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

    I thought you were in California. I don't know why I had thought that... but I was certain you were in California.
    Jun 12, 2013. 09:09 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    We need funding.
    The biggest problem with having the DOE present as a first-round investor in technology is it conditions venture investors to wait for the DOE to do the early pilot-level investments. Then the venture capital groups come in once the engineering risks are largely eliminated. That's a great deal for the venture capitalist (sort of), but if you don't have the blessings of the DOE, then you have trouble recruiting investment.

    The DOE apportions grants based on its programs, and the needs/desires/goals of the program managers. So they release "funding opportunity announcements", and you can apply for grants based on how well you fit those FOA's. There's no "renewable oil synthesis" program, and the program manager in the traditional oil world wants a better field exploration technique - that's what he's funding... and the hydrogen fuel cell program manager (still) is praying for a miracle 2-order-of-magnitude cost reduction in a fuel cell, so they have dozens of FOA's trying different sputtering techniques or whatever the latest hype might be... Algae program wastes money on algae related stuff, etc... But no-one is going to go outside of their program and offer an FOA to a new technology (one that has not been around since the 70's), and the venture capitalists all say they are excited about coming onto the team once we have our pilot plan up and running, but they don't fund energy ventures at the bench scale.

    catch 22.

    Eventually someone will fund us, and we'll be the biggest IPO this century. Until then we're limping along with funding from the profits off of our small scientific instrumentation business, and making some progress in the lab.
    Jun 12, 2013. 09:07 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    4. There is no formal study of the embodied energy in a Tesla Model S. I took the typical embodied energy of lithium batteries and assumed an additional 300 lbs of steel for heavier frame, and made assumptions. I can walk you through it if you like.

    I did not count transmission loads twice.

    5. No, I said the money used on EV's should be used elsewhere, because we're limited to a pool of ~50 billion per year. The Model S alone is going to suck away >150 million dollars in 2013 which will do nothing for the environment and will be used solely. My preferred path wouldn't differentiate between renewable energy production and efficiency upgrades. What I expressed was simply an easy-to-understand alternative, not my preference.

    I checked your math on NY, and I want to congratulate you. You are the very first EV advocate that I've had dialogue with who correctly identified the portion of energy they consumed that was coal.

    NY has it's own ISO, so it's pretty easy to figure out the imports and exports. NYISO imports something like 10 TWh (net) from ISO-NE and Canada (mostly hydropower), and it imports ~12.5 TWh (net) from PJM (mostly coal).

    NY generated ~137 TWh in 2012, of which only 4.5 TWh were coal. Assuming 10 TWh imported from hydropower and 12.5 TWh imported from coal, the total energy requirements of the state are ~159.5 TWh, and you're only using ~17 TWh of coal. 10.6% coal.

    But if you offered another TWh of demand during the year (~100,000 Teslas), which was dominated by a very smooth constant-power overnight load, do you believe that NYISO would respond by:
    A. Requiring that more rain fall, so that more hydropower could be generated;
    B. Increase the power yield from the nuclear reactors by operating the reactor cores at higher temperatures (this is illegal, with good reason);
    C. Ramp up NG power plants during the middle of the night; or
    D. Import more low-cost middle-of-the-night power from PJM (mostly coal).

    It's not what the mix is, it's what the mix of the spare capacity that would be tapped to respond to new loads that matter.
    Jun 11, 2013. 01:52 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    The information provided by the EPA in the link you have lists information for an average ICE. But it clearly states that the ENGINE efficiency of an average ICE is 28-30% ("engine losses of 70-72%).

    The source of that reported average is from a 2007 paper analyzing vehicles that were sold over the prior decade. Vehicles today are inherently more efficient due to the fact that we've had a decade of high oil prices influencing design. The average vehicle studied for that report had a fuel economy of 20 mpg. The average car sold today has a fuel economy of 34 mpg. Today's EV's are competing with today's Ford Focus Hybrid and today's Toyota Prius, not the Chevy HHR from 2005.
    Jun 11, 2013. 11:11 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]
    Still more of the same.

    If you wished, you could actually link to the discussion in question - and let people see for themselves what was said... but it's far more fun to misrepresent the conversation to fit your needs.

    Have fun with that.
    Jun 11, 2013. 09:11 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    I have often stated that the Model S would be better than buying some luxury cars. But the question is this: is this something we should subsidize.

    If I were to have a 1000 ft2 outdoor Jacuzzi, it would be quite easy to make the argument that it would be more environmentally efficient for me to have a black Jacuzzi rather than a white one. That doesn't mean that the taxpayers should foot the bill for black Jacuzzis. They are, inherently, an unnecessary vanity purchase. The fact that one is better than another doesn't make any of them necessary or useful to society, and in no way should taxpayers have to pay a part of the bill. That money could be going to something that HELPS, instead it's just wasted on wealthy people's ego.

    It's a disgrace.
    Jun 11, 2013. 09:09 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    4. Fine, it's $500 of as much as ~$10,000 in expense. I had stated a match, not 10%. The current program doesn't work as an incentive, as can easily be seen by the number of people who are taking advantage of it. A higher match would get more people involved, and do far more good.

    As far as the rest goes, you clearly haven't read the article - to which you've contributed several dozen posts in response. There is an enormous amount of energy required to mine materials, transport them, smelt them, and assemble the batteries. The weight of the battery pack then requires a larger frame - more steel. To earn back some of the efficiency lost in the production of the multi-ton vehicle, highly efficient technologies are used which have much greater embodied energy (such as LED lights, and an all-electric high efficiency heat exchanger for climate control).

    All told, there is well over 3 times - possibly as much as 4 times - the embodied energy/embodied carbon in a Model S as there is an a similarly-sized ICE. An ICE is generally producing a net life-cycle emission of 1 ton CO2/~80 gallons of gasoline consumed. If the EV has an embodied carbon load of ~10 tons higher than the ICE, and produces a per mile marginal emission equal to that of a ~37 mpg vehicle; then assuming 100,000 miles of lifetime travel would yield an additional 100 g-CO2/mile, which is the equivalent of burning an additional gallon of gasoline every ~140 miles (or the equvilant performance of a ~29 mpg ICE).

    Once the cooling of the battery pack is taken into account for the periods when the vehicle is parked, it gets worse still. Once battery replacement is taken into account, or the vast increase in charging losses during fast charging (~25-30%), it can creep down much further, but these additional losses become arguable based on driving patterns.

    5. Where do you see a complaint? This is reality. I'm presenting it to you. You want to waste money on EV's, taking some of that precious money that taxpayers are reluctantly willing to let go of, and throw it in the trash. I am a strong supporter of wind and solar and novel geothermal projects. In fact I support anything that is cost effective against a realistic accommodation cost estimate for AGW.

    If you live in California, you use well over 10% coal. You import it. But even if you used only 1% coal, and then added load that was a perfect fit for coal, more coal power would be transmitted to you across state lines, and coal plants in Wyoming, Nevada, and Arizona would rejoice that they were able to become more profitable from the new increase in smooth baseload demand.
    Jun 11, 2013. 08:44 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    1 & 3. You seem to just be wanting to talk in circles on these two points - expressing your belief without being willing to engage the conversation... so I'll let this pass and say we'll agree to disagree, and I hope you'll do more research on the subject.

    2. We certainly agree that technological improvements can and hopefully will emerge to accelerate the switch to renewables. In some ways I've factored that in for my baseline assumptions, but I do recognize that a revolutionary technology would shake things up a little more (as Julian Cox managed to "uncover" with his "research", I'm working on a revolutionary alternative energy platform... so I certainly hope that they emerge, but I understand that WindFuels will require 2-3 decades of constant geometric growth in order to begin really dominating the liquid fuels market - but while I'm excited about our project, it's still at bench/demonstration phase, and as such is not relevant to this conversation).

    4. The government gives a tax credit of up to 10% for up to $500 of insulation... That's $50, which is given back to you in the spring. Have you priced a good service recently? It would cost a middle-class family ~$3000 to get a service to come out and spray the attic with a high-efficiency foam insulation. It would cost ~$1500 for a crawl-space. If the walls are poorly insulated, then drilling and foaming between each joist might well cost $5000. And for that, you can get a whopping $50 back during the next year's tax returns.
    Meanwhile, you can increase your emissions profile by purchasing an exorbitantly-priced car and get $7500 back from the feds and $5000 back from your state government, which is immediately worked into the loan!

    For the record, I wasn't advocating the match, that's just an example that is simple to use and easily understood. What I'd prefer is a direct subsidy per calculated carbon impact, which is far more complex, and far more effective.

    5. Nice straw man, but I've never once complained about money spent on wind (in good wind regions), solar (in regions of high insolation), dammed hydropower (run-of-the-river is kind of a farce), or other renewables. EV's are not renewable energy, they are an expensive means of simply exchanging one type of energy (liquid fuels) for a different type (usually coal). That you are trying to expand the argument to include options that are worthy of support is merely an indication that you feel you are on questionable ground with respect to EV's.... which means you're thinking.


    Do some research outside of this argument - since you clearly aren't going to listen exclusively to me (nor should you, you don't know me), and consider your position carefully. You'll realize what it is you are fighting for, and it will make you mad that corrupt officials took what is a good and heartfelt instinct on your part (wanting to help the environment), and twisted into a corrupt funneling of money towards well connected friends that are hurting the environment.
    Jun 10, 2013. 05:50 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    Name calling doesn't change your lack of understanding here. As for "research", it doesn't exactly take much to READ MY PROFILE SUMMARY to understand that I am working on a revolutionary cleantech technology. That has not been hidden.

    Regardless of your ad hominum insinuations, there is no correlation between electrifying transportation and forcing more renewables onto the grid. The two efforts are entirely separate, and in fact are in competition for the same resources - so by wasting fistfulls of money on EV's you are reducing the pool of money that could be allocated to fund further renewables build-out on the grid.

    I would be happy to point you to any amount of material that you are actually willing to read in order to make you understand this. THERE IS NO CAUSAL LINK BETWEEN SOMEONE GETTING AN EV AND A POWER COMPANY OR INDIVIDUAL BUILDING RENEWABLE ENERGY.

    The reason is the constant rate of draw in charging the EV. A constant overnight charge is a perfect fit for baseload and does nothing to encourage further renewable build-out (in fact, due to the perfect fit for baseload, it actually helps improve the profit of baseload power and will slow the economic forces that are shutting them down - a trend which does help encourage more renewables). A fast-charge at random intervals is a good fit for an NG peaker and again does nothing to encourage further renewable build-out.

    If you got a smart-charger that increased or lowered its charging power based on price signals from the ISO or RTO, then that would encourage greater stability for the grid in deeper renewables penetration scenarios, and that would be positive... as that would decrease risk and increase profit for further wind build-out. But then it would be the smart-charger, not the car, that is making a positive difference. The car would be a negative, and the charger would be a positive.

    In the same way, someone who puts solar on their house and buys an EV is essentially just purchasing an offset for some of the pollution they are causing by purchasing the vanity car. The car is a negative, the solar panels are a positive. The two possibilities are not connected: one is bad, one is good, both are separate. That same person could buy a Hummer and buy solar panels to offset the Hummer... or could buy an Escalade and invest in a wind farm in Kansas and offset the Escalade... One purchase is polluting, the other is environmentally beneficial. The two aren't related.
    Jun 10, 2013. 04:49 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    In two decades, there will be regions that have statistically significant spare capacity in renewable energy.. That does not mean that we will no longer be using fossil fuels, it means that there will be excess capacity during some hours of the day of certain types of renewable energy in some regions.

    It's likely, for instance, that in two decades there will be a significant amount of curtailed wind energy (spare wind capacity) throughout the Midwest. That does not mean that there will be no fossil fuels being consumed throughout the Midwest, it means that an argument could be made in two decades that by plugging in a new steady demand load in a major city in the Midwest, some noteworthy amount of that demand will be satisfied by tapping spare wind capacity rather than just ramping up coal.

    There will still be plenty of coal being consumed (possibly more than today), but there will be some spare renewable capacity.

    It's highly unlikely there will be statistically significant spare solar capacity within 3 decades... but perhaps in some remote regions of Southern Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona we might see a few places that would be true 2 decades out.

    I have no problem with someone buying an EV today. If that's what you want to do, good for you. But I feel the same way about SUV's and ridiculously overpowered sportscars. If that's your thing, then waste your money. But there's nothing CLEAN about making that transition. It results in more pollution than would have resulted from buying a lower-cost high efficiency vehicle. So it's nothing more than corruption at its finest that tax dollars are shifted to accommodate some people's wish to acquire high-pollutant vanity purchases.

    The great evil therein is the fact that our subsidy dollars are limited. Taxpayers have agreed - reluctantly - to spend ~50 billion or so per year on renewable energy ideas. Every dollar that is spent subsidizing some useless vanity buy which actually increases emissions is one less dollar that could be spent doing something that could actually help.

    Consider this: If we allocated up to $2500/home match for efficiency upgrades in insulation/thermal envelope upgrades, and restricted that to 60,000 homes/year, the Federal government would pay the same amount that they're wasting this year to support Tesla, but they'd employ almost 50 times the number of people, and the subsidies would result in the reduction of ~100 million tons of CO2, and very significant energy cost savings that focus on middle-class families.

    Instead, we're knowingly using that same money to INCREASE emissions, and support very few jobs so that wealthy people can sacrifice a little less to get a highly pollutant vanity car. These are the choices that we're making, supposedly in the interest of "helping the environment". It's a farce, and it's disgusting.
    Jun 10, 2013. 04:05 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    Clearly you don't care about facts, data, or reality... nor do you care that you sound like a fool when talking about something that you very clearly don't understand.

    So I don't see the purpose of continuing this discourse until you want to become relevant or I for some reason I cannot anticipate wish to become irrelevant.

    Enjoy your dreams.
    Jun 10, 2013. 03:13 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    You are a dreamer, which can be a good thing on some occasions, but in most cases tend to get in the way when serious matters are discussed.

    Efficiency is efficiency. There are extremely difficult considerations to overcome in increasing efficiency which include but are not restricted to theoretical (Carnot) limits. Investing in new higher-efficiency generation before current operating generators are obsoleted is economically inefficient, and will not be done unless there is a great increase in the cost of either NG or coal (neither case looks to be facing a significant cost increase anytime soon).

    The carbon load/unit energy of various fossil options are fixed.

    There is very little "play" with which to realistically realize greater efficiency, and there will not be a significant amount of spare renewable capacity on the grid within the next two decades, so any attempt to downplay the role of fossil fuels in satisfying new demand loads is sophistry.

    Anyone who does not realize this, and just spouts off fairy tales of "zero emissions" and other such nonsense is just getting in the way of real movement towards a lower carbon (and lower toxin emissions) future.

    Some of us are trying to fix problems rather than just engage in fantasy. Learn enough to be part of a solution rather than part of the problem.
    Jun 10, 2013. 02:50 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    I noticed you didn't give a link to that "EPA data" that you're citing here. A quick bout of googling reveals no links to such a study, which tells me the EPA probably has no such study.

    You are welcome to prove me wrong and give a link, but regardless of whether the numbers originated with you or with the EPA, they are certainly wrong.

    The EPA ranks the Model S at 38 kWh/100 miles. Assuming a 10% charging loss (I'm being generous), you'd need to purchase 42.2 kWh at the home. Assuming a 7% transmission loss, the power plant would need to generate 45.4 kWh. Assuming the turbine has a 45% efficiency (top-of-the-line diesel generator, this is a very generous assumption), then there would need to be 100.9 kWh of chemical enthalpy of combustion.

    Diesel averages ~35-38 kWh/gallon. So to get to 100.9 kWh, you'd need 2.65 - 2.9 gallons of diesel to travel 100 miles.

    Less than 5% of the energy content in produced gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel are lost or used in the distribution... so for a vehicle that gets 37 mpg, factoring in the losses of distribution, the equivalent of 2.85 gallons of gasoline would be needed, rather than 2.7 gallons (without factoring in distribution losses).

    Before you declare "AHA!, in some cases you'd use less diesel in the generator than you'd use gasoline in the ICE!", you have to remember that diesel is comprised of larger center-weight hydrocarbon chains - which have more energy and result in more carbon emissions. The EPA mpg ratings assume a gasoline blend that has an energy density of 33.7 kWh/gallon.
    Jun 10, 2013. 02:29 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • In Summary, The Tesla Model S Is A Dirty Car [View article]

    You're entirely off-base when you say that it would be better to use petroleum in an electric generator and distribute that to EV's. That's absolutely absurd.

    A high efficiency engine can achieve ~40% efficiency. Yes the average ICE doesn't do this, because there is a cost differential between high efficiency vehicles (which still cost far less than the absurd EV's) and low-cost vehicles. But the average vehicle sold today is in the low-to-mid 30%.

    A very high efficiency diesel generator might get 45% efficiency on the conversion to electricity. Then you have 7% transmission losses, 10% charging losses, and 85% efficiency for the vehicle motor, for a total efficiency of 32%. That's far lower efficiency than the high-efficiency ICE and hybrid cars, all of which cost less for similar size and performance than an EV. Of course, average NG-sourced efficiency in America is ~40%, and average coal is ~31%, and an EV is inherently heavier - requiring more energy per size/performance catagory than an ICE. So the actual emissions comparison looks far worse still.

    There is no nuclear or renewable energy that is ramped up to accommodate a new marginal load on the grid as represented by an EV. Fossil fuel sources represent the only spare capacity, so they are the only options when comparing the impact of charging your car vs not charging your car on the grid.

    It's just a dirty option.

    Once you factor in the battery coolant system for the Tesla S specifically, and the embodied carbon that is involved with the battery manufacture, it's probable that the Tesla S has greater emissions than a Hummer II, but I cannot do that comparison until some useful studies are released on the embodied carbon in the battery manufacture processes. On a mile-per-mile basis, however, the Model S is polluting more than any hybrid or ICE vehicle that gets ~37 mpg or better (before the emboddied emissions are factored in).
    Jun 10, 2013. 12:27 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The Bloom Is Off (NPK-Produced) Algae Biofuel Development [View article]
    The problems are far worse than just fertilizer costs.

    Specialty/niche markets for algae run >$5/kg. At that cost, a ton of algae would cost $5,000.00. In order to make diesel from algae, you only use the lipid portion, or roughly 1/3rd of the mass, so now you're up to $15,000/ton of extremely dirty green oil that must be filtered and refined.

    That's ~7 bbls. So assuming the cost of refining is free and the efficiency of refining is 100%, the price point at which biofuels become more competitive than niche products in the cosmetics and nutrient markets is ~$2140/bbl. If a bioreactor could produce algae significantly cheaper than current market price, then new competitors (like the botched algae-biofuel companies) would drive down the price of these niche products. Instead, they are having trouble competing in these niche markets.

    Algae oil is, and has always been, a complete farce in terms of an energy solution.
    Jun 3, 2013. 08:58 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment