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This is, to put it mildly, hogwash. Many people make the mistake of believing the future will be very much like the past, and discount exponential technology growth. Which will come just in time to help meet the inevitable carbon regulations that we will finally pass when people--at long last--stop denying the obvious. Such regulations will price out standard ICE vehicles in favor of renewably powered electric ones. The only reprieve would be if carbon neutral liquid fuel begins to see mass production. Even then, the BEVs of the late 2020s will likely sport 1,000 mile range and superior performance. Why would anyone want an ICE? And with megawatt hour class batteries available, RVs, construction equipment and long haul trucks will see electrification, too.
The Leaf went deliberately aggressive at the cost of longevity. I would trade range for longer life. The Volt battery is likely good for at least 10 years. The Leaf is experiencing pretty severe capacity drop after just a few years. Commercial vehicles have got to be conservative.
Dave R, because they don't fully discharge the battery to preserve battery life. It's usually only about 66% of capacity. For example, the Volt has 16kWh capacity, but is only allowed to draw down 10kWh.
We're not just talking about 1 or 2 percent efficiency improvement. It leverages battery capacity much better and represents a major reduction in system complexity. And as mentioned above also has the potential to reduce the emissions profile. Big win.
CA has plenty of water if we recycle our wastewater, and implement strict limits on landscape irrigation (currently 80-90% of urban usage). Replacing lawns with drought tolerant native plants would save a tremendous amount. Going to drip irrigation has already begun in the Central Valley. If we still don't have enough, it should be possible to capture much of the rainwater which washes into the ocean in torrents during rainy season. We will be building out wind and solar in the Golden State--*not nuclear.* Distributed generation and smart grid technology will take advantage of the plummeting price of rooftop solar. We will need a number of grid energy storage stations, which in the aggregate will likely be far cheaper and safer to build than the $10 billion plus it would cost to construct any single nuclear plant. And electrified vehicles will double as grid storage. I look forward to the day when Diablo Canyon can also be shut down and CA will become nuclear free--while still maintaining at least a 50% plus renewable portfolio standard. Anyone who says we can't do that by 2050 lacks imagination. If I were a betting man, I'd bet by 2050, CA will be at 100% renewables--if not the nation. We don't have a population problem--and any references to deporting 'non-citizen aliens' and 'crime' are a frankly shocking throwback to the bad old days of Southern racism. CA in 2050 will be mostly brown, and probably governed by mostly brown (and formerly non-citizen) immigrants. They're not going anywhere. As a white Californian, I don't have a problem with that at all, and I hope I'm still alive to see that promising future. A future where we give our immigrants education and opportunity, and make them *taxpayers* instead of stigmatizing them as criminals.
This is bad news, indeed. Long haul trucking should be powered with swappable megawatt-hour class batteries. Spending a bunch of money to switch from one unsustainable fossil fuel to another is hogwash. Not to mention, *anything* which prolongs the fracking boom is terrible news for America's water table. What will we get, 5-10 more years of cheap truck transport? At what long term environmental cost? And what will these trucking companies do when the gas glut ends and prices rise to where they were 5-7 years ago? What short-term-narrow-profit-driven foolishness!
People here are missing the point. ELR is to Volt as El Dorado was to Impala. Cadillac has always been for people who wanted a Chevy in fancy trim. It's never been a particularly good value.
This paper is good. I love this quote: "A cat that sits on a hot stove lid will not do so again, but neither will it sit on a cold one." -Mark Twain "In September 2007, Lew Hay, CEO of FPL Group, said the total cost of a new nuclear plant (all in mixed future dollars as-spent) could be ~$5,000–7,000/kW, or “on the order of magnitude of $13 to $14 billion” for a two-unit plant. Yet just five months later, FPL31 filed formal cost estimates up to nearly twice that high—$12–24 billion (again in mixed future dollars) for a 2.2–3.04-GW two-unit plant, equivalent to ~$4,200–6,100/kW in 2007 $.32 And even that cost may be understated, because FPL’s implicit real cost escalation rate is only ~1.1–1.5%/y, severalfold slower than recent experience.33" SO @E-P and @Kit P, are you going to tell me that I couldn't build a renewable energy plant with storage sufficient to provide--say--25% of its rated capacity through the night for baseload for $4,000-$6,000 per kilowatt? And since renewable energy requires no fuel, are you going to tell me such a plant wouldn't be cheaper to operate than nuclear? http://www.rmi.org/Knowledge-Center/Library/E08-01_NuclearIllusion
OK, a couple of things: I agree that nuclear power is far superior to coal *so long as the waste is handled.* Also the station blackout threat has not been sufficiently addressed. Clearly, coal plants release more radiation from normal operation than nuke plants. However, running nuke plants is no longer just an engineering problem. It is way, way political. Therefore, by your description E-P, the management of SONGS pretty much sabotaged themselves. Kit P, this is the thing with China. Nuclear may be alive there, but that's because when the govt decides to do something, it happens. No public involvement. E-P, everything you described with nuke waste may be technically feasible, but not politically. Getting a coalition together to push waste disposal in *breeder reactors* (the only operating unit in the world was shut down--in pro-nuclear France) will be even more difficult than getting carbon regulation. And that's saying something. Kit P, I studied EE at Northwestern University. Is that good enough for you? There is nothing unfeasible about grid-scale storage. And we will need less of it than people think. Because of a lot of distributed solar which will be built once people understand that PV can be integrated into almost every building surface, including windows. And wind can be integrated into every new high rise. Zero energy buildings are completely feasible with existing technology. E-P, what about V2G? The way I see it, we're doing three things at once: Reducing carbon, getting far more efficient on the demand side, and going to distributed generation. These three factors will make central power stations less and less of a factor, though we still will need some of them. Kit P, when has a nuclear plant ever been built without federal loan guarantees? And check your insurance policy. Every single one has a nuclear accident exclusion. The government assumes all liability for nuke disasters. Not one insurance company will sell a utility indemnity from radiation releases.
Engineer-Poet, nuclear is dying. If we had built Yucca Mountain--*maybe* it would be worth saving. Otherwise it's a risky boondoggle to say the least, with nowhere to put waste that becomes a bigger problem every year. SONGS just destroyed two multi-hundred-million dollar steam generating units in a couple of years that were supposed to last 20 or 30. It's going to cost billions just to decommission the damn thing. I don't know what kind of incompetence led to the steam generator problem, but I hold *no hope* that nuclear will ever be cost effective again. Even with a carbon price. They still can't even get insurance or loans without government guarantees. And every new plant runs over budget immediately. The new units 3 and 4 at Vogtle are behind schedule, mired in controversy, and over budget.
Kit P, I think you're on the fossil payroll. It doesn't matter (talks like a duck...), in any case you're way out of step with the state of technology. Repeating the same old lies in the face of exponentially falling renewable energy prices and exponentially rising worldwide installations is beginning to sound more and more like desperation. About California, we have half the energy intensity of the rest of the nation per unit of economic output. So limit your own gasoline usage if you want. It might get you *equal* to where we've been out here for decades. As for me, I drive an electric car, so I could care less if you want to "ration" my gasoline. Or charge me $20/gallon. Or charge me a large per-ton carbon fee, *I don't care!* I'm getting more and more "carbon-proof" every year. CA is already at 20%--on its way to 33% renewables. If you say that "wind does not reduce the need for generating capacity" it means you *didn't even look at the EIA link that I posted.* Proving exactly the opposite. Nice try. As for your completely irrelevant sailing example, the wind is always blowing somewhere, and it blows strongest when the sun is not shining. What a coincidence! Sounds like synergy to me... Yes, $0.30/kWh is ultra cheap compared to what happens if we keep burning coal. Just ask the people affected by Sandy, or the Colorado floods, and on, and on. And $0.30/kWh is way too high as a comparison, anyway. I can sign up for a 20 year PPA right now to put solar panels on my house for a guaranteed price of $0.17/kWh. I don't do it because I can buy green power from CA for about $0.15. Next year or two, the curves will cross, and bingo, the money makes sense. You just dismiss grid storage with a wave of the hand. Is that how you evaluate everything else in your life? People betting against technology usually lose. And the carbon apologists are on the really harsh end of that losing bet. I don't know how you live with that kind of cognitive dissonance, Kit P. I'd get on the right side of history if I were you. Engineer-Poet, I completely agree, but in this political climate, it's a fair miracle that anything at all has been accomplished on carbon regs. This was never the Obama administration's preferred tool.
D = Troll. Bob is right, coal is done in America. Not so much yet in China, but even they are going to phase it out over the next decade or two. The coal export terminals in the US northwest will most likely never be built, nor will the KXL pipeline. Even Australia's coal exports are down, and that's saying something for an economy so heavily dependent on mining exports. They just got a reprieve from carbon regs, but Aussies aren't that stupid. They have a parliamentary system, so the climate backlash will undoubtedly be short-lived. Davemart, all that's left to have 100% renewables is a bit of practical grid energy storage, which is being worked on pretty furiously by many different players. There are many solutions, from flywheels to flow batteries, to molten salt, to compressed air/pumped water. A lot of countries are already past 20% renewables, with some at 33% and some above 50%. It really doesn't matter what it costs, since the biosphere has pretty much infinite value to humanity. We've got to pay for this now or pay far more later. $.30/kWh is ultra cheap compared to what will happen if we keep burning coal. People used to say that renewables couldn't reduce baseload, but as they've come on stream in the US, that's been proved wrong as well. WITHOUT storage. http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=12831
Jimr, that's completely discredited right-wing ideology. You can't pay off debts by throwing the debtor in debtor's prison, either. You have to invest to grow the economy if you want to have a *prayer* to ever pay off the debt. And this leaves aside the entire carbon question (pollution externalities, military expenditures to defend oil imports, cost of adapting to climate change). Shutting down a successful biofuels program? Typical shortsighted epic GOP fail!
How can the EIA continue to publish suicide projections like this? The analysis almost certainly wildly underestimates the renewable energy share and wildly overestimates the fossil energy share. If they're wrong, they're dangerously incompetent. If correct, it's a death sentence for human civilization. Nice job!
ejj, if you paid the full cost of what you are consuming, there would be no argument. Unfortunately, fuel like electricity, water and other essential services are priced artificially low through long-standing government subsidy. Carbon emissions, depletion, defense of overseas supplies and pollution (not to mention sufficient road taxes to maintain infrastructure) are all externalities not factored into the pump price. Algal fuel would, at the very least, be carbon neutral and less polluting otherwise. Government has a strong interest in reducing externalities. If there were any justice, people would pay the full true cost of fuel--which could be upwards of $10-15/gallon. At those prices, you would self-ration, (and stop blaming the government for "mandating (you) to consume less." Anyway, CAFE standards are on their way to 52.5mpg, so the issue is moot. The government has decided to take the approach of regulating consumption--rather than the more honest and transparent route of true-cost pricing.
Peter, I should have said "one-pedal." Clearly you haven't driven a Volt so you don't realize the regen is nowhere near as dramatic as hitting the brakes. Nor would it help to tap the brake pedal at the same time. The regen on the Volt is more like taking your foot off the gas in *any* automatic in low gear. Still, it would be nice to have the variable-brightness brake lights as I said. They could be proportional to the lateral force of deceleration, by whatever method--friction or regen. I think we're about to see a whole rethinking of braking systems.
I have been using manual regen on my Chevy Volt from day 1. Putting the selector in L allows one-footed driving. The only drawback is that the brake lights don't operate in regen mode. So sometimes people behind me are startled because I slow down quickly with no warning. I would hope GM's designers might consider a variable-brightness brake lighting system for regen and full-brightness for brake pedal. The paddle controls combined with advanced brake lighting would be a great opportunity for GM to add value for the ELR.
I don't care whether anyone finds it "comforting" or not, autonomous cars will not just be *available,* at a certain point they will be *mandatory.* Think about the billions of wasted hours sitting in traffic and the tens of thousands of needless deaths every year which will be prevented by vehicle automation. You won't be able to afford the insurance rates you would have to pay to be allowed to endanger others by actually *driving* your own car.
Out of the 5 or 6 car accidents I've been in, only one was my fault. I don't really care why the other people made their mistakes. Bad driving is not a tech problem, it's a human problem. But it IS a problem that will largely be solved by tech.
OK, can we get some *more* Luddite comments here, please? Does anyone not realize that car connectivity is here to stay, and development of driver-assist systems are well underway to take care of 'distracted driving" permanently? And that if you have OnStar or any of its competitors, your car already has its own cell-connection? And that if you don't want to pay for the service you can almost certainly cancel it? But no, let's play "future freakout!!"
An "anti-coal" agenda. I think that's the same as saying a "pro-continued-existence-of-human-civilization" agenda. E-P for the win.
Battery cooling system. Nissan, you were warned before you released the Leaf. Now are you paying attention?
Another thing not mentioned here would be the penetration of grid-tied net zero energy homes. Also, since solar and wind tend to vary throughout the course of the day in inverse proportion, their intermittency cancels each other out to some degree. Geothermal is excellent for baseload and doesn't get enough attention. It's every bit as reliable as coal or nuclear. All this discussion about unforeseen difficulties in RE should simply motivate us to sharpen our pencils. There really is no other option. We cannot continue to burn carbon, and nuclear is both too expensive and too dangerous. I know there's all kinds of people chasing new reactor designs and all kinds of claims being made about how safe they are--which reminds me of what was said about current nuke plants in the 1950s "electricity too cheap to meter." And we know how that worked out. Here's what nuclear power needs to do to become practical: convince private insurance companies to take them on as clients. If they can do that, it will be far more important than any engineering feasibility study. If you have to rely on government insurance for a power plant because no one else will touch it, it's a dead technology. Which leaves RE as the only option.
Also, re: the report, the guy's a wackadoodle fossil and nuclear apologist, making snarky comments about wind turbines and climate change. He might not be wrong on his calcs about the costs of intermittency, but his attitude certainly calls into question his objectivity.
I skimmed that report. With respect, E-P, I think it's overly pessimistic. Especially when you look at developments in distributed generation and the smart grid. A lot of that report assumes that nothing about demand will change. Which is a bad assumption as smart metering enables time of use pricing. The various V2G scenarios would seem to help, as will the developments in large sodium sulphur flow batteries, etc., compressed air/pumped water storage. Solar/combined cycle gas plants with molten salt heat storage, etc. What the report does get right, though is that renewables have a severe intermittency problem which must be solved. I'm confident it will be by the time enough renewable capacity comes on line in the next 10-15 years. There's no going back.