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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Soon We'll Be Flying Personal Electric Planes

A cozy crowd of several dozen engineers, venture capitalists, and members of clean-tech companies plotted the potential at the Electric Aircraft Symposium held in April in San Francisco, sponsored by Foundation Capital and held by the CAFE Foundation, a nonprofit aiming to advance personal air travel.

The meeting included Ivo Boscarol, CEO of Pipistrel, which by the end of this year is set to deliver the first commercially produced, two-passenger electric aircraft to customers. The Slovenian company's Taurus Electro can climb to 6,000 feet after taking off on a 30-kilowatt motor. Recharging the glider's lithium-polymer battery is meant to take about as long as powering a cell phone. Depending upon the weather and skills of the pilot, the glider can travel 1,000 miles in a day.

Before you know it, we'll be zipping around like the Jetsons! Personal flying vehicles may be way off in the future, but the navigation and anti-collision technology to make the highways safer is not far away. Some companies like Volvo are already incorporating these technologies into models you can buy at your local dealer. It's a bit sad, but the fact is, a computer can probably drive better than most people out there.
As for the personal aircraft, it's good to see that they are making it enviromentaly friendly. After reading the article, one has to wonder if the next wave of eco-friendly innovation will come from the European Union instead of the US or Japan. The next big breakthrough could come from an unexpected place...like Slovenia.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mercedes-Benz is Going Green By 2015!

In less than 7 years, Mercedes-Benz plans to ditch petroleum-powered vehicles from its lineup. Focusing on electric, fuel cell, and biofuels, the company is revving up research in alternative fuel sources and efficiency. Mercedes is looking into electric vehicles, both battery powered and fuel cell powered. Not only are models in development, but we’ve also seen the company making steps towards their zero petroleum goal right now, from better cabs in London to Li-Ion battery improvements. Commercialy available zero petroleum vehicles will be available starting in 2010.

While this is an impressive announcement, I'll wait until I hear more details before I get downright giddy. I do think we're starting to see a fundemental change in the attitudes of the automakers as a whole. We are starting to see degrees of seperation between the auto industry and big oil. It would appear that a huge lobbying war in Washington is underway as the two industries jockey to get favorable legislation. In one sense, we live in exciting times where the business landscape is changing, but the other side of that is the slow and agonizing process of change, inhibited by the unwillingness of old businesses to sucumb to the new ones. In the end, nothing much will really change. It's just a re-shuffling of wealth and power at the top of the food chain that has no financial benefit for the average person.

EcoGeek - Technology for the Environment

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hungarian Moped Car Gets 150mpg!

Hungary is not the first place that comes to mind when thinking about cutting edge green vehicles, yet. If the creators of the Antro Solo have their way, the country will be synonymous with green machines by 2012. The Antro Solo is a solar, human and gas-electric hybrid vehicle. It looks like nothing else out there, and has a fuel efficiency of more than 150 miles per gallon

Inhabitat : Antro Solo gets 150mpg

I'm pretty sure that I don't want to spill out of a bar at 2:30am, in the middle of February, when it's 2o below zero to find out I need to peddle my car home.
All jokes aside, this is a novel approach to maximizing efficiency. The choice of materials and blending of technologies could prove to be a blueprint for others looking to squeeze every ounce of energy from their products in a green friendly manner.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Vermont OKs the Creation of Virtual Corporations

On June 6th, Gov. Jim Douglas signed an inauspicious-sounding bill entitled “H.0888, Miscellaneous Tax Documents” that could revolutionize the way startup companies are formed and run. As New York Law School professor David Johnson explained to me, up until now, U.S. law required LLCs to have physical headquarters, in-person board meetings and other regulations that have little relevance in the digital age.

No longer. Under the new law, for example, a board meeting may be conducted “in person or through the use of [an] electronic or telecommunications medium.” A “‘virtual company’ will be, as a legal matter, a Vermont limited liability company,” said Johnson. And other states are required to recognize the corporation as a legitimate LLC. So while in the past many companies registered in Delaware to take advantage of that state’s business-friendly policies, with this law, Internet-driven startups may find Vermont even more ideal.

Vermont OKs the Creation of Virtual Corporations

This appears to be along the fuzzy business lines like the "captive insurance" industry. A lot of revenue flows through these corporations, and a tiny percentage stays in the state. I think Vermont needs to create whatever business advatages it can, to bring new revenues to the state. We should also be focusing on attracting green technology businesses, but our digital infrastructure is ancient or non-existient. So far the private sector has been unable or unwilling to bring us out of the information stone age. Perhaps it is time for the state to find the funds and a partner to provide statewide broadband and cellular coverage. The only way we can retain our way of life is by being connected to the rest of the world in order to compete in the global marketplace.