State legislators and Governor Newsom just signed a historic California budget that includes unprecedented levels of investment in clean transportation. The new funding will provide significant support for critical zero-emission vehicle and infrastructure programs, unlocking billions in public health, climate, and jobs benefits for all Californians.
This budget comes as the result of months of significant advocacy by a coalition of more than fifty climate, equity, health, and labor organizations to expand investments in California’s most effective programs for clean air, improved health, environmental justice, and a stable climate. The final budget includes more than $3.5 billion for zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure, including:
- $1.4 billion for electrifying medium- and heavy-duty vehicles on California roads to clean the air, including 3,000 zero-emission drayage trucks, school buses, and transit buses;
- $415 million to deploy the necessary charging infrastructure for those medium- and heavy-duty vehicles;
- $400 million for equity-focused transportation projects like Clean Cars 4 All, which enables low-income Californians to scrap their old car and replace it with a new or used option that is less polluting and more efficient;
- $500 million for the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) Clean Transportation Program deploying charging infrastructure for light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles;
- $525 million for consumer rebates for new ZEV purchases through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project; and
- $250 million for zero-emission manufacturing.
This money is on top of the budget’s $5.4 billion Transportation Infrastructure Plan, which includes $500 million for active transportation in addition to funding for improving the state’s streets, roads, and rails.
Securing an Equitable Clean Transportation Future in CA
Moving forward, the Legislature needs to strengthen the state’s commitment to equity to ensure all Californians have access to clean transportation. Fortunately, the Legislature has an opportunity to do exactly that with two policy bills this year — SB 726 (L. Gonzalez) and AB 1389 (Reyes) — that would codify equity requirements for the CEC’s Clean Transportation Program and require that 50% of those investments go towards the primary benefit of people residing in low-income and disadvantaged communities. The Legislature should advance these bills to ensure even greater investment in California’s equitable clean transportation future.
Thanks in large part to the Charge Ahead California Initiative — established by Senate Bill 1275 in 2014, making it state policy to electrify the transportation sector in a manner that ensures all Californians are able to realize the benefits electric vehicles can provide — California already has a rich portfolio of well-utilized equity-focused programs designed to increase access to zero-emission vehicles and mobility in disadvantaged and low-income communities. These programs are complemented by critical zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicle programs that displace toxic diesel emissions that disproportionately impact low-income and disadvantaged communities that often live near freeways, ports, railyards, warehouses and other facilities.
These programs have done a lot to accelerate electric vehicle adoption in the state, especially in low-income and underserved communities, but there’s still a ways to go to meet the state’s long-term climate, equity, and air quality goals. According to a recent CEC report, the state is currently falling behind on its goal of deploying the 250,000 public and shared charging stations needed to support estimated EV adoption in 2025, and faces a gap of roughly one million chargers from what will be needed to support its 2035 goals. The report concludes that significant and continued state, local, utility, and private funding will be necessary to meet these goals.
The 2021–2022 budget will go a long way in putting the state on a path to achieving its goals, but more still needs to be done going forward to fund critical equity programs and help underserved communities realize the benefits of clean mobility. While advocates had been pushing for $500 million in guaranteed funding for these critical transportation equity programs, only $150 million of the budget’s $400 million package is guaranteed, and the rest will have to be authorized by the Legislature in future years.
Switzerland put vertical solar panels on a roadside retaining wall
A canton in Switzerland commissioned a project in which solar panels were attached vertically to a roadside retaining wall.
The canton of Appenzell Ausserhoden in northeastern Switzerland is aiming to generate at least 40% of its electricity from renewables by 2035. So, it exercised a little creativity and covered a roadside retaining wall with 756 glass-glass solar panels.
The panels have an output of 325 kW and an energy yield of around 230,000 kWh annually. This is equivalent to the consumption of about 52 Swiss households. The energy will be fed into the grid of energy supplier St. Gallisch-Appenzellische Kraftwerke, and the canton will get a feed-in tariff in return.
German mounting system provider K2 Systems and Swiss contractor Solarmotion installed the vertical system on the 75-degree retaining wall. The panels were anchored on a mounting rail with HUS screw anchors, and Lichtenstein-based Hilti provided mechanical dowels.
The PV system was anchored on and in the masonry using an adhesive technique. An anchoring depth of a maximum of 90 mm could not be exceeded so that the retaining wall would not be adversely affected.
Due to the close proximity to the asphalt, the solar panels’ components are subject to exceptional corrosion requirements and are anodized for protection. Indirect components are made of aluminum – only the screw anchors are made of stainless steel.
K2 Systems says that “especially in the winter months (when consumption and dependence on foreign electricity imports are at their highest), the vertically aligned modules will achieve a very good electricity yield.”
This isn’t a big project, but it’s a delightfully creative one, which is why it caught my eye. A retaining wall is dead space, and snow will slide off the panels in Swiss winters.
We at Electrek love it when solar is installed in intelligent and inventive ways. Warehouse rooftops? Cover them. Highway medians? Canal covers? Box stores? Put solar on them. It just makes sense.
Photo: K2 Systems
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Doroni’s all-electric flying car gets flight certified in the US
Flying electric cars are not just for sci-fi movies. Miami-based Doroni Aerospace announced Friday its all-electric flying car, the Doroni H1, received official FAA Airworthiness Certification. And the best part – it’s designed to fit in your garage.
Doroni’s all-electric flying car gets FAA-certified
Doroni claims to be the first company to test manned flights with a 2-seater flying electric car in the US. The Doroni H1 took flight earlier this year.
CEO Doron Merdinger successfully piloted the personal electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL) this summer. Merdinger said receiving the flight certification “is not just a milestone for our company, but a leap forward for the entire field of personal air mobility.”
He says the electric flying car “is poised to redefine urban transportation.” Doroni’s aircraft has already received over 370 pre-orders as the startup wraps up funding efforts.
Powered by ten independent propulsion systems, the all-electric flying car has a claimed top speed of 140 mph (100 mph cruising speed) and 60 miles range. Its unique design ensures stability during flight.
It includes four ducts containing two e-motors with patented ducted propellers. Eight are for vertical flight with an additional “two pushes.”
The two-seater aircraft is designed to fit inside a two-car garage at 23 ft in length and 14 ft in width. It also features fast charging (20% -80%) in under 20 minutes.
Electric flying cars coming to a dealership near you
Doroni’s all-electric flying car is semi-autonomous, meaning you can guide it to different levels. A controller stick is used to push you forward, backward, or to the side.
Who would buy one of these? Doroni says one of its customers is a doctor who wants to use the aircraft to skip traffic on their way to work. However, you will need a certification. It requires at least 20 hours of experience, 15 inside the aircraft and another five solo.
Merdinger says the biggest use case for eVTOLs will be for air taxis or ride-sharing. Doroni aims for a different market though.
The company says there is enough space to fly everywhere, especially in suburban areas. Doroni’s all-electric flying car is designed for more than just getting you from point A to point B. It allows you to “enjoy nature,” according to Merdinger.
Doroni expects to build about 120 to 125 units by 2025 or 2026. Eventually, the Miami-based startup plans on scaling to produce 2,500 eVTOLs annually. You can learn more about the electric flying car on Doroni’s website.
The company is the latest to receive the flight certification. Alef’s Model A was the first electric flying car to get certfied in June.
Alef said it had 2,500 pre-orders in July. The orders include 2,100 from individuals and 400 from businesses, including a California car dealership.
Are electric flying cars going to take over road transportation? Not necessarily. At least not anytime soon.
Doroni and Alef are both working on niche markets, which makes the most sense for the time being. At the same time, the companies are pushing forward another sustainble means of transport.
As Merdinger explained “this is just the beginning,” as the technology advances.
Rivian already has a patent on Tesla’s Cybertruck ‘range extender’
Tesla delivered the first Cybertrucks yesterday, and with that delivery event came the revelation that in order to get the range it promised, the Cybertruck needs a separate battery pack in the bed. But a similar battery pack system was already patented years ago, by one of Tesla’s competitors in the electric pick-up space.
Tesla’s Cybertruck website included a revelation about a feature that wasn’t mentioned in its presentation: a “range extender,” in the form of an additional battery pack in the truck bed which expands the truck’s range.
It’s an interesting solution, and we don’t know all the details of it yet. We don’t know the cost, the weight, how it will be installed and uninstalled, or whether it even can be uninstalled.
The battery pack is intended to be used “for very long trips or towing heavy things up mountains,” according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. It takes up about a third of the truck bed, as can be seen in a photo posted on Tesla’s Cybertruck site.
So, there’s still room for cargo, just not the full 6 feet of bed length that Tesla says the Cybertruck has.
But the fact that it was described as being used only “for very long trips or towing heavy things up mountains” suggests that it will be removable, since most people don’t do that sort of thing every single day.
Making it removable is actually a good solution, because it can lower prices, make packaging easier, and improve efficiency for vehicles that simply don’t need a ridiculously enormous 470-mile battery – and most drivers don’t need that.
And if it is removable, well, there’s already a patent on that.
In 2019, electric truck maker Rivian filed a patent for a “removable auxiliary battery” that would fit into the front third-or-so of the truck bed. This patent was granted in 2020, so Rivian currently has a patent on this technology.
The patent is described as:
An electric vehicle system for transporting human passengers or cargo includes an electric vehicle that includes a body, a plurality of wheels, a cargo area, an electric motor for propelling the electric vehicle, and a primary battery for providing electrical power to the electric motor for propelling the electric vehicle. An auxiliary battery module is attachable to the electric vehicle for providing electrical power to the electric motor via a first electrical connector at the auxiliary battery module and a second electrical connector at the electric vehicle that mates with the first electrical connector. The auxiliary battery module can be positioned in the cargo area while supplying power to the electric motor, and can be removable and reattachable from the electric vehicle. The auxiliary battery module includes an integrated cooling system for cooling itself during operation of the electric vehicle including a conduit therein for circulating coolant.
We aren’t patent lawyers here, but this sounds awfully similar to Tesla’s “range extender.” The obvious potential differences we can find are if the range extender doesn’t have integrated cooling, which is unlikely, or if the range extender isn’t removable, which doesn’t seem to jive with the statement that it is only for long trips or with the marketing showing it as an optional add-on (if that were the case, why not just offer different battery sizes?).
Tesla itself has many patents (and is still pursuing more of them), but has pledged not to “initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use its technology.” It announced this in a 2014 blog post, and followed up by saying that it thinks several companies are using its patents.
So next, the question is: is Tesla’s solution different enough to avoid Rivian’s patent protection? Has Tesla licensed the idea from Rivian, and we just haven’t heard about it yet? Or will Rivian return Tesla’s “good faith” and not initiate a patent lawsuit against Tesla, if it does feel like it has a good enough case to say that Tesla’s range extender infringes on its patent?
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