Getting Gas (and Electrons) Across America

Reblogged from Musings from the Chiefio:

This is a small photo essay with comments about gasoline and Diesel prices across America, along with one observation on charging your Telsa in California. We’ll start off in Louisiana. I was startled to find that a couple of off ramps in Louisiana have now put Traffic Circles at the end of them. This dumps a constant stream of unsuspecting motorists into a “circle” that has a highway trying to cross it the other way. At busy times this will inevitably result in a circle full of cars from one way or the other blocking the circle and then either the freeway or the highway will end up backing up until “there are issues”.


Traffic circles may be cheap and easy for low use areas (so you avoid the cost of traffic lights and all) but for an intersection of a significant local highway with a major freeway off ramp, it’s just asking for trouble. They have apparently already had trouble as the “on ramp” portion had added a fairly dense set of vertical plastic “bumper” dividers to keep folks tracked into the right lane to right turn to onramp and out of the circle proper.

I wish folks designing roads in the USA would not look to Europe and their traffic circles for guidance… Ever try to take a 5th wheel or 18 wheeler through a traffic circle? Ever try to get into one with one of those guys already in it? Just OMG PITA.

With that out of the way, somewhere off I-12 bypassing New Orleans, I needed gas. This was fairly typical across most of Texas and L.A. along with much of Mississippi, Alabama, and New Mexico. Prices rose a little in Florida and Arizona.

The South & Louisiana

Tesla Anyone?

Louisiana Gas Prices Jan 2019

A couple of things to note about that sign. First off, it is mostly advertising Regular Gas. A H/T to Larry Ledwick on Octane. In another comment thread about why octane was lower in the West than on the East Coast, he reminded me that cold and altitude reduce octane needs. This caused me to experiment a bit. Turns out that Angus (my black Mercedes 190) has a knock sensor, so will run on “less than premium” but with reduced performance at full throttle as “what the added gas giveth, the spark retarding taketh away”.

I did some tests. On Mid Grade it loses a bit of the very full throttle, on regular it becomes doggy at about 1/2 to 3/4 throttle (you give it more gas and nothing much happens) while on Super it stays fast and with full acceleration. But if you are sitting at 1/2 throttle for 6 hours on the freeway why pay extra to have “zoom on tap”?

So after some tests, I started slowly working down the octane. Turns out that I can easily run Regular once out of the desert hill climb of California to Arizona and especially in the cool of the night. So now I fill up with Super in town (need that ‘off the line’ zip and freeway onramp performance!) but then do a tank of mid-grade for the ‘get out of dodge’ and then swap to regular for the Long Steady Cruise. It has saved me buckets of money with almost no impact on drivability. On the return from Florida I do run some mid-grade for the climb up the Rockies or for the climb to the High Desert as that’s fuller throttle use.

So, in fact, about 3/4 of my “run” is on Regular. (Some of the “mid-grade” is ‘mix your own’ where I’ll add 1/4 tank of Super to a residual 3/4 tank of Regular to get it ready for the climb. Octane enhancement is non-linear, so 1 unit of boost (think Ethyl lead) would give mid-grade but then it took 4 to get Super. This means 1/4 tank of Super in 3/4 of regular would give that same 1 unit of booster as mid-grade. I’m assuming non-lead octane boosters work the same as TELead…)

Lowest price I paid was about $1.69 / gallon. Nice.

So, ok, what else? Notice that yellow price of $1.95 ? That’s for “E 20” or 20% ethanol fuel for Flex Fuel cars. It is one octane point higher (88 vs 87) but costs a lot more, and with less fuel value. I have no idea why folks would pay more for less fuel heat content. However, it might let Angus pass California Smog Testing… except they don’t sell it here 😉

Next up, Diesel at $3 / gallon. WT? About a 70% price premium? Just crazy. In a real competitive market the max you would expect is a 30% premium for the added fuel value. For decades it was in fact sold at a discount to gasoline as it was a residual from gasoline manufacture. Yes, in winter the demand for #2 Heating Oil raises Diesel price some (as they are both #2 Oil just different degrees of clean) but usually that was a dime or 20 ¢ / gallon. Not a $buck. All across the nation I saw Diesel running at about $1/gallon MORE than gasoline. Often more than Super by a $buck, and in some places as much as $1.35 to $1.50 a gallon more. Just crazy. Yet mixed in along the way were a few non-brand places with Diesel at about $2.50 / gallon. Still higher than gasoline, but at least quasi sane. If running a trucking fleet, I’d be seriously looking at Gasoline engines or LNG alternatives, despite Diesel being a better engine and much more efficient.

Next we go to Texas:

Texas Gasoline Jan 2019

Now much of Texas was cheaper than this place. This was at a Truck Stop middle of nowhere and without much competition. Texas had some places down in that $1.6x range (but I couldn’t see how to get to a couple of Exxon stations with that price near Houston… Texas has these “frontage roads” next to the freeway and you get on / off on short suicide ramps that cross frontage road traffic at an angle… and then you may get to drive 5 miles to an underpass to get back another 5 miles to that gas station you passed and saw from the freeway… just not worth it.) So I stopped at the easy on / off Truck Stops instead 😉

Now here we see “only” about a dollar spread of Diesel over gasoline. So I’m driving my 25 mpg Gasoline car instead of my 25 mpg Diesel car… I’m sure that’s some Green Nuts idea of a benefit, but one carries a lot more “goods” for the gallon than the other one. We ought to be encouraging Diesel cars, not discouraging them. They are about 30% more efficient and that is the same as finding 30% more oil reserves.

Next note that they sell Propane for $3 / gallon. Propane ought to sell for less than Regular Gasoline on a BTU basis (or thermal energy basis). At one time it did and car conversions to propane were popular. At these prices not so much. Still, it’s about $1 to $2 / gallon cheaper than in California. So folks with RVs planning a cross country trip ought to plan a fill up in Texas and avoid arriving in California needing cooking fuel.

Texas is 1/3 of the cross country trip. On I-10 it is 880 miles. IIRC entry on I-20 is a bit longer at 938 miles. For a 2800 mile trip from SF area to Orlando 1/3 is 933 miles. Essentially the trip is 1/3 “mostly California” with a smidge of Arizona and New Mexico, then 1/3 Texas, then you get the
Ready for California Sticker Shock? 1/3 that’s 200 miles of Louisiana, a tiny bit of Mississippi and Alabama (about 80 miles) and then that long Florida Panhandle and I-75 down the middle. Florida gas used to be about 30 ¢/gallon more expensive but they seem to have gotten closer to their neighbors recently (more likely by others raising taxes on gas rather than Florida backing off…)

So when making that drive, it is optimal to put as much of your drive in Texas and each side of it as possible and have as little as possible in California. Why? Well let’s look at California prices…

And Then There Is California

Ready for California Sticker Shock?

Returning from Florida, California is mostly the drive from Arizona across the Mojave Desert and the L.A. basin, and then a run up I-5 to San Francisco. I always tank up just before leaving Arizona, and then top up about 1000 Palms or Desert Center (so as to avoid the need to stop in the L.A. Jungle.) Prices tend to rise after the desert and while you can find decent prices in the L.A. Metroplex (especially at ARCO stations) it isn’t easy to spot the good ones. Then, on the run up I-5, it can be highly variable. We’re talking $1/2 / gallon in 14 miles from the “one gas station” exit to the “several with competition”. It can be a $5 answer to know where to stop. I try to use Gas Buddy before I go to make sure I have some clue about where to buy.

So I’d been stopping at a cluster of gas stations at about highway 46. On the way out I stopped there only to find a Holy Hell Traffic Mess. Most of the right side of the west bound road having cement barriers, loads of folks backed up trying to make turns into solid (stuck) traffic to get out of gas stations and back to the freeway. There’s an ARCO station there with good prices for cash (they stick you for an added fee for cards though) but just not worth the pain with all the construction. A few miles down the road I saw an IHOP sign with a price (not in the usual Diesel Green nor in Gasoline Red but in ?? Yellow) that was quite nice. So decided to stop there on the way back. Turns out it’s a “Bait & Switch” gimmick.

IHOP Shell south of Hwy 46  on I-5 California

Yeah, over $4 / gallon. Welcome to California…

The interesting thing for me is that this Diesel Price is rather nice. I’m assuming it is Diesel as it is in green. Why “no brand” is so relatively cheap is an interesting question. Clearly they expect most folks to think it’s a gasoline price, take the exit, and then say “Oh Well” buy gas anyway and then get food at the IHOP. In reality, most folks will do what I did: Note I’d been snookered and vow to Never Ever stop there again. The IHOP was empty as were most all of the gas stalls. Then again, it was late in the evening.

Now of particular interest to me was that those prices were not the end of the gouge. Turns out there was a smaller sign under this that let you know the real gouge amount:

Detailed Gas Cost at Shell / IHOP Jan 2019

You get a 20 ¢ “uplift” if you use your pay-at-the-pump card for convenience. Even a Debit card. I saw this at other Shell stations too (including one in El Paso Texas – so it isn’t just a California thing).

Still, think just a moment. $1.69 was my low end, and this is $4.69 for premium on the card. A full $3 / gallon MORE.

Now just so you don’t think all of California is completely insane, I drove down the road a ways to another gas station and here’s what I payed at the ARCO there (no uplift for the card, BTW):

ARCO California I-5 Jan 2019

So $2.67 / gallon is a heck of a lot better than $4.29 / gallon and even $3.29 / gallon is better than $4.69 (by $1.40 !) so clearly a bit of shopping around is a big win. Furthermore, as I-5 is dead flat and I drive it in the cool evening, my comparison was really $2.67 vs $4.69 by combining modest gas price shopping with some octane management. That’s a cool $2 / gallon saved on about 12 gallons or $24 in ONE gas stop. It really really pays to shop your gas in California.

But then I’m still left wondering what I’m getting for my $1 / gallon MORE paid for regular gas in California over Texas / Louisiana…

Tesla Anyone?

It was interesting to note that the IHOP Shell station had a Tesla charging station installed. I’m sure the Tesla drivers will feel smug about avoiding all that $4+ gasoline (having no reason to shop around and find out it is much cheaper just down the road…). At least they would if there were any of them:

Tesla Charge Station I-5 California at IHOP / Shell Station

This is an 8 stall charging station. It is just as you pull into the property. Behind me are the gasoline islands, the convenience store and the IHOP restaurant. Note the lone Tesla parked at the furthest way stall? I did not see a charging cable attached to it (but didn’t look much) and why would you park as far away as possible at the entrance?

My guess is that this belongs to the owner. Was it given to them as an inducement to have the station installed? Perhaps with the “free” electricity early Tesla buyers got in the package? I note in passing all the other stalls are empty; and parked at the driveway entrance, it acts as an advertisement that this is where to stop.

Now also note that brown box / enclosure behind the charge points. That’s the Semi-truck sized charger that drives those charge points. That’s a massive amount of electricity for 8 stations.

On my drive into LA (headed out to Florida) I noticed that 2 cars / second were going the other way. My side was about as full. That’s 4 cars / second for all of about 6 hours of freeway. 3600 seconds / hour. 21600 seconds. 86,400 cars. Two charges to get to L.A. and a third on arrival so you can get somewhere interesting gives 259,200 charges. Figure about 10 kW-hr / hr for an average eCar at cruise x 3 hours is 30 kW-hr / charge (likely very conservative estimate) or about 7,776,000 k-W hours of charge.7,776 MegaWatt hours. 7.7 GigaWatts. From where would that power come were all those cars electric? Notice this ignores the trucks… That is just to run about 1/2 of ONE of our major interstate highways. There’s also Highway 99 on the other side of the valley and 101 by the coast. Then all the crossing highways. Then the entire SF Bay area and the killer, the LA Metroplex. I’d guess easily it goes over 100 GigaWatts. Where are the 100 new nuclear power stations to make that electricity 24 x 7 x 365? (You can’t expect the freeway to come to a halt on windless nights… we have them most of the time.)

So 8 empty charging stations (not counting the advertising car) when the goal is closer to 1/4 Million full…

By the year 2020 or 2030.

Ain’t gonna happen.

I’m ever more convinced that the world divides into Engineers who can do math (easily and well) and the Green Fools who can’t and just don’t believe that the numbers matter. There is simply no way you will get 100 GW of new power, 24 x 7, for charging eCars and get all those charge points built and get about 40 Million eCars sold in California alone in anything under a couple of decades (and that only with a massive emergency level of pressure). Even then, the only technically practical way to get that power is nuclear generating stations. The size is just too large for anything else.

Then there is that small matter of nobody bothering to drive their Tesla to LA due to “range anxiety” and not wanting to sit at the IHOP At Nowhere for 3 hours while it charges… certainly not when they can stuff gas in their car in a minute and be rolling again.

Now generalize that problem to the 2000 mile runs coast to coast of Interstates: 8, 10, 20, 40, 70, 80, 90 and all the 1000 mile N / S runs that connect them about every 50 to 100 miles… The required electric generation is a full on boggle. I think I’ll need to find other ways to estimate that quantity. Perhaps taking our “Quads” of fuel burn and figuring an eCar kW-hr conversion. Even without that, it’s pretty clear it just isn’t going to be possible to charge a nation of cars & trucks.

In Conclusion

Imagine you want to build something. You get materials and parts shipped in. Product taken away in trucks. Your workers arrive in their cars and expect to make enough money to feed themselves and those commuting costs, as wages.

Where would you put your company? Where Gas is $4+ / gallon, or where it is $1.80 or less / gallon?

I’ve noticed groceries and fast food have similar price “uplift” in California. As a worker, would you chose to work in a place with a $4 fast food lunch available or where it ran you $6 to $8 for lunch? Where you get 50% more groceries for your earned dollar, or where they tax it at 11 % when you earn it and 10 % when you spend it and THEN the stuff you buy costs more too?

Some of the absurdities of manipulated markets can last for a few years (like pricing your Diesel at $3.50 and then giving a $1/gallon ‘discount’ to corporate trucking lines back to the real $2.50 it ought to be; and blowing off the individual trucker and car drivers) but eventually reality bites.

In California, we have a large influx of Hispanic and Asian new arrivals. There is an exodus of the Middle Class. The State is dividing into a Rich Elite and a poor immigrant class. That is not stable and will fail.

With that context, why on Earth would anyone start a business in California, or keep one here if they can move it?

EV Sales Continue To Disappoint


By Paul Homewood


The SMMT has now published annual data for new car registrations in the UK.

The figures continue the declining trend begun in 2017, though registrations are still higher than in 2013.

Registrations of of diesels have plummeted by 29.6%, but are up for both petrol and AFVs. There is little difference in trends between private and fleet.

Mixed signals from government about future policy towards diesel have definitely had a major impact on sales, and are causing real damage to the industry.


However, there is no sign of EVs picking up the slack. Plug in sales (incl plug in hybrids) continue to be largely irrelevant within the overall scene, making up just 2.6% of overall sales. Excluding plug in hybrids, the figure is even worse, at 0.7%.

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Unplug Electric Vehicle Subsidies And Let Consumers Decide

PA Pundits - International

By Nicolas Loris ~

Frustrated with General Motors Co.’s recent announcement of plant closures and layoffs, President Donald Trump said the administration is now looking at cutting at subsidies to the automaker, including for electric vehicles.

Good. Families should be empowered to purchase the car they want without nudging from Washington and the financial help of their fellow taxpayers.

“The subsidies accrue to carmakers and America’s wealthiest households, which can also afford an electric vehicle without any help from other taxpayers,” writes Nicolas Loris. (Photo: EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER/Getty Images)

Electric vehicle handouts subsidize the wealthiest Americans and, despite their being advertised as a more “climate-friendly” option, they produce next to no climate benefit for the planet.

Trump does not quite have the power to cut GM’s current electric vehicles subsidies full stop. But he could play an important role in the future of the targeted tax subsidy.

Both federal and state governments…

View original post 684 more words

Vehicle Electrification Common Sense

From Watts Up With That:

Guest Blogger /

By Rud Istvan,

This is the first of two loosely related technology posts that ctm suggested might be interesting to WUWT. In full disclosure, the details stem from my financial interests in energy storage materials and related topics, having spent much time and money since 2007 on fundamental now globally issued energy storage materials patents for supercapacitance (the Helmholtz double layer physics that creates lightning in thunderstorms). Some of the info cited below is slightly dated because I was too lazy to make everything current. Some of this info was borrowed from my ebook The Arts of Truth and from a 2017 Climate Etc post. All conclusions nevertheless remain valid.

This post’s message (the abstract, if this were a normal clisci peer reviewed paper) is simple. Hybrid vehicles make economic and ‘climate’ sense. Plug ins may or may not depending on their architecture. Full electric vehicles (EVs) make neither economic nor climate sense.


There are various levels of vehicle electrification, so some definitions are needed. Hybrids all involve some degree of electrification of an otherwise fossil fueled vehicle. There are three generally accepted levels:

1. Simple engine off at idle, aka start/stop. This is not as technically easy as it sounds, since hydraulic fluid coupled automatic transmissions must be fully redesigned and starter batteries beefed up. Depending on drive circumstances, idle off can save about 5% fuel efficiency.

2. Regenerative braking, where the vehicle’s kinetic energy is recaptured to electrical storage and then reused in some fashion rather than dissipated as heat. Depending on vehicle size/weight and drive circumstances, regen braking can save about 7-9% fuel efficiency. Combined with idle off it is commonly known as mild hybridization, and typically cited mild hybrid values are something less than 15% net fuel efficiency gain. (There aren’t a lot of milds out there to provide real data.)

3. Full hybridization, which includes idle off, regen braking, and electric acceleration assist (plus some degree of electric only slow speed short distance motoring). Full hybrid fuel efficiency gains can be as high as 35-45%. Prius is the best known. Full details follow.

Then there are Plug in Hybrids (misleadingly aka PHEV), which can motor for some significant distance under battery alone. These come in two basic architectures. One is an ordinary full hybrid with a different or bigger battery, like the Prius Prime. The other is actually a range extended electric vehicle (not a true hybrid), like the Chevy Volt. The idea is to remove EV range anxiety, since a gasoline engine kicks in only when the battery is nearly exhausted. Details follow.

Then there are true electric vehicles like the Chevy Bolt or Tesla models. These operate on battery electric power alone, must be recharged from the grid, and commonly present ‘range anxiety’ for some subset of ordinary car use.

This post develops common sense conclusions for the following practical economic and environmental categories/cases:

-Start/Stop may make sense for both cases, but Milds do not;

-Full Hybrids almost always make sense for both cases;

-Plug Ins do or don’t make sense depending on the architecture;

-EVs never make sense for either case.


Simple start/stop makes economic and environmental sense by itself when the automatic transmission technology is changed from hydraulic fluid coupling to electronic dual clutch mechanical transmissions (DCT). Ford has announced that by 2019 all Ford transmissions (including pickups) will be DCT (which can simulate manual). Even without start/stop, the DCT alone gains 5-8% fuel efficiency by eliminating hydraulic fluid coupling losses. With a beefed up starter battery enabling start/stop, the full fuel efficiency savings are 10-13% while the incremental cost is minimal, maybe $100 for a beefier starter battery.

Mild hybridization has been tried several times, but it has almost never worked economically. There are two problems: a battery capable of accepting regen charging energy is pretty big if having acceptable vehicle life, and the extra machinery for using that electrical energy for whatever purpose. The only present commercial mild system is Valeo (a belt driven bigger combined starter/alternator for both regen and traction boost, plus a supercap plus PbA ‘hybrid’ storage system). Valeo’s system is only on a few of Peugeot’s Citroen diesels in Europe.

Full hybridization like the Toyota Prius or my 2007 Ford Hybrid Escape [i] works in several synergistic ways to improve fuel efficiency, and makes more economic sense in larger vehicles. (Note, in 2007, both hybrid technologies were identical, just scaled to different vehicles. Ford traded its European small diesel technology to Toyota in return for the Toyota Prius hybrid technology, no cash exchanged nor royalties owed.)

Full hybrid idle-off saves ~5% depending on traffic. Regenerative braking saves another ~7-9% depending on traffic. The additional power and torque of the electric motor enables two further major savings. First, the internal combustion engine (ICE) can be downsized, saving both weight and fuel. My AWD Escape hybrid uses a small 1.5L I4 engine yet is functionally comparable to the heavier AWD Escape V6. Second, the ICE can be converted from the Otto cycle to the Atkinson cycle. Atkinson ICE saves about 20% in fuel economy, but at the expense of significant torque loss. (Typical Otto ICE vehicles are ~26-30% thermally efficient, the lower number from regular gas compression ratios, the higher from premium gas compression ratios. Higher octane rating enables higher compression ratios and more efficiency.) The newest Prius I4 5th generation 2018 Atkinson ICE gets an incredible 37% thermal efficiency on regular! Atkinson ICE torque loss doesn’t matter in a full hybrid; the electric machine provides more than the lost torque. The 2018 Prius family gets combined 52MPG. It couples a 95 HP 1.8L Atkinson I4 with a 71 HP electric motor for a total of 192 HP in a mid size sedan.

There are two 2018 Prius battery choices. All models except the Prime use NiMH, same as my Escape and as Prius from its 2000 launch. The Prius Prime is their Plug In. No different than the other 2018 models in any respect EXCEPT a lithium ion battery (LIB), onboard charging, and a different battery control software scheme. To get >10 year >100,000 miles life NiMH needs to be floated between about 45% and 55% state of charge (SoC). It is only possible to motor a couple of miles at speeds under 20MPH before the engine kicks in so the alternator can recharge the NiMH traction battery. LIB allows the Plug In Prius Prime to motor 25 miles at any speed before the ICE kicks in. Prime 240V recharge time is just 2 hours. Warranty is 10 years or 100,000 miles, same as the NiMH non-plug in versions. Toyota’s only real incremental Prime costs are the incremental LIB over NiMH and associated onboard AC/DC charging electronics. Yet Toyota charges a $3,100 Prime premium (starting Prime 2018 MSRP $27,300). Makes sense for Toyota, and for enviro customers who want plug in cache. Whether it makes climate sense is a question explored below using the Volt as the example.

Prius comfortably seats 5 along with 24.6 cubic feet (cf) of cargo space (or 65cf with the rear seat folded down). Range is 633 miles from ~52 mpg. 2018 price is ≥$24,200 depending on model and trim. Toyota unsurprisingly sold ~1,170,000 Prius from 2010 (year of Volt introduction) through yearend 2015.

Now compare the alternate architecture, a range extended EV like the Chevy Volt. The 2016 Volt is powered by two electric motors providing only 149 HP, fed from a 18.4 Kwh LIB providing a marketed ~50 mile EV only range, twice that of the 2018 Prius Prime. The original all-electric range was chosen because about 2/3 of US urban trips are under 40 miles. With a 240V charger, Volt recharging takes 4.5 hours (with 120V charging, it takes 13 hours). The battery is warrantied for only 8 years or 100,000 miles. The LIB battery weights 405# (189kg) and is a 5.5 foot long T shaped monster. The range extending gasoline engine is a 1.5 liter 101HP I4 driving an onboard 54 Kw generator. With a full tank of gas and a fully charged battery, Volt range is ~408 miles. Seating is essentially only 4, and cargo capacity is only 10.6cf. For those middling vehicle values compared to Prius Prime the MSRP is ≥$33170. Unsurprisingly, Chevy has only sold about 117,000 Volts from 2010 launch through YE 2015 (the same time frame as Prius sales above, so a fair comparison). The comparable sales data say the Volt does not make much economic sense.

Do plug ins make environmental sense? Lets take the Volt, because it is more reliant on the generation grid.

EPA fuel economy ratings are required by law to be prominently placed on all new vehicles for sale in the US. This familiar sticker provides three numbers: city, highway, and combined (55/45) mpg.

Ambiguity arises from the changed plug in meaning of ‘miles per gallon’. Plug in range extended EVs like the Chevy Volt operate partly on a battery recharged from the grid, so no gallons for those miles. Volt gets a combined 37mpg in extended range mode using its gasoline engine to generate electricity. If a Volt never traveled more than about 40 miles before being recharged from the grid, its engine would never start and it would never use any gallons of gasoline. Its combined miles per gallon would be very ambiguous since division by zero is mathematically undefined.

To solve this very fundamental problem the EPA did two things. First, they calculated an energy equivalent 93 MPGe for electric ‘no gallons’ mode. We shall see that this equivalence is based on faulty assumptions. Then they explicitly assumed the Volt travels about 45% on battery alone, giving a weighted average of 60 MPGe. Except in environmental reality the Volt cannot possibly get that ‘official’ EPA mileage.


One gallon of automotive gasoline contains about 132 megajoules of heat energy. Volt’s combined ‘extended range’ (using its engine/generator) 37 MPG rating is about (132/37) 3.6 megajoules/mile. One KWh is also 3.6 megajoules; the gasoline rating is equivalent to 1 KWh/mile. This of course includes the engine/generator’s thermal losses, which are proven by the Volt’s exhaust and radiator.

The EPA sticker also says the Volt gets 36 KWh per 100 miles when the battery is powering the Volt’s electric motors! That is only 0.36 KWh/mile, 2.8 times the efficiency from the same electric motors! This discrepancy proves that the EPA MPGe rating does not include the fact that grid electricity generation is on average about 45% efficient (mixed now about half and half coal at 34% and CCGT at 61%), with up to 10% of that lost in transmission and another 10% or so in distribution. Power plants have smokestacks and cooling towers just like Volts have exhausts and radiators. Correcting for the laws of thermodynamics (which were only applied to Volt’s extended range mode), the Volt operates in battery mode about (.36/[0.45*0.8]) 1KWh/mile in comparable net energy/emissions equivalents. Of course moving the car takes the same energy in either gas or battery mode; Volt’s electric motors don’t care about their source of electricity.

EPA’s battery MPGe should be reduced to account for the thermal losses in generating and distributing grid electricity, since these were included in the 37mpg gasoline rating. The true energy equivalent battery mode is about (93*.45*.8) 33.5 MPGe. No surprise that this is even lower than 37 MPG using gasoline. Charging and discharging the Volt battery is inefficient, causing additional energy losses; the Volt battery is liquid cooled and has its own radiator partition. We can even estimate that EPA’s measured Volt battery energy efficiency is about (33.5/37) 90%. Using the EPA’s assumption about all electric driving, the final overall rating should be about (33.5*0.45+37*0.55) 35 MPGe. The 60MPGe EPA rating just nonsense, and clearly the better environmental choice by a factor of (52/35) almost 1.5x is a less expensive Prius of some sort.

A final observation. It follows without further analysis that the EV Chevy Bolt makes no sense either economically or environmentally. And by extension, neither do any other EVs. Economically the Bolt is horrible (and higher priced Teslas are worse). Range is only 238 miles. An hour of 240V recharging provides only 25 miles of range; to get 238 miles requires about 8-9 hours of charging. The Bolt essentially seats four, with only 16.9cf of cargo space. Yet the MSRP is ≥$37500. On a correctly compared environmental ‘global warming’ basis, Bolt has to be even worse than the Volt.

[i] Personal economic data from comparable vehicle functionality. My AWD 2007 Escape Hybrid (small true frame based SUV [not a crossover]) with a class 1 tow hitch is most comparable to the 2007 AWD Escape with a 3L V6 engine and class 2 tow hitch. V6 was 240 HP, my hybrid has a combined 247 HP–153 from the 1.5L I4 Atkinson ICE plus 94 from the electric motor. The 2007 MSRP hybrid premium over the V6 was ~$3400. BUT that year’s federal tax credit for this hybrid was $3500, so we were $100 better off on day one. Better, the AWD V6 EPA combined mileage was 23mpg, while my equivalent Hybrid is EPA combined 30mpg. That is 30% better mileage, saving gas for now 11 years and 85k miles. Best, the V6 used premium, my hybrid uses regular. The price difference in our area is over $1/gallon. So not only less gas, also cheaper gas. The fuel savings work out to about $6700 so far. The NiMH traction battery is still going strong and the vehicle has been basically problem free.

Electric vehicles send real-time data to Chinese government

Tallbloke's Talkshop

Chinese electric car [image credit:]
As one researcher said of the Chinese government: “Tracking vehicles is one of the main focuses of their mass surveillance.” People anywhere can already be tracked via mobile phones, but this takes it a bit further.

When Shan Junhua bought his white Tesla Model X, he knew it was a fast, beautiful car.

What he didn’t know is that Tesla constantly sends information about the precise location of his car to the Chinese government, reports TechXplore.

Tesla is not alone. China has called upon all electric vehicle manufacturers in China to make the same kind of reports—potentially adding to the rich kit of surveillance tools available to the Chinese government as President Xi Jinping steps up the use of technology to track Chinese citizens.

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Vehicle Electrification, EV Batteries—A New Hope (Followup)

By Rud Istvan,

EV Batteries—and A New Hope

This is the second of two loosely related guest posts that ctm and I recently discussed, drawing on my subject matter expertise (SME) in energy storage materials and related matters. My SME status was hard won over several intense research years in support of my now globally issued energy storage materials patents for supercapacitors. This post is written for laymen (in the spirit of expert Andy May concerning his recent superb petroleum shale geophysics posts). It omits non-essential technical details (of which there are many) and focuses on electric vehicles (EV), because that is most relevant to global warming concerns and WUWT skeptics. It intentionally contains a lot of ‘terminology’ that enables those interested to follow up with independent internet based research. There are also some related ‘obiter dicta’ making separate points leading to an important ancillary WUWT conclusion. It is written in two parts: Current lithium ion improvements, and A New Hope (an intentional nod to Star Wars Episode IV, because that is what it is).

Current LiIon improvements

All true batteries store electric charge in some form of an electrochemical reaction, either primary or secondary (aka reversible/rechargeable). All are descended from Alessandro Volta’s 1800 invention of his primary ‘pile’ using copper, zinc, paper separators, and brine as electrolyte. (You can make a Volta pile in your kitchen by taking a US penny (outer surface is now plated copper), a sanded US penny (interior is now zinc) and sticking both about ¾ the way into close together but not touching (~2mm separation) slits into a lemon (lemon juice is the electrolyte, lemon pulp is the separator). Good enough for lighting a small Christmas tree bulb for a while (until the undefaced penny’s copper plating is consumed) for your child’s middle school science fair project. Just touch the two bulb wires to the protruding penny edges. Either way works, since this is a DC pile and little Xmas bulbs only care about amp*volt since they heat by resistance ohms. (For the historically inclined, Alessandro’s invention of the battery pile got the volt (electrical ‘force’)–one of three fundamental DC electricity parameters–named after him. [The other two are the ohm (resistance, named after Georg Ohm for his 1827 paper, and the amp named after Andre Ampère for his 1823 current [{charge ‘volume”} speculation—although that was not established rigorously in physics until Maxwell in 1861 in his famous four tensor equation system fully describing all of electromagnetism]. But I digress.) So history suggests Volta’s frog leg twitching battery pile discovery was important. And our modern life, with or without global warming, but definitely with electrics and electronics, confirms history’s judgment.

In the most familiar reversible (rechargeable) commercial battery type, vehicular lead acid (PbA) invented in 1859, the electrochemical reaction is simply lead to lead sulfate and back, using sulfuric acid in water as electrolyte providing sulfate ions plus the disassociated hydrogen ions as electrical charge carriers.

Lithium ion batteries (LIB) are the most energy dense rechargeable electrochemistry presently known, essentially because lithium ions transfer twice the electrical charge of aqueous hydrogen ions (PbA, NiMH). (Since lithium, like sodium, really doesn’t like water, the LIB electrolyte solvent must be a water free organic [aprotic] solvent, hence their infamous flammability.) LIBs were initially developed in the 1980s. The conventional rechargeable LIB used in portable electronics and EVs is an electrochemical ‘rocking chair’ subtype, where on charging the lithium ions resident in the metallic cathode intercalate into the carbon (graphite) anode via an aprotic (organic, usually propylene carbonate [PC] or acetyl nitrile [AN] electrolyte) containing a dissolved lithium salt such as LiPF6. This intercalation process electrochemically reverses on discharge, just like like PbA.

There are several metallic LIB cathode materials, the two most common being Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePF4) and Lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2, ‘LCO’)—often with other added metals like nickel and manganese (LiNiMnCoO2, ‘NMC’). The cobalt cathode types have the best energy density so are the most common—hence legitimate media concerns about future cobalt supply. The alternative “Peak lithium” concern is mostly fake news, as lithium is the 20th most abundant element on earth. The peak lithium question is cost not abundance, as the inexpensive present supplies come from lithium rich brines or spodumene rich pegmatites. Most cobalt is a minor byproduct of copper ore production, a vastly greater mining proposition already much more depleted in global ore grade.

The individual LIB cells packaged into the battery come in two common form factors:

Cylindrical has the anode/separator/cathode assembly spiral wound and stuffed in a tube (like an AA battery). Tesla uses this form factor, as do Apple’s new iAirPods.


Pouch has the assembly stacked flat like pancakes and sealed with electrolyte in an impermeable ‘bag’. Chevy Volt uses this form factor, as do iPhones and iPads.


These permutations lead to many tradeoffs among cost, energy density (both volumetric and gravimetric), power density, and cycle life as a function of heat dissipation and solid electrolyte interface (SEI) buildup on the carbon anode. Virtually all LIB improvement initiatives focus on reducing cost, enhancing energy/power density, or extending cycle life. Despite much press hype (usually as part of some fund raising scheme), none of these labs/startups are anywhere near volume commercialization, and none solve the fundamental energy density related range anxiety issues for EV’s.

The inescapable LIB range anxiety problem is basic electrochemistry. Although the figures vary some with precise cathode composition, the theoretical limit for LIB LCO or NMC is ~280Wh/kg. The Tesla cell is already 254Wh/kg in 2018! Elon Musk cannot overcome approaching that theoretical limit with his Tesla GigaFactories. Nor can any LIB startup, no matter how innovative they claim to be.

Tesla says its Supercharger stations are an alternative range anxiety solution (20 minutes to 50% charge, 40 minutes to 80%—versus 5 minutes to gas up). BUT what they don’t say is that such rapid charging kills battery life due to rapid charging heat buildup thanks to the inescapable Nernst electrochemistry equation, which is derivable in two separate ways (fundamental thermodynamics and Boltzmann statistical mechanics) insuring Nernst is ‘real’–like the Pythagorean theorem.

Two fascinating related sidebars:

(1) The Pythagorean theorem (in a right triangle, a2+b2=c2 where c is the hypotenuse) has been derived thousands of ways both geometric and algebraic. It is thought the original Greek ‘proof’ was geometric despite Diophantus, since algebra was ‘invented’ much later by the Arab al-Kwarizmi.

(2) Walther Nernst derived his famous equation in 1887, for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1920. Tesla hype is NOT ignoring some minor annoying detail.

A New Hope

The other basic form of direct electrical charge storage is capacitance where no chemical reaction is involved, only basic Maxwell physics. The most familiar is the simple ceramic ‘chipcap’ where charge is stored electrostatically on metallized plates separated by a ceramic dielectric. These capacitors are the modern descendants of the Leyden jar invented in 1745, and are ubiquitous—trillions of tiny chipcaps worth $billions per year, used in all electrical and electronic devices. In the following image all those little variously sized, both ends white tipped, brownish things are chipcaps.


Passive filtering components for the A11 on an iPhone 8 Plus PCB

The most energy dense capacitor is a supercapacitor (aka ultracapacitor aka ELDC), where the charge storage mechanism is the interface between two phases of matter and the storage is in the Helmholtz’ ‘electrolytic’ double layer capacitance (DLC), first explained by him in 1888. This is the electrostatic physics mechanism that produces lightning in thunderstorms. (As an aside, the motto of my NanoCarbons LLC company holding my materials patents is “Lightning in a Bottle”, for good reason.) Most supercaps use special expensive high purity activated carbons for both the anode and cathode, and a standard aprotic solvent with a lithium salt (or cheaper salt equivalents such as TEMA or TEA) as the electrolyte. Supercaps have between 10 and 100 times the power density of the best power dense LIB, but only about 1/10th the energy density. Their main advantage is where power density and cycle life are paramount. Supercaps have tested cycle lives >106 compared to LIB with at best low single digit 103 when babied. A $billion plus market today, and about a $250 million plus carbon materials market (which suffices for NanoCarbons LLC).

It turns out that it is possible to create a hybrid cell that is half LIB and half DLC. The details are complicated, but the basics are simple. Lithiate the carbon anode rather than the (also carbon) cathode of what would otherwise be a supercap, with LiPF6 as the electrolyte salt. This hybrid is called a Lithium Ion Capacitor (LIC).

In 2007 and 2008, Subaru head of R&D Dr. Hatozaki presented prototype data (at the 17th-18th annual International Seminars on DLC and Hybrid Energy Storage Devices) for LIC cells with very attractive measured properties.

Subaru was looking for a replacement to standard automotive lead acid batteries (PbA) that would have a significantly enhanced cycle life with more energy/power density in a PbA size without excessive cost. Subaru’s motivation was an under hood battery replacement for mild hybridization like the Valeo system, that did not kill cycle life via the Nernst equation. They used a standard activated carbon for the cathode, lithiated graphite for the anode (with a very clever first charge lithiation scheme using a wrapped lithium metal foil mesh), and standard LIB LiPF6 as the electrolyte salt in PC solvent. The result was a 3.8 volt device (better than ~3.6V LIB and much better than supercaps at 2.7V for basic electrochemical potential breakdown reasons beyond the scope of this post) with a demonstrated 20,000 cycles (95%SoC to 45%SoC [Δ2.2V] at a 40C rate at 80°C (Holy Nernst equation!!) for simple under the engine hood replacement where an ordinary PbA otherwise sits but even beefed up fails early and often in mild hybrid applications.

But, Subaru decided LIC enabled mild hybridization did not make commercial sense (see companion post ‘Electrification Common Sense). So they licensed their LIC technology to JM Energy. It is sold as the Ultimo and used in specialty applications like industrial UPS (backup/reactive power/peak support). A Subaru commercial near miss, despite Dr. Hatozaki’s brilliant R&D success.

The supercapacitor energy density limitation that LIC seeks to overcome is directly related to the effective (carbon) surface (per gram or cc) upon which the Helmholtz double layer can form, and to the voltage at which it can operate for adequate cycle life. Activated carbons have high total surface areas, but surprisingly low effective surfaces. (Full disclosure: My NanoCarbons inventions cost effectively increase effective surface about 50% using patented tricks, lowering cell costs by 20-30%.)

Growth of vertically aligned closely spaced multiwall carbon nanotubes on a metal current collector via a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process provides very high effective surface (an MIT Ph.D thesis). But CVD is difficult to scale and quite expensive.


The 2009 MIT spinout company that attempted to commercialize this technology for EV’s has received tens of $millions in DARPA and DOE grants, but has struggled to get beyond very high priced very small niche specialty markets. It survived, barely, mostly on continued government R&D support rather than product sales.

When Geims got the 2010 Nobel Prize for discovering graphene, it was surmised by many that graphene based structures could solve the effective surface problem more easily and cheaply than vertically aligned carbon nanotubes. Graphenes are essentially single atom sheets of carbon (like an ‘unrolled’ single wall nanotube, only with greater XY area). They are extremely strong, highly conductive, and fairly easy to make. Graphene Energy (spun out of Ruoff’s nanotech materials group at U. Texas Austin) investigated this energy storage possibility. Ruoff converted graphite oxide (GO) to graphene in an aqueous solution using acid. Their problem was that the resulting graphenes clump thanks to Van der Waals forces, and the effective clump surface was no better than NanoCarbons LLC but much more expensive. Graphene Energy failed and folded.


What this failed company’s research suggested was that some inexpensive way to make a robust unclumped graphene structure might be a path forward.

Given that background, imagine my SME shock reading in 2016 that Henrick Fisker has just founded a new electric vehicle company plus a new ‘battery’ subsidiary, Fisker Nanotech, claiming >400 mile battery range plus very rapid charge time in a lithium/graphene device. The HOLY GRAIL according to MSM PR! For those who do not know about him, Henrick Fisker is a famous Danish supercar designer (Aston Martin DB8 of James Bond movie fame, amongst others). He started a US electric supercar company before Musk’s Tesla. Alas, the sourced batteries exploded over 100 times in his Karma cars (really bad karma). Then his LIB supplier A123 Systems (a nanotech spun out of MIT) imploded into bankruptcy losing $250 million of US subsidies and grants plus $100 million for investors, after being sold to China for ~$200 million. Fisker Automotive quickly followed, whose investors promptly lost an additional $1.4 billion.

Can there be any credence to Fisker’s 2016 announced phoenix like rise from his EV Karma ashes? He has funding, so somebody believes. But then, many somebodies also believe Elon Musk and his LIB GigaFactory. The credibility question requires untangling a fascinating technology development web that leads to a new LIC technology. The patent applications for Fisker’s PR’d New Hope have now published. The most important of several are US20170149107 (Hybrid electrochemical cell) and US20170369323 (Production on a large scale). Interested readers can go examine the technical invention details for free using the simple application number search function at the USPTO website.

In what follows we explain simply what Fisker is up to, and how the New Hope invention came about. There are several subparts, producing a combined plausible commercial breakthrough. Each is yet another self-contained energy storage R&D mini-saga teaching lesson.

Thread one is the invention of laser scribed graphene (LSG) in 2012. Then UCLA Ph.D student El-Kady in Prof. Kaner’s nanotech lab made the LSG breakthrough. He took ordinary graphite oxide, coated it onto an ordinary DVD disk using water, then ran the dried DVD disk through an ordinary commercial HP DVD Lightscribe. (Lightscribe used a 780nm [infrared] 5 mW LED laser to inscribe a DVD label/illustration onto a DVD surface coated with heat sensitive dye, each scribe track about 20 microns wide, total full disk pass for a ‘label’ about 20 minutes.)

HP has since stopped selling LightScribe technology because it is monochromatic and not durable. Another commercial near miss.

The LSG lab process produced about 8μ thick 3D graphene structures in DVD sized sheets via simple laser heat reduction of graphite oxide to graphene. These graphene films are extremely mechanically robust because of 3D edge interlinking.


He further showed that six passes of the Lightscribe laser (each ~20 minutes per dvd) improved conductivity many fold. He made a high effective surface, mechanically robust, highly conductive graphene structure for supercaps. Ph.D granted along with a major Nature paper. This was reported and intensively discussed at the ISDLC conference in 2012. We global ‘experts’ discounted it, because the Nature paper showed the electrode thickness was only ~8 microns and the reported supercap energy density was nothing exceptional in aqueous phosphoric acid electrolyte at maximum 1 V, practically useless since energy stored is a function of voltage squared and supercaps were at that time already at 2.7V. We were probably right about the Nature paper, but (mea culpa) probably wrong on its subsequent New Hope implications.

Thread two is the subsequent 2015 El Kady and Kaner development of an asymmetric hybrid device based on LSG. Their new hybrid combined LSG graphene carbon supercapacitance with (subsequently electrodeposited nanoparticle) MnO2 pseudocapacitance. Total voltage was now 2 V, up from 1 V. Still not a lot of stored energy, but perhaps interesting for specialized niche applications like transdermal drug delivery via electroporation according to hyped UCLA PR. Yawn.

Thread three is from recent LIB research. Lithium titanate has been an object of intense study for several years as a safer, energy denser alternative to traditional intercalating graphite for LIB anodes. There is a big problem. The material’s conductivity is very poor, so its power density is grossly inadequate, and its charging time excessive even for cell phones and laptops. Graphene is extremely conductive. So this nanotech research focused on somehow incorporating conductive graphene into the bulk of lithium titanate at a nano-level in order to improve anode conductivity.

There have been two ‘recent’ seminal lab research ‘breakthroughs’. Both use nanotechnology and the idea of graphite oxide plus chemical precursors to lithium titanate, with the final material mix formed in a single heat treatment synthesis. One paper used an aerosol process. The other paper used a sol gel process. [Guo et. al., Electrochemica Acta 109: 33-38 (2013), available outside paywall via google as an posting.] These newish papers present two different lithium titanate precursor chemistries together with graphite oxide deposited using two different methods for a subsequent single nanocomposite heat synthesis.

Fisker Nanotech did not said anything specific in their massive 2016 fundraising PR about their ‘battery’ other than it uses graphene and lithium (their patent applications published more than a year AFTER their big PR funding push). My SME supposition in 2016 was that they had a new manufacturing method LIC. A mechanically robust LSG graphene cathode plus a mechanically robust hybrid graphene/lithium titanate anode, anodes synthesized in one step from triple precursors using an LSG analog rather than the literature’s sol gel or aerosol. Much easier and cheaper than Subaru’s 2008 anode lithiation. And likely still ~20000 LIC cycle life at a 40C charge rate for much faster EV charging while still meeting 20000 cycle vehicle device life (20000/365 is 27 years at two charges per day). The now published applications show that my initial SME 2016 suppositions were correct.

Fisker also said they had a patent pending machine to make 1000 Kg (/day?) of graphene electrode at $0.10/Kg. That may be a bit hyped, but was not implausible even in 2016 by simply ‘thought experiment’ reengineering of LSG in light of the two LIB lithium titanate anode papers already cited above, before reading now published US20170369323. Following is the written (posted 2016 on Judith Curry’s Climate Etc), thought experiment at the time.

The commercial Lightscribe 780nm 5mW laser has a track width of 20 microns. It took 6 20 minute DVD spins to reach optimal LSG conductivity. Fine for simple lab proof of principle for a Ph.D thesis. Not fine for volume production. But there are cheap commercial solid-state diode 780nm lasers with up to 2 watts (2000 mW) power each. Rather than a lens concentrating the laser power as in the Lightscribe, it could be a lens dispersing 2000mW over a larger area with enough power for 1 pass heat treatment as in the sol gel and aerosol papers. Lightscribe hit 20 microns track width with 5mW 6 times for perhaps a millisecond each for an optimal graphene electrode; that is a total of ~30mW on 20 microns for ~6 milliseconds. A 2000mW 780nm laser could hit a 1.3 millimeter stripe with the same total power at the same scan speed. Or an even wider track with a slower scan rate (more likely for a bulk production machine).

Imagine a paper machine like system. The anode furnish box equivalent is continuously spreading a water based graphite oxide (GO) plus 2 lithium titanate chemical precursors slurry onto a rapidly moving continuous support substrate equivalent to the Lightscribe DVD. First step beyond the furnish box, evaporate the furnish water with radiant heat and fans. Second step, IR heat nanosynthesize using powerful 2W spread focus 780nm lasers, converting GO to graphene and the lithium titanate precursors to interspersed lithium titanate nanocrystals. This finished anode material is still supported by the rapidly moving continuous support belt. Third step, peel off and spool up a finished continuous electrode sheet as wide and long as wished as the support belt turns under at the end of the machine for its return trip.

Imagine a second identical machine making the complementary 3D graphene only cathode by simply leaving out the lithium titanate precursors from the furnish box mix. Big rolls, made very fast and cheap. Spooling up very thin but very strong electrodes, made continuously in bulk very cheaply. No expensive aerosol or sol gel or CVD small batches as in the previous lab papers and commercial attempts.

Imagine assembly of Chevy Volt like prismatic pouch ‘battery’ cells. Cut the electrode materials to size before or after stacking as many layers (with separators) as wanted from the spooled rolls; they are very conductive so simple contact likely suffices. No backing metal current collector is needed like for LIB anodes and supercap anodes and cathodes (a cost and weight saving). Attach a current collector to one end (the hybrid MnO2 patent application describes simple silver soldering at the external case connection point of the stacked layers). Encapsulate in pouch, fill with electrolyte, seal—just like Chevy Volt cells.

Form a battery pack similar to Chevy Volt/Bolt, with fewer interleaved thin aluminum heat extraction plates needed. Done except for the control electronics.

The basic cell and battery production steps have already been developed by GM. Continuous sheet nanoelectrode production is analogous to conventional papermaking, substituting purpose build evaporation/ LSG for the draining mesh belt/heat calendaring of paper machines. Every other needed technology element has been shown in the lab. Thanks to optics and LED infrared lasers, scale up appears to be a matter of straightforward engineering rather than invention.

Concluding comments

First, the various asides in this guest post were intended to make a fundamental science/technology point indirectly. Battery electrochemistry is NOT a ‘new’ invention like semiconductors in 1949. Nor does it follow Moore’s law as warmunists might wish. (This is also true for PV, but proving that is way beyond the technical scope of this post. See guest post Grid Solar Parity at Judith Curry’s Climate Etc for a factual take on that subject.) Battery technology is now a very tough slow slog, nothing like what global warming activists fantasize.

Second, in 2017 Fisker announced his coming EV supercar will NOT initially use the Fiskers Nanotech revolutionary LIC that he (fundraising) PR’d in 2016 as discussed in this post. Fisker will instead use conventional LIB pouch cells from Korea’s LG Chem, the supplier to the Chevy Volt (to newly be discontinued in 2019 by GM for apparent reasons predicted in loosely companion post Vehicle Electrification Common Sense). The path from lab to commercial scale production is long, fraught, and uncertain. Fisker just proved that truism again.

Nanotechnology enabled LIC is the only plausible EV option on the present technical horizon. It is truly the only New Hope. But like the rest of the Star Wars saga, it presently exists in another galaxy far far away.

100% Renewable Deception

PA Pundits - International

By David Wojick, Ph.D. ~

Press coverage of the crusade for 100% renewable electricity invariably talks about wind and solar energy. As I have pointed out, the wind and solar fantasy requires a stupendous amount of battery storage, which is never mentioned. This is because the 100% feasibility studies are deceptive.

Wind and solar come with the big battery problem. Here it is at its simplest. America uses about four trillion kilowatt hours of juice a year. If we generated all of that using intermittent wind and solar, something like 70 to 80% of the time it would have to come from batteries, not from the original renewable generators. Just how many billions of KWh of batteries that would take is a complex computation, but it is a bunch. Millions of container sized batteries for sure. The only question is how many millions?

For those advocating 100% renewables for…

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Electri-Fried Ford Fusion

From Watts Up With That:

Andy May / October 21, 2018

Guest Post by Renee Hannon

My dad is an off-the-grid kind of guy and the cost of his lifestyle choice is usually secondary. He was one of the first in Delaware to install a solar hot water heater on his roof in the early 1970s. During the past decades a gorgeous oak tree grew tall and shaded his solar panels. But that’s OK because the oak tree brought birds, squirrels and other wildlife near his deck for countless hours of viewing pleasure. So, in a
sunny spot he put solar panels on the garage roof plus a new free-standing solar panel by the driveway. That free-standing solar panel is big enough to park a car under and, so far, the neighbors haven’t complained. I’m not sure what those solar panels cost but his electric bill is about $5 a month.

Solar panels on garage roof and additional free-standing solar panel.

My dad was also one of the first people to heat and cool his Delaware house with geothermal energy. He drilled three wells about 175 feet deep to tap ‘free’ energy. The upfront costs won’t be paid off for 15 years or more, probably after his funeral. He doesn’t really care about initial investment costs because he’s less dependent on the “grid” or “providers.” And the geothermal energy maintains his house at an even and very comfortable temperature.

Then of course, we have electric cars.   According to my dad, any gasoline price over $1 per gallon is outrageous let alone the fact that vehicle emissions are a pollutant. Although a gallon of gasoline energy is cheaper today than a gallon of water and automobile fuel emissions are stabilizing. His first electric car was the Toyota Prius. He loved that car and bragged about how it cost only $20 to drive from Delaware to Florida. Well, that wasn’t good enough. He saw a 2017 Ford Fusion and within a week he traded in his Prius and bought a new Fusion Platinum energi. EPA-estimated rating quoted by Ford is 104 city/91 hwy/97 combined MPGe. MPGe is the EPA equivalent measure of gasoline fuel efficiency for electric mode
operation. The Fusion’s CO2 emissions are virtually zero.

Photo of the Ford Fusion Platinum Electric Car

Two months later, the Ford Fusion was driven to Florida with minimal luggage since the trunk is about the size of a large laundry basket due to batteries stored there. My mother wouldn’t drive the car because of
all the intimidating electronics, vibrations, beeps and buttons. After a few months in Florida, she finally
drove about 6000 feet to the store and back home.

The charging plug-in is illuminated brilliant blue. It’s a great night light while grilling on the porch in Florida during dusk. Dad is so proud of his electric car. He loves planet Earth, conserving energy and reducing emissions. He’s minimally dependent on the grid with his solar and geothermal energy home and new electric car.

Picture of the cool illuminating charge port.

Things were good when my parents left Florida and headed 1250 miles north to their Delaware home for the
summer. Oh, I need to mention he didn’t have to fill the gasoline tank for five months while in Florida and averaged about 100 miles MPGe.

Once back in Delaware, a thunderstorm came passing through. Not a notable storm, just a typical summer storm. The house was struck by lightning on September 7, 2018. Mom and dad heard a loud crack. They were fine and didn’t think too much of it.

The next couple of days were challenging as they discovered all the damage.  The typical stuff.  They found lots of electrical components blown out that didn’t work. They had to replace the hot water tank, the computer was fried as well as several other electrical items. He had a large deductible on his homeowner’s insurance. I think they were getting close to paying off all the repairs and the insurance deductible. A week after being struck by lightning they thought they were in the clear.

Then dad was driving his beloved Ford Fusion and realized it was not holding a charge and other strange stuff was happening with the electronics. The car had been parked in the detached garage and was plugged into the grid. But wait, wouldn’t you think a modern electric car would be designed with a built-in circuit breaker for electrical storms like this? Guess not! He immediately drove his electric car straight to the Ford dealer and said something was wrong.

That was SIX long weeks ago and no end in sight. Turns out the Fusion had an en-lightning experience and is completely incapacitated. Car insurance doesn’t know how to deal with electric cars that have been struck by lightning. They want pictures. Really? What does an electric car demobilized by lightning look like? Well, the same as an electric car that hasn’t been struck by lightning. Except none of the 2 separate battery compartments work now. It turns out the lightning strike blew out the electrical circuit boards. After weeks of back and forth with the insurance company, things started progressing. Repair work is underway.

My mom thinks this is one of the first Ford electric cars struck by lightning to be repaired.  The dealer and insurance company need to keep calling Ford’s corporate office in Atlanta to find out what to do.  Now the dealer says they need a special circuit board, but there are none available to fix my dad’s Ford Fusion.  After six weeks of ongoing efforts, Ford will not have the circuit board until January 15th……for sure, or so they say.  Wait, the car went into the Dealer’s shop in early September and repairs will take over five months?  Insurance won’t total the car, and nobody knows how much it will cost to repair this modern, energy efficient, low CO2 emissions electric car.  Well, how about trading his car in for another one?  Nope, the Ford dealer can’t find another electric Fusion in the area.  Well, there’s always the old reliable gasoline fueled car as a backup.

Over the past decade, my parents have driven to Florida every November.  Because my Dad is trying to do the environmentally right thing by owning an electric car, he won’t be driving to Florida any time soon.  And it’s all due to a natural event, a lightning strike, which happens about 8 million times a day on planet Earth.

I haven’t told my dad yet, but according to the newly released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) report, scientists have a “medium confidence level” of more extreme storms in the northeastern U.S. due to human causes despite my dad’s most sincere efforts. I didn’t ask my dad, but I have a “very high confidence level” that while the IPCC report mandates carbon emissions must be cut by 45% during the next 12 years and shifts to electric transport systems are essential; nobody from the IPCC has contacted
him about his electri-fried Fusion.

Did I mention my parents found four dead squirrels in that old oak tree the day after the lightning strike?


Interesting comment thread (here on WUWT) with references to Teslas hit by lightning.  –Hifast

The $2.5 Trillion Reason We Can’t Rely on Batteries to Clean up the Grid


By Paul Homewood

h/t Philip Bratby

An interesting article from MIT, which highlights the limited value of battery storage:


By James Temple

A pair of 500-foot smokestacks rise from a natural-gas power plant on the harbor of Moss Landing, California, casting an industrial pall over the pretty seaside town.

If state regulators sign off, however, it could be the site of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery project by late 2020, helping to balance fluctuating wind and solar energy on the California grid.

The 300-megawatt facility is one of four giant lithium-ion storage projects that Pacific Gas and Electric, California’s largest utility, asked the California Public Utilities Commission to approve in late June. Collectively, they would add enough storage capacity to the grid to supply about 2,700 homes for a month (or to store about .0009 percent of the electricity the state uses each year).

The California projects are among…

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Don’t be fooled – Elon Musk’s electric cars aren’t about to save the planet

The Tesla 3 is indeed a “zero emissions” marvel – but that is only because it does not yet exist.


By Paul Homewood


I doubt whether you will see this reported by the BBC:

From the Telegraph:

As Elon Musk presented the new Tesla 3, a fawning press announced that the “world-changing car” could “dominate” the market. Within days, 276,000 people had put down $1,000 to pre-order the car.

But the Model 3 doesn’t exist yet. There is no final production version, much less any production. Musk is “fairly confident” that deliveries could start by the end of 2017. But running on schedule isn’t Tesla’s strong suit. Meanwhile, Tesla’s current best-seller has been plagued by quality problems.

All of this might just be another iPhone vs Galaxy conversation – except that these vehicles are hailed as green saviours and so are subsidised to the tune of billions of pounds.

Before unveiling the car, Musk sanctimoniously declared that Tesla exists to give the planet a sustainable future…

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