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Doty WindFuels is a subgroup of Doty Scientific - a small company founded by my father 30 years ago. We are currently developing a new energy paradigm - a process for using variable renewable energy to convert CO2 into liquid hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals. The products would be called... More
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  • Recent Analysis From The Union Of Concerned Scientist Is Garbage. 227 comments
    Jul 9, 2012 10:33 PM

    The Union of Concerned Scientists has recently published a report entitled "State of Charge", which is getting a great deal of press. While I consider myself a fan of much of the Union's work, and I myself have been a financial contributor to the Union of Concerned Scientists in the past... their work is not above reproach, and on occasion in their passion to advocate what they clearly believe there are oversights in their work which are significant enough to lead to completely false conclusions.

    "State of Charge" is, unfortunately, a poorly considered study that uses incorrect methodology which leads to an incorrect conclusion.

    The fundamental problem with the report stems from the basic assertion that if a grid had 5% wind, 1% solar, 20% hydro, 30% nuclear, 20% natural gas, and 24% coal... then that exact same "grid mix" could be credited to the EV which is being plugged in and directly compared to an ICE vehicle which is not plugged in.

    There is a logical fallacy here. When you plug in a NEW demand in to the grid, there must be additional energy provided to the grid. That is not a matter that is up to debate. Just to be clear - I'm stating that when you plug in your vehicle to the grid, demanding another ~20 kWh/night or so, then the power companies must provide an additional 20 kWh/night that they would not have had to provide had you not plugged in your car (had your car run on gasoline, for instance).

    Power companies tend to use the energy source with the lowest marginal cost that can fulfill the need. This again is obvious and is not something that is open to debate. The MARGINAL cost for solar, geothermal, hydropower, and wind is essentially $0, and the marginal cost for nuclear power is ~$5/MWh. That is - the cost of the energy once the capital has been spent.

    To illustrate: Once a dam is in place, the difference in cost between the dam producing energy and the dam just allowing the water to flow past the turbines is literally pennies/MWh. So the power company is, ALWAYS, going to use every bit of hydropower that it possibly can whether you plug your car in or not.

    That means that if you DON'T plug your car in, 100% of the installed hydropower is used. When you DO plug your car in, then the power company must satisfy that additional ~20 kWh of demand by ramping up something that does not include wind, solar, geothermal, nuclear, or hydropower.

    Now we get to the idea of SPARE CAPACITY. The power company must have the capacity to ramp up generation in order to meet new demand. This capacity is referred to as SPARE capacity - ie. it's capacity that is online but not being utilized.

    As renewable power is built out, and eventually (maybe) as nuclear power is built out, these power sources will always be preferred over fossil sources if possible due to their incredibly low marginal cost. So even if the renewable power in a region were to double, it is not likely that there will be any spare capacity that is renewable. In fact, as renewables build out, it only increases the amount of spare capacity in natural gas and coal power. As natural gas prices drop, and more natural gas displaces coal, this reduces the spare capacity in natural gas, and increases the spare capacity in coal.

    This is important because only spare capacity can be ramped up to fulfill new demand. So whatever extent the renewable power progresses to, new demand must always be fulfilled by dirty power - and coal power will be preferred if possible.

    This is simply how the real world operates. Analyzing the effectiveness of EV's as carbon mitigation strategies when bounded by the real world of grid power generation and distribution will yield remarkably different results than the "State of Charge" report implies.

    Running on Coal:

    If we go back to the real-world understanding that power companies will always use the lowest-marginal-cost source to fit demand, it's fairly easy to determine what power source will be used to satisfy EV charging. Currently, baseload demand is gradually tamped back each night, and gradually ramped back up each day, to fit an overall peak/off-peak demand curve. If you were to plug in a new, absolutely consistent nightly demand that lasted for ~10 hours/night, then the cheapest way to address that would be for the power companies to tamp down their baseload coal slightly less each night to accommodate slightly higher baseload demand. So slow charging overnight will result in almost exclusively coal-sourced charging energy. Slow charging results in a 10% charging loss - which is factored into the EPA rating, and the USA averages 6% line loss in the distribution of energy from the power plant to the home meter. So if a Nissan Leaf (0.34 kWh/mile) were to be slow charged overnight, then every mile driven in a Nissan Leaf would result in an additional production of 361.7 Wh of coal-sourced electricity. Coal electricity has an average of ~1.1 kg-CO2/kWh, so this works out to a final total carbon intensity of 397.8 g-CO2/mile.

    Running on Natural Gas:

    Natural gas would probably be preferred for "fast" charging (45 minutes), because it's difficult and wasteful for coal plants to ramp up or tamp down very quickly... so even though natural gas is far more expensive on a $/MWh basis, it is far more dispatchable, and therefore is a cheaper option for the power company for fast-response situations. However, when fast charging a battery the charging losses increase to nearly 25% (while the EPA rating assumes slow-charging). So a Nissan Leaf with a fast-charged battery would result in an additional production of 411.0 Wh of electricity. If we assume 610 g-CO2/kWh, then the total carbon intensity is ~250.7 g-CO2/mile.

    In truth, of course, a future grid that has multiple EV's will represent some average carbon intensity between these two points - but what is critical to understand is that increased penetration of renewables or nuclear will not change the above calculation, as only spare dispatchable capacity can respond to new marginal demand. So a Nissan Leaf will have a predictable range of between 251 and 398 g-CO2/mile.

    A Toyota Prius gets 50 mpg combined. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the U.S. average life-cycle carbon intensity of a gallon of gasoline (this includes drilling, extracting, transporting, refining, and distributing emissions - as well as the obvious emissions from combustion), is 11.2 kg-CO2/gallon of gasoline. At 50 mpg, the carbon intensity of driving a Prius is 224 g-CO2/mile.

    There is no possible scenario in which driving an EV is as environmentally benign as driving a Prius. Under most real-world scenarios (night-time charging), the actual carbon intensity of driving a Nissan Leaf is nearly DOUBLE that of the Prius.

    Fair scoring:

    However, in the same manner that we can assume a power company will give priority to its electricity production according to price, over a long enough time frame, the oil market should be seen as having a similar priority bias. Therefore, if you imagine removing a few thousand gallons of gasoline demand (by purchasing an EV and shifting that energy demand to coal), over a long enough period the market will adjust to that demand shift by reducing the build-out of the most expensive sources of oil. Right now, that is either tar-sands oil.

    Gasoline refined from the Athabasca tar sands project was scored at a carbon intensity of ~14 kg-CO2/gallon. So if we use THAT figure to compare to EV (we are considering the difference to the environment by selecting one or the other, so if the EV is selected then some number of gallons of tar-sands fuel will not be extracted at a future date), then our per-mile carbon intensity increases to 280 g-CO2/mile.

    If you assume that each vehicle will be driven 12,000 miles/year for 10 years, you can factor in the emissions from the manufacturing of the vehicle. A Prius has a manufacturing carbon intensity of ~9 tons-CO2; and a Nissan Leaf has a manufacturing carbon intensity of ~13 tons-CO2. After 120,000 miles, that works out to 75 g-CO2/mile for the Pruis, and manufacturing 108.3 g-CO2/mile for the Nissan Leaf.

    So the most fair that I can possibly be in comparing the two would have the Prius with an all-in carbon intensity of 355 g-CO2/mile, and the Leaf having an all-in carbon intensity of 359 - 505 g-CO2/mile.

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Comments (228)
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  • DRich
    , contributor
    Comments (4673) | Send Message
     
    >Glenn Doty ... I've been following your writing on Mr. Petersen's article comment section for a very long time. Glad to see you giving a well well written primer of how the grid really works. An explanation that I seemly never state clearly. Another altenergy source to link to.

     

    I hope you add to this with expanding other topics I've read. Might I suggest one on your day job.

     

    Good Luck to you. Keep it up. Thanks
    5 Jun 2012, 07:34 PM Reply Like
  • bangwhiz
    , contributor
    Comments (2248) | Send Message
     
    Loved your clearly written article that even a math challenged person like me can easily understand. Thanks for such a good presentation on the subject of EV's , the grid, and environmental concerns!
    5 Jun 2012, 09:48 PM Reply Like
  • CO3
    , contributor
    Comments (250) | Send Message
     
    Yup, Like they said ....
    Thanks for your consistently intelligent & well written comments Glen.

     

    Have you shared this with the UCS ?
    6 Jun 2012, 01:50 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » CO3,

     

    Actually, no. I'll post a link for them today.
    6 Jun 2012, 08:50 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    "so even though natural gas is far more expensive on a $/MWh basis"

     

    I thought coal plants have been shutting down because NG is now cheaper?
    6 Jun 2012, 09:56 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » JRP3,

     

    Natural gas is cheaper than it was. In fact, natural gas is now cheaper than it has been in over a decade. But electricity generated from natural gas is still far more expensive than electricity generated from coal.

     

    I'm sorry if that portion was worded clumsily.

     

    The closure of coal plants has more to do with pressure from the community and concerns over tightening EPA emissions regulations - which I'm sure we both agree is a good thing. But the key is not that gas-sourced power is now less expensive than coal-sourced power... it's just that gas sourced power is no longer the extreme burden that it used to be. This has allowed more wind power to be utilized at night (less curtailment), and has resulted in many coal power plants running at a low enough level that their efficiency becomes very poor. So a power company might look at the books and factor in the ability to use a single coal plant optimally at near full capacity rather than operate and maintain two coal plants inefficiently every night at far less than 50%, and come up with the determination that with near-term gas prices they can close the less efficient coal plant, and the money they lose during the day by using more natural gas will be offset by the higher efficiency of the coal plant operation and the staff and maintenance costs reductions.

     

    But coal is still far cheaper than gas on balance, nearly half the price in most markets.
    6 Jun 2012, 10:53 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    Glenn, it appears there is an error in your calculation when you take the EPA numbers and then subtract charging efficiency. The EPA numbers appear to already include the charging loses:

     

    "Thank you for contacting us. The MPGe rating is measured from the wall socket to wheels while MPG is measured from tank to wheels. Both measurements exclude upstream emissions. The EPA labels are targeted toward the consumer so the measurements apply to what the consumer has to pay to fuel the vehicle. For electric vehicles, the measurement is taken at the wall socket because this is what the consumer will be billed for. Any losses from the wall to the wheels are included in the MPGe measurement. "

     

    http://seekingalpha.co...
    3 Jul 2012, 08:59 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » JRP3,

     

    Thanks for the heads-up.

     

    This does indeed change my calculations.
    The changes have been made.
    3 Jul 2012, 09:25 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    And the article has finally reappeared :)

     

    I notice you didn't add a regularly charged LEAF on NG, or a Honda Fit on NG, which both beat the Prius, even more so with the corrected data. Not quite "the most fair" that you can be in comparison. I realize it's counter to the point you want to make but ignoring the fact that there is an easy way to make EV's cleaner than a Prius right now seems misleading.
    11 Jul 2012, 09:33 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » JRP3,

     

    Find me a single example of a LEAF owner who slow-charges the vehicle during peak hours and does not charge the vehicle during off-peak hours... and we'll talk. For what it's worth, if there was a LEAF that was slow charged during peak hours on the Western grid, it would STILL never compare to being as clean as the Prius, because range and longevity issues will always insure that the Leaf will not be driven as much as the Prius, so the amortized manufacturing carbon load will always be much higher for the Leaf per mile than it is for the Prius... That's just another aspect that I didn't want to get into in this brief post.

     

    As for the Fit, it still hasn't sold a single vehicle in North America... so no, I did not include a comparison of some future vehicle to current vehicles.

     

    In all cases I'm not interested in fabricating some fantasy just so you can see numbers that show EV's aren't more polluting than ICE's. I'm sticking to this reality.
    11 Jul 2012, 10:26 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    Well you're sticking to your reality and ignoring the reality of others. You fabricated a fantasy where a Prius is always cleaner than an EV, when I've clearly shown that a NG charged EV is in fact cleaner, and it's not that hard to do, just plug it in during the day. I don't have a LEAF but I do indeed charge my EV during the daylight hours, mostly because of your work and our discussions. Anyone who has access to charging at work can do the same, or if they plug in and start charging when they come home. There are thousands of EV's charging from NG, that is a simple fact.
    As for driving distances the LEAF is capable of more than the average daily mileage, and not every Prius owner drives that far, so indeed there are LEAF's with more miles on them then similar vintage Prius's. 50 miles a day, well within the LEAF capacity, is 18,250 miles per year, well above the average of 12K miles a year, so your claim is ridiculous, but you want to pretend it's "reality". As more chargers continue to be installed and battery capacity continues to increase potential range will continue to be even less of an issue.
    As I've said before you've done some really good work, but when you step out of your comfort zone and make assumptions about driving and charging habits they often are not backed up by reality.
    12 Jul 2012, 09:38 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » JRP3,

     

    My assumption about driving habits are backed up by statistics, even if there are some people such as yourself who are more informed and choose to operate in a more environmentally efficient way.

     

    I will relent and state that MOST EV's are operated in a way that makes them far more environmentally damaging then ICE's, out of respect for the few like yourself who go the extra mile to avoid doing so.
    ;)
    12 Jul 2012, 09:53 AM Reply Like
  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2770) | Send Message
     
    Glenn
    From Wikipedia:

     

    http://bit.ly/w8GiSw

     

    "Minor upgrades for the 2012 model year Leaf included a quick charge port that is standard on the SL trim, and also the cold weather package is standard on all Leafs; but pricing for both trims of the 2012 model year Leaf was increased. Nissan explained that these changes reflect customer preferences in the US based on actual orders of the 2011 model in the seven initial launch market states, as the SL trim was chosen by 95% of the buyers, and of those Leaf SLs, 90% had the DC quick charge."

     

    (These stats were from the first few months of deliveries.)
    This leaves 1/2 of 1% of those who bought 2011 models without the option of fast charging. as a estimate of those 2011 which have been sold and are left to sell in the US market I expect the total number will be about 10,000. (The 2012s all have it.)

     

    Using these early stats about 50 Nissan Leafs do not have the potential to fast charge of these some probably charge in the day.

     

    (I don't imagine many; that paid for the option, will not use it, but There is always someone.)
    12 Jul 2012, 10:18 PM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    I have no use for the fast charge option but if I bought a LEAF I would have gotten the option for potential future use and for resale value. When most people initially bought the LEAF with a fast charge port they probably had no place to actually use it.
    13 Jul 2012, 08:42 AM Reply Like
  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2770) | Send Message
     
    Jrp3

     

    "When most people initially bought the LEAF with a fast charge port they probably had no place to actually use it."

     

    From the same Wikipedia article.

     

    Use patterns and owners profile
    Based on the aggregate information compiled until late April 2011 through the telematics systems included in all Leafs and reflecting the patterns of early adopters, Nissan found that the average trip length is 7 miles (11 km) and the average charging time is 2 hours and 11 minutes, with most owners charging on a Level 2, 220-volt charger at their homes.

     

    So by April "most (Leaf) owners" had installed in their homes a fast charger and were using it.
    I expect a few were still waiting delivery.

     

    Do you think they were just upping the resale value of their homes as well?

     

    The rest of use have learned your view of the world is not connected to reality as it is, but how it could be; in some distant future, in an alternate universe.

     

    You claim your helping bring a cleaner world, you need to consider what all EV buyers do, not an obscure small part of them do.

     

    Glenn's information is useful yours is not.
    13 Jul 2012, 03:20 PM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    A Level 2 charger is not the DC quick charger that we are speaking of. You are confusing DC quick charging with level 2 charging. I guess you find that useful?
    14 Jul 2012, 09:26 AM Reply Like
  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2770) | Send Message
     
    Jrp3
    I first responded to Glenn's statement:
    "Find me a single example of a LEAF owner who slow-charges the vehicle during peak hours and does not charge the vehicle during off-peak hours... and we'll talk."

     

    I don't believe Glenn's "slow-charging" involves DC quick charging or even level 2 charging.
    14 Jul 2012, 09:20 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Froggey, JRP3,

     

    My understanding here is limited - largely due to limited data points.

     

    I had read that the batteries that were charged at normal rates had charging losses of ~10%, and fast-charged batteries had charging losses of ~25%. I don't know what is specified within either metric... and I didn't bookmark the source.

     

    Sorry.
    :)
    14 Jul 2012, 11:32 PM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    Level 2 charging involves no greater loss of efficiency, most of it is between 20-40 amps at 240V. Some can go higher but it's rare. Level 2 is probably more efficient than 110V level 1 since there is less of a conversion factor involved getting to up pack voltage. Roadster owners have reported the sweet spot at 40amps and 240 volts for best efficiency. Bottom line, the only serious loss of efficiency comes with Level 3 fast charging.
    15 Jul 2012, 09:03 AM Reply Like
  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2770) | Send Message
     
    I think Jrp3 is correct. But I'd have to find it to be sure.
    15 Jul 2012, 08:08 PM Reply Like
  • Jonny Edwards
    , contributor
    Comments (53) | Send Message
     
    Glenn:

     

    So at what point does marginal become average? Does a TV or a computer that's left plugged in at night sip up the average or the marginal grid mix?

     

    I appreciate your level-headed analysis here, but I think after thirty years, its undeniable that EVs would be considered running on average mix as opposed to marginal mix because they won't be a new load any more. Its a matter of when that happens.
    6 Jun 2012, 11:41 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Jonny Edwards,

     

    The comparison is made at the point of purchase. When one is considering the purchase of a new car (or when a government is considering the absurd subsidy of a person's purchase of a new car), the impact of that car should be evaluated by noting the change in the total emissions profile that will result from the purchase of that car.

     

    If you purchase an EV, then the power company will need to produce enough additional energy for you to charge your battery every night over the course of the next 10 years, while you drive ~120,000 miles. If you purchase an ICE which gets 30 mpg, then you will consume ~4000 gallons of gasoline over the next ten years - while you drive ~120,000 miles.

     

    The energy that you would use in charging the EV is clearly new marginal energy for the electric company... the gasoline used to drive the ICE is clearly additional marginal gasoline demand for the petroleum industry. Most of the marginal energy - due to the dynamics of slow overnight charging - will be satisfied by coal power. Most of the additional 4000 gallons of gasoline, due to the industry priority of developing the most expensive resources last, will be tar sands derived.
    6 Jun 2012, 11:51 AM Reply Like
  • Nick67
    , contributor
    Comments (264) | Send Message
     
    In a formal economics sense, 'marginal' has a very precise meaning. Lawrence Summers job at Harvard essentially ended because he used that word in an economic sense with people who only understood it in the vernacular, pejorative sense.

     

    Marginal means last, like the last word on the line is closer to the margin of the page than the word before it. By definition, when you add something NEW, it is added at the margin and when you remove something, it is removed from the margin.

     

    When you consider adding an employee, you consider what revenue s/he will be able to generate. That is the marginal product of labour. In a free and efficient labour market, the marginal product of labour is the wage rate. When you consider adding capital, you consider what revenue that capital will be able to generate. That is the marginal product of capital.

     

    In Glenn's analysis he is discussing how a new (marginal) electrical load will be supplied--by the marginal (that which you add last, the least expensive source not already in use) electrical supply.

     

    By these definitions 'So at what point does marginal become average' the answer is NEVER. The new is always marginal. Now, the new load may be something very economically productive, in which case if supply was being constrained, something else may be taken out of service instead of the new load, but that is after an evaluation (a ranking based on costs) of the system has taken place.
    8 Jun 2012, 01:05 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Nick,

     

    Thank you for a great response.

     

    This is a very succinct, authoritative, and unambiguous way of answering the question.

     

    I think I'll steal that henceforth.

     

    Thanks for the backup.
    8 Jun 2012, 11:30 AM Reply Like
  • Jonny Edwards
    , contributor
    Comments (53) | Send Message
     
    Nick67 and Glen:

     

    Before you (well, really just Nick67) lecture me on how to use the term "marginal", I think a bit more thought can be put into your analysis. It's not a question of new vs. old in the micro-sense - it's a question of short-run vs. long-run in the macro-sense.

     

    For starts, long-term is the horizon in which fixed factors of productions no longer remain fixed - essentially, the future of electric cars (I'd put it at the 4-year horizon - we have no idea what's going to happen in 4 years and Envia may be in production by then).

     

    Given that in long-run equilibrium, there's some steady-state of electric cars in which old EVs are being replaced by new EVs, there is no "new set of cars" - old cars are simply replaced by new EVs so the stock of EVs stays constant. At that point, we must switch from marginal analysis to average analysis. Remember, short-run is marginal and long-run is average. The crux is when to switch from short-run to long-run analysis and whether it's appropriate to do so now.

     

    I would say yes. I suppose if you were looking at only the start-up horizon, you would look at the short-term only. But emissions are essentially a long-term game and everyone looks at climate change from the 20/30-year timeline, at which point PEVs may have reached some kind of national stock equilibrium so that they are no longer a "new product". That is to say, Johnny down the street may be switching to a PEV but on the macro-scale it's a relatively fixed stock.

     

    The problem with average emissions is that it assumes a long-term equilibrium for electric cars in the first place, thus begging the question.

     

    Not to mention the slow transition away from coal (which IS happening) because of EPA rules (emissions and mercury). I'd also question the LCA from UCS - GHG emissions profiles are improving quite rapidly.
    8 Jun 2012, 11:54 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Jonny,

     

    I wasn't lecturing you. I was attempting to explain something you didn't seem to understand, and for what it's worth you still don't seem to understand.

     

    If you accept the idea that the electric vehicle is a fixed part of the system, then analyze the possibility of the Leaf owner switching to the Prius, then the purchase would result in the loss of between 275-436 g-CO2/mile of emissions from a reduction in fossil-sourced electricity generation, and would result in an increase in ~280 g-CO2/mile in increased emissions due to additional fuel being produced from tar sands.

     

    There is no point at which the "marginal" demand changes from a first-in/last-out scenario. When Dan5 throws away his computer, that's marginal power that is being considered... when I upgrade a small TV to a large TV, that's marginal impact. In 10 years, if I consider throwing away that TV... it will involve marginal impact considerations. Whenever you are comparing the impact of something being plugged in vs something being not plugged in, that comparison always will involve a marginal adjustment in the grid dynamics. That is by definition, and that is logically always correct.

     

    The only point at which the comparison requires additional consideration is when there is no potential for coal-sourced charging, or when there is spare renewable capacity to respond to marginal demand. Everything else is exactly constant.

     

    As far as the effort to close coal power plants, most of this effort has been successful due to advantageous economic conditions. By increasing the number of EV's charging overnight, you are significantly improving the market for baseload power and improving the economics for coal power, which will slow, halt, or reverse recent trends that have resulted in a lessening of coal penetration.
    8 Jun 2012, 12:10 PM Reply Like
  • Jonny Edwards
    , contributor
    Comments (53) | Send Message
     
    Glenn, for the record, I was responding to Nick's comments to me on what marginal means - I understand what marginal means. I was probably being sensitive but the comments seemed to be addressed to a third-grader. Apologies for any offense.

     

    Let me illustrate an example that "muddies the water":
    Assume a country in which any load delta is only connected for an instantaneous point in time, disconnected, and then reconnected, ad infinitum. Delta is also an infinitesemal and the only load in the country. The summation of these loads S is the overall national profile L, which is nonzero. According to your analysis, each individual delta would exert only a marginal impact. But the only load that exists in this country is delta, so at any given instant, the only load is marginal because of the constant on-off switching. So who's using the average mix? What is the marginal mix in this case anyways considering that you're looking at the entire country? And to be clear, this is a real model for the country since since the total national load is simply the accumulation of many different loads turning on and off, which according to your analysis, are all marginal loads.

     

    Another example: lets say I have a 1950's fridge that I replace with a modern, energy efficient fridge in an RTO/ISO that's 100 percent wind with coal at the margins. Under your analysis, that's terrible for emissions because you just bought a new product that is sipping up coal-power at the margins now. Broadly speaking, purchasing anything will be bad for emissions. And this under your definition because the definition of new occurs "at the point of purchase."

     

    Agreed via coal plants - mainly economic reasons, which is why there's not a more intense lobbying effort against the EPA rules. But even if nat gas prices go up, the new EPA rules will make very hard to construct new coal plants. I'd also say that the economics for natural gas can also act as baseload, though I'm not sure of the cost comparisons with co
    8 Jun 2012, 04:29 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Jonny,

     

    First, thanks again for chiming in with a thoughtful question/challenge. No worries about sensitivities... I'm sure I step on a lot of toes and I'm just as sure a lot of people will step on mine. To me, all that matters is whether the discourse is honest, valid, and progressing: (Don't just flood the place with repeated statements that have been proven incorrect, let the conversation continue to advance, as you have done thus far).

     

    Your model of the grid is, of course, an actual representation of what is occurring 60 times per second across America, and continuing on into infinity. I am not proposing that this is not so. The problem is this model is useless. Anyone can claim, at any time, for any reason, that the electron impulses THEY are using are the clean ones, while they other evil people out there are sharing the dirty electrons. It simply doesn't get us anywhere.

     

    There are two models that make sense to me insofar as they serve some function: One is a model based on choices of commission and decommission - the act of adding/subtracting demand or supply to the grid; while the other is a model based on choices of use - if you choose to use one form of supply or demand load or if you choose not to, and to what capacity you use them, and when...

     

    These models are far more useful in determining the impact of choices that we face.

     

    I could (though I won't) make a model of a basic FT reaction selectivity modeling each atom with the nucleus of each carbon atom containing 6 protons and 99% or so of the atoms containing 6 neutrons, with the remainder containing 7 or 8, with 6 electrons highlighted in a dual orbital shell at some distance from the nucleus... Of course, that would be perfectly useless - regardless of the fact that it would be a valid model. It would be a model that doesn't express anything useful. Consider that.

     

    As for the second case, no. These actions ARE linked, you wouldn't throw out one fridge without getting another one... so the choice should be considered as one action, which significantly lowers demand.
    Considered separated: you are doing GOOD by removing the 1950's fridge from the grid, then you are doing BAD by adding the new fridge to the grid... if you're considering this as a linked action, then the calculation is an easy one to make.

     

    The problem is there's no logical link to increasing renewable supply and purchasing an EV.
    8 Jun 2012, 05:26 PM Reply Like
  • Nick67
    , contributor
    Comments (264) | Send Message
     
    @Jonny,

     

    I apologise if you already are well aware of the economic meaning of the word 'marginal' But there are many folks who may NOT be aware that the word has a precise meaning. Often, folks only hear the pejorative sense: 'that was marginally effective' meaning just barely. 'That farmland was marginally productive for wheat' meaning barely good enough.

     

    These posts will persist for quite some time. It seemed to me that supplying a good description of 'marginal' for any non-economist viewing the stream was a worthwhile endeavour, as 'marginal' is what the entire argument hinges upon.
    9 Jun 2012, 01:24 AM Reply Like
  • marketquant
    , contributor
    Comments (1272) | Send Message
     
    A couple of things...

     

    1) Where would you put the cost of nat gas power to be on a $/MWh basis (say, at $2.50/mcf gas)?

     

    2) This writeup depicts new plug-in demand with existing reserve energy production. Clearly most green-leaning people picture new plug-in demand and new wind supply contemporaneously. How would you alter, if any, your narrative for them?

     

    3) The EPA is arguing that their new stationary source CO2 regulation is justified because no new coal plants will be built due to economic reasons (caused by natural gas prices). What do think of that?

     

    (page 15)

     

    http://1.usa.gov/HWyJ7g
    6 Jun 2012, 11:50 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Marketquant,

     

    Good comments/questions. (for what it's worth I forgot to thank JRP3 and Jonny Edwards for their good questions, and I can now not edit my posts. My apologies to the above).

     

    1. It depends on the nature of the gas power plant, and whether the gas power plant is operating in baseload, load following generation, or fast response spinning reserves...

     

    While it's easy to get distracted/mislead by the wellhead price of gas (Henry Hub: $2.50/mcf). The price that electric power producers pay is always going to be higher than that, as the gas has to be scrubbed to have contaminates, CO2, N2, and NGL's removed before being re-compressed and piped to the electric power company. For instance, in March the average wellhead price dropped to $2.25/mcf, but the average power company price was $3.07/mcf.

     

    But at $3.07/mcf, in terms of raw energy, you are looking at ~$17.5/MWh if you assume 60% efficiency conversion (best available), and $26.2/MWh if you assume 40% conversion efficiency (average U.S.), and you are looking at $34.9/MWh if you assume 30% efficiency (peaker plant).

     

    Coal currently costs ~$64.40/short ton for Northern Appalachia contracts (most expensive in U.S.) and $9.15/short ton for powder basin contracts (cheapest in U.S.).

     

    A short-ton of coal has an energy content of between ~16.9 - ~29.5 GJ. If we assume the Northern Appalachia contains the best quality (anthracite) and the Powder basin contains the worst quality (lignite) coals that would be considered for power production; then we get the following: NA coal converted at 45% (best U-SCPC) would cost $17.45/MWh, converted at 32% (average U.S.) would cost $24.5/MWh.
    The PB coal converted at 45% would cost $4.34/MWh, and at 32% would cost $6.10/MWh.

     

    The O&M cost for baseload is significantly lower than the O&M cost for load-following, but the O&M cost for coal is higher than that for natural gas due to contaminate removal/cleanup.
    So O&M is all case-by-case, but in all cases is very low (<<$1/MWh).

     

    2. If you note, the post explicitly explains why new renewables don't impact the equation for new vehicles at all. I don't care if wind power exceeds 40% (10X current) of total energy generation and solar power exceeds 8% (80X current) of total energy generation by 2030 (neither of these metrics is plausible)... the average impact of a newly purchased EV will still be largely coal-sourced energy with some natural gas-sourced energy. In many cases, if EV's build out quickly they will only serve to delay the closures of coal plants by offering additional demand that is well suited for coal, while the renewables build-out would otherwise serve to squeeze out some of the coal and natural gas production.

     

    3. Natural gas prices will not long persist. They cannot. Right now it is more economical to drill for oil than to drill for natural gas, so drilling rigs are shifting from natural gas production to oil production. This will continue until the price of natural gas again rises to a point where drilling for natural gas is more profitable than drilling for oil. NG prices have already rebounded nearly $0.50 off of their lows that were hit only 10 weeks ago. The next cold winter we have we will see electric power prices skyrocket back to ~$5/mcf or more, and coal power will quickly ramp up nationwide while NG power production will fall, and nightly wind curtailment will skyrocket again.
    6 Jun 2012, 04:00 PM Reply Like
  • marketquant
    , contributor
    Comments (1272) | Send Message
     
    > 2. renewables

     

    Your explanation is technically correct, but I don't think that green advocates will be convinced that they cannot put parentheses around the incremental wind plus the incremental EVs in the equation.

     

    Of course parentheses do not alter the equation mathematically, but they do alter the equation in the minds of advocates. More wind has been added than EV demand they will scream (and perhaps create a policy to enforce it at the utilities -- the "Alt Energy Displacing Imported Oil Act of 2013").

     

    Your explanation is too technical to combat it I'd bet. I hadn't really pictured it myself -- and I think about this kind of thing all the time.
    6 Jun 2012, 04:48 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Marketquant,

     

    What the EV advocates are effectively doing is using someone else's investment in a clean energy source (wind) as a carbon offset credit for their higher-pollution purchase. We agree that they will attempt to do this rhetorically, after all these are the same people that have no problem using someone else's money to purchase their higher-polluting vehicle...

     

    But what they are doing with the parentheses is just a carbon offset scheme: Just replace "I want to drive an SUV so I'll purchase 100 tons of carbon offsets so someone can plant trees in Uganda - and that will offset the additional carbon my personal choice will generate..." with "I want to drive an EV so I'll take credit for someone else setting up a windmill in the U.S. - and that will offset the additional carbon that my personal choice will generate".

     

    I had attempted to make this instablog post as digestible as possible. While it still might be technical, you recognize the logic and truth of this analysis once you've read it. I think that with the exception of the truly devoted EV advocates, most others can accept this as well.

     

    I certainly hope that is the case.
    6 Jun 2012, 04:57 PM Reply Like
  • marketquant
    , contributor
    Comments (1272) | Send Message
     
    > 1. [gas] $17.5/MWh if you assume 60% efficiency
    > [coal] converted at 32% (average U.S.) would cost $24.5/MWh.

     

    The head of Encana said on their last CC that about 6 Bcf/d has switched for economic reasons -- though economic reasons (as you've described) are more complicated that raw BTU.

     

    >3. Natural gas prices

     

    A very respected newsletter published less than a week ago included an attached natural gas market analysis which said that the marginal cost of nat gas is $4 to $5 in the US. Personally I've only been buying nat gas related investments recently, and am still waiting to pull the trigger on a few sad looking charts.
    6 Jun 2012, 05:00 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Marketquant,

     

    Thanks for the heads up.

     

    Do you have a link to that newsletter report. I'd love to review that sometime.

     

    As for the 6 Bcf, I can believe that is true in the short term, especially once you factor in the reduction of wind curtailments (marginal cost of pennies/MWh), but remember that gas prices today are already $0.50 higher than they were in March (which was the price range I calculated based on). Coal prices are also dropping, as coal inventories are getting too high. There will be some regions - such as Western PA - that may have seen a short term benefit. Averages always have outliers.
    :)

     

    But there are VERY few 55-60% efficiency CCGT's operating in America. The U.S. average efficiency is 40%, and most NG plants are cheaply built peakers.
    6 Jun 2012, 05:12 PM Reply Like
  • marketquant
    , contributor
    Comments (1272) | Send Message
     
    > link to that newsletter report

     

    It is a subscription investment newsletter, and they literally threaten about illegally quoting too specifically from it.
    7 Jun 2012, 10:36 AM Reply Like
  • marketquant
    , contributor
    Comments (1272) | Send Message
     
    > wellhead price of gas (Henry Hub: $2.50/mcf)

     

    I did some research on that which I wanted to check out with you.

     

    What I found was that (1) raw gas out of the ground goes through the "gathering" system of pipelines, to (2) the "processing" facilities, "mid-stream" companies, that remove the NGLs and such, and then (3) to the "distribution" pipelines -- of which the Henry Hub is one. So the Henry Hub price is a "dry" gas price, but the utilities (for instance in New York) pay at least $0.70/mcf higher to get it piped to them from the Henry Hub, which gets to your $3.xx price. Correct?
    23 Jun 2012, 02:39 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Marketquant,

     

    Recently - for reasons directly revolving around the mild winter and severe market oversupply - the dry gas traded over the interstate distribution will have a lower value than the raw gas that comes straight out of the ground... so it's quite possible for many of the "wetter" fields (those containing higher concentrations of condensates) to have much higher wellhead gas values than what you see traded at the distribution hubs.. but most active wells in America have dry gas, and usually the gas tends to "dry" quickly, as the initial gas released is significantly "wetter" in the first few months, and gradually "dries out". So for now the "dry" gas is typically very close in value to the average nationwide wellhead price.

     

    The gas that gets to the hub is always clean gas. There are stringent laws that restrict the amount of contaminates, because much of this gas may be burned in someone's home or office building.

     

    Whatever the distribution price (hub price), the final recipient is going to pay more for it, because they're paying for the distribution itself... That cost is always going to be higher than the average wellhead price or the distribution price.

     

    Someone in New York would never get gas from the Henry Hub - which is in Texas... Henry Hub is just the most commonly tossed-around gas price, much like WTI is for oil. Someone from New York would have their gas distributed to them from the New York hub - which was trading at $4.00 on Wed the 20th (It spiked $1.50 in two days, and I have no idea why... When I first started to reply to you, I noticed the price spike and got distracted... sorry for the delay).
    25 Jun 2012, 08:53 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Market,

     

    One other thing: The recorded average price of gas for a power company is usually just their marginal demand. Often they contract with gas companies for 10-year spans for a constant gas supply at a constant price, and those negotiations can be timed so that they are extremely favorable for either the gas company or the power company... Much like the airlines with jet fuel.

     

    But if demand goes up beyond what the power company had projected, then they have to buy gas off of the distribution system... and that is what I was considering within the bounds of this conversation.
    25 Jun 2012, 09:17 AM Reply Like
  • marketquant
    , contributor
    Comments (1272) | Send Message
     
    Thanks for the info. So a power company buying *extra* gas will be "influenced" by the Henry Hub price due to things like the 10,500 mile Transco pipeline.

     

    Anyhow, back to the renewables discussion. I'm picturing an EV owner (1) driving to work and then plugging in at 9am, then (2) going out to lunch, returning to work and plugging in again at 1:30pm, and finally (3) driving home and plugging in. Plus there are Saturday and Sunday errands scattered thru those 2 days, perhaps mixed with more daytime charging.

     

    That starts to look at lot more like "grid mix" energy doesn't it? I can actually picture an EV owner knowing that if they go to lunch after 12:35pm or whatever that their EV will be 100% charged by then.
    25 Jun 2012, 12:05 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Marketquant,

     

    That won't be grid-mix... There still won't magically be more rain in the area because the EV owner is plugging in at work, nor will they ramp up nuclear reactors, nor will the wind blow stronger... etc...

     

    The difference will arise from the spare capacity that is tapped to power that EV. During peak hours, they typically have already ramped up the baseload coal power about as high as they dare, which means the rest of the power demand at that time is made up by using natural gas, with perhaps a little additional coal (rather than the inverse assumption at night)... So a majority of the power used for charging the car is now natural gas based, and you have to look at the region to determine how much of that is from CCGT's vs how much is from peakers...

     

    But I will acknowledge that in the case of slow-charging the vehicle during the day, the energy is far lower carbon, in most cases will prove to be lower carbon than a comparable ICE, and in some few cases might prove to be slightly lower carbon than a comparable HEV.

     

    The problem now is twofold: 1) right now this is a fantasy case, and 2) if many people attempt this, then it will quickly overload the transmission capacity of the local grid during peak hours.
    25 Jun 2012, 01:25 PM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    Not really a fantasy, as a result of our many discussions I do most of my charging during the daytime. In my rural area it won't strain the local grid even if a large number of people did the same.
    25 Jun 2012, 07:11 PM Reply Like
  • marketquant
    , contributor
    Comments (1272) | Send Message
     
    > I think that with the exception of the truly devoted EV advocates, most others can accept this as well.
    >I certainly hope that is the case.

     

    My sympathies to you.
    20 Mar 2013, 05:05 PM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    Isn't the whole coal argument losing steam, (pun intended)? MATS looks to be taking a large number of coal plants off line by the end of this year and certainly by 2015. http://1.usa.gov/LeFYKx
    Here is a list just for PJM:
    http://bit.ly/LeFZ0N~/media/planning/gen-r...
    These are the oldest and dirtiest plants, with output likely to be replaced with NG.
    7 Jun 2012, 09:38 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » JRP3,

     

    I suggest you look back over my discussion with Marketquant above. Coal is being decommissioned NOW for economic reasons. When natural gas prices begin to rise again, coal will return. All that offering a consistent overnight demand will do is to give a certain market for coal power and make coal plants more profitable - making them far less likely to be decommissioned during the days of cheap gas.
    7 Jun 2012, 09:49 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    Some current closings may be from lower gas prices, but unless I'm missing something MATS is going to force a lot more closings, which are planned closings, not reactions to market pricing.
    8 Jun 2012, 09:00 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » JRP3,

     

    I have been impressed with the degree that the EPA has used its limited power to lean on power producers and incentivize coal plant closings.

     

    But there is far less resistance to such activity when the cost of natural gas is low. When gas prices rise again, all bets are off. These are the most powerful lobbies in America.

     

    I'm cheering for continued reduction in coal penetration... but I don't believe it's going to happen quickly or without major setbacks and extraordinary expense.
    8 Jun 2012, 11:36 AM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    What you are referring to is that there is no "spare" capacity which is not the case.
    1. Do you agree that most of the energy usage comes during the day? Or between the hours of 7 AM-10 PM?
    That's when people go to work, cook, watch TV, go to school, go shopping, etc.
    2. Do you agree that very few stores are open after 10 PM or before 7 AM? I know the store hours for the big box stores close at 10 PM
    3. In your statement you say hydro and nuclear are fixed generation. (there are ways to cut them back, but let's go with the fact that you can't)
    4. Do you agree that most wind power generated during the night? More or less it's the mirror image of solar.
    5. Do you agree that you can't cut completely shut down a NG or coal plant for 4 hours a day?

     

    Here's where you analysis is flawed- you assume that demand of electricity has to increase for the EV. As most techies, I have the electricity monitoring system hooked up to my house. I would suggest you do the same and see the energy draw at various times. At least in my case, during the course of the day, my "peak" hours are around 5-9:00. My usage at midnight drops drastically (it was 0.05 kwhr for an hr or so)
    I do believe the peak aggregate demand is between double night time demand. Daytime demand peak is 42, night time low looks like 25.

     

    Using this logic, "5% wind, 1% solar, 20% hydro, 30% nuclear, 20% natural gas, and 24% coal".
    Solar is gone- not at night
    Nuclear- Assume same output
    Hydro- Assume same output
    Wind- Assume 5%
    For obvious reasons you can not shut down coal or natural gas plant (they take days/weeks to start back up), at the least they need to be operating at 25%.

     

    Here's the numbers at night
    1. Nuclear- 12.6
    2. Hydro- 8.4
    3. Wind - 2.1
    4. Coal - 2.5
    5. NG- 2.1

     

    That equals 27.7, or more than the minimum load for 12 AM to 4 AM, that means either the nuclear plant has to cut back, or hydro has to cut back.
    Really the EVs that charge from 12 AM to 4 AM (easy to do with a timer and 220 V dryer outlet, it only takes 2.5 hrs out of the 4 hr window) would be using the excess from nuclear or hydro.

     

    Here's the link to the UK usage (very close- almost same pattern as US usage )
    http://bit.ly/LeG5Wq
    7 Jun 2012, 09:39 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Dan5,

     

    The statement was that there "is not likely to be any spare capacity THAT IS RENEWABLE". There is plenty of spare capacity - coal and natural gas. That is what will be ramped up to charge EV's. That is well understood.

     

    I believe that your mis-reading on this line is the largest source of your contention with my analysis.

     

    1. I typically use the time frame 6:00 am to 10:pm, but everyone is well versed in the idea of peak vs off-peak.

     

    2. Still well versed in peak verses off-peak.

     

    3. Nuclear is not load following. The regulations would never allow for that with modern plants, because the greatest risk in operations revolves around the ramp-up and tamp-down of the reactor. I might post an instablog post about that one day, but the idea of a load-following nuclear reactor is rubbish. Hydropower IS somewhat capable of load following, but there is a minimum power level that must be maintained or else the downstream ecosystem will be destroyed, and a maximum power level that equals the capacity of the turbines. The total amount of energy produced per day is determined by rainfall.

     

    4. Most wind is generated at night, but there is no spare capacity of wind that can be usable for slow EV charging. Please review this post, then read the following post:
    http://seekingalpha.co...

     

    5. Single-cycle NG plants (peakers) can be shut down completely and are routinely shut down completely. Sub-critical coal plants can be tamped back to ~1/8th their power level and re-ramp within a few hours. Of course, the grid does not require this of coal plants and it would be horribly inefficient. Coal is tamped back every night and re-ramped every day, from perhaps as much as 80-90% of their rated capacity to as little as ~30%. (Super-critical, Ultra-super-critical, and IGCC plants take ~12 hours to ramp or tamp from minimum to maximum capacity, so they operate in a much more narrow capacity range.)

     

    As for the rest of your comment, there is no excess of nuclear or hydro. If you'll pardon me for saying so, the very concept of either excess hydro or nuclear energy is a fool's notion. Nuclear energy is coupled with hydrostorage - where water is pumped from a lower reservoir to a higher reservoir each night for use during the day, but that stored energy is used each day, and the capacity of the hydrostorage turbines is a calculated component of the peak grid capacity. Dam hydropower is backed off every night to the minimum necessary flow required by the ecosystem, to preserve the rainwater energy for use during the more valuable peak energy period.

     

    Thank you for commenting, but in the future you may wish to phrase your comments as questions seeking greater understanding rather than "you are wrong because of this". I recognize that there are people who understand this topic better than I, but there are few of them.

     

    I believe that you have a great deal that you have yet to understand. If that is not the case then you need to learn to better convey your understanding.
    7 Jun 2012, 10:40 AM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    I may add that if you want to cite things that contribute to energy demand at night besides EVs, take a look at computers, specifically gaming computers.
    Just a cursory overview shows a computer with 875 w power supply (500 W used):
    Let's see Blizzard sold 6.5 million copies of Diablo 3, all playing after work, game lasts 120 hrs. People playing that game is equal to 130,000 EVs being charged for a year.
    Are you going to go after Blizzard for making a computer game, because you know, if they didn't we would avoid 658,780 tons of CO2 per year!
    7 Jun 2012, 11:30 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Dan5,

     

    The people who bought Diablo 3 did so with their own money - not with mine... and there was no pretext that Diablo 3 was somehow "green". It's not.

     

    In the same vein, we all know that SUV's are not "green" or "clean". But no-one is claiming that they are, and purchasers of EV's are not making taxpayers pay a portion of their purchase of a highly polluting vehicle.

     

    The UCS claimed that EV's were "cleaner" than high efficiency ICE's. That claim was and is completely false and based on complete nonsense analysis. That is why this post was written.
    7 Jun 2012, 12:42 PM Reply Like
  • Nick67
    , contributor
    Comments (264) | Send Message
     
    Glenn,

     

    There is nothing I don't like about your piece, but...
    It is built on some assumptions that may not hold universally.

     

    1. EV's will be charged at night. That is not necessarily true. Throughout USDA Zone 3, there are boatloads of 110 V outlets for plugging in block heaters. In places where Time-of-use billing is NOT in play, daytime charging may indeed occur. Parking lots are big areas that could be covered with PV installation where that would in fact be beneficial.

     

    2. Renewables are grid-attached. In my particular area, the utilities have for all intents and purposes captured the regulator. BIG renewables are grid attached--the multi-million dollar kind. Small ones, forget it. The utilities answer is never NO, but the hoops you have to go through--the perfection of your 60Hz, the perfection of your voltage, the steadiness and predictability of your amperage--the answer may as well be no. In which case, charging the EV is going to be done with juice stored up from the renewables installation of the EV owner, if they have one.

     

    3. Renewables and EV's are not viewed as a package deal by the consumer. The consumer who is interested in an EV and has the required real estate is likely to consider an EV + renewables installation as a method to achieve price certainty regarding commuting and energy costs. It is likely that there is a percentage of renewables installations that will NOT come into being without an EV as part of the equation.

     

    4. TXU is now offering free night-time electricity. http://bit.ly/MfIPAF. The economics (and perhaps the politics) behind that are undoubtedly complex, and perhaps do not invalidate the thrust of your argument--but they aren't explained by it either. Coal is the cheapest--but it is not free. How free nights makes sense is something to address.

     

    You have laid out the case that adding an EV on the margin is not 'green' but I don't think that the majority of the purchasers of an EV are looking at the purchase as solely from an environmental point-of-view. It is part of the consumer's arithmetic, but not the only factor.
    8 Jun 2012, 12:33 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Nick,

     

    There will always be exceptions to every rule. But the exceptions are usually rare (in this case quite rare), and do not invalidate the rules.

     

    We certainly agree that many people will buy an EV for reasons that have nothing to do with the environment. I have no problem with this, in the same way I have no problem with people buying a sportscar. They think it's cool, so they bought it.
    But the people who buy sportscars don't claim their purchase is "green" and therefore I should pay some portion of their sticker price for them. If the product pollutes more than many other viable and lower priced competitive products, it should not have a subsidy or other government incentives to try to encourage people to buy it.

     

    As for the points:
    1&2. I addressed the possibility of EV's being charged at night and EV's being fast-charged during the day. That is valid throughout California, the Northeast, and some major cities scattered across the South and Southeast. These are the regions in which most people (95+%) will be buying EV's. Sparce population regions and regions of extreme cold will present significant marketing problems for EV's.

     

    3. This seems to be complete speculation, and also seems somewhat unlikely. You're saying that someone who is SO CONCERNED about the environment that they will buy a high-priced EV and solar panels would otherwise not be interested in investing in green technology if he/she didn't waste money on an EV? I think it more likely that same person would just buy a Prius (better), and either set up additional PV solar on their land or invest in a large wind farm on the plains - which would be far better for the environment than a backyard solar system.

     

    4. I don't know about TXU specifically, not even where it is physically located. ERCOT west sheds a great deal of wind, and is often pushed into negative pricing every night. It's plausible that a co-op might set up a profitable business buying negative priced energy and selling that energy at 0. But the energy prices fluctuate wildly, and that seems like a very risky game if you don't have some kind of behind-the-meter demand response factored into the contract. ERCOT west is extremely rural, with vast distances between points of interest. I don't think you're going to sell many EV's out there.
    8 Jun 2012, 11:54 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    Regarding point 3, if someone builds a home that's an additional load on the grid. If they add enough solar to compensate for that load then the net effect is zero. You could say it would be better if they just set up that solar array on an empty lot and not built the house, but that is unlikely, the house is the driving factor for the installation of the PV array. Likewise the purchase of an EV could be the driving factor for additional PV to compensate, which would nullify the impact of that EV purchase. Yes they could have added more PV and bought a Prius, but that is less likely to happen. People like to say they are driving on sunshine, even if it's not exactly true with a grid tied system. At some point the reality of human behavior needs to be taken into account.
    9 Jun 2012, 03:00 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » JRP3,

     

    You and Nick have a point. People can be irrationally motivated. But what percentage of the people purchasing PV are motivated to do so because they got an EV vs the percentage of people that are just buying PV.

     

    I don't know the answer to that question, but I know it cannot be more than a fraction of a percent.

     

    What percentage of people are buying EV's and are then purchasing excess PV?

     

    I know that in reading John's blog there have been at least 40-50 people that have claimed to own an EV, and only 3 of them noted that they have solar energy.

     

    I think this is a non-issue. You might point to a few extreme exceptions, but there is no logical connection, so the few irrational instances where people illogically connected the two purchases are just that - exceptions.
    11 Jun 2012, 07:55 AM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    Actually Ford is doing just that, they have an option so that you can purchase a solar cell to offset any increase in energy

     

    http://aol.it/Li6Gjn

     

    Personally, it's way over priced for what you get. You can get a kit for around 60% the price of what Ford is offering, but it gives people ideas to consider getting it
    11 Jun 2012, 10:50 AM Reply Like
  • Zorro7
    , contributor
    Comments (23) | Send Message
     
    For California, the state with most Ev sales, this isn't correct.

     

    This study is based on actual research:

     

    ftp://ftp.dvrpc.org/dv...

     

    The graph titled "Average hourly marginal generation GHG emissions rate" shows that if you charge an EV between 2 am and 4 am int he morning, in California, you get about 568 g-CO2/kWh yearly average.

     

    That means about 212 g-CO2/mile (at 90 MPGe, many EVs are better). That is better than your number for the Prius.
    8 Jun 2012, 08:26 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » My reply to this can be found below your post with a working link.
    8 Jun 2012, 09:38 AM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    Glenn, just another thought.
    Let's say I bought a house (that had the power shut off for a few years) and made it "green". I put up enough solar cells to change the power demographic for my neighborhood, used energy efficient appliances, SEER 26 AC unit, put in super efficient windows and insulation, etc, etc and got the state/federal rebates for it.
    My neighbor whose been living there for 40 + years, and still has the original AC (not even SEER rated), older appliances, etc.

     

    Using your analysis, at night (since at night it's a new draw of electricity), my house would be putting off more CO2 than that other house so it would have been better for me to NOT get the most environmentally friendly stuff and upgrade my neighbors house instead to even out or make up for my added load at night? Seems to defy human behavior and economics.

     

    What if as a qualifier to getting an EV, you had to upgrade your appliances and make them more energy efficient? That way it's a zero load increase. That's what I've done..
    Nixed the 1.4 kw-hr drawing gaming computer (4-hrs from 6-10)
    Upgraded the AC (from 1970's not rated to a SEER 24)
    Upgraded the dishwasher and electric range
    Got rid of the cheap refrigerator to a more efficient one
    Made all the lights LEDs (just one fixture I decreased the draw by 0.84 kw-hr (eating/cooking/kids HW area), total energy decrease was like 1.3 kw-hrs).
    All in all, at night I think I'm running 3/4 kw-hr leaner for a 4 hr- more than enough to power an EV if I had one.

     

    Also if you have solar and are feeding into the grid during the day, doesn't that mean that somewhere the power during the does not need to be generated another way so you are pushing the avoided energy generation during the day to the night?
    8 Jun 2012, 08:28 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Dan5,

     

    Thank you for the question. It's clear that you are considering this, and your concern is appreciated.

     

    There is nothing but good that comes from improving the efficiency of an old home, installing solar panels, and discarding/eliminating high power draining equipment that you no longer use.

     

    This is always good.

     

    Buying an EV instead of a high efficiency HEV is bad.

     

    The two actions are not linked.
    Let me put it another way: What if you purchased a SEER 24 AC unit to replace a large and wasteful pile of copper designed to draw power... GREAT! That's a good move, both for your personal economics and for grid power management and for total carbon and other pollutant emissions. Good job.
    Then you went out and bought a Hummer 2.

     

    Is the purchase of a Hummer 2 now "good" because you replaced your AC unit?

     

    No.

     

    The purchase of the vehicle is it's own action, and is considered independently of other "green" upgrades or purchases. They aren't linked.

     

    If anything, you could consider the solar panels and the efficiency upgrades as a "carbon offset" for your more highly-polluting EV.

     

    That said, obviously no EV is anywhere close to as bad for the environment as a Hummer 2... I was merely using that as an illustrative argument.

     

    But if you WANT to get an EV, that's fine. I don't want my taxes to pay for it, because I recognize it as greater pollution than simply driving an efficient HEV... but what is more important to me is that the people purchasing EV's don't claim they'll be polluting less because of it. That isn't true. It is absolutely not true by any valid analysis.
    8 Jun 2012, 09:37 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    Part of the problem though is considering that the other choice besides an EV is always going to be a Prius or similar. Most Model S purchasers are in the market for sub 25mpg luxury vehicles.
    9 Jun 2012, 02:59 PM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    I agree, If I was not getting a Model S, I would be getting a 911 turbo, same price which gets about 20 mpg (the way I drive).
    Good H2 analogy, but in the case in the H2, say as a qualifier that you had to get rid of your 1920's oil heater. In the grand scheme of things, the H2 + the new oil heater is more environmentally friendly than the older one.
    There's also aspect that you have to consider from the financial aspects. I sat down and figured it out, over the course of my taxes, I've paid over 7.5 K to the US government to subsidize/give tax breaks to oil companies. If we get rid of that subsidy, I would be all for getting rid of the EV subsidy also.
    The subsidy for the EV also has an added benefit, we have not increased refineries in 30 + years in the US, and they are all operating at capacity. For John Q Gasconsumer, if there is a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, etc, the gas prices go up because that. If there are enough EVs on the road, that takes some stress off the refinery capacity, decreasing gase price volatility, Also, for every 100 EVs, if you are paying 10 K in taxes, it turns out to be 2 cents. I'm sure something somewhere is 2 cents lower because of those 100 EVs due to decreased fuel demand, if not, you don't have to wait for a gas pump for a few seconds, you make up for it

     

    You can't say I'm adding CO2 if I get solar panels around the same time to counteract my EV, specifically if I overpowered by array.
    If I bought a battery back-up system and got the energy from solar to charge it, not fed back in the grid at the day-time peak, charged at night my carbon emissions would be extremely low?
    It would not be myself whose causing the CO2 in that case, but my neighbors.
    10 Jun 2012, 09:59 AM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    This seems an unfair way to evaluate the situation. In Dan's example he's added enough solar panels to the roof of his house to change the power demographic of the neighborhood. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that those solar panels are more than sufficient to meet the entirety of his consumption.

     

    He then has two options. Option one is to put in a bunch of batteries and cut the connection with the grid entirely - perhaps with a small biofuel backup generator. You know, the survivalist mentality - "I'm clean and green, go me!". If he did that, and only charged his model S at home, then you can't bring coal into the equation at all.

     

    The problem is that's a stupid and wasteful solution compared to the alternative of connecting the same PV system to the grid. Since Dan's paid for the panels, and is earning his own 'green' way with his own money, we should encourage him to make that power available to the grid where it can be efficiently dispatched!

     

    But as soon as he does so you come down on him like a ton of bricks and say that his EV isn't clean anymore. It's irrational. A huge amount of effort has been spent encouraging people with the means to do so to 'be green'. Now, when they do, you essentially disregard their efforts by saying "yeah, well, that's nice but since OTHER people still aren't green your efforts don't count - I'm still going to judge your car based on coal".
    10 Jun 2012, 03:06 PM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    I believe my solar is a 6.4 kw-hr system (actually outputs around 6 kw hr) . On a max day I need around 28 kw-hr. So I'm more or less providing enough energy for around 3.5 houses (or 6% of my street's energy) . Really, for 15 K it wasn't much for solar I'll make it back in 5 years and free energy for the rest of my life + an extra $300/month in my pocket, can't go wrong
    On a October day, I'm providing enough energy for 13% of my block's energy.

     

    Please look at this site to find a state by state distribution of
    http://bit.ly/NrvBWG

     

    Check out Vermont- not coal, or NG, if you charge your car there, your release very little CO2
    Lowest CO2 impact is to charge your car north of Delaware on the Easter seaboard, or Washington, Oregon or Idaho
    10 Jun 2012, 08:16 PM Reply Like
  • Rick Krementz
    , contributor
    Comments (2429) | Send Message
     
    Dan5, I believe your math is a bit off.

     

    First, your PV system would be sized as 6.4 kw, not 6.4 kwhr. That means on "standard conditions", your system could provide 6.4 kw of power while the sun is shining, which is typically about 6 hours per day on average. "Standard conditions", however, in the solar industry is meant to mean midday in Arizona in the summer. Actual super-bright summer conditions in Vermont are likely to produce maybe 5 kw for you, at best.

     

    A max day in June may produce 28 kwhr, (my estimate is 5 kw x 6 hours) but I bet an average day in December your production is about 10kwhr. I don't know your personal electrical demand, but an average US house uses about 2 kw on average, or 48 kwhr per day. So for the winter six months you are probably producing 1/5 to 1/3 of your electricity demand. In northern states, electrical demand is usually highest in the winter since air conditioning is generally not an issue.

     

    The website you cited is misleading. The numbers are the amount of electricity PRODUCED in the state, not what was CONSUMED.

     

    From Wikipedia http://bit.ly/LLMQxA

     

    "Vermont Yankee is ... located in the town of Vernon, Vermont, ... and generates 620 megawatts (MWe) of electricity at full power. The plant began commercial operations in 1972. It provided 71.8% of all electricity generated in Vermont in 2008, which is 35% of the overall electricity used in the state.

     

    "The plant's operating license ran out in March 2012, and the question of whether its license will be renewed is complicated by the fact that Vermont is the only state in which the state government has a say in nuclear plant licensing, rather than just the federal government. "

     

    This second paragraph is key. The state is about to force the closing of Vermont Yankee, and eliminate all nuclear in the state. You must be aware of all the hullabaloo about Vermont Yankee probable closing.

     

    In short, you are NOT producing anywhere near the demand you have, with or without an EV; Vermont's electricity consumption does use coal, and is about to use a lot more coal; and you are entirely mixing up actual costs vs subsidized costs, and mandated policies which force the utility to buy your electricity at retail even when they don't want it, transports it, then sell it again.

     

    For ratepayers in Vermont and the US, these policies are a huge giveaway to the very few installations of PV. A word to the wise: as "the people" realize how grid-connected PV is a terrible tax onto other ratepayers, you can expect your outrageous credits you receive from the utility (other ratepayers) will cease.
    10 Jun 2012, 09:56 PM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    I'm getting $300 back per month in electricity credits. I also have a super efficient house, lighting, and, appliances- designed explicitly for the system. When I was getting it it was sized to provide enough for the older appliances and lightning.
    48 kw-hr is insane- I just dug out my older energy bill. This is the reason why we have such and issue with electricity in this country!
    I thought mine was high post upgrades.
    To put in perspective prior to the upgrade here's the specs
    1970's AC, not very good insulation, cheapest refrigerator, huge amount of regular lighting, non-adjustable thermostat, and huge gaming computer running house server (comparable to a skull trail)- my average daily usage in mid-summer was 36 kw-hrs
    Currently I'm around 0.5 kw-hr average in the summer, winter it's like 0.25 kw-hr or less, spikes at around 2 for a few hours a day
    10 Jun 2012, 10:21 PM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    Would be interesting to see your output records Dan. As Rick says; I guess your system is probably 6.4kWpk? That's not bad for $15k for a residential installation!

     

    You can see the rough NREL estimate of Vermont insolation here - looks like you're probably getting a little over 4kWh/kW.day on average, so 25kWh/day average. That probably is around your total demand given your use of high efficiency applicances, so I think you would be justified in calling your EV (if you got one) 'clean'. The easiest way to know for sure is just to keep track of both meter values - given you're being paid a different tarrif for the solar power you generate you probably have two meters - one measuring your household consumption, the other measuring your PV generation.

     

    If generation is more than consumption, you win. And in fact you win anyway in my book; for sure you're a damn sight cleaner than most.

     

    What's your problem with subsidies Rick? I'm sure the vermont coal industry has seen plenty of them, as has (and is) the wind industry whose energy you were hoping to use to power your ammonia fueled fishing boats (interesting that you saw no inconsistency there by the way, but see one here). Solar is now at the tipping point... and in fact in many places has already tipped. http://bit.ly/tL0IcH

     

    Many people just haven't realised it yet. There is going to be a massive unsubsidised market, and there's no technical reason why solar can't move above 90% installed power. The question is how we get it above 90% ENERGY... that'll take some work, but we're clearly on the right path. Would you rather keep burning coal? Surely not, given you were advocating clean fuel for ships.
    11 Jun 2012, 01:54 AM Reply Like
  • Nick67
    , contributor
    Comments (264) | Send Message
     
    @dojomouse
    'But as soon as he does so you come down on him like a ton of bricks and say that his EV isn't clean anymore. It's irrational'

     

    While I hope that Glenn replies himself because he can grind the numbers much better than me, the heart of the argument is 'marginal' power and the 'cleanliness' of the marginal power at the time of generation and demand.

     

    When you add PV and grid-attach it, you are changing, at the margin, how the utilities deliver power <i> at THAT time</i> The PV is going to displace a portion of the most expensive power on line WHEN it is generated. When you plug in an EV at night, you are increasing electrical demand at the margin at THAT time period. A little bit more of the least expensive power that can be reliably generated will be put on line to meet the need.

     

    The argument is that the 'cleanliness' of the marginal power delivered in the two time frames is very different. Daytime power is more variable, and NG powered peakers are on line to be ramped up and down to meet it. Night time power is less variable and coal is what is on line to meet the demand. The addition of more, constant nighttime demand is likely to boost the use of cheap coal generation.

     

    It is not irrational, it is a product of seeing how marginal demand for power is satisfied through a full 24 hour period. The method of marginal power changes with the time of day.
    11 Jun 2012, 02:06 AM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    @Nick67 - Yes, I understand that. My point is that the only reason coal is likely to be a major source of generation is that OTHER electricity consumers accept it as a source. If I (or Dan) want to be 'clean' then an easy-but-less-efficient way to do the accounting would be to create our own, entirely independent, islanded grid. No coal. Little-to-no-natural-gas (if that makes you uncomfortable then let's just say methane from H2, the H2 coming from electrolysis of water using PV electricity). Clean as a whistle. There's no fundamental obstacle to doing this - the problem is that such an isolationist approach is wasteful and inefficient; if you're going to install that much PV it's MUCH better to just connect it to the grid and remain a participant in the community of energy consumers.

     

    The problem I have is that the moment someone does that, Glenns line of reasoning essentially reduces that person to 'the norm'. Basically you're saying "You've cleaned up your act, but other people are still making a mess so we're going to measure your actions by their choices". It's like if I bought a block of land and started planting trees based on a sustainable forestry model for my personal furniture manufacturing company. Eco furniture, right? Not by your reasoning - by your reasoning my furniture should be considered to be as destructive as if I'd made it with timber from virgin amazon forest or similar, that being the marginal worst-case capacity.

     

    I'm only using the 'install solar panels on your roof' argument for simplicities sake - the exact same argument holds if you simply switch to a 'clean' supply agreement with your utility. If you pay the associated increase in cost then you're in the clear - you've voted with your wallet and are now 'buying' from clean sources. The fact that other people refuse to do so and keep going for rock-bottom price with no consideration of any other aspect is on their head, not yours.
    11 Jun 2012, 03:16 AM Reply Like
  • Rick Krementz
    , contributor
    Comments (2429) | Send Message
     
    Dan5, congratulations for being more electricity effective. However, I think you are confused with your consumption. 0.5 kwhr per day average is an extremely low electric consumption; I do not know of any standard sized electric refrigerator that low, and I assume you also have a few lights and a computer. An efficient computer with data communication equipment is easily 50 watts, about 1.2 kwhr per day. An efficient refrigerator is about 1 kwhr per day. Even with CFLs and LEDs, you probably need about 0.5 kwhr day for lighting, unless you live alone or use a lot of candles. Most people have a TV (I don't), so add in 0.5-2 kwhrs (or a lot more for some). Perhaps you meant your average consumption is 0.5 kw, or 12 kwhr per day - still a very low number.

     

    The PV tariff in Vermont http://bit.ly/N36ESt is exceedingly "generous" - 27.1 cents kwhr. In other words, your utility is required to buy your power at 27.1 cents whether they need it or not, then resell it at http://bit.ly/JWXxMh 17.2 cents (and maintain the grid for you), and make sure there is spare capacity for you in case a cloud goes over your house. Contrast this to the juice they get from Vermont Yankee, which is probably below 4 cents kwhr.

     

    Your solar system was presumably 30% financed by US taxpayers, and I think you got a $650/kw Vermont incentive, a $4,160 gift from VT taxpayers http://bit.ly/N36GtE, plus the state mandate to buy all your power at a guaranteed (non-market) rate. It may well be personally economic for you, but imagine if 100 million houses did the same?
    11 Jun 2012, 09:01 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Dan,

     

    Don't tell us the numbers, explain them to us. I was polite enough to give all the information that someone would ever need or want to check my math, please do the same.

     

    The actual subsidies for oil and gas work out to ~$1/bbl, or ~$0.02/gallon. So the only way that you could possibly get to $7.5K is if you consumed 375,000 gallons of gasoline.

     

    If this is the case, the BY GOD you should certainly buy a new car, because your current car is not doing you any favors. But if you had purchased 375,000 gallons of gasoline (perhaps you have a large open-pit fire which you fuel with gasoline?) then you would have also payed ~$140,000 in federal and state fuel taxes... so the tax balance still works out all right... but I no longer oppose you getting a Model S OR a Hummer... either will be far better for the economy than your current consumption.
    ;)

     

    As for your solar panels, by installing them you would be eliminating some CO2 emissions and helping the grid. As soon as you start plugging in an EV (during the daytime) you then begin increasing the emissions on the grid. The solar panels do good, the EV does bad. They are not the same purchase. You evaluate them separately.
    11 Jun 2012, 09:44 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Dojomouse,

     

    His EV was never clean. It isn't a question of "is it clean anymore"... the answer was always no. That's the point.

     

    If he was supplying power to the grid with his PV system, then his selfish decision to cut the connection to the grid would mean the grid operators would have to ramp up production at fossil fuel facilities to make up for the loss of energy during the critical "peak" portion of the day... that hurts everyone. Why would you want to do that just to avoid powering your EV with coal at night - which hurts everyone a little bit less... Of course, you could just choose to drive an efficient ICE vehicle, in which case you are hurting everyone less still... ... ...

     

    That's the point.
    11 Jun 2012, 09:51 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Dan,
    The grid is more complicated than that, due to the interconnectedness of it all. Vermont is part of ISONE, which exports ~4.5 TWh/year (based on rainfall) to NYISO. If you charge your EV in Vermont, then that's some amount of hydropower each night that can no longer be exported to NYISO, but the citizens in NY state are not likely to decrease their demand just because you plug a car in... So NY is either going to respond by ramping up some of their coal power each night, or they'll import more from PJM... If they import more from PJM, then PJM has to either ramp up more fossil energy each night or import more from MISO, which will have to ramp up more fossil energy... ... ...

     

    The end result of plugging in new demand from exporting states is still going to be ramping up spare fossil capacity. All renewables and nuclear generation is FULLY utilized. If there's too much for a state, the excess is exported. You still have to turn up a coal or NG plant at the end of the line if you draw more demand from the grid.
    11 Jun 2012, 10:00 AM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    No, you've turned it around. That PV system doesn't belong to the community, it belongs to Dan. He paid a large fraction of the total cost. It's installed on his roof.

     

    But you're right - why would you do that? You wouldn't... unless of course you were trying to illustrate the irrationality of a certain personal emissions accounting model.

     

    You're still ignoring the real heart of the scenario, which is 'what if an EV owner switches - at their own cost - to a clean electricity tarrif option'. They're not depriving anyone of anything - in fact they're actively supporting (and using) further development of clean electricity. In such a situation it's patently unreasonable to judge their consumption emissions profile as though they'd never made the switch.
    11 Jun 2012, 10:01 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Dan,

     

    You really need to be more disciplined in your posts in differentiating power (W, kW, MW, GW, TW, PW) and energy (Wh, kWh, MWh, GWh, TWh, PWh).

     

    A kWh is the amount of energy that a kW of power will equal after one hour. So if you averaged 0.5 kW of power draw in the summer, you would have totalled 12 kWh of energy draw for the day.

     

    I am trying to help, not criticize... but it's hard to take a response seriously when you have to constantly try to interpret the intended post because the person switched units or used them incorrectly.

     

    That said, by what you are stating you average only 360 kWh of energy during any given month of the summer. That puts you well into the lower 1% of energy consumers, and you should be congratulated.

     

    I quite frankly don't know how big your house is, but it's hard to imagine that a person who spends much time in his/her house can get the power usage that low. Suffice it to say that the average household usage is not that low, and will never be that low.

     

    If you're getting $300/month in electricity credits, and you've got a 6.4 kW system, then you are doing pretty well. 6.4 kW would average ~38.4 - 44.8 kWh/month if you lived in California... That's 1152 - 1344 kWh/month. We've already established that you're using 360 of those, so that means you are selling between 792 and 984 kWh/month. At $300/month, you're getting $0.305 - $0.379 PER kWh!!! That's between 3-4 times what I pay for energy here in SC.

     

    I'm not saying it isn't possible, because some times the incentive packages for favored renewable options can be crazy... But I am saying that it is not a reflection of the value of the electron impulses that you are generating, and if you get an EV, your effective price for energy will be far higher than is typically calculated.
    11 Jun 2012, 10:28 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Nick,

     

    Thank you. I did respond to Dojomouse, but I did not see the need to further clarify this point, as you did so extremely effectively.
    11 Jun 2012, 10:33 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Dojomouse,

     

    We all breath the same air. When you do something to impact the emission level, it affects everyone... when other people do something to impact emission levels, it affects you.

     

    That's the world we live in.

     

    This post was about clarifying a proper methodology of comparing the emissions rates of vehicles... nothing more, nothing less.

     

    If you want to make the world a better place, need a new car, and have $33,500 that you wish to spend, it would be better to buy a Prius and invest the rest of the money in renewable energy or energy efficiency than it would be to buy a Nissan Leaf.

     

    If you want to make the world a better place and have $87,000 to spend, it would be MUCH better to buy a Prius and invest the rest of the money in a large renewable energy project.

     

    But if you were simply comparing a Nissan Leaf and a Prius, the Prius has a lower per mile and lower net efficiency profile. That's simply the world we live in.
    11 Jun 2012, 10:59 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Dojomouse,

     

    You are still trying to combine completely unrelated activities. It's a carbon offset scheme. That's great. But we still calculate the carbon load of a person's activities before they are offset. Sure the final value is neutral... but if a person's GOAL was to be low carbon it is extremely easy to become carbon-negative through carbon offset schemes and pay far less money doing so. Why are you trying to force an EV - which is an inherently dirty vehicle - into a carbon offset scheme?
    11 Jun 2012, 01:41 PM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    It's only an inherently dirty vehicle because you refuse to allow people any discretion over their short or long term energy supply choices, and insist on judging an EV by the worst-case-scenario fuel source.

     

    Further, your accounting assumes that a persons ONLY motivation for buying an EV is an attempt to reduce their CO2 footprint. There may actually be many factors motivating them. The one thing that won't change is that once they own an EV they CAN pay to make it clean if they so choose. You're arguing that they can't, because if they were socially responsible they would instead choose to invest the difference in cost in a wind power plant or similar.

     

    What's the CO2 footprint of a typical engagement ring? Is it 100 tons? Because it's certainly non-essential, and you could buy roughly that many carbon credits with it. In fact, by your reasoning, the net CO2 footprint of a new Prius is around 800 tons before it's ever been driven anywhere... afterall, that's what the purchaser is selfishly choosing to inflict on society by buying a car rather than investing the $20k in a wind farm and taking the bus.

     

    This is in effect what you're saying to an EV owner who buy's both an EV and a quantity of clean energy sufficient to fuel it - "I don't agree with how you choose to spend your money, and there is an alternate way to spend it that would result in globally lower emissions, therefore you are the cause of X hundred tons of CO2 emissions EVEN THOUGH through your direct actions you have actually REDUCED emissions by 100 tons compared to the status quo".
    11 Jun 2012, 02:16 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Dojomouse,

     

    This is getting circular.

     

    I don't believe I even once tried to ascribe motivation in my analysis. That isn't the point of the analysis. The point is to analyse.

     

    I don't know what the cost of an engagement ring is - that depends a lot on the specs of the ring. I bought a manufactured ring (real stone, simply cooked in a lab rather than in the Earth's crust), so I happen to be able to calculate the carbon footprint more accurately... but if you were to buy a blood diamond the carbon intensity is actually quite small. I just didn't want to risk that so I went another way.

     

    But this wasn't an article that was discussing the purchase of an engagement ring. No-one who purchases an engagement ring claims that they are saving the environment by sequestering a carrot of carbon or any such nonsense... and no-one gets a $7500 credit for purchasing an engagement ring.

     

    We were talking about EV's. The analysis is perfectly sound and correct for EV's, and you keep wanting to cheat the system... by OFFSETTING the carbon load and then pretending it didn't happen. *shrug*. It DOES happen, that's why you feel compelled to offset it.

     

    As far as the Prius is concerned: the carbon intensity of buying a Prius and driving it 12,000 miles/year - by this analysis - is 42.6 tons-CO2. The carbon intensity of buying a Nissan Leaf and driving it 12,000 miles/year for 10 years is between 45 and 65 tons - depending on how often it is charged during the day vs how often it is charged at night.

     

    You got us talking about the tangent of carbon offset schemes, which is a separate discussion topic - though it only shows how poorly considered the subsidy framework for EV's truly is.

     

    I think we're done with the whole running-around-in-circles thing. Just try to apply some disciplined logic and you'll figure it out.
    11 Jun 2012, 02:45 PM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    Yeah, I agree - going nowhere slowly.

     

    I'll think about it, but I'm not convinced you're right (though, again, I do agree with the basic results you get in the article above - down with coal!).

     

    Another day perhaps with a bit more space and drawings to establish a position. Time for me to go and sit in the sun with a drink anyway.
    11 Jun 2012, 02:54 PM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    Actually its the indirect subsidies to the oil industry that I was talking about. It depends on where you estimate it from, also consider that only half the people in the US pay taxes

     

    http://bit.ly/NuX2yH

     

    Take the high number, divide by 4 trillion, multiply by my taxes, 20 K/yr and multiply by 30 years (time I've been working)= 7.8 K in taxes that have gone to the oil companies. It gets hairy when you start accounting for every year and doing the time-value of money calculation and finding the data so assume the same ratio, we have to protect our oil interests, send troops, send weapons, ensure the waters are pirate free, give other governments money, give oil companies tax breaks, etc.
    A good argument could be made that we, the US should not have got involved in the 1st Gulf war (we recovered most of our money, but not all) or using our navy to patrol to ensure pirates don't highjack, keep dictators in power (which in turn causes their citizens to hate the USA and maybe try to attack us). There are alot of hidden costs to oil that the general public is not aware of.
    12 Jun 2012, 07:21 AM Reply Like
  • Rick Krementz
    , contributor
    Comments (2429) | Send Message
     
    Dan5, I would see most of taxes you identified as mostly being a subsidy to motorists, not as a subsidy to an oil company.

     

    Driving a car is hugely subsidized. Driving is subsidized by all taxpayers for activities such as wars in the Middle East and the size of military. Most streets (urban streets) and all highway patrol and traffic cops are paid for by property taxes (the more I drive, the more my carless neighbor has to pay). The cost of health issues of noise and local pollution are subsidized by pedestrians and bicyclists. In most cities (Providence RI is a notable exception) on street parking is giving a public resource to individuals, to the detriment of aesthetics and bicyclers, paid by property owners.

     

    My estimate of the driving subsidy is about $3 gallon (on top of current US prices and taxes). Perhaps if we just stop subsidizing driving and let drivers pay their full share, a lot of problems would be solved by the market.

     

    Of course the buffoons in Congress would never vote for common sense and require people to pay for what they get.
    12 Jun 2012, 07:37 AM Reply Like
  • Rick Krementz
    , contributor
    Comments (2429) | Send Message
     
    Hi Dojo,

     

    My problem with subsidies is that the market distortions always misdirect effective capital, and cause unintended mal-effects. Obviously there are some cases of externalities where the apparent cost does not reflect true costs, but usually that (in theory) can be corrected with taxes so the apparent cost equals the true costs, and functions are better solved with a social contract than individual contracts.

     

    Vermont does not have coal-based industry, and as far as I know, coal has never been a significant portion locally-produced energy. This is mostly because of a fair amount of hydro available, and the very limited access to railways in the mountains to transport coal to Vermont (there are no coal deposit in VT).

     

    My wind to NH3 for fishing boats project was not based on subsidies. The remote islands in Maine have extremely high cost diesel (and consequently electric) costs, and are located in a Zone 7 wind area ("superb" according to DoE). The fundamental economics worked at very close to current market (< $5 diesel locked in for 20 years, cheaper than current delivered cost), and would guarantee economic fuel for the fleet and the villages for the next 20-25 years. Green credits, carbon trading, etc., would have just made the pot sweeter and / or financing more accessible. The project has died for technological risk reasons: 1) the electricity to NH3 technology has not been demonstrated at scale yet, 2) the NH3 ICE has not been sufficiently tested for long term use in a marine environment, 3) the extended energy storage system (batteries) and wind integration has not been sufficiently demonstrated at relevant scale. Additionally, the bureaucratic environment became increasingly more challenging for regulatory approval (even though we are completely off the grid, and always will be), which scared off potential partners. The wind turbine was to located in-water, similar to Cape Wind. Cape Wind has suffered a decade of bureaucratic no-ing and endless court challenges.

     

    You state that solar could be 90% of installed power. There is no conceivable way, even using all the lead battery production in the world for the next century, that PV could provide reliable power 24/7 at current levels. Using PbC or Li-x does not change the equation.

     

    You state there will be massive unsubsidized market. I hope so, but I do not see where, unless the grid collapses (which it might if the numerically challenged force closings of coal and nukes, and mandate ever increasing non-dispatchables, aka "renewables".) Your suggestions on the unsubsidized market are welcome.

     

    You are lucky. In Switzerland you have plenty of hydro and a homogeneous, educated population that is smart enough not to close the nukes until there is a replacement.
    12 Jun 2012, 08:26 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Rick,

     

    Here we disagree. I think it would be hard to claim that the driving subsidy is anywhere near as high as you propose.

     

    We go through ~8,900,000 bbls of gasoline and ~3,400,000 bbls of diesel a day... That works out to 188.5 billion gallons/year. We pay ~4 billion/year in marginal costs sailing our fleet through the Persian Gulf... the rest of our police-style activities are supported by Saudi Arabia.

     

    Our military size is based exclusively on voter behavior... as are the politics of war which led us to invade Iraq and completely ruin oil production in that country for the next decade - which then led to the price of oil tripling over a period of 4 years... But we don't fight wars to secure oil production we fight wars to suppress oil production. So wars - based on our voter behavior - shouldn't be counted as subsidies for oil.

     

    The 4 billion that was targeted by the president I believe was fair game... so I wouldn't mind counting that against oil. We're now up to $8 billion.

     

    $8 billion divided by 188 billion gallons/year is $0.04/gallon... So that's twice what I had estimated, and still nothing.

     

    The cost of securing driving safety cannot be ae high as you estimate. South Carolina's highway patrol budget is ~135 million, or ~$28/person.
    A second's worth of Googling showed me that California spent ~1.9 billion on highway patrol, or about $50/person. I wouldn't think that most county traffic control expenses would be higher than $50/person. My county makes money on handing out tickets.

     

    I don't know, I'm just assuming off of two data points (couldn't find a research paper where someone else did the legwork), but it seems implausible that traffic safety is going to be more than ~$75-80/person as an overall average for the U.S.

     

    If it were $100/person, that would work out to ~$0.16/gallon.

     

    I'm sure the health impacts are much higher... but I don't have any reference point on that, and it seems hard to believe they would creep into the $2000/person range.
    12 Jun 2012, 08:29 AM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    To clarify, I never said I lived in Vermont, that was an example of an almost pure nuclear grid/clean.
    I actually live in NJ
    Here's the link the prices for the energy for NJ

     

    http://bit.ly/LQdZ2k

     

    I also ran the numbers again, I'm pulling in around 800 kw/month from the solar- I know, it's weird, pulling in more than I should based on my area, probably my location, no trees, higher elevation, etc, I don't know the reason.

     

    No I did not take any incentives. As you may or may not be away in order to get the rebates for NJ, there's a little thing called prevailing wage- which means you have to hire at union prices to install the system, I'm not going to pay someone $80/hr to sit on the ground and snap together pieces a 5 year old can do.

     

    More or less I bought the system on Ebay, got a permit and installed it on my house (I'm one of those people fortunate enough to have the background in electrical work to be able to do it by myself).

     

    My house is on the small side, its no McMansion, I don't need it, 3 bedrooms, is plenty, I live alone and I did make it a game to see how low I could make the energy usage, almost obsessive compulsive (kill switches in almost every room). I think I only have a few watt-hrs going to vampire draw now (cable box, oven clock and microwave clock). I don't use the AC unless it goes above 95 F and I learned alot of tricks from my Amish relatives with regards to cooling. The house is almost "dead" when I leave in the morning. My "computer" is really a smartphone, anything else is not needed, yes I could have went with a netbook that uses 0.020 kw-hr, but the smartphone is just as powerful. My biggest draw is the refrigerator, other than that, maybe the dryer gets run once every 2 weeks or iron once in a blue moon.

     

    The refrigerator only uses 400 kwhr/year total
    http://bit.ly/LQe0U1

     

    Also the TV is the Sony 52 inch LED and only uses about 0.122 kwhr (which gets used 1-3 hrs per week, Game of Thrones, Spartacus, Fringe and Dexter). The way the house is situated, the TV provides enough light for the entire house

     

    http://cnet.co/MpnAzv

     

    500 watts for lighting a day- that's extreme, that would mean I would have to have all my lights on for around 3.5 hours- wasteful. I was taught as a kid, when you leave a room turn the lights off.

     

    I still do not understand how people can consume that much power. 48 kw-hr per day and nothing to show for it? They need help. Now that I really think about it, get rid of the plasma and get a LED, that's 0.4 kw-hr right there for every hour you watch TV, and there is no change to your lifestyle, use LEDs instead of regular lights, that's another 0.3 kw-hr savings every hour (if they have 6-7 75 W lights on in the house). I could easily save that family at least 3 kwhr a day (5 hrs TV time and 3.5 hours lights) with no change to their lifestyle
    12 Jun 2012, 08:54 AM Reply Like
  • Rick Krementz
    , contributor
    Comments (2429) | Send Message
     
    Glenn,

     

    I did the research a few years ago, and I try to pull it out of the archives and update it. From memory, some major numbers:

     

    The two Iraq wars have cost US taxpayers about a trillion dollars (including future payments to injured veterans)

     

    About half of the Interstate system is supported by general tax revenues, not fuel taxes

     

    Essentially all urban and suburban streets and roads are supported by property and sales taxes. State fuel taxes go to paying the states' portion of the Interstates and state roads.

     

    An MIT study (I will find the link) indicated the cost of direct medical expenses from driving (pedestrians hit, drivers injured, etc.) was over $1000 per capita per year. The more you drive and hit people, the more my health insurance goes up.

     

    While I am sure it varies state by state, in Massachusetts and Rhode Island every, even trivial, construction work (including electricity and telephone pole work) is required to have police (usually inside the idling cruiser with lights flashing). Of course the utilities and road crews have a ton of flashing yellow lights, cones, etc., too. While parking tickets do provide revenue, it is peanuts compared to the cost of traffic lights, traffic cops, etc. in urban areas. Rural areas, famous for their speed traps (and lack of signage), probably are profitable. Major cities have huge infrastructure and labor costs. Imagine all the traffic lights in Manhattan.
    12 Jun 2012, 08:56 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Rick,

     

    Fair enough, I'll take your word for it, as you've clearly done the research. I would say that things like roads, street lights, etc... are all expenditures that every American benefits from - whether they personally drive or not... so even if the taxes are as high as you estimate, I don't begrudge them. I did oppose and protest the second Gulf war (I was too young and stupid to oppose the first Gulf war)... but those wars had nothing to do with securing the oil supply. I've heard that once veterans benefits are fully compounded over the lifetime of the vets, the cost for the second Iraq war will be over 3 trillion. I believe the straight balance sheet direct costs were about a trillion. But I don't think that's fair to account against our oil supply - as all that did was constrict oil production for a decade.
    12 Jun 2012, 09:41 AM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    About the first gulf war- I remember distinctly on TV Bush saying something about protecting oil

     

    http://bit.ly/LYWkG4

     

    A little slated, but has some information concerning the true cost of oil
    http://bit.ly/uosMxp
    12 Jun 2012, 10:24 AM Reply Like
  • Rick Krementz
    , contributor
    Comments (2429) | Send Message
     
    Glenn, PErhaps I was not clear about local streets. They are a public good, and despite many libertarians trying to make totally free market solutions, I think they need to be supported by taxes. The question is which tax. A tax directly correlated to vehicle usage, e.g., a fuel tax, means the true cost of delivering FedEx or collecting trash includes the construction and maintenance of the street, regardless if you walk or drive to work. Paying for streets with general tax revenues, unlinked from usage, mean a car owner can park on public property (not paying for owning his own parking space) and drive all he wants for no incremental cost; his neighbors pay for it.

     

    Certainly there are issues at the periphery; street lights are usually good whether you walk or drive, different vehicles cause different damages to streets which may not be proportional to fuel use, etc. But the basic concept, pay for what you use, is going to reduce consumption (and pollution and ancillary costs) and focus consumers on how to spend wisely (well, maybe slightly less foolishly).
    12 Jun 2012, 10:36 AM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    I said 90% of installed power - not 90% of delivered energy; you're right, 90% of energy is much harder to acheive.

     

    It's by no means impossible though - I'm currently working on an approach that would allow Solar to approach, or even exceed, 90% of energy. It's entirely possible theoretically, I'm just interested in how to minimize costs.

     

    Sorry to hear the project isn't looking positive - I hope it comes back to life, it sounds like a good idea. My point wasn't that you personally would be receiving subsidies; only that your project is made viable through the existence of a mature and highly optimised wind industry... which has only evolved due to subsidies, especially in its early stages.

     

    I would agree with your attitude to subsidies in a world of perfect economic efficiency and internalisation of costs. Sadly that's not where we live - as you observe some education systems aren't doing much to improve the situation and the discount rates people use for future hardship are INSANE. So, while it comes with downsides, I'm happy to see an agency with a slightly longer term rest their finger on the scales from time to time to try to dig us out of a hole.

     

    Regarding unsubsidized market opportunity - take a look at this report: http://bit.ly/LjNNOM
    13 Jun 2012, 05:42 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » JRP3,

     

    A person who is limiting their choices to sub-25 mpg vehicles has proven by their limited choices that environmental efficiency is simply not a high priority in their vehicle selection.

     

    Ergo, such a person would not be interested in an honest analysis of the carbon emissions load/mile anyhow, or if they are interested they certainly wouldn't change their purchasing decisions based on that analysis.

     

    There are plenty of hybrid luxury vehicles that get above 35 mpg. At 35 mpg, and assuming the manufacturing carbon intensity of the vehicle is 10 tons-CO2, a vehicle driven 120,000 miles would have a total carbon intensity of ~483 g-CO2/mile.

     

    A Tesla Model S with an 85 kWh battery, on the other hand, will have a manufacturing carbon intensity somewhere north of 16 tons-CO2 (hasn't been scored, so I don't know exactly), and will be scored by the EPA at ~0.333 kWh/mile. So assuming 120,000 miles driven, night-time slow charging will result in an average of 567 g-CO2/mile, night-time moderate-paced charging (necessary for nights after large battery draws) will result in 586 g-CO2/mile, daytime fast charging will result in 421 g-CO2/mile, and daytime slow charging will result in 374 g-CO2/mile.

     

    Of course, this isn't factoring in the amount of loss or bleed that the battery undergoes, nor factoring in the energy used to heat or cool the battery - which is insignificant for the Leaf but quite significant for the battery.

     

    Again, if a person is only willing to consider ICE's that get 25 mpg or below, they aren't exhibiting any concern for the environment in their vehicle purchase, and this valid methodology will likely be ignored... but there are many options - including many luxury vehicles - that are more environmentally responsible than the Tesla Model S.
    13 Jun 2012, 09:14 AM Reply Like
  • Rick Krementz
    , contributor
    Comments (2429) | Send Message
     
    Dan5, sorry I interpreted your post saying you lived in Vermont. New Jersey also has incentives for solar, however I was not able to understand from the link you sent your tariff rates, i.e., how much credit per kwhr do you get selling the grid electricity? 10 cents? 30 cents? What do consumers pay for electricity at retail?

     

    You mention the same refrigerator number I mentioned. 400 kwhr per year is slightly over 1 kwhr per day, and is an efficient refrigerator. You live alone, so that is consistent with a very low number for lighting - task lighting is sufficient for one, very rarely for two or more.

     

    Shutting down the vampires with kill switches is exceedingly rare. Good practice; I do it fanatically at my solar off-grid house, but rarely at my on-grid house.

     

    Three hours TV per week for you, the country averages 6.75 hr per day http://bit.ly/Nyx0uH.

     

    Yep, you (like me) are a true outlier.
    13 Jun 2012, 01:50 PM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    NJ is kind of confusing in it, it's really a variable rate month by month. mine normally get sold, the way I calculated it between 33 cents and 42 cents per kw-hr. But the rates are decreasing every year, next year it may be 32-41 cents
    The way I understand it, there is an RPS initiative to make NJ greener, I think eventually they want to have 3% solar and 21 % renewable. In order to do that the utility companies "buy" yours and claim it on their sheets. It's kind of odd how it works and it's actually more economically viable for them to purchase it from residents than build their own solar arrays (array, land and maintaining the property, factor in a loan for 5%, and paying inflated labor costs). If they sold the electricity at a 50% premium, it would still take them 20+ years just to break even
    13 Jun 2012, 02:48 PM Reply Like
  • Zorro7
    , contributor
    Comments (23) | Send Message
     
    That URL was too long, I hope this short URL works:

     

    http://alturl.com/6e4yd
    8 Jun 2012, 08:30 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Zorro,

     

    As far as "actual research", nice insinuation...

     

    I took the electricity emissions profile from the UCS report, because I was criticizing one specific (and dumb) portion of their methodology. I actually believe they were underscoring both coal and natural gas, but it's easier to just let the small stuff go and focus on the severe problem with their methodology.

     

    If you would like a list of sources for any given metric, just ask.

     

    As for your study that you linked to, it's just as worthless as the UCS report, and for the same reason: it assumes "grid mix". That means if you plug in a new marginal demand load, some of that demand load will instantly be accommodated by the power companies "turning up" the power delivered from hydropower dams, geothermal plants, solar cells, etc... It's as if you didn't read my actual criticism of the UCS methodology - just skimmed until you found numbers and jumped in shouting "uh UH!".

     

    Please consider what I am trying to explain before muddying the water with other nonsense studies that use similarly flawed methodologies.
    8 Jun 2012, 09:22 AM Reply Like
  • Zorro7
    , contributor
    Comments (23) | Send Message
     
    It's the very opposite: You haven't read that study yet.

     

    It does indeed consider "marginal generation", that is, it considers which specific kind of power plant is "turned up" at any given time of day, even at any month in the year, if you add a load.

     

    Here is a quote:

     

    "The marginal mix is distinct from the “average mix,” which accounts for all electricity generation in a given hour."

     

    That is exactly what you are talking about. In CA, mostly NG and sources with similar g-CO2/kWh are dispatched for added load, not coal.
    8 Jun 2012, 10:02 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » No Zorro,

     

    You are incorrect.

     

    I did skim the study. The fact that the authors used the term "marginal" does not mean that they used it correctly. The entire "marginal impact" study is based on the relative input of hydropower in some time frames verses others.

     

    To excerpt, since you aren't dropping this point:
    "The sensitivity of marginal supply and emissions to hydroavailability, demand location, and season is explored in Fig. 5.
    The figure illustrates results for presumed high, average, and
    Fig. 5. Sensitivity of marginal generation and GHG emissions rates to hydroavailability, demand location, and season. low emissions conditions for the three timing profiles.5 The high case represents marginal generation during a 1-in-10 dry year (24,235GWh of annual hydro-generation) with all marginal demand in CA-S. The low case depicts a 1-in-10 wet year (50,879GWhyear−1), if all marginal demand were in LADWP. The base case shows the annual average using the baseline assumptions described in the previous section."
    ...
    "There is more variation in marginal emissions rates based on
    season and hour of recharging. Fig. 6 maps marginal GHG emissions rates by time of day and month. The table elements represent average values for each hour of the day in a given month. The bottom row represents the vehicle demand-weighted marginal GHG emissions rate averaged over all hours of the month or year. This example represents BEVs recharging according to the Offpeak profile using assumptions from the base case. Each pathway and timing profile will have a unique emissions map."

     

    As can clearly be seen (by READING the study), this study is just as worthless as the UCS report, as a result of committing the same flaw in the analysis... Or as Nick would say, by completely disregarding the definition of the term "marginal".
    ;)
    8 Jun 2012, 11:27 AM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    Hi Glenn,

     

    Seems like an honest and accurate article - I can't fault your reasoning within the scope of your analysis.

     

    I don't think it makes a lot of sense to benchmark DirtyGrid EV's against hybrids - I see what you're saying regarding the marginal emissions impact in today's world... but in today's world EV's are nothing. The question is where we can get to in the future. I'll speak to that in an article I'm working on at the moment though (and the case for starting now as existing EV policy promotes).

     

    My direct question, however: What would your view be of a situation where someone bought an EV (with subsidy) AND switched to a 100% renewable energy supply agreement with their utility at their own expense? Sure, an electron is an electron, but the Utility HAS to meet the quota, and they create demand for (and fund) additional renewable power in the process.
    9 Jun 2012, 01:08 PM Reply Like
  • Rick Krementz
    , contributor
    Comments (2429) | Send Message
     
    Dojomouse, the challenge is that it is impossible to buy 100% renewable energy, unless you are off-grid and install your own systems. Yes, you can pay for "renewable" energy, but paying a premium for somebody's wind energy at 2am when you want airconditioning at 2pm is a shell game. It is all a legal / regulatory fraud that subsidizes the favored, which currently are wind producers. You may feel good, the wind producers are happy, and all the other ratepayers are paying increased rates to subsidize the game. If utility-scale storage was economic, there would be another story. Many of your "renewable" electrons probably came a coal plant, sorry to say.
    9 Jun 2012, 08:58 PM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    It's not a fraud. It's entirely legitimate. If I decide, as a consumer, that I ONLY want to use energy from wind and hydro and am prepared to pay a premium to do so then I'm free to do so, and the energy I get can legitimately be termed 'clean'.

     

    I don't know how it is in the states - in Switzerland however you can choose a 'Clean' plan which costs more. The energy provider is obliged to generate at LEAST as much energy as the total 'Clean' consumer consumption from renewable sources. There's even a 'Solar' plan with similar obligations. Further, there are no constraints to the number of participants - the providers are legally obliged to add capacity to meet demand from any number of consumers who choose to switch. It's basically a more commercially efficient version of installing your own rooftop array.

     

    Utility scale storage IS increasingly economic. Day:Night storage with NaS batteries has an LCOS of under 10c/kWh assuming 20yr life. Seasonal storage is a larger challenge... certainly no existing battery technology will be interesting, but I'm currently looking at some options involving gas cogen (including clean-gas cogen where the gas itself comes from solar->hydrogen->... and the results are encouraging.

     

    The only way I know today to get reliable clean energy for under 5c/kWh is genIV nuclear. That's one option. If people don't like that, however, they really need to consider whether paying 20c/kWh for an alternative solution would really be such a disaster. Just because something is cheap (coal) doesn't mean it's the best - and many people are voting with their wallets to make a shift.
    10 Jun 2012, 04:03 AM Reply Like
  • marketquant
    , contributor
    Comments (1272) | Send Message
     
    > certainly no existing battery technology will be interesting

     

    Take a serious look at Aquion Energy, which is in the process of a commercial scale-up now. It will be interesting to see if they can hit attractive numbers over the next year or so.
    10 Jun 2012, 08:41 AM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    I've looked at them - also Enervault and EOS - but have had trouble finding much serious data. Do you have a link to something?

     

    Problem with seasonal energy shift is that you're essentially cycling the battery once a year (I think - a bunch of math here I haven't really done yet). Keeping the impact on the final average LCOE within reasonable bounds is pretty tricky.
    10 Jun 2012, 02:52 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Dojomouse,

     

    The contracts to purchase 100% renewable energy are basically a carbon offset scheme.

     

    If you believe in carbon offsets - which I must say I do - then that works. You effectively do as much "good" as you do "harm", and mathematically cancel the two out.

     

    I've never said such a scheme doesn't work, I merely said that the scheme doesn't change the fact that the EV is on the "bad" side of the equation. It would be better if you purchased 100% renewable energy from the energy company (offsetting your home emissions), purchased an efficient hybrid vehicle for ~$23,000, then purchased 1000 tons of carbon offset credits!!! That would be roughly the same cost as buying a Nissan Leaf, but a Prius only works out to ~43 tons-CO2 emissions over the course of 120,000 miles. Your Nissan Leaf/carbon offset scheme would displace that entire emissions profile, but for the same price you could buy the Prius, spend the EXACT SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY, and offset ~950 more tons of CO2!!!

     

    I just believe in getting the maximum bang for the buck.
    11 Jun 2012, 11:08 AM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    Hmm... that's an interesting way to look at it.

     

    I agree that an EV doesn't currently offer the lowest marginal cost of CO2 abatement. Even if it's lower than an HEV, it's probably not lower than paying some guy in the amazon to not cut down his forest.

     

    The difference between the two cases though (I think) is that in one you're effectively a consumer of carbon offset credits. This is all good, and in theory through that consumption you still create demand for more credits etc. But you haven't necessarily reduced consumption of coal, and you're still personally burning oil.

     

    If you buy the EV and switch to the green electricity supply then you're acting more like an issuer of credits. It's possible the two approaches are equivalent though I guess. I think the EV approach is much more sustainable though - I can't imagine a world in which everyone has an HEV running on oil and a house running on coal yet is still somehow CO2 neutral due to... what? Some massive geosequestration scheme?

     

    Something for me to think about anyway.

     

    If people were only motivated by bang for buck though then they'd be starting with ultra efficient light fittings, new insulation etc.

     

    What's your view of the current status of carbon offset accounting in the USA? Is there even an official carbon market in place?

     

    I like carbon trading in principle. I'm not so sure about the execution in many cases... especially not when you see the net effect on GHG emissions. For example in the case of Russia, who - thanks to economic collapse - have a huge number of emissions credits to sell for emissions that weren't going to occur anyway. The emissions that weren't in Russia are used to justify (and somehow magically 'zero out') emissions that do occur in the USA. The results are obviously not in keeping with the spirit of the whole thing...
    11 Jun 2012, 11:51 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
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    Author’s reply » Dojomouse,

     

    I would like to see carbon emissions credits priced on a 1-1 ratio within developed countries and discounted - in some cases heavily - for a 3rd world speculative carbon offset venture.

     

    But if you were to invest $100,000 in a large wind farm in Kansas, you'd be offsetting ~6700 tons of CO2, and you'd see some ROI that might not be equal to that of a high performing index. If, instead, you put up a large PV array in your back-yard and bought an EV to plug it in, you'd offset ~200 tons of CO2, and you'd pay more for doing so than buying an efficient vehicle (negative ROI, far worse than what you'd see investing in the wind farm).

     

    Yes, there is some corruption and some fraud in the carbon trades - such as a company double-selling acres to aforest in Uganda... but under any analysis there is a very large difference between trying to make an EV go carbon neutral vs investing in large-scale renewable energy... and it's all the same atmosphere.
    11 Jun 2012, 12:07 PM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    Are we now just arguing the cost premium for an EV over an HEV? I agree they're related topics but the imbalance you're using to purchase the carbon credits (or invest in the wind farm) is expected to decline in time... and also needs to account for the difference in energy cost.

     

    Anyway. I agree that EV's aren't the best use of dollars if the objective is just to reduce CO2 emissions in the short term. What I think could be interesting, however, is the impact of technology and adoption lag but I'll have to do my homework on that first.
    11 Jun 2012, 12:17 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
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    Author’s reply » Dojomouse,

     

    No, we are discussing the cost of the carbon offset scheme to accommodate an EV vs a carbon scheme to accommodate an HEV. The original post was comparing their carbon intensities.
    11 Jun 2012, 01:42 PM Reply Like
  • Mseekingalpha
    , contributor
    Comments (66) | Send Message
     
    Glen,
    Great article. Don't let the fixed ideas of others get you down. You are doing many of us a great service by writing.
    11 Jun 2012, 07:58 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
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    Author’s reply » Thanks Mseeking,

     

    It gets rather tiring to see the same invalid and debunked argument repeated a dozen times.
    11 Jun 2012, 08:44 AM Reply Like
  • Mseekingalpha
    , contributor
    Comments (66) | Send Message
     
    80% of the people are perfectly happy in their fixed ideas and some of them will be very vocal about defending those ideas. About 18% are capable of seeing that something is not quite right and are looking for the data they are missing. 2% are already there. It appears that you are in the 2%. My suggestion is condense your responses to instablogs and refer your detractors to those. Then your problem will be that they will read into what you have written what they already know. But your patient persistence will eventually succeed. This is one of your most admirable qualities, patience.
    11 Jun 2012, 10:06 AM Reply Like
  • magounsq
    , contributor
    Comments (991) | Send Message
     
    Msa

     

    Well said.
    Not sure if your stats are empirical or gut, but point taken!
    11 Jun 2012, 11:52 AM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
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    Hi Glenn,

     

    Don't take anything I wrote above as an attack - I'm arguing the point with you, sure, but I was totally serious when I said I liked the article and the quality of analysis. Look forward to many more discussions.

     

    If you were starting from the position we're in today and trying to get to a future society based on an ultralow emissions principle, how would you go about it? Obviously at high level only.

     

    My feeling is that shifting to transport technologies that don't burn oil and electricity generation technologies that don't burn coal or gas or oil is the right direction to be moving in. Of course there's the question of whether it's fundamentally infeasible... but I'm not yet totally discouraged.
    11 Jun 2012, 11:55 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
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    Author’s reply » Dojomouse.

     

    As luck would have it, I AM trying to get to a future society based on ultralow emissions profiles!

     

    Here's how I'm going about it:

     

    http://www.WindFuels.com

     

    The web page is out-of-date, as we've had other priorities... but we're still moving forward, and will soon be producing fuel in the lab (we're essentially waiting for this to update the whole web page).
    11 Jun 2012, 12:10 PM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
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    Cool - I'm familiar with the technology and it's one of the foundations of some of the analysis I'm doing. I've been using the numbers from a german company doing basically the same thing: http://bit.ly/Myq4Ic

     

    As far as long term potential for vehicle applications is concerned it becomes an interesting race between battery cost and lifecycle, and clean energy cost on the other. If you're really really REALLY good it seems like you might get 60% efficiency in conversion of electrical energy to CH4 (for example). And that certainly won't be free to acheive, even in terms of plant costs and ignoring the cost of the lost energy. Obviously you need around 100% more total generation capacity to deliver a similar amount of energy-at-the-wheel with this method. I'm not saying it's doomed by any means, in fact I think the creation of synthetic fuels by this approach will be critical! I just don't think it'll necessarily beat the entire market. Could be a perfect fit with ER-EV though.

     

    Either way, good luck!!
    11 Jun 2012, 12:23 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
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    Author’s reply » Dojomouse,

     

    Actually, the German approach is quite different for one major reason: they are making methane - which has very little value/unit energy - while we are making gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, etc...

     

    If you are amortizing a capital expense, an O&M budget, and distribution infrastructure... then the stuff that you are making better have a value that exceeds the feedstock costs. NG has very low value, while liquid fuels have high values. The Germans are working around our patents by making NG, but they'll never have a competitive process.

     

    Thanks for the well-wishes.
    11 Jun 2012, 01:00 PM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
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    Ok. I expect there is probably a lot of prior art when it comes to the synthesis of the various liquid fuels you mention using methane as a feedstock, but I'm not an expert. Certainly fertilizer etc has been synthesized from methane for years.

     

    Anyway - I don't own any shares in the Germany company so I'm more than happy to see you succeed. Will take a look at the technical details on your site.
    11 Jun 2012, 01:06 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
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    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Dojomouse,

     

    The site hasn't been updated much in two years, so there's a lot that is out-of-date and no longer valid.

     

    We are developing a bridge technology where we use some methane in the feedstock via a process called CARMA, and we wanted to let the IP protections mature a little before saying much about it... we also wanted more lab successes. The website is quite informative, but in the last two years the delivered price of natural gas has plummetted, as has the price of solar panels... so many things have shifted. We'll be updating the website over the coming months with the CARMA information and as lab results start coming in.
    11 Jun 2012, 01:46 PM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
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    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    Good stuff - look forward to the results; I see the germans have a 25kW system up and running too with a 6MW under development. Competition isn't always bad - means you're not the only one who sees a market :-)

     

    On a more critical note, I find it highly suspicious that you consider the emissions profile of the marginal consumption of your electricity -> hydrogen plant to be that of wind, yet the marginal consumption of an EV to be that of coal. Rather than turning that electricity into liquid fuel you could have allowed it to displace the output of a coal power plant. Guilty guilty guilty... <cough>.

     

    I'm not even going to get into the problems with using $15/MWh as an energy price. You're obviously relying on a sustained surplus on the supply side... do you really think that will last if storage technology of any form takes off?
    11 Jun 2012, 02:23 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
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    Author’s reply » Dojomouse,

     

    I think that WindFuels will BE the storage technology that takes off. That's the point.

     

    To better understand the difference between WindFuels and EV charging, read my other two blog entries on seekingalpha:
    http://seekingalpha.co...
    http://seekingalpha.co...

     

    Then consider that the WindFuels plant (or any large electrolyzer bank) will be able to ramp up from 0 to 100% capacity, or any capacity factor in between, in ~16 milliseconds.

     

    There is a reason that a WindFuels plant CAN serve to reduce wind curtailments while residential slow-charging overnight cannot do so.

     

    The idea is to place a WindFuels plant in a region that has too much wind that has a capacity which roughly equals the amount of curtailed wind in that region... The curtailments will cease, and the WindFuels plant will operate. Again it's marginal energy response, but in this case the lowest-cost marginal energy that would serve to fit the demand is the instantaneous variation in the wind generation... Currently it's costing them money in O&M just to curtail it, but with an electrolyzer bank of sufficient size they can just accept everything as it comes and let us vary the electrolyzer load to stabilize and smooth the power.

     

    There's nothing suspicious here... we're just targeting the problem with a valid solution.
    11 Jun 2012, 03:10 PM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
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    So you'd only run the plant when the wind turbines were producing more power than the grid could accept? I can't imagine that's going to do your %utilization much good, and it looks like an expensive piece of kit you're building. You've also got at least two thermal power plants in your loop - those aren't going to be able to vary their output at the same rate as the power electronics in your electrolyzer.

     

    But anyway, it's a valid solution to at least one category of problem so no sense bickering about the specifics... except that I'm sure once you've got it in place you'll run it MUCH more often than just when the grid price is below $15/MWh.
    11 Jun 2012, 03:43 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
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    Author’s reply » Dojomouse,

     

    Hydrogen gas is horribly expensive to distribute, but storing a small quantity (~a day's worth) on site which only has to be distributed to the chemical plant next door is not that expensive (~$10 million for 18 hours worth for a 700 bbl/day synthesis plant).

     

    The plan is to use the electrolyzers as a frequency regulator to absorb curtailed energy during 8-12 hours/day (which is common in some of the most congested grids, the problem is the energy is curtailed for a half hour, then on for a half hour, then curtailed for 15 minutes, then back on... ... ...), while keeping all of the chemical processes operating smoothly. Dirty power will only have to be used during prolonged lulls. The end result will be fuel that is significantly cleaner than any other option - including and especially EV options - but it will not be ZERO carbon... it will have its own carbon intensity which should also be honestly evaluated. Estimates range between 1.3 and 2.5 kg-CO2/gallon.
    11 Jun 2012, 06:36 PM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
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    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    Ok, the approach to buffering makes good sense, thanks for the explanation. I take it the electrolyzers are pretty cheap? It's an interesting approach to addressing grid congestion, will have to take a closer look at the economics sometime. Your addressable market at these prices will be quite small though I'd have thought - I saw a probability distribution of US Electricity prices the other day and the fraction below $15/MWh looked well under 1%. Though I guess that's actually still plenty for the first stage!

     

    Do you have some recent estimates you can point me to on system cost? I've been looking to benchmark the numbers I'm using in my system level study.
    12 Jun 2012, 03:39 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Dojomouse,

     

    The cost of electrolyzers is still quite high, though that cost has been reducing by between 7 and 15%/year since the 90's, even without significant economies of scale. Once economies of scale can be incorporated there is no reason to expect that the cost will not reduce at a far more rapid pace.

     

    We do have an interim technology which will use some portion of methane in the feedstock mix - as currently electrolyzers are still pricey and methane is absurdly cheap... but we'll still need some electrolyzed hydrogen and captured CO in the feedstock stream even for the CARMA process. The worst possible carbon intensity with that system will be ~10 kg-CO2/gallon, and we expect this to be a bridge technology that will quickly transfer to the lower carbon WindFuels.

     

    In the Minn hub within MISO (covering 5 states), the average price for the 8 lowest cost hours of the day was under $15/MWh for 2009, 2010, and 2011.

     

    ERCOT West still sees negative pricing every single night.

     

    More than 3 TWh of wind will be curtailed this year, even with the ultra-low price of natural gas. In prior years with higher priced gas, there was an order of magnitude more curtailment in many hubs. If we purchase the low price energy in regions with high wind penetration, there is a lot more energy that will be produced from curtailed wind. 3 TWh is enough energy to synthesize 70 million gallons of gasoline/year via WindFuels, or ~200 million gallons of gasoilne/year via CARMA. It's enough to get a very profitable business started.
    :)
    12 Jun 2012, 08:42 AM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
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    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    The trend is certainly towards increasing ramp rates on power plants of all types, but that's getting fairly off topic. I'm pleased that progress is being made on clean-gas from electricity technologies; hope you get your funding and can meet the price targets.

     

    The CARMA numbers are interesting. 10kgCO2/gallon means a Prius running on your fuels would average 180gCO2/mile. Alternatively we could put that gas into a new-build CCGT (You're proposing to build a new syn-fuel facility; presumably we could instead spend the money on a new CCGT?) and use the gas (which you were going to use to create fuel from CARMA) to get electricity at 300gCO2/kWh.

     

    I'll put that electricity into 'my' Leaf (which is plugged in, at work, during the day, slow charging) and I'm at ~130gCO2/mile.

     

    Sure, soon you'll start increasing the fraction of wind in your fuel. But I'll start increasing the fraction of solar I use to charge my EV. Or Nuclear. Or Wind. And whichever way you cut it, the primary energy conversion efficiency - source to wheels - of wind fuel is going to be AT BEST 30%, while my EV will have no trouble managing 75%.

     

    So while I think having electricty to hydrocarbon conversion as a storage solution is a great initiative, it's by no means 'cut and dried' that it's an environmentally superior transport solution to EVs.
    12 Jun 2012, 10:32 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
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    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Dojomouse,

     

    It's nice of you to claim 300 g-CO2/kW... But that is not true. It's just not. First you didn't include things like the leakage at the drilling wells, the energy required to remove contaminates, the free CO2 that has to be scrubbed from the natural gas, the energy required to compress the gas, etc...

     

    A more fair value is something like ~400 g-CO2/kWh if you assume a 61% ultra-high-efficiency CCGT. Then you have to factor in line loss (6%), and charging losses (10%) for your Leaf. That would still only bring your new total up to ~160 g-CO2/mile.

     

    But that is assuming that all energy in your region is derived from a high-efficiency CCGT running at maximum efficiency. That isn't the grid we have, and it cannot ever BE the grid we have unless there is a scalable demand response FR solution... So your scenario here is completely impossible unless and until WindFuels is deployed. Until that happens, increased wind penetration will result in increased reliance on peakers - which will serve to lower the efficiency of natural gas generated power, not raise it.
    12 Jun 2012, 11:44 AM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
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    I used 330g/kWh-e and I've already factored in line losses and charging losses. But fine, let's call it 400; that's more reasonable you're right. But I hope you used a similarly appropriate figure in your 10kg estimate. As you say, a hair under 160g/km.

     

    It's not assuming that ALL energy in my region is derived from a high-efficiency CCGT. It's assuming that the new capacity I build is - you've invested capital and consumed natural gas for your solution; I've done the same in mine (the difference is that you'll also have to invest in R&D, I won't).

     

    My EV fleet will be more than adequate for frequency regulation. I'm sure you're aware of the partial load efficiency and start/stop times of the new GE CCGT's.

     

    Don't say 'completely impossible', you're on the road to zealotism. There are several entirely viable ways that could be the grid. You could use GE Flexefficiency CCGT equivalents. You could use new Nuclear. You could also supplement either one of these with large quantities of renewables. Don't pretend that your not-actually-built-bey... electrolyzer is the only conceivable frequency regulation solution for high penetration renewables.
    12 Jun 2012, 12:46 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
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    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Dojomouse,

     

    The statement that you are reacting to begins: "That isn't the grid we have, and it cannot ever BE the grid we have unless there is a scalable demand response FR solution".

     

    I do recognize that there are other FR solutions that are being considered. I have little to no confidence in their successful implementation. But until SOMETHING is implemented, then EV's have to deal with the grid as it is and be scored accordingly.

     

    The marginal demand of an EV doesn't get to take credit for new built capacity. Marginal demand gets credited for the lowest cost SPARE capacity that can satisfy that demand. So if you build a new CCGT plant in an area, I'll cheer, but there will now be more spare coal capacity, and often no spare capacity in the CCGT, to satisfy marginal demand.
    12 Jun 2012, 01:47 PM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
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    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    They're already implemented at scales above 20MW. Frequency regulation is only challenging as a distributed control problem. The future resource pool is going to be so huge that capacity will be trivial. On the control side, your Electrolyzers will be no better than any other grid interactive power electronic system.

     

    Moving on - So YOUR new build energy conversion facility which takes natural gas as an input and supplies energy to vehicles can be considered entirely in isolation from the electrical grid because it doesn't deliver electrical energy... but MY new build energy conversion facility which takes natural gas as an input and supplies energy to vehicles can't, because it IS connected to the electrical grid.

     

    Riiiight. Would it help if I built my own electrical grid? Or, to turn it around, if someone builds a coal-to-liquids plant and starts selling the fuel into the automotive sector will the HEV's in your scenario suddenly be assigned emissions profiles of 1kgCO2/km?
    13 Jun 2012, 05:50 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Nick,

     

    If you refuse to consider the methodology, or engage the logic of the analysis... I can't help you. I am being perfectly consistent... and rather than engage the debate you are simply being ad hominum. This is tedius, and pointless.

     

    We're done.

     

    The rest of the readers seem to understand this. I'm sorry you don't.
    13 Jun 2012, 06:58 AM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
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    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    Sigh. Ok. By the way, an 'Ad Hominem' response would be if I attempted to discredit you by addressing your flaws, rather than the flaws of your argument - which I didn't do.

     

    You think you're being consistent. I think you're not. I'll save a more detailed critique for another time and place.
    13 Jun 2012, 04:30 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
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    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Nick,

     

    I understand that I'm being consistent.

     

    I noticed that you didn't comment on another blog post of mine, and I thought you might better understand if you read it:

     

    http://seekingalpha.co...

     

    You can only include the lowest-cost energy THAT CAN BE USED TO PROVIDE FOR THE DEMAND. Curtailed wind is useless for consistent baseload demand cycles. Any technology that rapidly ramps and tamps to provide frequency regulation can be used to reduce wind curtailments, a constant demand cannot.
    13 Jun 2012, 04:42 PM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
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    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    I wasn't talking about the case in which you use otherwise-to-be-curtailed wind energy; I am talking rather about the short term situation in which you will use natural gas as a feedstock. Maybe that's where our disagreement came from. Yes, in the midterm you will use wind... but in the midterm I'll charge largely during the day using solar... so again the situation is not so simple. In the truly short term I may be forced to use coal if I charge at night... but that requires no capex, and your first gas-to-liquids plant WILL require a LOT of capex.

     

    Anyway. I'll check out the other article sometime but I'm done for today.
    13 Jun 2012, 04:51 PM Reply Like
  • magounsq
    , contributor
    Comments (991) | Send Message
     
    Rick/Glenn

     

    Your analysis much appreciated.
    With some persistence and an open mind, even a banker (me) can grasp the "translation" of your posts.
    11 Jun 2012, 11:55 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    Glenn,
    Regarding this statement:
    "Natural gas would probably be preferred for "fast" charging (45 minutes), because it's difficult and wasteful for coal plants to ramp up or tamp down very quickly... so even though natural gas is far more expensive on a $/MWh basis, it is far more dispatchable, and therefore is a cheaper option for the power company for fast-response situations. However, when fast charging a battery the charging losses increase to nearly 25%. So a Nissan Leaf with a fast-charged battery would result in an additional production of 450.5 Wh of electricity. If we assume 610 g-CO2/kWh, then the total carbon intensity is ~274.8 g-CO2/mile."

     

    You seem to be assuming that any daytime charging of an EV will be fast charging. In fact I expect most daytime charging will be from low level opportunity charging at stores, malls, restaurants, work, etc, which would not come with the efficiency loss you calculate. Since I would assume most coal capacity is fully utilized in many areas during the day NG will provide the required energy for daytime charging.
    11 Jun 2012, 11:59 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
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    Author’s reply » JRP3,

     

    That is fair. Slow-charging with natural gas (during the middle of the day) will be ~242 g-CO2/mile for the Nissan Leaf.

     

    I would be quite interested if you had any data showing a breakdown of the percentage of charge acceptance during the day vs during the night... and the percentage of daytime charging that is fast vs the percentage of daytime charging that is slow.
    12 Jun 2012, 08:46 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    No solid numbers, just the fact that there are so few fast charge stations in existence at this point in time and considering the known sub 40 miles per day average travel patterns no reason to use a fast charge station. Just consider how often you'd stop at a gas station if you could fill up at home, work, or the store, with much cheaper fuel, sometimes free.
    12 Jun 2012, 10:03 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
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    Author’s reply » JRP3,

     

    Most workplaces aren't going to pay for power. So that leaves a small amount of slow natural gas charging while shopping at a few upscale places... and the rest overnight coal charging.

     

    We agree.
    12 Jun 2012, 11:46 AM Reply Like
  • Nick67
    , contributor
    Comments (264) | Send Message
     
    'Most workplaces aren't going to pay for power.'
    I wouldn't go that far Glenn.
    When you get to where I live, everybody NEEDS 110V AC outlets for the inevitable -40º C cold snaps. In rental residences, those plugs are wired to the meters for your apartment. In parkades, each stall has a meter and the plug ONLY works if you are a monthly stall renter. Most employers supply one outlet for each parking spot. I can supply pictures if you'd like. RV parks -- and housing is in such short supply here that folks DO buy winterized RVs and live in them year-round -- have a meter for each stall for monthly renters.

     

    Building out the infrastructure for 110V AC charging at work and billing those who may use it is in place in large geographic areas already -- and can be built out fairly straight-forwardly any place there is sufficient demand.
    13 Jun 2012, 12:26 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    It's too early in the game to predict what businesses will provide what services, but even at this stage many places see a benefit in providing daytime charging at work, even if they charge for it.
    I do not agree that all over night charging is going to be from coal, though I do agree a significant percentage will be, for a while.
    13 Jun 2012, 02:01 AM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
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    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    If only there was some form of device which could measure the amount of electrical energy that passed through it and bill an individual accordingly.
    13 Jun 2012, 05:52 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    "There is no possible scenario in which driving an EV is anywhere close to as environmentally benign as driving a Prius."

     

    So this is not really a true statement. Since tar sands oil works out to 280 g-CO2 for a Prius and regular NG charging works out to 242 g-CO2 for the LEAF there are realistic scenarios where the LEAF is more environmentally benign than a Prius.
    Going further and using the new Honda FitEV numbers of .29 kwh/mile we get 338 wh/mile after charging and line loss, NG charging results in 206 g-CO2, better than a Prius in any fueling scenario, tar sands or conventional.
    http://bit.ly/L2mjPq
    17 Jun 2012, 12:01 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » JRP3,

     

    Touché.

     

    I should have used the word "plausible", not "possible". That was what I was thinking, it just didn't turn out to be what I wrote. My apologies.

     

    It is HIGHLY implausible that a vehicle will be slow-charged using only natural gas. So implausible as to be considered absurd with the current grid... But it is technically possible, and I therefore was incorrect in stating it was not so.

     

    Again my apologies.
    17 Jun 2012, 01:55 PM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    The remaining issue as I see it is how to quantify what source is actually being used for marginal power at what time, and at what location. You claim it's almost always coal at night, but I don't see any numbers to support that. Regional data would be necessary to get the true picture since there are more EV's in certain areas than others and that trend is likely to continue. Since the grid mix has changed so dramatically this year you'd need fairly up to date information, which I have not been able to find.
    I know you feel that NG is going to climb in price again, which it might, but I would think that all the new regulations for coal plants are going to make coal more expensive than it has been.
    18 Jun 2012, 08:53 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
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    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » JRP3,

     

    All electricity generation is not always coal at night. The choice of fuel will largely be dependent on the pattern of the demand load. It's the fact that there is a prolonged constant demand at night which insures that slow-charging an EV will almost always be coal.

     

    Power company employees aren't going to even SEE a 2.4 kW load when it goes on and off. That will be below the significant digits of most of their meters - which will be measured in MW.

     

    They determine how much to turn down their coal plants based on the projected minimum overnight load, and the projected load reduction/increase rates... Then they use mostly peakers, or fast-response gate opening/closing at the hydropower dam (if that's an option), of they'll pitch their wind turbines to accommodate the minute-by-minute variations based on the hub trading price in the ISO.

     

    If you have a technology that will operate continuously overnight, which will serve to simply increase the minimum overnight load, then that WILL be responded to by increasing baseload. There is no alternative, this WILL be the case. It's coal.

     

    I think the EPA has done everything it can do without involving congress. In order for the fines and the regulations to get more punitive against coal, congress will have to play ball... which means that cannot happen until after 2016 (the next real shot at the Democratic party getting a filibuster-proof majority). So until at least 2017, there's essentially no chance that you'll power your car on anything other than coal if you slow-charge it overnight.
    18 Jun 2012, 09:52 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    I'm still not seeing any solid numbers to back up that statement. I understand your reasoning but various studies I've seen aren't considering coal as a significant portion of marginal power in areas such as CA and NY, places which I expect a higher percentage of EV's. It's an important piece of data which you are basing your argument on without providing solid numbers backed up with references. I realize that data may not be available, I certainly haven't found anything definitive.
    19 Jun 2012, 09:15 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » JRP3,

     

    Those "various studies" are still using "grid mix", and are therefore completely worthless. But another common sin among grid studies is that they tend to look locally, and assume all's well. NY and CA don't have magic borders where nothing that takes place outside of the border counts.

     

    Both NY and CA are MAJOR importers of electricity. In 2011, NYISO imported 4.4 TWh from ISONE, 5.8 TWh from Canada, and 12.3 TWh from PJM. The PJM energy was mostly coal, while the ISONE and Canadian energy was mostly hydro. If you plug in an EV in NY, requiring more electricity at night... it's quite easy to assume that NYISO doesn't have many coal generators (of course, you'd be wrong - NY has nearly 5 GW of coal that could more than easily ramp up to accommodate perfect-fit demand) due to regulations in NY... but there's plenty of coal in PJM, and that energy is far cheaper to import at night than it is to ramp up a gas peaker.

     

    The CCGT's in NY operate at full load, and they just allow peakers and variations in import levels to accommodate the fluctuations in demand.

     

    The same story goes for CA, which imported 44 TWh from the desert SW (plenty of coal) and 22.5 TWh from the Northwest and Rockies (WY being the second largest exporter to CA).

     

    In the end, when you plug your car in, somewhere there must be an increase in electricity production. If the demand is a good fit for coal, then it would be cheaper for the power companies to give you coal power... and so that will be the case. Whether they import or generate that power locally doesn't matter.
    19 Jun 2012, 10:08 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    "Those "various studies" are still using "grid mix", and are therefore completely worthless."

     

    Not sure that's true. For example this study for NY,
    http://bit.ly/Mtq9ie
    the chart on page 18, talks about hours when fuel is marginal and specifies type of fuel and area that is served. You'll notice they never mention nuclear, which NY indeed has but is of course base load, so they obviously do understand the difference. They also talk about out of state transmission lines, so they are also aware of out of state inputs.
    This study for CA,
    ftp://ftp.dvrpc.org/dv...
    specifically states:

     

    "The marginal mix is distinct from the “average mix,” which
    accounts for all electricity generation in a given hour. The two
    mixes may differ significantly, and consequently, so may their GHG
    emissions rates. In California, low-carbon resources such as hydro,
    nuclear, and renewable generation that are not part of the marginal
    mix are included in the average mix. Consequently, the average
    GHG emissions rate is lower than that of the collection of natural
    gas-fired plants that compose the marginal mix."

     

    They also specifically address imported coal power, most of which is on a fixed rate and not part of marginal power. Worth noting that there is a strong push in CA, specifically LA, to end the coal imports completely.
    So here are two studies that specifically exclude grid average mix and specifically talk about out of state inputs, and neither shows a large coal percentage for marginal power.
    20 Jun 2012, 09:28 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » JRP3,

     

    The NY study I've read - several years ago (much of the data is extremely outdated now). The power industry sometimes uses the word "marginal" in an immediate sense, the same sense that I would use the term "dispatchable" - which is why they have little-to-no coal in the mix for their "marginal" power . Their use of the word "marginal" would be based on the idea that we need 499 beads RIGHT NOW, the last bead is the marginal one. So if they are tracking NYISO, and in a 15-minute interval a regional demand climbs from 500 MW to 501 GW, the additional MW is the marginal power demand, and they'll observe the marginal increase in power from a dispatchable power source and declare that is the marginal power source...

     

    That's perfectly valid, and standard.

     

    My use of the word "marginal" is less common, though still perfectly correct... but is only used in PLANNING. So if a new subdivision is being built, then an increase in demand load at a rate of ~20 MW/year will likely be added onto the grid, and will have to be supplied by spare capacity to produce the marginal energy requirements... It's just a different use of the same word.

     

    The point is, what the NY study is looking at is entirely different than what is being considered in my analysis. They were analyzing the dispatchable energy used to handle minute-by-minute and hour-by-hour demand fluctuations.

     

    Sorry for the confusion.

     

    Your link to the CA study didn't work.
    20 Jun 2012, 11:23 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    Hmm, don't know what happened to the link, maybe google this:
    JournalofPowerResource...
    21 Jun 2012, 09:29 AM Reply Like
  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2770) | Send Message
     
    Jrp3

     

    Journal of Power Sources ?
    21 Jun 2012, 05:24 PM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    Grrr, URL from hell! Try this tiny url, hopefully SA won't break it. It's a PDF
    http://tinyurl.com/76m...
    21 Jun 2012, 08:48 PM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    Hot of the Tesla website
    Glenn, apparently you spoke too soon with regards to EV owners using solar cells to power their cars.
    Tesla is in partners with Solar City and offering solar cells for Model S purchasers.

     

    Also, you should watch the poll on the Tesla forums to see how it goes and if your 3% assertion is correct.

     

    http://bit.ly/Lts8Fl
    12 Jun 2012, 03:03 PM Reply Like
  • Rick Krementz
    , contributor
    Comments (2429) | Send Message
     
    No, Dan5, hot off the Unofficial Tesla Motors Club website, a Internet poll with ten, yes, TEN, responses that indicate one person is interested in buying PV from Elon's cousin. Woowee! No indication of whether that the one person actually owns a Tesla or is still in high school smoking dope. Anyone can join the "Club".

     

    No specs, no price, no info, no links. "Information at your finger tips!"
    12 Jun 2012, 03:32 PM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    It's also on the Tesla website for solar city- no prices, but it's offered.

     

    http://bit.ly/L41CUj

     

    The Tesla forums may be an unofficial poll, but it's kind of interesting, but the poll is not even an hour old. It does show the interest in it at least and how many people are saying Yes, No, or Already Have
    12 Jun 2012, 03:41 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Dan5,

     

    In online polls there is a serious "selection bias", in that the individuals who participate are not a random sampling, they are a sampling of motivated individuals with an agenda.

     

    In the Tesla poll, there will be plenty of college kids that just are "fans" of Tesla that participate, and will claim that they will buy a Tesla and purchase the solar cells - though they have no resources to do either. There will also be many people who plan on buying a Tesla and want to save the world!!! and they will eagerly participate in the club's survey...

     

    Then there is the majority of people who are intending to buy the Tesla because they are luxury car owners and want to get a car that has access to the HOV lane, but they don't give a crap about electric vs non-electric, and they don't care about the environment, or whatever... they will not be participating in the survey, they don't even know about the Tesla fan club... they just are buying Teslas because of HOV lane access...

     

    But they will never be a part of that survey.

     

    I think analyzing Solar City's sales will tell us more than an internet poll on a site that has a very severe selection bias. The biggest thing that the poll on the site might indicate is how many people are truly passionate and involved in Tesla's fan club.
    12 Jun 2012, 04:55 PM Reply Like
  • Nick67
    , contributor
    Comments (264) | Send Message
     
    And, as much as an PV + PHEV solution intrigues me, the prices on PV installations aren't quite there yet to make it a sensible solution to energy inflation risks. PV installations however are undergoing significant price reductions and performance increases. What may not make sense NOW is likely to make sense in a five year timeframe.

     

    You can borrow a fairly significant chunk of change for a $400/month payment. You can't quite, yet, create a renewables installation that will let you dispense with the grid and the gas pump for that chunk of change--but it is getting close, and getting closer all the time.
    13 Jun 2012, 12:35 AM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    I disagree. As you may or may not be aware the Tesla Motors club is NOT affiliated with Tesla itself, the only way to know about the site is to be recommended or linked by someone else, it was also linked in "private" Tesla Forum (just for owners on Tesla's own website). There is a Tesla forums on Tesla's website for the "college kids".
    With that being said, Tesla does go onto the Tesla Motors Club website for marketing research to get the opinions of what people think of the alpha model /beta model /pricing of various parts.

     

    It does make sense that someone spending 100 K + on a car (large disposable income) will have no issue putting another 10 K down on solar panels for their house to offset the energy. I can see the salesperson "you know if you add another 10% of the cost you can use free energy". To put in perspective, that's the same percentage difference between getting manual stuff on a Corolla and power windows/doors/remote.

     

    FYI: If I remember correctly, the median HOUSEHOLD income for a Tesla Model S buyer is around 150-175 K (2 teachers or 2 nurses or 2 engineers or any combination in NJ of those jobs). Teachers, nurses, engineers are all middle class.

     

    Also to debunk your claim about "college kids", currently on the survey (I can see who voted), all but 1 have reservation numbers listed in their profiles, so that means they put at least 5K down- not college kids, unless they randomly picked a number and no one noticed.

     

    I don't think the majority of people are buying it for HOV access, c'mon. Half the states don't even have incentives (I don't count exempt emissions inspections as a incentive since an ev does not have a tailpipe).

     

    http://bit.ly/Ne2l6O

     

    It may increase solar sales slightly, but it looks like alot more people are going with other solar companies so just analyzing solar city's sales does not tell the whole story. Judging from the survey currently, multiply solar city's sales by 3 to get the total increase (for every one SC sale 2 people are getting panels from someone else)
    13 Jun 2012, 07:47 AM Reply Like
  • Rick Krementz
    , contributor
    Comments (2429) | Send Message
     
    Dan5,

     

    A $10k PV system does not even come close to powering a car driven any significant distance. To reliably power a Tesla for daily driving, winter and summer, requires a PV system in the order of $80,000 and 25,000 sq ft of roof. Of course, if you are using the grid, you can charge your car and pretend you are driving "for free" . Heck, just put up a single 60 watt panel; a fib is a fib.

     

    If you only drive your car on weekends, and can always wait a few days for a charge when it rains, sure, a $10k system might sorta work.
    13 Jun 2012, 02:28 PM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    How on earth do you arrive at that number Rick?

     

    A Tesla S driven 12,000Mi/y would consume around 4MWh @ 340Wh/mi.

     

    Assuming an 18% capacity factor, that 4MWh would require a Solar Array of around 2.5kW. At todays prices $10k for such a system would actually be pretty steep (but perhaps within range for rooftop - utility would be only about $4k)

     

    At 19% efficiency (well within range for c-SI panels these days) such a system would require around 170sq-ft. (2500/1000/0.19/0.8 * 10.76).

     

    You're more than 10x high on price and 100x high on space by my count... have I missed something?
    13 Jun 2012, 04:40 PM Reply Like
  • Rick Krementz
    , contributor
    Comments (2429) | Send Message
     
    Hi Nick,

     

    First, congrats on a well written column. And yes, you did miss something.

     

    Let's assume a Tesla S-85 needs 85 kwhr to fully recharge. (It actually takes quite a bit more.) To _reliably_ power the car, you must be able to fully recharge after a full night of driving, so you can drive again. 85 kwhr in six hours of PV production indicates a nominal 14.2 kw system. But the 14.2 kw is PV DC, which you need to convert to AC so the Tesla charger works. [There is no DC charging available for any stock EV now.] NREL assume a 23% loss doing this http://1.usa.gov/LVjlcP, so you need a nominal 18.4 kw system

     

    In Los Angeles ("It never rains in California"), to sometimes get an actual 18.4 kw in the winter needs about a 26 kw system. Of course, it does sometimes rain, and then you are SOL unless you have invested in several days worth of batteries.

     

    For flexibility in driving, i.e., driving during the day, you need to store a days worth of sunlight so you can recharge at night when you get home. That needs about 100 kwhr of batteries, so it can recharge your car at night.

     

    Tesla cars continuously consume about 150 watts, even when fully charged. Telsa strongly recommends the cars to always be plugged in, or else the car may brick. That is an additional 3.6 kwhr needed every day, even when rain prevents charging. The 150 watts is for conditioning and temperature control of the batteries. It is not losses due to AC-DC conversion, and is not charging the battery.

     

    Charging batteries is about 90% efficient, so charging the garage batteries, then the Tesla, is about 81% efficient.

     

    For the roof calculations I used Cd-Te efficiences of 10%, not 18%. Valid point. We can discuss installation costs and rebates, but no matter what you are close to, or perhaps over $100k.

     

    Add all this equipment together means you may have 90% likelihood of driving your 12,000 miles annually without waiting for sunny day. You definitely are not close to 99% guaranteed. Yes, often you are producing energy that you are not utilizing, and you probably could drive a lot more than 12,000 miles per year. But if you want to drive 150 miles for two days in a row without waiting for the summer, this is about the minimum investment.

     

    If you have anything less of a system and use a plug, you are burning coal (especially in Los Angeles, which is 20% coal power).
    13 Jun 2012, 10:38 PM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    @ Rick
    You do realize that if your are fully charging an 85 kw battery every day, you are driving around 250-300 miles a day (5-6 hrs, if that's the case, it may be time to move). The average person's commute is less than 40 miles/day. 12,000 miles turns out to be around 33 miles/day average. Energy consumed by the Tesla is around 0.3 kw/mile = about 10 kw/day,

     

    Grid attached solar = 11.07 kw/day
    Off grid even with your numbers, you are looking at 12.3 kw/day.

     

    Here's a 5.4 kwhr kit for under 10 K
    http://bit.ly/Lmslsk

     

    If needed tack on a backup for off grid for another 10 K.

     

    At most you are looking at around 8 K at minimum for a grid-tied and 30 K at the most for a off-grid + all the bells and whistles

     

    Also your figure of 3.6 kw-hr of power consumed per day seems very, very high. That would mean the Model S would completely "drain" the battery in about 3 weeks. Tesla has gone on record with saying that you can leave the car unplugged for about a year and not drain the battery completely. 42.5/365 = 0.12 kw-hr/day, less than 1/30th your estimate.

     

    http://bit.ly/tiMLk6

     

    http://bit.ly/xvIexs

     

    4th paragraph mid-way down "For example, a Model S battery parked with 50 percent charge would approach full discharge only after about 12 months"

     

    I'm curious where you are getting the information from that an average person drives 250 miles minimum per day and that the Model S consumes all of the charge within 3 weeks?
    14 Jun 2012, 07:38 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Rick,

     

    You make some interesting points here, if we were discussing the idea of an isolated system that must be available for all possibilities... but that's not the case. Dan was simply looking for a sufficiently large PV system that he could claim he was offsetting his entire electricity purchase. If we're simply looking at a carbon offset scheme, then you're clearly asking for more than is needed - though I might add that if we are trying to offset CARBON rather than offsetting ELECTRICITY, you need to produce nearly double the amount of "green" electron impulses during the day that you consume at night... because offsetting natural gas electricity production and demanding coal electricity production cannot be considered 1-1.

     

    One place where you clearly overstated was the capacity factor. Dan is in Jersey, not California. His self-reported capacity factor is 17% (It's hard to follow because he never followed my request to be more disciplined in use of power and energy units). and it's unclear as to whether he reported his capacity factor for the month of May or a yearly average. I believe it should be impossible for that to be a yearly average, based on Jersey insolation data. I'd guess the yearly average is closer to 13-14%, but he could have an exceptional sun tracking system and a house on a hill or something.
    14 Jun 2012, 08:33 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    Rick is making some obvious incorrect assumptions. He applies the Roadster "idle" power drain to the new Model S, and he assumes you would need to fully recharge a pack each day. We know the average daily miles driven are less than 40 miles per day, yet he pretends a Model S driver will drive 300 miles per day.
    14 Jun 2012, 08:49 AM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    Ok - so neither of us have messed up our maths which is reassuring, but I think your scenario is totally different to what Dan mentioned.

     

    You're basically coming up with a spec for an entirely independent microgrid that would be capable of powering a Tesla S year round. Dan's comment was "no issue putting another 10 K down on solar panels for their house to offset the energy".

     

    I calculated the solar panels needed for an energy offset (though as you noted I made a mistake ignoring the conversion efficiencies - would be more like 3.5kW after all conversion losses).

     

    Hmm. Something just occured to me. How does EPA measure wh/mi? I've always thought their estimates for the leaf seemed quite a bit too high - is it possible they're actually measuring GRID watt-hours/mile? This would be entirely reasonable... but it would also mean everyone has been overstating the case by at least 10% by accounting for the charging losses. That's a diversion anyway.

     

    Suffice to say I don't think your method is reasonable if the goal is to 'offset' the energy. A 3.5kW system would produce around 5.4MWh/annum (the 18% capacity factor already includes all of those NREL loss sources you mention except for transmission losses which I've called 2%). That's 5.4MWh of other grid generation displaced. Meanwhile the Tesla uses around 4MWh for the 12,000mi of annual driving. Are you sure about the additional 150W in standby??? That's pretty extreme, I find it hard to believe. Maybe for the Roadster (not much optimization), but for the S?? Can you give a reference for the number?

     

    I don't want to get into the same argument I had with Glenn about how solar-vs-coal-vs-gas-v... but even if you are so inclined re: accounting then the absolute worst case you could ascribe is 7kW (Displace 10MW of gas, Absorb 5MWh of coal).

     

    Arguing the islanded grid angle doesn't really make any sense at all, especially given Dans initial statement.

     

    Thanks for the compliments re: my article :-)
    14 Jun 2012, 10:23 AM Reply Like
  • Rick Krementz
    , contributor
    Comments (2429) | Send Message
     
    Dan5, on average you need about 11,000 liters of air per day. If I give you 22,000 liters today and none tomorrow, you are still averaging 11,000 liters per day, and have died.

     

    "Average driving miles" is equally meaningless as measure of meeting demands.

     

    This is my last communication to you. DNFTFT.
    14 Jun 2012, 12:53 PM Reply Like
  • Rick Krementz
    , contributor
    Comments (2429) | Send Message
     
    Glenn, I used California (even though I know he lives in NJ) because because insolation is better. The numbers are obviously worse in NJ.

     

    "Offsetting" does not help. Forcibly selling electrons to the grid whether they want them or not, forcing the utility to maintain fast acting dispatchable power, typically single cycle gas turbines, then using coal-source electrons at his whim: none of this helps the power or pollution situation. Overall, it is usually a net addition to CO2 emission.

     

    (Yes, some places are predominantly hydro, yada yada.)
    14 Jun 2012, 12:56 PM Reply Like
  • Rick Krementz
    , contributor
    Comments (2429) | Send Message
     
    Nick,

     

    I think our fundamental issue is whether PV actually offsets any significant fossil fuel use. Electrons now and and electrons later are very different. Water you don't drink you can drink tomorrow. You need air every minute, even if an hour later you plenty.
    14 Jun 2012, 01:04 PM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    I think that's inarguable - PV will always offset fossil fuel until the point where there is no fossil fuel online. The concern raised is more around the fact that PV is displacing natural gas, while EV's charged overnight may be (/probably are in many grids) increasing demand for Coal... the two obviously have different emissions profiles.

     

    My preferred solution is to resolve the debate by shutting down every single coal power plant as fast as humanly possible and replacing with with whichever combination of reduced consumption, CCGT gas, wind, solar, and nuclear is feasible.
    14 Jun 2012, 04:33 PM Reply Like
  • Rick Krementz
    , contributor
    Comments (2429) | Send Message
     
    Nick, you wrote: I think that's inarguable - PV will always offset fossil fuel until the point where there is no fossil fuel online.

     

    That is precisely my argument: PV NEVER (almost never) offsets fossils fuels.

     

    I think you missed my point. Given the demand for high quality 24/7 power and the lack of meaningful storage, PV does NOT reduce any fossil fuels (coal or gas) to any significant degree, and sometimes increases fuel use.

     

    The spinning reserves requirement for variability in load and demand, with the likely impact of weather (clouds, rain) means the PV is not actually significantly reducing fuel use. (Dammed hydro is a partial exception).
    14 Jun 2012, 10:06 PM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    I don't think so.

     

    PV certainly increases the amount of spinning (secondary) reserve required within a given control region. But a gas turbine running at 50% load uses a lot less fuel than one running at 100% load.

     

    I guess it's theoretically possible that a gas turbine constantly cycling very fast between 50% load and 100% load could use more fuel than one running at 100% load continuously, but I doubt you'll find real world examples.

     

    PV may not yet significantly reduce the required installed capacity of fossil fuel power plants. That's a different thing to not reducing fossil fuel use though.
    15 Jun 2012, 01:32 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    "The U.S. solar market is shaping up to be significantly larger than anticipated and could end up installing nearly 3.3 GW of solar panels in 2012, a roughly 18 percent jump from the previous forecast of 2.8 GW, according to a report from GTM"

     

    http://bit.ly/MBhU23
    13 Jun 2012, 09:45 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » JRP3,

     

    That may work out to ~6 TWh of energy generated/year... or ~0.15% of the nation's energy demand.

     

    I'm impressed by the growth in solar power... though I realize that much of it is a result of regulation and subsidies that likely exceed the potential value to society; at least I acknowledge that increased solar penetration is an unvarnished "good" for society. I don't oppose help for solar energy, and I applaud its success... but we are talking about a fraction of a percent here.

     

    Wind will likely expand by ~10-15%, which will work out to ~0.4-0.6% of our nation's energy demand, and that expansion will require far lower cost - both to the taxpayer and the ratepayer... But we're still playing with margins.

     

    The biggest story is the amount of natural gas that is coming onstream replacing coal. That may halve the carbon intensity of as much as 6% of energy production this year. That's more significant in carbon reduction this year than the new solar panels will be over the course of their lifespan.

     

    I'm not down on solar, but we have to keep things in perspective.
    ;)
    13 Jun 2012, 10:37 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    Agree, it's just part of the picture, and I do expect EV owners to have a higher percentage of installed solar. Regarding that I recently learned that many utilities will not pay for more power generated than a home consumes, which would directly tie the purchase of additional solar panels to the purchase of an EV if you are already maxed out, compensating for that additional load.
    14 Jun 2012, 08:49 AM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    Just another thought when it comes to solar cells and batteries
    I was looking at the price for battery backup

     

    http://bit.ly/LHVGxW

     

    Am I reading it correctly that at up to 1000 cycles I would be getting 43 kw at 915 Ah, for 16 K?

     

    More or less I could drive the Model S for 150 miles and charge it with the battery back-up.

     

    That puts a new twist in my plan- my original plan was to buy a 85 kw Tesla battery for 40 K and just swap them out when needed. Even had the design ready to go to take the pack out in a minute.

     

    Yes, this is what a retired Mech E does with his spare time and money - even got the grand kids involved in it I made it a game for them to find the vamp drain and paid them $20/watt. I remember my father used to unplug the 10 inch TV due to vamp drain. LOL
    14 Jun 2012, 03:28 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Dan,

     

    Looking over the link more carefully, my question still stands: Why do you need something that has this level of power? Your entire house requires only ~6-7 kW during its peak load. Why do you need 26 kW? Even if you add an EV, you won't need 20 kW to recharge the thing... it might take 2-4 kW, and as long as you don't run your drier you'd still manage with a ~6 kW system.

     

    You're buying far more power than you've lead us to believe that you need.
    15 Jun 2012, 08:24 AM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    the 20 kw is just in case I need to recharge it overnight. If I decided to drive down the back, it's about 150 miles, and the way I figure it I would need 300 w/mile if using the Tesla, so I would need it to charge it overnight, if needed. With the Tesla specs, you get get about 30 miles per hour using 220 V/40A outlet I'm thinking in terms of a "just" in case. I can't sit around for days to let the solar recharge it, I'd rather have the energy stored and ready to charge
    15 Jun 2012, 05:59 PM Reply Like
  • Dan5
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
     
    The graph looks like I can get 43 kw (50% discharge) and have it last 1000 life cycles (3 years if I do that every day). Or 26 kw and last 2000 cycles. Average, I may get 3000 cycles out of it- 8 years from now.

     

    Considering going completely off grid so I would need it to charge the Model S (grandparents always need a nice admired car, and it's always good to leave it to your favorite grand child). Most days I travel 10 miles or less, but some days I travel more, want to make sure I have enough juice in the house if I take the grand kids to an amusement park, charge it, then take them to the shore the next day.
    I don't want to have any more impact. We all thought it was cool in the 60s/70's to have GTOs, Mustangs, Dusters, Spray DDT, wreck habitats, use 2 stroke motors and just do stuff that was wasteful. Heck, I remember cleaning my first job's movie theater's carpet with benzene. I consumed most of my resources and all of the gasoline allotted to me, that I should have already so it's time to bow out and minimize taking anything that is not on my own property.
    14 Jun 2012, 07:22 PM Reply Like
  • DMF81
    , contributor
    Comments (13) | Send Message
     
    I read your analysis. I just want to add that I am a Tesla reservation holder and I plan on getting the solar cells to "off-set" my electricity costs. I also plan to "rotate" the Tesla with a beater car to allow it to fully charge during the day. My "beater car" is a relatively new high mpg Toyota.

     

    Without the car, I would not be getting the solar cells. I understand at night technically I'm releasing CO2, but wouldn't it be "off-set" by someone else using my solar energy during the day?
    24 Jun 2012, 07:30 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » DMF81,

     

    First, thank you for getting solar panels.

     

    Second, carbon offsets do work, and are a legitimate means of evaluating one's carbon accountability (in my opinion). So yes, by purchasing solar panels you are offsetting the additional carbon load you are creating by using the Tesla. My point is that doesn't mean the Tesla is an environmentally "clean" technology... it means you are offsetting some of the carbon.

     

    As for whether you would have purchased the solar panels without purchasing the vehicle... I don't know... It seems like they are completely unrelated technology. Anecdotally, if you can say with 100% assurance that you would not have purchased green energy production or energy efficiency technology, nor invested in any type of "green" company - such as wind farm developers or what-have-you... Then yes, technically in your case the combined purchase of the vehicle and the solar panels is lower net carbon (not carbon neutral, you're offsetting mostly natural gas with the solar panels and using mostly coal with the vehicle charging) then simply driving an efficient ICE or HEV. I just don't think it's sensible to assume that many people would be completely divorced from green technology UNLESS and UNTIL they purchase a Tesla vehicle. That seems like a completely irrational assumption, and regardless of anecdotes such assumptions should be avoided when doing life-cycle carbon emissions analysis.
    25 Jun 2012, 08:31 AM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    Since you are making assumptions about behavior it's a fairly safe assumption that people who buy an EV will buy solar panels at a higher rate than the general public, and at a higher rate than people who don't buy an EV. We see it time and time again, because people see the connection between solar electricity and an electric car. You can say it's irrational but it's exactly what is happening.

     

    I'd suggest that DMF81 would be better off buying a back up battery bank instead of a beater ICE to allow storage of his solar to directly charge his EV at night. This also can provide some autonomy from the grid if needed in emergencies, and eliminates transmission losses.
    25 Jun 2012, 07:19 PM Reply Like
  • DMF81
    , contributor
    Comments (13) | Send Message
     
    JRP3
    Thanks for the idea! That may actually work. I'll have to talk to solar city about that.
    26 Jun 2012, 10:52 AM Reply Like
  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2770) | Send Message
     
    Glenn
    I want to say thank you
    For all the info including and perhaps especially the comments.
    I have no background to the grid in my history but started learning with my interest in energy storage. Mostly from John and comments from Rick and a few others.
    I have held my own in a few discussions about the carbon created by the grid and EVs. This has taken a few years of off and on study. While you agree with nearly all of what I have found out.
    Frankly you make me feel like a neophyte again.

     

    Thanks.
    25 Jun 2012, 06:44 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Thanks for the kind words froggey,

     

    Sometimes it's good to hear that I'm getting out there in the face of so much zealous resistance.
    26 Jun 2012, 10:14 AM Reply Like
  • magounsq
    , contributor
    Comments (991) | Send Message
     
    Glenn

     

    "...good to hear that I'm getting out there in the face of so much zealous resistance."
    More than you think.
    I also appreciate your comments and info.

     

    DLTBGYD!
    26 Jun 2012, 03:25 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Magounsq,

     

    Thank you as well... But you used an initialism that I'm unfamiliar with... What the heck is "DLTBGYD"?
    :)
    26 Jun 2012, 03:32 PM Reply Like
  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2770) | Send Message
     
    Glenn
    DLTBGYD
    Don't Let The B------- Get You Down
    (Insert your favorite B word)
    26 Jun 2012, 07:58 PM Reply Like
  • JRP3
    , contributor
    Comments (8176) | Send Message
     
    Good thing you're not zealous at all ;)
    27 Jun 2012, 09:00 AM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » JRP3,

     

    I'm knowledgeable and correct. If a person encountered a dozen or so others who were convinced that 2+2=5, and that person then endeavored to correct those people he/she encountered... the word "zealot" would not typically be the word used.

     

    "Stubborn", or "adamant" perhaps... But in my case this is NOT an opinion or belief. It's an understanding based on a far greater level of understanding and familiarity with the topic in question.

     

    Another example - one that would be more relevant: When I'm encountering people who "don't believe in global warming", I simply try to correct them; I UNDERSTAND that climate forcing is an unavoidable consequence of increased percentages of GHG's in the atmosphere... When I encounter people who believe that global warming will be the end of the world as we know it, I argue with them, and am quite zealous in my belief that the consequences will be manageable and have a high but achievable cost to accommodate - hence we need to be careful that we don't strive for "solutions" where mitigation costs exceed probable accommodation costs.

     

    ;)

     

    In one case it's a factual and incontrovertable understanding based on greater knowledge, and in the other it's a belief based on partial knowledge that I can debate and be zealous about.
    27 Jun 2012, 10:10 AM Reply Like
  • marketquant
    , contributor
    Comments (1272) | Send Message
     
    > global warming

     

    Glenn,

     

    I've downloaded and read Chapters 2, 7, and 8 of the IPCC report on global warming (technical chapters). Personally I cannot imagine how someone can be confident about any of it after reading those chapters. I'm not trying to be difficult, the world could be toast in the foreseeable future, but having done a lot of non-linear modelling myself, I know that non-linear models with feedback can go off the rails as a result of one single bad input.
    27 Jun 2012, 01:36 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Marketquant,

     

    You're looking at the details - which I admit we don't know enough about... I'm looking at the underlying physics.

     

    There MUST be an energy balance for any independent body that receives energy... That energy will either be released at an exact balance with incoming energy - in which case the energy state of the body will remain the same; or that energy will be released at a slower rate than incoming energy, in which case the energy rate of the body will rise; or the energy will be released at a faster rate than the incoming energy, in which case the energy state of the body will lower.

     

    This is a fundamental law of physics, and it is not nor can it possibly be in dispute.

     

    In an isolated body, the energy is received and released through radiation. We absorb energy from the sun over a broad range of frequencies... but other than the reflected energy, the only way that the Earth/atmosphere (treated as a single isolated body for this model) can release energy is via radiation. At our current energy state (~290 K), the predominate emissions frequencies are in the infrared range.

     

    We know from several MILLION repeated experiments (no exaggeration) that H2O, CO2, CH4, N2O, CFC's, and several dozen other air molecules have a specific property that allows them to "absorb" energy from the infrared spectrum, so as concentrations increase in the atmosphere, some of the released energy from the Earth/atmosphere body is re-absorbed by the shell of the body and conducted through convection currents back to the surface of the planet... which means that our energy state (temperature) must increase to a point where our blackbody radiation levels are high enough to achieve balance with incoming solar energy despite the fact that some larger percentage of that radiation energy is re-absorbed.

     

    There is NOTHING that can be disputed with the above. The rate at which the climate would change vs a gradual heating of the deep ocean is not well understood, Nor is it well understood how increased energy in the atmosphere will impact weather conditions, nor is it fully understood how quickly the increased energy will be absorbed by the enthalpy of phase change in melting ice and how quickly that will impact albido, nor do we fully understand how quickly thawing permafrost will release additional methane into the atmosphere, nor how expanding plankton growth may increase the absorption rate of CO2 into the sea... nor hundreds of other feedback systems.

     

    But we know without a shadow of a doubt that the energy state of the planet must increase as GHG's increase within the atmosphere. That's why Earth averages ~40 K warmer surface temps than the average surface temperature of the moon - which receives the same average insolation as the Earth.
    27 Jun 2012, 03:24 PM Reply Like
  • magounsq
    , contributor
    Comments (991) | Send Message
     
    Glenn/froggey

     

    'at's it!
    27 Jun 2012, 05:22 PM Reply Like
  • Nick Butcher
    , contributor
    Comments (806) | Send Message
     
    I think MarketQuant is talking about possible non-linearities that could (for example) lead to global cooling even in the presence of increased GHG concentrations such as, for example, the changing weather patterns resulting in significantly increased global cloud cover... with the resulting increase in albedo leading to significantly less heat absorbed by the lower atmosphere... possibly leading to decreasing temperatures, increased snow cover, further increased albedo, and another ice age. So we don't know 'without a shadow of a doubt'... as the increase in GHG's may trigger other feedback mechanisms that we don't understand.

     

    I don't think that's likely - my thinking roughly matches what you describe. But it does highlight that there are rarely certainties... only varying levels of probability/confidence based on known conditions and theorized system models. Some of the hundreds of feedback mechanisms you mention may be strongly negative. Maybe.

     

    Interestingly, what we DO know with very high confidence is that at some point in the past GHG levels were higher than they are now... and the planet subsequently cooled.
    27 Jun 2012, 05:34 PM Reply Like
  • marketquant
    , contributor
    Comments (1272) | Send Message
     
    > underlying physics

     

    There just doesn't appear to be an easy way to scale the micro-physics into a macro picture.
    27 Jun 2012, 06:47 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Nick,

     

    It seems like you're reaching REALLY hard here... But you are mis-applying the postulate of high cloud formation as a negative feedback. First and foremost, no-one has ever postulated that cloud formation would drive temperatures lower than what would be seen at lower CO2 levels... The idea is that the cloud formation would cause the temperature increase to be less severe - but since it's temperature that affects the vapor pressure of water and hypothetically would drive additional cloud formation, if temperatures began to drop to lower-CO2 levels then the additional clouds would cease to form and temperatures would rise again...

     

    Most of that was largely debunked in 2004 anyway (I'll see if I can find a subscription-free link to the Science article).

     

    But as far as past temperature/CO2&CH4 levels... other than very brief episodes (years or decades) involving large volcanoes or meteor strikes, I'm unaware of any prehistoric event where it is postulated that cooling occurred in a higher GHG total GWP world. The ice core data and seabed data that is available all indicate that CO2 levels dropped - THEN temperature dropped... temperature changes always lagged CO2 changes, as would be consistent with the Law of Conservation of Energy and Mass. That's not a law that can be broken.
    27 Jun 2012, 09:34 PM Reply Like
  • Glenn Doty
    , contributor
    Comments (1116) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Market,

     

    That's the beauty of physics, it scales naturally. Or at least it scales naturally within several dozen orders of magnitude (yes there is some non-convergence between relativity and quantum mechanics, but scaling from a few cubic meters to a thousand-trillion cubic meters is 100% predictable and mathematically certain). That's one of the principles of the empirical reductionist philosophy that is "science"... the equations must yield repeatable results regardless of the quantity of whatever (energy, mass, volume, etc..) that is being investigated.
    27 Jun 2012, 09:43 PM Reply Like
  • marketquant
    , contributor
    Comments (1272) | Send Message
     
    > cloud formation... 2004...

     

    Jasper Kirkby's CERN work wasn't even approved until 2006. And the first publication of partial results was in Nature (August 2011).

     

    You really need to see a presentation by Kirkby (about an hour).
    http://bit.ly/MCs074

     

    Pay particular attention to the slide presented at the 24:44 mark (slide #15). Slides #20 and #22 are also interesting.

     

    The sad thing is that Kirkby's work could show that the Earth is toast and that there is *nothing* we can do about it because it is almost completely natura