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By Robert Rapier on Mar 30, 2010 with 96 responses

The Electric Car Report

I am back home in Hawaii, and over the next few days hope my schedule settles down to normal. I am aware of some lingering technical issues that need to be resolved on the blog (e.g., some of the comments have not been successfully imported from the old blog – but they will be).

I imagine that a fair number of new readers linking in here over the next week or so will be doing so in response to a report on electric cars that was released while I was in New Zealand. I am listed as an advisor on that report. So I want to discuss my role, and ultimately how this exercise has influenced my views on electric cars.

I became acquainted with the author of the report (Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the car buyers’ Dog & Lemon Guide) a year ago when he wrote and asked me a few questions. As this report began to develop, I helped with certain aspects of the well to wheels efficiency of the petroleum supply chain, and I went through some of the calculations to check for errors. There are aspects of the report that I really can’t comment on, because I don’t know enough about that particular aspect. For instance, I can’t comment on efficiency losses of electric transmission, or in the drive train of an automobile.

Regular readers know that I have long been enthusiastic about the potential of electric cars. In my view as fossil fuels deplete it is going to be difficult to maintain anywhere close to the level of mobility we enjoy today. There simply is not, in my opinion, a renewable liquid fuel option that can scale up and replace a large fraction of the fossil fuels we use today.

However, renewable liquid fuels for the most part are just captured sunshine (as is oil, natural gas, and coal for that matter), and there are a lot more efficient ways of capturing sunshine than photosynthesis (biomass, however, has the advantage of a built-in storage system). Solar panels offer a way – in principle – to produce as much energy as we use today in the form of oil. (See my essay Replacing Gasoline with Solar Power). So I have always viewed electric cars as our best hope for approaching today’s level of mobility as petroleum supplies decline.

In fact, the summary by the author of the report on the potential benefits of electric cars would look very much like my own:

“1. Electric cars improve the security of vehicle energy supply by avoiding liquid fuels that are often imported from hostile or politically volatile countries and are being discovered at a slower rate than they are being depleted.

2. Electric cars offer much improved air quality in cities.

3. Electric cars offer drastically reduced traffic noise.

4. Electric cars offer less CO2 emissions if the electricity comes from nuclear, hydro, solar, wind or perhaps biomass.

5. Electric cars are sometimes more efficient than petrol or diesel cars.”

However, the report then highlights issues regarding electricity production around the world. For instance:

“1. Globally, most electricity is produced using highly environmentally damaging sources, and much of it is produced from fossil fuels. There is unlikely to be a significant change in the way this majority of electricity is produced in the foreseeable future.

2. Although there are alternative forms of electricity production that cause less harm to the environment than conventional forms, these forms are invariably far more expensive, and are therefore unlikely to be adopted en masse in the near future. Thus, the central premise behind the electric car movement – that electric cars will be powered primarily from ‘green’ sources – is essentially wishful thinking. The car driver generally has no control over how and where the electricity that powers his car is generated. Electric cars do not stop environmental damage: rather, they tend to merely move it out of sight, from the highways to the power plants.”

I think we can broadly agree that a large fraction of our electricity is produced from fossil fuels. The 2nd point will be more contentious. After all, it is the very assumption that electricity will be much greener in the future that leads to the conclusion that the future of transportation could be green and electric.

The Tesla/Lotus Elise comparison is very interesting. The author examined the way electricity is produced today in various countries, and concluded that in 4 of 5 countries, the Tesla would actually be dirtier than the internal combustion Elise because of the amount of electricity for the Tesla that would originate from coal. New Zealand was the one exception in which the Tesla was found to be greener:

“In four of the five countries we surveyed, the Tesla electric car was less efficient and more polluting than its petrol sibling. Only in New Zealand – where the majority of electricity is produced by hydroelectric generation – was the Tesla ‘greener’ than the Elise. However, a New Zealand scientist recently predicted that if the New Zealand car fleet was replaced with electric cars, the country would probably need to build coal power stations to meet the increased demand.”

– but this shows that IF a significant fraction of electricity production is shifted to greener sources, the electric car can be greener than the internal combustion engine.

Ultimately, I think this report provides a good reality check of many assumptions on the future of the electric car. I still think it is true that there is great potential, but you can’t ignore the fact that it is very likely in at least the short term that incremental electricity will not come from renewable sources.

  1. By Petes on April 1, 2010 at 1:00 am

    Electric cars + Polywell fusion … the Holy Grail !

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  2. By Rufus on April 1, 2010 at 1:01 am

    A hybrid, especially, a serial hybrid, like the Volt, makes a lot of sense to me. I could imagine a fairly large demand.

    An electric car, like the Leaf, just seems like a “Toy,” or something. I just can’t imagine more than a half-dozen, or so, people laying out the money. Maybe I’m wrong.

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  3. By OD on April 1, 2010 at 1:02 am

    From the snippets in the link you posted it just reads as another anti-coal report, giving very few details on the actual feasibility of an electric car fleet, which is what I was hoping for. Did the report mention nuclear at all? It should be mentioned that a good chunk of US electricity is from nuclear and I read today Japan is going to build 14 new nuke plants.

    Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

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  4. By Robert Merkel on April 1, 2010 at 1:03 am

    I think the fuel consumption numbers for the Elise were optimistic for “hard driving”, for what it’s worth.
    That said, when you boil it down and strip out the ranty bits, the report’’s main points can be summarized as follows:

    1) cars sitting in traffic jams aren’t very efficient on so many levels.

    2) if you posit that electricity will continue to be generated by burning coal forever, the CO2 intensity of electric cars is comparable or worse than conventional vehicles.

    Both of these points are true.

    However, I make these two points in response:

    1) If suburban Americans (and Aussies, for that matter) prefer to spend their time sitting in traffic jams than sitting on moving mass transit, that’s their problem. CO2 emissions, by contrast, are a problem for the entire world. So, if Americans collectively decide to solve the emissions and/or their fuel availability problem by replacing their conventionally-fuelled cars by electric ones, the problems with global implications are solved and Americans can solve or not solve their traffic problems at their generational leisure.

    2) If you accept the consensus science on global warming, the consequences of continuing to generate electricity for existing applications using fossil fuels are somewhere between terrible and catastrophic, with a small but non-zero possibility of the collapse of technological civilization. Either we switch away from fossil fuels (or perfect CO2 capture and storage), or we’re screwed.

    If you accept that, the assumption that future electricity supplies will be clean is a pretty small one to make.

    Finally, urban air pollution is a very big and largely ignored deal.

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  5. By Petes on April 1, 2010 at 1:04 am

    While we’re getting to there from here, there’s still the option to economise. Common rail turbo diesels, not hybrids, are the name of the game (in Europe at any rate) — the Vokswagen Golf TDi which does 80+ mpg (imperial), the Skoda Octavia which does 70+ mpg and many others. I was hoping for the last couple of years that my next car would be electric, but needs must and I’ve just bought an Octavia.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/news…..96762.html

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  6. By Paul N on April 1, 2010 at 1:05 am

    Od, the report does mention nuclear, it has the usual sort of pie graphs showing how much electricity comes from where. The real point is, that renewables make up only a tiny fraction, and fossil fuel plants are still being built today to keep up with rising demand, or to replace old ones.
    What would be interesting is if all the electric car dealers offered green electricty packages to the buyers, (i.e. more expensive electricity) and see how many take them up on the offer. My old city (Calgary) powered it’s train system with wind energy from a (relatively)nearby wind farm, if I bought an electric, I would consider doing the same.

    Believe it or not, there some situations where a pure electric makes sense. My local town government has numerous fleet vehicles, none of which drive more than 40 miles a day, and stay within a five miles radius – these would be ideal candidates for electric. Postal vehicles and many other fleet vehicles that do predictable amounts of driving and are unused at night would also suit.

    For an individual it always comes down to a choice of giving up some independence with the limited range. And given that the whole idea of a personal vehicle is transport freedom, this is hard for many (not all) to do. So electrics will have their niche.

    But the author is correct, as even Kit P has pointed out before, when you are stuck in choking traffic, you are just as stuck in an electric as any other car. Even the diesel is not getting 70 mpg then.

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  7. By Robert Merkel on April 1, 2010 at 1:05 am

    Paul N, I’ll bet large amounts of money that the initial buyers of these vehicles will be happy to purchase green power of some stripe to power them.

    The trouble is that the next wave of buyers who are buying the EVs for more pragmatic reasons won’t do so, and even if they wanted to it’s arguably that it’s not going to be technically viable to do so at an affordable price.

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  8. By Paul N on April 1, 2010 at 1:06 am

    Robert M, I agree with you that the first buyers would likely do so, as the main reason they are buying is to make a statement, not save money. Agreed also about the 2nd gen buyers, but since a green premium is optional, not mandatory, I am OK with that.

    An interesting question is how much generation is required per car. The Tesla holds 53kWh, and has a charging efficiency of 80%, so a full charge needs 66kWh. For a wind turbine to provide this, each day, with an average capacity factor of 0.25, you need 11kW of wind turbine. Wind turbines cost about $2500 per kW of installed capacity, so you need $27,500 of wind turbine to support the car.

    For solar PV, we have the same capacity factor of 0.25, but cost/kW is now $5k, so you need $55k of PV to charge the car every day. We also need some storage or alternate generattion, as the car charges at night, but we’ll ignore that for now.

    For a combined cycle gas turbine, the capacity factor is about 0.5, so you only need 5.5kW to support the car. At a capital cost of about $700/kW, that is $3850 of capital to support the car (and about $2 for NG per charge)

    With a coal plant, at capacity factor of 1, you need 2.8 kW to support the car, and at a capital cost of about $1500/kW for a state of the art plant, that comes out to the same $3850/kW, and about $0.40 of coal per charge (the equivalent in gasoline for one charge is 7 gal x$3=$21!)

    For the US to replace all 200 million cars with electric powered by wind, this is $5.5 trillion for the extra wind capacity, and an eye watering $11trn for solar PV. To do it with NG or coal is $700bn for the extra capacity. None of these figures include grid upgrades either.

    So clearly, even though charging an electric car is cheap, if they are going to be powered by green energy, there is a massive infrastructure cost associated with them.
    So the question then becomes, do the utilities have to raise rates to recover these extra costs? If the extra electricity sales cover the costs, then great. But if rate increases are required then it means that everyone is subsidising the electric car buyers!

    Given that most of the new electricity to meet this demand will be NG, driving a Honda Civic GX (their NG car) at $23k, and $1.80 per gallon gasoline equivalent (GGE), and 30+ mpg, suddenly seems like a much better, and certainly cheaper idea. Make a hybrid version of it, or convert a Prius to NG, and better still. Not quite as good for urban air quality as electric, but way better than gasoline.

    Clearly, from a system point of view, electric cars are going to be very expensive. Lets start by using the electricity to run the trains instead, no batteries required.

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  9. By Douglas Hvistendahl on April 1, 2010 at 1:10 am

    Anyone looking at electric cars should look at the articles by John Peterson, on Seeking Alpha. An example is:
    http://seekingalpha.com/articl…..profitable

    Electric trolleys or buses make sense where there is enough population density, electric trucks & cars make sense where there is limited range combined with much stop & start, such as delivery vehicles. In most other cases, the Prius equivalent makes the most sense. One point J.P. makes is that the electric motorcycle or scooter will always be able to outbid the BEV or PHEV for batteries.

    I prefer public transportation where available. I can read while traveling!

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  10. By Nellius on April 1, 2010 at 1:10 am

    Change from cost-driven constraints to availability constraints will shift the choice towards PHEV. At a certain point, availability will enter the set of constraints in order to optimize energy use. The same paradox exists for example with waste incineration, where the negative infeed tariff is at no point steering the installations towards highest energy efficiencies. The combination of partly electrical vehicles and electricity out of renewable sources creates a situation of higher efficiency and significant lower GHG emissions. Furthermore, the PHEV will have to ability to store energy from not perfect suitable base load energy sources as wind and solar. The current reason to maintain coal based energy is cost. It will be the political and individual choice to maximise energy efficiency out of our limited sources, fossil fuels, biomass, …

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  11. By Kinuachdrach on April 1, 2010 at 1:11 am

    RR – You still have not addressed the issue of Hate Speech on your blog.

    On one of your recent posts, a “contributor” made obnoxious statements attacking people who are fat, homosexual, American, religious — a pretty comprehensive Hate Speech attack.
    You have ignored this so far.
    So what’s the story? Is Robert Rapier OK with all Hate Speech? Only with certain Hate Speech? Or afraid to address the issue?
    It’s your blog, RR. Your rules. Just let us know what they are.

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  12. By doggydogworld on April 1, 2010 at 1:12 am

    Paul N, your assumptions are bad. A full recharge of a single Tesla may require 66 kWh but you can’t apply that to an entire 200 million car fleet because every car does not travel 250 miles every day. Average daily driving distance is about 35 miles. Capacity factor are improving with technology, 2004-05 vintage wind farms achieved 36%. Capital cost was about $1500/kW five years ago, popped to $2500/kW as Boone Pickens and others engaged in a bidding war and has fallen back below $2000 today.

    10 kWh average daily recharge @ 35% capacity factor = 1.2 kW of wind turbine
    1.2 kW of wind turbine per car @ $2000/kW = $2400 capital cost per car
    200 million cars * $2400 /car = $480 billion total capital cost

    That’s a $480b one-time capital cost (actually, once every 25-40 years). The US spends $600 billion EVERY YEAR on oil, the vast majority imported from a world market dominated by hostile and corrupt nations. Wind is VASTLY cheaper than petroleum, roughly 2 cents per mile vs. 12. It’s not even a contest.

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  13. By doggydogworld on April 1, 2010 at 1:12 am

    Robert, I just spent a few minutes with Clive’s spreadsheet. It’s pretty bad. The EPA rates the Elise at 22 MPG (US) combined. He ranks it at 24-33, depending on driving cycle. Meanwhile his Tesla range is 75-200 miles, well below the official 244 rating. Again, his WORST number is HIGHER than the published data for the Elise while his BEST number is LOWER than the one for the Tesla.

    His US CO2/kWh number is 65% higher than official DOE data, his CO2 per gallon of petrol is 5% too low, etc., etc. The numbers are all biased in the same direction, so it’s clearly bias and not mere sloppiness. He’s using your good name to promote his hatchet job — if I were you I’d demand he stop immediately.

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  14. By OD on April 1, 2010 at 1:13 am

    Very good points doggydogworld, and I agree completely.
     

    Our daily commute is <15 miles, so a full recharge would be required every few days, if that. I believe my situation is not unique. Too many generalizations going on, imo. An EV would more than suit our needs. Wish I was one of the lucky ones driving an electric Rav4!

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  15. By OD on April 1, 2010 at 1:14 am

    Kinu – Do you have examples? I am guilty of just skimming articles, but I do not recall any of the things you have mentioned?? Especially not in this article?

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  16. By Benny BND Cole on April 1, 2010 at 1:15 am

    Excellent post by RR.

    Still, I have to say, even with coal-fired power plants, I find PHEVs to be compelling, for the positive attributes mentioned, including national security.

    Additionally, concentrating pollution to a few power sources, rather than millions of cars, must surely present better opportunties for clean-up. I hope we switch to clean sources, primarily nukes. But along the way, we can make coal plants burn more cleanly.

    I have a minor quibble with RR–I am not sure liquid fuels will be all that scarce in the future. PHEVs and CNG-cars could radically curtail liquid fuel demand. Moreover, we have epic supplies of natural gas, which is easily made into methanol.

    A PHEV running on methanol is eminently doable, and completely eliminates the demand for oil, especially foreign oil.

    And, for Rufus: An ethanol-PHEV does the same thing, except for those farmers burning diesel. When you get the farmers to buy ethanol tractors, I will dance naked in the middle of Times Square.

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  17. By Robert Rapier on April 1, 2010 at 1:15 am

    “Kinu – Do you have examples? I am guilty of just skimming articles, but I do not recall any of the things you have mentioned?? Especially not in this article?”
     

    Ditto. What exactly is this about, Kinu? I can assure you I have not seen the post you are referring to.

    RR

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  18. By Petes on April 1, 2010 at 1:17 am

    Just a minor admin curiosity — why is there no “link to forum discussion” at the head of the article this time? Have we gone back to comments only?

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  19. By Robert Rapier on April 1, 2010 at 1:17 am

    “Robert, I just spent a few minutes with Clive’s spreadsheet. It’s pretty bad.”

    I spent a lot of time going back and forth over the spreadsheet, asking where certain numbers and assumptions came from. At the end of the day, I don’t have time to verify all of his inputs, so I decided I would provide the clear caveat that I can’t comment on all aspects of the inputs. I can verify that the well to wheels numbers for petroleum are correct, and I can verify that I checked certain inputs. What I have not done – which is what you flagged up – is checked all of the assumptions behind the inputs. For instance, I asked where some of those CO2 numbers came from:

    “I am just trying to figure out where the CO2 number came from for the Elise, but I can’t trace it back to petroleum. It would just help to know how the calculation was done.”

    The response I got back:

    “As for where the actual numbers themselves came from, the long answer:

    http://www.consumerreports.org…..-specs.htm

    CR’s overall mileage, 29 mpg(us) (8.1 litres/100km )

    CR’s city/highway, 24 / 33 mpg(us) (9.8/7.1 litres/100km 29/40mpg(imp)) <—
    CR’s 150-mile trip, 32 mpg(us) (7.4 litres/100km)

    These are the fuel consumption figures we used based on road testing. Assuming that an imperial gallon weighs 3.3kg and petrol is 83% carbon on average, 2.7 kilos of carbon must be burnt resulting in 3.67 times 2.7kg, or 10.05kg CO2. From miles per gallon and CO2 per gallon we can get a figure for CO2 per mile. This was inserted into the spreadsheet after being modified to include a well to tank efficiency of 85% for petrol.

    I have modified the spreadsheet somewhat to make it clearer how the figures are calculated based on your questions.”

    RR

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  20. By Robert Rapier on April 1, 2010 at 1:18 am

    “Just a minor admin curiosity — why is there no “link to forum discussion” at the head of the article this time? Have we gone back to comments only?”

    Pete, what we discussed doing while I was in New Zealand was modifying the comment section such that the last 15 comments are visible below the article, and then the older ones are archived in the forum. But this obviously hasn’t been implemented yet. Haven’t talked to the editor since I have been back, so not sure where this stands.

    RR

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  21. By russ on April 1, 2010 at 1:18 am

    @Kinu – Hate speech? You have got a real vivid imagination to get all that out of the one post!

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  22. By Rufus on April 1, 2010 at 1:19 am

    You need ONE comment thread. Call it forum; call it what you will. Two threads doesn’t make any sense.

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  23. By Robert Rapier on April 1, 2010 at 1:19 am

    “You need ONE comment thread. Call it forum; call it what you will. Two threads doesn’t make any sense.”

    The problem we are trying to resolve is that many times the comments go in many different directions, and it becomes hard to keep up with who said what. Archiving the older comments in a forum would allow those conversations to take place there, while keeping the forum here on topic with the latest comments.

    We are trying different things to see what works. We have also thought about having the comments listed in reverse order; with the newest one on top. But we are open to suggestions on what readers want. I basically want two things: 1). A comment section that is not burdensome to read through and is easy to comment in, and 2). Forums where readers can start up their own topics. Other than that, I am pretty open to how we achieve those goals.

    RR

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  24. By Russ Finley on April 1, 2010 at 1:20 am

    I was also just looking for a forum link. The HTML tools in the forum are pretty impressive.

    I’ve seen a couple of reports over the years that have drawn the same conclusion about electric cars. This isn’t really new, although I doubt the general public is aware of it.

    I’ve been on Nissan’s email list for updates on the Leaf. They just sent a price list:

    http://p.p0.com/YesConnect/Htm…..ptqiQ2kqJK

    It’s exciting to see an electric car from a major car manufacturer actually hit the market at a reasonable price with reasonable performance.

    It is entirely possible that electric cars will create a consumer demand for cleaner electricity. The tail might start wagging the dog.

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  25. By armchair261 on April 1, 2010 at 1:21 am

    Apart from fuels used to generate electricity as part of the overall “green rating” of electric cars, what about grid capacity, in the US at least? I’m just asking, don’t know what the answer is. Do we have the grid capacity to service a nation full of electric cars (I assume not)? If not, how do we get there, and how many dollars, not to mention fossil fuel energy, would be burned to get there?

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  26. By Kinuachdrach on April 1, 2010 at 1:21 am

    RR wrote: “Ditto. What exactly is this about, Kinu? I can assure you I have not seen the post you are referring to.”

    RR — Check comment #19 and its follow up in your recent post on Concerns on Global Warming. Sufficiently obnoxious to cross the boundary into hate speech.

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  27. By Kinuachdrach on April 1, 2010 at 1:22 am

    Back on Topic — there was some discussion on the radio today about Nissan’s electric Leaf vehicle. Eligible for a tax subsidy in excess of $7,000. (!)

    In most parts of the US, a family could buy a used car in decent running condition for $7,000. Does it make sense to tax ordinary families to subsidize wealthy elites looking for the latest fashion accessory?

    We didn’t have to subsidize early buyers of flat screen TVs to get that industry going. Nor the early buyers of cell phones. Nor the early buyers of PCs. All of those successful tax-paying products started as expensive high-end products for specific niches. As they grew and were able to cut costs, the market for their products grew exponentially. Paying taxes all the time.

    It would be so much easier if alternate fuels were not Subsidy Sluts — and would stand up & compete on the standard basis of better & cheaper & more convenient. However, the issues in competing successfully are not simple. As Benny has pointed out, Compressed Natural Gas vehicles are cheaper than gasoline, and have been for decades. Yet CNG has had problems expanding beyond a narrow niche, in many places around the world. Even if battery-powered vehicles were cheaper than gasoline (and that is obviously a long way off), they too still might struggle, just like CNG. Two of the crunch issues for CNG are apparently range (limited) and refueling (limited locations, slow). Battery vehicles have those same problems in spades.

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  28. By paul-n on April 1, 2010 at 2:39 am

    Doggydogworld wrote:

     

    Capital cost was about $1500/kW five years ago, popped to $2500/kW as Boone Pickens and others engaged in a bidding war and has fallen back below $2000 today.

    So, if we are going to build 200million x 1.2 kW, do you not think we will get a bidding war that will push prices up?  Also, the best wind sites are already taken.  As we go from here, just like oil, they will get less reliable wind, and be more remote, which means more for transmission lines, one of the reasons why Pickens gave up.  Where I live in coastal BC, people protest against transmission lines being built to hydro plants, and there are far less of them than there will be for 200GW (that is 100,000 1 MW turbines!)

     

    Also, the electric system CANNOT be sized just for average demand, it has to be sized for peak demand, otherwise you get blackout.   For the people who buy these cars, do you think they will be ones with long or short commutes?  Once electric car drivers realise how cheap it is, per mile, what are the chances their average daily driving will increase?They will use it in preference to their other car at every opportunity (as they should), so the average daily drive of electric drivers will  actually increase – this is Jevon’s paradox at work.

    And what happens on the last day of a long weekend/thanksgiving etc?  When almost every driver (elec or otherwise) has come back from their weekend away, they will be plugging in their vehicles on almost empty batteries, so you have to design for this, in terms of both generation and transmission.

    And with the charging power of 17kW (3.5 hrs for 66kWh), this is a BIG load for a house.  Typical houses have a 200A service, add in your electric car drawing 70A at 240 V and you will likely need to upgrade your service.  Now, if even half the people on the street do that, the local utility is going to have to upisze every transformer, and possibly the wiring in some cases.  Their rules stipulate the size of equipment and lines based on the the aggregate peak demand, not average.  Here in Vancouver, the elec utility is having to to upgrades where people are converting garages to carriage houses, elec cars would add even more peak demand.

     

    AS soon as there are enough electric cars to make a real dent in oil consumption, there will be enough to start requiring serious upgrades to electrical capacity.

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  29. By paul-n on April 1, 2010 at 2:53 am

    Robert Rapier said:

     

    The problem we are trying to resolve is that many times the comments go in many different directions, and it becomes hard to keep up with who said what. Archiving the older comments in a forum would allow those conversations to take place there, while keeping the forum here on topic with the latest comments.

    We are trying different things to see what works. We have also thought about having the comments listed in reverse order; with the newest one on top. But we are open to suggestions on what readers want. I basically want two things: 1). A comment section that is not burdensome to read through and is easy to comment in, and 2). Forums where readers can start up their own topics. Other than that, I am pretty open to how we achieve those goals.

    RR


    RR, I think the format that best achieves (1) is that used by The Oil Drum.  While there are many inane comments posted there,  it is easy to see who is replying to who, and several sub threads can be carried on relating to the same original post.  And each time you come back onto it, it highlights the new comments, so you can quickly catch up on what is new.

    As for (2), why not have a separate section for that, the rough equivalent of Drumbeat on TOD, which is where anyone can start a new thread on any topic?  -Not all topics fall under the categories listed, and I like the idea that under those categories, are stories identified by the CER editors, rather than just anyone.

     

    Now, adopting their format doesn;t mean we have to go down to their level of average comment quality…

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  30. By doggydogworld on April 1, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Robert, Consumer Reports does pretty good MPG testing but not in a controlled environment. They also drive pretty easy by sports car standards; it’s amusing to compare their tested MPG vs. the hotshoes at Car and Driver. I see no good reason to shun the standardized EPA numbers. At minimum, if he’s going to use an alternate data source it should be one which has tested both cars under the same conditions. That is NOT the case here, CR never tested the Tesla. I guarantee if they did their results would be much better than his 75-200 mile range.

    CO2 numbers measured by real scientists are all over the web. The EPA uses 8.8 kg/gal (10.55 kg/Imperial gal). No reason for him to invent his own (more favorable) numbers. The same is true for US electricity CO2 emissions, the DOE puts out comprehensive data. 2008 CO2 emissions were 2.477e12 kg / 4.119e12 kWh = 0.6 kg/kWh:

    http://www.epa.gov/oms/climate…..f05001.htm
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/e…..at3p9.html

    If he erred in both directions I’d call him sloppy, but all his errors are in the same direction and without them his argument falls apart. So taking my Mom’s advice I won’t say anything about him at all.

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  31. By robert2734 on April 1, 2010 at 11:20 am

    doggydogworld said:

    Robert, I just spent a few minutes with Clive’s spreadsheet. It’s pretty bad. The EPA rates the Elise at 22 MPG (US) combined. He ranks it at 24-33, depending on driving cycle. Meanwhile his Tesla range is 75-200 miles, well below the official 244 rating. Again, his WORST number is HIGHER than the published data for the Elise while his BEST number is LOWER than the one for the Tesla.

    His US CO2/kWh number is 65% higher than official DOE data, his CO2 per gallon of petrol is 5% too low, etc., etc. The numbers are all biased in the same direction, so it’s clearly bias and not mere sloppiness. He’s using your good name to promote his hatchet job — if I were you I’d demand he stop immediately.


     

    Those number look right to me.  If you want to plug in what those cars will do out in the real world, its 24-33 for the elise depending on how you drive, hills, and a zillion other factors.  Similarlythe Tesla does 244 miles/full charge on a treadmill but in the real world its 75-200 miles. 

     

    We don’t need to know the efficiency of an electric car transmission.  Both the Roadster and the Leaf does 4 miles per kilowatt hour and battery charging efficiency is 80%. 

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  32. By doggydogworld on April 1, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Armchair261, the US would need about 800 TWh per year to get all our passenger miles from electricity. That’s 20% of our existing annual 4000 TWh generation. Studies by EPRI and others show the grid has overnight slack capacity RIGHT NOW to provide virtually all that increase. In reality it will take decades to build that many EVs, giving the grid planners ample time to avoid any need to run inefficient peaking units 24×7. In fact, EVs can dramatically reduce peaking needs by flattening the load curve. Furthermore, 200+ million EVs represent a massive “dispatchable load” which can help grid planners handle all sorts of issues such as frequency regulation, load balancing, blackout avoidance, peak loading, renewable intermittency, etc., etc.

    PaulN, 240 GW of new wind capacity sounds like a bidding war in the making. But we installed 10 GW last year and the industry supported 30%+ annual growths rate for many years while steadily REDUCING prices. At our historic growth rate the US will hit 240 GW of wind by 2018, decades before an all-EV fleet is possible. And the best wind sites are not already taken, the Dakotas alone have the capacity to power our entire fleet. We’ve only scratched the surface. It’s true we’ll need power lines, but the grid needs upgrading and better connectivity between regions anyway. Cost estimates for total grid upgrade, including trunks to windy and sunny areas, run in the low tens of billions. Amortized over 240 GW and several decades it’s just not a big deal.

    Your 17 kW charging rates and post-Thanksgiving surges are straw men. First, it will take decades to replace the fleet, so there’s ample time to adjust. Second, we won’t all drive Teslas with 250 miles of range. Battery economics dictate that an EV fleet would consist mostly of “extended range” EVs with 20-50 mile range. Most travel is short commutes and errands so you can eliminate 80% of the gasoline consumption with 20% of the battery cost. The Chevy Volt is a first-generation ER-EV (with all the typical first-generation expenses).GM is already talking about cutting battery cost 50-75% in future variants, as Toyota did with the Prius. They are also exploring more integrated power train configurations which can cut electronics cost (motors, inverters, etc.) by 50-75% in future products. ER-EVs will probably never achieve cost parity but a $2500 premium is doable. $1000 annual fuel savings repays that multiple times over the car’s life.

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  33. By Marlowe Johnson on April 1, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Robert,

    I normally agree with your posts (esp on biofuels) but on this issue (which I am more than a little familiar with), I’m inclined to agree with Doggy. Clive’s numbers (i.e. assumptions) all slant in a particular direction and would appear to suggest that he’s trying to cook the books to support a preconceived POV…

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  34. By Sandy Komuer on April 1, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    (Please re-post this as a community service)
    Less than 20 car companies (The ATVM people say there were tons of applications but only a handful were car companies) applied for $25 BILLION DOLLARS in taxpayer money managed by a certain smug group of people at DOE in order to get loans to make green cars for Americans. This was not all of DOE that did bad things, just a private cadre of men led by Lachland Seward and Matt Rogers and his McKinsey “Partner” who flew back and forth to their homes in Silicon Valley every weekend on the taxpayer dime.

    There was enough money to help every single one of the car companies that applied. The administrators applied their interpretations of the law in order to benefit the large lobby group-related firms and avoided every one of the “politically unconnected “independent American companies. The companies staff that felt that Matt Rogers, Lachland Seward and the ATVM people lied to them include: Aptera Motors, Bannon, BioTrike, Brammo, Bright Auto, VVC, Eco Motors, Electric Motors, ElectroRides, Electrovaya, ETS, EV Innovations, Futuris, Limnia, Magna, Pheonix, Revolution, Smart Earth, Vextrix, Wrightspeed, XP, Zap and a group of others currently seeking a class action law firm. The decision was made in December 2008 about who would get money and all of those companies were lied to for over a year about it.

    The amount of lobby and influence money spent by each awardee is in direct ratio to the amount of money awarded. Pay-to-play was the process.

    The smaller companies, due to lower overhead, could have dramatically more productive results with the money than the large burdened companies yet the money was given out based on political career advantages for the administrators rather than the technology advantages for Americans.

    The way the ATVM people set it up (Google “Siry says stifles innovation” for more), the smaller applicants were prevented from getting outside investor funding.

    All of the people that reviewed the applications had political and financial connections to GM, Ford, Chrysler and the large Detroit recipients.

    Each of those smaller American companies had technology and resources that presented a powerful economic threat, if they got the loans, to the large politically connected companies that did receive funds. The big car companies wanted the small companies cut-out at all costs.

    The Section 136 law was written to provide first-come-first serve funding but when the small companies got their applications in first, while the big ones arrogantly felt that they did not even need to apply because it was already pre-staged for them, the ATVM officials changed the rules in order to remove the first-come-first-serve standard of the law in order to cut out the smaller independents.

    Some of the companies that have gotten money have backed out of making the electric cars they said they would make. But they still get to keep the money.

    The Section 136 Law was created by the lobbyists for GM, Ford & Chrysler when they saw that they were about to go bankrupt and wanted to tap into additional taxpayer dollars by claiming the money was going to be used for electric cars in order to win rapid support for Section 136 by tugging at heartstrings. In retrospect, the money mostly went to gasoline car projects. Multiple public hearings have already shown the sister loan guarantee program to have been a failed program via intentional delays, the head was fired and replaced & massive complaints have been filed by many.

    Some of the companies that got the money have already wasted more money than other companies applied for as their total request.

    Some of the companies that got taxpayer loan money are not even American companies and/or are doing their manufacturing offshore with non-American employees. Thus, the ATVM process has cost American’s jobs.

    Those who got the money had to fill out little, or no, paperwork, went through little, or no, review and were connected to the DOE people who gave them the money and shepherded them through the process. Those who they wanted to keep out were forced to jump through more hoops, were slow-tracked in review and had made no political deals via hired law and lobby firms that the big companies has used to conduit “influence”.

    The decision about who would get money was made in 2008 by a private group who then pretended there was a lengthy review throughout 2009 but in fact, the money was pre-wired for a select few. The ATVM group lied to the other applicants about their application station when Lachlan Seward had already personally decided, without review, that his connections would get the money and ordered his staff to tell the applicants, for over a year, that they were all on the way to funding. This caused those applicants to expend money and brand reputation which they lost because of Sewards lies.

    All of the things that the rejected small companies (who did not pay lobby fees) were rejected for, were the same things that the insider big companies were doing. In at least two cases, big companies who were in violation of Section 136 rules were guided by reviewer-insiders to change their whole business structure in order to become suddenly “compliant “with section 136 while smaller companies received no such “help”.

    How does this affect you? It cost you and your friends jobs, it delayed American innovation, it made your family have to breath toxic petroleum fumes for another decade, it furthered a corrupt practice and it hurt domestic small business. This was all about money. Controlling who got to make money off of the technology and who got to delay electric cars so the old oil and steel guys could still make money off of their old assets.

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  35. By rrapier on April 1, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    “RR — Check comment #19 and its follow up in your recent post on Concerns on Global Warming. Sufficiently obnoxious to cross the boundary into hate speech.”

    OK, I have reviewed the comment in question. I have not consulted with Sam, but while I agree that the comments are insulting, I wouldn’t characterize them as hate speech. For instance, I think we know that the “tea-bagger” comment is not a slur on homosexuals any more than if I was in the UK and heard someone talk about “smoking a fag.” (Actually I was shocked the first time I heard it, because I did not know that fag there was slang for cigarette).

    However, I don’t want any name-calling going on in the forums. Let’s stick to the topic at hand, and try to behave as if you are sitting across the table from the person you are addressing. When we get angry and start insulting others, it is a waste of time for everyone.

    RR

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  36. By rrapier on April 1, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    “I normally agree with your posts (esp on biofuels) but on this issue (which I am more than a little familiar with), I’m inclined to agree with Doggy. Clive’s numbers (i.e. assumptions) all slant in a particular direction and would appear to suggest that he’s trying to cook the books to support a preconceived POV…”

    This is why I wrote this post – to make very clear what my contribution was. As I told Clive, I think he has raised some important questions, but I don’t view the report as a nail in the coffin for electric cars. If Clive’s numbers are slanted, then that should be addressed in rebuttals. Incidentally, I am more than happy to host a rebuttal here if you are inclined to write one.

    RR

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  37. By Benny BND Cole on April 1, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    I gotta agree with Doggydog–The EV, or PHEV fleet will not overburden the US grid. Moreover, from what I see, the grid may not need much new capacity–many buildings are using less power every year, as LED lights replace conventional, and new glazed windows are installed, or as better HVAC equipment replaces old equipment.
    Almost any decent architect or engineer can show you how to seriously cut energy consumption in buildings. City streetlights will switch to LED in the years ahead.
    PHEVs and EV would centralize pollution to a relatively few sources, and even coal plants could be fitted with better scrubbing equipment etc.
    I can imagine no policy better for our economy, or for our environment than promoting the use of PHEVs.

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  38. By od on April 1, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Speaking of LEDs, I wish I could get some decent ones for my home! Very frustrated that prices have not come down more, and the ones that are available are not impressive.

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  39. By Paul N on April 1, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Benny/Doggydog,

    I think that, like wind turbines themselves, EV’s will not be a real grid problem until they start to make a big chunk of the vehicles >30%.

    I will concede that my initial assumption of a full charge each night is the worst case scenario, but we can’t just bet on average miles travelled, today, either. These cars are not out there in quantity yet, and we don’t really know what the consumption patterns will be. We can make educated guesses, and mine is that electric car owners, having paid so much, and with such a cheap marginal cost of driving, will use their car as much as possible, and thus do lots more miles per day than average.

    I will also return t the question about powering them all with windpower – wind has not yet been able to reverse the increase in fossil fuel electricity, without cars present, so clearly it will be even harder to do so with the additional load of cars. It still represents less than 2% of total electricity, and has a (relatively) short operational history, so there is lots of catching up for it to do. The wind industry will keep growing, as it should. Whether it can continue its exponential growth is a different question.

    At the local level, there will be growing pains where a everyone on a street buys them and starts charging. Ford did a trial with time controlled PHEV charging, and this may have to be implemented on a large scale – but are the bulk of consumers willing to cede control of charging (and even discharging, at peak times) of their car?

    I would agree that probably the best bang for buck here is PHEV, as you have a dual fuel vehicle and lots of flexibility, but pure EV’s have their place too. We should let the buyers and sellers work that out for themselves, no tax credits required.

    Ultimately though fuel switching of vehicles does not address the underlying issue that we are over dependent upon them, and our cities are choked with them. As much as it is god to be able to choose between electric or gasoline, precious few people are realistically able to choose not to have a car. The only thing worse than living in a typical suburban hell, is living there without a car!

    It will be interesting to see if the electric bikes take off here. the people I know that have electric Vespa style scooters (or even the gasoline ones) love them, and they are cheap enough that they can keep their car for when they need it. If you are able to not have to take a freeway everyday, then this is an option. But for most people, they are stuck with cars for sometime to come. I am all in favour of electrics in their various forms, but we can’t ignore the fact that any serious switch will involve serious expansions to the electrical system, some places more than others.

    If the government could just resist fiddling around with subsidies and the like, it might just work out the way it should…

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  40. By Paul N on April 1, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Benny/Doggydog,

    I think that, like wind turbines themselves, EV’s will not be a real grid problem until they start to make a big chunk of the vehicles >30%.

    I will concede that my initial assumption of a full charge each night is the worst case scenario, but we can’t just bet on average miles travelled, today, either. These cars are not out there in quantity yet, and we don’t really know what the consumption patterns will be. We can make educated guesses, and mine is that electric car owners, having paid so much, and with such a cheap marginal cost of driving, will use their car as much as possible, and thus do lots more miles per day than average.

    I will also return t the question about powering them all with windpower – wind has not yet been able to reverse the increase in fossil fuel electricity, without cars present, so clearly it will be even harder to do so with the additional load of cars. It still represents less than 2% of total electricity, and has a (relatively) short operational history, so there is lots of catching up for it to do. The wind industry will keep growing, as it should. Whether it can continue its exponential growth is a different question.

    At the local level, there will be growing pains where a everyone on a street buys them and starts charging. Ford did a trial with time controlled PHEV charging, and this may have to be implemented on a large scale – but are the bulk of consumers willing to cede control of charging (and even discharging, at peak times) of their car?

    I would agree that probably the best bang for buck here is PHEV, as you have a dual fuel vehicle and lots of flexibility, but pure EV’s have their place too. We should let the buyers and sellers work that out for themselves, no tax credits required.

    Ultimately though fuel switching of vehicles does not address the underlying issue that we are over dependent upon them, and our cities are choked with them. As much as it is god to be able to choose between electric or gasoline, precious few people are realistically able to choose not to have a car. The only thing worse than living in a typical suburban hell, is living there without a car!

    It will be interesting to see if the electric bikes take off here. the people I know that have electric Vespa style scooters (or even the gasoline ones) love them, and they are cheap enough that they can keep their car for when they need it. If you are able to not have to take a freeway everyday, then this is an option. But for most people, they are stuck with cars for sometime to come. I am all in favour of electrics in their various forms, but we can’t ignore the fact that any serious switch will involve serious expansions to the electrical system, some places more than others.

    If the government could just resist fiddling around with subsidies and the like, it might just work out the way it should…

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  41. By russ-finley on April 1, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    “I still think it is true that there is great potential, but you can’t ignore the fact that it is very likely in at least the short term that incremental electricity will not come from renewable sources.”

    Although I tend to agree, I can see how it might happen. Look to human nature. I know a guy who just bought a 2009 Prius that had 200 miles on it. The original owner had traded it in for a 2010 Prius with a solar panel on the roof. Although the panel serves no useful purpose (it runs a fan to keep the car from getting hotter than the outside air when parked in the sun), few people know that so it gives the car higher status.

    Replacing coal with zero carbon sources should be happening with or without electric cars, and for those who don’t think that matters, then the whole argument about them using more coal power is moot. Electric cars have other advantages in the same way the turbo fan jets on a 777 do over the radial engines on a B-17.

    Rooftop photovoltaics are pricey, to say the least. But they are also very high status in some circles, which tends to go hand in hand with high price. They can be viewed as top of the line appliances (the ultimate energy conserving appliance available)  but they also serve as their own billboard. Visibility is a necessary condition for status. They not only convey one’s capacity to afford them but also one’s awareness and willingness to reduce fossil energy use.

    An electric car is an incentive for rooftop photovoltaic for two reasons.

    1) Your payback is faster, especially if gas prices keep rising.
    2) You will one-up your neighbor who only has a 2010 Prius with a solar roof ; ).

    Payback isn’t a necessary condition, and in some places like Seattle, may not ever happen. But people rarely buy the cheapest car they can find. They buy the highest status one the can afford. People tend to emulate the guy above them on the status rung. That’s why people name their kids after high-status people. That demand spurs entrepreneurs to create affordable versions of what the wealthy have. The beauty of the SUV marketing campaign is that it gave owners a built in excuse. You could claim it was for sport or utility when in reality it was for neither.

    The existing rate of infrastructure replacement/change might be able to keep pace with electric car growth without need for a lot of new funding.

    It’s true that tax credits tend to subsidize the well-off, both with solar panels and now with electric cars. But that may not be a bad thing in this case if it can kick off a fad that drives the costs of both down.

    Electric cars would work best as the second family car in urban areas. But to sell a lot of them, the price has to come way down. It’s still all about the battery.

     

     

     

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  42. By paul-n on April 1, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Russ,  if the 09 Prius owner was willing to trade into the 2010 model, I just don’t see the need for any subsidies/tax credits at all.  I’m not saying any/all owners would do this, but I am saying that subsidising people who are spending $25k+ on a car is not the best use of government money.  It would be better if that subsidy/tax credit, for every electric purchased, was directed toward increasing (renewable) electricity generation to power it.  But even then, it still represents a transfer of wealth from the many, to the few.  And, as we all agree, the early adopters are not price driven and will adopt early regardless.  Giving them further benefits like access to HOV lanes etc just further discriminates against those who cannot afford such luxuries as a new car.

    It will be interesting to see how the market plays out.  The easiest way to bring the price down is to simply make them smaller/simpler/lighter (extreme being a bike, of course), and I think that is what we will see.  An electric version of the Yaris/Fit/Focus/Mini makes more sense than an electric version of an accord/camry etc.   Mid size and larger are better being PHEV, and that is what we are seeing with the Volt.

    Funny thing is, I think pickup trucks are actually the best candidate for PHEV.  They are already very heavy, but so the incremental weight of the hybrid gear is not a big difference (no structural re-design required), they have plenty of space under the box for the equipment.  They are mostly rear wheel drive, which allows the interesting option of integrating the motor infront of/onto the driveshaft,  and the high torque of the electric motor is very handy for start/stop reversing etc, when the trucks are particularly fuel inefficient.  This is why Eaton and the likes are developing systems for garbage trucks and school buses.

    If a truck buyer is willing to forgo four wheel drive, then there can possibly be a weight reduction, or at least, not much addition.  There is also the interesting option of making the electric assist drive the front wheels only, and mechanical at the back.  This allows the electric to recover maximum braking energy, and gives the option of full 4wd at low speeds, which is when you mostly need it (going up ramps/steep gravel driveways etc).

    My guess is that pure electrics will be the niche vehicle for the next decade that hybrids were for the last, while hybrids will become mainstream, eventually.  

     

    It will be interesting to see if wind/renewable expansion can keep up – it is not winning the race yet, though the arrival of the electrics should spur interest.

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  43. By Kit P on April 1, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    “It’s exciting to see an electric
    car from a major car manufacturer actually hit the market at a
    reasonable price with reasonable performance.”

     

    Not a reasonable price compared to a
    Corolla.

     

    “US will hit 240 GW of wind by 2018”

     

    Maybe a 100 GW by 2018 with a capacity
    factor of 25% if they are maintained in running order

     

    “Dakotas alone have the capacity …”

     

    Could there be a place farther away
    from the places who might think BEV is a status symbol.

     

    “will use their car as much as
    possible”

     

    Hmmmm! I will save money by driving a
    low cost, highly reliable car, fewer miles. Avoiding driving
    improves my personal environment. I support the economy of the
    Dakotas by suing corn ethanol.

     

    While my boring lifestyle may not have
    much status, I do not have to live near Pious owners.

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  44. By Russ Finley on April 2, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Those are good points, Paul. Would Prius sales be lower today had that tax credit never existed?

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  45. By Russ Finley on April 2, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Those are good points, Paul. Would Prius sales be lower today had that tax credit never existed?

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  46. By Zack on April 3, 2010 at 6:10 am

    If we built more coal plants, they would be IGCC plants with a 58% efficiency. Since lithium ion batteries are around 85% efficient, even taking into account line loss we would be using the coal at about 41% efficiency. Since the average new ICE car is only 30% efficient this would still be better. Granted, coal is dirtier than oil, but not tar sand oil or however we might try to get oil in the future (shale, coal synfuel).

    Of course, using IFRs, you’re almost home free.

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  47. By rufus on April 3, 2010 at 9:28 am

    I think we’re going to see more electricity produced This way. Inbicon is already doing this in Europe, I believe. At least, their parent, Dong, through a subsidiary, is.

    You operate the power plant with a comb. of Coal, and Lignin Pellets (derived from the accompanying cellulosic ethanol plant which uses locally produced ag waste, etc.)

    The waste heat is then directed back to the ethanol plant for process energy.

    Very efficient, and it produces electricity for the PHEV, and, also, ethanol for the range extender motor.

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  48. By Kinuachdrach on April 3, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Robert Rapier blessed Hate Speech: “while I agree that the comments are insulting, I wouldn’t characterize them as hate speech.”

    Very disappointing, Robert. You seem quite willing to have human beings demeaned on your blog — as long as they are Politically Correct targets of Hate Speech. But the human being who is really being demeaned is you, Robert. You have spent a lot of effort building up a great reputation for your technical insights and your technical honesty. Obviously, there are some subjects (like Alleged Anthropogenic Global Warming) you tip-toe around because technical honesty would be socially unacceptable in your circle. But you have spent a lot of time earning a reputation as an upright guy.

    And then you go and turn a blind eye to Hate Speech. Your own hard-earned reputation besmirched. Very, very disappointing, Robert.

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  49. By rrapier on April 3, 2010 at 2:19 pm
    “Very disappointing, Robert. You seem quite willing to have human beings demeaned on your blog — as long as they are Politically Correct targets of Hate Speech.”
     

    Lots wrong with what you just wrote, Kinu. For one, nobody is blessing anything. I don’t want people insulting anyone. I am quite certain in any case that more insults have been directed at me than anyone else on the board.

    But you are really reaching with this one. “Teabagger” in this context is about as insulting as “Treehugger.” You know quite well that nobody is talking about gay people, and it is you who is stooping to insinuate something like that. We aren’t always going to agree, and on this we will have to agree to disagree. I don’t want insults flying around, but hate speech? You can do better than that.

    RR

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  50. By Benny BND Cole on April 3, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    I have been reading RR’ s blog for a long time, several years. I read it daily. It is a beacon of light in a dark and confused world of energy blogs. I disagree with RR on the outlook for energy prices–so what?
    I have never seen the slightest indication of any bias in any of RR’s writing, either technical, professional , personal or otherwise.
    Hatred and prejudging is simply not part of RR’s make-up, probably what helped him to become a fine scientist and engineer and excellent blogger–a productive citizen, of benefit to the rest of us. Hatred is just not how RR thinks. It is obvious from his voluminous writings.
    We can all hope we do as well as RR on the path of life.

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  51. By rbm on April 3, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    I have also read RR’s work for a while, a couple or more years and agree wholehartedly with the assesment experssed by Benny: RR does not  exhibit bias in his online work or behavior.

     

    From what I can read, I believe Kinu is projecting his own issues.

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  52. By petes on April 3, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Ditto.

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  53. By Kit P on April 4, 2010 at 10:10 am

    “I am quite certain in any case that
    more insults have been directed at me than anyone else on the board.”

     

    More RR logic! First of all, the host
    of a blog who makes provocative statements should expect some level
    of response. Second, it is apparent that RR has a different standard
    for insults if they are directed at others. However, since RR is
    the worst offender of civil discussion he may want to consider how he
    sounds to others who diagree.

     

    “Kit, you are a piece of work.”

     

    “Kit wants people to start falling
    over dead before mercury emissions are acknowledged as a problem.”

     

    “From where I stand, you look like
    someone who had a couple of engineering classes in junior college,
    fancies himself an engineer but is really a technician, and directs
    his jealousy at real engineers who achieved the distinction that he
    wishes others would bestow upon him.”

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  54. By rrapier on April 5, 2010 at 5:32 am

    “More RR logic!”

    “Before you speak, ask yourself: is it kind, is it true, is it necessary, does it improve upon the silence?” – Shirdi Sai Baba

    Of course were Kit to apply that filter, about 90% of his posts would be affected.

    RR

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  55. By Kit P on April 5, 2010 at 10:17 am

    I have a BS filter. RR sets mine off
    on a regular basis.

     

    It may be that RR is particularly
    dense. RR you constantly insult people then you lecture them when
    they respond.

     

    RR demands respect but does not show
    respect. RR does not understand why someone might disagree with him.
    It must because they are a community college drop (BTW there is
    nothing wrong with community college. It provides opportunities for
    many,) who are jealous of real engineers. The more logical
    explanation is that RR is only an expert in one area of energy and
    that he is often mistaken in other fields.

     

    Whatever logic or rules RR adheres to
    he does not adhere to them very closely. I will spell it out for
    RR. If you do not follow your logic or rules, then they are not
    logic or rules. Just words to bully others.

     

    “if you can not take the heat, get
    out of the kitchen”

     

    • My father,decorated WWII, Korea,
      cold war. VN naval aviator

     

    I grew up in the kitchen. Also spent
    time in my grandmothers kitchens. They knew “Sai Baba” but
    understand the one about living in glass houses.

     

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  56. By doggydogworld on April 5, 2010 at 10:54 am

    PaulN said: wind has not yet been able to reverse the increase in fossil fuel electricity

    You sure? The US EIA’s Short Term Energy Outlook (http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/cfapp…../index.cfm) shows the following trends using 2005 historical data and 2011 projections (expressed in the unfortunate unit of TWh/day):

    • Coal: -0.52
    • NatGas: +0.42
    • Petroleum: -0.20
    • Nuke: +0.10
    • Wind: +0.28
    • ——————
    • Total: +0.05

    I excluded Hydro and minor sources because they changed by 0.01 TWh/day or less. Anyway, this data does show fossil declining with wind plus some nuke filling in the gap. Wind grows from less than half a percent in 2005 to 3% in 2011, a pace which will make it a major player long before EVs clog the roads. You’re right of course that such exponential growth cannot continue forever. My extrapolation to 240 GW in 2018 was certainly not a prediction. I’m just trying to show that the wind ramp is way ahead of EVs.

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  57. By doggydogworld on April 5, 2010 at 11:54 am

    A note on subsidies. The US will import $400 billion worth of oil this year. If 5% of our drivers bought PHEVs this year our oil consumption would drop. And if another 5% bought PHEVs next year it would drop further. Continual downward demand pressure from the world’s #1 oil consumer will dampen oil prices. How much we cannot say, but oil supply is very inelastic in the near and medium term. A 50% reduction is within the realm of possibility, saving our nation’s consumers $200 billion per year.

    The problem? That $200b savings does not go to the PHEV buyers who made it happen but instead flows to the other 95%. We’re not talking about chump change here, but $2000 tax-free per family each year. That’s a massive transfer of wealth from the few who buy PHEVs to the many who do not. This serves as a huge dis-incentive for individuals to make the investment into PHEVs. Why should I invest to make everyone else on my street richer? I want to do my part but I don’t want to be a chump.

    Our oil import addiction is a collective economic and geo-political problem. The free market cannot solve this problem because global oil markets are not free. They are dominated by a cartel which would be blatantlly illegal under US law. Without a proper legal framework Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand cannot function properly and all talk of free markets is reduced to dogmatic babble. The only way to fight a foreign cartel and solve our collective problem is to set up an incentive system which rewards those who move away from oil instead of punishing them. Direct subsidies are one such approach. They are not ideal because the situation is not ideal. Each alternative approach (oil tax, rationing, etc.) brings its own problems to the table. It’s not easy to set up an incentive system which works, but we must do so because a do-nothing approach which leaves the current mal-incentives in place is guaranteed to fail.

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  58. By russ on April 5, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    @ Kit P

     

    Try running your own stuff through your BS filter before hitting enter then – see how many posts out of 100 go.

     

    You are the one who tries to bully others Kit P – İ see it here and on other sites as well.

     

    İ consider Robert to be top of the line when it comes to honesty and integrity!

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  59. By rrapier on April 5, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Kit P said:

    I have a BS filter. RR sets mine off

    on a regular basis.

     

    It may be that RR is particularly

    dense. RR you constantly insult people then you lecture them when

    they respond.

     

    RR demands respect but does not show

    respect.

     

    Kit, you are well over the line. Future posts along these lines will be deleted. You have been warned enough times.

     

    Further, you are making some serious mistakes. You seem not to understand what gratuitous insults actually are. Take the 3 examples of mine you gave as “insults.”

     

    “Kit, you are a piece of work.”

     

    I don’t even have to explain that one. Your consistent inconsistencies define you as a piece of work.

     

    “Kit wants people to start falling over dead before mercury emissions are acknowledged as a problem.”

     

    That, in response to you saying mercury emissions aren’t a problem, and for me to show you the fatalities. How is that an insult?

     

    “From where I stand, you look like someone who had a couple of engineering classes in junior college, fancies himself an engineer but is really a technician, and directs his jealousy at real engineers who achieved the distinction that he wishes others would bestow upon him.”

     

    Sorry, I have known since the beginning that you were masquerading as an engineer. Lots of things gave you away. One is that you claimed to be a mechanical engineer and an environmental engineer, but you don’t know engineering practices. That is what gets you into so much trouble. You have been around engineers just enough to know some of the lingo, but when the conversation goes another level, you are out of your depth and you try to compensate with the insults. A perfect example is your use of LCA. Somewhere, at some time you have had superficial contact/knowledge of an LCA. So you throw out that term. But it becomes readily apparent to me very fast – as someone who has managed one LCA and been the primary technical person in another – that all you know are buzzwords. Same with risk assessments. You like to throw out numbers (0.00001), but you don’t seem to understand their context. You are like the guy who isn’t a doctor, but plays one on TV. Then when he is asked to do an operation, he is totally lost.

     

    “It must because they are a community college drop (BTW there is nothing wrong with community college.”

     

    Nothing at all wrong with community college. I went to community college. The only difference is that I didn’t pretend to be an engineer on the basis of my community college education. I went on and got 4-year and graduate degrees.

     

    Now you may continue this line of conversation at your own risk. You are wasting time that I don’t have right now.

     

    RR

     

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  60. By Greg on April 6, 2010 at 1:48 am

    Clive Wilson’s electric car energy usage figures are high. He rates the Tesla at between 230wh/km and 550wh/km. Other real world figures[1] put it at 130wh/km – 300wh/km. If you use these figures the conclusions come out quite differently.

    I.e. an electric car running on dirty coal is less that an average petrol car running on light crude, concerning CO2 emissions.

    Can you point to any real world fleet tests that support Clive’s higher numbers?

    [1] Sustainable energy without the hot air 130wh/km -300wh/km – http://www.inference.phy.cam.a…..outhotair/
    (Also – the high end numbers only happen when driving at high-speed – not in-city traffic)

    [2] Google’s recharge IT 140wh/mi – http://www.google.org/recharge…..xperiment/

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  61. By paul-n on April 6, 2010 at 2:43 am

    DDW,  I had a look at that EIA data, and come out with some slightly different numbers, though I will agree that wind is up and coal is down.  Most interesting is how much total electricity usage is down, and most of that decrease has come out of coal.  I’ll speculate the reduction is recession related, but time will tell on that.

    There is certainly more wind energy than electric cars, and will be for some time.   The EV industry can only claim the wind energy iof they actually buy it, of course.

    If 5% of our drivers bought PHEVs this year our oil consumption would drop. And if another 5% bought PHEVs next year it would drop further. Continual downward demand pressure from the world’s #1 oil consumer will dampen oil prices. How much we cannot say, but oil supply is very inelastic in the near and medium term. A 50% reduction is within the realm of possibility, saving our nation’s consumers $200 billion per year.

    Now, I have to say that your assumptions are bad.  The US uses 9 million barrels worth of gasoline a day, or 11% of world production.  A 50% reduction, to 4.5mbd, is a 5% reduction in worldwide usage, yet you expect this to result in a 50% price drop?  The only thing that will produce a price drop like that is another fall into worldwide recession.  And if we have that, people won’t be able to afford electric cars.

     

    To say that this possible, future, drop in oil prices represents a transfer of wealth from electric car buyers to gasoline car drivers is a bit of a stretch, to say the least.  That would have been the same as saying horse owners in 1905 should be taxed to allow some rich people to buy the then new, and very expensive cars, so that the price of horse feed would come down.  Fortunately, that did not happen.  Instead, the car industry innovated, as evidenced by Henry Frods invention of the production line. What real incentive is there for the EV industry to innovate when they are being given govt hand outs?  Instead, like the ethanol industry, they will spend their efforts on lobbying for more subsidies and even mandates.  

    Someone who gives up a car altogether is saving even more oil – should they get a subsidy too?  How about an oil consuming manufacturing business that moves it’s operations to China, thus reducign US oil consumption, are they also entitled to be subsidised?  Where do we draw the line?  Better to not even start down that path.

    Our oil import addiction is a collective economic and geo-political problem. The free market cannot solve this problem because global oil markets are not free.

    It does not matter a hoot that oil markets are not “free”, or that they are dominated by OPEC.  What matters is that US people are free to choose whether to drive, or not, and what they drive.   Suggesting that the people who cannot to buy EV’s should be subdsidised by those who can’t, or even don;t drive at all, is an affront to the equality of peoples.  Why should an income earning, tax paying non car owner subsidise someone to buy an EV?  If you want to be fair,. which is supposedly what you are trying to do, why not suggest a gas tax to subsidise electric vehicles?  That way people who have chosen not to drive at all are not paying for those that do – much better.  In fact, that is such a good idea I don’t know why the EV industry, doesn’t campaign for just that.

     

     

     

     

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  62. By Kit P on April 6, 2010 at 7:59 am

    “I’ll speculate the reduction is
    recession related, but time will tell on that.”

     

    Good speculation! Some base load coal
    plants are less conicalness than some base load CCGT when NG is below
    $4/MMBTU (see spark spread). When the economy is strong both types
    of plants are running as NG is sores above $4/MMBTU.

     

    Wind is up because we are building more
    wind farms. This year we will build less. The current wind farm
    building boom started about 10 years ago in Texas. Will reliability
    of 10 year old wind farms start falling off?

     

    The reason nukes generation has
    increased is of improved reliability. Since the same companies who
    make electricity with nukes also run wind farms maybe wind generation
    will not fall off.

     

    So while unrealistic predictions for
    wind, hybrids, PHEV, and BEV have never been realized many ignore
    what works. In a few short years, ethanol has increased to 10% of my
    fuel.

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  63. By paul-n on April 6, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    So while unrealistic predictions for
    wind, hybrids, PHEV, and BEV have never been realized

    I am with you here.  After 10 years of hybrid vehicles being on the market, they are still only 3% of it (yet we subsidise them)

    After twenty (plus) years of industrial scale wind turbines being on the market, they are still only 3% of it (yet we subsidise those too) .  They are more in Denmark, etc, but then, they have been using windmills there for about 800years, and they were once 100% of the market!)

    After 120 years of BEV’s they are still less than 1% of the market, and their makers are calling for huge subsidies.

    After 100 years, ethanol is still not back up to the % of the market it was when the Model T was released (which was designed for ethanol), and, of course, we both subsidise AND mandate the 10% ethanol mix.

     

    If you look at the history of cars, the major changes have all come about as a result of industry driven innovations, not subsidies.  The electric starter, henry Ford’s model T, the VW, the the Mini (front wheel drive and east-west engine), the air bag, fuel injection.  All of these resulted in cars that were better and/or cheaper.

    Today, the car developers (all of them, including the electrics) put their energy into lobbying for subsidies/tax credits, and try to maintain the status quo, instead of innovating and improving.  Henry Ford would not do it like this …

     

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  64. By Kit P on April 6, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    “we both subsidise AND mandate the
    10% ethanol mix.”

     

    So what?

     

    First the goal of the policy was met.
    Second it looks like the policy was a good one.

     

    Wind was both subsidized AND mandated
    in Texas. The goal of the policy was met and it looks like the
    policy was a good one for Texas. The California renewable energy
    mandate looks like a good policy for the PNW and a bad one for
    California because the mandate is too large too soon for California
    renewable energy resources.

     

    So PaulN you may want to do a little
    more research before you claim a policy has failed or suggest that
    there is only one path to success.

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  65. By rrapier on April 6, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Kit P said:

    “we both subsidise AND mandate the

    10% ethanol mix.”

     

    So what?

     

    First the goal of the policy was met.

    Second it looks like the policy was a good one.

     


     

    Let’s make sure we are all on the same page. What do you think – in total – was the goal of the policy? Was it the right goal? Should cost be a factor?

     

    Second, I am curious about your views over the RPS. Do you support those goals? Why or why not?

     

    RR

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  66. By paul-n on April 6, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Kit, the only reason the ethanol mandate has been met, is because it was mandated, so that policy was a success. However, the ethanol subsidy never achieved anything like the 10% of the mandate, so that policy was (and still is) a failure.

    If Texas wants to both mandate and subsidise, then they can do so, but as RR has explained before, if you have a well laid out mandate, a subsidy is unneccessary.

    In California, well, you know what it’s like trying to build anything there. They have a mandate, but the approval process for building wind or solar farms is so long and tortuous, that companies have sensibly decided to set up elsewhere and just sell to Cal. They can, and are, strangling their own economy, but that is their problem.

    So, all three policies involving mandates have been met (=successful) but many policies involving subsidies alone have not, which do you think is the better way to go?

    Cellphones, of course needed neither, and have been more successful than any mandate. So is their only one path to success? absolutely not. Are mandates a path to success? Yes, if they are achievable and remain in place (unlike original Cal. electirc car mandate) Are subsidies a path to success? The evidence suggests not, if you define success as being able to operate without continuous welfare.

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  67. By paul-n on April 6, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Kit, the only reason the ethanol mandate has been met, is because it was mandated, so that policy was a success. However, the ethanol subsidy never achieved anything like the 10% of the mandate, so that policy was (and still is) a failure.

    If Texas wants to both mandate and subsidise, then they can do so, but as RR has explained before, if you have a well laid out mandate, a subsidy is unneccessary.

    In California, well, you know what it’s like trying to build anything there. They have a mandate, but the approval process for building wind or solar farms is so long and tortuous, that companies have sensibly decided to set up elsewhere and just sell to Cal. They can, and are, strangling their own economy, but that is their problem.

    So, all three policies involving mandates have been met (=successful) but many policies involving subsidies alone have not, which do you think is the better way to go?

    Cellphones, of course needed neither, and have been more successful than any mandate. So is their only one path to success? absolutely not. Are mandates a path to success? Yes, if they are achievable and remain in place (unlike original Cal. electirc car mandate) Are subsidies a path to success? The evidence suggests not, if you define success as being able to operate without continuous welfare.

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  68. By Kit P on April 6, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    “What do you think – in total –
    was the goal of the policy?”

     

    It is what I know not what I think. It
    is something engineers do! So by reading the “Energy Policy Act of
    2005, SEC. 1501. RENEWABLE CONTENT OF GASOLINE.”

     

     

    “Increases the amount of biofuel
    (usually ethanol) that must be mixed with gasoline sold in the United
    States to 4 billion gallons by 2006, 6.1 billion gallons by 2009 and
    7.5 billion gallons by 2012”

     

    RR asks,

    “Should cost be a factor?”

     

    Again, reading the legislation
    provisions are made to study factors such as cost and environmental
    impact.

     

    “Was it the right goal?”

     

    In hindsight the goals were right in
    the 2005 Energy Bill and it is to early to tell if increased goals of
    subsequent legislation are right.

     

    I think small RPS and other incentives
    to establish alternate energy sources of is a goal that I support.
    If those sources show a benefit to society they can be expanded. I
    think it takes time to expand technologies and very large mandates in
    a short period of results in too many costly failures.

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  69. By Kit P on April 6, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    “the only reason the ethanol mandate
    has been met, is because it was mandated,”

     

    Huh! The reason the reason the corn
    ethanol production exceeded the mandate was that it was technically
    possible. The mandate was then increased.

     

    California mandated BEV to be effective
    1998. It was not practical and rescinded.

     

    The Texas RPS mandate for wind exceeded
    the mandate. It also demonstrated the economics. With this
    information wind farms in the PNW were developed without a mandate.
    Subsequently, Washington State created a RPS that just happened to
    cover what has already been done. Politics are funny sometimes.

     

    “Cellphones”

     

    Do cell phones produce electricity and
    last 60 years?

     

    At the risk of sounding condescending,
    cellphones are a cheap consumer electronic product and not a high
    capital cost public utility.

     

    “Are subsidies a path to success?”

     

    Yes they are! One of many paths.

     

    “if you define”

     

    I do not! Having energy available when
    and where you need it is success. The reason you are confused PaulN
    is that going skiing and melting snow is not a need. You have been
    responsible for entertaining rich people.

     

    Producing electricity is a
    responsibility. Some liberals want to extend the responsibility of
    using it wisely to those who make it. I suggest that you would not
    like me being chief of the energy policy. Your snow melting days
    would be over.

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  70. By paul-n on April 7, 2010 at 3:29 am

    Having energy available when
    and where you need it is success.

    By this definition, neither ethanol or wind energy were ever needed, as (California aside) the electric utilities (and oil companies) have provided uninterrupted supplies for many decades.  

     

    Some liberals want to extend the responsibility of
    using it wisely to those who make it.

    Well, that may be true, but I am not one of them.   The customer must be the one who takes responsibility for what they use.   I do not suggest it should be the utility’s responsibility, but that it is to their benefit to have their customers use it wisely.  If a utility gets to a point where it does not have “more” to supply, customers will always blame the utility, not themselves.  The object is to avoid this situation of course, but you would have us believe that “more” is the only way to do it.

    If you were chief of energy policy I would be buying into companies that supply it, as your answer to everything is to just supply more, whether “more” exists or not.  I certainly would not want you in charge of water policy (area I work in), as in many cases, more simply doesn’t exist, so your only management strategy is useless.

     

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  71. By Kit P on April 7, 2010 at 8:51 am

    “The object is to avoid this
    situation of course, but you would have us believe that “more”
    is the only way to do it.”

     

    Not the only way, but the only way
    PaulN will accept. I know what PaulN will accept by how he lives.

     

    Rationing is an effective way to
    allocate scarce resources.

     

    People want to ban drilling for oil,
    using coal and nuke power. I think we should ban these people from
    using energy to drive to the beach, go to the casino, or your fancy
    resort where they melt ice and make snow.

     

    “whether “more” exists or
    not.”

     

    There are some simple concepts PaulN
    does not grasp. Only the amount of electricity demanded by customers
    is produced. Meeting demand is a simple case of planning ahead so
    that equipment is available to meet the demand. There is no reason
    that every person on the planet can not be supplied with affordable
    electricity to meet their needs.

     

    Again, PaulN if you want to melt snow
    with it that is your business. If you think saving money while
    melting snow is an important concept I do not want ‘in charge of
    water policy’ becsue you appear to lack the common sense to make
    responsible decisions.

     

    “I certainly would not want you in
    charge of water policy “

     

    I suspect not! Does your family know
    what a navy shower is?

     

    A previous governor Washington State
    said that salmon extinction was not an option. What this liberal
    elitist meant was extinction was not an option as long as his
    children could maintain their elitist status. After leaving state
    office, he moved to Washington DC for a cabinet post. I moved to
    Virgina because the Washington State governor did not have policies
    in place to promote renewable energy like the governor of Texas had.

     

    I suspect I have a better plan for
    protecting the environment of the PNW than PaulN. My business plan
    would capture cow manure fresh from the cow and put into anaerobic
    digestors. The most important aspect is capturing ammonia and other
    nutrients before they end up surface watersheds. The organic
    fertilizer produced would be used to stabilize the semi-arid soils in
    the PNW addressing the root cause the biggest water quality problem,
    soil erosion.

     

    Furthermore, this would increase
    productivity of farmers (yield) while reducing water use. Yes it
    would also be an economical supply of distributed electricity to
    regulate the local grid.

     

    I sent my business plan to our office
    that deals water issues in the PNW. The environmental scientists
    there said solving the manure issue would be the biggest thing we
    could do to protect salmon.

     

    I do not know what PaulN’s policy would
    be for water but if he has the same commons sense as others at these
    agencies, I am not reassured. These people solar panels are the
    solution. Tell me PaulN what I would find if I did a survey of web
    sites agencies involved in water issues. How many have pictures of
    solar panels and promote solar?

     

    “as in many cases, more simply
    doesn’t exist, so your only management strategy is useless”

     

    Sorry PaulN, there is not a shortage of
    energy. I suspect most of your shortages are also more political
    than real. Something a journalist told you and you believed.

     

    What is the problem, what is the root
    cause of the problem, is there corrective actions to address the
    problem. That is my management strategy because it is the strategy
    of those I work for. Typically an old power plant can get 50-200 MWe
    more with modernization.

     

    PaulN thinks this is great at a resort
    but is against ‘more’ at power plants. The position that PaulN
    argues is the same one judges listen to when environmental activist
    take permitting improvements to court.

     

    PualN I am telling you what works and
    you are explaining hypothetical where it might not work.

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  72. By rrapier on April 7, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Kit P said:

    “What do you think – in total –

    was the goal of the policy?”

     

    It is what I know not what I think. It

    is something engineers do! So by reading the “Energy Policy Act of

    2005, SEC. 1501. RENEWABLE CONTENT OF GASOLINE.”

     

     

    “Increases the amount of biofuel

    (usually ethanol) that must be mixed with gasoline sold in the United

    States to 4 billion gallons by 2006, 6.1 billion gallons by 2009 and

    7.5 billion gallons by 2012”

     

    RR asks,

    “Should cost be a factor?”

     

    Again, reading the legislation

    provisions are made to study factors such as cost and environmental

    impact.

     

    “Was it the right goal?”

     

    In hindsight the goals were right in

    the 2005 Energy Bill and it is to early to tell if increased goals of

    subsequent legislation are right.

     

    I think small RPS and other incentives

    to establish alternate energy sources of is a goal that I support.

    If those sources show a benefit to society they can be expanded. I

    think it takes time to expand technologies and very large mandates in

    a short period of results in too many costly failures.


     

    OK, here is where we differ. I agree with you on what the goals were. I wanted to first establish that we are on the same page.

     

    However, I submit that they weren’t the right goals. Increasing the amount of renewable fuel in the fuel supply is a meaningless goal without a lot of context around it. What are we really trying to do here? Renewable fuels are just a means to a goal. That goal shouldn’t be to merely incraese renewable fuels. The goal should be to decrease dependence on foreign oil. Speaker in broader terms, the goal in general should be to decrease dependence on unsustainable energy sources. Now it is certainly possible that renewable energy can contribute to those goals, but it is also possible that they won’t. I can give some cases of where renewable energy would not contribute to these goals, and then the question becomes “What has increasing the amount of renewable fuels per the mandate actually accomplished?”

     

    I think with the RPS, that hits a bit closer to home for you, so you are applying more caution there. You support a “small RPS” and you want them to show “a benefit to society.” But based on your criteria for renewable fuels, I could say simply that an increase in the amount of electricity produced by renewable sources is a benefit to society, and would thus warrant expanding the mandate. Somehow, in this case I suspect you wouldn’t agree that merely the increase is a benefit. The question is “What did the increase buy you?”

     

    RR

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  73. By Kit P on April 7, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    “I submit that they weren’t the right
    goals.”

     

    Then you may want to write your
    congressman because I remain unconvinced. Before you do that though,

     

    “meaningless goal without a lot of
    context around it”

     

    RR might read the rest of the 2005
    Energy Bill and the National Energy Policy which was the basis of the
    legislation. Does this legislation also include provisions for what
    RR thinks should be done.

     

    People say we should not be doing X
    because we should be doing Y. What I know we are doing both X and Y.
    People in cities do not like ethanol and think we should be putting
    fuel cells or CNG in city buses. However, we are doing the city
    thing. I do not live in the city or use public transportation but I
    can buy E10 for my PU.

     

    The goal can be a simple as doing
    something. We know know we can do a certain amount of ethanol. We
    can collect data on the ramifications of doing more. We can improve
    engineering processes. Rufus provides lots of examples of that.

     

    The 2005 Energy Bill also had
    provisions for oil and gas too. Since that is not field, RR can read
    and evaluate it. There were provisions for new nukes to provide for
    4-6 new nukes. Now 30+ nukes are being considered.

     

    “What has increasing the amount of
    renewable fuels per the mandate actually accomplished?”

     

    While it is too early to tell, I
    suspect nothing. One senator is pushing for 100 nukes. If we in the
    nuke industry show that we have learned to do a better job of
    building nukes with the 4-6 new nukes with incentives; the rest of
    the 30+ will be built. If we need 100 then that is how many will get
    built.

     

    In any case, we are doing better than
    10 years ago.

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  74. By rrapier on April 8, 2010 at 1:57 am

    “Then you may want to write your congressman because I remain unconvinced.”

     

    My congressman isn’t here right now. I want to know why you think it is the right goal. What are we trying to do here? Why are we trying to increase the amount of renewables? This is the point I am trying to drive home with you. There is a reason for doing these things. Just doing them doesn’t qualify as a success, if you didn’t satisfy the reason for doing them in the first place.

     

    “While it is too early to tell, I suspect nothing.

     

    If you suspect that nothing has been accomplished, then why do you think they were the right goals?

     

    RR

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  75. By paul-n on April 8, 2010 at 2:13 am

    Kit said

    Rationing is an effective way to
    allocate scarce resources.

    and

    Does your family know
    what a navy shower is?

    Hmm, two examples of DSM from Kit.

    As for your manure to energy, that is a good idea, though not a new one.  I share your pain with bureaucrats who do not want to do such things, but there are more than a few such plans in operation…

    http://www.docstoc.com/docs/78…..d-by-state

    As for water agencies with solar panels, any that do that have too much money/time on their hands.  I work with water agencies that are running out of water.  When no more water is available, then DSM is your only option, and that is what I do.  So I am doing what you say can’t be done,  but I am used to people saying things can’t be done, and the more they say that, the more I do it.  Works for me.  

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  76. By Kit P on April 8, 2010 at 9:12 am

    “Hmm, two examples of DSM from Kit.”

     

    Not ones that I endorse or that PaulN
    follows.

     

    “that is a good idea, though not a
    new one”

     

    At the time I was doing it, there was
    about 16 operating digester’s on farms. Check your spread sheet.

     

    This business plan is 12 years old.
    Incorporating Industrial Ecology in dairy farms in the semi-arid west
    was a new idea. It happened to fit in very well with what our
    renewable energy group was doing back east and clearly a concept
    dairy farmers understood. The purpose of my modest project was to
    create non-Hanford related jobs. Environmental cleanup is
    interesting work until you figure out that the goal is not to get the
    job done but suck money out of the government.

     

    “water agencies that are running out
    of water”

     

    Did PaulN move from PNW? The PNW is
    not running out of water. There is a similar amount of hyperbole
    with water as there is energy. Water is different from energy
    because it can not be used up.

     

    Having said that trying to grow corn on
    the high desert is as stupid as putting up wind mills where there is
    no wind. I could build a nuke plant, desalinate water, pump it to
    Nevada and grow corn. Of course, it is a lot cheaper to to grow corn
    in Indiana where it rains a lot.

     

    What PaulN means is that poorly manged
    political agencies can not get their act together and place nicely.

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  77. By Kit P on April 8, 2010 at 9:38 am

    “I want to know why you think it is
    the right goal.”

     

    Because the goal was small and
    legislation has out clauses if renewable energy fuels were not
    viable. What did we learn? Corn farmers could produce
    transportation fuel reducing the environmental impact of
    transportation fuel. They did what they said they could do. It
    looks like it is a good thing for the US economy too.

     

    Success!

     

    “If you suspect that nothing has been
    accomplished, then why do you think they were the right goals?”

     

    Are you playing a game RR? I made
    statement about the 2005 Energy Bill and then you asked me about
    increasing that goal.

     

    I am not predicting that ethanol will
    be 20% of the mix anymore than I am predicting wind will be 20% of
    the mix. I am in fact critical of those who base policy on wild
    predictions. However, since I do not have a crystal ball, I will
    wait and see how it turns out.

     

    The fundamental problem for American
    farmers is lack of market. They can produce more than world can eat.
    Transportation fuel taps into that market.

     

    The fundamental problem for American
    nuclear industry was lack of market. Incentives maintained that
    skill base. Shortly after economic changes expanded the market.

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  78. By rrapier on April 8, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    “Because the goal was small and legislation has out clauses if renewable energy fuels were not viable. What did we learn? Corn farmers could produce transportation fuel reducing the environmental impact of transportation fuel. They did what they said they could do. It looks like it is a good thing for the US economy too.”

     

    These are merely a series of assertions that do nothing to determine whether the goals were good. What does “not viable” mean to you? That the fuel can’t be made? That it can’t be made economically? That it can’t be made without a heavy reliance on fossil fuels? Second, how do you know the environmental impact is lowered? Have you done an LCA? Has anyone? As far as being good for the US economy, money was transferred from taxpayers across the country to the Midwest. I would say that this is good for the Midwest, but I could hardly characterize at as good for the economy.

     

    “Are you playing a game RR? I made statement about the 2005 Energy Bill and then you asked me about increasing that goal.”

     

    No, then you misunderstood my question. My question is “What exactly has the mandate accomplished?” I don’t think that “increasing the amount of renewable fuel” is the end game here. It is a means to the end game. My question was about the end game, and your answer was “nothing was accomplished.” So I ask again if you can point to tangible benefits that have been concluded by independent sources.

     

    RR

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  79. By Kit P on April 8, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    RR asked me what I thought. His
    response,

     

    “These are merely a series of
    assertions …”

     

    No, those are my concussions following
    a systematic approach which includes actually reading 2005 Energy
    Bill and the National Energy Policy. RR may want to dismiss my
    education and experience but he forgets that I actually know what my
    credentials are while he is just making a series of assertions.

     

    RR game is to discredit those with a
    different opinion and try to get them to follow methods.

     

    My overarching criteria is that as an
    American I want a reliable supply of energy. I also want it produced
    safely and with insignificant environmental impact. Events in
    California and the 2003 blackout shook the confidence of many
    Americans. This lead to the 2005 Energy Bill.

     

    I am one of the all of the above guys.
    I think we should promote all options unless their a compelling
    reason not to. I do take issue with those say A is better than B so
    therefore we should not do B. For example, say you live in LA think
    solar and PHEV is the future. I say go for it what federal
    incentives do you need to make it happen. For those who live in
    California who want to close the nukes and coal plants that provide
    my reliable supply of energy, I am going to ask you to wait until you
    have proved the concept.

     

    Like RR likes to claim you have to look
    at the context. Then RR takes the economics out of context.

     

    So lets look at the economics of solar
    in context. Assuming $50/MWH average US generating cost and $250/MWH
    for solar, what happens if a feed in tariff could increase the solar
    share by 0.5% ?

     

    The new average US generating cost =
    $51/MWH

     

    Not exactly worth being against.

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  80. By paul-n on April 8, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    So lets look at the economics of solar
    in context. Assuming $50/MWH average US generating cost and $250/MWH
    for solar, what happens if a feed in tariff could increase the solar
    share by 0.5% ?

    The new average US generating cost =
    $51/MWH

     

    So yes, Kit, let’s look at the context, since you didn’t.

    In 2008 (most recent data I could find from EIA), the US annual electricity production was 4,110,000,000 MWh

    Solar (that year) was 800,000MWh, or 0.021% of the total.

    Your example is to bring it to 0.5% of the total which, would be 20,000,000MWh.

    With your feed in tariff of $250/MWh, that is a cost of $5bn.

    Now, since there is some spare capacity in the existing system, we could produce that same 0.5% of electricity, from existing facilities (i.e. at zero capital cost), for only $1bn.

    So the consumers are forced to pay these solar companies $4bn, for what extra value?  Does this experiment show that we should proceed forthwith to make solar a large part of our generation?  Has it improved the reliability/stability of supply or the grid more than if the $4bn had been spent some other way?  Did we need to do this on a scale of $bn to find this out, when there is already a 30yr history of solar?  Would the money have been better spent on developing better solar than deploying existing technology that is known to be 5x more expensive than anything else.  How many years must this subsidy be in place before either; the industry is competitive enough to do without, or the decision is made that it won’t be competitive and the subsidy should be cancelled.  The example of ethanol suggests this could be decades, and at $4bn a year subsidy, that is quite a sum.

    That same $4bn a year in R&D for CCGT, genIV nukes, IGCC, smart grid, HVDC, etc would yield far better results.  Alternatively, let the people and business, who are already cash strapped, keep their money.  if the solar industry is all it’s prootoers would have us believe, let them raise investor capital same as anyone else has to.
    So it becomes yet another forced transfer of billions of wealth from consumers and industry to a narrow group, for something that returns little in real wealth, and provides little information that is not already known.

    The fact that the subsidy is only a 2% increase in average rates does not change the fact that it is a colossal waste of money.  I’d say that is exactly worth being against.

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  81. By Kit P on April 9, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Thanks PaulN for demonstrating flawed
    logic. You did an excellent job too. No sarcasm intended, Paul did
    a good job of short term thinking.

     

    In context, $4b is $11/consumer. It is
    not a “colossal waste” is is just higher production cost. We can
    now talk about you ski resort in the context of “colossal waste”.
    What does coffee cost at your ski resort? So one one had we have
    slightly higher production costs in a society that spends money like
    a drunken sailor on liberty (jarheads go to the public libbrary).

     

    “Solar (that year) was 800,000MWh, or
    0.021% of the total.”

     

    The main point here is IF solar could
    meet this goal, it is not worth my time to scream about subsidies and
    waste. All those other things you said Paul make me think that I do
    not have to worry about that.

     

    So now let’s look at wind. What are
    the ramifications for increasing wind 1% assuming a $33/MWh
    production cost.

     

    The new average US generating cost =
    $49.83/MWH

     

    So the reason I say we should keep
    building wind as fast as we can , it it does not hurt. Let see how
    much the grid can handle.

     

    So now let’s look at new nukes. What
    are the ramifications for increasing nuke 10% assuming a $12/MWh
    production cost for GEN III+ reactors.

     

    The new average US generating cost =
    $46.20/MWH

     

    The unknown here us what the new
    average US generating cost will be in 30 years. The reason there are
    30+ new nukes on the drawing board is a couple of years ago average
    US generating cost = $80/MWH.

     

    The wild card is natural gas. What
    will be the cost in 30 years?

     

    It is not renewable energy and
    subsidies that is the significant factor. The same logic applies to
    ethanol . Your tell what a barrel oil will cost in 30 years and I
    will tell you if ethanol plants are a good investment. Please also
    tell me what you will pay fort something you do not need like a hot
    cup of coffee or a cold beer. I like to keep things in context.

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  82. By rrapier on April 9, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Kit P said:

     

    “These are merely a series of

    assertions …”

     

    No, those are my concussions following

    a systematic approach which includes actually reading 2005 Energy

    Bill and the National Energy Policy. RR may want to dismiss my

    education and experience but he forgets that I actually know what my

    credentials are while he is just making a series of assertions.

     


     

    The difference is that anyone can verify my credentials. People do contact me all the time – and again this is public record – as an expert in the field. All we have from you are your claims to be various types of engineer. So if you want to make claims on the basis of your credentials, the fact that nobody can verify them completely undermines you. You are going to have to make your arguments on the basis of logic, and not “I actually know what my credentials are.”

     

    You made an assertion: “Corn farmers could produce transportation fuel reducing the environmental impact of transportation fuel.” You have provided zero evidence to back that assertion up, instead choosing to argue from authority (“I read the report”), and ironically nobody but you knows what that authority is. So I am going to ask you again to show me why that statement is true. You have thus far failed to do so. I have seen zero evidence from you of a systematic analysis of the ramifications of ramping up ethanol. Further, when someone produces a report that indicates some the environmental benefits have been overstated, the ethanol lobby goes into high gear trying to discredit the researcher. So my original statement stands: You made an assertion, but that’s all it is.

     

    “RR game is to discredit those with a different opinion and try to get them to follow methods.

     

    Well, yes, I think they should follow systematic methods for evaluating the benefits/drawbacks.

     

    “My overarching criteria is that as an American I want a reliable supply of energy.”

     

    Yet part of your energy is now tied to the food supply, which is tied to weather conditions. It is also heavily reliant on the natural gas supply (as a report that recently came out shows beyond a shadow of a doubt; more on that later). Further, you have about a half decades worth of evidence that the supply can be long-term reliable in view of its dependencies. I think your view on this is not very comprehensive.

     

    “Like RR likes to claim you have to look at the context. Then RR takes the economics out of context.”

     

    I did no such thing. If you are going to make a claim like that, you are going to have to show the example.

     

    RR

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  83. By paul-n on April 9, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    The main point here is IF solar could
    meet this goal, it is not worth my time to scream about subsidies and
    waste.

    But IF solar meets this goal, then what has it achieved? Could that 0.5% of generation be achieved with far more efficient use of resources? At $4bn a year, how long does it take to build a nuke for the same output (2263MW at 100% capacity factor). Which is a better investment?

    AS you have regularly pointed out, there are many nuke and coal plants still working well after 30-40 years, hydro after 100 years . What solar panels are expected to have anything like that lifespan? It is the most expensive source with the shortest service life. If you think it is such a good idea, why do you complain about water authorities putting it on their roof?

    As for the cup of coffee or beer, overcharging for both of those items has been going since they were invented. The difference is, the customer can decide not to buy them, or buy them elsewhere, cheaper.
    You would take this freedom of choice away from the (electric) customer, with government saying you have to pay for it – sounds like the “public option” to me.

    So, in 30 years, when nat gas is probably expensive or running out, we could have built more nukes, or hydro, or wind, or whatever, but instead we have wasted $4bn a year on solar, and at 30 years it is at the end of its life. I have no problem if any company wants to take that on, but the fact that the only way solar will happen is with huge gov supports shows that no sensible company would do that – they can find much more efficient ways to make electricity. Does your company choose to spend money on solar panels
    Kit would have the taxpayer shelling out for even more places to put solar panels on their roofs – I take it you have suggested this to people in Virginia, that their taxes should go to put more panels on roofs in sunshine states, rather than building/refurbishing real generation plants, or improving transmission systems?

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  84. By Kit P on April 9, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    “If you think it is such a good idea,
    why do you complain about water authorities putting it on their
    roof?”

     

    I am pretty sure I never said solar
    was a good idea. I was using it as an example of how people get
    upset based on perception not reality.

     

    “with government saying you have to
    pay for it – sounds like the “public option” to me.”

     

    That is right, the generating mix is a
    public decision in the US. I was at a public meeting discussing the
    environmental impact of a new nuke. One of the speakers asked the
    NRC why they were not building solar instead of nukes. The NRC
    speaker said their job is to regulate nuclear power and it is the
    state of Virgina job to decide which kind of power plant is going to
    be built.

     

    No one in the US is forced to buy
    electricity from their public utility.

     

    “Does your company choose to spend
    money on solar panels”

     

    No, but we will manufacture thermal
    solar systems and sell them to you.

     

    PualN, I can understand your ignorance
    of the US. Virgina is a coal mining state. We don’t need no
    stinking solar panels.

     

    Washington DC is not part of Virgina.
    Many in DC think solar panels are a great idea.

    [link]      
  85. By paul-n on April 10, 2010 at 1:21 am

     

    No one in the US is forced to buy
    electricity from their public utility.

    This is true, but when governments offer tax credits and subsidies for solar (or anything else) everyone is forced to pay for them

    Unfortunately, Washington does not have a monopoly on silly thinking.  The government of Ontario has just announced their green initiative which includes a feed in tariff of $0.80/kWh for solar PV, $0.13 for wind, and they *plan* to close down their coal plants, including the 4000MW Nanticoke (largest in N. America) by 2014, but I won’t hold my breath for that. 

     

    [link]      
  86. By Kit P on April 10, 2010 at 10:25 am

    “everyone is forced to pay for them”

     

    So what? Your analysis is shallow.
    You define a meaningless criteria and do not look any deeper.

     

    First off you are wrong. A large
    segment of Americans do not pay taxes. Before entering the navy I
    paid taxes. It took five years before the government was paying
    enough so that I had to pay taxes. It was a fair deal because I got
    the experience to make money to pay lots of taxes.

     

    PaulN, I have provided you a different
    way to look at energy issues. You can continue to play the ‘ain’t it
    awful’ game. There is a systemic way to analysis energy and
    environmental issues. I am not going to put put PV on my roof
    because the pay back period is 65 years. If someone wants to put PV
    on their roof because it makes them feel good. So what?

     

    If someone want to run around and say
    that everyone is going to die because the climate might change a
    degree in a hundred years, so what? I do agree with RR on this, it
    is not worth the effort to debate them. If they want incentives for
    solar and BEV, why not? So what if it is insignificant.

     

    I will take the time to go to public
    meetings to support coal and nuclear plants. This is because coal
    and nuclear plants are 70% of our energy mix. The low cost, reliable
    part of the mix. I will point out that I live in Virginia because
    places like California rejected low cost and reliable in favor of
    expensive and unreliable.

     

    You have to learn when to say so what?

    [link]      
  87. By Dave on April 27, 2010 at 3:10 am

    I think that it’s beneficial to discuss this in the context of technology development. We’re currently operating on very mature petroleum-based transportation energy technology, with very defined feedstocks, processing, distribution, and vehicles.

    When we talk about any alternative today (biofuels, electric), we’re really talking about what amounts to early stage attempts to make solutions that are better than oil. There should be obvious problems with comparing early stage technologies to a mature technology (oil is arguably the most mature technology developed).

    Electric vehicles have quickly demonstrated remarkable results, despite small budgets for development (compared to over 100 years of oil and ICE automotive development). Wind energy, though problematic, has rapidly fell to below $0.04/kWhr and is being rapidly deployed. Most new power generation being built in the U.S. this year is clean. This is a dramatic shift.

    If electric cars are more polluting today than gasoline-powered cars, the gap is unlikely to be large. Moreover, the ability of electric cars to charge off of intermittent power at night offers a use for wind power generation (now on the order of 30% wind penetration at BPA in the Pacific Northwest). Electric cars allow a means for the consumer to choose a domestic energy source, and also allow the consumer to be a part of a long-term environmental solution.

    A concern here is that these analyses are based on present-day status quo technologies. As such, these analyses are taken up by defenders of status quo industries (e.g., oil), which control vast amounts of money and do marshall these analyses with formidable lobby power to protect their ways of doing things. Oil and utility companies tend to focus on what are mature technologies; what’s believable is what’s established.

    Planning for technology development requires anticipating likely outcomes on long development timelines. The problem with these analyses for electric vehicles should be obvious. Using present day figures, based on legacy power generation and outdated transmission technology, is inappropriate. Realistic solutions for biofuels and electric vehicles operate on 20+ year timelines.

    Understanding what is possible and likely in the long term is important. Building out and using the technology is a requirement to move forward. Biofuels are one possible solution. Electric vehicles are another. In order to move the technology forward, there will have to be a significant market for electric vehicles. In order for there to be a market, today’s early-stage electric vehicles will run off of the dirty power that’s currently available. Running off of dirty power today doesn’t mean that this will be the case in 20 years.

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  88. By paul-n on April 27, 2010 at 3:31 am

    Dave, There is no question that electric vehicles have made improvements, and will continue to do so.  They need to justify their existence, (price wise) and I think they will, but I agree with you that a large scale changeover is several decades in coming, if at all.

    I rail against pointless solar subsidies as this a well established technology, with decades of development, and all this subisdy money could be put to better use elsewhere, including EV development.

    Kit is correct in that solar is just a drop in the bucket in terms of the total electricity supply, but it consumes a large proportion of the subsidy money for alternative energy, for little real benefit.

    I should also point out, that wind energy has had the second longest development period in history (after hydro) – the first windmills were built in the 12th century!

    I think the  bigger question about EV’s is will our cities move past the age of the automobile by the time they are ready for large scale adoption?  Replacing gasoline with electric is great, but cars still choke our cities, it we could replace half of them with (rail) transit the results would be amazing!

     

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  89. By Kit P on April 27, 2010 at 6:39 am

    “cars still choke our cities”

     

    If you do not like it move. It is
    insane but cities with great public transit are still cogged with
    cars causing poor air quality.

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  90. By paul-n on April 27, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Yes Kit, and cars will probably always choke the cities, if there is not much traffic, then more people will drive until there is .  BUT in a city with great transit, (e.g. Tokyo, London, even Calgary) you have an alternative to driving, and in fact, transit is often faster. Not only that, but you don’t have to own a car to live there, and live well, or live the same for less.  Families can exist without a car, or as one car family.

    And when people own and drive less cars, they have more money to spend on other things.  90c of the  each dollar spent on cars (buying, fuel, insurance, maintenance) leaves the local economy – the smaller the city, the worse it gets.  When people spend their money on other things, more of the money stays in the local economy.  

    And, of course, that city is using less oil, which almost certainly is imported, and (probably) more electricity, which often can be made locally, and has much greater price stability.

    So a move to increase electric transport is the real goal, and when viewed in that way, transit is usually a better investment of public money than electric car subsidies, and certainly better than subsidies for solar panels.

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  91. By russ on April 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    transit is usually a better investment of public money than electric car subsidies, and certainly better than subsidies for solar panels.

    Totally agreed! 

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  92. By Kit P on April 27, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    “So a move to increase electric
    transport is the real goal, and when viewed in that way, transit is
    usually a better investment of public money than electric car
    subsidies, and certainly better than subsidies for solar panels.”

     

    PaulN you do a great job of comparing a
    good choice for people want to live in a big city to the impractical.
    However, electric transport is not even a close second to ethanol.
    Let me see, 10% compared to 0.00000000000001%.

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  93. By paul-n on April 28, 2010 at 11:26 am

    % of what?

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  94. By Kit P on April 28, 2010 at 6:27 pm

     

    % of gasoline for POV

     

     

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  95. By paul-n on April 28, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Well, I can;t disagree about the % of fuel for privately owned vehicles, since  there are effectively no electrics on the road, and golf carts don’t count.

    But, as for the % of energy used for daily transportation of people, it’s a different story, since someone riding the train is obviously not operating a vehicle, even though they may own one.

    For POV’s, it is easier to displace oil with ethanol, but only up to the point of ethanol production capacity, which is currently around 10-12%.  It can go much higher, but it can;t get to 100%, and not even to 50% (of current national gasoline use).

    Transit and biofuels are complementary for displacing oil use – the more people that use transit, the greater the share of the remaining oil use ethanol can replace.  This does not mean it can be done everywhere, or for all people, but where it (transit, especially rail) can be done, and done properly, it is usually the best value for money.  

    As we have discussed before, someone sitting in a traffic jam in an electric car will be just as frustrated and unproductive as in a gasoline car.  Change the system so they don’t need the car in the first place, and you are better off.  For the now reduced gasoline demand, it is possible to replace more of it with biofuels.  For people who don;t have to drive everyday, their annual gasoline usage is now low enough that they don;t need to buy a new electric car either.  In fact, since the car is used for non commuting trips, such as weekends, holidays, they are better off without the electric car as these longer trips are what it is least suited for.

    But having a good portion of personal transport by electric trains, well, as you always point out, the reliability of that fuel supply is far better than either oil or gasoline – it is the only one that any city can hope to have some degree of control over.

     

     

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  96. By Kit P on April 28, 2010 at 8:32 pm

     

    “and you are better off.”

     

    Who is better off? If you like living
    is a cesspool you are better off with good public transportation than
    bad public transportation. Crime, pollution, high taxes, high living
    costs just to save a few gallons of oil.

     

    “There shouldn’t be any doubt that
    renewable, homegrown fuels are a key part of our strategy for a clean
    energy future – a future of new industries, new jobs in towns like
    Macon, and new independence,” Obama said.”

    [link]      
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