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Comment Re:rich person's toy (Score 1) 503

Figure you're plunking down at least $10k at the end of that 8 year warranty to replace your battery.

Compare that, though, to all the maintenance you won't need to do on the car during that 8 years.

Not to mention all the money you'll save on gas. Equivalent gas car will get at best 30 mpg. At $3.50 / gallon that's 12c / mile. Average price of electricity is about $0.12 / kWh and the Telsa Model S will probably go about 3 miles on a kWh. Let's assume worst case and it only goes 2 miles / kWh - that's $0.06 / mile or half the cost of the gas car.

Over 100,000 miles you're saving $0.06 / mile or $6,000. And that's being conservative in my back-of-the-envelope numbers.

Comment Re:LOL (Score 4, Insightful) 445

Or, it means that with the extra money they make on the drive (since it cost you more), they expect to be able to at least break even on warranty costs.

For example, take 2 otherwise identical appearing drives - one costs $100 with a 3 year warranty, the other costs $120 with a 5 year warranty.

Does the $120 necessarily mean that it's more likely to make it to 5 years before failing? Not at all - the two drives could be exactly the same. It just means that with the $20 they expect to be able to cover the extra warranty costs on those 5 year warranty drives on average.

Comment Re:Power companies (Score 1) 141

The power companies won't mind if solar is used for large-draw things like daytime AC, when they themselves have to buy power at peak rates. They'd actually become more profitable with less demand.

Not quite. Most utilities are required to pass along energy rates directly without making any additional profit. They are only allowed to profit on the costs of building and maintaining the distribution network.

Profits themselves are also typically regulated to a percentage of their costs. So if they want to make more money, they have to justify additional expenses on distribution network.

Comment Re:Ohhhh shit (Score 5, Informative) 344

My primary car is an electric car, the Nissan LEAF. The price is comparable to other cars and the ride quality and low noise while driving is better than just about all vehicles out there except luxury vehicles. Fuel costs are half the price of the most efficient gas car on the market, the Toyota Prius at about $0.04 / mile compared to $0.09 / mile. Compared to your typical gas car fuel costs are 1/4 to 1/3rd the cost.

Top speed is over 90 mph, more than fast enough for any public highway and seats up to 5 passengers comfortably. Instant torque when you press the accelerator can't be beat by any internal combustion engine.

The only drawback is somewhat limited range and long recharge times, but after 6 months of ownership it's only prevented me from using the LEAF once - but with a DC quick charge station in some strategic locations it wouldn't have been an issue.

Electric cars are here now - Nissan has sold over 20,000 LEAFs so far this year - the best selling EV in the world - and they still don't offer it in all 50 states here in the US.

Will the current crop of EVs work for all people? No - and I certainly wouldn't recommend the LEAF for those that don't. There are plenty of hybrids out there that get great fuel economy and the plug-in hybrid Volt is a great way to minimize your gasoline consumption if you suffer from range anxiety.

Comment Re:Renewable or infinite? (Score 4, Informative) 835

To be fair, the original Prius (Gen I - 2003 and older) batteries are starting to fail fairly regularly now that they're pretty old. But replacing them isn't that expensive - best bet is to replace the pack with a refurbished pack and send your old one back to the refurbisher to salvage the usable parts and recycle the rest. Many opt to refurb the pack with the cells from a Gen II (2004-2009) pack which are more robust and perform better.

Gen II Prius batteries are much more robust than the Gen I batteries - the occasional pack still fails here or there (usually because of a weak cell, not because the whole pack fails) but even then the best route is to replace the pack with a refurbished unit for half the price of a new pack.

There are shops that specialize in this (like Luscious Garage - their blog has lots of info on what normally goes wrong in hybrids as well as how well they hold up under taxi use), though the best shops tend to be in locations where there is a high concentration of hybrid vehicles.

All that said - one doesn't need to worry about hybrid battery failure - in their best selling states (CARB states) the batteries are warranted for 10 years / 150k miles. You can be sure that the manufacturers have engineered them to hold up for at least that long - frequently replacing batteries that fail certainly isn't good for business.

Comment Re:Better Place (Score 1) 378

You're assuming people aren't lazy. People are lazy and pay a hefty premium on convenience.

Yes, people are lazy. But people are also cheap.

How do convince all auto manufacturers to design internal combustion engines around a certain range of octane/compression ratios?

Wow, that's a red herring if I ever heard one.

In the United States, small cars are looked down upon. I realize this isn't the case in the rest of the world, but Americans in particular like larger cars.

What does this have to do with anything? If anything you're arguing against yourself - larger cars will require larger batteries (and thus multiple battery formats) to travel similar distances.

You also overlook long-term cost

No, I didn't. How did I do that? Short term, you pay less since you are leasing the battery. Long term you pay more since you are essentially paying interest on a loan.

Charging at home will be expensive.

No, charging at home is cheap. Residential rates for electricity are very affordable, especially if the utility offers time-of-use rates. In fact, the Better Place business model _expects_ people to do the bulk of their charging at home!

People who buy energy in bulk do so at a discount. It will be cheaper to swap batteries.

Business rates for electricity are not that different than residential rates unless you're willing to be very flexible with your demand and consume a LOT of electricity. And certainly if you are having to pay a middle-man, you can be sure that that middle man will be charging as much as possible - but you are also going to be paying for the convenience of a battery swap. And you're going to be paying for that very expensive battery swap station. Each battery swap station is going to cost at least a couple million dollars. Never mind that with a 100 mile EV - you're not going to want to stop at a swap station every day or two to swap out a fresh pack - why would you when you could wake up to a fully charged pack every morning?

Cheaper, more convenient, and allows you to drive farther?

The only benefit of a battery swap is that it's potentially more convenient when you want to take long road trips. But in reality, most people do this rarely - those that do will buy a plug-in hybrid instead and utilize the existing infrastructure (their garage and gas stations when needed) for mobility.

Comment Re:Better Place (Score 1) 378

I personally think that Project Better Place will be DOA. Battery swapping is useful, but I think there's too many drawbacks:

1. Majority of charging will always occur at home.
2. How do you convince all automobile manufactures to use a standard sized battery in all vehicles?
3. Your $34k "100 mile" EV (Nissan LEAF) is already sufficient for a huge chunk of driving without swapping. With batteries improving at ~10%/year it won't be long before these are practical for even more people.

Let's compare to their major competition: DC quick charging.

Now DC quick charging can't get you recharged as quickly as a battery swap, it will take 30 minutes to charge from empty to 80%, but it's rare that you need to do this - and then you're typically on a longer trip where getting out and stretching your legs is probably a good idea.
Your battery swapping station will still need DC quick charge capability unless it has sufficient capacity to handle a day's worth of battery swaps and can charge packs slowly over night. In which case, you need to have an extremely large inventory. A battery swap station is going to be vastly more expensive than a DC quick charge station. So in reality, the primary benefit is a 2-3 minute battery swap vs a 30 minute quick charge stop - and certainly manufacturers are working to improve quick charge speeds. Current most popular standard (CHAdeMO) is good for about 50 kW charge rate - Tesla will be introducing their own 90 kW "Supercharger" next year. 90 kW charge rate is a recharge rate of about 300 miles per hour - so 1 hour of charge will get you 300 miles down the road - if you're really doing a day long road trip of 500 miles, you'll need to stop for about an hour to charge - I don't know about you but I don't think I've ever driven 500 miles in a day without stopping for at least an hour to refuel the car and myself over the course of the day.

Let's look at one benefit you claim: that the company can phase in newer, better batteries over time so that you're not tied to the one you purchased when you bought your car.

There's nothing that keeps the manufacturers from doing this now - they could easily agree to reduce the price of your vehicle in exchange for agreeing to return your used battery at some point down the road.

Comment Re:I'm not up on the latest in PV (Score 1) 401

They've been energy positive for ages now. Currently most modules "break even" after producing power for somewhere between 1-3 years. For example, REC claims that their modules have an energy payback time of 1 year.

Your typical PV system's EROI is currently around 10 to 1 over their lifetime - meaning that they will produce about 10 times the energy required to build and install the system.

Comment Re:first thanks! (Score 1) 401

Solar is out because it takes too much room and is too ugly and not to mention how inefficient it is.

Solar is not "inefficient". I hate how that myth is perpetuated. Compared to plants (biofuels), solar is extremely efficient. Typical crystalline PV panel is around 15% efficient at turning sunlight to electricity today - meaning that 1 sq/M of panel in direct sunlight of ~1000W sq/M will produce about 150W. Thin-film panels are around 10-11% efficient, but they are cheaper per watt of output. High-efficiency consumer panels are around 20% efficient, but they cost more per watt of output. The best solar panels are around 40-50% efficient, but these are so expensive that they are only used where space and weight is an absolute premium - like space ships and satellites.

Efficiency doesn't really matter for most uses - just covering all your ugly rooftops with that technology would provide a very substantial amount of electricity. Even if we could produce 50% efficient panels for the cost of 15% panels, that's only a 3x improvement - not quite earth shattering - and still not the limiting factor in use today.

Really, the only thing that matters is cost. Right now PV costs between $0.15-$0.30 / kWh depending on how much sun your area gets and the details of your installation. Get that down to $0.05-$0.10 / kWh and you will see panels plastered everywhere the sun shines. We're not that far off - we'll probably be there by the end of the decade. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/sunshot/

A lot more detail on this subject on this great blog post: http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/09/dont-be-a-pv-efficiency-snob/

Comment Re:Thank . (Score 5, Interesting) 745

It's those low prices which have "killed the economy". Going from $1.50 gallon to $3.50 gallon is a much bigger shock than going from $4.00 to $6.00 gallon.

Gas taxes need to be raised - at a minimum enough to pay for road infrastructure, but probably a good amount more (gradually, of course). But no-one has the balls to do it.

Comment Re:The Alarmism misses a key detail (Score 1) 458

Even your own citation said it was growing.

I guess you didn't read it. From my first link:

Meanwhile, measurements from the Grace satellites confirm that Antarctica is losing mass. Isabella Velicogna of JPL and the University of California, Irvine, uses Grace data to weigh the Antarctic ice sheet from space. Her work shows that the ice sheet is not only losing mass, but it is losing mass at an accelerating rate.

I don't claim to be an expert here...

Seriously? You might want to educate yourself instead of spouting off on topics you don't understand.

1. You are referencing an article 9 years old. Things have changed and so has knowledge on the topic at hand.
2. Sea ice extent is not the same as sea ice volume. That's like saying it sure is hot here today - sure proof that climate change is true!
3. First you say we're talking about land-based ice since it's melting will affect sea levels - now you are showing me how sea ice extent is growing? Stick to a topic!

Comment Re:The Alarmism misses a key detail (Score 1) 458

Look at the pictures yourself. They're almost identical measuring from a season to season basis.

The pictures I'm looking at show a HUGE difference in summer arctic sea ice for the last 5 years compared to the last 30. This year sea ice extent dropped to 4.33 million square kilometers. The median minimum since 1979 is appx 6.75. +- 2 std deviations is between 5.75 and 7.75.

4.33 is not even close to any reasonable definition of "very similar".

A scam people sometimes play with those photos is that they'll show one picture from a winter and compare that to another year's summer. So obviously the sea ice will be radically reduced in the summer. Take a couple photos from a given season in 1980 and compare them to a couple photos from the same season in 2010. They're very similar.

The only time sea ice extent looks similar is in the winter - that's because it's cold enough in the winter for most of the arctic to freeze over. But sea ice extent in the winter doesn't tell you anything about the volume of ice that is there.

Global warming has significantly thinned the arctic sea ice. Instead of thick multi-year ice that sticks around through summer, now you've got lots of thin ice that rapidly melts when the sun comes out in the spring and summer.

Comment Re:The Alarmism misses a key detail (Score 1) 458

To counter that, I'd point out that most free floating sea ice is seasonal and reforms and melts throughout the year.

You do realize we're talking about ice shelves which have been around for thousands of years, and not sea ice extent, right?

To counter that, I'd point out that most free floating sea ice is seasonal and reforms and melts throughout the year. ... The difference between 1970 and 2010 isn't remarkable.

The experts on the subject strongly disagree with you.

From The NSIDC - Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis:

The last five years (2007 to 2011) have been the five lowest extents in the continuous satellite record, which extends back to 1979. While the record low year of 2007 was marked by a combination of weather conditions that favored ice loss (including clearer skies, favorable wind patterns, and warm temperatures), this year has shown more typical weather patterns but continued warmth over the Arctic. This supports the idea that the Arctic sea ice cover is continuing to thin. Models and remote sensing data also indicate this is the case.

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