Top environmentally friendly vehicles named
For the first time in seven years vehicle sales have risen to more than 16 million and automakers are capitalizing on the market upswing by offering customers a wide range of options from electric, to natural gas to traditional gasoline powered vehicles. On Tuesday at greenercars.org, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released its 17th annual comprehensive environmental ratings for vehicles.
This year, the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive tops the "Greenest" list with a highest-ever score of 59 out of 100, just in time for the vehicle's nationwide rollout. Following closely behind are the Toyota Prius C and the Nissan Leaf with scores of 57 and 55 respectively.
Toyota's entire family of Priuses performs exceedingly well again this year, with the regular Prius and the Prius plug-in hybrid nabbing spots No. 4 and No. 7. Other top scorers for 2014 include the Honda Civic Hybrid (No. 5), Lexus CT 200H (No. 6), Honda Insight (No. 10), and the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid (No. 12). Making its return to the "Greenest" list after an absence last year is the Honda Civic Natural Gas vehicle (No. 9).
New to the list this year is the Mitsubishi Mirage, Mitsubishi's new subcompact offering for the U.S. market. With a Green Score of 55, the gasoline vehicle takes the 8th spot on the list. The only other non-hybrid gasoline model to make the list this year is the Smart ForTwo, which placed at No. 11.
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“We've had such an influx of hybrid and electric vehicles in recent years that the race to earn a spot on the ‘Greenest’ list is more competitive than ever, particularly for conventional vehicles. It's encouraging to see automakers investing heavily in eco-savvy vehicles on the whole,” said ACEEE lead vehicle analyst Shruti Vaidyanathan.
The greenercars.org website also identifies top widely-available models in each vehicle class. This "Greener Choices" list includes trucks and SUVs such as the Buick Encore, Nissan Rogue, and the Ram 1500 HFE. The Chevrolet Spark and Nissan Juke top their respective car classes. As the list demonstrates, consumers can make "greener choices" whatever their vehicle needs may be. Domestic manufacturers claimed four of the 12 “Greener Choices” spots.
“From the rise in the number of efficient vehicles in car-sharing and car rental fleets to the myriad advanced technology vehicle choices available to consumers, the leading edge of the U.S. auto market is evolving rapidly,” said Steve Nadel, ACEEE's executive director.
The site assigns each vehicle a “Green Score,” a singular measure that incorporates lifecycle greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions. This year, a number of updates were made to the greenercars.org methodology to more accurately estimate vehicles' environmental impacts. These include updates to in-use emissions of methane and nitrous oxides, evaporative emissions estimates, and gasoline, diesel, and natural gas "upstream" emissions. Vehicles not intended to achieve significant sales volumes are not eligible for spots on the “Greenest” list.
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
How optimistic is the outlook for the UK’s turbine bid?
Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly