The more Electric Cars people drive the greater the Stress on the Electric Grid

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 16th, 2014

Week in Review

Have you ever noticed your lights dim when your air conditioner starts?  They do because when an electric motor starts there is a momentary short circuit across the windings.  Causing a great inrush of current as they start rotating.  Once they are rotating that inrush of current drops.  During that surge in current the voltage drops.  Because there is no resistance in a short circuit.  So there is no voltage across a short circuit.  And because everything in your house goes back to your electrical panel that momentary voltage drop affects everything in your house.  Including your lights.  The lower voltage reduces the lighting output.  Momentarily.  Once the air conditioning motor begins to rotate the short circuit goes away and the voltage returns to normal.

Air conditioners draw a lot of power.  And during hot summer days when everyone gets home from work they cause the occasional brownout.  As everybody turns on their air conditioners in the evening.  Stressing the electric grid.  Which is why our power bills rise in the summer months.  For this great rise in demand causes a corresponding rise in supply.  Costing the power companies more to meet that demand.  Which they pass on to us (see Electricity Price Surged to All-Time Record for March by Terence P. Jeffrey posted 4/16/2014 on cnsnews).

The average price for a kilowatthour (KWH) of electricity hit a March record of 13.5 cents, according data released yesterday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was up about 5.5 percent from 12.8 cents per KWH in March 2013.

The price of electricity in the United States tends to rise in spring, peak in summer, and decline in fall. Last year, after the price of a KWH averaged 12.8 cents in March, it rose to an all-time high of 13.7 cents in June, July, August and September.

If the prevailing trend holds, the average price of a KWH would hit a new record this summer.

All-electric cars are more popular in California than in Minnesota.  Because there is little cold and snow in California.  And batteries don’t work so well in the cold.  AAA makes a lot of money jumping dead batteries during cold winter months.  So batteries don’t hold their charge as well in the winter.  Which is when an all-electric car requires more charge.  For the days are shorter.  Meaning that at least part of your daily commute will be in the dark and require headlights.  It is colder.  Requiring electric power for heating.  Windows fog and frost up.  Requiring electric power for defogging and defrosting.  It snows.  Requiring electric power to run windshield wipers.  Slippery roads slow traffic to a crawl.  Increasing the time spent with all of these things running during your commute.  So the all-electric car is more of a warm-weather car.  Where people who don’t live in sunny California may park their all-electric car during the worst of the winter months.  And use a gasoline-powered car instead.

As those on the left want everyone to drive all-electric cars they don’t say much about the stress that will add to the electric grid.  If everyone switched to an electric car in the summer it would be like adding a second air conditioner at every house.  Especially after work.  When everyone gets home and plugs in.  Causing an inrush of current for an hour or so as those discharged batters recharge.  A discharged battery is similar to an electric motor.  As it’s the current flow that recharges the battery cells.  There’s a high current at first.  Which falls as the battery charges.  So summer evenings will have a lot of brownouts during the summer months.  As the added electric load will greatly stress the electric grid during the evenings.  A demand that the power companies will have to supply.  At the same time they’re replacing coal-fired power plants with less reliable renewable forms of power generation.  Such as solar farms.  Which will be fast running out of sunshine as these cars plug in.

If people switch from gasoline to electric power in their cars en masse the average price for a kilowatt-hour will soar.  It’s simple economics.  Supply and demand.  The greater the demand the higher the price.  And there is little economies of scale in power production.  Because more power requires more fuel.  And the kicker is that even people who don’t drive will have to pay more on their electric bills when people switch from gasoline to electric cars.  And their gas bills if gas-fired turbines provide that peak power demand.  Raising the price of natural gas.  Making everyone pay more.  Whereas only drivers of gasoline-powered cars are impacted by the high cost of gasoline.

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Major Automakers Feeling the Pressure to try and Sell Electric Cars

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 28th, 2010

Electric Trains Don’t Use Batteries

Electric trains are powerful.  Provide fast acceleration.  And are very efficient in converting electrical power into forward motion.  And yet the majority of trains are diesel electric.  Why?

Cost.  Diesel electric trains use a diesel engine to power an electric generator that drives electric traction motors.  And a diesel electric train can carry its own diesel fuel to produce its own electrical power.  So when you build track infrastructure for diesel electric trains, that’s all you have to build.  Track.

Electric trains, on the other hand, require a whole lot more infrastructure.  For every mile of track there has to be a mile of electrical power distribution.  In subways this is usually an electrified third rail.  In above ground trains, this is usually overhead wires.  And this electrical power infrastructure is costly.  So costly that few trains are electrified.

(For more information on electric trains, see Electric locomotive on Wikipedia).

And Cars Shouldn’t Use Batteries Either

Now, do you know why they build this very costly electrical power distribution infrastructure for these electric trains?  Because they can’t run on batteries.  Battery-power would not let these trains travel the distances they need to travel.  And so it is with cars (see Major automakers zipping electric cars into showrooms soon by Jerry Hirsch and Tiffany Hsu posted 11/27/2010 on The Washington Post).

Because it relies solely on battery power, the [Nissan] Leaf has a range limited to about 100 miles – maybe more if driven conservatively in cool weather and definitely less if the engine is revved up with the air conditioning running on a hot day.

The [Chevy] Volt can go a lot farther, primarily because it is technically a hybrid rather than a pure electric vehicle. It goes about 40 miles on a single charge. When the juice runs out, a four-cylinder gas engine kicks in as a generator and powers the electric drive train, extending the car’s range by about 300 miles.

I don’t know about you, but the commute on my last job was about 50 miles – one way.  And I drove a lot of that in the dark.  In cold weather.  You ever leave your headlights on accidentally? 

When I was in college, my car’s headlight control was a little loose.  When I slammed the car door it turned my dome light on.  Some 6 hours later, I found that my dome light had drained my battery.  And that was just the dome light.  Imagine if it was the headlights.  Or an electric heater plugged into the cigarette lighter.

You can go Further on a Full Tank of Gas than on a Fully Charged Battery.  And that’s while Using the Headlights and the Heater.

Those rosy mileage estimates are all well and good as long as you are driving in the daytime, during warm weather and going downhill both to and from work. 

You have a digital camera?  If so, tell me how much longer your battery lasts when you don’t use the flash?  You see, that’s the dirty little secret about these electric cars.  Unless you put a nuclear reactor under your hood, you’re not going to have the range to go anywhere but to the corner grocery store.

And speaking of digital cameras, how long does it take to recharge your battery?  I mean, can you put it in the charger and then take it right out and start using it?  Is it like going to a gas station?  Where you stop to fill up your gasoline tank and then drive away minutes later?  Or do you carry around extra batteries because it takes too long to recharge a discharged battery?

Pay More and Get Less when Choosing Electric over Gasoline

People know these electric cars will only provide a fraction of the range, reliability, comfort and safety of a gasoline powered car.  And to add insult to injury, you have to pay more to get less.  People aren’t stupid.  So to get people to pay more for less, the government has to subsidize these lemons.  I mean, cars.

The Volt will start at $41,000. The similar-size Chevrolet Cruze LTZ sedan with an automatic transmission, navigation and other bells and whistles is about $26,000.

Nissan’s Leaf hatchback starts at $32,780. A similarly equipped conventional gasoline Versa hatchback from Nissan starts at less than $17,000.

A $7,500 federal tax credit designed to accelerate entry of electric vehicles into the marketplace will reduce the cost of both vehicles.

These cars are almost twice the cost of their gasoline cousins.  And they can only go a fraction of the same distance on a charge.  The ‘backup’ gasoline power plant on the Volt has 650% more range than the battery.  And you know what?  If you run low on gasoline you can top off you tank and go another 300 miles.  With a dead battery.

Bribing People to Risk their Lives in Battery Deathtraps

Unless you’re taking stupid pills, I can’t see why anyone would pay more for less.  I mean, there’s a reason why the majority of trains are diesel electric even when electric trains are more efficient.  Because they can’t run on batteries.  And electrical power distribution systems are just too costly.

If batteries were viable the government wouldn’t have to bribe people to risk their lives.  And they are.  Risking their lives when they drive these cars.  To get what little range they can out of these, they’re going to be tiny little cars.  And light.  To get as much out of that battery as possible. 

But, to save the environment, we have to sacrifice people.  It’s either us or it.  Think about this when your daughter drives off to college or her job. And what she’s going to do if her charge runs out in a bad part of town.

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God Bless the Internal Combustion Engine

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 10th, 2010

Oxen were better than people.  Horses were better than oxen.  Steam engines were better than horses.  And internal combustion engines were better than steam engines.  Better at what you ask?  Making it better.  For people.  And our environment.

When we learned to farm we didn’t have to gather anymore.  When we developed animal husbandry, we didn’t have to hunt anymore.  This led to peace.  Because hunter and gatherers need a lot of land to hunt and gather on.  Often they tried to hunt and gather on the same land others were hunting and gathering on.  And when hunting party met hunting party, they used their weapons on each other.  To protect their food supply.  So they could survive a very harsh existence.

When we took control of our food supply (farming and animal husbandry), societies grew.  Life was still tenuous.  But less so.  The work was hard.  And life was short.  People worked from dawn to dusk.  Everyone.  Men, women and children.  In the fields.  Working along draft animals.  Stepping in their feces.  Battling the flies.  And disease.  Dirty drinking water.  Dysentery.  Famine.  The steam engine changed that.  It greatly increased productivity.  Letting people to do things other than work in the fields.  And there was much more food.  Then the internal combustion engine greatly improved on that productivity.  Increasing farm yields.  Increasing life spans.  They made less pollution than the steam engine.  And drew no flies.

Energy.  Power.  It’s what makes life better.  A single steam engine could replace a team of horses.  And do more with less.  But steam boilers were complicated.  And could be dangerous.  Though better than horses, they needed a lot of fuel and water.  Look at a steam locomotive.  It had to stop along the way to refuel and re-water.  Often.  That’s a lot of infrastructure.  A diesel-electric locomotive doesn’t.  The internal combustion engine can work harder, travel longer and requires less maintenance.  Petroleum contains a lot of energy.  It’s a liquid that can be stored, handled and carried easily.  There’s never been a better fuel.  Small tanks can power engines giving vehicles freedom of mobility, speed and distance.  There would be no such things as emergency medical helicopters, fire engines, ambulances or trucks (to stock our grocery stores) without the internal combustion engine.  You just can’t power these vehicles with battery-electric engines.

Batteries have to charge.  And that takes time.  You just won’t be able to pull into a charge station on the highway for a quick charge.  At best you could change out a battery.  But batteries are expensive.  I guess you could get a core deposit on the discharged battery.  Then again, how would the charging station owner know it can hold a charge?  He or she would be taking a big risk.  Or the next driver to get that battery would.  Provided it was compatible with that driver’s car.  And changing a battery is probably not something a 19 year-old secretary could easily do herself on her way to work.  Could there even be a self-service charging station?  And with the shorter range, God help her if her battery charge runs low late at night (because she turned on her headlights) when there is no mechanic available to change her battery.  If she can make it to a charging station.

The internal combustion engine and petroleum give us a modern, safe and healthy life.  Life has never been better since the internal combustion engine.  And the only way a battery-engine will replace that is if the battery-engine comes with an internal combustion engine backup.  That provides a far, far greater range than the battery-engine.  And can be refueled easily.  Conveniently.  And if that’s the only way a battery-electric car will work, why bother with the battery-electric engine?  I mean, the backup engine could get a whole lot better fuel economy if it didn’t have to carry around that dead weight.

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