Tag Archives: battery

Friday Linkage 4/5/2019

Now wind turbines cause cancer.  Okay, only Donald Trump believes that but he also said his father was born in Germany when in fact Fred Trump was born in New York.  You say tomato and Trump says Germany.

At least Chuck Grassley, the senior and most useless senator from Iowa, finally got off his lazy rear end to criticize something the president said.  Yes, Trump’s comments about wind turbines causing cancer are idiotic.

On to the links…

Trump’s Pick for Interior Dept. Continued Lobbying After Officially Vowing to Stop—Nothing can stop the corruption of the Trump Administration because it is corrupt at heart.  The entire act is an exercise to loot America.

Renewables ‘Have Won the Race’ against Coal and are Starting to Beat Natural Gas—It’s over with except for the accounting.

New Coal Power Projects Are In Decline Across The World—Every solar panel and wind turbine installed is another nail in the coffin of coal.  The march is on across the globe:

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A Good Problem to Have—California has a problem.  California almost has too much renewable energy.  Okay, it really has a lot of renewable energy in the middle of the day:

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We have now gotten to the point where we are trying to figure out how to reconfigure demand to match renewable energy production.

A Silver Lining to Sage Grouse Rollbacks?—States are where the action will have to be for the foreseeable future as Congress is riven with the division of Mitch McConnell.  However, great strides can be made at the state and local level.

High-Density EV Battery could Offer 600-mile Range on a Single Charge—This is a long way away from prime time, but imagine an EV with 600 miles of range.  My truck with a 36 gallon tank scratches that kind of range on highway trips.

Behold the Beefless ‘Impossible Whopper’—I love fine dining as much as anyone, but rolling out a product at a national fast food chain is scale like no other.  This is the kind of move that can make a product like the Impossible Burger as mainstream as any other food.

Inside the Race to Build the Burger of the Future—AOC is not coming for your burger.  However, there is a lot of effort to make your burger less bad for the environment.  Expect that little bit of nuance to be lost on the hosts of Fox News.

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Friday Linkage 2/22/2019

What is it with my kids and John Tesh?  Every night when we drive home from various activities they both beg for the radio to be turned to the station that plays Tesh’s syndicated “Music and Intelligence for Your Life.”

It is so odd to hear them discuss the relative merits of whatever study or lifestyle tidbit Tesh brings up between songs.

On to the links…

Minnesota’s Climate Begins its Descent Toward an Unrecognizable Future—The future is happening now when it comes to climate change.  The impacts may not be noticeable in the short term, but the changes are happening.

Planting 1.2 Trillion Trees Could Cancel Out a Decade of CO2 Emissions—What are we waiting for?

Amazon’s $0 Corporate Income Tax Bill Last Year, Explained—This is the symptom of a failed policy.  Amazon makes billions of dollars a year and uses a loophole to pay no tax.

The Secret Ingredient for Cutting Costs and CO2 Emissions in Infrastructure—There are huge savings in terms of energy efficiency when we look at the biggest users of energy across the United States.  Cutting the energy consumption of these “low hanging fruit” could deliver massive savings for relatively low cost on a timescale that is fairly quick.

BP Energy Outlook Predicts Renewable Energy Will Be Dominant By 2040—Remember, this is an old line fossil fuel company putting out a technical analysis that says renewables are going to win.

Trump’s Intervention Fails to Save Coal-Fired Power Plant—Remember when Republicans were all about the free market because…uh, freedom?  The market has said that coal is a dead technology and that the transition is underway, but people like Trump and McConnell have coal barons to keep happy.

EU Setting its First Emissions Standards for Big Trucks to Lower C02—Cutting the emissions of heavy duty and heavy use trucks is probably the biggest bang for the invested dollar that we can get in the near term.

World’s Biggest Battery to Boost Solar in Texas—Texas, surprisingly, is driving a lot of innovation in renewable energy.  First it was a lot of wind and now it looks like solar plus storage is going to be the next big thing.  Everything is bigger in Texas.

World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm Hornsea One Generates First Power—I am noticing a trend with these renewable energy stories.  Every other one seems to be about the “world’s largest” something.  Largest storage battery, largest offshore wind farm…you get the idea.

Vineyard Wind Proposes 1,200 Megawatt “Liberty Wind” Offshore Project For New York—This would be America’s largest offshore wind farm.  Okay, that would not take a lot.

Here Comes All Your California Offshore Wind Jobs—The craziest number in this article is 112 gigawatts.  This represents the state’s technical offshore resources, which is a figure higher than the state’s current electricity needs.

Giant Wind Power Transmission Project Could Spark New Wind Rush In Wind Belt—The more wind power that we can deploy in the Great Plains the better.  It is clean, green power that helps economically depressed communities by bringing much needed income and property tax base.

Adding Balance to the Meat Debate—There is something to be said for balance.  What we eat is as important as how it was made.  A processed meat free “chicken” nugget may not be any better than a piece of chicken from a pasture raised bird.  There is a lot of nuance.  People hate nuance.  It forces them to think.

A Comeback for African National Parks—It’s not all bad news.  It appears that if we resource the parks and do not encroach on the boundaries with development that large animals can succeed.

A Resistive Heater is the Enemy of Efficiency

I do not know if the weather of the past few days qualifies as a “polar vortex,” but it is really cold.  It is grab you by the spine when you walk outside to your car cold.  It is stay inside even if all you have to eat are frozen waffles cold.  It is make sure you have a dirty thirty of American lager in the fridge cold.  Seriously, the number of people I saw picking up thirty packs of Busch Light at the grocery store the night before the cold snap started was a little surprising.  What says staying in because it is bitterly cold better than a beer that has to be cooled to near freezing just to be palatable?  I digress.

The problem with the extreme cold—it was negative double digits without making any consideration for wind chill—is that I am forced to use my Nissan Leaf’s heater to prevent the windows from turning into an ice and breath fog mess.

Range anxiety is not something that I suffer from on my roughly ten mile round trip to work, but watching the estimated range drop from the mid-90s to the low-70s is disheartening.

The culprit is the resistive heater used by the Nissan Leaf.  In a regular old internal combustion engine powered vehicle “waste” heat from the burning of gasoline is used to heat the cabin.  Electric cars do not have any waste heat to tap into, so these vehicles must rely on auxiliary heaters.  The simplest method is to use a resistive heater.  Do you have a toaster?  That is a resistive heater.  Do you have a space heater?  Resistive heater.  Incandescent light bulb?  A better resistive heater than a light source.

This is electric heat at its simplest.  Push electric current through a metal wire and the physics of a material’s particular resistance will produce heat.  The problem with the simplicity is that it is a relatively inefficient way to produce heat.

To combat the loss of range and limit use of the resistive heater for the cabin most Nissan Leafs are equipped with heated seats—front and rear—and a heated steering wheel.  The idea being that if your immediate body is warm—especially your hands—the less you will rely on the cabin heater.  It all works when the winter temperatures are reasonable.  When the polar vortex comes calling you just give in to the inefficiency.

Newer Nissan Leafs with higher trim levels come equipped with a heat pump that uses significantly less electricity when conditions are right.  However, as the air cools below 32 degrees Fahrenheit the heat pump’s effectiveness is reduced and the good ol’ resistive heater gets to work.  You cannot “move” heat from the ambient environment to the controlled environment if there is not heat to “move.”  Even the fancy Leafs have a problem in the extreme cold.

Thankfully, it’s so cold no one really wants to go anywhere.  Range is not an issue when you are staying at home all weekend.

The Nissan Leaf has Arrived

This is my Nissan Leaf:

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There are many like it, but this one is mine.

It is not new.  It is used and that is where the story begins.  The frequently touted advice is for someone to buy a used car because depreciation begins the minute someone drives a car off the dealership lot.  Now, one can argue against this logic because there are zero used cars sitting on the lot for sale with a few miles that cost a lot less than the new cars on the same lot.  Sorry.

However, with this 2015 Nissan Leaf it is a story about depreciation and market forces.  New, the 2015 Nissan Leaf S started at ~$30K.  Three years and ~32,000 miles later I was able to buy the same vehicle for less than $11K before tax, title, and license.  For those of you keeping score at home that is a decline in value of about 65%.  Granted, some of that decline in value is related to the $7,500 federal EV tax credit which pushed the effective new price down.

Nonetheless, the decline is dramatic.  This is where market forces come into play.  People want the latest and greatest.  With EVs that trend is exacerbated because the latest and greatest frequently get you a lot more range, which is the single biggest issue with EVs for most drivers.  If you are willing to live with a more limited vehicle you can really score a great deal on a used EV right now.  I am living proof.

Here is what living with a compromise solution looks like.  My Nissan Leaf shows a range of anywhere from 90 to 100 miles on 100% battery charge when I activate the car:

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When new the range was within that range.  See what I did there?  I digress.

Therefore, the degradation of the battery pack that plagued earlier Nissan Leafs does not seem to be impacting my car’s battery pack.  This is due to the 2015 model having the so-called “lizard architecture” that is better suited to handle temperature extremes, particularly high heat.  A common complaint of the Nissan Leaf from the EV community is that they designed the vehicle to use passive, ambient air cooling for the battery pack.  Not so good in the southwest United States but it should not be too much of a problem in eastern Iowa.

Overall, this vehicle is not much of a compromise compared to anything.  The range allows me to travel round trip to Iowa City—some 36 miles to the south—without having to worry about recharging.  Although there are plenty of spots to plug-in down south.

Friday Linkage 8/10/2018

I watched the returns from Tuesday’s primaries and special elections with a special glee.  It seems that Republicans under Trump are hoping to keep a coalition stitched together that consists of white nationalists, plain old racists, and older less educated white people.  This seems like a recipe for failure when the head cheese puff is not on the ballot.

It is hard to imagine that the same people who would wear a shirt declaring “I would rather be Russian than a Democrat” are going to go to the polls in the midterms to vote for an establishment Republican if their spirit animal in an ill-fitting suit is not headlining the ballot.

Needless to say, Democrats and their allies on the left need to remain energized, get allies to the polls, and pull across the finish line strong.  America may literally depend on it.

On to the links…

The Whole Republican Party Seems to Be Going to Jail Now—The Republican Party under Donald Trump is nothing more than a country club for corruption that happens to be located in Washington D.C.  If these guys were all based in Hoboken, N.J. there would be a major racketeering investigation happening.

Bribery Trial Reveals Jeff Sessions’ Role in Blocking EPA Action Targeting One of His Biggest Donors—It is going to take years to unpack all of the corruption done by these people in the name of making America “great” again.

Coal Industry on Steady Decline under Trump’s Leadership—This is what you get with Donald Trump.  A few guys will make a lot of money—probably people like Robert Murray—while everyone else gets screwed—usually the employees who actually need the jobs.  Coal will be no different.

We’ve Been Talking About a National Grid for Years. It Might be Time to Do It.—All this talk of energy storage like batteries or pumped hydro misses the biggest “storage” opportunity of all—the gird.  Think of the grid as a battery and a national grid as the biggest battery of all.  Instead of balancing loads across a region you would have the benefit of balancing loads across the country and maybe even parts of Canada or Mexico.

Negative Electricity Pricing Abounds As Wind, Solar Flood the Grid—This is power so cheap that companies are paying people to take it.  This is why we need a national power grid.  When California is over producing that power could be “sent” to states where the wind is not blowing or vice versa.

Analysis Reveals That World’s Largest Battery Saved South Australia $8.9 Million In 6 Months—Now, imagine scaling this type of solution.  Saving money and greenhouse gas emissions.  Win, win.

Permian Decline Rate May be Steeper than Thought—There has been a new school of thought in oil markets that the U.S. is the new swing producer able to bring wells online in places like Texas and North Dakota to ameliorate price increases.  It now looks like the modeling behind the production assumptions of the Permian Basin may have been too optimistic.

Lloyd’s Bank to Ditch Financing New Coal Plants—Bankers are a conservative lot and if their peers stop doing something most of the mainline, reputable banks—e.g. the ones not involved with people like Paul Manafort—will generally cease those activities as well.  Coal projects may have to start looking at the loan sharks of the finance world.

1st Big US Offshore Wind Farm Scores Record-Low Price—Remember, offshore wind in the U.S. is not a mature industry with established cost estimates, employee knowledge, etc.  These costs are likely to come down in the coming years.

Surprise! Electric Buses are Significantly Greener Across the US—I do not know if I would say “surprise” but it is a good outcome nonetheless.  Instead of focusing on personal automobiles we should be putting our resources into electrifying public transit and commercial vehicles.

Explore the Largest Coastal Restoration Project Completed In Louisiana’s History—On an Earth where we, humans, have changed every landscape to some degree the conversation needs to pivot from preservation to restoration.  How do we restore natural ecosystems that have been damaged by humans?

Postcards from the Edge—The Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana is what the current administration would like most of America to look like save for the views from Trump’s own golf courses.  Remember, solar panels and wind turbines are a blight but toxic open pit mines are tremendous.

Nuclear Wasteland: The Explosive Boom and Long, Painful Bust of American Uranium Mining—If you want to wonder what will become of places like Bear Ears and Grand Escalante Staircase under a Ryan Zinke and Donald Trump regime just look at the history of uranium mining in the western U.S.  Many of these landscapes and communities have not recovered from the damage done over thirty years ago.

Meet America’s Elite Farm Subsidy Club—It’s Farm Bill time which means that Republicans are going to whine about cutting SNAP benefits for poor people because we all “know” that food stamps is what is bankrupting the United States.  It could not possibly be that we allow rich people to loot America.  Not at all.

Fascinating Look at How America Uses its Land—Just take a moment to see how we use land in aggregate in the United States and think about how your personal choices play into this land use.  Think of all the opportunities for restoration:

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Friday Linkage 8/3/2018

Election Day is 95 days away.  On November 6, 2018 the people of the United States have the best chance to show the world that Donald Trump and his coterie of right wing, e.g. Republican, enablers do not represent America.

Here in the 1st district of Iowa we have a chance to eliminate the stain of representation that is Rod Blum, a parody of late stage capitalist politician if ever there was one.  He has the benefit of being from the same state as Steve King so no one ever calls him the worst politician from the state of Iowa.

On to the links…

Friendly Policies Keep US Oil and Coal Afloat Far More than We Thought—This is where the fight needs to be in the near future.  Eliminate all subsidies for energy sources that contribute to climate change.  Seriously, do we need to spend public money to subsidize energy companies that have made more money than any other type of company in the history of mankind?

Congress Tries, Fails, to Destroy ANOTHER National Monument—Remember, this is a Congress led by Republicans in both chambers and they still cannot get anything done.  Government is not inherently incompetent, it is just incompetent when run by right wingers.

Dozens Of Lion Trophy Permits Issued To Hunters As Trump Rolls Back Import Hurdles—Donny Two Scoops is really looking out for the interests of the American people with this one.  How soon before Don Jr. or the goblin shark Eric come back from Africa with a mounted lion?

The EPA Just Undid Scott Pruitt’s Final Act in Office—This is why the election in November is so important.  Without a compliant Congress, any changes made by the corrupt Trump administration will be swept away with a change in the Oval Office.

Andrew Wheeler is Afraid to Revoke California’s Fuel Waiver. He Should Be.—The Trump administration is itching to fight over anything that even hints at the previous administration.  They should be careful about what they wish for when it comes to legal cases.

Coal Mining Has Destroyed 1.5 Million Acres of Appalachian Forest—Imagine if someone came up with a plan to restore these 1.5 million acres to something resembling a forest?  Imagine hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into a region for the largest environmental restoration project in the history of mankind?  I can imagine it being possible, can you?

From Coal Mines To Solar Farms: It’s Complicated, But Doable—The landscapes of coal country have been scarred by an extractive industry, see above, that has no interest in the long term viability of the communities or the health of the people left behind.

US Wind Installations To Surge Before PTC Phase-Out In 2021—We can all hope that by 2020 or so there is a more visionary government installed in the U.S. that extends these tax credits to continue one of the few positive developments in our energy infrastructure.

The $3 Billion Plan to Turn Hoover Dam Into a Giant Battery—The era of “big” public works seems to be over, but what if we could use all of that infrastructure to help the transition to a 100% renewable economy?

‘Peak Coal’ is Getting Closer, Latest Figures Show—This is why the deployment of renewables, energy efficiency, and demand destruction are so important.  Coal is teetering on the edge of economic relevance and we can topple the beast with a concerted effort.

Energy Dept. Coal and Nuclear Subsidy could Cost Average US Household $160 to $500 Per Year—As coal and nuclear are no longer competitive in the electricity generation marketplace it is now the responsibility of the American people to ensure that these companies make money.  Why?  Because they donate a lot of money to people like Donald Trump.  This is not about national security, it is about keeping coal companies humming along.

UPS Partners with L.A.-Based Startup Thor on Electric Delivery Truck—Electrification of the heavy and medium duty truck market would be a more cost effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than trying to goose adoption through personal automobile electrification.  These commercial vehicles are driven a lot more, bought in large quantities by a single user, and can make an economic case better than personal automobiles.

Have We Reached Peak Storage?—I truly hope we have reached a point where we no longer need to build storage units external to our home to store stuff that we use so infrequently that it can be stored at a remote location.

Marie Kondo Wants You to Buy More Boxes—What the shit?  Is this when you know a trend has really “jumped the shark?”  I thought the idea behind this was to buy less stuff?  We’re all just pimps for something.

Why Your Kid Needs Time Just to Be—As parents we are a seriously neurotic bunch worrying about our kids future.  Maybe, just maybe, the key to raising a happy child is to let them be a kid once in a while.  Or, letting them just be a kid a whole lot.

Back in Black…Electricity Wise

A good month or so of solar photovoltaic production and a nine day vacation put me back in the black in terms of energy production and consumption:

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Eighty two kilowatt hours of clean, green solar electricity production above my household consumption to be specific.

As you notice from the image above my bill is not zero or even net positive.  Why?  The dreaded facility charge or connection fee.  What is this?  It is the fee charged by your electricity provider for the use of the grid regardless of your electricity consumption or, in my case, production.

Now, the grid essentially acts as my battery since I have a purely grid-tied solar system.  It does not seem like a heavy burden to bear per month for the security of having electricity on demand.  However, in some states—here’s looking at you Arizona—legislators, hand in hand with their energy company lobbyists, are pursuing fees for connecting solar systems and higher facility charges in general to supposedly offset the costs incurred by these systems being active.  Some states have proposed that solar system owners pay an extra per kilowatt hour fee for each kilowatt hour that they draw from the grid.

This all seems fine and dandy to the people running electric utilities, but it may end up creating the conditions for a death spiral.  As costs for battery storage decrease and solar systems proliferate households may choose to sever their connection to the grid entirely.  In high cost or low reliability locations this is already happening.  As increasing numbers of households leave the grid the existing infrastructure is supported by fewer rate payers increasing the individual household’s share of the costs.  Costs go up and the incentive to sever ties to the grid increases thus more households make the leap.

None of this will occur overnight, so to speak, but the conditions are becoming increasingly favorable for such a transition to take place.