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First Electric Cars Have Power Industry Worried

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the they'll-find-a-way-to-charge-double-for-it dept.

Power 450

Hugh Pickens writes "Jonathan Fahey writes for AP that as the first mass-market electric cars go on sale next month, the power industry faces a huge growth opportunity, with SoCal Edison expecting to be charging 100,000 cars by 2015 and California setting a goal of 1 million electric vehicles by 2020. But utility executives are worried that the difficulty of keeping the lights on for the first crop of buyers — and their neighbors — could slow the growth of this industry because it's inevitable that electric utilities will suffer some difficulties early on. 'We are all going to be a lot smarter two years from now,' says Mark Perry, director of product planning for Nissan North America. When plugged into a home charging station the first Leafs and Volts will draw 3,300 Watts and take about 8 hours to deliver a full charge, but both carmakers may soon boost that to 6,600 Watts. The Tesla Roadster, an electric sports car with a huge battery, can draw 16,800 Watts. That means that adding an electric vehicle or two to a neighborhood can be like adding another house, and it can stress the equipment that services those houses. The problem is that transformers that distribute power from the electrical grid to homes are often designed to handle less than about 12,000 watts so the extra stress on a transformer from one or two electric vehicles could cause it to overheat and fail, knocking out power to the block."

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450 comments

Good! (4, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34363930)

Good! Maybe one the shit blows up they can replace the 50 year old hardware that's been causing brownouts in California since the early 80s.

Re:Good! (4, Insightful)

davepermen (998198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34363990)

+1 they deserve it. just as the car industry didn't want to move along for a long time, so didn't they. they deserve having to move on again, finally.

Re:Good! (0, Offtopic)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364016)

Good! Maybe one the shit blows up they can replace the 50 year old hardware that's been causing brownouts in California since the early 80s.

I thought the cause of brownouts in California were Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dick Cheney?

Re:Good! (5, Insightful)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364052)

The brownouts in CA were caused by the lack of supply. That's why CA has to buy electricity from other states.

If it were a hardware problem, buying electricity from other states wouldn't help.

Re:Good! (2, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364130)

The brownouts in CA were caused by the lack of supply.

..and the lack of supply was caused by a failed attempt by the State government to fix prices.

Re:Good! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34364162)

This.

100 This.

Re:Good! (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364272)

My house has a single phase, 100kW maximum supply, this is pretty normal in the UK. 12kW is nothing — my electric shower is 11kW, immersion heater is similar power too. People tend to have their heating and have a shower at the same time every morning, perhaps electric kettles, electric grills and some have electric heating, so the grid can most certainly cope here.

I'm unsure if 100kW could be sustained for each home in the neighbourhood at one time, but cars sucking up 16kW (or even 32kW if they had two cars) per household over night when demand is low I'm sure wouldn't go blowing transformers if they had a decent network infrastructure.

So, perhaps we should use without me being a modded troll:

1. Electric cars suck up all available power on the grid.
2. Grid goes down all the time.
3. ???
4. Profit

Really, point 3 is to invest in the grid, and then 4 is of course profit in the long run. So why are they complaining, they should just fix the network now?

Re:Good! (3, Informative)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364346)

My house has a single phase, 100kW maximum supply, this is pretty normal in the UK.
No it isn't, I think you are confusing amps with kilowatts. Typical in the UK is about 60A-100A single phase which at 240V works out to 14-24KW

100KW would be about 400A single phase or 138A three phase.

Re:Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34364506)

You need to dump the shower far better run off a combi boiler on gas . If you got an 11 KW immersion heater i would love to see the tank 2.1 to 3.2 Kw for immersions normally 2.7 Kw

And you do not have 100 Kw capability .

This may at last start to put the nails in the coffin of electric cars they are a no go a waste they will cost the owner a fortune to charge and when the batteries need replacing look out

Re:Good! (1)

whovian (107062) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364350)

Good! Maybe one the shit blows up they can replace the 50 year old hardware that's been causing brownouts in California since the early 80s.

No doubt they will extort the government into providing taxpayer-paid "bailout funds" because they don't want to risk reducing their profit in the short term, even though they will probably pull in extra profits as the nubmer of electric vehicles increases.

Re:Good! (4, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364528)

I love the humor of an industry worrying about having to actually invest in, you know, itself.

This is actually another fearmongering, just like RIAA, VHS, etc all over again.

I expect in a year or two they're going to make comments like "charging your car can place hospitals at risk!" etc etc.

Worried? (4, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34363938)

Worried? Build more capacity then. It's not like your customers have been or will be getting all that electricity for free (or even cheap in some cases).

Re:Worried? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34363988)

Build capacity with what? Solar? Wind? LOL Gotta have something that can deliver it and eco power is not it.

Re:Worried? (4, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364046)

The problem they're talking about is energy distribution, not generation.

Re:Worried? (2, Funny)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364146)

It's all part of the "Green economy" so get to building those new transformers so those coal fired power plants can get the power to where it needs to be.

Re:Worried? (5, Insightful)

cduffy (652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364242)

It's all part of the "Green economy" so get to building those new transformers so those coal fired power plants can get the power to where it needs to be.

A single modern coal-powered plant is better than hundreds of thousands of individiual internal combustion engines it replaces in this case.

What's more, the plant can be monitored and upgraded all at once, in one place. An individual vehicle's spark timing is off and they're blowing unburned fuel out the back and it doesn't get fixed 'till they next fail inspection, and that assumes they're complying with the law by bringing their vehicle in for inspection at all.

Seriously -- I'd take nuclear over coal any day, but centrally burned coal is far better than the status quo. (What's especially fun is how folks make the same argument you do here in Austin -- where our electricity is natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, and less than 30% coal).

It sounds like cloud computing. That's not good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34364360)

That sounds just like cloud computing. Centralize all of the most important parts of the system at some remote location, and make extensive use of dumb clients.

With cloud computing you're taking the power to run applications away from individual PCs and transferring it to some remote server farm, while with electric cars you're taking their ability to generate their own energy and transferring it to some remote power generation facility. Cars with their own power generation plants end up becoming "dumb" in that they require their power to be generated elsewhere.

Now, we all know that cloud computing is one of the stupidest ideas to hit computing in a long time. It has generally been a painful disaster for anyone stuck using it. One minor fault along the network and your dumb clients are now totally useless. The cloud provider can hold your data hostage, as well, unless you pay them exorbitant fees. When it comes to electric vehicles, the control over the ability for you to power your vehicle is transferred from yourself and the multitude of petrol providers you can choose from, to a single power utility that you have little to no control over.

So now not only will our computers not work well, since they're using cloud-based "applications", but our vehicles won't work well since they're using a similar approach, too? That's not something to look forward to.

Re:It sounds like cloud computing. That's not good (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364474)

It matters little if you get your "fuel" from a plug or a pump, either way you have to pay someone else for it. It has nothing to do with similarities to cloud computing. In fact, with electric vehicles, one day solar power may lesson the costs and allow consumers to make their own fuel.

Re:Worried? (5, Informative)

udippel (562132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364186)

Spot on here!

The trouble is the distribution. I don't know about the voltages used in the states, but often the electricity is transformed down to 33/11kV, because these voltages are rather simply run underground. So in the average distribution network, you hit a number of (down-)transformers and a number of (underground) cabling until the 3x400V reach the client. It would cost billions to rip it out and put back another one that supports charging of electric cars.

The trouble is also in the distribution with respect to daytime. Some might think, that they already use a high energy load, maybe even 3, 6 or 12 kW; and 'what is the difference?'. The difference is that until now, high loads are somewhat randomly distributed over time, and usually run for short time-spans. So a 12 kW load runs from 8-9 here, and another one maybe 2-4 there.
But think about it: In future when the working population comes home in the evenings, they will want to recharge their cars for the trip to work next morning. Unfortunately, evenings are already the times of highest load in residential areas: lighting, heating, air-co, ovens, you name it.

And it would be very wrong to blame the situation on some '50 year old hardware' or so. It could not be more wrong. The distribution networks were simply not designed with recharging of electric cars at homes in mind; and even less with additional loads correlating with already peak hours.

Re:Worried? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34364386)

still not getting it for free boo hoo they have to do the job, boo hoo that they might have to actually make an investment for future returns...

Re:Worried? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34364136)

Nuclear? China has already started: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_the_People's_Republic_of_China#Future_projects [wikipedia.org]

They've even started preparing their uranium supplies and stock piles: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/35c2d7ca-f8c7-11df-b550-00144feab49a.html [ft.com]

They're already building nuclear reactors for 40% cheaper than the French (using French designs).

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-24/china-builds-french-designed-nuclear-reactor-for-40-less-areva-ceo-says.html [bloomberg.com]

Wonder if they're of similar quality, but if I were in charge of stuff in China's nuclear power program, I'd definitely be making sure there are no major screw ups.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/11/18/ex-china-nuclear-power-boss-given-life-sentence/ [foxnews.com]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kang_Rixin [wikipedia.org]

You can't count on your screw ups being rewarded with a bail-out or golden parachute there. High stakes.

I don't even think there's a "golden bullet" option in executions, even if your family is willing to pay extra for it ;).

Re:Worried? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364152)

They are building a lot of coal stations too, because they need power *right now* - and coal power stations are very quick to build. Nuclear is their long-term plan.

Re:Worried? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34364414)

China also had problems getting enough coal fast enough. At one point of time they were down to less than two weeks of coal reserves: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jNcIoEdFWRBZCPy7u3scP0GTTwGw [google.com] . The recession might have had come in just in time for them in 2008.

I'm sure the "nearly running short of coal" was scary. So they've gone past the "worrying" stage and on to the "doing something about it" stage (and even planning for the greater future by trying to secure uranium supplies).

Did the US power industry bunch in the 1950s and 60s also going around saying "oh noes we might have problems"? Or did they just "do it".

Unless external parties/forces (e.g. Feds or State Govs) are getting in the way (not giving them $$$ is not the same as getting in the way), they should shut up and do their jobs. Electric cars use lots of electricity, ooh what a surprise.

Someone really cynical might suspect the US power industry is fishing around for juicy handouts and incentives by making statements like that...

These numbers don't make sense. (5, Informative)

Leebert (1694) | more than 3 years ago | (#34363942)

The problem is that transformers that distribute power from the electrical grid to homes are often designed to handle less than about 12,000 watts

often designed to handle 12,000 watts? Hogwash. That's 50 amp service (in North America, where homes are almost always supplied at 240VAC). Most new homes in North America receives at minimum 200 amp service. Even my rural 1956 rancher has 70 amp service.

And this is a single home. Most transformers supply several houses. If there are any transformers rated at 12KW, they are very few and far between, and probably service locations that aren't likely to have electric cars anyhow.

Re:These numbers don't make sense. (2, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364080)

If you can plug it in and the fuse does not melt, your fine.
Whats the difference between your car sucking power hour after hour and your air conditioner along with many other devices running all summer/winter?
Where the US power industry faces some issues is sales/trades of limited gas and other input fuels. The regional/state "needs" of "expensive" gas at a set time vs another states ability to offer gas shareholders more profit :)
No power for you or your car or air conditioner until your utility can pay more.
But its nice to blame the electric car for overload issues :)

Re:These numbers don't make sense. (2, Informative)

serutan (259622) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364122)

Whats the difference between your car sucking power hour after hour and your air conditioner along with many other devices running all summer/winter?

There's no difference. The problem is adding electric car chargers on top of all that other stuff that's already running.

Re:These numbers don't make sense. (2, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364316)

Many electric companies are pushing smart grid devices to do load leveling right now. This summer I had a visit from my power company where they wanted permission to install a device that would participate in a rolling shutoff of air conditioners. Since I don't trust these guys I refused. I think it's just a strategy to avoid having to invest in improving their infrastructure. Now reading this I'm glad I did. They are going to have to deal with their crappy infrastructure anyway.

Re:These numbers don't make sense. (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364508)

Yeah, maybe instead of the Fed Reserve printing trillions of dollars and handing them over to "sorry we can't tell you", they should have printed trillions to actually fix/build stuff - roads, power stations, power distribution, broadband etc. Can't outsource all of these jobs to India and Mexico too.

Maybe that'll cause inflation, but heck at least you all will get something out of it. Rather than just making a few rich people richer and still getting inflation.

Re:These numbers don't make sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34364378)

Whats the difference between your car sucking power hour after hour and your air conditioner along with many other devices running all summer/winter?

There is no technical difference. The practical difference is that the electric company, like all other utilities, oversells its capacity based on the assumption that everyone will not simultaneously demand peak power. The substations and transformers may be rated to lower power than the sum of their outputs. Eg: even on the hottest day, your A/C compressor probably runs less than 50% of the time; your refrigerator probably runs 25% time, etc. Your house is rated to have them all go on simultaneously (and they will, periodically), but it's statistically unlikely that all 100 homes in a neighborhood will have A/C and refrigerator, and W/D, and everything else you might run go on simultaneously.

So, one 2 ton A/C might draw 2kW at the house, but 100 2 ton A/Cs might only draw 100 kW at the substation. In contrast, an 8 hour battery charger runs continuously for 8 hours at relatively high power. Because there's no statistics to reduce the burden on the supplier, the circuitry that would feed 100 A/Cs might serve only 50 electric cars. Now figure that the car is added on top of other appliances, fitting into what may be a narrow overcapacity band, and it's definitely something that the utilities need to be aware of and plan for.

Re:These numbers don't make sense. (3, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364088)

I agree. I can see how distribution before you reach the home might be taxed, since while most new homes get 200 amp service I doubt the infrastructure is designed for every home to pull all 200 amps at the same time.

Also, consider that most charging is likely to take place at night. That will have a huge leveling effect on the grid. Rather than going into panic mode the electric utilities should just work with auto-makers to build timers into their chargers (maybe give the car a charge up to 25-50% if it is really low right away, and then defer the rest of the charge until the middle of the night, or have a switch to select the charging mode). They should also educate electric car owners on rate plans that charge less for power consumed at night.

Re:These numbers don't make sense. (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364304)

Most of the electric cars have smart charges that talk to the grid to know when it is best to charge. You plug it in, and it wont start charging until the network is at lower demand. Car manufacturers have thought of this already.

Re:These numbers don't make sense. (2, Funny)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364332)

So they oversell electric capacity just like they oversell bandwidth?

Sounds like we could use the same solution right?

Re:These numbers don't make sense. (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364128)

Could it be same situation as broadband suppliers? they sell more capacity to a group than they actually have under the belief that none of the houses will try to use all of it at the same time.

i.e. Each house is wired for 200amps, but the local transformer can only supply an average of 50 amps to each house it connects to?

Re:These numbers don't make sense. (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364220)

no it is a maximum of a 200 amp service. And in reality you don't get all that either.

Most utilities to save a few bucks wire up that 200amp house with wire that is good for 160amps Which is fine because the average house doesn't need 200 amp service. The largest 3 power draws have been stove, dryer, and air conditioner. Electric heat while available isn't normally affordable in the northern states. So your 200 amp house rarely draws above a 100amp service.

Because utilities are cheap and they know how much your actually using they have sized neighborhoods for considerably less power than they have sold similar to ISP's and bandwidth. Like ISP's the problem goes up and down the supply chain.

Not to mention that it takes decades to build decent sized mostly environmental friendly power plants, and some area's of the country have to routinely buy power from neighbors(CA any one?) So demand could very easily out strip supply if electric cars take off to fast. (pun intended)

And now for something intelligent because your a moron. a 12kw transformer is transformer 12kw of 600 volt electricity(can't remember the actual voltage at the moment) Which when dropped down to 3 x 120 volt legs boosts the amperage. Three legs are used to maintain balance. your home 240 volts is in reality two 120 volt legs.

As I did the math once on a 12 volt transformer. a 1000 watt 12 volt transformer only draws 100 watts at 120 volts( a little more due to inefficiencies actually) However you can light one room with a single 100 watt lightbulb , or you can light several at 12 volts. It isn't done often as it isn't convenient and introduces more points of failure.

Re:These numbers don't make sense. (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364366)

As I did the math once on a 12 volt transformer. a 1000 watt 12 volt transformer only draws 100 watts at 120 volts( a little more due to inefficiencies actually) However you can light one room with a single 100 watt lightbulb , or you can light several at 12 volts. It isn't done often as it isn't convenient and introduces more points of failure.

I think you are confusing amps with watts, and don't know what I2R losses are w/ regards to 12 volt distribution.

I'm also mystified about the 12KW xfrmr quote from the summary. Rather than powering a neighborhood, thats only about 50 amps of 220 service so I should easily be able to blow it out with just my clothes dryer and central air, yet myself and all my neighbors run those all summer long.

Re:These numbers don't make sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34364468)

As I did the math once on a 12 volt transformer. a 1000 watt 12 volt transformer only draws 100 watts at 120 volts( a little more due to inefficiencies actually)

last statement false : 1000 watt 12 volt transformer draw 1000 watt at 120 volt... but 10 times less amps :-) excluding inefficiencies.

ohm's law rules

Re:These numbers don't make sense. (5, Funny)

qubezz (520511) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364480)

Fact, pun, grammar, punctuation, logic, and math fail... Kudos, sir, you clearly told that kettle his color!

It's just typical Slashdot editing... (0, Flamebait)

Doogman (30146) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364282)

No where in the original article or any of the links is the number 12kW mentioned. At Slashdot, don't assume the article synopsis has anything to do with the actual content. I would assume most modern houses could handle an additional dedicated 220V/20A circuit for the slow charge, but don't underestimate the hassle of plugging in the car every night. Ooops, forgot to plug-in last night, now I can't make it to work this morning.

Alarmist (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34363958)

I have 100 amp service. That means I can use 22000 watts, more than enough. Right now, I'm using 3 1500 watt heaters in my house, for a total of 4,500 watts.

Some of my neighbors have 200 amp service. The utility company is not going to put a 12000 watt transformer up to any of our houses...

Re:Alarmist (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364218)

I recently upgraded my electrical service because the exiting box had reliability issues. The electrician recommended that I go to 200A. Glad I did; I have multiple cars.

Re:Alarmist (2, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364222)

And you actually think the service into a neighborhood can take everyone drawing 200 amps?

Not even remotely close.

Hell, the generation capacity for most power companies is carefully managed to meet the expected peak demand of the customers they have, at a specific rate of typical peak usage.

Increase that by ten percent, and you'll get rolling brownouts or blackouts during the summer when people are running their A/C.

The US has a 3rd world power infrastructure that is cobbled together to work in exactly the environment they're in.

Hell, the climate shifts are already causing grief to power companies because they're getting even small percentage increases in the number of peak days or the length of the heating or cooling seasons.

Add a 7kw charger to 10% of their customers and you're in BIG trouble, especially if it makes the generation profile change substantially. (A lot of hydro plants, for example, shut their outflow off at night to maintain water levels behind dams because the demand is low at night -- if its not, then water will have to be drawn down 24/7 -- something they aren't set up for.)

Re:Alarmist (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364424)

Isn't there any way the home chargers could trickle-charge an ultracapacitor 24/7 then charge the car from that when needed (maybe even recharge as fast as the battery can take it)

Same thing for the A/C ... an ultracapacitor could grab a load of cheaper night-time electricity for use during the day.

Disaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34363966)

This could mean that actual jobs would be created in California.

Re:Disaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34364048)

California is always creating jobs, the latest hype is the pyramid scheme green jobs where 10 jobs are lost for ever new green one created.
The leading elite figures that if they destroy a billion old jobs they'll have 100 million green jobs, that's enough for everyone in california, so there will be no CO2 emissions and everyone will be employed, california will be a economic powerhouse, wooooo!

Re:Disaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34364076)

Certainly. At SIGNIFICANT cost to consumers. You already pay too much for crappy service. Regional Transmission Organizations were tested in California and have proven to be a huge failure. Responsibility for managing the grid is now distributed to areas that cover multiple utilities. These utilities must pay the RTO to maintain reliability (regulate base load). The problem is, the RTO does not own the transmission assets - the utilities still do. So the RTO does not maintain the equipment because it is not theirs. The utilities do not maintain it because they have no financial incentive to do so. You do not want "job stimulus" from arbitrary regulation. This only leads to higher costs for the consumer - you. With no increase in quality of service.

cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34363982)

Since I work for a company that primarily builds power plants, I will have steady work for several more years.

Re:cool (0)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364120)

I think when I finish my training as an electrician, I will be getting with auto dealers in my state to directly market my services to those buying an electric car as they will most likely be in need of a charging station. (:

Don't we pay people to think of stuff like this? (1)

serutan (259622) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364008)

Zoning regulations already prohibit heavy industry in residential areas -- this prevents excess stress on local roads, power supplies, water supplies, sewage systems, etc. Seems to me that car chargers shouldn't be approved for residential use unless the power grid can handle them, for the same reason you wouldn't build an aluminum factory in a neighborhood.

Re:Don't we pay people to think of stuff like this (0)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364134)

Residential charging stations are already covered in the National Electric Code, fwiw (and the Code is considered law, with state/local overrides for specific provisions (with the approval of the AHJ)).

And? (3, Informative)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364018)

Shoulda thought of that several years ago when you started pushing electric cars, and I would blame the car manufacturers and electric stations equally - if you have 100amps into the house, you should be able to pull 100 amps. If you don't, then you need to contact the electricity company who are then suitably forewarned. Also, the car companies never mention just how much power a car pulls (but yet we're told to worry about 40W bulbs being on for five minutes more than usual!) or that it might need specialised equipment to charge.

I worked in an inner-city school a few years back. We blew the street fuse by plugging in a laptop trolley with 16 90W adaptors. Did we blame the laptop manufacturer's? The school electrician? No, we blamed the electricity company for being so stupid that the *specified* maximum current available for our site was nowhere near what blew the street fuse for the ENTIRE street.

Sort it out, like you should have always have sorted it out. And charge people more if they place a burden on your system and make them get specialised lines that cost more. Problem solved (and it'll also keep electric cars in the bin where they should be - what we *really* need from an ecological point of view is a lithium shortage right now).

Re:And? (0, Flamebait)

durrr (1316311) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364056)

Part of the green enviromentalist mentality is to whine and rant about the horrible long-term unsustainbility of everything while entirely ignoring the long term and mass market viability of their own propaganda.
When it all collapse and catch fire, they'll blame big oil for sabotaging it and push some new flavour of disaster.

Re:And? (2)

grimJester (890090) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364166)

When it all collapse and catch fire, they'll blame big oil for sabotaging it and push some new flavour of disaster.

Yeah, because if those hippies buy too many of my widgets I'll obviously need a government bailout or my widgets will catch fire! Didn't we learn anything from the great Coca-Cola explosion of 1924? Successful companies need government money or the hippies will burn!

Re:And? (4, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364290)

"and it'll also keep electric cars in the bin where they should be - what we *really* need from an ecological point of view is a lithium shortage right now"

WTF? There's NO shortage of lithium whatsoever. Absolutely NONE.

You can mine it indefinitely from seawater for about $70 per kg. Ecological footprint of lithium mining is also trivial - it's mined from salt planes which are not known for their rich ecology.

Re:And? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364390)

"and it'll also keep electric cars in the bin where they should be - what we *really* need from an ecological point of view is a lithium shortage right now"

WTF? There's NO shortage of lithium whatsoever. Absolutely NONE.

You can mine it indefinitely from seawater for about $70 per kg. Ecological footprint of lithium mining is also trivial - it's mined from salt planes which are not known for their rich ecology.

Great job ruining it for all of us. How do you expect we'll keep control using guilt, if you keep posting facts like that? I guess we'll have to go back to control by fear again.

Need more coal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34364024)

Time to build more coal electricity factory

What's old is new again (5, Interesting)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364038)

... And apparently we are again not ready for it. Electric cars were common decades ago, and the electric service did not collapse. Now we have two large auto manufacturers debuting cars that can be charged at home - even though few people will be able to afford the entire setup right now - and for some reason the power companies are proclaiming that the sky is falling. Hell the power companies have a solid business model right now, as few people are in a position to maintain their lifestyles without the electricity they currently pay for. So the problem for the electric companies then is what, again?

Re:What's old is new again (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364160)

It tells me that the cost of operating an electric car will be way too high. If it takes that much power to charge these cars the power companies will get even richer.

Re:What's old is new again (2, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364250)

I push for this often, but I seriously don't know why the car companies go after the diesel electric model trains use [wikipedia.org] (not to be confused with hybrid where the engine isn't solely there to make electricity but has the added complexity of being coupled to the driveshaft along with the electrical motor). There would be no range issues nor would it stress the electric grid, nor require a ton of costly batteries that will age and need replacing. The savings in gasoline will come from the fact that it will have a really tiny engine (in comparison) running in it's optimum band of power all the time vs a huge engine whose capacity is really only used in hard acceleration and otherwise is overkill the rest of the time. (And no, the engine need not be diesel, it can be gasoline 4 stroke, 2 stroke, stirling, what have you. Really the beauty of the entire concept, the local powerplant is modular.)

This electric only probably won't work too well the first time someone needs to turn the heater on for the entire trip, not to mention people who don't have homes and garages. That seems like a huge segment of people to me to cut out when it's not necessary.

Re:What's old is new again (2, Informative)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364402)

I'll give you some reasons.

(1) Railway locomotives don't use electric transmissions because they're efficient. They use them because it is physically impossible (or at least impractical) to build a 44,000 hp mechanical transmission into a moving vehicle.

(2) Until recently the size, cost and efficiency of electric transmissions (including motors, generators, and control electronics) have made it impractical to include all of them plus a gas engine in vehicles much smaller than railway locomotives.

(3) The Volt actually does exactly what you are talking about--the gas engine is undersized, and when the battery is low, it runs the generator to exactly match the demand of the drive motor. The only exception is when you go faster than 65 mph, where a clutch engages and the gas engine drives the wheels directly--but only because at that speed the gas engine is already at its peak efficiency point and using the electric transmission would be a waste. The reason the Volt has batteries (for regenerative braking and precharging) is because you don't gain that much just by using an electric transmission.

Re:What's old is new again (1)

Zobeid (314469) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364394)

". . .and for some reason the power companies are proclaiming that the sky is falling."

No. They aren't claiming that at all, as you would know if you had taken a minute to peek at TFA instead of Slashdot's Drudge-like sensationalist yellow journalism summary.

"So the problem for the electric companies then is what, again?"

The "problem" for electric companies is that this could increase their business volume a lot, and they want to be on top of the curve instead of caught behind it. It's not a bad problem to have. It's sort of like having a baby. . . It's exciting and you know it's going to be a wonderful thing, but there's also going to be some learning experiences and some messes to clean up along the way.

Stop thinking conventional , the problem aint ! (1)

hebertrich (472331) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364086)

for long distance travel : think about an electrified track of some sort and automatic guidance That way there's no real limit to the distance and you can recharge batteries as you go.
.

Re:Stop thinking conventional , the problem aint ! (2, Insightful)

KUHurdler (584689) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364176)

yes, but the constant stops at every train station will make your trip take forever.

Re:Stop thinking conventional , the problem aint ! (1)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364276)

Only if the train has lots of cars with lots of people.
 
The key to efficient rail travel is power from the rail (not a locomotive engine), and lots of little cars traveling on their own. That way, you just whiz by all the stops that aren't yours. Granted, you need some bypass rail at each stop, but that's not hard.

Re:Stop thinking conventional , the problem aint ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34364408)

Whereas on a freeway, you are able to travel at full speed, all the time at all places. Right?

So to make it balance... (1)

sam0737 (648914) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364102)

What's needed to be done is installing power generation (preferably runs on top of #97 gasoline) for extra electricity!

Now the equation is balanced, isn't it?

Re:So to make it balance... (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364440)

Actually, you might want to check out Home Fuel Cells [wikimedia.org] . They're being pushed by a number of companies as backup or primary power solutions. They usually generate power at your home using natural gas, but without burning it, so the emissions are pretty clean and since gas is cheap it's affordable too. If you installed one along with your electric car, then you would have no problem with excess grid demand.

It would be much harder to meet the demand with home solar or wind, since you'd essentially need to charge and discharge your deep cell batteries every single day.

Time to refit your house (4, Informative)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364132)

Assuming the cars charge with 220v, this represents 15 amperes, 30 amperes and around 75 amperes. Most houses will have a 15 amp circuit available - probably you have some appliance plugged into it. Not all that many will have an extra 30 amp circuit, and none have a 75 amp circuit anywhere.

As far as the worries of the power companies: if the greens were serious, they would get behind this. Of course, if you want to reduce our usage of oil, we do need a few new power plants. Nuclear would be best, but even if you try to go full-on green, the eco-nuts will [mojavedesertblog.com] oppose [calfinder.com] them [mojavedesertblog.com] all [wordpress.com] . Don't bother asking what they would support - most of them apparently think that power magically comes out of the wall-socket, with no need for nasty things like power plants...

Re:Time to refit your house (5, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364178)

The greens are starting to waver in their opposition to nuclear now, regarding it as the least-evil option for base load. But it is a slow change, as many of them grew up in the era of nuclear fear.

Re:Time to refit your house (1)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364318)

most of them ["the greens"] apparently think that power magically comes out of the wall-socket, with no need for nasty things like power plants.

Not most. Not by a long shot I'm sure. Just the loudest nuttiest ones who make the news.

Are You An Electrician? (0)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364148)

If not, I suggest you start training right now because the utilities will not be able to keep up with the demand for the installation of home charging stations and, under the NEC, a licensed electrician is an approved person for installing a home charging station. (:

Pull it out of the patent safe.... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364174)

Though some want to think this is not so but the fact is, we know how to do extremely low cost (often referred to as free energy) energy production.

This is technology that has been suppressed, which we all know really does happen.

A musician friend of mine noticed how a spring reverb sounds different depending on location. Altitude perhaps but also locations, Canada, Florida, west coast, etc.

So he started messing around with the magnets but not your typical magnets. I forget what type of magnet he called them but I think it was rare earth magnets as they don't wear out and that was something he said regarding the magnet quality. He eventually chopped one in half and oriented the parts in a suspended manner. They started spinning on their own and not a lightweight type of spin for their size.

He told his dad about it and his dad said, they will kill you. His Father had worked many years for a well known electronics company but for the military developing such things as lasers that can punch holes in thick plates of steel, leaving a burnt air path, etc..

Only I don't think my friend was the first to do this with magnets. Seems I came across other mentions of such free energy magnet devices that mysteriously vanished along with their discoverer/inventor.

So what happens if the electric companies can't keep up? Maybe they can be removed to some degree, from the picture.

I've also read not so long ago, where wind generators are causing problems with overloading the power lines during increases in wind. Apparently the power lines are not heavy duty enough to handle it.

In short, there is no problem here, no story to see.

 

Perpetual Motion Machines Do Not Exist (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364326)

They don't work. Yours is yet another story where some friend of a friend did something and wow - it ran all by itself without any energy input.

There is no such thing as "free energy". You need to explain why the laws of thermodynamics should all be violated. Let us know when you can do that.

I just realized something... (2, Funny)

Qubit (100461) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364184)

...all of these electric cars will probably be pulling as much or more power than even a big bank of grow lights.

I'm sure that people have already started figuring out ways to shape their energy usage to make it look like they have a new electric car at home, instead of... a shed full of lush, green plants!

Re:I just realized something... (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364466)

But that's also easy for the DEA to check--does this guy have an electric car registered to his name? No? Okay then... Yes? Does he actually drive it or does it sit in his garage all the time, even though it looks like he charges it every night? I see...

Worried? An excuse for poor planning (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364232)

That's all this is. The electric company powers that be guessed no one would buy electric cars, so why spend the money to upgrade infrastructure. Oops. Time to go explain to the shareholders that you have to spend of money instead of handing out dividends.

The shareholders and the board can fix this by firing the managers, and the next bunch won't make the same mistake.

Problem solved!

Re:Worried? An excuse for poor planning (2, Insightful)

Zobeid (314469) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364406)

What mistake? Would it have made more sense to go around randomly upgrading neighborhoods years ago when it wasn't yet clear that electric cars were going to reach the market in any significant numbers??

Lights out at night (4, Insightful)

jamesl (106902) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364244)

Most charging will be done at night, when electricity use (home and business) is otherwise low.

Fuck the Power Companies (4, Insightful)

Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364248)

They had plenty of time to invest their profits into upgrading the power grid to anticipate future demand, and didn't. Those short-sighted sons of syphilitic bitches can go fuck themselves with a Saturn V rocket and no lube.

Who didn't see this coming? (2, Informative)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364256)

You can't go by what things are breakered at - that's the maximum the circuits can safely draw. The circuits aren't meant to draw more than 1/2 to 2/3 of that value. Speculation, but I doubt that the electrical service in a neighborhood is designed anywhere close to having all the loads draw their breakered values.

It doesn't surprise me at all that electric companies oversubscribe their service and count on individual homes pulling relatively low loads. It makes sense - that is what causes brownouts and the need for electric companies to drop neighborhoods out so they can keep from overstressing transmission lines and such. If electric companies didn't oversubscribe their service there would not be brownouts.

It's high load in the residential areas that will make it important for people to supplement the grid with local power generation with things like solar panels. The problem there is that the electric vehicles will generally be somewhere else during the day. The efficiency isn't completely lost, though, and solar panels in a neighborhood are generally much closer to the local industrial loads than the power plants.

But this is going to be the kicker to help get people to put up panels. It will be distributed power generation and will help the grid deal with the much higher loads that electric vehicles will impose.

Re:Who didn't see this coming? (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364300)

It will be important to have businesses install charging stations so local power generated during the day can be used to charge the vehicles while the power is available. Solar panels won't help the situation much if people only plug in at night.

Also look for home generators to start getting more popular. In Europe, a lot of homes have them and they aren't for emergency backup. They use the waste heat for heating homes and water and the electricity to power the home. By using more of the available energy, efficiency goes way up.

I think there will have to be something done about local generation, though. Otherwise you are looking at stringing new power lines everywhere (good luck in the neighborhoods with power below ground), upgrading transformers, and even upgrading the electrical service in a lot of older homes.

Re:Who didn't see this coming? (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364478)

It would be absolutely perfect if we were a nocturnal society and charged our electric cars during the day. As it stands, putting up solar panels for your electric car is going to be rather expensive because you need a battery bank 2-3x larger than normal to charge the car overnight. Just putting up solar panels that "add to the grid" all day won't cut it, because the problem is the instantaneous load on the distribution lines in the evening when charging. Only *totally* local power is going to relieve that.

The solution is obvious (5, Funny)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364342)

I've already started converting my house to run on gasoline, thus leaving enough electricity for charging my car.

16,800 W? - WTF?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34364372)

Just out of interest, WTF are you supposed to plug the Tesla Roadster into for recharging?

"MAINS DISTRO - PLEASE PARK HERE" - like, this cannot be feasible for anyone on a single phase supply, surely?

Re:16,800 W? - WTF?! (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364498)

A mains socket...? 16Kw isn't really a lot, look up the power consumption of electric showers and room heaters sometime.

Solar (2, Informative)

shway (1614667) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364374)

Many of the type of folks who would buy an electric car at this early stage are the same type of folks who will also add solar or wind power to their home so that they can generate their own "gas".

My solar panels cover my electrical usage pretty much 100% to charge my Tesla Roadster, along with the rest of my house. Power Utility optional (but nice to have as a back up). System more than pays for itself when charging an electric car and preventing brownouts from popping my computers and electrical equipment.

Many of the other Tesla owners I know have added solar to their houses, as did many of the EV1 owners and original RAV4EV owners. I expect a large percentage of Volt and Leaf owners will do this as well.

The Telcos & ISPs have already solved this (4, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364376)

The power industry needs to pay attention to what ISPs are doing to solve similar problems.

1.) Spend upgrade money on creating new classes of service, rather than worrying about upgrading low profit transformers. The electricity for your lights, which you need right away, should be tagged differently than the electricity for your car, which can wait for delivery. Then, make more money by charging extra for uninterrupted "light electricity."

2.) Spend more money investigating people's power usage, and threatening to shut off everyone who uses an electric car. (The power companies do this already looking for marijuana grow-lights, so this should be cheap to implement.) Couple these "deep power inspection" with blockage measures so that electric cars only get a trickle charge. Cap people's usage so that the power to the "bad actors" gets shutoff when they exceed their cap.

3.) Implement a propaganda campaign castigating electric car users for actually using the electricity that they paid for.

4.) Demand public subsidies to upgrade the power system, and use the resulting money on items # 1 - 3 above.

With these simple measures, both our power system and our broadband Internet delivery can continue to slide to third-world status, and useful employment can be extended to armies of consultants.

the power grid is metered unlike most ISP unlimite (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364464)

the power grid is metered unlike most ISP unlimited planes you can't just shut off high uses as they pay based on what they use.

Deploy more three-phase transformers. (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364380)

The standard solution for high-draw machinery is a separate three-phase service.

Three-phase chargers that convert to DC for fast charging at home would handle the job economically, cut the cost for three phase residential service (more machine tools and welders for me!), and dispose of the "chickenshit residential service" drawback.

Just buy a gasoline generator! (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364416)

I know, the thought of putting a small modern gasoline or diesel generator in your basement to generate electricity and provide winter heat - 100% efficient, less the noise energy - is utterly ridiculous. Far greener to charge an electric car from the 40 year old coal plant hidden behind the hill, right?

Crib notes: even in California, fossil plants still accounts for northwards of 80% of electricity generation. Electric cars plus regulation may tip that towards renewables, but make no mistake that the first few generations of electric vehicles are going to be powered by dinosaurs.

I call bullshit! (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364520)

First power company executives were gibbering about all the new revenue. Well, part of what we pay in electric rates today is the distribution side so they damn well better start upgrading the transformers and everything else.

Luckily I have 480V going by where I live so that would make charging an electric vehicle much faster.

What about road taxes? (2, Insightful)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 3 years ago | (#34364542)

I've read a lot about electric cars and _electric_ infrastructure, generating capacity, etc. However, I haven't seen a single article addressing the loss of taxes from gasoline. Gas taxes pay for road maintenance. Heck, there were stories awhile back about people who were using biodiesel or waste fryer oil in their cars who had to get some special license or permit to cover the taxes they weren't paying. It's why red diesel fuel is so cheap... only farmers who don't drive on roads can use it.

So... where will the revenue come from after hundreds of thousands of people switch to electric cars or plug-in hybrids? Will there be a tax on electricity? Special metering for rechargers? A general flat-tax added to all electricity prices?

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