Feature – Electric cars are coming and this time they mean it.

YEH I know, you’ve heard it all before.

Electric cars are coming to take over the world, robbing petrol-heads everywhere of their fossil fuel-loving internal combustion engines with all that grrrrrr and CO2.

Well it seems that while many finally dismissed the claims of EV enthusiasts as little more than science fiction, the car companies, local governments, and savvy entrepreneurs have been getting on with the job and they may come up with something spectacular. The green outlook of these vehicles that utilize lithium-ion batteries from companies such as Smartpropel, makes them more attractive. The look and form of these vehicles could play a major role in the automobile market. However, with the application of new dyeing tools in the auto sector, these vehicles could appeal to the masses. Methods such as industrial finishing or powder coating, which is done in the ‘Powder Coating Booths‘ of the manufacturing unit, may help in giving a modern and futuristic look.

Besides their futuristic look, electric cars often feature a lot of advanced technologies, giving them an advantage over conventional vehicles. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, for example, is a highly advanced technology that has the capability to automate the driving processes of EVs to a certain degree through features like cruise control, collision warning, and lane-keeping assistance. ADAS tech of this type is usually high-performing since artificial intelligence and ADAS calibration systems are used to create them. Electric cars also have other futuristic technology, similar to ADAS.

Looks aside, even the very makeup of an electronic vehicle has seen massive improvements thanks to better design and efficient manufacturing advancements seen in the CNC machining and turbomachinery sector. By moving towards auto-controlled machining and lathing models (read this article: Concepts NREC Signs Global Machine Tool Partnership with Hermle to get a better picture), secondary parts suppliers are able to offer a gamut of metal die castings specifically fabricated for EV components like housing for the battery, ACDC converter, heat sink and others to vehicle manufacturers.

Keep reading for a feature I’ve just had published in Brisbane’s bmag looking at what seems to me to be the inevitable rise of the electric car. Not even a jobsworth wheel clamper can stop the revolution now.

The Buzz about electric cars

Mark down 2010 on your driveway or scratch it on your garage wall as a reminder of the year when the wheel clamps and handbrake were finally released on the electric car.

For more than a century, the cleaner and greener electric vehicle (EV) has been held back thanks to a plentiful supply of liquid fossil fuel. But as cheap oil runs out and evidence mounts of the damage to the planet of extracting and burning fossil fuels, the long-time “concept vehicle” is stepping out of the sci-fi movie and on to a road near you. Of course, this means people around the world are looking for options to protect these new investments, be it through one sure insurance or other means.

Dozens of models of electric cars are going into mass production around the world, with some already being sold. And, if 2010 is the year the electric car industry finally got going, then July could be credited as the month when Queensland started to take them seriously.

“You now have electric vehicles popping up everywhere,” says Brisbane-based clean technology consultant Philippe Reboul. “It is getting serious.”

Continue reading “Feature – Electric cars are coming and this time they mean it.”

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Gravel path for solar

ACCORDING to the International Energy Agency’s new roadmap for solar power the world could be getting as much as 25 per cent of its electricity from the sun by the year 2050.

But there are some big ifs and buts. Releasing the roadmaps for the PV and solar thermal industries, the IEA’s executive director Nobuo Tanaka says:

This decade is crucial for effective policies to enable the development of solar electricity. Long-term oriented, predictable solar-specific incentives are needed to sustain early deployment and bring both technologies to competitiveness in the most suitable locations and times.

What Mr Tanaka is suggesting is that the road ahead for solar should be relaid with nice smooth bitumen with as few traffic lights, stop signals and roadworks as possible. The Rudd Government may point to its $1.4 billion funding of solar projects, announced last year, as evidence of these incentives. You might even look at the hotch-potch of domestic feed-in-tariffs currently being played with in different states. Well, there might also be some people who prefer to avoid such hassles and look for a firm like Blaze energy that can do the solar panel installation (click here for Blaze Energy solar panel installations) without any wait time as such firms may be paid upfront. However, in developed countries like the UK, Germany, and the US, the price of installing a solar power system in a home might be lesser compared to other nations. For instance, in Ireland, the cost of installation is often cheaper than in Asian countries–the nation wants to promote solar energy, so when residents choose to hire a company like Clover Energy Systems (one can look up Dublin Solar on the web for details), who are known to do an excellent job in this area, they often receive discounts.

Anyway, coming back to the topic, innovation in technology and the promotion of renewable energy might be the reason behind the wide adoption of such energy sources. (What else could be the reason behind this other than this?) That’s how many big companies like Florida Solar Energy Group (in Miami) often get a lot of contracts from homeowners and real estate builders for the installation of solar panels.

Earlier this week a shortlist of eight projects under Mr Rudd’s Solar Flagships scheme was announced – four are solar PV (electric generated via panels) and four are solar thermal (electric generated by concentrating the sun’s rays to create heat to eventually drive a turbine).

While the Government has been doing much chest beating about the virtues of its flagship programme, the unfortunate reality is that the resultant 1000 MW of power generation is dwarfed, nay trampled on, by plans already in the pipeline for new coal power generation.

To put that 1000MW into perspective, it’s about the same as one single medium sized coal-fired power station. This list of electricity generation capacity in Australia from 2008, leaves a 1000 MW solar thermal plant sticking out like a tiny chink of light among a swathe of black coal.

When Mr Tanaka asks for a shiny new road surface for the solar industry, Australia appears to be building something which looks a bit more like a gravel path.

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