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  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    Whatever cycle the hydropower dam operates at, the total amount of energy that can be generated from the hydropower dam is fixed by the amount of precipitation the area has had over the past year.

    So if you set the hydropower dam to higher power levels at night, then you MUST balance that by running the dam at lower power during the day. In CA, night-time energy typically trades for ~$50/MWh, while during the daytime it trades for ~$150/MWh. No plant manager will ever choose to sacrifice potential sales at $150/MWh in order to provide more sales at $50/MWh.

    The coal plants, on the other hand, are most efficient and most cost effective if they keep their production constant, but economic reality forces them to tamp down every night, and ramp back up every morning. The introduction of an additional overnight demand load is a blessing to those plant managers. They can continue to produce at profit without cycling their plant as hard, vastly increasing their profit margin.

    EV's are a dream come true for the coal power industry.
    May 20, 2013. 08:51 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    You are just making a fool of yourself now.

    Spinning reserve - both inertial torque and battery storage - can easily accommodate moment-by-moment fluctuations in demand load. By regulation there has to be sufficient spinning reserve to handle an entire generator suddenly going offline! The spinning reserve must be sufficient for non-spinning reserve to ramp up.
    May 19, 2013. 10:29 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    First of all, the amount of energy that California purchases from other states is by no means limited to peak hours. Whoever told you that is clearly not well informed.

    Ca buys power whenever the purchased power is lower cost than its generated power. In fact, that happens quite often during off-peak hours (that's why middle-of-the-night electric rates throughout CAISO are in the ~$50/MWh range, even though no NG plant can possibly produce and sell electricity at that price point).

    Other than a few peakers for load following, the hydropower dams running at minimum, a little wind, and of course the nuclear reactors running at spec... California imports nearly ALL of its power in the middle of the night, as there is never a case where its gas turbines can economically compete with the price point of the imported baseload power. That is a fact that all of the corporate propaganda in the world doesn't change in the slightest.

    No I don't assume you charge during peak hours. I think you use coal power at night.
    May 18, 2013. 08:11 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    The only valid consideration is to base an assumption of a statistical "many" and then average it down to an individual case.

    Nothing "gets lost in the grid"... in the end, demand must be met with generation. At all times, the grid is operating as smoothly and as efficiently as possible (power companies always strive to generate as little as possible to fulfill demand while maintaining "clean" power - in this sense "clean" has to do with frequency, not emissions).
    May 17, 2013. 05:40 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    I have no idea where you get this idea, but you are dreadfully wrong.

    Some NG peakers do power down at night, the hydropower dams reduce the flow through the turbines at night to the minimal flow that doesn't damage the ecology, and the CCGT's and coal baseload plants are tamped back.

    "Spinning reserve" does not mean that generators are producing energy and that energy is being wasted. Such a concept is absurd. "Spinning reserve" is the amount of capacity that the already operating generators can immediately ramp up to accommodate by draining the rotational inertia of their turbines. Think of a generator as something similar to the energy-recovery brakes on a hybrid vehicle. They are at their greatest efficiency when you slow down gradually, and they produce energy as long as you are decelerating... but if you needed a lot of energy FAST, you could slam on the breaks; which would decelerate the vehicle quickly, and generate more power for a few seconds, but it would quickly drain all of the kinetic energy from the car... The same can be said of a generator, they can increase the torque on the rotor, and more power would be available, but that power would only be available for a very short time - in which they will have to ramp-up their non-spinning reserves.

    "Non-spinning reserve", in this context, is a generator that is operating at less than full capacity and can be ramped up very quickly. The fastest (read-least efficient) NG peakers fall under this guideline as long as they are powered up and operating at less than full capacity, as do some storage systems like pumped-hydropower.

    FERC requires that there must be sufficient operating reserve (spinning and non-spinning) onhand to accommodate the sudden loss of any single generator.

    Some of the spinning reserve on every system is battery storage... Usually a generator might have a minute-or-two worth of battery storage (these are usually the massive liquid sodium battery fields that you may have seen).

    You really should learn SOMETHING about the power grid if you are going to rant about it for hundreds of posts. These are the basics, and you appear to be completely misinformed.
    May 17, 2013. 02:13 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    Consider this:

    California imports a great deal of its electricity. The actual figure for 2012 is not known, but it's probably ~100 TWh.

    Most of this energy import is from NV, AZ, OR, WA, MT, and WY. If you increase electricity usage in CA, then depending on economics, the increased energy may be generated from state-operated power, or it (more likely) may be imported. If you import from WA or OR, that's less energy for them to export to WY (WY gets excess energy imported from WA, OR, ID, and MT)... of course, the energy could have originated in WY... But if you believe that the net impact of the system for an EV driven in ID will be 66 g/KWh, then you're wrong.

    The biggest determining factors in average utility emissions in a state will be the percentage of energy derived from hydropower and nuclear power. The nukes are not load following, and the hydropower production is based on rain. So unless you believe it will rain more because you're plugging in your EV, then it is false to use "average utility emissions" to determine the emissions profile of adding new demand. You can only consider the emissions profiles of the power sources that have spare capacity - those that can ramp up their generation to fit new demand.

    In order to determine which plants will ramp up to fit new demand, you look at the demand profile. A gradual overnight charge is a good fit for baseload power, so the cheapest option will be using a coal power plant. That's the option that will be chosen - even if you live in CA and they have to import that coal-sourced energy.
    May 17, 2013. 10:13 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    Anecdote doesn't mean anything in terms of broad trends. Stories can be inspiring, but they bear no reflection of the world at large. I can easily tell you a story about my nephew who is working to maintain his 5% body fat... that doesn't mean that there is not an obesity problem in America.

    I would love to see a correlation of the number of EV buyers who actually purchase solar to offset their car vs the number of people who purchase the car in order to have a luxury vehicle that can drive in the HOV lanes (which is - of course - much worse for the environment). I suspect that the actual number of people who get solar panels for their homes to offset their dirty EV's are less than 10%.

    Furthermore, if those same people wished to offset their current fuel usage, it would be a relatively simple matter to buy some voluntary carbon offset credits for ~$15 for every ~80 gallons of gasoline they use, and it would work out the same for the environment (though FAR FAR FAR cheaper overall).

    There is no such thing in America today of an "NG area" where a person uses only NG. That is not likely to change within the expected longevity of any vehicle purchased today.
    May 17, 2013. 08:49 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    Solar on my home (which would be a foolish purchase in my locale) wouldn't change the emissions profile of me turning on my TV. If you think that it's better for the environment for a person to buy a bigger home entertainment system then seriously, I would be quite happy to receive a check from you - as a taxpayer - to fund some significant portion of my upgrade.

    When I turn on the home entertainment system, then several hundred watts of additional load are added to the system. That would be true whether I had solar panels or not.

    In the absence of my TV-watching, those theoretical solar panels would either be generating electricity which would be added to the grid and satisfying demand load (somewhere), or not generating - because of clouds or night-time. Upon turning on the TV, hundreds of watts would be demanded by my home entertainment system, which would either reduce the amount delivered to the grid by the theoretical solar panels, causing fossil power plants to ramp up by a few hundred watts to deliver the additional load elsewhere that is no longer being delivered by the solar panels... or it would be night-time, and again the fossil plants would have to provide additional power to satisfy the load of the TV.
    Either way, the TV is a load on the system which must be answered by a corresponding increase in fossil power generation.

    The TV results in emissions, every time you turn it on, regardless of whether you have solar panels or not.

    Solar panels are always good, whether you are have sufficient demand for their power or not, because the additional power goes into the grid. Demand loads are always bad, because adding demand to the grid will always result in that new demand being met with fossil energy.

    This will remain true until we have spare renewable capacity.

    You have understood this in the past. There is no reason you should not understand it now.
    May 16, 2013. 10:06 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]
    Nathan, regardless of the extent of flaring, what is most important is the fact that flaring and methane release are both taken into account by official life-cycle estimates of life-cycle emissions from petroleum. So when someone claims that the national average shows a life-cycle carbon emission of ~12 kg-CO2e/gallon of gasoline, it's all included. Grasping attempts to double or triple count emissions on the oil side just so the EV side looks less bad aren't really worth responding to.
    May 15, 2013. 10:53 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    So by your reasoning I could say that upgrading my home entertainment system to a much larger TV and much higher wattage surround sound system was a "green" purchase, right? Perhaps, as a taxpayer, you should send me between 10% and 25% of the total purchase cost for being so altruistic in making my "green" purchase? After all, I offset my electric carbon load...

    I just don't lie to myself in claiming that I'm being "green" by indulging in more polluting vanity purchases.
    May 15, 2013. 09:38 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]
    How gullible are you people?

    It takes about 160 Wh of electricity to refine a gallon of crude, and the petroleum coke that is sold specifically to power companies then generates half of that back.

    The actual numbers for 2012 show roughly 81 Wh/kg. That's far enough - according to the EPA - to drive a Tesla S about 1100 ft.

    If the Tesla people told you you could drive underwater would you believe it?

    How silly do the internet memes have to become for you to bother to fact check them before repeating them?
    May 15, 2013. 09:26 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is The Tesla Model S Green? [View article]

    I am not disputing that refining requires energy, arguing that would be absurd. Typical refinery efficiencies are ~88%. I've worked on refinery design, and I've worked with fuels synthesis for 5 and a half years. I really do understand what I'm talking about here.

    I was refuting a very dumb internet meme about electricity consumption for gasoline production. That was the discussion topic before you chimed in. I wasn't trying to dismiss your statement as irrelevant. I was trying to first explain that the topic of conversation was something else, then I sought to add further information for your benefit. But the conversation with you is completely different than that which I had concerning the electricity consumption in refining. I respect energy balance considerations, and I had respect for your concerns and your post.

    What I was trying to explain to you is that there is a disconnect when trying to get product lists like those you have linked to. Is the finished motor gasoline winter or summer blend? There's a difference in embodied energy between the two. The distillate fuel - is that ultra-low-sulfur diesel or heating oil? The pour point is different, as is the cetane number and the gelling temperature. The amount of energy input and output are different for each distillate type.

    Gasoline components can range from straight-chain hexane (~33.5 kWh/gallon) to isododecane (~38.2 kWh/gallon). What is the average energy density of the gasoline in question? (Additives - such as ethanol - significantly lower this energy density, but often those additives do not come from a bbl of oil, I suspect you were using a lower energy density in your calculation here based on average on-spec gasoline sold, which has ethanol, methanol, and detergents (such as toluene and even some ammonia).

    The same is true of all of the products on your list, there's significant assumptions required to get an energy content and a production quantity for any and/or all of these products.

    The numbers that I would use as estimates for the energy content here:

    Gasoline: ~34.2 kWh/gallon, 873 kWh total
    Diesel: ~38.3 kWh/gallon, 285 kWh total
    Jet fuel: ~37.7 kWh/gallon, 225.5 kWh total
    Still gas: ~41.2 kWh/gallon, 108.2 kWh total
    Marketable coke: ~~40 kWh/gallon*, 97.3 kWh total
    Residual fuel oil: ~40.5 kWh/gallon, 65.0 kWh total
    Liquified refinery gas: ~26 kWh/gallon, 35.4 kWh total
    Asphalt/road oil: ~46 kWh/gallon, 38 kWh total
    Lubricants: ~38.4 kWh/gallon, 16.8 kWh total
    Other products?: ~30 kWh/gallon **, 21.9 kWh total.

    *coke energy content per gallon is a very non-standard measure, this calculated value required more significant estimation.
    **probably propane, butanes, alkenes, and other light HC's... but would include some solvents, aeromatics, and waxes. The energy content specified here is a complete guess.

    The eia spends millions of dollars compiling the data that every refinery in America is required to send them. It's better to just use their data than try to sort through various links and try to figure out what numbers to plug in yourself.
    May 14, 2013. 05:14 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    The difference is easy. Offsetting doesn't claim to be green, it claims to offset something that is dirty. I have no problem with someone acknowledging they are making a vanity purchase that is more heavily polluting and then spending additional money to offset that dirty purchase. I have a significant problem with someone claiming that the are purchasing something shiny and clean because they have elsewhere made a separate purchase which may or may not offset the additional pollution from their vanity buy.

    There is a huge difference between the two assertions.
    May 14, 2013. 02:33 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is The Tesla Model S Green? [View article]

    The bogus nonsense that Cryowatt was referring to was a BS statement that more electricity was used in refining oil than was used to charge an EV.

    It was not a question of energy balance. That is - and has always been - determined by the type of crude (light sweet, heavy sour, etc..) and the specific refinery. I will say that if you take the energy content of the products and divide by the energy content of the crude you will indeed end up with greater than 100% energy, because refineries today use imported electricity and notable quantities of natural gas to provide energy for some cracking and issomerization functions.

    Whoever told you that the products totaled 1.4 MWh was delusional. Again, it's largely dependent on many factors, but the national total of energy in petroleum products for 2012 was 35.8 quad (sorry about the use of antiquated units), while the total energy content of all petroleum consumed in the U.S. for 2012 was 34.7 quad.

    (Just so you can look it up and verify:
    May 14, 2013. 02:28 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is The Tesla Model S Green? [View article]

    Here you are out of context,

    Within my own comment that you have quoted here, I admit that it is possible, but not plausible.

    Nick's comment that I was refuting said this:
    "Because in many cases they're no dirtier than that status quo option; and in many more cases they're dramatically cleaner..."

    The discussion in this case was on the current case, not what is possible. The earlier discussion that you quoted caused me to be careful to add the caveat "comparable"... so you cannot use a micro-EV to compare to a midsize hybrid, or compare a luxury sedan EV to an SUV hybrid...

    I believe that once all factors (which this thread is attempting to address) are considered, there is no case in the current real world that an EV is cleaner than a comparable hybrid.

    I do acknowledge that such a thing is possible... but it is not likely anytime soon.
    May 14, 2013. 10:07 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment