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  • Confessions Of An EV Pioneer Turned Heretic [View article]
    Barb Z,

    The war in Iraq shut in 2.8 million bbls of oil/day. That production took nearly a full decade to restore after the declaration of war.

    The war in Libya shut in 1.5 million bbls/day, with 400,000 bbl/day still shut in.

    There is not one single exception to the following rule: wars result in an immediate decrease in production, followed by a very slow re-build back to pre-war production levels. We do not go to war to secure oil, we go to war to decrease its production.
    May 7, 2012. 05:01 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Confessions Of An EV Pioneer Turned Heretic [View article]

    There were indeed subsidies for hybrids in the early days. They did precisely nothing whatsoever to facilitate adoption of the technology... To prove this, the Prius used up its allotment of subsidies (that subsidy at the time was limited to a certain number of vehicles sold for each make would get a subsidy - yes that was foolishly set up) within a year, while some of the competitor's vehicles continued to get subsidies for three years. During the period when the Prius had no subsidy and ALL of its competitors still had subsidies, the Prius still out-sold all of its competitors.
    The subsidy wasn't a consideration within the potential market at that time... the people who bought in bought because they wanted the car, not because it was a sound financial decision.

    There was no increase in adoption of hybrid vehicles until oil increased its cost to such an extent that the economic liabilities were significantly lessened. NOTE: the Prius did not drop in price, the price of oil simply raised until the Prius was not as bad of a financial decision! Then there was a small but constant market for hybrids.

    The notion that subsidies for a product creates permanent markets for a product is a complete fairy tale. R&D grants create products that have potential markets... but any form of subsidized support create markets that disappear when the subsidy is withdrawn. There is literally hundreds of years of data on this and absolutely no deviations from this rule. EV's will not be the first exception.
    May 7, 2012. 04:58 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Confessions Of An EV Pioneer Turned Heretic [View article]

    There is no spare solar, there is no spare nuclear power. When additional renewable energy generation is built out, it is immediately preferred - as the marginal cost is negligible - and fossil power is shut down... so upon building out more renewable energy, you STILL have no spare renewable capacity and now merely have MORE spare fossil capacity.

    Add new demand to the system, that spare fossil capacity will be ramped up, and you'll be powering your EV with 100% fossil energy.

    That is simply fact. If you drive an EV, you'll pollute more than you would have if drive a Prius. Simple and irrefutable fact.
    May 7, 2012. 04:34 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Confessions Of An EV Pioneer Turned Heretic [View article]

    I don't "ignore" the possibility that an EV owner might be more likely to buy a solar panel... I've considered that possibility and found it to be completely irrelevant.

    You've got the causalities reversed: EV owners are people who don't care nearly as much about money as they do presenting some image of "green consciousness" regardless of how much pollution it may require to present such a facade... and they clearly have money to burn. Hence they will have solar panels. They will have those solar panels whether they get the car or not... the EV merely offsets much of the good that those solar panels were accomplishing.
    May 7, 2012. 02:07 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Confessions Of An EV Pioneer Turned Heretic [View article]

    I have no problem with government using subsidies to alter the market. The problem that I have is PRODUCT oriented subsidies rather than GOAL oriented subsidies.

    I think it shows maturity for government to be concerned about some of the problems caused by emissions. These "externalities" are unpriced and cost society fortunes in health, infrastructure, national security, and other costs... But when government says "I'll give you $7500 to buy a Chevy Volt - which you will use to save ~120 gallons of gasoline/year and replace another ~180 gallons of gasoline/year with coal, but I'll give you exactly $0.00 dollars for buying a Prius, which you would use to reduce the consumption of 160 gallons of gasoline per year...
    In cases like that, the government isn't trying to offer subsidies to help offset some of the externalities of other products (which might be more competitive though they result in more cost to society)... They are simply subsidizing a product that some politician decided was "cool".

    THAT is the problem. I doubt anyone here would object if a subsidy was offered for vehicles which had better gas consumption than CAFE standards, and that subsidy was available to all vehicles in direct proportion to the gas savings... There the government would subsidize a GOAL - reducing fuel consumption. But instead if you want to reduce fuel consumption and buy a Prius (50 mpg), you're on your own, while they'd shovel thousands of dollars towards you for buying a Nissan Leaf.... That's subsidizing a product, and reeks of corruption.

    I think that's what we have problems with.
    May 4, 2012. 09:26 AM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Confessions Of An EV Pioneer Turned Heretic [View article]
    Surf Dog,

    First off, you are lying about your solar panels. You clearly do not actually have solar panels. I know this to be true because if you did generate your own electricity you would be well aware of its value - both as a purchased and a sold commodity, and would not stupidly claim that the net cost to your life is $0.00.

    Second, there is a difference between a pickup truck and a personal car. One is a truck, the other is a car. They are not the same.

    Third, if there are things that you've been putting off because you cannot afford to drive there, then you cannot afford an EV and you will not receive a bank-loan for an EV. If you can afford an EV - especially a Tesla luxury EV - then there is no road trip you are dying to make but cannot afford. This too is clearly a lie.

    Fourth, hype an peer pressure work for items within a certain affordability threshold, and don't work for items outside of that threshold. There's inconclusive research as to where that threshold lies for most people... but while Tommy Hilfiger might get people to buy their "cool" jeans for ~$50/pair rather than the Walmart brand jeans for $20/pair (1-3 hours take-home pay difference for most people in the U.S.), Armani suits for $3000+ are rarely selected instead of the JCPenney suits for $200 (100-300 hours take home pay difference for most people in the U.S.) People might like Armani more, but the difference between the brands exceeds that threshold at which peer pressure can close the difference. In other words, expecting sales to increase due to the fact there will be some vehicles on the road is absurd at this price point.

    Fifth, research the terms "greenwashing" and "green halo".

    Sixth, sales of the Nissan Leaf are in the toilet in the U.S. It's likely the line will be discontinued before a total of 25,000 are sold in the U.S. Nissan is building a factory to build SOMETHING here, but it won't be EV's.

    The rest is idiocy. Jimmy Carter might be the most unjustly maligned president in American history, but even those who unjustly fault him for the ruinous conditions he inherited and worked to fix don't claim he was anything other than concerned for the environment. Of course he was more environmentally conscious than George Bush. Why should someone choose Bush over Carter?
    May 3, 2012. 03:33 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Confessions Of An EV Pioneer Turned Heretic [View article]

    You have an extraordinarily low reading comprehension for so much vitriol.

    No assumptions were made about driving distances. The base argument was against the "average driver" who consumes ~400 gallons of gasoline a year by traveling ~12,000 miles/year.

    The assumption is an "average driver" is selecting a vehicle for the purpose of displacing his/her gasoline consumption. That assumption is fully disclosed. There was never any assertion that some "unique drivers" didn't exist who would have more or less benefits from specific choices.

    The rest is simply nonsense that was manufactured by your own mind.
    May 3, 2012. 11:58 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Confessions Of An EV Pioneer Turned Heretic [View article]

    The problem with your assumptions here are as follows:

    1. Renewable energy is already used;
    and 2. The people at Tesla are shameless liars.

    First, if you live in an area that has a hydroelectric dam, the energy that is produced by that dam is currently being used by everything else that is already plugged in. When you plug in something NEW into the grid, then you are demanding more energy... but the amount of energy that is produced by the dam is dependent solely upon rainfall... It won't rain more just so you can plug in an EV. Therefore, either your grid will have to import energy or it will sell less energy to neighboring grids... which will then either have to compensate by ramping up fossil power or they will import energy or sell less to neighbors who must ramp up fossil power...
    At the end, there must be some INCREASE in generation that corresponds to the INCREASE in energy demand from the grid, and the only spare capacity that is available is fossil power. Nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, and geothermal sources are fully utilized, that won't be what powers new demand.

    The second issue is very straightforward: the Model S will not travel 45 miles if you purchase 11 kWh of energy from the grid to charge it. If a fast charger is used (which for that size battery it will be manditory), charging losses are in the neighborhood of ~25% - so you'll have to purchase ~1.25 kWh in order to store 1 kWh in the battery... But beyond that, currently the Nissan Leaf only gets ~3.1 miles/kWh that is stored in the battery when driven at 55 mph without climate control. The Tesla S - a vehicle which weighs a ton more than the Leaf and has far more power/performance... this vehicle WILL NOT achieve 4 miles/kWh. The Tesla people are blatantly and flagrantly LYING about that metric. They'll be lucky if the actual results are better than 2.5 miles/kWh.
    May 3, 2012. 11:30 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Confessions Of An EV Pioneer Turned Heretic [View article]

    From the perspective of an environmentalist, I would oppose that merely because you are replacing gasoline with coal. Despite the rhetoric, a high quality gasoline engine (such as those available on the Prius) are far cleaner than using energy from your wall.

    As to the economics, that's an interesting question... It's important to remember that 1.4 kWh is enough charge to propel a Nissan Leaf ~4 miles. In a Prius, the battery will probably never be less than ~1/2 charge, so you have ~2 miles worth of charge that you theoretically could gain from coal rather than gasoline every morning. For a Prius, that's ~1 gallon of gasoline every 25 days, or ~15 gallons of gasoline/year - ~$60/year - assuming that the car is driven every single day. Assuming the same, you'd be purchasing ~0.77 kWh/day for each of those days (10% charging losses assumed), for a final total of ~$28.11/year.

    If the added cost of a plug and charging connections to the battery cost less than ~$128, then it's probably worth it economically... but since you're only saving ~$31.89/year, then any more than that would not be worth it if you have any credit card debt whatsoever (which is almost certainly the case).
    May 3, 2012. 11:08 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Battery-Powered Locomotives: Compellingly Green Economics [View article]

    Fair enough. This was not intended to be an attack - but rather a correction - specifically because you didn't have some form of business plan or profit motive attached to the environmental benefit. People who in some way calculate in a dollar value, and seek to pass that dollar value onto taxpayers, I attack when the number looks wrong.

    When people are merely mentioning a beneficial side-effect, but seek no recompense for that benefit, I generally assume no nefarious intent if the numbers are a little more generous... I just try to correct the numbers and congratulate the people for a great product.

    And so: congrats.
    May 1, 2012. 05:22 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Battery-Powered Locomotives: Compellingly Green Economics [View article]

    First, congrats on the successful lab tests, and I hope the prototype implementation goes off without a hitch.

    However, I take exception to some of your analysis on the environmental benefits here, as it seems you aren't comparing the electric switcher's consumption to diesel in the same way you would (and should) compare an electric car's consumption to gasoline or diesel.

    We absolutely agree that the idling period is completely wiped out with the electric switcher - which is extremely beneficial to the environment. By your chart, that looks like ~70 gallons of the ~340 gallons/day.

    But the rest of the energy used by the locomotive is presumably used to do work at reasonably high efficiency... and unless I misunderstand something here that work is now being done with coal and natural gas power.

    If we assume 40% efficiency in the diesel locomotive, then we have ~4 MWh/day of work being done by those engines. If you consider line losses and battery charging losses, we're looking at ~5 MWh being generated from fossil fuel plants. That's 4-5 tons of CO2e / day. The consumption of 340 gallons of diesel, on the other hand, has a life-cycle emission of ~5.4 tons of CO2/day... So for a 250 day/year work cycle, the actual CO2 abatement will be 100-350 tons CO2, not the 875 tons you had specified. That said, 100-350 tons/day is still quite good for a single purchase abatement... but I thought 875 was a little steep.

    To be fair, I don't know how good the pollution controls are for diesel locomotives (never looked into it), but I suspect the black carbon emissions from these are an order of magnitude greater than clean diesel vehicles or coal power plants (which are similar in their BC emissions). If that is so, then the environmental benefits are far greater than your estimate... But this is something that I simply don't know.

    Anyhow, I hope things go as well as you predict. It looks great, and this is a true environmental benefit; but I think your headline number was a little steep.
    May 1, 2012. 03:32 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is Lithium-Ion A Borgia Battery? [View article]
    Well said Old Wizard.

    There are many alternative energy technologies with extraordinary growth and profit potential. They just don't happen to be the technologies that the government is forcing us to invest most of our taxpayer dollars into. Many of the government funded projects are complete crap...

    That's a result of bad choices, not inevitability.
    Apr 26, 2012. 02:42 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Is Lithium-Ion A Borgia Battery? [View article]

    I believe that will be true over time. Just as cars today are far more safe than cars many decades ago...

    Remember I think the safety stuff isn't really that big of a deal - specifically because of the basic safety involved in vehicle transportation.

    But John brings up safety because he believes it will affect sales. He's probably right in the short term... and there are so many economic factors working against the current crop of EV's that they may not make it to a long term if there is a short term marketing problem.

    My great problem with them has always been that they are using my tax dollars to buy someone else's more polluting technology. That remains my big complaint.
    Apr 26, 2012. 09:28 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Is Lithium-Ion A Borgia Battery? [View article]

    Please do not take my word for it!!!

    I deal with a hydrocarbon catalysis lab. In my lab I have 14 cylinders of explosive gasses at high pressure. What I think of as "safe" as I play with 6 - 10 bar CO, H2, O2, and CH4 at 900 C, is not the same thing that others see as "safe".

    I have no personal experience with whatever type of testing chamber that was used... I merely said I could envision a testing chamber that would yield a sensational headline without actually having been a sensational event. I DO NOT have any first-hand knowledge here!

    I'm just guessing and playing devil's advocate like everyone else.
    Apr 26, 2012. 09:15 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Is Lithium-Ion A Borgia Battery? [View article]

    Most of my post was based on the relative safety of gasoline.

    The H2S was the root of the discussion, as that is the root topic of this entire thread.

    But the relative safety of gasoline cannot be overlooked. To re-examine your own statistic, out of 33 million auto accidents, only 184 thousand accidents resulted in fire. That's about 0.55% of accidents that result in fire. Of the 30,800 crashes that resulted in death (many of these crashes resulted in multiple deaths), only 285 people died in accidents that resulted in fires.

    I think that you and Dr Sastry have watched far too many Hollywood action movies where a bullet in the gas tank of a car causes a massive explosion sending 2-ton vehicles hurling through the air... but that's no how things really work in the real world. Gasoline is a very stable combustable liquid that has a high energy content. That's it.
    Apr 25, 2012. 10:37 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment