As I suspected …

One of the questions that I have asked repeatedly when blogging about electric cars, both here and at my personal blog, is how will we generate and distribute enough affordable electricity to keep electric cars running? Recently, the Detroit Free Press asked the same questions:

When a Chevrolet Volt is plugged into a 240-volt outlet, it will use about 3.3 kilowatts of power, or about the same amount of power as a dishwasher or air conditioner.

Most people are already familiar with what can happen when thousands of air conditioners are plugged in and running at the same time during the summer: brownouts.

“The last thing we would want is for everyone to come home … and plug them in at 5 or 6 o’clock on a hot, muggy summer afternoon … when we are at our peak,” DTE Energy Chairman Anthony Earley Jr. told the Free Press in an interview last week.

And then there are other challenges: What happens on road trips when drivers need to recharge the battery? What if you live in an apartment without a garage and electrical outlets?

As electric vehicles grow in popularity, so do the challenges.(emphasis added)

Naturally everyone’s energy consumption is different, but during the hottest days of summer (July – September), air conditioning adds about $250 extra dollars a month to my electric bill. My head hurts when I imagine an electric bill that includes air conditioning plus 8 to 12 hours of charging per day for two electric cars.

That added power consumption (hundreds of gigawatts, at a minimum) is going to require a massive overhaul and expansion of our electric power generating capacity and distribution grid. Yet concurrent with their push toward battery-powered vehicles, the Obama Administration is openly advocating a “cap and trade” carbon emissions tax plan that would drastically increase the cost of electricity produced by coal-fired power plants. Right now, coal-fired plants produce 57% of America’s electricity. Which policy will take precedence? We can’t have both. And which ever one we choose, how are we going to pay for it?

After re-reading a lot of my posts about electric vehicles, I realized that I probably have created the impression that I am 100% against them. That’s not true. Electric vehicles have quite a few advantages. For one, their design allows them to be very efficient torque converters, which means that they have the ability to provide precise acceleration very quickly. They also do not emit smog-producing hydrocarbon emissions.

But the American way of life — where we live, where we shop, where we send our kids to school, where our kids play soccer, where we go to church, where we travel, etc. — is directly linked to the gasoline-powered automobile. Electric car supporters often point out the relative ease with which we abandoned animal power in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in favor of gasoline power. But the advantage of gasoline powered vehicles over old-fashioned horse power was abundant and obvious. The switch-over was immediately rewarded with a myriad of improvements — speed, comfort, safety, payload capacity, etc.

In stark contrast, the electric cars that we have seen over the last thirty years offer very few improvements. In fact, they mostly offer an unimpressive mix of compromises and limitations — limited passenger space, limited (or non-existent) cargo space, limited speed, reduced safety, reduced range, and so on. And when you add even basic extras, accessories that we don’t even think twice about using on a gasoline-powered vehicle (heat, air conditioning, sound system, windshield wipers, headlights, running lights) performance is limited even further.

The extent to which gasoline-powered vehicles, and the range of their performance, impacts our daily lives as Americans cannot be underestimated. Replacing those vehicles poses an enormous technological and financial challenge, one that our government needs to prove that they fully understand before they commit to something that we may deeply regret later.

The Obama Follies
April 19th
  • GarandFan

    Michael, you’ve pointed out what I’ve been saying for some time; “Team Barry hasn’t actually worked out all the DETAILS yet.” Guess it’s part of Obama’s ‘vision thing’. Cap and Trade should be ‘knee cap and trade’ as that is what it will do to our energy generation and production capabilities. Have talked to several people who’ve seen ‘wind farms’. They refer to them as visual blight and compare them to the highway billboards that have been outlawed in most states. As for solar farms, anyone got some spare non-farming land the size of Rhode Island that it anywhere near major population centers? Democrats wail about jobs fleeing the country. In order for our businesses to remain competitive, there will be a stampede. Cost of food and everyday items will skyrocket. Unless of course, Barry’s got some magic unicorns that can spin grass into electricity. That way we won’t have to build any of those nasty nuke plants that other countries have coming out of their ears. BTW, if I were to use an all-electric car to visit the grandkids, instead of an 8 hour trip, it would be a 3 day trip. Got any ‘refueling’ stops in the middle of the Arizona desert?

  • MPR

    The proponents of all electric cars could care less about the impact to the economy. It sounds wonderful that we should all have them. After all we consume so much electricity for our life style we need to use less. As HugObamalala said, “We can’t go around with our thermostats set at 72 and using more than our fair share of energy without the rest of the world being upset with us”. We need to be as dark as N.Korea is at night because, otherwise we are being wasteful. It’s a political agenda that HugObamalala wants to force on the country.

  • jpm100

    I don’t think anyone, including the pro-electric vehicle crowd expects their to be 10 million electric cars charging overnight in their garages in the next year. And if charging does become primarily an overnight phenomena, electrical generation plants will actually even out their load actually being more cost effective for the equipment. All the sources, primarily coal and natural gas, will be in more demand. As a consolation, Gas should become cheaper.

    And all that being said, with $2 gas there aren’t going to be widespread adoption of electric cars anytime soon. With $6 gas there will begin to be. Anything above that and there certainly will be. That’s how its suppose to work.

  • The unseen problem with the Volt and other electric cars is the use of Lithium Ion batteries.

    50% of the worlds lithium resources are in the country of Bolivia whose President Evo Morales has previously accused the US of trying to assassinate him.

    Then there is the “slight” problem of what to do with thousands if not millions of Lithium Ion batteries when they reach the end of there lifespan.

  • MPR

    HugObamalala will see to it that we pay a lot more for gas in the near future. With his spending failing to help the economy he will tax the country in every way possible.

  • GarandFan

    “We can’t go around with our thermostats set at 72 and using more than our fair share of energy without the rest of the world being upset with us”.

    This from the guy who keeps the West Wing at 85 degrees during the winter. Or as Axelrod said, “you could grow orchids in there”. But we were told to excuse The One, after all he grew up in Hawaii. WTF, isn’t he the same guy who’s lived in Chicago for years and was telling others to ‘man up’ during the freezing spells last winter?

  • Mac Lorry

    That added power consumption (hundreds of gigawatts, at a minimum) is going to require a massive overhaul and expansion of our electric power generating capacity and distribution grid.

    That’s just not true. As the number of electric and plug-in hybrids climes the easy solution is to require a special plug that’s connected to a switch that the electric company can turn on an off as needed. Many electric companies already offer such switches for consumers who want lower energy prices and are willing to have their AC and electric heat connected to such a switch.

    The electric grid is designed to handle peak loads that are many times higher than typical loads. Thus, just a simple switch that restricts changing to non-peak hours solves most of the problem. With the use of such switches the current grid can handle an electric of plug-in hybrids in every single family home in America.

    Note that the Chevrolet Volt is not a pure electric as it includes an on-board generator that burns gasoline when the battery is low. That means it has no range restriction as you can fill up just like any other car. The savings comes from the fact that the majority of Americans drive less than 40 miles a day. In such driving the Chevrolet Volt uses no gas.

    If there’s a power outage, the Chevrolet Volt can supply power to your home if you have a transfer switch installed. In fact, it would have enough power to run 5 or more homes if you wanted to run extension cords to you neighbors.

    The advantage of vehicles like the Chevy Volt is that electricity can be generated from any source such as coal, oil, gas, nuclear, wind, and solar. That flexibility is the key to future passenger transportation.

  • Hmmmm, food for thought:

    Some months ago President Sarkozy of France had an identical idea and commissioned a report on the prospects for turning Renault and Citroën into producers of mass-market electric vehicles. The report concluded that “the traditional combustion engine still offers the most realistic prospect of developing cleaner vehicles simply by improving the performance and efficiency of traditional engines and limiting the top speed to 105mph. The overall cost of an electric car remains unfeasible at about double that of a conventional vehicle. Battery technology is still unsatisfactory, severely limiting performance”.

    Someone remind me again who it is that gets more energy from nuclear power plants than anywhere else on the planet.

  • James H

    Here’s one possible resolution to the “how do you charge” question.

  • mac lorry – “The electric grid is designed to handle peak loads that are many times higher than typical loads. Thus, just a simple switch that restricts changing to non-peak hours solves most of the problem. With the use of such switches the current grid can handle an electric of plug-in hybrids in every single family home in America.”

    Oh really, sorry to say I have my doubts.

    As for your “simple switch,” yeah great. Half-way thru your Volt charge and the gov or power company flips the switch and you’re screwed for x number of hours.

  • James H, so his answer is to, at least, double the number of batteries it takes to operate an electric vehicle. The most expensive part on an electric vehicle if I’m not mistaken.

    That says nothing of the added cost of the additional hardware that needs to be installed at one’s home of place of business/work.

    Gotcha.

  • James H

    Did I link to the right article? The one I was looking for was an entrepreneur who wants to create battery-changing stations; essentially, instead of constantly charging their cars, people would pull into a station and change out the battery.

  • The current electric grid could charge quite a few electric cars so long as they charge between midnight and 6:30 in the morning. The generation and the grid are sized to handle peak load time, usually in the evening when everyone is home, running lights and TV’s, cooking, washing dishes and such. The peak to valley in daily load is something like 30%. After midnight is a consistant valley ,”off-peak”, in the jargon of the electric utilities. This means 30% of the national generating capacity would be available for car charging.
    The power companies would offer “off-peak rates”, on a separate meter, to clever chargers smart enough to know the time and only switch on after midnight. It’s not asking all that much cleverness on the part of the charger; your VCR was able to do the same thing recording program while you were away.
    Major problem I see in the Chevy Volt is the price. It’s forecast to cost as much as a Caddy DeVille. Diehard greenies will buy it but a plain gasoline Malibu will be more economical for folk who just want to drive to work as cheaply as possible.

  • jake

    Definitely if every household in America switched to plug-ins today the grid would be totally screwed; no one doubts that. However, that isn’t going to happen. Plug-ins are expensive and gas prices are low. Which means the adoption rate would be extremely slow (even slower than hybrids). That should give us plenty of time to slowly build up grid capacity.

    The argument over offpeak and smart charging can go either way. You can argue the additional load will totally fry the grid. But you can also argue the additional balanced night demand gives power companies much more incentive to increase capacity to handle peak loads. The smart grid idea works simply by the user typing in what time they need the car to be finished charging, that way the car is always ready when needed, and the power company can eliminate a huge load when they need to. If battery life-cycles continue to improve, the consumer might not even mind if the power company pays the user to use capacity from the battery pack, which aids the grid further in peak conditions.

    @marc
    The DOE reached a different conclusion:
    http://www.pnl.gov/news/release.asp?id=204

    I tend to trust a DOE study over one done by a new organization formed in 2007.

  • Ernie

    The advantage of vehicles like the Chevy Volt is that electricity can be generated from any source such as coal, oil, gas, nuclear, wind, and solar. That flexibility is the key to future passenger transportation.

    You don’t understand, with 57% of the electricity coming from Coal and Cap and Trade will Increase the cost of that power and maybe redue it. Right now I pay 11 cent a KWH with the taxes on Coal that hould double or triple. With only 37% of the power at can come from Green power (not counting Nuclear) you will be paying a lot more for Energy and that may mean not enough power to supply the country.

  • bobdog

    Electric makes sense in some respects. It will be a very fashionable way to get to the annual Dork Convention. Who knows? You might even get to meet such world famous luminaries as Ed Begley, Jr…

  • Wanderlust

    Here again is another so-called “good idea” that dies a horrible death the moment that the “good idea” requires significant manipulation of the markets to achieve.

    jpm100’s comment about needing “$6 gas” is a glaring example. It’s obvious to me that jpm100 simply has no idea of all the socio-economic effects on the public of arbitrarily raising the price of fuel to meet an artificial target.

    Compare and contrast: in 1970, the general public did not have to be convinced that tailpipe pollutant emissions were “bad”. A significant body of evidence linked emissions of unburned hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen, and carbon monoxide to that of poor air quality in major cities, with LA being the worst in the US. The public readily identified with an immediate benefit of reducing smog from the air. That being said, though, it took over 15 years for automakers to reach a point where vehicle emissions were “clean”, compared to the baseline. I recall a statistic given in the early 1990’s that, in the 14 years from 1973 to 1987, automobile emissions of the “bad three” pollutants were reduced by 97%.

    Engines have become many times more efficient through this process. The Left typically focuses on fuel economy standards. However, the market wanted vehicles that were not only efficient in fuel use, but offered more power than their predecessors. Horsepower ratings as a function of fuel use are much higher now than back in the days of the “muscle cars” of the early 1970’s.

    The problem now, though, is that the public does not identify with “global warming” as a threat, unlike the way it did with airborne pollutant emissions, because in this case, there is no identifiable effect on the public health. None. Aside from silly claims made in the media, “global warming”, “climate change”, etc., etc. produces no discernible health effects – and – all the “fixes” mooted for this so-called “threat” do nothing to discernably improve the public health. That is why no one is willing to pay carbon taxes or any kind of cap & trade fees.

    Another example is airbags (supplementary restraint systems, or SRS) in cars. When they were first invented – by GM, no less – the automakers did not want to add them because the public did not recognize the benefit of paying over 25% more for the average car with them installed (airbags added $800 to the cost of a car in 1973, when the average car cost less than $3,500). But insurance companies were able to demonstrate that with widespread deployment, airbags would reduce injuries in crashes – a payback – and that this payback would need a regulatory boost to be achieved. Congress offered the public another payback as well when it mandated SRS systems: it raised the national speed limit back to allow travel at speeds close to that which was legal prior to the Arab oil embargo in 1973. With eventual universal implementation, unit costs came down, and insurance costs came down as well. Implementation again had a discernable benefit to the public health, and the benefit could be tracked financially. As a result, modern cars are far safer now than ever before.

    By comparison, electric and hybrid vehicles are still in their technological infancy stage. Problems with fuel distribution (grid capacity), supply (lithium for batteries), and disposal (or what to do with all the batteries when they reach the end of their useful life) have not been solved. Worse, the Obama administration is pushing “electric” cars without doing anything to increase grid capacity, in either increased generation or increased line transmission capability. And the administration has refused to consider addiing nuclear power generation capacity to the grid, which is far and away the most efficient means of electrical generation over time. Period.

    I’ll happily consider an electric, fuel cell, or hybrid vehicle when the issues of grid capacity, supply, and disposal after the fact are worked out, provided those solutions come from the market and not from the heavy hand of government intervention. Until then, I’ll keep driving a dinosaur burner, thanks.

  • james h – “Did I link to the right article?”

    You sure did, and my point stands.

    That system would require additional hardware to be installed at home, or at work. I.E. the robot, in addition to having to purchase extra batteries.

  • jpm100

    jpm100’s comment about needing “$6 gas” is a glaring example. It’s obvious to me that jpm100 simply has no idea of all the socio-economic effects on the public of arbitrarily raising the price of fuel to meet an artificial target.

    I don’t know what you’re talking about. Gas was almost $5 less than a year ago. It could easily be back there in a year. And who knows 2 years down the line.

    Personally I don’t think its healthy and the recession we’re in was to some degree caused by the high oil prices, imho.

    But we’ve chosen to do nothing about high gas prices. We won’t drill. We won’t build refineries. We just stare at OPEC’s price fixing with our mouths open. We have Obama looking like he’s going to slap Cap and Trade on us.

    Price of gas remaining $2 would be nice, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it staying there either.

  • jpm100

    As for your “simple switch,” yeah great. Half-way thru your Volt charge and the gov or power company flips the switch and you’re screwed for x number of hours.

    That’s were the Volt comes in and covers you by defaulting to Gas operation.

  • Jake McKee

    Thanks for the detail on this post. It’s a very good point… in fact, it’s hard to know what’s the best option, all in. I want to do good by the planet and our surroundings but I don’t know how to truly evaluate. For instance, I know that the twisty lightbulbs last worlds longer than the old style, but which has more environmental impact to manufacture? Which has more problems being disposed of?

    It’s tricky and I admire the desire to get the process improved overall. Personally, the reason I like electric cars, even plugins, is that we have to start somewhere, and my hope is that if we create efficient cars, then we can push the fixes down the line. If the cars are awesome but are putting strain on the electricity grid, then let’s fix the grid. If the grid becomes totally solid but something else is problematic down the line, then let’s fix that. Push push push. You have to start somewhere.

  • Ernie

    The only way to produce the power needed is for more Nuclear Power Plants. These plants only have 20 years of life left and not plants being built means more coal plants will need to be built. Our Congress will not put Solar Panels where it will work the best, wind power has been worked on by DOE for the past 20 years, still have not found the best way to use them. This Government Does not want to help us in any way. They are only paying off the people that elected them. As Michelle Malkin has stated a lot “Were Screwed”.
    My CO Congress men have said no to Nuclear Power every time I have brought it up.

  • MacLorry, your comment raises some interesting points. But I can immediately see a problem with the solution that you outlined — what happens if your car battery is low and you need to charge it during the day for use later that night? If your electric company “turns off” your charging outlet during peak usage times, then what do you do? Are you just stuck? Again, we would be asked to give up freedom and flexibility that are not even second thoughts with gasoline powered vehicles.

    Your point about the Chevy Volt being able to power your home during a power outage is obviously an advantage. But what about the flip side? What happens if there is a natural disaster (here in Oklahoma we have ice storms in the winter, and severe wind storms or tornadoes in the spring) that interrupts power delivery for days or weeks. About six or seven years ago we got hit with a severe windstorm in May that took out our power for nearly a week. That would essentially mean the end of personal transportation, until power was restored.

    Ernie, I think that nuclear is absolutely the way to go if we are going to switch to an electricity-based infrastructure. The technology is affordable and — unlike solar or hydrogen fuel cells or wind power — it is fully developed and ready for immediate implementation. But the same people who insist on ending fossil fuel use and switching us over to electricity are also, by and large, the same people are fiercely opposed to nuclear energy. So once again we are stuck.

  • Wanderlust

    19. Posted by jpm100 | April 19, 2009 9:35 PM

    Agreed. I misunderstood the point of your previous comments on the topic.

    I believe that the US *could* become almost self-sufficient in its crude oil requirements, compared to its dependency on imports being so high at present, *if* Congress and Obambi simply allowed companies to drill within CONUS, Alaska, and offshore fields. Huge deposits in OCS, ANWR, Colorado, and North Dakota come to mind. Such drilling within the US would create jobs and prevent capital flow to countries that continually act against our national security interests.

    But I’m preaching to the choir here. Various flavors of short-sightedness and greed conspire to dampen our economy and pay our enemies to wage war against us. And life goes on.

    I agree that if oil prices go up, hybrids and electrics could become more attractive options; however, such attractiveness comes at the overall expense of dampening the country’s economy.

    Obambi isn’t looking for solutions. He’s got other plans, and I haven’t seen anything about those plans that suggests good outcomes for us. But he does get to grow a majority voter base that is completely disconnected from the country’s costs, while being increasingly dependent on the country’s largesse (provided by the minority who actually do pay taxes)…beware.

  • Wanderlust

    23. Posted by Michael Laprarie | April 19, 2009 11:08 PM

    Michael, a couple stats for you in regards to the nuclear power argument.

    First, from Rio Tinto PLC (which I used to work for in New Zealand, and who runs uranium mines in Australia and Namibia: pound for pound, uranium is 26,000 times more efficient than coal.

    Second, environmental footprint. If you want a clear, eyeball view of how much land that hydro power requires vs nuclear, have a look at Google Earth in North Carolina. Lake Norman is the man-made reservior for the Cowans Ford dam. This facility produces 326MW. Right next to the dam is the McGuire Nuclear Station. Hardly a speck by comparison to Lake Norman, this facility generates 2,200 MW.

    Consider the tiny amount of fuel required for McGuire compared to the huge lake needed for Cowans Ford. Substitute it for the land use required for any other generation method to offer 2,200MW to the grid.

    Until such time as fusion power is a business reality (which I don’t believe it will be, given the current means by which fusion is being researched, but that’s another topic), nuclear power is the most efficient generation method, hands down.

  • cirby

    A couple of notes:
    Jake: The study you cite is a bit different than you think. They claim that the excess capacity at night could charge 70% of the “light duty vehicle” fleet, sure, but there are a few problems. For one, they point out that the west coast doesn’t have enough extra capacity to do so. They also do a lot of handwaving about running plants 24/7 – a lot of our “excess” capacity needs to shut down on a regular basis for maintenance. You can’t just leave a lot of that running. Average capacity is one thing, the problem is that by adding a significant load (about 30% of current, er, current), you make power spikes and surges into systemwide shutdowns, instead of brownouts over small areas.

    They also do a little dodge by using “plug in” hybrids instead of pure electric cars. This assumes a much, MUCH lower power demand, since a plug-in hybrid takes a small fraction of the amount of power that a full electric car does (they assume only a partial charge each night).

    If you use a pure electric as the standard, charging becomes a much bigger problem. Instead of a couple of hours at dishwasher-level electric power, you have eight to twelve hours of a load equal to the entire rest of your house added together… which means the “midnight to 6 AM” plan won’t work (about 90% of all houses will need to be rewired for the increased load, to boot). It also means that if you have an overnight power failure, much of the population won’t be able to come to work tomorrow.

    Building extra capacity? Sure. It’s going to be coal or nuclear. Probably both. And lots of it. If more than a couple of percent of the population is going to plug-in hybrid or full-electric cars, we need to start planning those power stations in, well, about 2002. You can’t plan on solar – it would add power, but only in daytime – when the grid is already pushing out max power, and adding generating capacity won’t help without a major rebuild.

    With the new “CO2 is a pollutant” EPA, what do you think the chances are that we’re going to get even one of those coal or nuke plants on line in the next five years? or ten?

  • bobdog

    $20,000 for an electric golf cart. That’s not a very Smart Car to me.

    I’ll buy one when Charlton Heston buys one.

  • James H

    Marc:

    The way I read it is a little different. You wouldn’t buy the robot for home or for work. Rather, you would have battery-changing stations similar to gas stations now.

  • Tim

    James, the way I read it also seems akin to the propane tanks we use for grilling and such. You don’t actually buy 2 tanks, you swap your empty for their full one. Still, you’d need a LOT of those stations, and the car companies would have to come up with one battery design and stick to it. So what happens if a breakthrough is made in batteries? Some cars will have the old batteries, some will have the new. The changing company would have to stock and be able to recharge both, and would need to have enough of each on hand to meet demand. I like the idea, but it still needs work.

  • James H

    Tim:
    I’m certainly not going to argue that the idea is workable immediately. Like any other radical technology shift, it will take time. I think of it as similar to the transition from leaded to unleaded fuel in the 1980s. For a while, gas stations had separate islands for leaded and unleaded vehicles. Over time, unleaded vehicles became the norm, and leaded fuel islands disappeared.

    Whether you’re talking about lithium-ion batteries or dilithium crystals, the fist challenge is to get the automakers to adopt a standard. That, I think, would not be too difficult. Competitors in other industries (movie production and distribution, for example) have adopted common standards over time. Same applies here.

    I would argue that even if the idea needs work, that shouldn’t stand as a bar to the first stages of implementation. If we constantly block implementation by saying something “needs work,” then we forestall development and improvement.

  • Mac Lorry

    Marc,

    As for your “simple switch,” yeah great. Half-way thru your Volt charge and the gov or power company flips the switch and you’re screwed for x number of hours.

    You seem unaware that many people and businesses already uses such “interruptible” service. With the Chevy volt or any other plug-in hybrid this is not even an issue. It only means you will burn some gas the next day. However, most of the time you’ll be able to get a full charge overnight.

    As for the power grid being under stress, that’s true for times of peak power, but in most of the U.S. there is plenty of capacity to power plug-in hybrids off peak.

    For the future, plug-in hybrids and solar power go hand in hand. Within the next decade installing 3 to 5 peak kw of solar power on a home’s roof will become economically viable. As such installations become widespread it mitigates both the daytime peak generation and the distribution problems that are becoming critical on the west coast. As solar gains ground in other parts of the nation there will be an excess of daytime peak power that can be used to charge batteries. One design for electric and hybrid cars incorporates and easy means of swapping a depleted battery with one that’s charged. That or charging stationary batteries allows solar power to be used for electric and hybrid cars.

  • Mac Lorry

    MacLorry, your comment raises some interesting points. But I can immediately see a problem with the solution that you outlined — what happens if your car battery is low and you need to charge it during the day for use later that night? If your electric company “turns off” your charging outlet during peak usage times, then what do you do? Are you just stuck? Again, we would be asked to give up freedom and flexibility that are not even second thoughts with gasoline powered vehicles.

    That’s true only for a pure electric car, which is not what the Chevy volt or other plug-in hybrids are.

    Your point about the Chevy Volt being able to power your home during a power outage is obviously an advantage. But what about the flip side? What happens if there is a natural disaster (here in Oklahoma we have ice storms in the winter, and severe wind storms or tornadoes in the spring) that interrupts power delivery for days or weeks. About six or seven years ago we got hit with a severe windstorm in May that took out our power for nearly a week. That would essentially mean the end of personal transportation, until power was restored.

    The Chevy volt or other plug-in hybrids burn gas if the battery is low, so there’s no disadvantage. If you have power but there’s a gas shortage as we have seen with some hurricanes, you can still drive your Chevy volt up to 40 miles per charge.

  • Mac Lorry

    You don’t understand, with 57% of the electricity coming from Coal and Cap and Trade will Increase the cost of that power and maybe redue it. Right now I pay 11 cent a KWH with the taxes on Coal that hould double or triple. With only 37% of the power at can come from Green power (not counting Nuclear) you will be paying a lot more for Energy and that may mean not enough power to supply the country.

    It’s not just the power from coal that will go up under Cap and Tax. Newer coal plants produce no more CO2 per kWh than NG or oil plants, so the price of power from all of these will increase. The hope for many will be advances in solar that make it economically viable to install 3 to 5 kW peak solar generation on a home’s roof and generate your own power for your plug-in hybrid or pure electric car.

  • Allan N. deLaubenfels

    The valid comparison is to a horse and buggy, not to a gasoline powered vehicle. From a historical perspective, oil will be gone from the earth in a flash of an eye. We can never replace it with such an abundant source of energy with what we know now. Energy will be available but at a much higher cost and less convenient to use.

    Get used to it and GET READY. Those who follow will pay a terrible price if we do not. Right now, electric power seems like the best possible available alternative. It is useless to compare it to an alternative which will shortly be gone. Of course, we may get lucky with an invention which we don’t know about yet. But it is too early to bet on that.

  • There are some good things happening in fusion power:

    Bussard’s IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained

    Not a sure thing but if it works costs will be 1/20th that of ITER and similar projects. The US Navy is doing the funding BTW.

  • The hope for many will be advances in solar that make it economically viable to install 3 to 5 kW peak solar generation on a home’s roof and generate your own power for your plug-in hybrid or pure electric car.

    And since most charging will be done at night homes will use special cells that collect dark energy.

    Or you have a choice: air conditioning or going to work tomorrow.

  • Tim

    And since most charging will be done at night homes will use special cells that collect dark energy.

    Or you have a choice: air conditioning or going to work tomorrow.

    But night charging with solar is much more efficient, because everything runs cooler.

  • Mac Lorry

    And since most charging will be done at night homes will use special cells that collect dark energy.

    Not from special solar cells, but from stationary batteries that are themselves charged by solar cells during the day. You know, like the thousands of off-the-grid homes that use solar for power 24/7. It’s not rocket science, but you do have to engage the brain just a bit more than it takes to type stupid comments.

  • Paul Hooson

    On one hand, those electric cars and motorbikes have darn decent torque engines which is a real plus. On the other hand, my gasoline low mileage Jeep Cherokee, thirsty Oldsmobile, or two 2 stroke motorbikes give me freedom from plugging into some wall for hours like those electrics.

    Besides adding significant new electrical grid power to recharge these vehicles, a real good issue is the cost of their operation. I had a nearly $600 electric bill a few months ago when I used some electric heaters around the house when the furnace wasn’t working too well. People’s eyes will bug out if these electric cars cost a heck of a lot more than gas vehicles to run. And then there’s huge battery replacement cost every few years as well. Heck, my small engined Benelli 2 stroke motorbike gets 62 miles per gallon by comparison and goes 50mph. That’s fairly good economy right there, and a lot simpler than any electrical vehicle to service.

    Not only providing more electrical power, but providing cheap electrical power will be huge issues with these electrical vehicles.

  • Not from special solar cells, but from stationary batteries that are themselves charged by solar cells during the day. You know, like the thousands of off-the-grid homes that use solar for power 24/7. It’s not rocket science, but you do have to engage the brain just a bit more than it takes to type stupid comments.

    Great. You now need a battery that is bigger than your car battery (to make up for losses) and associated battery power conditioning eqpt. to make your solar electric car go.

    If I can get all that for $100 dollars it will be a wild success. If it costs $100,000 it will be a toy of the rich.

    And then there is the cost of battery replacement every 10 years. Not to mention the danger of the occasional battery fire. Not to worry. You build a concrete bunker for the batteries. That will cost you an extra 10 cents.

    The question at this point is not: can it be done. The question is: what will it cost?

    I kind of like super flywheels for energy storage. However, not much work is being done in that area.

    And figure this: electricity at 10 cents a KWh is about equal to $2 a gallon gasoline in terms of distance traveled. Solar electricity now runs 30 cents to 50 cents a KWh. Do the math.

    The price of solar is still coming down. So there is hope. But now is not the time for government subsidized change.

  • I read this blog via a posting on EVWorld.com. May I suggest that the author visit the site and follow the many links that will lead him to reliable information on EVs, photovoltaic installation rates, improvements to the US electrical grid and several other points that he has wrong?

    Photovoltaics are beginning to be offered as a $5,000 add-on for new-home construction.

    EVs can outrun and out-pull internal-combustion vehicles. Once we have the choice to buy highway-capable EVs, they will rapidly replace millions of petro-fueled polluters. EVs also run for less than a nickel per mile, need almost no service and will free us from foreign oil dicators.
    Breathe free!

  • Paul

    God you people are ignorant! Do you really think the Detroit Free Press is a reliable source of unbiased info on EVs???

    The DOE released details of a study they did on EVs that says the grid can handle 180 MILLION EVs right now without any added capacity. Seeing as it will take seveal decades to get anything like that many Evs on teh road …. this subject is dead!

    Look it up on Google if you doubt the numbers.

    Do some actual RESEARCH before going public with ignorant opinion… you won’t lose so much credibility!