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Building a electric motorcycle

A good way to get started in learning about electric vehicles is converting an existing vehicle. Go carts and motorcycles are easier than car conversions, and can be much less expensive. Here is a project that we have been following. It’s fairly inexpensive as ev conversions go, and the skill level is within the means of most backyard tinkerers. It’s a low speed low range unit, perfect for around town. Higher voltage conversions would allow highway speeds and longer ranges.


General Motors Selects Envision Solar’s EnvisionTrak™ Solar Trees®, CleanCharge™ Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

San Diego (October 14, 2010) – Envision Solar International, Inc., (OTCBB:EVSI), a leading sustainable infrastructure designer and developer, announced today that the company has been selected by General Motors, LLC to install its CleanCharge™ solar powered electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations integrated into EnvisionTrak™ tracking Solar Trees® at a number of prominent locations.

“We are pleased to have been selected by General Motors for these strategic installations that will enable Chevy Volts to leverage clean solar power to recharge their batteries without relying on carbon fuel generated electricity,” said Bob Noble, CEO of Envision Solar. “We applaud GM’s commitment to clean energy as well as green job creation through this initiative.”

The Chevy Volt extended-range electric car is expected to hit showrooms in November 2010 and will be rolled out initially in California, Michigan, Washington, D.C., Texas and New York. New Jersey and Connecticut will join in mid-2011.

“GM is committed to reducing carbon emissions and reliance on petroleum,” said Tom Stephens, GM vice chairman, global product operations. “We chose Envision Solar because its clean charging infrastructure allows us to maximize the environmental benefits of our electric vehicles through the use of clean renewable energy and further demonstrates our commitment to the proliferation of sustainable EV charging infrastructure.”

Envision Solar’s Solar Tree with EnvisionTrak™ is a highly engineered parking lot solar array that is 20 to 25 percent more productive than conventional fixed solar arrays, due to the incorporation of dual axis tracking which enables the canopy to follow the sun throughout the day. “We have designed this technology with an architectural focus that enhances the overall aesthetic of corporate and commercial campuses,” Noble added. “The addition of our CleanCharge system makes this a truly comprehensive design and technology package, offering a value-added investment for businesses anticipating the dramatic growth in the electric vehicle market over the next decade.”

Pike Research forecasts that the market for plug-in hybrid and battery electric passenger cars and light duty trucks will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 106 percent between 2010 and 2015, resulting in sales of more than 3.24 million vehicles during that period.


Has Electric Transportation Arrived?

This is not a real magazine cover, but someday electric transportation, whether two wheeled or four, is bound to make the covers of mainstream media. Electric bikes for under $500 are widely available now, and 3 and 4 wheeled, 1 and 2 person conveyances, including cars and trucks are available for those with deeper pockets, in limited numbers. The E-Zip shown is ours, and is charged by the solar panels shown. No fossil fuels necessary.


Putting it all together: The electric cargo bicycle

The longtail cargo bicycle and the electric assist are both pieces of a puzzle. That puzzle is how to make a bicycle into a practical people-and-stuff mover for everyday use for short trips, in place of a car. The cargo bicycle on its own is a great concept, but if you live in a hilly place (like I do), it can be a bit difficult to haul a hundred pounds of kids or dog food up and down those hills on a regular occasion. After we got our new Madsen cargo bike, which can haul up to four kids at once (covered in more detail in Part II), I was excited to own a whole-family transportation bike. But the ride from my home starts with a big hill. And if I was feeling less than 100%, I was just not motivated to pedal that bike full of kids up that hill. The end result was that, in the first 2 months that we had the bike, I used it about once every week or two for a weekend outing to the park or farmer’s market, and that was all I could handle. The point was really driven home to me on Easter weekend when I wanted to bike the family over to an Easter egg hunt, which was in a hilly part of town about 8-9 miles away. After getting everyone together, I realized that I didn’t even know exactly where the hunt was located, and since it was in the hilly part of town, I might get lost and wander around for a while looking for the place. The thought of hauling a bike full of kids over steep hills when lost was too much for me, so we took the car. It turns out we did have troubles finding the place, so my concerns were founded.

Then we installed an electric assist kit by eZee. What a difference! Suddenly it became fun to load up the bike with kids and go out for a ride. I wouldn’t have worried about getting lost, because hauling the kids up the hills became easy to do. This particular electric motor kit is activated by a throttle control that is on the handlebar, similar to a motorcycle throttle. I can pedal the bike, I can use electric power, or I can do both together. So I have complete control over when and how much power I want the electric motor to add (and even though I’m in pretty good shape, the motor can do more than I can!) We now use the bike all the time for running kids around the place. And it works great for doing errands like picking up dog food, garden mulch, and other big bulky stuff.


SXM Needs to invest in wind and solar energy

St. Maarten, “Today”, Monday June 9th, 2008


GREAT BAY – We haven’t seen anything yet as far as the global energy crisis is concerned, says Steve Spence, director of New York-based Green Trust. “Gas at the pump is now around $4 a gallon in the States, but within three years I expect to see prices like $10 a gallon. We have to conserve; there is no other solution. Renewable fuels will not solve the problem, simply because we are unable to plant enough crops to produce a sufficient amount of bio-fuel.”
What does this mean for St. Maarten? The price of gas has just gone up to Naf. 2.50 ($1 .404 per liter). If the price were to follow the trend Spence predicts for the United States, motorists would be paying Naf. 6.25 ($3.51) per liter by the year 2011 –  and that’s right around the corner. Such fuel prices will have a serious impact for the island, not only on motorists, but also on our whole energy supply system. “St. Maarten will have to invest heavily in solar and wind power,” Spence says. He outlined his vision on St. Maarten’s energy-future Saturday evening during an exposé at Enviro Week in the Emilio Wilson Park. Spence, 43, has been living off the grid for five years now, meaning that he does not buy any energy from a utilities company back home. He is an IT engineer and an electronics technician who describes himself as a green conservative. “I probably would have been a hippie in the 60’s if I had been old enough,” he says on his web site. Spence lives off grid, powering his energy needs with solar and wind energy. As a back up, he uses a diesel generator that runs on vegetable – oil.


Production is down, demand increases

Spence’s view on the future of the energy markets hinges on two principal observations. First of all, the emerging economies in China and India result in a higher demand for oil. Arab countries also start using more oil. At the same time, world oil production has peaked in 2006, and is now in decline. To sum up: demand is increasing, and production is falling. That makes oil –  and by extension gas at the pump, and the traditional production of electricity – more expensive. “There will come a moment when you will not be able to buy oil at any price,” Spence says. “So you need alternatives for the moment when oil is no longer available.” In St. Maarten, utilities company GEBE produces electricity using diesel generators. Last year, the company invested. $31.9 million in two new Wartsilä diesel generators that will be delivered to the island next year; they will become operational in 2010. If Spence’s doomsday scenario becomes reality, the island will have to invest in alternatives –  and fast. Sun and wind energy are two untapped resources, the New Yorker says. One wind turbine can produce enough electricity for 700 homes.”
Twenty wind turbines

There are approximately 13,500 homes on the Dutch side of the island. To cover all energy needs with wind power, GEBE would have to install 20 wind turbines with a production capacity of 2.3 Megawatt each. The investment would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $94 million, or 167 million guilders. What if GEBE does not jump on the bandwagon? Spence: “This island enjoys plenty of sunshine and there is plenty of wind too. It blows my mind that not every home in St. Maarten has at least one or two solar panels on its roof. Why this is so, I do not know.”  Spence also discovered a misconception about solar panels. “Many people think solar panels are only fit to heat water. But there are also solar panels that produce electricity.” If GEBE, for one reason or another does not make the switch to wind energy, citizens have the option to take their own measures. “I can install a 1000 watt residential wind turbine for $1,000,” says Spence. “They are not hurricane resistant, but there is a solution for that situation. When a hurricane approaches, you crank down the turbine tower and when the weather improves, you crank it up again.” Investing in wind energy does not mean that diesel-powered systems have to be discarded. They can function as back up. In remote locations, wind energy is a cost-effective alternative for grid-extension. Private investments in wind energy do not have to cost homeowners any money. They can finance their investment and pay off the loan to the bank in seven to ten years in installments they would otherwise have to pay to the utilities company. “You don’t pay more money every month, but you are disconnected from the grid,” says Spence.


The decline in oil production and the world’s ever-increasing demand make the need for conservation more pressing, Spence says. Energy efficient lighting and vehicles and insulated homes have to be part of the solution. “People will also have to consider car pooling, and limit the amount of trips they make with their cars.” Another energy-saving method is eliminating what Spence .calls “phantom loads.” This is the energy electrical appliances like TV’s, VCR’s and computers consume in stand-by mode. “I connect these appliances to an electrical strip and when I switch the strip off, they do not consume anything anymore,” Spence says. St. Maarten is also an ideal environment for the introduction of electric cars, Spence points out. “I could build an electric car with a range of around fifty miles that performs better than a gasoline-powered vehicle, even when it has to go up steep hills.”

Paul Mooij, founder of the Caribbean Foundation for Sustainability (CFS) that organizes Enviro Week, told Today that his organization will write a pressing letter to the Executive Council to draw its attention to the looming energy crisis and the possible solutions for St: Maarten.
For more information about living of the grid and other alternative energy solutions, go to




One could of course argue that Green Trust director Steve Spence has a product to sell and that we ought to take his message about soaring oil prices and the subsequent consequences for energy supply in St. Maarten with a grain of salt.
The Dutch Prime Minister Colijn famously told his citizens in a radio address on March 11, 1936, “I request that the listeners, when they go to bed, go to sleep as peacefully as they do on other nights. For the time being there is no reason whatsoever to be really concerned.”
These lines, later condensed to the more accessible term, “Why don’t you all go to sleep peacefully”, are often mistakenly contributed to Colijn on the eve of Germany’s invasion. In reality, Colijn spoke the words four years earlier, a couple of days after Nazi-Germany cancelled the treaty of Locarno, and after Hitler began to militarize the Rhineland.
Looking back, the four years that passed between Colijn’s unfortunate assessment and Hitler’s attack on the Netherlands, seem like an awfully short time. The Dutch had every reason to be concerned about Hitler’s activities. Had the government inspired them to take measures, many lives could have been saved. But the why-don’t-you-go-to-sleep-peacefully speech gave citizens a false sense of security.
A few years later, the Dutch government was off the mark again, when it told citizens how to deal with German firebombs (pick them up and stick them in a bucket of sand). Images of Rotterdam’s bombardment did not stop the government from repeating this type of ridiculous advice for a nuclear attack at the height of the cold war (cover yourself with a white sheet).
In other words, history proves that governments are not the reliable partners they ought to be. How does this relate to Spence’s predictions about the energy market and the way St. Maarten ought to react to it?
We let our readers be the judge of that, but it is almost certain that the energy markets will at least move in the direction that Spence has indicated.
That ought to be §sufficient reason to jump into action and to review the way St Maarten meets the community’s energy needs thoroughly. How our government will react to the situation is anybody’s guess. It will be a rainy day in hell when oil prices drop back to that idyllic level of $25 a barrel. That is not going to happen, ever:
Will it get worse? All indicators point in that direction.
Do we have alternatives to fend of the consequences of Spence’s doomsday scenario?
To make those alternatives a reality we need political awareness first, followed by the political will to create solutions for the future that makes the island less dependant on a commodity that becomes scarcer every day. That future is not a next-generation thing; it is right around the corner.
It brings to mind the American expression, “the light is on, but there is nobody home” – a reference to somebody who is mentally not all there. If we do not tackle the energy issue in a decisive manner, Country St. Maarten could end up in a situation where “everybody is home, but all the lights are out.”
For sure, nobody wants that to happen.




Refrigeration: Out with the propane, in with the electric

After 4 years off-grid with propane refrigeration, we have our power system built to the point where we can afford the electric to power a fridge. OK, it’s not all us, refrigeration technology is advancing, efficiency is increasing, and the prices are dropping. For less than half the price of the propane fridge, we picked up a Kenmore 9.5 cu. ft. (Model 62912 – $350) that uses less electricity than a 100 watt light bulb, 75 watts running to be exact (750w startup surge, as reported by our Kill-A-Watt kWh Meter, for a total of .7 kWh / day with interior temps of 75F – 85F)*. Propane is common in off-grid homes because the power systems tend to be small, and some devices, like refrigeration, cooking, water heating, and drying, are not appropriate to be driven from a limited power source. Propane is the necessary evil. Now that we have moved to a energy efficient electric unit that’s within our generation capacity, our propane usage will drop, as well as the additional (but minor) maintenance that the propane units require. This is a big plus for us, as the electronic control module on our Norcold unit has died twice, and although a warranty repair, no local Norcold dealer will make a house call, the warranty is a depot repair only (parts & labor), and even though we have offered to pay for the house call, Neither Norcold nor the local dealers will oblige. We are done with Norcold.

* See the new P4460 Kill-A-Watt with builtin battery backup so memory is not lost during power outages or moving the meter. It also allows you to enter your “per kWh charge” to track usage costs.


Electricity for the Farm

Just finished reading a free online text called “Electricity for the Farm” at This is an excellent old time text on hydroelectric and pre grid living. You’ll absorb some great old time knowledge and ideas on how you can use waterpower for your home or business. We also recommend “Steam, Steel and Electric” at and “Electricity for Boys” (though that’s not terribly PC anymore, and girls will like it too) at


Florida’s Diesel Electric Hybrid Buses

A buddy of mine, Ron Morrison, grabbed a shot of this Diesel Electric Hybrid bus.

Farther away from the beach I saw this city bus. Hybrid diesel-electric. It was really quiet zooming away from a stoplight & was hitting 40 mph. I had to wait till both of us caught a stoplight for me to hop out of my car to take this picture.

More info can be found at



University of California, Davis
April 22, 2014


[Editor’s note: Photos of the UC Davis biodigester can be downloaded at ]

More than a decade ago, Ruihong Zhang, a professor of biological and agricultural engineering at the University of California, Davis, started working on a problem: How to turn as much organic waste as possible into as much renewable energy as possible.

Today, on Earth Day, the university and Sacramento-based technology partner CleanWorld are officially unveiling the UC Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester (READ) at the campus’ former landfill. Here, the anaerobic digestion technology Zhang invented is being used inside large, white, oxygen-deprived tanks. Bacterial microbes in the tanks feast on campus and community food and yard waste, converting it into clean energy that feeds the campus electrical grid.

“It has been the thrust of my research to bring the innovations we made possible at UC Davis to commercial scale,” Zhang said. “This technology can change the way we manage our solid waste. It will allow us to be more economically and environmentally sustainable. I am proud and grateful to be a part of the team who helped make this moment a reality.”

It is the third commercial biodigester CleanWorld has opened using Zhang’s technology within the past two years and is the nation’s largest anaerobic biodigester on a college campus.

The system is designed to convert 50 tons of organic waste to 12,000 kWh of renewable electricity each day using state-of-the-art generators, diverting 20,000 tons of waste from local landfills each year.

The facility took unique advantage of its location at the now closed UC Davis landfill by blending landfill gases — primarily methane — with the biogas to create a total of 5.6 million kWh per year of clean electricity. It is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 13,500 tons per year.

The READ BioDigester encompasses several of the university’s goals: reducing campus waste in a way that makes both economic and environmental sense, generating renewable energy, and transferring technology developed at UC Davis to the commercial marketplace.

“The biodigester is the latest chapter in UC Davis’ world-renowned legacy of environmental sustainability,” said Linda P.B. Katehi, chancellor of UC Davis. “This project stands as a model public-private partnership and demonstrates what can be achieved when research universities and private industry collaborate to address society’s most pressing challenges.”

The project is decidedly homegrown: Campus waste is converted into renewable energy for the UC Davis electrical grid using technology invented by a UC Davis professor and licensed by CleanWorld. The company’s chief executive officer Michele Wong and vice president of research and development Josh Rapport are UC Davis alumni. Rapport received his doctorate in anaerobic digestion from UC Davis under Zhang’s tutelage in 2011.

“There is so much to celebrate today as we recognize the far-reaching environmental and sustainability impacts this technology will have,” Wong said. “It will enable the more than 100 million tons of organic waste each year that is currently being landfilled in the U.S. to be converted to clean energy and soil products. CleanWorld is proud to be the commercialization partner with Dr. Zhang and UC Davis for these game-changing innovations. With this project, we’ve crossed the bridge from research and development to commercialization and proven that CleanWorld’s high-solid AD system can be a feasible, cost-effective, and repeatable solution, not only for municipalities and communities, but also for universities and public institutions throughout California and the U.S.”

The READ BioDigester is a closed loop system, moving from farm to fork to fuel and back to farm. Whatever is not turned into biogas to generate renewable electricity can be used as fertilizer and soil amendments — 4 million gallons of it per year, which could provide natural fertilizers for an estimated 145 acres of farmlands each day.

Nearly half of the organic waste, or feedstock, needed to operate the biodigester to full benefit will come from UC Davis dining halls, animal facilities and grounds. CleanWorld is working with area food processing and distribution centers to supply the remaining amount. Meanwhile, UC Davis will earn 100 percent of the project’s green energy and carbon credits and receive all of the electricity generated.

Anaerobic digestion is an age-old process. However, Zhang’s patented technology made it more efficient — capable of eating a broader variety and bigger quantity of waste, turning it into clean energy faster and more consistently than other commercial anaerobic biodigesters.

The project benefits from a unique public-private partnership. While Zhang moved the technology forward, CleanWorld’s commercializing efforts have made it modular, cost-effective and faster to deploy, making it one of the most advanced, commercially available anaerobic digestion systems in the country. The READ BioDigester, for example, went from bare ground to full installation within six months. Its $8.5 million cost was roughly two-thirds less than other anaerobic digesters the university researched as potential renewable energy sources.

CleanWorld financed the majority of the project with private equity and a commercial loan with First Northern Bank. Approximately $2 million in public funding came from the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission.

CleanWorld’s other two biodigesters are in the Sacramento area:

* The Sacramento BioDigester opened in December 2012 and can digest 25 tons per day. Construction is underway to expand its size to digest 100 tons per day and produce 700,000 gallons per year of renewable compressed natural gas, fueling both public and private fleets.
* The American River Packaging BioDigester in Natomas opened in April 2012. It can convert 10 tons of waste per day and generates roughly 1,300 kWh of energy daily.

About CleanWorld

CleanWorld is the leading North American innovator of advanced, high-solids anaerobic digestion (HSAD) technology. CleanWorld’s BioDigesters represent a generational leap forward in anaerobic digestion technology, dramatically reducing the time and cost of construction, commissioning and operation, while increasing output, efficiency, and revenue opportunities. A subsidiary of Synergex, a global leader in technology for more than 35 years, CleanWorld was founded and is managed by people committed to the idea that our precious organic resources should never be wasted.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

Additional information:
* Download biodigester photos:
* Watch a video about the UC Davis biodigester:
* Vine video: From lunch to lights:
* Visit www.CleanWorld.com

Media contacts:
* Ruihong Zhang, UC Davis Biological and Agricultural Engineering, (530) 754-9530,
* Tracy Saville, CleanWorld, (916) 853-0362,, cell: (916) 717-3250
* Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-7704,, cell: (530) 750-9195

See all of our news releases at


Upgrade your bicycle to electric

We have had an eZip electric bike for 2 years. We have been very pleased with our solar charged electric transportation, and a kit is available for you to upgrade your bike.

This new Currie Electro-Drive Conversion Kit easily transforms a standard bicycle and converts it into a modern electric powered ride. The Currie Electro Drive conversion kit is designed to fit on bicycles that use a standard 7-speed freewheel which is quite common today. If the bike that you are planning on converting has something other then a 7-speed freewheel, the kit may still be fitted however we strongly recommend that the conversion be made by an authorized Currie Dealer.


* Powerful 450 Watt Rear Wheel Drive System
* Stylish Rack Mount Battery System
* Thumb Actuated Throttle with Battery Guage
* Complete with all the Necessities to Convert your Bike
* Easily Add an Optional Second Battery Pack to Double the Range