Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Good for him and the world. (Score 1) 118

We have a complete reliable electricity network capable of recharging all of Tesla's cars right now and for the forseeable future. I generate all of my electricity needs including electric car with a smallish solar installation at home. I don't even need the grid. Electric cars are the future of road transportation and they are the reality of road transportation today... just buy and electric car and stop burning fossil fuel. You don't have any excuse to continue polluting the air.

Comment: Re:Good for him and the world. (Score 3, Informative) 118

I believe the China problem was that a lot of speculators bought a lot of cars hoping to make a killing. The resulting oversupply led to cancellations. It was badly managed.
On the issue of hydrogen fuel cells; they just don't make sense for many reasons:
- efficiency (they are less efficient than gasoline)
- distribution (they require special transport trucks... you can't use any existing distribution)
- hydrogen is made from fossil fuels so no benefit to the environment
- fueling (fuel stations cost several million dollars and have low capacity)
Electricity, OTOH, is ubiquitous. Electricity service is everywhere and the demand from electric cars is a rounding error on electric capacity. Plus, batteries and electric motors are much more efficient (90%) than internal combustion engines or fuel cells (30%).

Comment: Re:Help me out here a little... (Score 1) 533

by mspohr (#49505893) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power

The grid has to be designed and managed to deal with a lot of different loads (residential use, A/C, factories) and sources (power plants, solar and wind). Everyone should pay for the grid proportionally to the size of their connection (100 or 200 amp residential service, larger office buildings and factories, etc.). The utilities have to build and manage the grid according to the size of all the individual connections.
Then everyone should pay of the electricity they use (preferably by time of use since the cost of electricity to utilities varies during the day) and the utilities should pay all providers of electricity (fossil fuel, hydro, solar, wind, etc.) for the energy they provide (again, according to time of production since electricity at peak demand times is much more expensive than at slack demand times). The market would then sort out how much was used and produced.
Solar production tends to follow peak demands so it a good resource for utilities. However, it is not an exact match so it could even be profitable for a home solar producer to install a battery to store electricity in the morning when the utility wasn't paying a high rate for it and release the power to the grid in the afternoon when demand (and price) was high.
All of this is possible with Internet connected meters and power equipment. Utilities need to stop whinging and get to work managing the grid. The grid is changing and they need to adapt to do their job.

Comment: Re:Help me out here a little... (Score 1) 533

by mspohr (#49505477) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power

Power companies are lazy. They do know about every single solar installation attached to their grid and they can get "solar forecasts" to plan for sunny days, etc. They may not be using this information but they can and should use it to design the grid and manage it. They can design their grid for solar. They would rather not bother since it will means they they will have to do "work" and they can't just sit back and collect fees.
They should decouple distribution charges from the amount of electricity billed and set it according to the type of service and it should be paid by all customers. If you have 200 amp residential service you should get a fixed fee for that whether you use a lot of electricity or none or have solar or not. Customers such as factories with higher amp service should pay more.
Solar will not put you out of a job. It should give you more work modifying the grid to accommodate solar.
Power companies have always had the problem of managing the grid... factories start up and shut down, A/C kicks in, power plants start up and shut down. Solar is just another input and you can predict it's impact. Stop whinging and get to work doing your job.

Comment: Re:Help me out here a little... (Score 1) 533

by mspohr (#49505433) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power

That's the problem. The power companies are lazy. They don't want to expend the effort to accommodate solar and wind. They just want to keep selling fossil fuel power for which their systems were designed.
Yes, it will take effort to design their grid to accommodate solar and wind but power companies have always been in the business of managing the grid. They have always had to deal with varying load (factories start up and shut down processes, A/C kicks in when it gets hot, power plants start up or shut down, etc.). Solar and wind are just additional variables thrown into the the mix and they should be able to plan for them. (In Germany, they recently had a solar eclipse where all of their solar generation went down for the eclipse. They planned for it and there was no disruption to the grid.)
Power companies should stop whinging and get to work doing their job which is managing the grid.
On the issue of "paying for the power lines"... yes, all customers should pay for the power lines, not just solar customers. My electric bill has a "distribution charge" which is related to power use but it should be decoupled from use since I have solar and use less. Everyone should pay a fixed fee based on their type of service (residential, small business, factory, etc.).

Comment: New York Roosevelt Island Trash Collection (Score 2) 117

by mspohr (#49494127) Attached to: UK Company Wants To Deliver Parcels Through Underground Tunnels

New York's Roosevelt Island has had underground tubes collecting trash for 30 years. They use a Swedish system of 20" diameter tubes. It's worked well for 30 years and is still maintained. No reason this couldn't be done in reverse to deliver stuff.

Comment: Re:They're called trees. (Score 0) 128

by mspohr (#49494025) Attached to: Breakthrough In Artificial Photosynthesis Captures CO2 In Acetate

I think you've hit on the problem. We do need to stop producing so much CO2. We need to stop digging up fossil fuels and burning them. We need to leave fossil CO2 in the ground. We can switch to renewables (solar, wind, etc.) and replace most of our fossil fuel consumption and the faster we do that, the less damage from fossil CO2.

Comment: Re:They're called trees. (Score 1) 128

by mspohr (#49493987) Attached to: Breakthrough In Artificial Photosynthesis Captures CO2 In Acetate

After you've clear cut an area, it only makes sense to try to restore it but the reality is that you can never put it back the way it was...
Plant 3-5 new trees (each weighing less than a pound) to replace a 20,000 pound tree is a joke. After 20 or 50 years, these trees might grow enough to begin to replace the carbon sequestration of the tree you cut down but don't delude yourself into thinking that this is a solution. It's still best to just not cut down the trees in the first place.

Comment: Re:But not to Nestle. (Score 4, Interesting) 332

by mspohr (#49457761) Attached to: California Looks To the Sea For a Drink of Water

"A hundred billion gallons of water per year is being exported in the form of alfalfa from California," Robert Glennon, a professor at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona, told the BBC, which claims it's now cheaper to send alfalfa from Los Angeles to Beijing via ship than to truck it from the Imperial Valley to the Central Valley."


Comment: Re:It's the cloud (Score 1) 146

by mspohr (#49418945) Attached to: The New Struggles Facing Open Source

The real problem with Windows is that it needs a lot of maintenance to keep it running. Updates and malware removal will keep an IT guy busy forever.
ChromeOS doesn't have these problems. It's kept up to date transparently and doesn't get the malware that cripples Windows.
I agree that Windows isn't going anywhere anytime soon... that's the problem. It does deserve to die.

Real Programmers don't write in FORTRAN. FORTRAN is for pipe stress freaks and crystallography weenies. FORTRAN is for wimp engineers who wear white socks.