I N · T H I S · I S S U E
Hybrids & Phantoms
Do you like the word “hybrid” as much as I do? Sure, the auto companies have worked me over. I equate “hybridization” with greening and efficiency, and the concept is out of the box! In this issue, we report on hybrid autos, buses, and formula race cars, as well as hybrid lighting systems and hybrid solar electric generating stations! So what’s up with that?
Scarcity of resources – in this case electricity and oil – causes prices to rise. This in turn unleashes developers to design more efficient systems to wring the maximum value out of fuels. Hybridization provides for optimization of system efficiencies, giving end-users the benefits of combined systems and the best possible prices for services they demand.
So let’s dig in! Solar generating stations are coupled with gas to be fully dispatchable at any time of day or night. This issue also presents a four-fueled car, hybrid buses, and even a hybrid formula race car. And the wires have been abuzz this week with hybrid lighting systems, which have duel-fuel capability and all the benefits of both natural and artificial light sources.
At the other end of the efficiency spectrum are phantom loads. These somewhat evil electricity uses lurk in the shadows, are often unnoticed, and are significantly undercutting the efficiency gains we’ve all made with conventional power uses. We’ve all heard about the phantom power issue - that televisions continue to draw power even when they’re “off” – but you may be surprised by the magnitude of this “end-use.” Standby losses have grown to 10 – 20% of household use. Fortunately there are means for consumers to take action; we’ll these in this week’s feature.
Hybrid Owners of America
Hybrid Owners of America (HOA) has been launched to advocate for the interests of Americans who are saving money on gas, reducing America's dependence on foreign oil, and reducing pollution by driving hybrids.
In addition to tracking federal, state, local and private-sector incentives, HOA is encouraging hybrid drivers to get involved by promoting a five- point "hybrid friendly" agenda: It involves lifting the current cap on the federal tax break for hybrids; creating a new federal incentive for plug-in hybrid conversions; promoting a new tax break for corporations that provide direct incentives to employees who buy hybrids; rewarding U.S. automakers that undertake more hybrid research and production; and conversion of 30% of the federal car and truck fleet to hybrids.
According to the Civil Society Institute that sponsors HOA, as of July 2006 there were about 550,000 hybrid vehicles on the road in the United States. The number of hybrids sold to Americans has roughly doubled every year since 1999. But the 200,000 hybrids sold in 2005 accounted for only 1.2 percent of the 17 million vehicles driven off auto dealer lots that year.