Electronic Newspaper Vending

Converting all of the world’s newspapers to paperless publishing is an excellent idea. We like it, for a lot of reasons. We’re not old-fashioned, we don’t like ink on our fingers, we want instantly searchable, zoomable, shareable newspapers that don’t kill trees.

But what are we going to do with all those newspaper boxes!  Well, somebody has answered that question as well. Just take a look at the video, and see. Just slap a 17 inch LCD in there with a cellular internet connection and bam, you’ve got yourself an instant advertisement for your newspaper.

Plus, it’s one wireless upload and credit-card transaction away from a pay-based system for digital papers. But we’ll have to wait and see on that one.

Via Engadget

Middle-Schoolers Start Up Solar Company

When eighth graders start turning a profit in an industry, that’s when you know there’s opportunity for real growth.

A Santa Clara solar firm, CalSunTech, has a middle-schooler for a CEO, but seems to be doing well for a local firm, and it’s in the running for a California Clean Tech Open award. The company is developing concentrators to increase the efficiency per unit of silicon in photovoltaics. It’s not a new idea, but the folks who do it best do stand to make a lot of cash selling the technology. CalSunTech already has one patent on file.

Frankly, it seems unlikely that the parents aren’t involved fairly significantly. At the very least, it reminds me of crazed sports dads. Except, in Santa Clara, the dads force their children to startup companies, instead of play football. Which, for some reason, doesn’t surprise me at all.

Via CNET News Blog

EcoGeek Newsletter

Volkswagen Eos, Touareg, Rabbit, GLI, and GTI Undergo Changes Too for the 2008 Model Year

Like the Volkswagen Jetta, Passat, and New Beetle, two other of their models also underwent changes – the Volkswagen Eos and Touareg. These changes will ne visible on the 2008 model years of the said vehicles.

The Eos models largely remain the same but with just a few minor changes. The changes made on the Eos are as follows:

*New trim level naming, Turbo, Komfort, Lux, and VR6
*Leatherette now named V-Tex
*Lux only available with automatic transmission
*Winter starting assist mode standard on VR6
*New seventeen-inch alloy wheel on Lux
*New eighteen-inch alloy wheel on VR6
*Delete Wheat Beige
*Rear Park Distance Control included in Lux and VR6
*Chrome front grille louvers included on VR6
*Power twelve-way driver seat now standard equipment
*Leather steering wheel now standard equipment
*Leather shift knob now standard equipment
*Leather parking brake handle now standard equipment
*Wind blocker now standard equipment
*Ambient lighting deleted on Turbo
*Micritech interior trim now included in Turbo
*Center sliding armrest now standard equipment
*Heated front seats now optional on Turbo
*Seventeen-inch alloy wheel optional on Komfort

However, the Toureg receives a lot more comprehensive updates. This SUV will carry the minor styling changes until its next redesign and some luxury features will become standard like the power liftgate, satellite radio, and parking assist. Other changes made on the Touareg are below:

*New exterior colors (White Gold, Galapagos, Alaska Gray, Cranberry)
*Chrome grille with logo and chrome eyebrows standard on VR6 FSI
*Chrome matte grille with logo and chrome eyebrows, chrome air intakes, chrome grille slats standard on V8 FSI and V10 TDI Twin Turbo
*Darkened Taillights
*New, central headlights design
*Sporty, more aerodynamic rear spoiler
*Electronic Parking Assistance now standard equipment
*Nineteen-inch Wheels with all-season tires optional on VR6 FSI, included in V8 FSI and V10 TDI Twin Turbo
*Larger screen for Multi-function Indicator included with optional Technologies Package
*New Option Packages
*Dynaudio now available in package for all trims
*Next generation Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) now standard equipment
*ABS-Plus standard
*ESP Innovations standard
*New front seat design, more comfortable front seat side bolsters, new seat stitching design now standard equipment
*Gray seat trim in leather and leatherette deleted
*Silver Metallic Plastic interior trim standard on VR6 FSI with leatherette
*Servotronic steering no longer available on 3.6L VR6 FSI
*Comfort Suspension replaces Sport Suspension on VR6 FSI

The Volkswagen Rabbit, GLI, and GTI are the models that received little changes. For the Rabbit:

*New 170-hp, 177 lb-ft 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine standard on two- & four-door
*Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) now standard
*New trim level naming: Rabbit S (two- and four-door)

For the GLI, the changes are:

*Reflex Silver is now special order only
*Climatronic deleted from all trims
*New trim level naming: GLI and GLI Autobahn

For the GTI:

*15mm ride height reduction on both two- and four-door
*Sirius satellite radio now standard * Reflex Silver is now special order only
*Climatronic deleted from all trim
*New trim level naming: GTI and GTI Autobahn

Why Your Electricity Meter Sucks

My electricity meter is about fifty years old, and it’s likely that yours is too. Even if it’s new, it probably uses the same ancient technology as mine. Those meters were created for a world with cheap, abundant power. Well, the world has changed…so why hasn’t my electricity meter?

It turns out, that if all United States power companies were to upgrade to new electricity meters today, America would save roughly $35 billion in energy costs over twenty years and it would eliminate the need for around 625 power plants. How could something as simple as an electricity meter suck so bad?

The most significant (though not only) problem with old electricity meters is that they charge you the same amount no matter what time of day it is. Electric utilities keep a constant supply of electricity flowing out into the world in order to maximize the efficiency of the power plants. At night, electricity flies through the grid and, with no one awake to use it, it simply dissipates. Then during peak hours, all electricity produced by large power plants is used. In fact, expensive and inefficient ‘peaker plants’ have to be turned on daily to meet demand.

But none of that matters to me. Running my dryer during the day costs exactly as much as running it at night. So why should I change?

This is why the great green state of California commissioned a study three years ago, in which they switched a few thousand Californians to a new kind of electricity meter that charged higher rates at peak hours and lower rates at off-peak times.

And now, the results are in. People with programmable thermostats decreased their peak power use by as much as 10%, and no consumers in the study didn’t decrease their peak power use substantially. The Brattle Group recently got a hold of this data and they’ve done some economic analysis that knocked my socks off. Their report, which is where I got the statistics above, is shocking.

New meters that enable "dynamic pricing" programs would decrease the energy use of America by 5% minimum. If broader technology applications were put into place, such as in-home power plants, plug-in hybrid-to-grid technology and other so-called "peak shavers" we could decrease the electricity demand of America by 20% in 20 years!

On top of that, the program would eliminate the need for expensive peaker plants, reduce greenhouse emissions, and reduce or eliminate brownouts. More than that, though, i just makes sense that you’d pay more when demand is higher and supply lower. Isn’t that how economics works? Apparently not when you let the snail-paced power companies lead the charge.

Via GreenBiz and The Brattle Group

Check out the full report from: The Power of Five Percent

See Also:
What is the Electranet
The EcoGeek Newsletter
Personal Power Plant

Photovoltaics 100X More Efficient than Biofuel

A reader over at AutoblogGreen (one of my all-time favorite blogs) sent in a short essay comparing the efficiency of photovoltaics to the efficiency of biofuels. and ABG rightly saw fit to publish it.

I’m not tremendously surprised that photovoltaics won…I’m just surprised by how big the difference is.

Now biofuels are kinda like solar power. Plants capture the the sun’s light and convert it to energy. We then convert the plants into fuel, and then turn the fuel into useful power.

Photovoltaics skip a few of those steps, converting sunlight directly to power without any pesky nature getting in the way. It turns out that creating biofuel with an acre of land produces about 100 times less power than covering that same land with solar panels.

While it’s fascinating to discover, the sad fact is, it doesn’t really matter. We can hope that someday our global footprint will shrink.  But right now, it doesn’t matter how much space we take up, it only matters how much money we spend. What we really need to see is a per-unit-of-power analysis of the cost of biofuels vs. photovoltaics. It’s my guess that that analysis will make it quite obvious why no one’s replacing corn fields with solar panels.

Via AutoblogGreen

Review Roundup: Testers Weigh In On The Mercedes CL65 AMG, C220 CDI, C300, C350, CLS350 CGI And ML320 CDI

As my eloquent title has already alluded to, the latest round of Mercedes reviews have surfaced, and this time, six lovable MB models have been put to the test for your reading entertainment. The CL65 AMG, the 2008 C220 CDI Sport, the 2008 C300 Sport, the 2008 C350 Sport, the CLS350 CGI and the ML320 CDI – these are the chosen ones. So if you’ve been contemplating any of the aforementioned, hit the jump for the full details of what reviewers thought of each…

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Reader’s Rides: Luis’ 2006 A3 2.0T

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