I cannot imagine buying something that would force me to pay more than about two cents per mile and add the extra effort of stopping at gas stations. I wake up with a full battery every morning and just drive until I get back home and plug in. If I need more power during the day I stop for lunch and plug in while I eat.
And sacrifice performance? I went to the Chevy "Main Street in Motion" event to test drive their selection. It really made me appreciate the advantage of a direct drive with no transmission. There is no delay from the EV accelerator peddle to action, and no shifting. I was glad to get back into my truck, even after the Camero and Corvette.
Re. military, supplying fuel for armor and aviation is one of the toughest logistical challenges, and a primary consideration in military planning. If any of the solar/electric/hydrogen schemes, such as the Nocera's photodissociation hydrogen fuel cell, pan out it would have a huge military importance.
And once more 'general' comment :
I believe that market forces are the strongest incentive to directions in behavior, and the government can only have limited influence in that. That is why certain 'solutions' to certain 'problems' will simply not be implemented, no matter your or my opinion.
As engineers, all we can do is recognize that liquid fuel is more expensive than solid (or gaseous) fuel when it comes to creating 'work'. With that in mind, moving vehicles away from liquid fuel and towards to grid (like EVs) makes a lot of economic sense.
Besides, with oil being the first of the big three fossil fuels to peak (and then decline), it's time we start working on a vehicle fleet that can has an alternative fuel source besides oil. That's a third incentive to start working on converting our vehicle fleet to the grid.
Thus, when seen from a fincancial, foreign oil dependence, economic, long term strategic and even carbon footprint point of view, Obama's plan to stimulate EVs and PHEVs make a lot of sense.
Thanks again for you notes and insights.
I share your commitment to remove distortions of facts to suit agenda's. In fact, I'm very much a technologist, and have been blamed for having no opinion nor ideology at all. This particular post reports Obama's commitment to reduce imported oil usage, and is not about CO2 emissions, nor cleaning the grid, nor climate change.
With that objective in mind, increasing vehicle efficiency helps, but one would have to quantify how much that helps the goal of reducing oil imports. For example, when you purchase a modern diesel vehicle (instead of a gasoline powered one) you increase your efficiency by some 25%, so you help reduce oil consumption by 25%. When you buy a hybrid, you reduce oil consumption also by some 25%. If they were available, diesel hybrids would actually reduce oil consumption by 50% compared to standard gasoline ICEs. But when you buy an EV, you reduce oil consumption by a full 100%.
So for Obama's objective to reduce oil imports, EVs have the highest value.
Now of course, you can have the opinion that we should reduce carbon emissions (to reduce effects of climate change), but that is a different agenda, and one that is probably better supported with a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system. The latter failed to pass last year, and thus cleaning the grid is now left up to market forces alone.
Incidentally, if you accept the DOE studies that powering and EV from coal based emits approximately the same amount of CO2, and you accept that the grid is currently only 50 % coal based, with the remaining 50% (nat gas, nuclear, hydro etc) much lower in carbon emissions, then EVs will also help reduce our CO2 footprint by some 50%. Even more when these EVs will run in California, which relies only 15% on coal power.
So EVs help on two sides. Not just do we reduce oil consumption, but also we reduce CO2 footprint by more than other alternatives (such as diesel or standard hybrids).
kkersey said: "Most people won’t pay these huge lump-sums"
Likely correct. Even if it saves them money in the long-run, most folks don't look at finances beyond next month. And while most won't pay the huge lump sums, they also are not willing to change anything about their lifestyle for conservation. EVs give people a way to keep their fast-paced, sit-on-the-couch lifestyle while leaving a smaller footprint (one that gets smaller every year as the grid is cleaned up).
For the record, I paid $40,000 total for a new car and a solar system that will provide my fuel for the rest of my life. This was in 2002-2003. My PV + EV was probably my best investment ever. When we had no income last year, we were still able to motor around when we had to - at zero fuel cost... and able to use our electric devices in our home, with zero electric bill. What a blessing that was!
Rob: Yes, combined cycle plants are very efficient (up to 58%) I hope all new plants are like this. There are currently only a few out there. They are costly and burn only natural gas. They’re essentially 2 power plants – gas turbines+steam turbines running off the exhaust heat. To drive home my prior points in more simplistic terms – take Darell’s situation. He has solar panels and an EV, and is basically 100% off-grid. This is nirvana vs. fossil fuel usage - kudos! If everyone did the same (assuming solar power was practical everywhere), we would be in good shape. It also presupposes that every consumer would pay ~$30K for panels plus $10-20+K premium in car price. Let’s analyze this scenario more deeply. Take away the EV. The solar panels still give the grid the same amount of fossil-fuel-free energy. Great, the benefits are still there. Now, instead, take away the solar panels: your EV shifts your car’s energy from oil to mainly coal+NG. This is OK…but you’ve paid a large car premium and made huge practical concessions and not reduced fossil fuel or CO2 footprint hardly at all. The “benefits” are mainly from the green power sources, not the EV. The EV makes little difference in how much fossil fuels are used, until the grid (or your “personal grid”) is powered by things other than fossil fuels. The only way to get off of fossil fuels is to have BOTH the green grid sources and either EV’s, or alternately cars that burn green fuels (future success tbd). The corollary point is that about 50% of current oil consumption could be rather easily cut by more vigorously pursuing efficiency enhancements in our transportation system and lifestyle. We can get halfway there without even worrying about EV’s at all. All this hype about EV’s is the cart before the horse, and is a waste of money at this time. Most people won’t pay these huge lump-sums, but some visionaries and zealots will choose to.
Sorry for more blab - but I need to clarify a few things from my prior 2 posts: 1. "For additional cost (~$30K per household)" = buying home solar panels. 2. When I said "push hard on efficiency improvements" - I mean USA policies that encourage both behavioral / lifestyle changes as well as higher car MPG. 40-50 MPG is easily available NOW without much cost premium (Prius / VW TDI), and can be further improved (esp. with better aero car bodies and slower freeway speeds). Compare to 20 MPG fleet avg now...this can save 50% oil usage right there...without a single EV. 3. Since 50% of the grid is powered by Coal (and won't be changing significantly soon) - then my mentioned alternate of coal-to-gasoline conversion accomplishes nearly the same thing as an EV does today....without requiring new cars at all. (possible short-term stopgap only). see: www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a3SIXbVZ8JiE
Some reading materials: 1. a more recent version of USA energy flows www.llnl.gov/news/newsreleases/2010/images/energy-flow-annotated.pdf 2. Interesting info on the amount of processing gasoline takes. Also shows what Chemical engineers can do (relevant to solar syn fuels): http://fatknowledge.blogspot.com/2007/02/how-many-gallons-of-gasoline-in-barrel.html 3. EV's aren't necessarily cheaper per mile. California's energy is very expensive mainly because we have lots of renewables content (but Washington has tons of hyrdro power: http://vator.tv/news/2011-01-14-ev-costs-in-ca-outweigh-gas-prices#
I think we all agree that we need to get off fossil fuels, and coincidentally reduce CO2 emissions - the big question is: How ? Given that we are so deeply addicted now.
Rob: If you haven't already, pls read my prior comments to see my view. Although individual postings may appear otherwise - I'm not anti-EV. I am against distorting facts to suit agendas (not saying you are). I'm using my most brutally honest judgment on the most practical path to get from where we are to a green future. There can be various valid viewpoints. I think that we would not be far apart on the goal...but paths and timing vary. Let me clarify: Path#1: build a million EV's ASAP. Result: we use less oil (good). We use more coal (bad) and more natural gas (a little bad). We are still dependent on fossil fuels, but have shifted away from oil (good). Cost: ~$7.5K govt incentive (tax dollars) plus approx. $10K price premium per car vs. what a conv equiv. car would cost. 1Mcars=$17.5B. For additional cost (~$30K per household) individuals can achieve fossil-fuel independence. Now we can incrementally convert the grid to renewable sources. Path#2: Leave cars ICE for now, but push hard on efficiency improvements. If we need to reduce oil consumption quicker, consider stopgap of coal to gasoline conv. Take the billions of dollars that would have been spent on early EV's and building more Coal power plants and instead divert it to building renewable grid sources NOW and renewable liquid fuel sources. At this point, if the green fuels happen - we didn't even need to convert to EV's and put up with the big trade-offs. The grid will now be at a much greener state. At this stage (30+ years hence), EV's can indeed offer significant benefits (because the grid will be largely green). EV's and renewable fuel ICE cars can coexist, as well as airplanes, long-haul trucks, etc. which couldn't have changed to EV anyway. Does this make some sense; can you see how it gets us faster down the road to fossil fuel independence? I guess the weakest point is that the solar-synthesized liquid fuel technology is not reality yet.
Wait a minute. Now everything is the Obama Administration responsibility. Where was the idea of Secure Energy Future during previous administration? So now Obama has to clean-up past administration mess and solve the world problems. That is too much to ask of any administration. We just have to continue to work hard to solve problems as a team.