This is just more silliness coming out of Generous Motors to try and market their $250,000 taxpayer supported cars to the general public.
Like Solyndra and so many other Green Boondoggles government supplements will not get past that fact that a Kilowatt hour is a commodity as is a horsepower-hour. These commodities provide necessary engagement with daily logistics (getting to work) and it is considered mostly on a cost bassis.
A reasonable gas sipping car may not have the MPG or Dollar per HP efficiency of a pure electric (depending on what your local utility rates are) but when I need to get into traffic at 70mph and I want to drive 200 miles in one day on a whim or an emergency basis, I can do it. All the E-glory in the world isn't going to make me feel good enough to get rid of these basic requirements. Lets not get me started on collision safety..
This whole Green experiment would be a cute senior class project and would be forgivable under purely academic excercises at the collegiate level. But when a very average engineer like myself can compute the cost logistics of Solar PVC, Electric cars, Wind, et cetera in about 5 minutes and prove it's cost inefficiency, there is no excuse for corporate and government cronyism conspiring to burn taxpayers or stock holders money on projects that only wishful thinking green- apparatchiks or the vanity of elites with money to blow can afford.
There is no good old college try here... When you are dealing with peoples lives, physical pretection and money, you'd better hit the mark without an "overcoat" of Marketing Shenanigans covering up the true economics.
Totally. The idea today is that the renewables are backed up by conventional grid power plants. But that fails as renewable energy becomes a significant part of the peak capacity. Or if the grid peak load and the renewable peak output don't align well.
There are utiltity-scale flywheel farms going in to deal with this; one in New York last year and a new one being built in Pennsylvania. These are very efficient, and the modern flywheel units are designed to last 25+ years. And unlike most renewable sources, or other energy storage systems like water storage, these can be located just about anywhere, in particular, closer to the load than the energy collection/generation.
As many of you might be aware of we in Germany already have a pretty high amount of renewable energies in our grid and have made the decision to stop using nuclear energy at all. This has led to a couple of issues with which we are dealing right now.
The infrastructure of our grid is not adequate to transport the energy as it is required when feeding substantial amounts of renewable energy. This is due to the fluctuation oin the availability of solar energy, weather and time of the day, wind to when there is wind and when not. Additionally great wind parks are being build off-shore and this energy needs to be transported i.e. to the south of the country, etcetera.
Here comes the point where a concept of intelligent recharging using the batteries in the cars as a depositorywhere to store energy when there is too much of it. Something similar is already being done with smartmeters in household devices like washing machine or heating. When energy is in surplus the smartmeter informs the household and starts running the machine. Imagine a car recharge, either during the stop at home overnight or during the day at work. You let the system know the car will be conected for a couple of hours, please make sure its charged by the time I pick it up again, but please do charge when energy is cheap.
While true, it's not correct to compare renewable energy harvesting (wind, solar, hydroelectric) efficiency to fuel use efficiency. There's an effectively infinite supply of wind and solar energy; we're getting better at capturing it, but even if we're only 20% efficient, it's not as if that other 80% were going somewhere useful to mankind anyway.
On the other hand, if I had an actual 30% efficient ICE (engine, maybe, but who;e car, well to wheel? Not likely... about 15% for an ICE and 20% for a diesel, maybe 25% for a Prius-type full hybrid), I'd save real, in-hand energy going to a 45% efficient system. 3-phase AC electric motors themselves can hit 95%+ efficiency, but until the batteries can deliver more than 85% charge-cycle efficiency, the car itself looks improvable, even at 80% or so overall. And that's before you consider the efficiency of the grid, plus other aspects of power generation (pollution, global warming, etc). The best fuel to plug efficiency is probably natural gas, at just over 50% efficiency.
I have said it before here, the REAL issue that needs addressed is to move away from an "on demand" electric energy mentality to meaningful STORAGE technologies. Alternative energy sources, by their nature, need to be gathered whenever they are productive, and shunted into an efficient storage system. I favor kinetic myself, but other ways would work. Then you could reduce peak demand pressures on the utilities. There doesn't seem to be a high-level push to do the research on these...yet.
This really does seem like a gimmick. Yes, there's a small bit of renewable energy being put into the grid. There's also a small bit of renewable energy being pulled from the grid. The only way you can be sure that you're getting those "spraypainted green electrons" is to live in a place that allows you to contract with a 100% renewable energy company. Where I live, in South Jersey, there are a few such choices, including the Atlantic City Wind Farm. These also require parting with a little more green... the money kind. I pay about $25-30 more per month to buy energy from a renewable supplier than just take from the grid.
And of course, what this means is that my money for power goes to the renewable supplier. In theory, they're putting as many of those green-colored electrons into the grid as I and other subscribers are pulling out, if not more. At best, Chevy's plan is counting on making you feel good about charging your Volt during one of those "more" periods.
The Volt, on the other hand, is one possible first step toward being able to drive on renewable power. Most users won't until there's more renewable power. In fact, if every consumer in the USA switched to BEVs tomorrow, the capacity of the US power grid would have to double... and that's not going to happen with windmills and waterfalls, not that fast. So it's good this grows, but grows at the right pace. But the possibility of running on renewable power doesn't exist for most vehicles; even my 2003 Prius is simply managing fossil fuel better to give me 40-45mpg and lower emissions... it's still running on dino-juice.
Wind power is locked into a lemming idiocy with those extremely low efficiency 3 bladed fans of a design found in the bottom of the NASA drawing files dated 1946.
They are fun to look at but at less thatn 20% efficiency because of the absurd notion that flying is the answer we will get to see videos of them catching on fire and exploding when the Betz limit is readily achieved at 59% efficiency.
ICE Power runs at approximately 30% efficiency while electric motors can achieve close to 90% efficiency.
I guess that some people are going to buy a Volt because it will make them feel good that they are theoretically doing a little bit to help the environment. If the system tells that set of consumers that they are also pulling energy from renewable sources, it will make them feel better, and a happy consumer is someone that will buy from you again.
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