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Published on September 13th, 2014 | by Tina Casey

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Honda Pounds Another Nail Into Fossil Fuel Coffin

September 13th, 2014 by  


Honda announced some great news about wind turbine efficiency at its transmission plant in Ohio last week, which pretty much got buried under an avalanche of news about the massive new Gigafactory that Tesla Motors has in the works. Though the two projects are very different, they both demonstrate the new normal of distributed, renewable energy projects replacing central fossil fuel power plants as an engine for economic growth.

Honda wind turbine efficiency

Wind turbines at Honda Transmission Mfg. of America (courtesy of Honda).

Honda Whoops It Up Over Wind Turbine Efficiency

Honda’s wind turbine efficiency announcement sums up the first six months of operation for two wind turbines at Honda Transmission Mfg. of America, Inc., in Russells Point.

When they went into operation last January, the two turbines were supposed to produce about 10,000 MWh of electricity per year, which comes out to about 10 percent of the plant’s needs.

Although the turbines pretty much met expectations in two of the first six months, they outperformed in four months. The output peaked in April, when they provided more than 16 percent of power for the plant.

According to Honda, that makes the facility the first of its kind to get a “substantial” amount of power from on site wind turbines.

Overall, in the six-month period wind turbine efficiency at the facility exceeded expectations by 6.3 percent.

Our friends over at Juhl Energy can take credit for the $8 million wind turbines, which last time we checked were installed under a power purchase agreement. That means Honda did not have to fork out the big bucks up front, and is simply paying for the electricity generated by the turbines.

You can bet that when the dust settles on all that Gigafactory excitement, other Midwest manufacturers with land available for wind turbines will be taking a close look at Honda’s happy experiment in wind energy.

Another Twist Of The Renewable Energy Knife

On site renewable energy is just part of the new normal for auto manufacturers (Tesla’s Gigafactory, btw, is anticipated to produce its own renewable energy on site).

The other innovative aspect is that auto manufacturers are partnering EV technology with other aspects of household energy use, under the trifecta of on site energy harvesting (typically, rooftop solar), energy efficiency, and energy storage.

Ford, for example, is asking its EV buyers to think of their car as a large mobile appliance with onboard energy storage, which coordinates with the entire household for maximum use of renewable energy. The company has teamed with major home developer KB Home’s ZeroHouse 2.0 to market the concept.

Honda SmartHome

Honda SmartHome (courtesy of Honda).

Honda has a similar EV-centric concept for home design in the works called SmartHome, which it’s developing in partnership with the University of California – Davis.

 

SmartHome was constructed last year as a three-year R&D project complete with live-in subjects. In addition to energy stored by an EV (charged from rooftop solar panels, of course), the home energy system also includes a stationary battery system for storing excess energy from the solar panels for use at night.

Now think about trying to do all that with fossil fuels, and you can see why stakeholders like the Koch brothers are digging in their heels as hard as they can. Keep digging…

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



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