A few recent Clean Break columns

I guess to start I’ll throw a fuel links down for Clean Break columns I’ve written over the past two or so months. My latest one comes out this Monday — it will be on a Toronto-based company called Feel Good Cars that’s getting ready to manufacture a low-speed electric car that looks similar to a Smart car but can be plugged in overnight to charge. I saw this little vehicle — called ZENN, for “zero emission, no noise” — last week and I was impressed. Unfortunately, Ontario legislation doesn’t allow it on urban streets and there’s no indication that’s about to change anytime soon. Apparently Toronto City council is also getting ready to ban Segway Human Transporters from city sidewalks. This is so short-sighted. Here we are, a country attempting to meet Kyoto obligations and we aren’t prepared to allow zero-emission vehicles on our streets and sidewalks. Meanwhile, more than 40 states in the U.S. support EVs even though that country has refused to embrace Kyoto. Go figure.

Here are the past columns:

— This one is about Exhibition Place in Toronto, a top tourist spot, deciding to built a 1 megawatt solar power plant on the roof of its historic Horse Palace. This would complement a newly built tri-generation natural gas station as well as a wind turbine. A second turbine is being considered. Keep in mind that a 1 megawatt solar plant has never been built in Canada, even though a number exist in Europe and, to a lesser extent, the United States. The largest, I believe, is a 6 megawatt plant under construction in Spain.

— Here I have an update on micro fuel cell or direct-methanol fuel cell developments. Looks like things are moving along but many challenges still lie ahead.

— This is actually a news story, not a column. It’s about plans by Canadian Pacific railways to buy 35 battery-hybrid yard engines called the Green Goat. It’s a very progressive move by one of the largest railways in the world, and a railway known for its scrutiny of new technologies. The company behind the Green Goat, B.C. startup Railpower Technologies Corp., is gaining momentum in this market and is an interesting story to watch.

— Here I talk about the most recent federal budget and how the Martin government sold the solar industry short, as well as homeowners and businesses that want to take their electricity and heating needs into their own hands. There were many incentives for centralized, grid-focused renewable energies such as wind and biogas in the budget, but when it comes to solar and the desire of an individual household or business to install the technology the bureaucrats in Ottawa have been asleep to the potential.

— In this column I discuss the Segway company and its new dealership model, with a focus on the recent opening of a downtown Toronto distributor. I took one of these vehicles for a ride, fell in love, but unfortunately the price is still high and there aren’t many places you can legally ride them.

— Finally, here’s a great story about a wind power company that’s trying to build a wind farm near Hamilton, Ontario in partnership with local steelmaker Stelco. The plan initially is to use unused “brown” Stelco land along Lake Erie as the site of the farm, but that’s just the start. Aided by proper government incentives, the companies want to lure a European wind-turbine manufacturer to the site. The idea is to use the wind turbine to power Stelco’s operations with clean energy, and use Stelco’s steel for the production of wind turbines at a neighbouring facility. It would be a little renewable energy eco-systems that would create local jobs and ease the air pollution in one of Ontario’s dirtiest areas. I hope this plan goes somewhere.

So there you go, a little bit of what I have written over the past two or three months just before I start posting new stuff. It will give you a flavour of my interests at the very least. You can even go further back by going to my column area on the Toronto Star’s business site. Unfortunately you’ve got to pick them out from my general tech and telecom coverage.

The how, what and why of transitioning to a post-Paris world