Yes, I cribbed this from comments between myself and a friend. Names have been changed to protect the innocent, or someone.
I posted a memory from FB 10 years ago commenting on how I felt it was asinine to be willing to pull all the oil out of the Middle East’s oilfields instead of our own, and that it seemed to me that if we were so worried about environmental impacts of getting said oil, we’d be better of keeping it at home where we can watch over it and make sure that it’s being done in the safest (both life and environment) way. What follows is the comment thread. Hope you enjoy and it doesn’t upset you…
By 2035 we’ll all be driving EV’s anyway.
Maybe. I’d honestly like to have a Bolt or a Volt. But in the end, that power has to come from someplace. And mostly what it is now is natural gas. Which is another item that will go away sooner or later.
In my opinion, until we start using slightly scary fission (which has been safely powering our naval vessels for nearly three generations) or fusion (which hasn’t been very successful so far, but I have faith it will happen) we’ll be bound to fossil fuels for the forseeable future.
Windmills are a great idea, but really don’t pay. They’re hideously expensive to build, maintain and replace.
I’ve always loved solar, and Jane’s house runs on solar (three 100w solar panels) but it’s just not feasible at this time. Takes too much square footage to power even a small area, let alone Seattle or San Francisco.
Fossil fuel is the only thing that works until we get to fusion.
As they say, ‘change my mind’.
personally I think EV’s are the wave of the future. They use a fraction of the fossil fuels to produce the electricity. But I’d like to see better range and more fast charging stations. Solar has distinct possibilities but the solar panels need to be smaller and more efficient. I have doubts about fission but who knows where the technology will take us in ten years. Or twenty.
<undisclosed poster>- I remember sitting on the couch reading Readers Digest, this would have been about 1974. Fusion was really all the rage at the time, and it was just around the corner.
Now, nearly fifty years later it’s still sitting – and it’s still just around the corner.
Right now the grid can’t handle the power requirements of all the electric vehicles there might be, even in the next ten years. I mean, we’re sucking hundreds of amps to get a decent charge rate, and that’s just ONE vehicle. The new batteries are so much better than they were, and the new solar panels are so much better and cheaper.
Harbor Freight has their 100w solar panel on sale right now for $100, and their 2000watt converter for $130. The panels are really great – high efficiency and low price. I might go down and buy another one tomorrow, but really the biggest issue I have is that I only have about 70ah worth of battery to charge. That will be sufficient to run my computer and a small desk lamp for pretty much as long as I want to run it, but I definitely can’t run an air conditioner or a heater off that.
Sadly, for a few hundred bucks I can buy a nice quiet generator that will give me a couple thousand watts of steady power and will run for hours on just a few gallons of gas. It makes it hard to be enthusiastic about spending as much money as it would take to go full solar, even for my tiny (4×10) writer shack.
I’ve been a little obsessed by solar ever since elementary school when I was introduced to “Our Mister Sun”. It never came to fruition any more than fusion did, and I’ve always felt a little betrayed by all that potential that never went anywhere. I’ve bought little solar cells and various solar equipment for many years, but it was mostly just a curiosity.
Right now it takes four DAYS to charge your Tesla Model S from a standard everyday outlet. (it charges at the rate of 2 miles per hour. That is, it takes an hour to charge the battery enough to take the Tesla S two miles.)
To get that down to a 30 minute charge, it takes a massive 480v system with 300 amps of power. Just as a comparison, my house (and probably yours) has a 200amp service to run the entire house, including heating and air conditioning, your stove, and refrigerator. Your iPhone charger ..
How long does your Tesla S run on that 30 minute charge? 170 miles.
Where’s Mister Fusion when we need it, eh?
BTW, I did read some articles in doing some off the cuff research for this. It does say that ‘the grid’ can handle electric cars. But a somewhat less rosy outlook is from the standpoint of the grid right in your neighborhood. In a ‘hood of 11 houses, it only takes ONE charger running 240v (to achieve ‘level 2’ charging, which takes six to thirty hours to charge) in your neighborhood to cause issues with that tiny neighborhood grid. The weak point is the transformer, that big cylinder that hangs on the pole.
Sorry, , for going on about this. I am gonna steal this entire post (with some editing) for tomorrow’s blog. It’s a good swan song, I think.
no need to apologize. We’re coming to the end of our fossil fuels. At some point we’ll have to make a change. There just won’t be a choice. I’m picturing small nuclear reactors in the back of everyone’s car.
– yup. I mean, it’s a pool. And right now it’s so huge that no one really thinks about it. And long with that, it’s political. The big thing – the elephant in the room – is the fact that it IS finite. And we’re sucking it out at the rate of twenty MILLION barrels a day. Let me say that again. TWENTY MILLION BARRELS per DAY. I dunno, I didn’t read the numbers, but in my world a ‘barrel’ was 55 gallons. And that’s just the US. So multiply that by – crap – all the countries in the world?
Yeah, it’s just a matter of time. And then, we’re back to horses. Probably a team of six oxen could haul your Mercedes along at .. mm .. 5mph?
How long do we have? Forty Seven Years.
Read that again. 47 years.
And that doesn’t just mean gasoline. That means no polyester blankets, no resin deck chairs, no vinyl flooring, no plastic window frames.
The sad thing is, we’re using up the truly non-renewables so we can SAVE the wood in the forests. When pretty soon we’ll be back to burning the forests to stay warm in the winter. Weigh freezing to death vs conservation. Tell me which wins?
Another thought. If we’d stayed the course and kept using nuclear fission in the 50s and 60s, we wouldn’t be worrying much about fossil fuels, or even global warming, at least if we assume global warming is caused by burning fossil fuels.
Yes, the specter of a nuclear plant meltdown was scary. But – what’s more scary than having 47 years of oil before it’s gone. Permanently.
Don’t think we are running out of fossil fuels. Lots of it is still out there, and a lot in North America. What we are running out of is the will to get and use it.
As for EV’s there’s the massive enviromental impact of all those batteries. And the materials to make them – which mostly come from China (they’ve got all the lithium). And where are you going to recharge? Lost of houses can’t do it on their electrical service without a big upgrade – which the neighborhood power infrastructure may not be able to handle. And they will need to figure out recharging – locations and time needed.
As for windmills – there’s the impact of their blades, which wear out after 10 years. And the wind doesn’t always blow. Same for solar power. Giant solar farms that only work when the sun shines. And no way to store the energy for use – batteries aren’t there yet.
Hydro power is good, but others want the dams to be torn down. Good luck trying to build a new dam anywhere. Even if you can find the water to put behind it.
Then there’s the infrastructure. Power generation is good, but how are you going to get that power to where it’s needed? Lots more high-power transmission lines, down to the ‘last mile’ are needed. Not there yet. Not to mention that all those power lines running through forests (or your neighborhood) are fire risks in some areas. You can’t put them underground for less than $1 million/mile – much more in other ares (think about digging ditches across mountain ranges).
Nuclear power is low-impact, as long as you can figure out what to do with the ‘leftovers’. Minimal emissions. But people are afraid of it. There are some interesting developments of newer nuclear power plants that can be smaller.
Some have said to put very small nukes in neighborhoods. That gets the power to where it is needed, minimizing the need for more infrastructure (power poles, high-voltage transmission lines, etc). But that tech is not ready for prime time yet.
Hybrid engines are good. Still need gas. But more efficient and less impact. Reduces need for big recharging infrastructure. Still battery problems though.
It’s good to aim for alternative energy sources. But you can’t get there overnight. Not even over-decade. You will need to have a mix of things over the next 10-20 years.
I could go on. But there is no ‘magic’ thing that will happen just because we want it to.
I agree with about every thing you said, beyond that we ARE running out. Not today, not tomorrow. Probably not in 47 years as I stated (from info ‘on the internet’) either, really. But it IS a finite pool.
And yea, I read a lot of ‘comforting’ statements about the grid being able to handle the electric cars, but as was pointed out in several dissenting comments, the problem isn’t really ‘the grid’, it’s right in your neighborhood. The grid for you and your neighbors is only meant to handle whatever the worst case scenario for those 5 or 10 or 20 households. It’s also, of course, based on the fact that only a few times a year will people even be using their stoves (for instance) all at once. Which is only 20 or 30 amps. If we start stressing our tiny neighborhood grid with all six or ten people trying to pull 120 amps or so, we’ll blow a transformer. Unless those are all upgraded, and tiny PUDs the country over can’t afford to replace all the transformers in all the neighborhoods. And even then, the grid that SERVES those transformers has to be upgraded.
In the end, yes, it’s complicated. And the only thing, in the end, that can save is us Mister Fusion. Or some other tiny nuke that will fit neatly in a three-pound coffee can.