Chevy Volt’s progress…A step in the right direction

Photo Courtesy of General Motors

General Motors first began selling the Chevy Volt, as the first ever plug-in hybrid vehicle, in December of 2010. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Volt achieves about 94 miles per gallon. However, with a price tag of around $40,000, consumers have been slow to jump on board with the plug-in electric car concept. In fact, production was halted back in March-April, 2012, due to sluggish sales. However, General Motors resumed production this past April, a week earlier than planned, as Volt sales have begun to turn around. Some say that this past summer’s high gas prices have encouraged more consumers to invest in the Volt. The following is an article, out of the NY Daily News, discussing the Volt’s return:

What a difference a few months made for the Chevy Volt. From underselling political deadweight to automotive press darling, GM’s plug-in hybrid electric vehicle went back into production this week after a shorter-than expected shutdown announced in early March to reduce the inventory levels of unsold vehicles.

At that time, the Volt’s future looked bleak — it was being rounded on by US Republican presidential candidates and was still suffering from the aftereffects of a series of damaging headlines after a federal investigation into battery safety.

But that was then and this is now.

Check out the entire article. It’s inspiring to see that although progress has been slow, we are moving closer to achieving energy independence and reducing our carbon footprint…One car at a time.

People-Powered Gyms

This seems so obvious and logical it amazes me that it has taken so long for this trend to take hold. That said, it’s encouraging to see more gyms adopting the concept of people power to generate electricity, along with more companies who are providing the green exercise products.

The Green Microgym in Portland, Ore., has all the usual stuff you’d expect — sweaty people, thump-thumping music, sleek exercise equipment — but it has some extras as well. Everywhere you look, there are power cords. And these aren’t the typical kind that let you surf the Web while you slog away on a spin cycle or elliptical machine — although you can do that too. The gym uses specially configured exercise equipment that captures the energy you create while pedaling, converts it into electricity and channels it into the power outlets.

The idea of using exercise equipment to generate electricity is not new. A gym in Hong Kong has been doing this since 2007. Lots of music festivals have turned to bicycle generators to power their concerts. And some hipster bars are even making customers pedal for a few minutes to get their pitchers of perfectly blended margaritas.

But clean (and healthy) energy is just now starting to catch on in U.S. gyms. There are now converters on exercise equipment in more than 80 locations in North America, including My Sports Clubs in New York City and Washington. “We have seen a significant increase in interest in the past six months, which is a good sign that fitness centers are ready to invest in green technologies,” says Mike Curnyn, co-founder of the Green Revolution, a Connecticut-based firm that wires bikes into a central battery that can store energy.

The article points out there there are a number of different options. Some rig the exercise equipment to channel energy directly to wall outlets, while others like Green Revolution send the energy to storage batteries. Plug Out is a brand that sends the energy directly to a standard wall outlet and the energy created is automatically used before the building draws power from the grid. Other companies are ReRev and Resource Fitness.

Expect this market to explode over the next several years.

George Soros will invest $1 billion in clean energy

George Soros is getting serious about climate change.

Billionaire George Soros, looking to address the “political problem” of climate change, said he will invest $1 billion in clean-energy technology and create an organization to advise policy makers on environmental issues.

Soros, the founder of hedge fund Soros Fund Management LLC, announced the investment in Copenhagen yesterday at a meeting on climate change sponsored by Project Syndicate. The group is an international association made up of 430 newspapers from 150 countries.

“I want to apply rather stringent criteria to the investments,” said Soros in an e-mailed message. “They should be profitable but should also actually make a contribution to solving the problem.”

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Soros has said he prefers a greenhouse-gas tax because carbon emission-trading systems, which are used in Europe, can be manipulated by investors.

It will be interesting to see if the advocacy by Soros helps to tip the debate in the U.S. towards a carbon tax as opposed to cap-and-trade.

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