LH wrote: fishndoc wrote:
The lifecycle value of potentially eliminating gas usage is probably ~$12,500 ($3/gal * 24mpg * 100,000 miles). The lifecycle electricity cost is ~$2,400 (40 miles with 8 kwh = 5 mpkwh; 100,000 miles / 5 mpkwh = 20,000 kwh * $0.12/kwh). The net lifecycle savings is probably ~$10k.
But... I would contend that the average life of a new Corolla or Civic, properly maintained, is closer to 200,000 miles, and also the milage would be closer to 30MPG if driven carefully.
Add in the cost of needing to replace batteries at least once, and also the likelihood of a new tax to make up for lost revenue, and the cost of use is not so different - not to mention the significantly higher initial purchase price.
Pollution? Probably a significant difference there, but have to remember you will likely be using coal electric generating plants, so more pollution there.
I'm not saying the electric car is not a good idea, and costs should drop with time and improved technology, but it's not as big a "win" as many would have us think.
Yeah, I think the key is to get the technology going. At some point, we will run out of oil, or it will become strategically difficult to get, or economically too expensive. Its good to have ethanol, electric, and such as possibilities. Shale oil is there too at some point in theory, buts its great to see things we can use now. Brazil cars basically do 85 percent ethanol now, and we could drop sugar cane barriers, and get even cheaper ethanol here in a pinch. I just wish we would get more nuclear plants, wind and solar are nice, but baring some breakthrough, I just do not see them as doing much percentagewise of usage with present technology. Nuclear, plus electric cars, could really help out now if things got bad in the near to midterm future, but we gotta build the nuclear plants, and that does not seem to be happening.
Electric cars, will have to see how they are, but its GREAT to see them being in production for sale. The stuff I was reading about the battery issues in the past several years, they seem problematic, maybe they have got a lot of that ironed out.
That 230 thing is goofy though.
Just on wind, 20% of US electricity from wind is possible within current technology. The DOE under the previous administration did a very good report on it. That is achievable by 2030.
The main issue is extending the grid. The US has a weirdly balkanized interstate grid-- countries of the US size and technological sophistication generally have a much more integrated grid. With long distance DC power lines (again widely used in Russia, Latin America, Africa, Quebec) you eliminate most of the power loss.
Solar is, I agree, not competitive except in specific situations under current technology. (solar water heating is competitive in most localities in the US, but that's a different issue: heat is a relatively low quality type of energy compared to electricity, in terms of what you can do with it).
On nuclear the problem is the scale of the subsidies.
First 4 new reactors will received $18.5bn of loan guarantees between them. Already the utilities are saying that is not enough, so one or more will drop out.
Now the US has 104 power reactors, producing about 20% US electric power.
Suppose these are all replaced over 20 years, which would be a titanic feat given the order time for the pressure vessel is 4-5 years at the moment (only 1 French company, and 1 Japanese, can make them) and the first 'new nuke' won't be operational before 2016 (the Finnish one, using the same technology is 2 1/2 years late). The problem is that the resources of skilled labour and the component manufacturing capacity just don't exist, worldwide, any more.
So 5 reactors a year, gives us 105 by 2037. That's a similar completion rate to what was experienced in the mid 70s (I think the peak was 12, but the average about 5). They will have, on average, 60% higher capacity than the existing fleet BUT electricity demand will be higher so it should be about a 20% share of US electricity production in
If they are each subsidized by government loan guarantees, that is a minimum guarantee, unless something changes, without inflation of $500bn.
Note there also has to be an electricity subsidy or price guarantee-- otherwise no utility would take on the financial risk: it's just too big. The new reactors (the first ones) will receive a per kwhr subsidy under current legislation.
Now costs per kwhr estimated for the 'nuclear revival' have doubled since 2001, to around 12 cents/ kwhr wholesale (to get to retail you would need to add 4-5 cents, typically). That's actually more expensive than the best sited wind plants now. This may fall a bit (say to 10 cents, but ignoring inflation) as we get more experience building the 3rd Generation.
When you add up the numbers, the investment simply to keep US nuclear capacity at the same level is titanic (no existing reactor is likely to be operating post 2040ish).
And then there is the unsolved nuclear waste, locational issues etc. Water supply has become a massive issue: during the 2003 heat wave, the French were shutting down reactors because the rivers were too low.
The French haven't solved the waste repository situation either.
It's not to say it is impossible, but it is somewhat unlikely.
I expect the US nuclear revival to reach c. 8% of US electricity consumption: ie c. 40 new reactors built over the next 20 years or so.
By contrast the unit size in wind (1 turbine) is relatively simple. So you can build the things incrementally IF you can get the grid access. You do need big grids (in case the wind isn't blowing in your part of the Continent) and you need gas fired power station backup. 'smart grid management' can help a lot: my parents have a tariff which lets the utility turn off heavy energy users (air con) for 30 minutes in any 2 hour period.
The link in to electric cars is that the utility will 'lease' your battery back to you. When it needs power, it will draw on your car battery, and will reciprocate by charging you very cheaply.
If you put a reasonable price on carbon emission, then wind (and nuclear, if everything goes right in the construction of what is one of the most complex things known to man) is competitive with gas and coal fired power stations.
Beyond about 20% penetration by wind, grid stability can become an issue. But we don't know: on some days, 50% of Spanish electricity production comes from wind.
The problem wind and nuclear have is they are not 'despatchable' ie they cannot be summoned by the grid operator to meet demand instantaneously. Coal and gas fired stations can be 'on demand', firing up in seconds for gas, and as little as 30 minutes for coal out of 'spinning reserve'.
The US happens to have the best onshore wind resource in the world in the Great Plains (along with Scotland and parts of China). It would be a shame to waste it.
On solar, I think the breakthrough will be very cheap solar cells 'thin films' that are lathered over every building and rooftop.
If I had to sketch US power production in 2035 say, I suspect it will look something like:
15% or so wind
10% or so 'other renewable' eg cogeneration, biogas, solar photovoltaic
15% or so nuclear
the other 50% or so will be fossil fueld, but fossil fuel with some form of carbon capture and storage.
You could leave an 'x factor' for new technology: cheap solar roof tiles, domestic fuel cells etc. Up to 20%.