Archive for the ‘EVs – Electric Cars’ Category

Update: What if Oprah gave all of us EVs?

June 27, 2022

Would the electric companies be able to supply the increased load?

Note: While at the beach last week, I got some helpful input from loyal readers and trusted sources which I’ve tried to incorporate into the original post.

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In a prior post we ran some back-of-the-envelope numbers on EV ownership.

The conclusion: With $5 per gallon gas and 14¢ per kWh electricity, a shiny new EV would practically pay for itself … albeit taking 20 years to break even.

Key assumptions: (1) A typical EV with a 50 mWh battery has a range of about 250 miles (2) All electricity drawn for charging is stored in the battery (i.e. charging efficiency is 100%)

Caveats: (1) Doesn’t consider the cost of an in home charging station (for faster charges) which would lengthen the breakeven time frame (2) Doesn’t consider differences in lifetime maintenance costs which likely favors EVs and would lower the breakeven time frame 

Let’s assume that life expectancy (for you and for an EV) is generally longer than the breakeven time frame … and ask a broader question:

If there were a groundswell of EV demand, would electric companies be able to generate enough electricity to keep the EVs charged (and the rest of our electricity-based lives operating “normally’}?

Suppose, for example, that Oprah gave all of us an EV today.

How much electricity demand would be added on to the U.S. electrical grid?

Agaim, let’s run some more back-of-the-envelope numbers…

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  • According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (whatever the heck that is): In 2020, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,715 kilowatthours (kWh)

For reference: My home’s annual electricity consumption runs about 27,500 kWh

Before you accuse me of being an energy glutton, consider…

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research estimates that Al Gore (former VP and current Climate Control Advocate) has a 20-room home that “devours” nearly 221,000 kWh annually … that’s about 20 times the national average … and about 10 times my home’s usage 

  • There are about 125 million households in the U.S.  We’ll assume that each household is a “residential utility customer”.
  • That makes total residential electrical consumption about 1.34 trillion kWh (10,715 kWh x 125 million)

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  • According to Federal Highway data reported by Metromile, in 2019, “there were almost 229 million Americans who have driving licenses, and they collectively drove over 3.2 trillion miles.”

Note: I’ve seen estimates that range all the way up to 7.5 trillion miles.  To give EVs every benefit of the doubt, we’ll use the low number

  • Again, from what I can ascertain, a Tesla gets about 5 miles per kWh of stored charge. (e.g. a T3, 50 kwh battery gets 250 miles of range).
  • So, 3.2 trillion miles of driving requires 640 billion kWh of additional electricity.

Note: The above assumes that “filling” a battery is like filling a gas tank  — i.e. a gallon “flowing in” is a gallon “stored for use”.

This assumption probably understates the amount of electricity that is required to recharge a battery … maybe by a lot!

Bottom line: A full “incredible (fast) transition” to EVs would increase consumer / residential electricity demand in the U.S. by at least 50% (640 billion kWh / 1.34 trillion kWh)

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Key question: will the electric companies (and the country’s electrical grid) be able to meet the increased demand?

Keep in mind that:

  • In some (many?) parts of the country power plants are currently fueled by coal, gas and nuclear power — all of which are deemed taboo by climate control zealots.
  • Key components (or full units) of solar panels and windmills are sourced from China … and neither modality has been proven to generate a dependable flow of energy “at scale”.
  • Some parts of the country have a history of electrical outages — e.g. unplanned weather outages and rolling blackouts.

But, a trusted source reminded me that the electrical companies — while sometimes stressed during peak daytime hours — have substantial unused capacity during nighttime hours.

That unused capacity can be tapped by “demand management” that nudges EV owners to charge their batteries overnight instead of during the day.

Note: I’m trying to track down hard data re: U.S. electricity generation capacity.  Any ideas re: sources?

For example, nighttime electricity rates (i.e. prices) are generally lower than daytime rates … and that differential can be widened to coax overnight EV charging.

That’s true, but overnight charging at home — even with nighttime rate discounts — isn’t exactly a gimme.

  • For example, many urban car owners park overnight on the street where there’s no access to a personal (or public) electrical outlet.
  • Other drivers park in driveways and would need to run extension cords from house outlets to their cars.  Good idea?
  • And, charging via a standard 110/120 outlets is a slow process … adding only a few miles of range from an overnight charge.
  • To up the charging speed requires 220/240 service and a fast-charging station … which adds to the initial EV “investment”.

So, leveraging unused nighttime electrical capacity may be a partial solution, it doesn’t close the supply-demand gap that EVs are virtually certain to create.

How’s that gap going to be closed?

I’d sure like to see the plan…

 

 

 

What if Oprah gave all of us EVs?

June 18, 2022

Would the electric companies be able to supply the increased load?

Short answer: Nope.
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In a prior post, we ran some back-of-the-envelope numbers on EV ownership.

The conclusion: With  $5 per gallon gas and 14¢ per kWh electricity, a shiny new EV would practically pay for itself … albeit taking 20 years to break even.

Let’s assume that life expectancy (for you and for an EV) is longer than 20 years … and ask another question:

If there were a groundswell of EV demand, would electric companies be able to generate enough electricity to keep the EVs charged (and the rest of our electricity-based lives operating “normally’}?

Suppose that Oprah gave all of us an EV today.

How much electricity demand would be added on to the system?

Let’s run some more back-of-the-envelope numbers…

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  • According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (whatever the heck that is): In 2020, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,715 kilowatthours (kWh)

  • There are about 125 million households in the U.S.  We’ll assume that each household is a “residence”.
  • That makes total residential electrical consumption about 1.34 trillion kWh

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  • According to Federal Highway data reported by Metromile, in 2019, “there were almost 229 million Americans who have driving licenses, and they collectively drove over 3.2 trillion miles.”

Note: I’ve seen estimates that range all the way up to 7.5 trillion miles.  To give EVs every benefit of the doubt, we’ll use the low number

  • From what I can ascertain, a Tesla gets about 5 miles per kWh of stored charge. (e.g. a T3, 50 kwh battery gets 250 miles of range).
  • So, 3.2 trillion miles of driving requires 640 million kWh of additional electricity.

Note: The above assumes that “filling” a battery is like filling a gas tank  — i.e. a gallon “flowing in” is a gallon “stored for use”.

This assumption probably understates the amount of electricity that is required to recharge a battery … maybe by a lot!

Bottom line: A full “incredible (fast) transition” to EVs would require at least a 50% increase in electricity generation for consumer / residential use (640 kWh / 1.34 trillion kWh)

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And, where may I ask, will all of this additional electricity come from, given that power plants are fueled by coal, gas and nuclear power — all of which are deemed taboo by climate control zealots.

Solar panels and windmills sourced from China?

Sorry, but I’m betting the under on those.

So, how we gonna do it, Joe?

Looks like there may be some holes in the U.S. energy plan

There is a plan, right?

 

What if Oprah gave me an EV?

June 17, 2022

How much would my electrical demand increase?
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In a prior post, I worked through numbers that explain why my electric utility company sent me an email alert of “ABNORMAL USAGE” … followed by an insinuating alert asking me: DO YOUR DRIVE AN EV?’

The post’s numbers show how EV-charging likely triggered the “unusual usage alert” … and a subsequent series of EV charges led the electric company to infer (incorrectly) that I was on the EV bandwagon.

The email alerts got me wondering…

I asked myself: How much more electricity would I use if Oprah gave me an EV and I ditched my gas-sipping SUV?

Let’s work the numbers…

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  • Like an average American, I drive about 13,500 miles each year Source
  • From what I can ascertain, a Tesla gets about 5 miles per kWh of stored electricity. (e.g. a T3, 50 kwh battery gets 250 miles of range)
  • So, my lowball annual charging consumption would be at least 2,700 kWh … some at home, some at charging stations

Note: The above assumes that “filling” a battery is like filling a gas tank  — i.e. a gallon “flowed” is a gallon “stored”.

This assumption probably understates the amount of electricity that is required to recharge a battery … maybe by a lot!

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For simplicity, let’s assume that I do all of the charging at home…

  • Our home’s annual electricity consumption runs about 27,500 kWh

Note: According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration: In 2020, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,715 kilowatthours (kWh).

Before you accuse me of being an energy glutton, consider…

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research estimates that Al Gore (former VP and current Climate Control Advocate)  has a 20-room home that “devours” nearly 221,000 kWh annually … that’s about 20 times the national average.

  • Again, I estimate that my annual charging consumption would be at least 2,700 kWh

  • That’s about 10% of my current TOTAL electricity usage.

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So, is a 10% increase in my electricity consumption a good thing or a bad thing?

Let’s monetize it…

  • In 2021, I was charged 11.5¢  per kWh
  • Currently I’m being charged 14¢ per kWh … a 20% increase over 2021 rates
  • So, my @home charging charge (<= I love the alliteration) would be about $400.
  • My Audi Q5 SUV gets about 25 MPH
  • So, driving 13,500 miles annually requires about 540 gallons of gas.
  • At Biden’s induced $5 per gallon, that’s a whopping $2,700 annually.
  • The electrifying cost benefit of my hypothetical EV: $2,300.

Of course, the savings depend on $5 (or higher) gas prices and 14¢ (or lower)electricity.

My hunch: Gas prices fall like a rock when Biden is sent packing in 2024 … and electricity prices will keep going up since the industry is already at capacity (think: rolling blackouts) with demand rising

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Of course, Oprah’s not giving me an EV, so I’d have to buy one to get the savings.

Tesla T3’s go for about $50,000.

With $2,300 a year in cost savings, it would practically pay for itself. … albeit taking 20 years to break even.

Unfortunately, that’s a bit longer than my actuarial life expectancy, so I think I’ll hold off buying one.

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Of course, there’s even more to the story.

The above is an incremental analysis that only adds one user (me) to the electrical grid.

Surely, BGE could accommodate that small increase.

But, what if there was a veritable groundswell towards EVs?

We’ll tackle that question next, by asking “What if Opah gave everybody an EV?”

Stay tuned…

More:“KENNETH HOMA, do you drive an EV?”

June 16, 2022

Let’s dig into the numbers…
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Earlier this week, I posted that I had gotten two “alert” emails from BGE, my electric company.

The first email was a “NOTICE OF UNUSUAL ACTIVITY” …euphemistically asking  “what the hell is going on at your house?”

I reported that my son had charged his new Tesla overnight, and that probably triggered the alert.

The second email was more direct: “DO YOU OWN AN EV?” It showcased a chart that my energy efficiency had dropped from the borderline of “good” and “great” … all the way down to “fair”

image

Again, I pointed a finger at my son’s periodic Tesla charging.

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Well, a couple of loyal readers politely challenged my inferences and doubted that EV-charging was the impetus for BGE’s email alerts.

So, I retrieved some numbers and did some back-of-the-envelop number crunching.

Let’s work through the numbers…

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  • According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration: In 2020, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,715 kilowatthours (kWh).
  • Our home’s annual electricity consumption runs about 27,500 kWh …  which averages out to about 75 kWh per day.
  • When my son charges  at my house, it’s for about 8 hours, drawing about 40 kWh … about 5 kWh per hour of charging
  • So, based on an average day’s electricity consumption at my house, that’s a 50% spike in electricity consumed (40 /75 = 53%).

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  • For reference, our biggest electrical draw is the HVAC that services our upper 2 levels (which get hottest in the summer and coldest in the winter)… with a smart thermostat that capture usage data.
  • Our upper level HVAC uses 5,300 kWh per year … about 20% of our total consumption … about 15 kwh on an average dayon hot days (high 80s and 90s) it spikes about 50% to 22 kWh
  • When BGE sees that spike, they know it’s a hot weather-related  event
  • When I got a 40 kWh Tesla charging spike on an average day, BGE red flagged me … since it was out of pattern … and sent the “unusual activity” alert.
  • When the spike happened a few times, BGE apparently concluded that I must have bought an EV which I’m charging from one of my home’s 110 circuits … and warned that I should brace for higher bills.

Bottom line: BGE drew reasonable analytical conclusions at the first spike … and after noticing a couple of spikes.

But, to answer their question : “No, I don’t drive an EV … I don’t own a EV … but, occasionally, an EV sleeps overs at my house.”

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BGE’s question and my readers’ nudges really started me thinking about EVs.

For openers, I asked myself: “What if I did own an EV.  How much more electricity would I consume?”

That’s next up…

How to double the time it takes to take a car trip…

June 14, 2022

Simple: Buy an EV and download a charger-finder app.
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Last year, my wife and son took their annual weekend trip to Cleveland to visit some relatives and go to an Indians’ (err, Guardians’) baseball game.

In prior years, the trip from DC to Cleveland took under 6 hours.

Last year it was over 10.

What changed?

Her gas-efficient Audi A4 was left in the garage.

His Tesla hit the road … and  the hunt for EV chargers started.

Apparently, their experience is neither unique nor time-obsoleted.

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A recent WSJ article chronicled a writer’s EV travel from New Orleans to Chicago and back in a shiny new EV.

The Goal: Roundtrip from New Orleans to Chicago and back (2,000 miles) in 4 “leisurely” days.

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The plan:

Given our battery range of up to 310 miles, I plotted a meticulous route, splitting our days into four chunks of roughly 7½-hours each.

We’d need to charge once or twice each day and plug in near our hotel overnight.

While we’d be fine overnight, we required fast chargers during the days.

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Charging Stops – The Dream 

Fast chargers tend to be located in parking lots of suburban shopping malls, or tethered to gas stations or car dealerships.

ChargePoint — which manufactures and maintains many fast-charging stations — promises an 80% charge in 20 to 30 minutes.

That’s  longer than stopping for gas — but, on the bright side, “it’s good for a bite or bathroom break.”

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Charging Stops – The Reality

It turns out not all “fast chargers” live up to the name.

At our dealer’s fast-charging station, our dashboard tells us a full charge, from 18% to 100%, will take 3-plus hours.

Fastest charge: 25 minutes.

Longest “fast” charge : 3 hours

While there are already thousands of charging options between New Orleans and Chicago, most were are classified as Level 2, requiring up to 8 hours for a full charge.

And sometimes, charging stations are only open during business hours at, say, gas stations or car dealerships … or, may require an attendant to turn it on.

And sometimes, you get beat to an advertised “open” charging station by another driver — or get shocked by an unexpected “out of service” sign

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The Economics

Over four days, we spent $175 on charging.

We estimated the equivalent cost for gas  would have been $275.

That $100 savings cost us many hours in waiting time.

A gas-fueled 2-day trip can be EVed in 4 days, with some white-knuckle situations along the way.

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The Urban Divide

This was a surprise to me…

The car’s highway range actually was worse than its range in cities.

Indeed, highway driving doesn’t benefit as much from the car’s regenerative-braking technology which uses energy generated in slowing down to help a car recharge its battery

But, a battery’s charge can be stretched by using cruise control to  reduce inadvertent acceleration and deceleration … and by:

Turning off the car’s cooling system and the radio, unplugging phones and other devices and lowering the windshield wipers to the lowest possible setting while still being able to see in the rain.

In other words, shelve all of the car’s creature comforts.

Yipes!

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PS For added color, read the whole article:

I Rented an Electric Car for a Four-Day Road Trip. I Spent More Time Charging It Than I Did Sleeping.

Scroll down the article for an accompanying video The Electric Vehicle Road Test..


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