Breaking Energy recently spoke with Solar Impulse co-founders Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg about their ambitious goal to fly around the world in a solar-powered airplane that uses zero liquid fuel and can fly through the night.

A major milestone along the path to that goal will be reached in the coming weeks when Solar Impulse flies from San Francisco (Moffett Airfield) and stop in four US cities including Phoenix, Dallas Fort Worth and Washington D.C. before reaching New York’s JFK airport, its final destination in early July. Keep reading →

President Obama’s energy strategy has been widely advertised as an “all of the above” approach, and the significant funds invested in renewable energy projects and energy research in the first four years of his presidency have diversified the nation’s energy supply, even as the administration comes under attack for its diffused approach.

The White House is now focusing on the transport sector, leaving aside controversial technologies like large-scale solar or wind installations that dominated the DC energy discussion for the last four years. The new plan, which includes an energy security trust, includes policies to promote the use of natural gas as a transport fuel and includes funds for research into advanced biofuels. Keep reading →

In his recent State of the Union speech, President Obama proposed an Energy Security Trust that would rely on the money from increased oil and gas drilling to support research that could move cars and trucks off oil-derived fuels.

From a White House briefing document accompanying the President’s speech: Keep reading →

What’s the value of a home that can fine-tune EV charging in the garage, solar panels on the roof, appliances in the kitchen and thermostats on the wall to maximize its energy profile?

Ford Motor Co., SunPower and Whirlpool say it’s significant, at least according to a new computer model they’ve developed with the Georgia Institute of Technology. And while they haven’t launched any commercial offerings on this front yet, Ford has already developed a database of EV charging rates from utilities across the country to give each home system some grid-pertinent data to make decisions with — and a cloud-based management platform to control it all. Keep reading →

For countries with lots of coal looking for clean alternatives to burning it, Synthesis Energy Systems has an answer: use that coal to run cars and make plastics.

That’s not only technically feasible, it’s actually being done commercially in China, Robert Rigdon, SES President and CEO, told Breaking Energy. Keep reading →

Mass transit use jumped 5% in the first quarter of 2012, as high gas prices and a rebounding economy put more people on the bus and train. Over 2.65 billion trips were made using trains, buses, ferries or street cars in the first quarter of 2012, according to the American Public Transportation Association. That’s up from 2.5 billion trips in the same period last year. The increase was one of the largest quarterly jumps on record, and comes on the heels of a 2011 ridership rate that was the second highest since 1957 — when widespread use of the car and suburbanization began to turn many people away from mass transit. Of course, high gasoline prices were a defining theme at the start of 2012. Gas rose to nearly $4 a gallon — its highest level ever for that time of year — as an expanding economy and fears over Iran drove up the price of oil.

Gas prices are rising and government fuel economy requirements are going up, too. This time around, Detroit’s ready for the fight. General Motors, for instance, is entering the increasingly competitive mini-car market with the Chevrolet Spark. Mini-cars are even smaller than subcompacts. The reason for selling them isn’t that they get better fuel economy, though. Generally speaking, subcompacts and minicars don’t get better mileage than larger compact cars. Beyond a certain point, there’s just no gain from shrinking cars any further. The reason for offering a car this tiny is competition. Some customers, especially younger buyers living in crowded cities, want a really small car. If Chevy didn’t offer the Spark, those buyers might go get a Scion iQ or Fiat 500 and GM wants every small car sale it can get.