Critical Thinking, when it comes to energy it’s not that hard.

Have you ever wondered who invests in Green Energy and why?

We DIYers can make effective use of several kinds of green energy, solar, wind, and hydro can be great personal investments.

When we look at things on a larger scale, who are the investors? Who profits?

The following Article about EVs is educational.  I think some of the posted comments are representative of a lot of people we all know..

If you are not versed in Calories , British Thermal Units, Kilo Watt Hours, and the measurement of energy, losses, energy storage etc. There is a good way to get in touch with the effort required to move an electric vehicle from point to point. What the Battery in the Electric Vehicle must accomplish is VERY similiar to what your body would need  to accomplish to get a job done.  Consider you’re on a job interview, you’re offered $25 a mile to push a cart around on dead flat ground with a 150 pound payload. The cart is yours to design, bearings , 2, 3, or 4 wheels, it’s your choice. And you find you can even install a crank and pedals as long as it’s your body providing the locomotion, it’s legal. Your boss gives you the list of deliveries, he pays you by the mile. At 63 years old, I figure I could make $75 an hour, and have an enjoyable and healthy job.

Now consider the same job in San Francisco, some of the streets are so steep, it’s hard to walk at that angle.. what kind of money would you need per hour to be tempted to accept the job if you were to be paid by the mile and you boss picks the deliveries.

When we have an energy storage device, there’s a few things we need understand:

  • The initial cost of the storage device and the amount of energy it will store
  • The efficiency of the device, (there’s always losses, what portion of what you put in will you get back out?
  • What are the typical tasks you need done, and will your storage device offer you a return on investment over a reasonable amount of time.

Electric Vehicles are at the center of Green Energy Conversations, but I find it difficult to find articles written by technical people.  Fact is, the last three articles I’ve read were written by free lance writers who had recently covered topics such as Fashion and travel.  I think it’s worth the effort to look for that little tab (about the Author).

So here’s your ‘Critical Thinking Lesson” for today.. before you visit the link.. take note of the following.  San Francisco is built on a series of hills so steep that many drivers who think they are good with manual gear boxes find themselves challenged to pull away from stop signs because the hills are so steep! Even skilled drivers find themselves making use of the parking brake in order to hold the hill as they let the clutch out! If you live in this town and you have a brain, you’ll have an automatic transmission in your car.

If you have any experience with EVs, you know that you can roll on for what seems forever on flat ground like you find in San Jose, and high tire pressures are key.  San Francisco offers some real challenges to the EV owner, high tire pressures makes it far more difficult to stop on the steep down hill terrain, and they’re down right dangerous, especially on wet streets and that’s normal weather here.

In San Jose, you might make it to work and back in your EV, but not make it to the top of a hill in San Francisco on the same charge. If you are looking for some fun, drop into you Chevy Dealer in San Francisco, and ask for a demo ride in the Chevy Volt, let us know if you can make it from the water front up telegraph hill on a full charge . You’ll soon know why it’s a hybrid, and why you’d never consider an EV if you lived here.

But now.. ask yourself.. why did the City Council vote to spend so much public money on such a dumb idea as follows?  Maybe you’ll post your answer here once you’ve studied the link and reviewed the comments?

No doubt Ami is a looker, who would take that from her?

If we go back to that Electrical Power Plant and see where we put the energy in, we can study all the losses going forward. No matter what type of power plant it is, there’s normally cooling towers or heat exchangers that dump billions of BTUs of energy in the form of heat.  But there’s other losses all along the way.. right up to and including that EV charger!

Then along comes some glue sniffer that compares the EV with an internal combustion powered car. He looks at overall losses in the standard auto, and accounts for a minuscule amount of the losses in the EV.  We have come to know this as Enron accounting, and the EV salesmen is the best Enron Dog in the show.  I doubt you’ll be reading about all the energy dumped back at the power plant that could have been used aboard the Auto, fact is, we often need to take more energy out of the battery to heat the interior than what it takes to run the drive motor. Had we poured the energy into the car instead, we could have made good use of this energy.

Also note.. modern autos are considered ‘zero emission’ autos.. just how much cleaner is the EV if we do a proper job of accounting?

So.. what percentage of the pure EV enthusiasts live in their parent’s basement?

Could the following be one of the better technical ideas that came out of San Francisco… The greatful Dead’s “Wall of sound”.. I think it might be..–RIP.html













This entry was posted in Alternative Energy Sources, Buyer Beware, Fighting Propaganda, Insane Grants, Strange Stuff, The New Green Movement, Vehicle Design, Your Wasted Tax Dollars and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Critical Thinking, when it comes to energy it’s not that hard.

  1. Mike says:

    even with the best re-gen braking system you could ever possible dream up, those hills would gobble a battery pack.

  2. George B. says:

    You get a fraction back, there’s losses in every energy transfer period.

    • J Bergman says:


      Having read many of your comments, I believe that you and I are at some pretty substantial political odds: I happen to be a social “progressive”, and a fiscal conservative (if you can mentally get your head around that! “We, that have made our life in northern Minnesota, have done so much with so little for so long that now we can do everything with nothing!” – or so “the powers that be” seem to believe.)

      I really do believe in a lot of social “safety-nets” stuff; but, don’t believe that just throwing money will “fix” everything – actually quite the contrary for a lot of it.

      The air now being clear on that subject, you and I are in complete agreement as to the supposed “efficiencies” of the present electric vehicle – as re-charged by the utility grid.

      To wit: The vast majority of utility electric generating plants are still a “standard” coal-fired steam-turbine/generator operation.

      That operation burns coal at about 38% “stoiciometric” efficiency (which some folks prefer to call 100% as a base); this is the very best chemically efficient combustion of coal possible (true 100% “stoichiometric equivalent” would be nuclear conversion of all the coal material to pure energy).

      So, we start with 38% [100%] efficiency of burning; then, the typical conversion of steam back to mechanical energy to spin the turbine/generator is about 50%; we are now at 19% [50%] total so far.

      The typical utility generator is at about 95% efficiency in mechanical to electrical enegy conversion; so, we are now at about 18% [47.5%].

      The “unit transformer” is also at about 98%; so now at 17.69% [46.55%].

      Then we go through the utility switchyard transformers, the transmission lines, the distribution system; and, by the time it reaches the typical household outlet receptacle, we are down to somewhere between 7 and 14% [18.42 36.84%] total delivered efficiency of the original energy liberated from the coal fuel. This is very well documented if other’s will look around on the “web”.

      The one and only reason that electric energy is relatively “cheap” at the outlet is that the coal being burned is very “cheap” to the utility companies; most are paying on the order of $22.00 per ton at around 7,000 BTU’s per pound for the now-predominant low-sulfur western coal being burned (that’s about 14,000,000 BTU’s for $22.00 – the equivalent of about 100 gallons of #2 heating oil at about $2.20/gallon; or $220.00 equivalent heating oil cost for the retail public.

      The real lesson here (I believe) is that whenever you need to use actual heat (or it’s equivalent – such as fueled engines), cost may be considerably less, but efficiency is very much better when the fuel’s heat is liberated at the point of need.

      This also minimizes the total pollution generated from that energy used!

      I happen to love clean air, water, and land; but, using EV’s supported by utility generating plants makes no over-all sense right now; though, it may be helpful to certain environmental “islands” such as Los Angeles in minimizing local pollution (at the cost of much greater “global” pollution).

      What do individuals want: Lowest cost, or lowest pollution???

      Using PV (solar) derived electricity to charge EV’s makes more sense – but, that’s another whole subject as to total efficiencies (I happen to be living totally “off-grid”, with backup propane for heat and electric when needed).

      Regards, JLB

      • J Bergman says:

        Edit: 5th paragraph: “stoiciometric” misspelled, should be “stoichiometric”.

        11th paragraph “cost may be considerably less…” should be “cost may be considerably more…”

      • George B. says:

        Excellent Post JLB!

        I hope people take time to read it. There is so much to consider when someone proposes to make use of such major piece of our infrastructure for a new use.

        Autos make excellent use of combined heat and power plants. It’s well understood that many drivers in North America will burn as much or more energy to provide safety and create an environment inside the auto that humans can tolerate than what it takes to power the motor. If the source of energy is the typical Coal, Natural Gas, Nuke power plant, we note that we stripped off all that useful waste heat back at the power plant instead of using it aboard our vehicle. For those who look at carbon foot prints, does it make sense to force me to buy EVs for other people at their present stage of evovlution?

        But there’s far more to be concerned about than the out right waste and inefficiencies, as we fill in the off peak hours, we force the Electrical Grid and power sources to evolve into something they’re not, and this will come at mind boggling expense.

        As for being a social progressive.. my hat is off to you, you are certainly one who can run a pencil and do your own thinking. I once rented a car at the Minn Airport…once, it seemed they wanted to redistribute such a large chunk of my money, I’ve never been back, I’m positive I have company.

  3. George B. says:

    More thought about the reporter. She makes the report.. I guess her job may not require her to know how nuts pure EVs are in a city like this, and of course the hybrid doesn’t need the chargers..

  4. Russ says:

    George, George, George.
    Obviously you haven’t thought this through. I don’t know the layout of where the charging stations are located but the EV’s could be restricted to run the same streets as the cable cars. This would make it possible for the EV drivers to throw an anchor line and attach their discharged EV to the cable car(s) to get up the hills. Then they could use the regenerative brakes to go down the next hill. Eventually charging the battery pack enough to make it home or to a “free” recharging station.

    I can’t believe you didn’t think of this……LOL.

    “More bolony, that San Francisco treat.” (sung to the Rice a Roni jingle)

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