Skip to comments.Electric Cars & Solar: Will They Make Gasoline & Utilities Obsolete?
Posted on 01/23/2014 8:24:46 PM PST by ckilmer
These are interesting times in the automotive and electric-utility businesses.
(Excerpt) Read more at autos.yahoo.com ...
It's been quietly discussed among electric utilities that increasing amounts of distributed solar power and other renewable energy may destroy their business model.
The worry is that if consumers can generate much or all of their own electricity, the utilities lose the revenue from selling them power--while continuing to shoulder the substantial costs of maintaining the electric distribution network as a backup.
Meanwhile, while plug-in electric cars on U.S. roads number less than 200,000 today--out of about 250 million vehicles--the miles they travel on grid energy stored in their batteries eliminate the demand for gasoline.
And many electric-car owners turn out to have solar panels on their homes.
Buying an electric car may even increase interest in clean energy, as owners start to think about "free travel" using electricity from solar panels (aside from the substantial costs of the panels themselves, of course).
Now Tony Seba, an entrepreneur and Stanford University lecturer in continuing studies, is working on a new book in which he predicts that the cost of distributed solar energy will fall so low by around 2030 that it will make electricity from fossil fuels essentially redundant.
Equally radically, he says, plug-in electric cars will do the same to the oil industry--on roughly the same schedule.
Seba argues that the cost of both photovoltaic solar panels and large-scale batteries for energy storage in electric cars will continue to fall, to the point where using them for both energy generation and transportation is significantly cheaper than extracting and transportation carbon-based fuels to be burned.
MORE: How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?
Demand for oil as a feedstock for chemical industries is likely to continue, of course, so eliminating the extraction, refining, and transportation of oil and natural gas altogether is unlikely to happen on anything like that schedule.
Still, it's an appealing vision, and the prospect of carbon-free energy and transportation for even some fraction of global demand is likely to be welcomed by anyone who accepts the scientific consensus around climate change caused by man-made carbon emissions.
The working title of Seba's upcoming book is "Disrupting Energy: How Silicon Valley is making coal, nuclear, oil and gas obsolete." It's not yet available for pre-order, but you have to admit it sounds intriguing.
What do you think? Will we see the decline of hydrocarbon-based transportation and the legacy electric-utility industry within your lifetime?
Only if you like a driving range of 10 miles without the heater on in winter...
Ford says no.
Yes, it’s heating and cooling that limits electric car utility.
I think we are about 10-15 years away from batteries that can store enough energy to go long distances with heating/cooling on.
I’d say we are no more than 10 years from having solar power that is cheaper than fossil fuel power.
The oil kingdoms of the ME better hurry and diversify or they will be back to living in tents with their goats and camels.
Possibly.. give it another 100 to 150 years.
Bureaucrats Befuddled By America’s Auto Market
Sanity returned at a Ford Motor Co. press conference nearby. And it came from Ford CEO Alan Mulally, who channeled his inner F.A. Hayek during a question and answer session with reporters and bloggers.
“Well always make the cars and trucks that people want,” he said. “I think the automobile industry is always going to be driven by economics.”
I leaned over to the guy sitting next to me to confirm what I just heard. After all, most of the press conferences and even the question and answer sessions with executives are closely scripted and lack any depth.
He went on: “The most important thing we can do is to continuously improve the internal combustion engine” because it’s going to be around “for a long time.”
The Future of the Internal-Combustion Engine
Despite the green hype, internal-combustion engines will keep powering vehicles for the foreseeable future.
I’m sure they were asking that question in the 1900s, when electric cars were outselling internal- and external-combustion cars.
Not with today’s technology. Battery capacity, recharge time, and capacity to keep recharges over its lifetime are issues.
Oh hell Seba has been trying this push for all too long. The simple answer to the question is NO
As long as 95% of people are not allowed to own a vehicle maybe
Anything is possible, but based on the reality of what would have to happen, the chances of that happening are slim and none.
Sorry, not happening even within 50 years without some kind of major break through in storage. The break throughs in fracking and drilling are so astounding, solar doesn't stand a chance.
I'd advise you to not take bets, nor invest in any of their research companies, oh, and be a little more realistic please......
“Seba argues that the cost of both photovoltaic solar panels and large-scale batteries for energy storage in electric cars will continue to fall, to the point where using them for both energy generation and transportation is significantly cheaper than extracting and transportation carbon-based fuels to be burned.”
If it does, cool. But I bet the “cost” he is using includes subsidies.
Solar power will never be adequate to displace fossil fuels because of the basic physics involved. At noon on a sunny day in mid-summer the sun delivers 1300 watts per square metre and the best available solar panels only deliver 18% of that. That may be fine for residential use, but not industrial.
It might happen. But not in my lifetime and probably not in my kids lifetime.
I read a report the other night on the global supply of lithium to make LiIon batteries. If Tesla makes 100,000 cars per year, they pretty much exhaust the world’s production capacity of lithium. The richest lithium resources are in an ecologically sensitive area in south America which will be completely destroyed if production ramps up.
The dirty little secret of EVs.
Chemical fuels that burn oxygen beat any kind of battery all hollow right now. I wish engineers well in developing better batteries, but they are probably going to be finicky.
There is some potential market for hybrids, combo-cars that use electrical components together with generator-driving engines which are carefully tuned to do well driving the generator rather than being the prime mover of a mechanical transmission. That could squeeze a few more MPG out of gasoline and diesel fuels. Robustness is the key to widespread acceptability. Costing a king’s ransom to fix is not a way to sell cars in the long run.
When the wind don’t blow and the sun don’t shine, wind and solar power can’t make hay ...
Never happen !!!
At least currently that’s where we get lithium. More serious demand will pull in additional sources.
Next up, February, when I am "used" to some frigid weather (this year I fear it like no other).
i don’t accept climate change caused by man and won’t have antything that doesn’t run on gasoline and have over 300 HP.
The GM guys didn’t come up with this. They sold tgeir soul to obama’s regecand, with it, all incentive, motivation, independence and creativity
I could see a solar-chemical process, possibly, which would produce fuels. That could get better than that 18%.
I love my solar chain saw. It cuts down marshmallow trees in unicorn forests.
Oh great. GM sold their soul to the Obama regime etc
Thus, driving up the cost of bi-polar medication ...
“Id say we are no more than 10 years from having solar power that is cheaper than fossil fuel power.”
You clearly haven’t done the math. At best, with 100% conversion efficiency you would get only 1KW from a solar panel. That’s with the best sunshine...
Even a small car requires 20KW which is a little less than 20 horse power. It just isn’t going to work... Most people don’t have enough square footage on their property.
Yabut, what about the dilithium crystals?
many Chevy Volt owners report going
1000.plus miles on a 10 gallon tank.
The biggest problem with solar power is that consumers are far away from best source, the deserts. Transmission losses and infrastructure costs are the main culprits. Fossil fuel power plants are located close to population clusters.
Where did they get the electricity to charge batteries, and which fossil/nuclear fuel was used to generate the electricity are the pertinent questions.
They prolly live in milder climates [ie: northern CA], where they don't have to ue wipers, heaters, A/C and such much. Also aren't driving great distances [ie: <10 miles per trip]. And, are they "topping off" the battery each night with a charge?
Good for the Chevy Volt owners. Only problem is they get their electricity from traditional fuel. That 10 gallons of gas came from somewhere. Those batteries won’t last forever either.
BTW, not knocking the volt, I would just like to see how well it does in some serious weather for six months. The technology is not quite “there” yet.
Most of it is just straightforward math. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline_gallon_equivalent gives most of the numbers necessary, and consider that the absolute maximum possible for solar is 1.3kW/m^2 with the realistic norm being about 1% of that. Being past midnight, I’ll leave that as an exercise to the reader, noting that the “solar strip-mining” involved (solar collectors deprive an ecosystem of most of its energy source, remember, at large scale) will be huge. Once it really becomes commercially viable with large-scale adoption, the greenies will be screaming bloody murder about all the fields & forests having their sunlight stolen and the chemical holocaust resulting from widespread exotic materials mining & processing.
I’d rant more but sleep deprivation beckons.
If....and I say a BIG if.....a solar panel can be gotten to be say 40% efficient or greater—than MAYBE in 10 years you could be right. But that is NOT very likely. As stated 18% efficient is considered GOOD right now.
Scouts Out! Cavalry Ho!
They use up lithium twice as fast.
I recall a similar prediction by the associate of presidential science advisor John Holdren, Amory Lovins, who was invited by Holdren to be “University Professor” at Berkeley some time during the late 1970s. Lovins was, as have been most of Marxist Holdren’s associates, as poor a soothsayer as Holdren’s mentor and co-author, Paul Ehrlich, whose “Population Bomb” is a laughable testimonial to the arrogance and scientific irrelevance of Stanford and Berkeley resource prognosticators. They aren’t fools, but are Marxists who believe the earth is plagued by too many people whose consumption of resources may reduce the lifestyles of the Theresa Kerry professor (Heinz), Holdren, now at Harvard, or Dr. Doom Ehrlich, emeritus at Stanford.
The average solar energy flux during days in North America uncluttered by fog, smog, rain, or snow is probably below 500 watts/square meter. Let’s assume a net conversion efficiency of 10%, which is generous considering storage losses. 50 watts for about six hours each day, or 12 Watts average over 24 hours means that about 500 square meters of collector surface must be dedicated to each electric automobile, assuming that it must carry energy during the 16 hours the sun is not providing input. Just to power the 200,000 cars crossing the bridge near my home requires roughly 100 million square meters of collector surface, or a closely spaced field of tracking collectors 10,000 meters, or about 6 miles on each side.
Solar automobiles are utopian nonsense. With improvements in battery technology, probably including fuel cells, there will certainly be more electric cars on the road. The safest and most environmentally benign source of electricity for their engines comes from nuclear powered generators, with no contribution to the usual greenhouse gases, foolish as that requirement is as understood by most. Muclear power generation does release steam into the atmosphere, and water vapor absorbs more solar energy than any other gas, but our justices, governmental agencies, and tax dependent universities are helping with wealth redistribution by designating taxable entities for subjects lacking the scientific or engineering acumen to question the reasoning of our royal class. Solar flux density will certainly change over millions or billions of years, but for our practical purposes, it’s use for generating electricity in quantity a pipedream. If the solar flux increases we are unlikely to need automobiles because we will have been cooked long before meaningful flux increases. For heating swimming pools and preheating bathing water in warm climates solar heating is certainly useful, but its primary application these days is to justify stealing money from taxpayers to benefit investment bankers - Solyndra is just one of hundreds of examples.
Nope. Just too unreliable and expensive as well.
Amen, that’s what I think, too. You beat me to it.
No. Next question.....
Redox Power Systems is a Maryland startup which claims to have a new fuel cell technology that is one tenth the cost and one tenth the size of current fuel cells and runs at 80% efficiency when used for both heat and power. Their first product is a 25kw unit the size of a dish washer.
Fuel cells run on fossil fuels, e.g., natural gas. If Redox's systems work as advertised, the power companies will be in trouble, regardless of the performance of solar and wind.
Right, like it got rid of the Horse and Buggy when they came out with cars. Only in the eyes of the idiots.
Will we see the decline of hydrocarbon-based transportation and the legacy electric-utility industry within your lifetime?”
Fortunately not in mine.
My drive home to Idaho is 912 miles. Some trips include towing my Harley. It takes 15 hours door to door. Can’t do that will electric cars. Winter driving demands a heater. So does sleeping. Solar is useless at night and only marginal in daylight in places with adequate insolation. I’m happy with my Harley and F150 4x4.
Harley Davidson says hell no.