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May, 2009:

Toyota Could Have Hydrogen Fuel-cell Car on the Road by 2014

Kenneth Hall, Motor Authority – May 12 2009

The new date is a year earlier than scheduled due to changes in California’s ZEV mandate

Honda’s FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle has grabbed lots of headlines, as has BMW’s combustion-powered Hydrogen7 and Mazda’s rotary RE line of vehicles, including the RX-8. But Toyota is working on a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle too, and it could be on the streets by 2014.

Well, the streets of California at least. The company had previously released plans to have a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle on the road by 2015, but that schedule has been bumped up a year to meet the incentives within California’s Zero Emissions Vehicle mandate.

“So much of what happens is directly related to the California ZEV mandates — they’re followed by at least 14 states, and they affect nearly half of the cars on the market in the United States. Phase IV of the mandates covers model years 2015 through 2017, so that means we could begin complying in late 2014,” John Hanson, a Toyota spokesperson, told the New York Times.

California’s ZEV scheme has previously influenced Toyota and other carmakers, including General Motors, to introduce zero-emissions vehicles, including the RAV-4 EV and the much-discussed EV-1.

This time around, the monetary benefits to California’s program are such that it’s now a valid business case for Toyota to build the hydrogen fuel-cell car.

Proton Motor and Skoda Electric Have Presented the Worlds First Fuel Cell Triple Hybrid Bus – 12 May 2009

Proton Motor Fuel Cell and Skoda Electric today presented a preview of the worlds first fuel cell triple hybird linenbus, which will go into operation this summer in Prague.

The project is a cooperation between Skoda Electric, the systems integrator and electrical components, the UJV Nuclear Research Institute, R&D and project coordination and Proton Motor, which produced and delivered the fuel cell triple hybrid propulsion system.

The triple hybrid system is a world first combination of a fuel cell, batteries and ultra capacitors, allowing saving and further use of useful braking energy. The system is reported as saving upto 50% of energy as compared with a conventional bus drivetrain.

The chasis of the new bus is a standard 12 meter with 18 tonne combined weight. The new drivetrain allows produces upto 120 kW of power, can travel up to 65 km/hr and with a full tank can travel 250km before refuelling. The hydrogen is stored on board in 350 bar compressed cylinders and carriers 20kg of hydrogen when full.

Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid Bus

The FINANCIAL – 7 May 2009

The new Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid bus will have its world premiere from 7 to 11 June at the UITP Congress in Vienna (the World Congress of the International Association of Public Transport).

This fuel cell hybrid bus has been developed within the context of the global “Shaping Future Transportation” initiative and is the first representative of the new generation of fuel cell models from Daimler Buses. The outstanding characteristic of the Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid is its comprehensive environmental friendliness: it emits no pollutants whatsoever while running and is also virtually silent. It is therefore exceptionally well suited to operation in heavily polluted city centres and in metropolitan areas. The Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid is the next logical step on the path to zero-emission public transport, which Daimler had already announced it would take, and thus represents an important element in the development of the mobility solutions of the future.

Linear development from NEBUS to the Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid

Daimler Buses has taken a linear approach to developing this technology: the process started in 1997 with the NEBUS research vehicle – the world’s first bus to be equipped with a fuel cell drive system – and has continued via the recently launched Citaro G BlueTec Hybrid with a diesel-electric hybrid drive. The latest development for 2009 is the new Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid. Starting in the autumn, Mercedes-Benz Buses will subject this bus to intensive testing in a large-scale fleet test in several European cities. This test will be conducted along the same lines as the successful CUTE test carried out by the European Union between 2003 and 2006. Since 2003, a total of 36 Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses equipped with fuel cell drives have performed outstandingly well in service with 12 public transport operators on three continents as part of the CUTE test, its HyFLEET:CUTE follow-up project and other related testing programmes. In covering a combined total of more than two million kilometres in some 135,000 hours of operation, the buses have impressively demonstrated the suitability of the environment-friendly fuel cell drive for everyday practical use.

Components from the Citaro G BlueTec Hybrid

The new Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid draws on the experience gained with the outstanding performance of the 36 fuel cell test buses. The enhanced fuel-cell system is complemented by an all-new drive system developed in synergy with the Citaro G BlueTec Hybrid. Shared components here include axles fitted with electric hub motors, lithium-ion batteries to store energy, and all electrically powered ancillary components. The entire drive system is designed for the greatest possible efficiency. Thanks to regenerative braking – that is to say, the recovery of braking energy – the Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid is able to achieve hydrogen savings of between 10 and 25 percent, depending on the traffic conditions and topography.

The Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid is based on the proven platform of the top-selling Mercedes-Benz Citaro urban bus and features fuel cells powered by hydrogen. Compared with previous fuel cell buses, the Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid will consume much less hydrogen thanks to a hybrid drive with a sophisticated control unit. The model thus offers major benefits in terms of resource conservation and reduction of emissions associated with producing the required hydrogen.

Why Global Warming Could Make or Break South-East Asia

Nicholas Stern and Haruhiko Kuroda, The Guardian UK, 5 May 2009

South-east Asia has the most to lose from global warming but could gain much by developing a low-carbon future

In the middle of this financial crisis there is a debate taking place over whether governments can afford both massive tax-funded spending programmes needed to revive ailing economies, and the emissions cuts that are needed to combat climate change.

Few regions on Earth throw this tension into sharper contrast than south-east Asia, where many nations are highly vulnerable to the effects of global warming while also having the chance to develop low-carbon economies.

The plain truth is that nations can no longer afford to delay action on climate change, even temporarily, and such spending can serve as effective fiscal stimulus. Despite the global economic downturn the world is still warming. A major new report from the Asian Development Bank – The Economics of Climate Change in Southeast Asia: A Regional Review – explains how countries that invest now in climate change adaptation will better protect their people, economy and environment. Even with aggressive adaptation efforts, the negative impacts of climate change will continue to worsen. Only concerted global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can ultimately steer the world off its current calamitous course.

The report examines a wide range of climate change impacts in Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It finds a “business as usual” approach will result in a difficult future for the region and its people.

By the end of this century temperatures in south-east Asia will rise significantly, tens of millions will experience water shortages, rice production will decline, and large swaths of forests will disappear. Rising sea levels will force the relocation of millions of island dwellers and coastal communities, and there will be a surge in dengue, malaria and other diseases.

With population centres and economic activity concentrated along south-east Asia’s coastlines and livelihoods particularly dependent on agriculture, fishing and natural resources, the region is acutely vulnerable. Adopting a similar modelling approach to that used in the 2007 Stern Review, the report concludes the region is twice as economically vulnerable to climate change compared with the rest of the world.

The good news is that far from the world’s policy makers being captive to the economic crisis, the opposite is true: the crisis may offer opportunities if we can boost programmes to improve water, sanitation, climate-proofing and reduce carbon dependency and protect forests.

At their recent London Summit, G20 leaders agreed that current stimulus programmes should be used to foster a green, sustainable recovery. As was outlined in the recent joint report from the UK’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy – an outline of the case for a “green” stimulus – energy efficient and low carbon technologies are not simply means for reducing carbon emissions. They are also extremely effective as a fiscal stimulus because they can be implemented quickly and are relatively labour intensive.

For Asia’s governments, these kinds of public investments, in both adaptation and mitigation, will be essential to eradicating extreme poverty, achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and making structural transformations that are needed to place the region on a low-carbon path.

Over the next 50 years, much of the world’s new energy and urban infrastructure will be built in Asia, locking in the region’s greenhouse gas emission pattern. Encouragingly, there are vast, untapped opportunities for energy efficiency improvements, cleaner transport, and for increasing the use of renewable energy sources including biomass, solar, wind, hydro and geothermal.

Some of these schemes can be financed through the government’s own fiscal stimulus programmes, others with international assistance, including both additional funding sources and the transfer of knowledge and technologies.

That might seem like a lot to ask in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. But the benefits will be enormous.

We have no time to delay. The financial crisis will come to an end. Without action, the same cannot be said for climate change.

• Lord Stern is chairman of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment and the IG Patel professor of economics and government at the London School of Economics. Haruhiko Kuroda is president of the Asian Development Bank.

China to Focus on Renewable Energy

Kari Cameron, Voice of America – 1 May 2009

China is battling air pollution and high costs for imported energy with an aggressive focus on renewable energy.


Workers build a highway near a wind farm in the Gobi desert, in China's northwest Gansu province (File)

China’s government says it will have 100 gigawatts of wind-power capacity by 2020 – enough to power more than 60 million homes. That figure is more than three times the target the government laid out just 18 months ago.

Steve Lyons is the director of CWE Renewables, a wind energy company based in Hong Kong. His company is setting up wind farms in Inner Mongolia, funded mainly by Chinese investors. Despite the global economic crisis, the company has seen continued interest from investors and from provinces.

“There are provinces that have good wind resources, no wind capacity, and have asked us to help them put in place what needs to be put in place for a wind developer to come in,” he said.

China’s government has vowed to increase the use of alternatives to oil and coal for energy, such as wind, solar and nuclear power. The goal is to reduce the thick air pollution that blankets its cities and to reduce expensive imports of oil.

Companies from start-ups to well established businesses such as General Electric, see China’s drive to clear the air as an opportunity. They are tapping the market hoping to capitalize on Beijing’s push to for cleaner energy sources.

Renewable energy could play significant role

Adrian Ho is the director of CWE Renewables. He thinks China’s use of renewable energy will increase in coming years to play a significant role in meeting the nation’s energy needs.

“There is a high chance that I believe China will go to 25 percent some day and that 25 percent will keep expanding,” he said.

Today, renewable sources produce just eight percent of China’s total energy. But Beijing aims to increase that to 15 percent by 2020. In comparison, the United States hopes to generate 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2012.

The roots of China’s push for renewable energy are in a 2005 law that gives incentives such as fixed rate tariffs and carbon credits to renewable-energy companies. The law also makes clear that provinces are expected to meet new clean energy guidelines.

Chris Flavin is the president of the Worldwatch Institute, a U.S. environmental group. He says the law works thanks to China’s entrepreneurs and a government that is making the move to clean energy a priority.

“The Chinese government, I guess in part of the fact that it does not have some of the kind of democratic complexities that Western countries do, is able to do things quicker and without the kind of resistance from narrow economic interests that might make it more difficult,” said Flavin.

China’s wind energy capacity has doubled

The World Wind Energy Association says China’s wind energy capacity has doubled every year since the law was put in place, to 12 gigawatts. Wind is the fastest growing renewable energy in China, with 60 percent more capacity since 2005.

But pollution takes much longer to clean up than it does to create. China is failing to hit targets for bringing pollution and carbon emissions under control.

U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton has said she will push developing nations such as China and India to commit to reducing carbon emissions as part of a new international treaty on fighting climate change. Emissions from fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, are thought to contribute to global warming.

Flavin says that it is not that China does not want to reduce emissions – the problem is their lack of a better option.

“The main driving force is that China is not rich in any fossil fuel except for coal and coal is a heck of a lousy way to fuel an economy,” he said.

Stimulus plan is helping

Things are changing. Wind and nuclear power are getting a boost from China’s almost $600 billion economic stimulus plan, which promises to help with grid infrastructure and nuclear development.

“If you look at where we are today and compare with what anybody might have expected or even hoped for five years ago, I think it’s really extraordinarily encouraging what they’ve accomplished,” Flavin added.

As China continues to build its renewable energy capacity, the world’s most populous nation is emphasizing that clean energy is not a luxury but a necessity for its survival. Renewables will help reduce pollution in the long term, quelling Beijing’s concerns about social unrest over pollution-related illness. China also needs clean energy to increase its role on the global stage – a lack of natural resources make clean energy the only possibility for China to achieve energy independence.