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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Airbus says Cracks found on A380 are not Serious

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 21st, 2012

Week in Review

There are few things more dangerous to an airplane than cracks.  Whether in the fuselage.  Or on a wing.  Some horrific accidents were caused by small hairline stress fractures that grew under the stresses and loads of flying.  The greatest loss of life in a single aircraft accident was a 747 flying out of Haneda.  Japan Airlines Flight 123.

On a previous landing the pilot stuck the tail on the runway, requiring repairs on the rear pressure bulkhead.  But they did these repairs incorrectly.  They used a single row of rivets instead of a double row.  As the plane took off and landed the plane pressurized and depressurized putting great stress on that repaired bulkhead.  The metal fatigue produced hairline cracks.  And then on August 12, 1985 after the plane gained altitude and pressurized the rear pressure bulkhead failed and blew out causing an explosive decompression.  The force was so great it tore the tailfin from the plane and took out all four hydraulic control systems.  The plane was uncontrollable.  And crashed killing 520 of the 524 aboard.

So cracks on an airplane are very serious.  And now they found some cracks on the largest commercial jet in service today.  The Airbus A380 (see More cracks found in Airbus A380 wings by Tim Hepher posted 1/19/2012 on Reuters).

Airbus said the cracks were found on a number of “non-critical” brackets inside the wings of two aircraft during routine two-year inspections, after similar flaws showed up in five aircraft in early January.

It said the cracks did not prevent the A380 flying safely, but the Australian engineering body which handles routine servicing and engine checks on the superjumbos operated by Qantas Airways (QAN.AX) said Airbus’s reaction was concerning.

“They (Airbus) have described these as tiny cracks, but every crack starts off as a tiny crack and they can grow very quickly ,” said Stephen Purvinas, Federal Secretary of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association.

“I would be worried that Airbus aren’t taking seriously the ever increasing number of cracks being found in the wings of their A380 aircraft .

Now nothing will hurt the sales of an airplane more than a reputation for not being safe.  So if the aircraft was unsafe the manufacturer would normally not try to hide that.  They would instead try to fix the problem as quickly as possible.  This is the miracle of capitalism.  If you produce an inferior product you won’t sell it.  If Boeing had a problem on their 747 they would do everything within their power to fix the problem before something bad could happen.  As would Airbus.  However, Airbus isn’t your run of the mill capitalistic manufacturer.  They are heavily subsidized by their governments.  In what is more state capitalism than free market capitalism.  So Airbus will do the right thing.  Unless pressured by their governments not to.  For political reasons.  Such as maintaining A380 sales to boost their collective ailing economies.

Let’s hope that the governments involved are letting Airbus manage this issue.  They will do the right thing.  For no one in the aircraft community wants any plane to be unsafe.

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