Tesla, which is often knocked for the price tag on its original Roadster, above, continues to refine its technology and drive down the cost of the batteries, according to CTO and co-founder JB Straubel. (Source: Tesla)
I agree that currently 90% of our electrical energy is created by fossile fuels. However, electric motors are vastly superior in efficency to internal combustion engines. Gas engines get around a maximum of 20-35% efficiency where as electric motors are closer to 80-95%. You also can recoop some of the energy when braking with an electric vehicle, not so with one that is powered by gas. When you look at equivalents there is data that supports that you produce half as much CO2 with a hybrid or electric car compared to a gas car. Also, if we can continue to promote cleaner energy production (natural gas, wind, hydro, solar etc.) this enviromental impact will continue to go down. Something has to be done as we continue to increase the number of vehicles on the roads and potential drivers (china, india, etc.) we can not contiue to burn gas. Starting now means you have a chance to start to curb the trend toward electric vehicles. Most cars have a life expedancy of 10-15 years, so what you buy today will impact the environment for the life of that vehicle. If we want to change things 20 years from now, you have to start changing things in the next 5 years.
Also, when looking at enironmental impact you have to look at the cost to build the vehicle and batteries. Right now the impact of building a battery can be very costly, not only in $$ but also in environmental impact. There are new batteries being worked on (aluminum based) that have 2-3 times the density of lithium ion ones, but they years away right now. Also, the hope is that the new batteries will be less expensive and more environmentally friendly.
Over the last 11 months I have logged 11,000 miles on a LEAF with no issues. I installed a 2.7kw PV system ($10k net cost) to power the car. I am on schedule to payoff the PV system in less than 5 years. We have 3 drivers with round trip commutes of 60, 11 and 2 miles. We fight over the LEAF. Next goal is a pure SF Bay solution (Tesla S from Fremont, SunPower PV from Richmond and Enphase from Petaluma). We have great local products that have good ROIs.
Badgerfan: Yes electric motors are very efficient 97-98% compared to ICE, BUT how efficient is the coal fired plant supplying the electricity? We're decades away from wind and solar providing more than about 10-15% of our load. The best steam turbines are only about 40% efficient. Gee, that EV maybe isn't so good after all. Oh, did we talk about transmission and distribution losses in the grid? What you will find is that the old, nasty ICE isn't so bad after all when you look at the big picture.
There are GE H Class turbines for combined braton and rankine cycles that get 60% thermal efficiency and even with the worst coal (with scrubbers), EV's are still better than petro for emissions and there are health benefits to moving the tailpipe out of the city.
While PV might only make 500wthrs/day that is enough for bicycle style E trike to go 20 miles!! It's far better to put the PV on the home roof.
That said I'm about to build a 32' trimaran sailboat to move aboard where I belong but got thinking it would be a great PV powered boat with lots of area, stability and low drag, thus power needs.
On US electric power last month broke the record for lowest coal use, now about 39.7 % of US generation. Fact is coal while more cheap is 35% less eff than NG cogen plants. And the new ones can throttle down to 50% eff thus relieving theb need for grid storage except in rare cases.
Nukes is 20% of US electric with hydro, RE making about 10%. In most places night time when EV's get charged is mostly nuke and hydro.
They just foreced utilities to cut any powrplant that wasn't eff and that cuts out about 50% of them so coal will increasingly be less of our power, down to 20% of US electricity in 10 yrs which is about the time enough EV's to matter will be on the roads
Most EV owners now either make or buy RE power. Ev's are so eff the slight extra cost buying the RE isn't a problem.
Facts on car eff is gas cars only get 7% of the tanks energy moving the car down the road. If you don't understand why you should be commenting here on this. Look up part throttle eff, etc.
Luckily EV's are 20-65% eff depending on energy source from powerplant/RE fuel to the road. The above from EIA, EPA websites among many others who value the real facts. The posts here that have little basis in fact make me think some oil, coal paid flacks are trying to spread their propaganda.
We can stay on oil and keep having oil recessions, wars one after another killing our economy as it did time and time again.
So let's get to costs. As Telsa admitted to their low Li battery costs it's hard to see how other keep[ talking aboyt $700/kwhr vs real life is between $250-400/kwhr pack complete.
Today was my 4th ride in my new Harley Servicecar size EV trike and working out great using under 1 kwhr to go 20 miles, $.11 for fuel, and I haven't started optimizing it yet. This EV will cost me about $120/yr to run for everything, electric, battery, tag my biggest expense so about $2/wk. So go ahead and keep knocking EV's and paying for gas, just remember me smiling as I drive by paying $.005/mile for fuel ;^P
A few weeks ago, Ford Motor Co. quietly announced that it was rolling out a new wrinkle to the powerful safety feature called stability control, adding even more lifesaving potential to a technology that has already been very successful.
It won't be too much longer and hardware design, as we used to know it, will be remembered alongside the slide rule and the Karnaugh map. You will need to move beyond those familiar bits and bytes into the new world of software centric design.
People who want to take advantage of solar energy in their homes no longer need to install a bolt-on solar-panel system atop their houses -- they can integrate solar-energy-harvesting shingles directing into an existing or new roof instead.
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