Billions of Stimuli for Electric Cars a Fallacy
In France President Sarkozy has committed €3,5 billion (over US$ 5 billion) to develop electric cars and to have over 2 million Electric Vehicles (EVs) on the road by the year 2020. France has an advantage because 80% of their energy is nuclear generated and consequently their electricity is the cheapest and greenest energy in the world.
“The Obama Administration is eager to establish a green auto industry and is willing to spend money to make it happen. So far the U.S. Energy Dept. has agreed to lend $8.5 billion to help companies large and small retool plants to make more fuel-efficient cars and develop new technologies. On Sept. 22, the Energy Dept. announced the latest such loan: $528 million for a Silicon Valley start-up called Fisker Automotive that vows to produce 130,000 plug-in hybrids by 2013.”
All these billion dollars is typical for Washington and France, rob the taxpayer to enrich your friends (Al Gore) in this case.
A better alternative for this investment money is the funding 100 plus companies with $50M each to be used to make breakthrough innovations in green fuels as for example synthetic fuel made from coal, which is plentiful available all over in the world while those fuels are greener than green when generated form nuclear energy.
Other innovations to be pursued could be smaller batteries with larger storage capacity, solar applications, and wind-turbines. If such companies created viable innovations further funding would automatically follow from the industry. Unfortunately Governments have zero accountability and taxpayers are like sheep.
After the Bush years of Greenhouse gas emission denial, the Obama regime rode to office promising the greening of the world especially in America. Spending couples of billions on seemingly un-lucrative projects to keep his promise.
17.5 trillion was spent to bail out the Wall Street gamblers on their scam "fiscal products". Who cares if 8-10 billion goes to car industry and don’t create a return on investment.
A better alternative could be the funding of educational initiatives for 'green' houses and importantly focusing on water and energy conservation, maybe by applying passive solar energy, from roof panels. Here these billion could create valuable return on investment. Further offering rebates to encourage property-owners and housing co-operations to retrofit old buildings with more efficient windows, etc.
If EVs are the future, why do they need government money? There should be plenty of investors interested to jumping at the chance to make money.
Supporting this eccentric electric car nonsense would take an exceptionally green wallet, and is definitely not guaranteed to make the planet any greener at all.
The Electrical Car itself is not high tech. The only high tech is the battery technology. If the electrical car is really high tech, why are so many Chinese companies such as BYD been able to produce electrical cars even before GM and Toyota did? As pointed out by the Chinese government, the reason they put more resource on electrical cars is that it is easier for them to catch up because there are no technology hurdles except the one for batteries. Everyone can build electrical cars if you get capital.
But much better lets first make a good marketing study to find out whether the average customers want to buy those cars, against which price and against which conditions establishing the necessary technical requirement and usability.
Fast-charging electric cars kill the electric grid, charging electric cars with off-peak power is a fantasy.
Fast recharging times generate lots of excitement, but what seems to be forgotten is that they can lead to a fabulous amount of peak demand.
How many extra power plants are needed to build if electric cars are introduced on a large scale? According to ‘Eco-tech’ advocates, that matter is solved: none.
Their argument is: Electric vehicles can be charged at night. Many power plants have a surplus of energy during the night "off-peak production capacity" because demand is low and generators keep spinning. And when we all start driving electric cars, oil consumption will plummet to zero and electricity production will remain the same is their reasoning. Of course this is mathematically an impossibility!
To bring those arguments into better perspective, below details and arguments are quoted from: Low-tech Magazine:
“If you charge an electric car with a battery capacity of 25 kWh during 8 hours, it needs a power output of 3,125 watts. If you charge the same car in just 10 minutes, it needs a power output of 155,000 watts.
Charging at night?
Electric cars, however, do not have the backup of a gasoline engine and an infrastructure of petrol stations for longer distances. If we can only charge them at night, the range of our vehicles would be limited to 100 miles (160km) per day, or only half of that when the cars are driven at high speed. There are some electric cars that have better mileage: 220 miles for the Tesla Roadster and 150 for the Mini E - but both have no back seat since that space is taken by the larger battery.
The standard answer to this drawback is that the average commute in the US is only 33 miles, so in most cases the limited mileage of electric cars will be sufficient.
1,000 power plants
The study from Oak Ridge National Laboratory also calculated what would happen if all plug-in vehicles would be charged at 5 pm instead of after 10 pm. In this worst-case scenario, the US would need to build 160 "large" power plants (and the related distribution infrastructure, of course). Note: this concerns plug-in hybrids, not fully electric cars, and this concerns a penetration of only 25 percent, not 100 percent.
Electric motors are more efficient than gasoline engines, but the problem is not total energy consumption, it is peak load.
A complete conversion to plug-in hybrids would thus require 640 extra large power plants. The researchers do not specify what they consider to be a "large" power plant, but this must be around 1,000 megawatts, which boils down to the need for another 640 GW of power plants. That is almost a 65 percent increase of the existing US electricity generation capacity.
Fast recharging time
This is the worst-case scenario considered by the researchers, where all drivers plug in their cars at the same time and at the worst possible moment of the day. That will never happen.
Yet, there is another scenario that is much worse and is not considered by the researchers: a fleet of fast-recharging fully electric cars.
A vehicle that needs 6 to 12 hours of charging to drive just 1 or 2 hours will never appeal to the larger part of the public. The automobile stands for freedom of movement, so electric cars will never catch on unless they have at least a similar recharging time to that of a gasoline car (one of the reasons why they disappeared one hundred years ago).
Manufacturers of electric cars and batteries know that, and that is why most of them are pushing faster recharging times. Combined with an elaborate infrastructure of charging spots, this would largely overcome the problem of limited autonomy. We would still need to recharge more often than with a gasoline car, but at least it would be possible to drive further than 100 miles from home, and to leave anytime you want.
Several manufacturers and researchers have already announced recharging times of 30 minutes or less, which would bring refueling time quite close to that of a gasoline car. This is only possible through a high-voltage current outlet. Fast recharging times generate lots of excitement, but what seems to be forgotten here is that they come with a price - you have to pump in more energy over a shorter time, which can lead to a fabulous amount of peak power.
You cannot solve this issue with better batteries - in fact, you can only make it worse.
If you charge an electric car with a battery capacity of 25 kWh during 8 hours, it needs a power output of 3,125 watts (3.1 kilowatts x 8 hours = 25 kWh).
If you charge the same car in just 20 minutes, you need a power output of 75,000 watts (75 kilowatts x 0.33 hours = 25 kWh).
This corresponds to the energy output of 220 plasma televisions of 340 watts each. This amount of energy is required over a shorter period, but it has to be available.
If you lower the recharging time to 10 minutes, the energy output will be 155,000 watts (155 kilowatts x 0.16 hours = 25 kWh). This equates to 450 plasma televisions.
It will be clear that fast recharging times, even if they are used only by a relatively small amount of drivers, will only be possible with a massive extension of our electricity generation capacity.
There are 220 million private cars in the US. If the complete fleet would be plugged in at the same time it would need 34,000 gigawatts, or 34 times the existing electricity generation capacity of the US. This will never happen, but it compares to "only" a 65 percent increase of the power capacity in the slow-charging scenario above. A large fleet of fast-charging cars will melt the grid.
Charging just 6,500 of these vehicles (0.003 %) simultaneously in 10 minutes will require an energy-output comparable to that of one large power plant.
If one in a thousand of these cars (220,000 vehicles or 0.1 %) is charged simultaneously in 10 minutes they will need 34 gigawatts. And one in a 100 cars charged simultaneously will require a total energy output of 340 gigawatts. The question is not how many cars will be charged together on average during the day, but how many of them will be charged together at any possible moment of the day, month or year.
The energy infrastructure has to be prepared for the highest possible demand - for instance, when everybody wants to drive to a large sporting event. Also, don't forget that someone who wants to make a trip of 500 miles will have to charge the battery 5 times. Because of their shorter range, electric cars need to be refuelled much more often than gasoline cars.
There is no way around this problem. You cannot solve it with better technology - in fact, you can only make it worse. Better batteries with higher capacities may lower the amount of stops at charging spots, but they will raise the amount of peak power required for one charge.
Electric cars are not refrigerators - but many calculations of their energy requirements treat them as if they were.
The fundamental problem (and we have noted this before) is that electric cars are wireless. Trains, trams (streetcars) and trolleybuses do not have these problems, simply because they do not need a battery. Their energy consumption is spread evenly over their operation time.
People keep saying that electric motors are more efficient than gasoline engines, and that's definitely true, but the problem is not total energy consumption, it is peak load. Electric cars are not refrigerators - but many calculations of their energy requirements treat them as if they were.
There is only one last way around the mileage problem of electric cars: swappable batteries (another part of the infrastructure proposed by "Better Place"). This would mean that the batteries could be charged at night at refueling stations, and thus provide instant off-peak power during the day. There are two problems with this.
Firstly, we are not talking about a handy laptop battery here. The battery packs of electric cars easily weigh 100 to 500 kilograms, which means you will need a machine to get them out and back in again. Moreover, the batteries are not always placed so that you can easily swap them - in many electric cars they are underneath the floor, to optimize weight distribution and centre of gravity.
Secondly, all batteries would have to be the same, and achieving such a standard is both technically and commercially very unlikely. If it doesn't work for laptops or mobile phones, then why should it work for cars? "A Better Place" will make use of standardized vehicles, but the day that we will all be willing to drive the same car, we would probably also not mind leaving the car altogether and - finally - get on a bike, a tram or a train.”