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Living with an Electric Car

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PDR
1377367.  Sun Mar 21, 2021 11:27 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
PDR wrote:
Electricity isn't a fuel - it's a means of energy storage.



Well so is petrol on that basis. It simply stores the energy synthesised by sunlight a few million years ago.


We don't make fossil fuel in any meaningful sense (we extract or refine it, but we don't make it). We dig coal and oil out of the ground and burn them directly. They are intrinsic sources of energy.

You can't "mine" electricity, we make electricity from other forms of energy - a diverse range of them in fact. The same is true of hydrogen which only exists on earth in "already burned" form, so we have to take energy from other sources and use it to make "Hydrogen Unburned*".

Thus electricity is an energy storage and transportation medium, not a fuel. You can add steam and compressed air to this "not a fuel" list as well. Some may regard it as a pedantic point, but it really isn't especially when considering environmental characteristics. People regard electricity and hydrogen as "green", but in reality they are environmentally neutral at best. The relative greenness of using either depends mostly on what the actual source of the energy they contain was, and to a lesser extent on the design, development, construction and use characteristics of the mechanisms used to contain/store/transport it.

PDR

* ...Breaker of Chains, mother of dragons etc etc

 
PDR
1377372.  Sun Mar 21, 2021 12:08 pm Reply with quote

In other news, last Thursday we finally managed to get someone to come along and install this:



It's a 7kW home charger that will charge my Better Third's 22kWh Zoe battery in 6 hours from "flat" rather than the day and a half the 3-pin-plug (2.5kW) version takes. There are two reasons why it's not the smidge over three hors you'd expect from the raw numbers.

Firstly the Zoe itself has a limit on the rate it charges at to preserve the batteries. Later models have the "superfast charge" option, but they do warn you to only use it when you need it as it reduces the life of the battery (and if you lease rather than buy the battery the software limits the number of super-fast charges you can do per month).

Secondly the charge rate has to be reduced for the latter part of the charge - this is an inherent characteristic of all the lithium-chemistry batteries, so even if it could take the 22kW charger it would still take a minimum of 100 minutes to charge from flat.

But for the mission this car is used for these are not significant limitations. It would be very rare that we would get it on the drive after midnight with a flat battery and need to go off again on a long journey before 06:00 the next day. We mostly charge overnight, and generally plug it in to top it up when it's on the drive so that it has a full battery when we need it*, and this is much more assured with the higher-rate charger.

The software also has "smart" options that allow you to tell it that you want the car available, fully charged and pre-warmed at a specific time and date. You can then tell it that you would prefer it to use electricity at the time when it's at cheapest rate, or when it has a minimum %age "green" generation, or to charge at the slowest rate commensurate with being ready on time, or using only organic electricity with no polyunsaturates (I may have made that one up). All of this is controlled by an "app" which can also be used to remotely tell it to change to a different mode ("Wack in those electrons 'cause we need to visit Aunt Cedric by noon!"). It works well enough, but depending on android/iOS apps always makes me nervous as these technologies go obsolescent very quickly. It leaves you at the mercy of a company which might decide to stop updating their App so that you need to replace the whole kit & kaboodle (cf Sonos speakers and shedloads of inkjet printers). But the functions are there so we'll use them.

PDR

* this is the point where someone leaps in and says "but that damages the batteries - you have to deep-discharge them or they degrade". You hear the same thing said about phone and laptop batteries, and I'm afraid it's a myth. It *was* true when these things used nickel-based batteries. Nickel cells needed to be deep discharged frequently to keep in good nick. But nickel cells have long since disappeared from nearly all phones, laptops and cars to be replaced by lithium ones. it has never been true of any of the lithium chemistries. So next time someone tells you to deep-discharge your laptop just laugh at them and back away

 
Woodsman
1377443.  Mon Mar 22, 2021 9:09 am Reply with quote

Jumping in here as I see an opportunity (with PDR) to try and learn something.

Could you please review (if you know) how the electricity suppliers are going to deal with increasing demand for electricity through their systems. E.G. we live on a street with houses equipped with 100 amp rated (and occasionally 200 amp) house panels. The electrical code says that they are limited to 80 (or 160) amps of simultaneous draw. They are fed with cables and street infrastructure sized to accommodate a percentage of that maximum load.

Around here, our maximum loads are winter (heating) and late summer (AC). So how do we add in all electric climate control (heat pumps, etc) and simultaneous vehicle charging for a substantial number of those houses on existing panels and street infrastructure.

A related question is how many public charging stations can be attached to the power grid with variable load demands before the distribution throughout a given territory has to be enlarged to meet that demands?

I'm asking because in the past year there have been a substantial number of 'solar farm' projects proposed in our state. These sell power to home owners in lieu of having rooftop solar. There has been a sudden crisis as the power distributor (formerly the integrated power company) has told each 'farm' developer that they will have to pay for upgrading each electrical substation they connect into. This was apparently not figured into the costs initially.

As far as I can see, user infrastructure distribution rates will have to go up to deal with this.

 
crissdee
1377446.  Mon Mar 22, 2021 9:20 am Reply with quote

Can't even begin to address these questions, but it is beginning to look like those people promoting EVs seem to think there's a magic electricity tree next to the money one....

 
dr.bob
1377457.  Mon Mar 22, 2021 11:52 am Reply with quote

Woodsman wrote:
Could you please review (if you know) how the electricity suppliers are going to deal with increasing demand for electricity through their systems.


I'm not sure how they're planning to handle it on your side of the pond, but over here the National Grid has published several studies into how to cope with the load. I may have linked to one of them earlier in this thread, in which case I'll try and dig it out later.

There are several ways in which they intend to tackle the problem. These include:

Smart meters - so far the UK has a pretty good roll out of smart meters to people's homes. In future, this will allow power companies to vary the price of electricity on an hour-by-hour (or even minute-by-minute) basis. This will let them put the prices up when the load is high, and drop the price when the load is low. This will be combined with existing technology that some people already have which allows them to specify that their electric car should charge up overnight only when the price drops below a certain amount. In this way, the draw on the grid will be limited to periods of time when the load is at its lowest.

Local generation - there is an intention in the UK that the government should provide incentive schemes for people to install solar panels and/or other local methods of electricity generation. In the past, any excess power generated was sold back to the grid. The price offered for this power varied depending on the government of the day making this a more or less attractive option. However, with vehicle-to-grid technology that already exists, you can use your EV as a storage device. So you can fill up your car during sunny days and, if there's excess power left in the battery at the end of the day, this can then be used to power your home. This is a direct way to cut your power bills without relying on how generous the government will be.

Increased efficiency - this one surprised me. When worrying about the load of EVs on the grid, you don't automatically think about your fridge/freezer. However, the National Grid report makes it clear that passing laws that require white goods manufacturers to ensure their products are more efficient can produce measurable reductions in the amount of power being drawn from the grid. This is actively being used to help offset some of the increased load expected from EVs in future.

 
Woodsman
1377512.  Mon Mar 22, 2021 10:29 pm Reply with quote

Hi dr. bob.

Regarding your last paragraph on increased efficiency, here are some broad statistics.

2019 average worldwide per capita KwH per year (must include a prorata of energy outside the home ?)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_electricity_consumption

KwH
US 12,154
Sweden 12,814
UK 4,496

2019 average US household KwH per year (only includes household consumption)

https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=97&t=3

KwH
US 10,649
Louisiana 14,787 highest state
Hawai’i 6,296 lowest state

Our house 5,045 from the bills

It looks like we personally can't get much more efficient on electricity consumption, or not so much that it would make a difference.

It also looks like the UK already beats the US by a mile (or 1/3rd). These two numbers are so far apart that the figures might need some qualification.

Manufacturers here are required to put stickers on all new refrigerator/freezers about energy consumption. Our household loads are mostly from motors (food storage, boilers, furnaces, well pumps, washers, dryers, etc) and resistance coils (ranges, dryers, electric heaters, etc). House lighting only takes 15% so the chase for more efficient lighting is paring very little off the total. Ironically, TV consumption burgeoned at the same time going from CRTs (100 w) up to multiple very large flat screens (200 to 800 w for plasma).

 
Dix
1377513.  Tue Mar 23, 2021 1:16 am Reply with quote

The Swedish figure initially struck me as oddly large, but it's correct. And yes, it does include industry usage.
Apparently hydroelectric and nuclear has lead to (historically at least) very low unit prices. Both industry and homes will be using electricity rather than other sources of energy. The fact that the population is sparse and it's a darn sight easier to install a very long overhead cable than to dig a gas pipe down in bedrock probably plays a part too.

Because of the low prices there's been no real incentive to be energy efficient, particularly in the industry. I found some sources saying that producing a car or a washing machine in Sweden uses double (or more) electricity than producing a similar product in the more southerly parts of the EU.

 
PDR
1377514.  Tue Mar 23, 2021 2:32 am Reply with quote

Is that efficiency or just consumption? I suspect the reason the UK figures are so much lower is that we may use more gas and oil for heating and cooking. What you need here is energy consumption per capita rather than just electricity consumption per capita.

PDR

 
dr.bob
1377559.  Tue Mar 23, 2021 9:47 am Reply with quote

That's a good point. Since we're discussing how the National Grid will cope with the extra load caused by EVs, the fact that the UK uses gas and oil for heating and cooking may well be doing us a favour in the short term.

However, if the government is sincere about moving ever more towards a zero carbon future, at some point this energy will also have to be provided in electrical form (unless we figure out a way to run boilers and hobs on hydrogen or something), which may well end up causing more problems for the grid than all the EVs do.

ISTR the National Grid report* mentioned various scenarios for how the grid would develop in future. It would either involve more local power generation (solar panels, windmills, etc), or upgrading the capacity of the existing grid**. Having the government pump money into schemes encouraging people to fit solar panels to their roof may seem indulgent but, when you consider that the alternative is to pump money into upgrading the capacity of the grid, the money's going to have to be spent one way or another.


*I will dig this out at some point, when I'm not so busy

**Of course the reality will probably be some mixture of the two, but it's important to figure out precisely where the dividing line will lie

 
crissdee
1386261.  Wed Jul 28, 2021 6:11 pm Reply with quote

My friend, with whom I just shared a delightful fish and chip supper, and an even more delightful conversation about one A.C.Doyle, gave me a copy of the Sunday Times magazine from 25th July. She saved it for me as it had an article about electric cars, which was worth a read. The main thrust of the article was whether now was a good time to buy such a vehicle, and what the best ones were. Speaking for myself (and who else can I speak for with any authority?), there are two main issues that need to be addressed.

1) With the possible exception of the Rimac;
I really, really, don't f*cking want one.

2) The cheapest they recommend is the MINI Electric at £26,000. In my current position, and in any foreseeable future position, this might as well be £26,000,000,000. I don't have that kind of money, nor can I envisage a scenario where I will have it, certainly not to spend on a car. Unless the government grant is raised from £2,500 to ten times that, I might as well be planning to buy the Batmobile, because the one is as likely as the other.

In all seriousness, what is going to happen to people like me? Short of a lottery win or a substantial inheritance from my mother, a replacement car of any kind is a pipe dream. Even some shonky, third-hand EV built in a garden shed in Kazakhstan is out of my budget. Will there come a time when I just have to give up the idea of personal motorised transport?

 
cnb
1386270.  Thu Jul 29, 2021 3:08 am Reply with quote

crissdee wrote:

2) The cheapest they recommend is the MINI Electric at £26,000. In my current position, and in any foreseeable future position, this might as well be £26,000,000,000. I don't have that kind of money, nor can I envisage a scenario where I will have it, certainly not to spend on a car. Unless the government grant is raised from £2,500 to ten times that, I might as well be planning to buy the Batmobile, because the one is as likely as the other.

You couldn't afford to buy a brand new ICE car either. If all you can afford to buy is 15-year-old cars, then keep buying 15-year-old cars. In a decade's time, there will be 15-year-old electric cars available, and at that point the electric vs ICE question becomes relevant to you. Until then, why are you worrying about it?

 
crissdee
1386273.  Thu Jul 29, 2021 5:00 am Reply with quote

1) I am slightly concerned that, in the rush to get EVs on the road, petrol will become harder to find.

2) From what I have read, 15 year old batteries may not be paragons of reliability, and will almost certainly be expensive to replace.

3) As I said before, I don't really want one at all, not even a cheap one in ten years time.

 
barbados
1386278.  Thu Jul 29, 2021 5:24 am Reply with quote

I would suggest the main blocker is point 3 there.

It's fine, if that is how you feel, as long as you are prepared for the consequences of that.

 
cnb
1386279.  Thu Jul 29, 2021 5:41 am Reply with quote

crissdee wrote:
1) I am slightly concerned that, in the rush to get EVs on the road, petrol will become harder to find.

Eventually that will probably happen, but it's a long way - at least 20 years - off, especially in rural Wales.

crissdee wrote:
2) From what I have read, 15 year old batteries may not be paragons of reliability, and will almost certainly be expensive to replace.

Electric cars are extremely reliable - far more so than ICE cars, especially old ones. The problem with batteries is that they slowly lose capacity (mostly with use, rather than age), so the distance you can travel between charges reduces. Different batteries lose capacity at different rates. Early Tesla Model S cars have very good battery life. There are lots out there that are 8 years old with 200,000+ miles and they still have 85-90% of the original range. Nissan Leaf batteries don't last so long - at similar age and mileage they might have only half their original capacity. This is reflected in the price. A used Leaf is a bargain for someone who only needs a short range vehicle. Replacing the battery is rarely economically viable, just as replacing the engine in a 200,000-mile ICE car isn't viable.

crissdee wrote:
3) As I said before, I don't really want one at all, not even a cheap one in ten years time.

Petrol cars (mostly hybrid, probably) are still going to be sold new for another 10+ years, and then have a 20-year life. Do you expect to be driving beyond 2050?

 
crissdee
1386294.  Thu Jul 29, 2021 10:38 am Reply with quote

cnb wrote:
Do you expect to be driving beyond 2050?


As that will be the year of my 88th birthday, I will be pleasantly surprised if I am, but in reality, probably not....

 

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