EV to be Most Hyped News of 2011: Survey

Media covering renewable energy and cleantech overwhelmingly expect the biggest news hype of 2011 to come from electric transportation, while they identified energy efficiency as the most deserving of coverage, according to my annual survey. With more than 70 respondents from newspapers, magazines, broadcasters and blogs, the survey also revealed that more than two-thirds of media expect demand for cleantech coverage to be greater this year.

The survey strongly confirmed one trend – the migration of content online; and appeared to shoot down another – lack of adequate budget. Nearly all of the respondents – 96% – said their work will primarily appear online, while almost 70% said that they would have enough resources to do a good job of reporting on cleantech this year. At the same time, there is a willingness to use content (video, animation, graphics, etc) produced by non-media sources (73% said they frequently or sometimes used content developed by companies).

In addition, the survey revealed some social media habits with regard to obtaining information, with Twitter (82%) by far and away the top choice of social tools for tracking news.  The RSS feed is also clearly not dead, with 57% naming it as the second tool of choice.

EV received 56% of the votes to be the most hyped sector in 2011, more than double the nearest competitor – smart grid, which received 20% of the votes. The only other technology that registered double-digit percentages was carbon capture and sequestration (16%).  On the flip side, media identified energy efficiency as the area that deserved the most media attention, with 42% choosing EE. This is ironic since I’ve often heard reporters say that they want to cover energy efficiency, but editors find it too boring (this is backed up by page views). The other technologies deserving attention mentioned by  more than 10% of respondents were: carbon management (20%); solar (13%); smart grid (13%) and water (11%). One of the most important sectors from an impact perspective, agriculture and foresty, got no votes.

As in previous years, the overwhelming majority of those surveyed (68%) said B2B coverage would take priority this year, with the remainder paying more attention to consumer technologies. Overall, the overall trend is also of continued interest in the sector – 62% expected increased demand for cleantech news among audiences

Interest in policy coverage also remains high, with nearly 80% expressing significant or moderate interest in tracking government developments.

EV Turning a New “Leaf” in Seattle

Here’s a post from my colleague Chris Elliott on the electrification of urban American transport:

The future of transporation in the US rests in the hands of Seattle.

That might seem like a bold statement, but the Emerald City is key player in deciding the role vehicles (EVs) will play in our lives.

Seattle, along with cities in Oregon, California, Arizona and Tennessee were selected by The Electric Vehicle Project as ‘test markets’ for Nissan’s LEAF zero-emissions electric vehicle. This effort, with the support of ECOtality’seTec, the backbone of the charging infrastructure, will be the largest deployment of EVs and charging stations in history.

Today, I attended a presentation by Nissan’s North America Product Planning Director, Mark Perry, which served as a kick-off to get people excited about this historic endeavor. This rah-rah event drew a full house at the Rainier Square Atrium and was held in part with the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the Seattle Climate ProjectClimate Solutions and others. I was thoroughly impressed by the number of attendees that either belong to one of the many EV clubs in town or own electric cars themselves. Everyone seemed to walk out of the room excited about the future and aware of how much work needs to be done before it gets here. According to Perry, the LEAF will hit Seattle in December, 2010.

The presentation ranged from why Nissan moving into the market in the first place to specifications of the LEAF itself to how the infrastructure and charging stations might look like. Overall it was very informative and was gobbled up by hungry Seattleites looking to change the world one eco-friendly bite at a time.

I found the topic of charging the LEAF the most fascinating as there’s a variety of ways to do so. First, you can just plug it into any ordinary 110-volt outlet you have in your home or garage. Simple enough right? However, the major drawback here is that it could take up to 18 hours to fully charge this way. As we all know, us American’s can’t wait for anything, right? Plug the LEAF into a 220-volt outlet (commonly found where home dryers and other major appliances are plugged-in), and the time is cut in half—about eight hours. Good enough to charge while you sleep. These 220-volt outlets will have to be installed at your home and most likely, sold to consumers when the buy/lease the LEAF. Charge Northwest showed one of their charging stations off in the lobby after the presentation. But here’s the cool/fascinating part: use a 550-volt outlet and the LEAF can charge in 20 to 50 minutes. The LEAF can go a hundred miles on a full charge but if you need to go further, imagine just pulling over at a charging station or coffee shop, plugging in, and within 20 minutes (time enough to grab a cup of joe and hit the bathroom), you’re back on the silent road. Pretty amazing.

Seattle is truly in the driver’s seat when it comes to changing the world. However, the road ahead is a bumpy one as there’s a lot of work to be done, from educating consumers about the benefits of EVs, to developing incentives for businesses to offer charging stations at work, to developing the infrastructure that would support thousands of LEAFs. But with the right support, drive and will-power, Seattleites can all show the world how really green the Emerald city is.