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EP: If you start building a nuclear power plant today, solar, wind and storage will have obviated it by the time it is ready to produce electricity.
Interesting no one noted Japan has some unique needs that most of North America does not. They have sources of petrol production, have mountainous areas with earthquakes that can isolate villages, and operate on two different electric grids with different cycles. Has anyone considered that the FC car offers emergency source of distributed power? You may not need it often, but it has some merit.
@Harvey, Congestion is a challenge, but 100 passenger vehicles or trains are not an answer. They need more stops, less frequency. Autonomous taxis in small radius to mass transit stops may help. I think PRT is more likely success with ADV's to get to periodic stops and serve the last mile needs.
Hydraulic and/or batteries are great for local driving, not so much for over the road. Unless we go to a Hyperloop, high speed train, or PRT system for intercity transport (products, not just people), we need other approaches. Fuel cells are one possibility. I am not good at predicting the future. I just can't rule anything out - particularly technologies that companies are spending millions of dollars on. Wait and see.
Arnold: Every technology has had man vs. machine at some point, back to John Henry. Actually back to the horse, but that may not be called technology. At first man wins, but over time, technology dominates. It will again.
What SJC said. PHEV's, once widespread, will use little fuel, whether gasoline or hydrogen. Most mileage for most people will be on battery. So the need for and distribution of filling stations will change dramatically in the next decade. Some, if not all, will dispense hydrogen.
Nordic. One problem is that all those few hours are the same ones. Electric cars, and self-driving cars will not solve the congestion problem. They can, however, solve the last mile problem for mass transit. Combine the two, and we could have a true transportation system, which would then, reduce the number of cars needed.
Lad is right. Safety and the cost of accidents will decline quickly as avoidance systems are implemented. We don't need new laws for that to happen, and we don't need perfection. Also, by not insisting on fully autonomous vehicles, the lawyers still have a responsible driver to go after in those few cases where there are accidents.
@ Lad: Cops don't stop drivers because they are drunk. They stop them because drive erratically while drunk. So if we eliminate the erratic driving, whether drivers are impared or not becomes a moot point. Everyone is safer. Works for me.
@ Alain I am not sure I understand your point about cheap labor, but emerging countries certainly have a shortage of dollars. Oil refineries and transport are very capital intensive (disregarding the cost of finding the stuff). Solar and Wind can be installed incrementally and locally with much lower capital cost, and the energy is available quickly. So, emerging countries will move more quickly to renewables than many developed countries.
The spike in oil prices may well come, due to lack of investment. But who is going to do that investing. International banks are already predicting huge stranded assets in fossil fuels. If I had a spare 10 trillion, I would put it in alternative energy, not oil. That means more volatility in oil, and faster adoption of low-mileage cars.
It is an immigration issue, not an economic issue.
@mohonj: You are correct, but they are certain to go back to China with the current US immigration laws. Anyone can come and pay tuition for advanced degrees, but then when they want to stay and build the economy, we send them away. Genius, for sure.
This is another step in the right direction.
@Henrick: I agree that BEV's are ideal for self-driving taxi's. But if the technology is developed for autonomous vehicles, then I think auto companies should not wait for Electric to make it happen. Driverless is the future, whether on current roads, or rails/PODS.
Engineers can argue the merits all they want. Until investors step up with money no NPPs will be built. And investors will not put up that kind of money until the Government guarantees the investment, and all risks. I don't see it any time soon.
Heavy loads can travel by train. Speed is rarely an issue for them, except in time of war. The key is a network. Autonomous Uber type cars for the "last mile" and first mile. Skytrain type automated taxies for local travel networks, and higher-speed (100 MPH) Skytran type transport for closer inter-city, like up to 300 miles. That would get you LA to Las Vegas in less than 3 hours will little or no wait on either end whereas Hyperloop, like Air would take 1 hr to the port, 2 hrs wait/security, 20 minutes travel, and another 1/2 hour to the final destination. Air, or perhaps Hyperloop for transcontinental travel. Both, as far as I can tell still require the amassing of a large group of people who want to travel from one point to another.
@ Sirkulat You might want to share your opinion with the Japanese. They are testing dirverless cars now.
@ NP The beauty is that not all areas have to have chargers at once. Silicon Valley now, but other areas can be added incrementally. We don't require a nationwide network to make EV's attractive locally.
With well positioned charging stations, we can solve both the range and inital cost issues (smaller batteries). I would buy an EV tomorrow if the cost was low enough and I could get to work everyday then charge at work. We have two cars, so one can be available for longer trips, at least for a couple of more years. I believe others would make the same type of decision if they could.
Subsidize charging stations, not batteries. If every employer and parking lot had a number of charging stations, few people would worry about 150 miles. <100 would be fine for most local trips, if you can charge while parked on one end. Maybe
The US in the dust, while the Presidential candidates argue about who has the prettiest face, or lacks email security. China will catch up.
I meant pollution not solution.
Not to worry about 10 Billion people on the planet. Nature will take care of that. She is already pissed about all the solution and global warming, but has barely begun to show it.