and that it was being constructed without regard for the many concerns expressed by wildlife professionals in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

According to Mark Shieldcastle, BSBO Research Director: “Long-term research indicates that some of the largest concentrations of migratory birds in North America occur in the Lake Erie coastal region, including around Camp Perry. These species, along with one of the highest concentrations of nesting Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states, use habitat precisely in the risk zone of turbines such as the one proposed. Long-term monitoring of the active eagle nest at the facility indicates extensive use of the area of the turbine by eagles.”

Source: bsbobird.org
Source: bsbobird.org

ABC has created a Wind Development Bird Risk Map that shows the Lake Erie shoreline in Ohio is among the worst possible locations for a wind power project. The configuration of water and land serves to “funnel” large numbers of protected migratory birds through a small area; the birds aim to avoid a long lake crossing by hugging the shoreline or following the shortest cross-water route to the Pelee Peninsula to the north. This is also major stopover habitat, where migrating birds are not merely flying over, but landing and taking off-often during poor weather conditions.

Worth Pondering…
There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.

—Robert Lynd, The Blue Lion and Other Essays

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The Wind Energy Threat to Birds Is NOT Overblown

Two environmental issues are at a crossroads on the shores of Lake Erie with two prominent natural resources on a collision course.

Kenn's Billboard Meme
Source: bsbobird.org

Birds and birders flock to the shores of Lake Erie. There is more of a concentration of bald eagle nests here than anywhere in the United States except Alaska. The Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways converge near here. Each spring this area is the home of the largest birding event in the country, The Biggest Week in American Birding, which last year helped attract more than 70,000 birders from all over the world, reports thebeacon.net.

Economic impact studies conducted by Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) and Bowling Green State University show that visiting birders spend more than 30 million dollars in the area each spring. The internationally renowned Kaufman Birding Guides and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) have made this area their home.

Here where the water meets the shore, the winds are frequent and strong. Wind turbines are being constructed at schools and private industries all over the area. As a green, clean, renewable alternative to the fossil-fuel-fired plants, wind power is becoming a popular choice.

However, even with government subsidies, wind power is still an expensive alternative form of energy. The other significant negative with wind power is that birds, especially songbirds, eagles and other raptors, can be killed by wind turbines.

Source: bsbobird.org
Kim Kaufman and Mark Shieldcastle of Black Swamp Bird Observatory (Source: bsbobird.org)

In this area where birds migrate and converge, and where wind power is relatively new, the debate has risen to a crescendo, according to thebeacon.net.

Camp Perry, along the lakeshore west of Port Clinton, is in the process of erecting a wind turbine. Since 2007, The Black Swamp Bird Observatory, whose offices and bird banding station are a few miles down the shoreline at the entrance to Magee Marsh, has been expressing their concern that the Camp Perry wind turbine is at a location that endangers migrating birds, raptors and nesting eagles, including the eagles on the grounds of Camp Perry.

Recently Lake Erie Business Park, between Camp Perry and Magee Marsh, revealed plans for erecting six wind turbines.

Camp Perry has gone through regulatory steps and discussions and had an Environmental Assessment. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife (DOW) have found that study to be flawed, containing as many as 50 erroneous statements, according to Kim Kaufman of BSBO.

Traditional studies of avian mortality from wind turbines also have several difficulties, according to Mark Shieldcastle of BSBO. For one, once a songbird hits a wind turbine, not much is left of the songbird. Another is that scavengers often consume the evidence.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has warned that according to environmental impact analysis studies, some facilities in important bird areas could kill thousands of birds and bats per year, reports thebeacon.net.

Source: bsbobird.org
Source: bsbobird.org

At Laurel Mountain, West Virginia, in October of 2011, wind turbines killed 500 birds in one night (to read earlier report, click here).

Meanwhile, Camp Perry has filed a “finding of no significant impact” and has begun construction of the wind turbine. The wildlife agencies, including the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife and the ODNR Division of Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited, BSBO and the National Audubon Society, have disagreed that there is no significant impact.

At Lake Erie Business Park, no environmental assessment studies and no wildlife review are required, since they are privately funded. Erie Township, where Camp Perry and the business park are located, has no zoning regulations. When asked about the wind turbine construction, James McKinney of Lake Erie Business Park had no comment.

“It seems that the government has failed us, that the protection that we thought we had, we don’t. It took thirty years for us to recover the bald eagle population in Ohio, and their population could go downhill very quickly since their reproductive rates are much lower than that of songbirds,” said Shieldcastle, a nationally recognized eagle expert and widely known as the eagle person for the state of Ohio.

Source: bsbobird.org
Source: bsbobird.org

He recalls that in 1979 there were four pairs of eagles in Ohio. Now there are 300 nesting pairs in Ohio, with more than 50 nests along the shoreline between Sandusky and Toledo.

“If we can’t protect birds here, with all we know, where can we protect them?” asks Kaufman.

When 200 birds were caught in a freak ice storm in northern Alberta, and landed on Syncrude’s oilsands tailing ponds, Greenpeace was all over the story calling the bird deaths reprehensible. When hundreds of birds are killed by wind farms, allegedly a more environmentally friendly source of energy, Greenpeace is conspicuously silent.

Is it okay to butcher countless birds, create noise pollution, and make beautiful scenic areas ugly—all for the sake of green energy?

You be the judge.

Worth Pondering…
There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.

—Robert Lynd, The Blue Lion and Other Essays

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Electric Powertrain Maker Files for Bankruptcy Protection

Azure Dynamics, a maker of electric powertrains and other parts for commercial vehicles, has filed for bankruptcy protection, the latest sign of turmoil in the electric-vehicle industry.

Electric Powered Transit Connect

Along with providing power for the electric version of the Ford Transit Connect, Azure Dynamics builds electric powertrains and battery systems for delivery vans, plug-in hybrid trucks, hybrid buses, and similar vehicles.

Having failed to raise sufficient funds through a company stock offering, the electric drivetrain manufacturer laid off 120 employees, 55 of whom were employed at its Oak Park, Michigan facility, reports Detroit Free Press.

The company, which had been doing much of its work in Oak Park, laid off 120 employees on Monday (April 9), including 55 in Oak Park.

It also stopped production and shut its Oak Park headquarters and other offices, except for a location just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia, where the company is now based.

Mike Elwood, Azure’s vice president of marketing, said the company is restructuring its operations after failing to win approval from the Ontario Securities Commission for its plan to sell more stock.

Out of juice? Ford Transit Connect electric drivetrain supplier files for bankruptcy.

He said Azure, which is now operating with about 35 to 40 workers, intends to continue supporting vehicles that use the company’s parts.

“We fully intend to be back and moving forward, but we have to reorganize,” Elwood told the Detroit Free Press.

“We still believe that electric vehicles are a part of the solution going forward.”

Elwood blamed Azure’s financial problems on poor electric vehicle sales, tight capital markets, and the European financial crisis.

Azure, which was founded in Canada in the late 1990s, manufactured electric powertrains for the Ford Transit Connect Electric, an electric cargo van, and hybrid electric bus, and van delivery platforms, among other products.

The company lost $26.1 million in the first nine months of 2011, up from a net loss of $17.7 million during the same period in 2010.

Financial results have not yet been released for the fourth quarter of 2011.

As of March 1, Azure’s biggest shareholders were Shell Asset Management, Black Rock Investment Management, RBC Asset Management, and Johnson Controls’ Canadian subsidiary.

In early February, Azure Dynamics reported that it had taken orders for another 45 electric Transit Connects—20 in Europe and 25 in North America. The company has taken a claimed $32 million in orders for the electric Transit Connect.

This isn’t the first shakeup involving the Transit Connect and its conversion company.

Azure Dynamics, a maker of electric powertrains and other parts for commercial vehicles, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Ford originally partnered with English EV firm Smith Electric in 2009 to transform the Transit Connect into an electric van, but by the end of the year, both parties mutually dissolved the contract, reports Truck Trend.

Smith claimed it instead wanted to focus its capital and resources on its own vehicle development programs.

Related Stories

Worth Pondering…
As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

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Elkhart’s EV Dream Dies as RVs Surge Anew

Elkhart, Indiana, is known as the RV capital of the world.

Newmar factory tour, Nappanee, Indiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The city suffered badly when the recession hit, and demand for recreational vehicles all but screeched to a halt. That’s when local and state leaders started looking for ways to bolster the area’s manufacturing industry, reports NPR.

The northwestern Indiana County saw electric vehicles (EV) as its salvation after its unemployment rate soared to 20 percent—the highest in the nation at the time.

Electric cars were supposed to be the silver bullet to revive Elkhart’s economy. President Obama visited twice, promising stimulus funds to spark a new economic engine in EVs.

A common criticism of President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus package has been that it failed to produce anything—that while the New Deal built bridges and dams, all the stimulus did was fill some potholes and create temporary jobs.

One success the Obama administration duly claimed is the rebirth of the EV industry in the U. S.

Automakers unveiled a number of mass-market EVs, which saw small but rising sales. Battery and parts manufacturers built 30 factories and created new jobs.

It was all part of an effort to promote “green” manufacturing and put a million electric cars on the road by 2015, reports Pro Publica.

The question was: Would it last?

Elkhart once believed it would.

Eager to seed a new industry, the county witnessed EV ventures sprout out of nowhere as the stimulus took off in 2009.

This is Amish Country. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But by late summer 2011, what had sprouted were mostly weeds. The parking lot of the Think Electric Vehicle factory had an ample supply of them and looked deserted.

There wasn’t a single car in the parking lot. The doors were locked and the windows dark.

At the back of the 200,000-square-foot facility were about 120 road-ready models, called the Think City—a little two-seat fully electric coupe that has a range of about 100 miles before it needs to be recharged.

Hundreds of laid-off factory workers were supposed to have found jobs churning out these Norwegian company’s bug-like, plastic-bodied cars.

Today the Elkhart factory employs two.

That’s right—just two employees are working in this auto plant. At its peak, the plant employed 25 workers. Then two waves of layoffs dropped the payroll down to just two people.

It’s a far cry from the more than 400 that Think Electric Vehicle promised it would hire two years ago.

In June (2011), Think’s parent company filed for bankruptcy.

The decision left the Elkhart plant on the brink of extinction until the American subsidiary was purchased by a Russian entrepreneur who promised to restart production in early 2012.

Then in late January (2012), its largest shareholder and battery maker, Ener1, which received $118 million in stimulus money, also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, reporting that the demand for EVs “did not develop as quickly as anticipated.”

Navistar International had received $39 million in stimulus money to build 400 electric delivery trucks in the first year. But by early 2011, it had hired about 40 employees and assembled only 78 vehicles.

Little remains of Elkhart’s dream of becoming the EV capital?

Elkhart’s economy, however, is on the way back with the RV industry again leading the way.

Welcome to Nappanee, Indiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

They’re heartened by a rebirth in the industry that some here thought might never bounce back—the RV business.

“Rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated,” says Gregg Fore, president of Dicor Corp. Its companies supply components to RV manufacturers.

Fore says the industry’s downturn was brutal, with business falling off close to 60 percent. But demand for RVs has come back strong, he says.

In 2011, the industry produced more than 250,000 RVs. That’s 100,000 more units than the low-water mark in 2009.

Dicor’s factories are once again humming—and hiring, he says. And Fore believes the market for motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheels, and campers is here to stay.

But one thing that hasn’t changed, he says, is that the fortunes of Elkhart and its 51,000 still lives or dies with the RV industry.

Nearly half of all the jobs in Elkhart County are in manufacturing. And fully half of Elkhart County’s manufacturing jobs are in making RVs and their parts.

The “free” money has now been spent.

The RV industry has come back—it always comes back and without stimulus money from the White House.

This is why government should get out of the business of telling the people they should drive.

Worth Pondering…

Keep your eyes on the horizon and blaze a trail.

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Enova and Freightliner Display Green for Free Vehicle

Torrance, California-based Enova Systems, Inc., a leading developer of proprietary hybrid electric and all-electric drive systems and drive system components for the emerging green commercial vehicle market announced that one of the first pre- production vehicles resulting from Enova’s and Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp’s (FCCC) recently announced Green for Free initiative will be on display at the Portland International Auto Show January 26-29.

The Portland International Auto Show estimates that around 150,000 attendees will have the opportunity to view the latest Green, Alternative Fuel, and Electric Vehicle Concepts at the Auto Show’s Eco Center.

In its second year as one of the largest Eco Centers in the nation, visitors will be able to find out more about the latest technology in vehicle charging, solar power, and a large range of electric and electric hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles, according to a news release.

The Green for Free Program is designed to allow fleet executives to operate full 100 percent electric commercial vehicles (EVs) for similar life cycle costs as those of diesel-powered commercial vehicles.

The anticipated savings fleets are expected to realize from the reduced maintenance and fuel cost of electricity of the electric vehicles are used over a period of time to cover the incremental expense for the technology. Fleet vehicles targeted with the Green for Free Program stand out as possessing unique characteristics that make them clear beneficiaries of electric drive technology.

With more than 16.3 million vehicles in operation, the nation’s fleets possess enough capacity to drive initial ramp-up scale in the EV OEM supply chains. This is the first Program that is engineered to eliminate the overall incremental costs associated with buying and operating an all-electric vehicle, making the Program attractive to fleets that are both large and small.

Enova and Freightliner Displaying ‘Green for Free’ Vehicle in Portland. (Credit: greenforfree.com)

FCCC and Enova plan to gradually deploy a total of 3,000 alternative-fuel vehicles beginning in the second half of 2012 as a result of the Green for Free Program. Enova and FCCC have defined the Green for Free Program as a new sustainable transportation model in which both companies are working in partnership with commercial fleets to offer a transportation model that provides clean, safe domestic and renewable energy.

Details

Enova Systems, Inc.
Enova Systems is a leading supplier of efficient, environmentally friendly digital power components and systems products. The Company’s core competencies are focused on the development and commercialization of power management and conversion systems for mobile applications.

Enova applies unique ‘enabling technologies’ in the areas of alternative energy propulsion systems for light and heavy-duty vehicles as well as power conditioning and management systems for distributed generation systems. The Company develops, designs and produces non-invasive drive systems and related components for electric, hybrid-electric, and fuel cell powered vehicles in both the “new” and “retrofit” vehicle sales market.

Address: 1560 West 190th Street, Torrance, CA 90501

Phone: (310) 527-2800

Website: enovasystems.com

Green for Free

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) and Enova partner unveil the Green for Free Program. (Credit: greenforfree.com)

The Green for Free Program intends to allow fleet executives to purchase all-electric vehicles for the cost of a diesel-powered commercial vehicle. The projected savings fleets incur from the reduced maintenance and fuel savings of the electric vehicles (EVs) are then used over a period of time to cover the incremental expense for the technology.

FCCC is already well-established in the market and can provide immediate volume, which is required to reduce high-cost components, such as batteries. Additionally, the project looks to focus on disciplined duty cycles, utilizing 80 percent of the battery daily, versus design for extended range.

Website: greenforfree.com

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC)
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) manufactures premium chassis for the motorhome, delivery walk-in van, and school bus, and shuttle bus markets. FCCC is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, a Daimler company.

Website: freightlinerchassis.com

Worth Pondering…
Learning is not a spectator sport.

—D. Blocher

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Feds Petitioned to Regulate Wind Industry

American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the nation’s leading bird conservation organization, formally petitioned the U.S. Department of the Interior to protect millions of birds from the negative impacts of wind energy by developing regulations that will safeguard wildlife and reward responsible wind energy development, according to a news release.

The nearly 100-page petition for rulemaking, prepared by ABC and the Washington, D.C.-based public interest law firm of Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal (MGC), urges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to  issue regulations establishing a mandatory permitting system for the operation of wind energy projects and mitigation of their impacts on migratory birds. The proposal would provide industry with legal certainty that wind developers in compliance with a permit would not be subject to criminal or civil penalties for violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).

The government estimates that a minimum of 440,000 birds are currently killed each year by collisions with wind turbines.

In the absence of clear, legally enforceable regulations, the massive expansion of wind power in the United States will likely result in the deaths of more than one million birds each year by 2020. Further, wind energy projects are also expected to adversely impact almost 20,000 square miles of terrestrial habitat, and another 4,000 square miles of marine habitat.

Sandhill cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The petition highlights the particular threat from unregulated wind power to species of conservation concern and demonstrates the legal authority that FWS possesses to enforce MBTA regulations and grant take permits under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The petition also provides specific regulatory language that would accomplish the petition’s objectives, identifying the factors that would be considered in evaluating a permit for approval, including the extent to which a given project will result in adverse impacts to birds of conservation concern and species that are under consideration for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

ABC is filing this petition because it’s clear that the voluntary guidelines the government has drafted will neither protect birds nor give the wind industry the regulatory certainty it has been asking for. We’ve had voluntary guidelines since 2003, and yet preventable bird deaths at wind farms keep occurring. This includes thousands of Golden Eagles that have died at Altamont Pass in California and multiple mass mortality events that have occurred recently in West Virginia,” said Kelly Fuller, Wind Campaign Coordinator for ABC.
“The status quo is legally as well as environmentally unsustainable.  The federal government is seeking to promote “a smart from the start” energy sector in a manner that is in violation of one of the premier federal wildlife protection statutes. ABC’s petition seeks to bring wind power into harmony with the law as well as with the needs of the migratory bird species that the law is designed to safeguard,” said Shruti Suresh, an attorney at MGC, the law firm that prepared the petition with ABC and that has brought many legal actions enforcing federal wildlife protection laws.

The petition is available online here.

ABC supports wind power when it is “bird-smart”. A coalition of more than 60 groups has called for mandatory standards and bird-smart principles in the siting and operation of wind farms. The coalition represents a broad cross-section of respected national and local groups. In addition, 20,000 scientists, ornithologists, conservationists, and other concerned citizens have shown their support for mandatory standards for the wind industry.
“ABC’s petition would safeguard more than just birds covered by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It proposes a model rule that would allow the government to consider impacts of wind farms on all bird species, as well as bats and other wildlife,” said Fuller.

Poorly sited and operated wind projects pose a serious threat to birds, including birds of prey such as Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, hawks, and owls; endangered and threatened species, such as California Condors and Whooping Cranes; and species of special conservation concern, such as the Bicknell’s Thrush, Cerulean Warbler, Tricolored Blackbird, Sprague’s Pipit, and Long-billed Curlew.

The petition asserts that, by allowing the industry to police itself, FWS has permitted widespread disregard for legal mandates the Service is entrusted to enforce.

Roseate Spoonbill at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When 200 birds were caught in a freak ice storm in northern Alberta, and landed on Syncrude’s oilsands tailing ponds, Greenpeace was all over the story calling the bird deaths reprehensible. Thousands of birds are killed annually by wind farms, allegedly a more environmentally friendly source of energy, and Greenpeace is conspicuously silent.

Is it okay to butcher countless birds, create noise pollution, and make beautiful scenic areas ugly—all for the sake of green energy?

You be the judge.

Related

Worth Pondering…
There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.

—Robert Lynd, The Blue Lion and Other Essays

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Fuel Cells in RVs Expected to Expand

A market research and consulting firm reports that the market for fuel cell auxiliary power units (APUs), used to power electrical systems for recreational vehicles, boats, and other vehicles, will expand in the coming years.

Fuel cells’ ultra-low emissions, low noise, and potentially high efficiency and reliability make them very attractive solutions for electric power systems including APUs. (Credit: ceee.umd.edu)

Fuel cells are increasingly being utilized as APUs in specialized transportation applications that require hoteling loads for vehicles. The hoteling load is any electrical power that is required by the vehicle for purposes other than the primary propulsion system, including such draws as heating and lighting.

According to a new report titled “Fuel Cells for Auxiliary Power Unit Applications” by Pike Research, more than 5,000 units are expected to utilize the four main market sectors for fuel cell APUs by 2020—the RV, marine, trucking, and aviation markets.

All of these have the potential to use fuel cell technology initially in an APU function for vehicle hoteling loads but further down the developmental track, fuel cell technology could also be used to assist the primary propulsion unit.

Worldwide revenue from fuel cell APUs is projected to reach $66 million annually by 2020, with a total cumulative investment of more than $400 million, according to the report.

In 2010, revenue from this area reached $10.5 million. More than 3,000 APUs were shipped globally in 2010, representing 20 percent of all fuel cell systems shipped that year. Most were manufactured in Europe.

“The reason for this slow but steady growth in revenue is that, unlike the other applications for which fuel cell technology is being developed, there are a number of non-trivial technological and regulatory barriers that need to be addressed for the marine and aviation sectors especially, and for trucking to a lesser degree,” said Kerry-Ann Adamson, research director for Pike Research.

Pike Research anticipates that the RV sector, already the largest market for fuel cell APUs, will continue its steady growth during the coming decade, and trucking APUs will also continue to be a substantial part of the total market.

This Pike Research report includes a comprehensive assessment of market drivers and barriers, technology issues, and key industry players in each of the four sectors. Forecasts are provided for each sector through 2020, including unit shipments, revenue, and total capacity in megawatts.

Pike Research anticipates that the RV sector, already the largest market for fuel cell APUs, will continue its steady growth during the coming decade—although profit margins per unit remain low and even the market leader, SFC Energy, is starting to increase its focus on non-RV markets, according to the firm.

TP2: Fuel-cell APU (Credit: ec.europa.eu)

Key questions addressed in the Pike Research report include:

  • What are the current drivers for the development of fuel cell APU systems in RVs, marine, aviation, and trucking sectors?
  • Why will development of these markets exhibit a much slower adoption rate than other fuel cell applications?
  • Which regions will be the major centers of manufacturing and adoption between now and 2020?
  • What are the revenue forecasts for the four key market sectors between 2011 and 2020?

Worth Pondering…
As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

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Blue Eye Noah: A Revolutionary RV

In sunny days, it is a recreational vehicle to luxuriate your life. When a hurricane blows, it’s your Noah trailer sailing through rough seas. It’s your best choice of RV against all weather, according to a Blue Ark Enterprise news release.

Why Blue Eye Noah?

Blue Eye Noah exterior. (Credit: blueeyenoah.com)

Noah’s Ark is a widely-quoted Biblical reference to a vessel constructed by a man, Noah, to save himself, his family, and species of animals in anticipation of a huge flood.

These biblical, geological, and genetic references and studies are drawn into this coined name “Blue Eye Noah” to mean that only those fully prepared for big disasters can be survivors after a great extinction.

And this trailer is considered as a modern-day Ark constructed for those “Blue-eyed Noahs” with full protections and best facilities, it’s an ultimate sanctuary more than the pleasure road trips in leisure days.

Global Debut, Exclusive Launch

A global press conference was held December 8 at Taiwan’s Taipei Hua-Shan 1914 Art Park to introduce the media and the public this unique product with breaking through technologies. Dr. Shiao-Ying Li, the founder of Blue Eye Noah, conducted a presentation about its researches and developments and niche market positioning, also presented the actual trailer boat along with co-operated suppliers for an in-depth understanding through actual boarding experiences.

(Credit: blueeyenoah.com)

The attendants were deeply impressed by the uniqueness and stunning technologies of this trailer boat, and its sanctuary concept against 2012 crisis is another highlight to satisfy more market needs.

Features – Unique Sustainability & Benefits

Green Technology

Minimum carbon emissions with multiple power sources including a diesel generator set, a solar panel module, and it’s facilitated with an auto-adjusted AC system, LED, or natural sunlight, which is estimated saving 50-60 percent of electricity compared to ordinary RVs.

Perfect Protection

Breaking-through constructive FRP materials, the same material used for luxury yachts, to assure effectiveness of water proof, and anti-NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) attacks and to withstand any hurricane or flood, even tsunami.

Optional: (1) hospital-standard air filter, (2) water filter system capable of treating bacteria or nuclear-contaminated water.

Luxurious Comfort

Home-style comfort in luxurious environment completes yacht -like style. High gloss teak interior, exquisite home appliances and bathroom setting are entirely well-considered with the best flexibility.

Versatile, Recreational

Innovative and patented design for multiple uses/recreational mobile home for fun, safety, and survival! Optional packages will give this RV multi-function adaptability to serve as a boat house, ice-fishing house, snowmobile house, and even to meet other challenging landscapes.

Specification and Price

L x W x H = 21 feet x 7.2 feet x 8 feet , fuel capacity 105 gallons, water capacity 26 gallons, estimated full load 4,000 pounds.

Other optional equipment includes diesel generator (7kw), solar module (270w), wind power generator (500W), and a bullet proof version.

Models are available in 17, 19, 21 and 23 feet and additional interior space requirements are up to customized needs and budgets.

The most basic model may cost $40,000. The price may go up to $80,000 with hand-craft teak interior.

Details

Blue Ark Enterprise

(Credit: blueeyenoah.com)

Address: No.356, Jixian Road, Luzhou District, New Taipei City 247, Taiwan

Phone: +886 2-8281-2062

Website: blueeyenoah.com

Worth Pondering…

Make your choice, adventurous stranger.
Strike the bell and bide the danger.
Or wonder ’til it drives you mad,
What would have followed, if you had.

— C.S. Lewis, The Magicians Nephew

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EverGreen Introduces Twin-Axle Element Trailer

Middlebury, Indiana-based EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC, a leading innovator in eco-friendly, lightweight composite travel trailers, has added two new twin-axle floor plans to its Element travel trailer series, designed for “larger families and more camping comfort,” according to a news release.

The two new, twin axle 26-foot Element models include the ET26 SRK rear kitchen and the ET26 SRL rear lounge floor plans. EverGreen said the sleeping capacity in both new floor plans increases by one adult.

Highlights include:

  • ET 26 SRK: The floor plan features a rear kitchen configuration with two lounge seating areas facing each other across the living area. The roadside slide out lounge area has a dining table that converts into a full-sized bed that sleeps two. The lounge curbside converts to sleep one adult. The larger bath features a private enclosure shower with seat, commode and sink. A front bedroom with a 60-inch by 8-inch queen-sized bed is surrounded by headboard and wardrobe storage.
  • ET 26 SRL:This rear lounge floor plan has a modified U-shaped lounge/dinette that converts to a full-sized bed. An adjacent chaise next to the entertainment center converts to a single bed to sleep one additional adult. The full kitchen slideout on the roadside is mid-coach. Across from the kitchen, a larger bath features a private enclosure shower with seat, commode and sink
    The two new, twin axle 26-foot Element models from EverGreen include the ET26 SRK rear kitchen and the ET26 SRL rear lounge floor plans. The sleeping capacity in both new floor plans increases by one adult. Photo Courtesy of Evergreen RV

     

  • New Twin Axles: The new 26-foot series Element’s twin 3,500 pound axles increase the GVWR of the camper to 7,000 pounds. EverGreen’s Advanced Fulcrum Tracking (AFT) axle system provides balanced stability and true tracking by placing the axle system further to the rear of the coach. The use of lightweight composites and aluminum forward of the axle help reduce the tongue weight.
  • Still Lightweight for Easy Towing: The extension from 25 feet, eight inches to 28 feet, two inches, only increases the tongue weight of the new twin axle series Element by less than 100 pounds. Both floor plans have a dry weight of approximately 4,900 pounds, fully equipped, including options.

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Details

EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC

EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC was founded in December of 2008 with the premise that the recreational vehicle industry needed a new generation of innovative, sustainable, eco-friendly, green travel trailers and fifth wheels built like none before. The vision of EverGreen is to use sustainable eco-friendly, recyclable, composite materials to replace wood and produce higher quality, longer-lasting products that are fully equipped, yet lightweight.

EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC is the first RV manufacturer to achieve the TRA Certified Green Emerald Rating for its eco-friendly Ever-Lite travel trailers and fifth wheels.

Address: 10758 County Road 2, Middlebury, IN 46540

Phone: (574) 825-4298

Website: goevergreenrv.com

Worth Pondering…

A life lived by choice is a life of conscious action. A life lived by chance is a life of unconscious reaction.

—Neale Donald Walsch

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Aqua-Hot Systems Now Available in Additional Monaco Coaches

For consistent warmth and dependable hot water, Aqua-Hot Hydronic Heating Systems are now available on additional luxury motorhome models from Monaco RV LLC.

The Aqua-Hot 400 comes standard on the 2012 Monaco Diplomat and Holiday Rambler Endeavor motorhome lines while the Monaco Dynasty is equipped with the Aqua-Hot 600, according to a Friday (December 2) news release.

Fort Lupton, Colorado-based Aqua-Hot said systems also are available on several 2011 motorhome models, including the Monaco Signature, Dynasty, and Camelot, as well as the Holiday Rambler Navigator and Scepter.

“Many customers ask if the Aqua-Hot is available on our RVs,” said Laura Fry, Monaco sales and marketing specialist. “They love the system and would not purchase a motorhome without it.

“Consumer demand is so great because Aqua-Hot offers consistent heating throughout the coach, which is a great improvement over regular heating systems. And, they have come to rely on continuous hot water.”

Aqua-Hot’s multiple circulation pumps allow for up to five comfort zones while heat exchangers disperse heat quietly and evenly. The tankless system combines domestic hot water and heating in one unit.

Aqua-Hot 400 diesel

Providing on-demand 120-degrees, SteadyHot water, the Aqua-Hot 400 eliminates the need for an external storage tank. With zero recovery time, the dependable unit has a flow rate of 1.25 gallons per minute and can generate 75 gallons of hot water an hour.

With safety a priority, the 400′s design features internal steel fuel lines for fire safety. Zero-pressure tanks and an interlock switch prevent the unit from operating when the cover is removed.

Measuring just 12 inches high x 18.5 inches wide x 30 inches in length and weighing only 140 pounds empty, the compact Aqua-Hot 400 from Aqua-Hot Heating Systems can be easily installed as an RV is being built or retrofitted into an existing coach.

According to the 2010 NADA Recreational Vehicle Appraisal Guide, an Aqua-Hot system may add up to $9,400 to the resale value of an RV.

Aqua-Hot Hydronic RV Heating Systems

Designed specifically for diesel-powered motorhomes, Aqua-Hot heating systems are diesel-fired, which use fuel already on-board, removing the hassle of propane. Alternately, the electric heating element can be used to provide heat during moderate, ambient temperatures.

The Aqua-Hot’s independent heating zones allow maximum comfort to be felt in all areas of the motorhome with the ability to control the temperature in each zone: for example, the bedroom can maintained at a comfortable 65º, while the living room is set at 75º and the bathroom at 80º.

In addition to zone-specific interior heat, Aqua-Hot also provides continuous domestic hot water to ensure ultimate comfort for showering.

Aqua-Hot Hydronic RV Heating Systems provide you with:

  • Endless hot water—you will never run out
  • Quiet, interior heating—no need to turn up the volume on your TV
  • Uniform interior heat distribution—no hot and cold pockets
  • Engine preheating—easier start-ups in cold weather

Details

Aqua-Hot Heating Systems

Aqua-Hot Heating Systems Inc. (formerly Vehicle Systems, Inc.) was founded in 1989 when the company’s owner had a vision of creating a superior heating system which did not yet exist in the RV market.

His vision became a reality when his first heating system, the Aqua-Hot, was introduced to the high-end RV motorhome and coach conversion market in 1989.

Address: 15549 E Hwy 52, Fort Lupton, CO 80621

Contact: (800) 685-4298 or (303) 659-8221

Website: aqua-hot.com

Worth Pondering…

Life must be lived and curiosity kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.

—Eleanor Roosevelt

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