Grand final: Sustainable Energy NZ #16 – counting up the dollars and sense

by Oliver Bruce on November 19, 2012

Welcome to the sixteenth and final post in the Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air – A New Zealand Perspective series.

To recap, we started with a bit of energy accounting and worked out that Kiwi’s use around 88 kWh/d/p (methodology for what the kWh/d/p means is here), and that of this, about 33kWh/d/p came from sustainable sources or we couldn’t substitute. As a result, we’ve been looking for how to shift the remaining 55kWh/d/p of our current energy use to renewable energy sources. We approached this in two ways:

How much could we increase our energy generation capacity in renewable sources?

Here, we looked at hydro power, geothermal and wind (and a summary on the big three), solarbiofuelsmarine and waste energy and did some basic calculations on the overall potential of these sources. Then:

How much could we achieve a BIG reduction in our personal and national energy consumption, and where those savings would come from.

We went through the areas of energy use for Kiwis, including roadair transporthome energy use and general consumption before doing some calculations on the overall reductions we think we could make.

What might it cost to achieve an all-renewable energy economy?

Today, we’re looking at how this might translate into action at a national level. This post contains both some costing, and suggestions for action that might effectively be channeled into effective change.


Costing it out

Costs are highly dependent on what exactly our energy plan is but here is an example of a plan which could be reasonably executed by 2025, consisting of a range of both generation and conservation measures. The plan is chosen to illustrate the relative cost-effectiveness of various options – we are not suggesting that this is the plan that NZ should adopt, merely to give an indication of what a workable plan might cost:

 

kWh/d/p

Cost($B)

Cost per kWh/d/p ($B)

Build top 8 hydros

4

5

1.1

Windmills (All of Tranche 1)

32

37

1.1

Windmills(~50% of Tranche 2)

5

9

1.8

Geothermal

4

4

0.8

Solar hot water on 740,000 homes

2

4

2

Insulate remaining homes

2

2

1

Electric cars phased in over 20 years

10

0 – 5

0 – 0.5

Solar photovoltaic

2

9.6

4.8

Conservation (lights/refrigeration)

1

0

0

TOTAL

62

70.6-75.6

Some notes on the options:

Hydro: The schemes costed here are Lower Waitaki (in process), all 4 schemes on Clutha, Mokihinui, Wairau and Arnold.

Windmills: Tranche 1 is the several thousand windmills which can generate at 8c/kWh, while Tranche 2 can generate at 10c/kWh. These are largely located in Hawkes Bay, Manawatu, Wellington, Northland and Southland. Around 60-65% are in the North Island.

Geothermal: This is all the schemes which could be consented within current resource management law.

All pricing is from the Electricity Commission TTER studies [8rcht8w].

Solar hot water: This is estimated for half the homes in New Zealand, assuming that installation will happen at the same time as a water cylinder is replaced and so the marginal cost for each installation is $5000. The payback time for a homeowner doing this is 7-12 years. [p266yw] We understand the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment concerns, but feel that there are other associated benefits that accompany solar hot water.

Insulation: An estimated 1,000,000 homes are still not properly insulated. Cost was based on the average cost of the home insulation scheme running since 2009, which was calculated to be around $2000 a home (or $1700 for North Island homes, and $2300 for South Island homes using the BRANZ average of 150m squared.). This brings the total to around $2 billion of further spending to ensure all homes are insulated. The savings are much harder to calculate. It is possible that energy costs will reduce very little, but more homes will be warmer and healthier, saving health costs but not energy.

Electric cars: These are not even with us yet and another possibility for NZ would be biofuels. However, worldwide conversion to biofuel would seriously impact on already stretched food production so electric cars are more likely as mentioned earlier. The cost estimate is so wide because of the assumptions needed. If we were to replace the entire car fleet with electric vehicles right now, at an assumed cost of $60,000 each (cost of the Mitsubishi Miev), then it would cost $138 billion. However, even if we wanted to do that nobody makes that many electric cars! – even GM, the biggest electric car maker with its Volt only makes 45,000 cars a year at the moment (while we have 2.3 million cars), and I’m sure there would be issues with farmers if we tried to replace their utes with small commuter cars. So it’s more realistic to think of the transition over a 20-30 year time frame. Almost all of the cars in New Zealand will be replaced in this timeframe anyway.

If electric cars were of similar cost and bought in a similar way (including used imports from Japan), then the marginal cost of the change could be low as we’d only need to retool certain aspects of our infrastructure (such as putting in charging stations at homes and workplaces). Currently electric cars carry a premium of anywhere from 30-100%. If we calculate the transition over 20 years with a scale up from 1% to 100% of our new vehicles sold being electric (currently~150,000/year) and costing 100% more in the beginning (and this coming down to be cost competitive with petrol in 20 years), a more reasonable figure is a cost of ~$5 billion.

One potential option for scaling up electric car use is being developed by a US-based company called Better Place. Launched in 2007, it is working with automakers Renault and Nissan (as well as others) to develop solutions for the biggest barriers to electric car adoption, namely high initial costs and limited range. They have developed battery swap stations so that consumers can quickly switch batteries to extend their vehicles range, in addition to offering home charging options. Better Place owns the batteries, and charges users a subscription (much like a cellphone plan) for a certain number of kilometres a month. The car cost is lower, as it doesn’t have the cost of the battery included, and the driver doesn’t need to worry about range, as they can switch out batteries when they want to travel for long distances. Better Place has operations in Australia, and has estimated that the cost of 500 battery stations (providing the same level of coverage as the 13,000 petrol stations) for the entire country would be in the region of $1-1.25 Billion AUD. Scaled down to NZ size, that is an investment of approximately $250 million (enough for about 100 battery switch stations in addition to the home charging stations) spread over a number of years as adoption rates scale up.

The marginal cost of the Better Place electric vehicles is a lot lower than current electric vehicles (especially if can to buy them on the second hand market), and their currently limited model selection will increase over time. We don’t support Better Place over other options, but it is interesting to see that the marginal cost of electrification could be relatively low (especially when we see that we currently spend $7.7 Billion a year importing oil, of which the majority goes to transport). The savings (10kWh/d/p) are very conservative and could be twice that.

Solar PV: Getting 2kWh/d/p would need 20m2 of the conventional, cheaper solar panels on about half the houses in NZ. With an installed cost at today prices of $13,000, this is nearing the point where it will make sound economic sense for many homeowners. [8qadyqh]

Conservation: The cheapest option but it is hard to make a significant difference. This figure assumes rigorous adoption of better lighting, refrigeration, and efficient gadgetry over a normal replacement cycle in both residential and industrial usage.

This plan calls for a seriously huge number of windmills (10,000+) with all the issues associated with wind variability and backing capacity. In practice, more hydro and geothermal may be required unless a serious contribution can found from either conservation or other generation.

Just to put the numbers in perspective, here are some other large numbers drawn from the 2011/12 budget:

 

Cost ( $B)

NZ GDP

177

Education

12.4

Health

14.7

Transport (not including spending on Roads of National Significance)

2.2

And a not so large number:

Sustainable Energy R&D $B 0.032

The first goal would be to end electricity generation from coal and gas (6kWh/d/p). We could achieve this by efficiency alone or build more renewable generation. Wind is probably the fastest route, with geothermal and hydro options to follow. The complex issues are balancing biodiversity with economics in new generation, and in setting national priorities. The elephant in the room is population. Living on renewables is relatively easy for our current population of 4.4 million. Doing the calculations for 14 million would be more difficult. To maintain the country in even close to its current state, we need to constrain population growth as a priority.

Making a BIG Difference

Media messages make it all too easy to believe that by merely turning off our TVs and installing energy efficient light bulbs, we can become sustainable for energy. Achieving this is actually somewhat more difficult. What do we need to do, both as individuals and as a nation, to make a big difference to our energy problem? Based on the numbers presented above, we have compiled the following lists:

Summary: We’ve gone through the options for transitioning New Zealand to 100% sustainable energy and found that not only is it possible, but that it is in the realm of feasibility. NZ is a unique country with a convergence of significant renewable energy potential and low population, further helped by the fact that we are already some of the world leaders in the percentage of our electricity supply powered by renewables. We shouldn’t allow this to make us complacent. Our transport infrastructure is strongly oil dependent and according to a Parliamentary Library report on NZ’s exposure to oil supply disruptions, our economy is more vulnerable than we like to think especially for affordable-oil dependent tourism and bulk export sectors. We need far-sighted leadership on these issues, as the changes required to shift to a 100% sustainably powered society and economy take not just years but decades. We hope that our framework and posts here can help inform the debate we need to be having at a national level about how to best proceed in a warming and increasingly uncertain world.

To paraphrase one of my favourite quotes:

“In times of change, those powered by sustainable energy source will inherit the earth, while those with cheap oil-dependent infrastructures will find themselves beautifully equipped to function in a world that no longer exists.”

{ 106 comments… read them below or add one }

diessoli November 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Not sure if this is a good place to post this, but people with an interest in PV might like to know about this:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/small-business/7964817/Sunny-start-for-energy-co-op

noelfuller November 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm

So that’s why I spent yesterday feeling I ought to be somewhere else! How come I missed this occasion? Electric vehicles and solar PV co-op. It seems along the lines I’ve been advocating that every town and building should be seen as an energy source rather than an energy drain with community schemes bringing economies of scale and in other ways facilitating take up. Thanks diessoli.

This series on sustainability has been enlightening and motivating. In particular I’ve noted the potential for hydro to balance the intermittent generating technologies, solar and wind. To a not inconsiderable degree I suspect wind and solar can balance each other too. Wind for example is probably doing OK just when solar is doing poorly – in bad weather I mean.

Noel

Thomas November 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Wow! Thanks for the link. What a great initiative!

Also installed cost in several regions for PV solar grid connected 2kWh systems is as low as $10,000 by now:
http://www.whatpowercrisis.co.nz/2kw-grid-connect-system/

Oliver Bruce November 21, 2012 at 8:31 am

I’ve got quotes from PowerSmart in Tauranga for a 3kw system for $12,500. It comes with a 20 year guarantee.

Richard Christie November 19, 2012 at 10:45 pm
Phil Scadden November 19, 2012 at 8:29 pm

So if your 2kW system last 20 years without maintenence, that is about 18c per kWh, and for average household, provide 3.3kWh/d/p. A dent in the 11kWh/d/p of typical household use but with prices still somewhat higher than network.

Phil Scadden November 19, 2012 at 8:34 pm

An interesting innovation has been proposed by council here. It would provide for loans from the council to put in certain home improvements that would be paid off through rates. The capital payoff is attached to the property not the current owner. This would allow you put in say solar hot water heating and insulation at council expense without worrying whether you will own the house long enough to pay off the capital. A home buyer would need to be aware of impact on rates. This to me removes a significant barrier to some house improvements.

noelfuller November 19, 2012 at 9:50 pm

“An interesting innovation has been proposed by council here.”

Where is “here” ?

Noel

Phil Scadden November 19, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Dunedin – came up in annual plan consultation. Ie is this something rate payers would like to see money in plan for.

noelfuller November 19, 2012 at 10:37 pm

I understand California has been working on a similar concept but through the electrical utilities as agents.

Oliver Bruce November 19, 2012 at 10:40 pm

This was a similar system as was used in Nelson for its Solar Saver scheme. It was an ambitious scheme that intended to strongly encourage the uptake of solar hot water heating in the city that debuted in 2009. They offered a loans-into-rates scheme to assist homeowners with spreading the costs over a number of years and making it cost neutral. I interviewed the head of that project earlier in the year when I was researching a similar system for the Bay of Plenty.

There are a couple of issues with the financing portion namely:
1) Any body issuing an interest bearing loan has to comply with the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act (CCCFA). This include local governments. This adds a lot of compliance costs built into the loans-into-rates schemes.
2) Charging interest in advance is in breach of the CCCFA. Because rates are typically paid in one go, this needs to be navigated (by charging for the preceding year – but then the council has to carry the financing cost for an extra year, and there was plenty of pushback on this because taxpayers are on the hook for this)

The administrator of the Nelson Solar Saver Scheme said that the CCCFA may be amended to allow more flexibility with local governments, but I don’t know how long this might take.

Nelson also waived the consent fee for solar installations, but then incurred extra costs as they had to often send out inspectors twice because installers were doing a shoddy job and didn’t have any incentive to get it right the first time. Unfortunately, the uptake was not very strong compared to predicted demand and the scheme was up for review earlier this year. I don’t know the outcome.

I laid it out in the following presentation on why a solar heating scheme could be structured in Rotorua/Bay of Plenty.
http://prezi.com/ffl3nix5swyq/a-rotorua-solar-scheme/

The other option that has worked successfully in the Bay of Plenty has been the solar hot water scheme that Nova Energy has offered – it provides free installation and a leasing arrangement for new or existing customers. As far as I can tell, they’re using this primarily as a marketing scheme as it locks Nova in as an energy supplier for the years of the loan (unless customers decide to pay off their system). This scheme has been wildly successful, with as many solar systems installed as the Nelson SS programme without any cost to ratepayers. The issue with it is working out how to scale this up to a national level. Nova only covers Bay of Plenty/Waikato so they’re not going to be able to scale to a national campaign. It requires innovation from power companies, and is difficult for a consumer/ratepayer to initiate.

Solar PV leasing arrangements are growing in popularity around the world, but it requires willing parties to purchase the energy generated on an ongoing basis and a enabling regulatory framework. Both of these are still partially lacking in the NZ market.

Thomas November 20, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Since this is the grand final of your series of posts, this is perhaps the place to say: Thank You!!! for the work you put into this and for the good forward-looking thoughts that it is galvanizing. Such a summary of our options has been a while overdue. Can you make this available as a single PDF document? This would be of interest for example for teachers like myself and for anybody who would like to re-hash your posts in context.
Well done, and if anything, your summary will hopefully make doubters and the yet unconvinced a bit more hopeful and engaged with our pathways towards a sustainable future. :-)

Oliver Bruce November 21, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Hi Thomas –

Hi Thomas,

Its now on the Hot Topic server. The paper in full can be found here:

http://hot-topic.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/SustainNZ-2012-09-29.pdf

I’ve not updated it with some of the better wording from these posts (ie. I copied it from this document and then elaborated a little for each post), but the main points and numbers are in here.

Cheers, and thanks for your support.

Also – any suggestions of how to better disseminate this information would be most graciously accepted

Oliver

CTG November 19, 2012 at 9:59 pm

We need far-sighted leadership on these issues

See, there’s your problem right there.

Bob Bingham November 20, 2012 at 8:07 am

Saving energy is better than building new capacity.
The big number is in transport and we should be investing in electric trains, trams and cars. The car industry is trying to produce a car that will perform as we;; as petrol, which is a waste of time. It would make sense to move to electric cars for the second car which does the around town shopping and children to school trips. If we started on that we could make some progress. Economically it would mean that for every litre of oil saved we could sell it abroad for hard cash.

noelfuller November 20, 2012 at 8:39 am

Bang on Bob!

I have just been looking at the Victor Harbour stuff again. I see Oz celebrated a drop in energy demand for the first time ever back in June.

http://solarprogram.com.au/updates.html

Noel

Phil Scadden November 20, 2012 at 9:13 am

I agree that if you arent doing something about transport, then you arent likely to making much of a difference. But I have reservations about much you can save with trains and trams. Public transport is more efficient than cars only if the vehicles are full and this needs high population densities to be convenient. MacKay has figures for London. The underground is 5x efficiency of a single driver vehicle while buses about 2.5x. I am not convinced you could get figures remotely close to this for much of NZ. Cars arent going away so I think we need for far more efficient cars (and having them perform like petrol ones is needed to get them accepted) and the generation to power them.

Nothing beats travelling fewer kilometers in the first place for which more compact cities with high density housing, telecommuting, or living close to work is key. Just a sea change in thinking about we live. Apartment dwellers without cars in New York and Hong Kong live far more sustainably than any life-style paradise-seekers.

andyS November 21, 2012 at 2:58 pm

You want 10,000 windmills?

Do you imagine that people will actually want to live in and visit a country that has turned its iconic scenery into one giant wind factory?

Maybe you should visit the Borders region of Scotland, or northern Germany, and visualise this environmental desecration exported to NZ

Oliver Bruce November 21, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Andy,

This work has been about crunching the numbers.

If you don’t want 10,000 windmills then fine. The other options as per this research that are of the scale of onshore wind in NZ is solar and offshore wind. Onshore wind is the cheapest at the moment, and it has shortcomings that we are plenty aware of.

Please enlighten us as to how else you’ll do it. Your plan must add up – generation must meet demand. Start with getting the figures from here: http://hot-topic.co.nz/sustainable-energy-nz-9-here-comes-the-sum-what-are-renewables-worth/

I’m all ears.

andyS November 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Basically I am for anything except wind and solar, which are proving to me a complete disaster economically and environmentally.

bill November 22, 2012 at 1:14 am

Gee, and with someone with your character and level of integrity opposed to them, how could they hope to succeed?! ;-)

What. A. Buffoon.

CTG November 22, 2012 at 7:17 am

Oliver, there is no point asking andy to provide a solution to a problem that he denies even exists.

andyS November 22, 2012 at 7:21 am

I have already provided the option of Thorium power. Anyway, which problem are you referring to?

There are multiple issues, e.g energy shortage and CO2 emissions, for example. Wind energy addresses neither of these.
A recent study from Aberdeen University showed that wind turbines placed on peat would release more CO2 than it “saves”

Phil Scadden November 22, 2012 at 10:13 am

I would agree that Thorium cycle and other 4th gen technologies are alternatives. For NZ case, they are just a lot more expensive than renewables and frankly likely to face far greater public opposition than wind.

“Wind energy addresses neither of these.” Demonstrably false. Wind is doing fine in replacing coal for energy – and as for building on peat – well duh! – dont put them on peat. Cant think of single wind site on peat here. The Co2 cost per kWh from wind is are 10g compared to coal at 1050 and nuclear at 50-70. Care to cite peer-reviewed literature to the contrary?

bill November 21, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Yeah, with your 15000km coastline (do you guys live in a crinkly country, or what?) that’s one every, what, 1.5 km or so! Or 200 farms of 50 turbines 75km apart! Think of all the chopped birds (despite what the actual birdos say! They’re nearly as bad as the Scientists…) The whales will all develop epilepsy*! Oh, the humanity…

* an actual complaint here in SA!

andyS November 21, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Bill, the Altantic Array in the Bristol Channel will completely destroy the North Devon fishing industry, which has built a sustainable industry over generations.

I have objected to this development on these and other grounds. Offshore wind is horrendously expensive and serves no purpose other than to enrich its developers via ROC subsidies.

It still amazes me that so called environmentalists can support this wanton destruction of our environment for no economic or environmental benefit whatsoever.

bill November 22, 2012 at 1:19 am

‘Will completely destroy’ eh? You Alarmist, you! And funny how they got planning permission, then, with all you hysterics around to cry violation at the slightest zephyr of potential trouble.

Your claim is Bullshit, andy, which at least grants it consistency (and a consistency!), and you are an increasingly desperate and silly man.

andyS November 22, 2012 at 6:21 am

They haven’t got permission yet. It will take 10 years to build the Atlantic Array, requiring massive concrete piles to be placed on the sea bed, and then huge turbines, up to 700 ft tall, will be placed on the piles. The array is in the Bristol Channel, close to the Devon and Gower peninsulas, and also very close to Lundy Island, an environmentally protected sanctuary.
http://www.slaythearray.com/

Also, the film Lost Horizons covers some of the issues.
Linked from the above.

The Devon and Gower coasts are areas of outstanding natural beauty, threatened with an industrialized seascape.

Anyway, I have put my submission in.

Phil Scadden November 22, 2012 at 9:07 am

Because this is about looking at alternatives. Your claim of no economic or environmental benefit, is for the NZ, case, completely unfounded. Windmills are built because they are economic. I’m not keen on 10,000 windmills either but as I have pointed out previously to you, none are built on protected landscape and none are offshore. Claims of destroying this landscape is just rhetoric and repeating that claim while knowing that fact doesnt do your credibility any good at all.

Our country is also known for its iconic beaches. If you want to see what a sustained 4mm of sealevel rise looks like, then look at pictures of the Malrborough sounds. Bye to bye to that beloved part of our lifestyle.

It appears you are saying that you want no change. But this is something you cannot have. If you say no to changing generation, then you either live with less energy or live with climate change. Blocking your ears and claiming climate change isnt happening is just a failure to confront a problem.

andyS November 22, 2012 at 10:39 am

I am not claiming that turbines are destroying the NZ landscape. I am claiming that turbines are destroying the British landscape, particularly Wales, Scotland and Northern England.

The issue is that these machines are becoming very unpopular and the public are turning against them. In a recent BBC report,the Welsh police are objecting to a turbine development because it would increase crime. They claim that anti-wind protesters or the crew would commit crimes and want the wind developer to pay for the extra policing required.

Ultimately, wind energy is a fashion accessory for the environmentally retarded. It is expensive, unreliable and in most parts of the world leads to increased CO2 emissions once it has exceeded a certain penetration of the grid, therefore has a negative impact on your so-called problem.If you think littering the country with wind factories is going to stop the sea levels rising then maybe you’d like to consider that China is increasing its emissions by the equivalent of one NZ per day.

Vestas is the most shorted Danish stock by hedge fund managers. The wind bubble is about to burst.

Goodbye and good riddance to bad rubbish

Phil Scadden November 22, 2012 at 11:58 am

“I am not claiming that turbines are destroying the NZ landscape.” – then what is this comment? ” a country that has turned its iconic scenery into one giant wind factory? ”

I cant comment on politic or visual effect on UK – never been there. However, you comment “wind energy is a fashion accessory for the environmentally retarded. It is expensive, unreliable and in most parts of the world leads to increased CO2 emissions once it has exceeded a certain penetration of the grid,”
is unsupported and unsupportable. Where is this peer-reviewed analysis that shows CO2 emissions exceed coal? There are some laughable distortions and fantasies by anti-wind factions, and it would seem some commentators have taken the time to pull these apart but I am guessing you dont read those. If you dont want windmills to look at then say so and challenge on landscape protection – dont make up economic and environmental fantasies to “support” your case. Globally, windpower has an important part to play and environmental harm from that has to balanced against alternatives – and the cost of doing nothing.

I am quite well aware that what NZ does is insignificant globally, but if NZ cant do it, then nobody can and it behoves us to show leadership. You need to fix for UK in what way works for you (I would say nuclear reading MacKay) but that is no excuse for dishonest claims about windmills. The west are effectively exporting emissions to China – you could fix that tomorrow by stopping buying goods.

A “bubble” is when something is artificially overvalued – wind is only an economic bubble if subsidies or otherwise are concealing the true cost relative to other generation. Not the case here at least.

andyS November 22, 2012 at 12:54 pm

This article in Der Spiegel highlights some of the problems with renewables in Germany

They are now facing the issue that they have so much capacity that it is making the conventional power uneconomic therefore forcing them out of business. Unfortunately they still need the coal stations for when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. Therefore, the government have had to step in and pay the coal stations for producing no power.

This kind of insanity can lead to increased CO2 emissions overall as you need duplicate power stations as standby. Other studies from the Netherlands have shown that wind backed by conventional fossil fuels can lead to increased CO2 emissions than from the fossil fuel stations alone.

Germany, apparently the poster child of renewables, is building new coal fired power stations, including lignite.
Poland is putting in surge protectors at the border to prevent Germany frying its grid from oversupply of wind and solar.

Maybe NZ wants to lead the world by littering its country with turbines.
Feel free to ignore the experiences of other countries.

Ian Forrester November 22, 2012 at 4:57 pm

andyS is displaying his usual dishonest interpretation of what he reads:

Germany, apparently the poster child of renewables, is building new coal fired power stations, including lignite.
Poland is putting in surge protectors at the border to prevent Germany frying its grid from oversupply of wind and solar.

If andyS were honest (wishful thinking I know on my part) he would realize that the main reason Germany is going to build more coal fired plants is because they are shutting down nuclear plants. They are planning on being nuclear free by 2020 or thereby. It has got nothing to do with “oversupply of wind and solar”.

Having grown up in a coal-mining area in Scotland and having been close to wind-farms in both Scotland and Alberta I can assure anyone that wants to know which is the more destructive of both the landscape and the local air and water. For the benefit of andyS, since he is either so stupid or dishonest to know which it is I will tell him that coal mines are far far nastier than a few benign wind turbines. People actually got sick, injured and killed by coal mining activities.

andyS November 22, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Forrester, I do realize that Germany is shutting down its nuclear power stations and rlacing them with coal.

So why don’t they replace them with windmills then?

Forester, I am getting a bit sick of you continually referrig to me as dishonest, by the way. I understand that coal mining is bad, as we know in NZ. What has this got to do with what I have said?
Is it because I am dishonest Forrester?

Do you have peer reviewed paper that shows that
wind power reduces co2 emissions overall? It would be helpful if you could provide one Forrester, thanks

Ian Forrester November 23, 2012 at 4:47 am

[Snipped: Ian - I understand your frustration, but please stick to the subject and keep it polite.]

Thomas November 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Just imagine Andy, you could ride on your own donkey, lance in hand, around all these thousand windmills, shouting at the whoosh of blades as they cut through the fresh morning air… Behold the scenes of battle….

Phil Scadden November 23, 2012 at 9:25 am

So NZ CO2 emissions from energy sector decreased by 1.5% while generation increased by 3% – source of extra generation was geothermal and wind. Source

Your “study” from ex-Shell anti-wind people contains the surprising claim “Increasing the rate of reaction of the power station assembly can only be achieved by using inefficient open-cycle gas turbines”.

Firstly, any gas turbine is lower emission than coal, secondly, this statement is false. Fast-start hydro is ideal backing technology but I can see the dutch couldnt do this, but even with gas turbines, fast-start high-efficiency turbines are available. eg here

NZ has a number of just such fast-start high-efficiency peaking generators.

The fact that all capacity must be backed is ignored (though lower capacity system need more backing). Worth noting Dutch wind capacity is stated at 17% whereas is NZ is 30-35% (90% for Wellington :-) ).

I’d say classic case of “study” that was written to provide a pre-determined answer with a lack of respect for sources or truth.
And Andy, I would have to say that it looks like you are prepared to use uncritically any argument or source to support your anti-wind crusade. I do not think that is a great way to gather support or sympathy.

CTG November 22, 2012 at 7:16 am

I was in the Borders at Christmas, visiting family. Didn’t see any of this desecration you talk about, nor were there armies of people in the streets of Edinburgh complained about wind farms.

You may have fantasies about a popular movement against wind farms, andy, but they are just fantasies. However much you deny reality, it just keeps on whacking you on the arse.

andyS November 22, 2012 at 7:19 am

Strange, I have just got back from Scotland too, and I saw lots of windfarms.

Maybe you should get out a bit more. The drive up the M74 is littered with turbines, and the Inverness area is particularly blighted.

You may ignore the protests and claim that they are not happening. Maybe you should read something other than the Guardian.

CTG November 22, 2012 at 11:27 pm

I have never read the Guardian. Far too left wing for me. Curious that you should say that, though – maybe you are making assumptions about me.

I saw plenty of wind turbines in Scotland, but none of this “environmental desecration” you talk about. I thought they looked quite pretty actually, especially on the flight into Edinburgh. Certainly a lot nicer than the industrial wastelands of Bathgate and Livingston.

I must say, a few nice turbines on the hilltops of Canterbury would greatly add to the amenity value. I might put in a resource consent to build a good large wind farm just next to where you live. Would brighten up the area no end – as would your rapid departure.

Phil Scadden November 22, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Andy, more newspaper opinion, hard facts no. The German situation is example of bad policy (poor subsidy structure for solar (subsidies are always bad idea in my opinion) and poor grid planning, lack of storage technology). All with technological solutions. There is no technical nor market reason for government to step in pay so I rather suspect that is simple politics. Having coal to back up when sun doesnt shine does NOT result in more CO2 overall. The back of CO2 from coal fired stations is in the fuel and mining not the from embedded energy. You are again quoting studies without giving us links – would these be peer-reviewed articles or activist propaganda?

It is disappointing to hear of new coal, but of interest is how much NET new coal stations are being built -because of course they will be retiring old inefficient generation as well. I nonetheless think Germany is unwise to retire nuclear.

I hadnt heard of Germany being a “poster child” for renewables. I thought that would be NZ and Iceland. I also dont think examples of bad policy are somehow proof that something is impossible.

noelfuller November 22, 2012 at 2:02 pm

“You are again quoting studies without giving us links – would these be peer-reviewed articles or activist propaganda?”

He can’t help it, poor fellow. It’s disinformation instinct: see no evidence, hear no evidence, speak no evidence.

Noel

Phil Scadden November 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Should read “bulk” of CO2, not “back” of CO2.
There is no rule that backup generation must be coal. This is a political decision.

andyS November 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm

So Der Speigel is now “activist propaganda” and you want peer reviewed studies

I give up.

Gareth November 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I give up.

Please do. Your anti-wind zealotry is boring in the extreme.

Phil Scadden November 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Der Speigel is a news outlet. No idea whether its better or worse than others, but not much use for assessing information.

I want the “other studies”.
“. Other studies from the Netherlands have shown that wind backed by conventional fossil fuels can lead to increased CO2 emissions than from the fossil fuel stations alone.”

My back of the envelope calculation is that this could only be true
a/ if wind-backed generation is really small
b/ it is conveniently ignored that all capacity of any type must backed up.

I want to see the number to prove otherwise.

andyS November 22, 2012 at 2:50 pm
Oliver Bruce November 22, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Andy,

Posting a non-peer reviewed article from the website European Protection Against Windmills (EPAW.org) doesn’t count.

Honestly, with such terrible source analysis skills, I don’t know how you managed to get a degree from Cambridge, Leeds or Robert Gordon (as per your personal website here: http://www.scrase.com/About.aspx). I never had the privilege of attending as prestigious universities as these, but my professors would have let rip on me if I’d ever tried something this stupid.

andyS November 22, 2012 at 9:48 pm

So Bruce, you have managed to Google me. [Snip]

Perhaps you would like to tell me what qualifications you have to discuss how to run an energy grid, and when your “report” will be in the peer reviewed literature.

[Snip: keep it polite. GR]

Oliver Bruce November 22, 2012 at 10:57 pm

I don’t have the qualifications to discuss how to run an energy grid, but I’ve never claimed to and that is not what this report is about. This report will not be in the peer reviewed literature because that was never the intention of the work.

You still haven’t provided a valid reference to Phil’s query regarding your claim “wind backed by conventional fossil fuels can lead to increased CO2 emissions than from the fossil fuel stations alone.”

noelfuller November 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm

From energyshare, discussed early in this thread, I learn that:
“The PV invertor systems provided by Energyshare will be grid connect with the ability to operate in ‘island’ mode as well.  Some additional control logic will also enable the use of your electric hotwater cylinder to be used to some degree as a ‘battery’ as well.  The solar PV systems are offered at various KW sizes to suit the members needs but Energyshare is not focused on exporting energy to the Grid, prefering to have most of the pv energy used ‘on site’.  These systems are modular and can be added to when the need to power electric vehicles arises for particular members.”

I would like to know what inverters they expect to use?

Noel

Thomas November 23, 2012 at 6:40 am

Providing systems small enough that the vast majority of the PV power generated is used behind the meter at the customers house is key. At current power prices (and they will only go up over time) solar PV produces power cheaper than you can buy it from the retailer at retail prices. Connecting the HW cylinder to the Solar PV for times when the production exceeds demand otherwise makes sense. At current PV panel prices it is probably cheaper to heat your water this way than with the more complex plumbed in HW systems.
A $10,000 investment in grid connected PV will get a better return on investment in form of tax free income through avoided power purchases than the same money sitting in a taxed term deposit by a long shot. This is a significant development.

Phil Scadden November 23, 2012 at 9:47 am

“At current power prices (and they will only go up over time) solar PV produces power cheaper than you can buy it from the retailer at retail prices.”

I worked it out above (for Auckland radiation) at around 17c which is NOT cheaper than retail. Can you show me your calculation for comparison?

noelfuller November 23, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Holy smokes! who is supplying retail power in Auckland below 17c?

Bills are confusing maybe deliberatly so?

Mercury in April last year was charging 11.13 c/kWh but add in their daily fixed charge and the metering charge and the electricity supply levy common to all at about 0.21c/kWh and after all that is GST and a discount if paid by? So what I am really interested in is the final discounted payment divided by kWh
April 2011: 26c/kWh.

Then came my way Contact Energy with their kickstart offer at 17.772 c/kWh and identical metering charge,
result 21.25c/kWh.

Since then there has been an increase in GST and daily metering charge and a reversion to their nominal 22.713 c/kWh so the result:
August: 30.19c/kWh
October: 31.69c/kWh

Hmm, scary, time for a change? about another 5 cents and even an off grid system would start to look interesting – well it would if we could have batteries that lasted about 3 times longer and did not cost a fortune in themselves – however I’m going on the notion that at today’s prices an off-grid plus grid tie system might cost about $10,000 more depending on what degree of off-grid capacity one wants. Emergency backup mode when the grid goes down would be cheapest. Maybe that is what Energyshare is offering.

Somewhere I want to get a line on what it all adds up to with the energyshare coop when they get going in February. Relevant here is that they claim they will charge less than retail for solarPV .

“you could join Energyshare as a member and have a solar PV system installed and also invest in Energyshare bonds at a fixed rate of return. You would still be required to purchase the supplied PV energy from Energyshare (of which you would have a shareholding) although this rate would be cheaper than the grid supply.”

My impression is that as users are not self-financing what one pays in power somewhere matches the return on investment over 20 years say.

Further

“This model works because Energyshare purchases equipment at a cheaper rate than retail and also has capital costs cheaper than that offered by banks and finance companies. We are hoping this is an attractive idea for members and investors alike.”

Noel

Phil Scadden November 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Hmm. If you are on-grid, then you are still paying the daily fixed charge, meter and supply levy. The only way to avoid them is go off-grid and then you have to add in more capacity and storage somewhere. Your panels might last 20 years but your storage wont – a big part of the cost in offgrid systems. Without changing your energy use patterns, you would need 6kW for average 2.3p household.

noelfuller November 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Hence my remarks about storage. An emergency backup mode would probably only involve one battery say 400 AH or even less. Cold meals, No TV in every bedroom, Go to bed early run one app at a time. Fortunately my waterpump and emergency lighting is already off-grid and cost little.

Noel

Phil Scadden November 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm

What I know about offgrid is based on Dunedin with colleagues solar/windmill combination. The storage needed is to provide for night-time lighting, keeping a super-efficient fridge going, no TV, no stereo, no freezer – and coping with little sun or wind for days at a time. Heating, (including water) is woodfire with wetback and solar hotwater. They get by on 12kWH but I think 25kWH or more is typical (save to 3-4 days) On top of this is diesel generator for when a week of “scotch mist” settles in. I’ve worked with a solar installer (plug – I developed a system for calculating total sun hours, insolation for a site) and he still hold opinion that on-grid is cheaper if property is already connected.

noelfuller November 23, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Thanks for the further perspective, I’ve spent a cosiderable part of my life setting fires in woodburning wetback stoves and installed a particularly efficient one in a geodesic dome I built; two floors and a basement, oblate speroid in shape, fully insulated and double glazed with considerable attention to ventilation,

The flue rose from the lower floor through a foyer/stairwell about 8 metres before exiting the roof. , On arriving home from the city on a cold frosty winter’s night I would light the fire (already set) and the flue would take the chill out of the entire dome within 15 minutes yet it would be 30 minutes before the top of the stove grew warm to the touch. I would give it a good burn for a while then choke it back and bank it for a warm as toast night right through to get up time.

I made mistakes, two many windows and not enough cash but that dome was probably the most elegant, pleasing and efficient space I’ve been in for living, heating, ventilation, sound proofing (nearby airfield) and structural integrity. A Chinese visitor gave it an unexpected feng shui examination on approach and entry then beamed approval. Yet a geodesic structure is high tech and takes a lot of working out so I doubt it can be an answer to sustainable living.

Noel

DavidHodges December 19, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Your suggestions for conserving energy are great. However your suggestions for electric cars and generating more electricity are not so great.
Currently it takes about as much energy to make an electric car battery as it does to make the rest of the car. This energy is often neglected in calculations of how much energy switching to electric vehicles will save.

Most of your suggested new generation is wind but the energy return on investment from wind is not very high – it takes a lot of energy to make a wind turbine.

As for hydro, it can be enormously environmentally destructive. The Mokihinui and Project Aqua (lower Waitaki) dams have been scrapped because of public outcry at the environmental impact if they were to go ahead.

And most of the world’s solar panels are made in China using electricity from coal-fired power plants – not very climate or environment friendly!

We certainly need to switch to 100% renewable energy but we need to do this primarily by reducing energy consumption rather than by increasing generation capacity.

Oliver Bruce December 20, 2012 at 3:03 am

Hi David.

Thanks for your comments. A few points:
1) Can you cite where you got the battery manufacturing energy requirements? I don’t disagree with you, but I’ve seen a range. It also need to be contextualised in the larger wells-to-wheels energy analysis of transport – yes batteries might be more intensive, but the electrical energy (especially in NZ) is cleaner over the life of the car, and often the batteries can be recycled to a degree.

2) Embodied energy in wind turbines is not very high – I believe this is a misnomer. The University of South Florida calculated an energy return for a wind turbine of between 5 and 35 times the energy investment (with most being around 18 times) – so a significant net benefit (http://rsl.eng.usf.edu/Documents/PDF/Wind%20Energy.pdf). If you have relevant research that contradicts this please send it through.

3) We’re well aware that hydro isn’t a great solution – we stress that this will require hard decisions. We don’t advocate any one option over the other, simply that it must add up.

4) Polysilicon (the energy intensive part of solar) used in PV manufacturing in China may well indeed be produced using coal as energy. China is forcing these polysilicon producers to become significantly more energy intensive than they have been in the past (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-25/china-tightens-rules-for-solar-polysilicon-plants-may-force-consolidation.html). I haven’t seen any research showing the impact this has on the overall embodied emissions but if you have some, please post it – I’d be very interested. Personally, I prefer the Chinese to use that coal energy to manufacture solar panels rather than them using it to make cars, ships and planes.

I’m all for reducing energy consumption, but as you’ll see from our research, we’re struggling to find areas where we can make substantial reductions other than buying less stuff and flying less.

Oliver

Phil Scadden December 20, 2012 at 9:23 am

David, I would like to see you analysis of figures on electric battery. My numbers would say that embodied energy is only 15% of energy that car will use over its lifetime. It looks in every way to be a greener choice than fossil fuel. Unless you want to stop motor vehicle travel, the choices at the moment are fossil fuel or electric. Electric means more generation needs so its a case of choosing between evils.

There is no reason why you have to make solar panels from coal but even so, the no. that matter is how much energy to they produce over their lifetime compared to energy required to create them.

I agree that conservation is the best and cheapest option, but consider for the moment, only 36% of energy comes from renewables (and that exclude embodied energy that we import from China or use flying overseas). We have detailed where the energy goes. To live on current renewables alone would mean reducing energy intensities to be comparable with say Costa Rica or North Korea. Good luck on selling that to the electorate. By all means put forward alternative plans, but make sure the numbers add up. We have hopefully provided you with the resources to do this.

andyS December 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm

The public apparently have a choice between electric and petrol/diesel/LPG powered cars.

It isn’t really much of a choice if you look at the only electric car capable of long distance travel in NZ – the Holden Volt.

I hadn’t realised until today that this is only a 4 seater car. At a cool $80,000NZ, you will struggle to find many takers for that.

Apparently, the Volt is similar to the Chevy Cruze, which in the US retailed at $17K US vs the $40k US for the Volt. The Cruze has 5 seats over the Volt’s 4 seats because the 200kg battery takes up the space of the 5th passenger.

The electric vehicle might have some applications in urban transport and short journey options, but I can’t see a rush for the Volt and similar unless they come up with radical battery redesign.

Phil Scadden December 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm

If you had read the article, you would see that cost and rate of change is dependent on replacement electric vehicles becoming available at approximately the cost of current petroleum vehicles. Since most NZers buy second-hand cars from Japan, then it will be dependent on rate of change there. (unless you are adventurous and want to convert hybrid prius and estimas into plugin electics).

A change to vehicle is inevitable in my opinion. I cant see people suddenly giving up cars; nor do I believe that petroleum is endless even if you ignored climate damage. It’s a just a question of when – and of how you will generate the electricity.

andyS December 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm

So how many people are buying electric cars in Japan?
How long will it take for these overpriced 4 seaters to make it into the NZ market?

I don’t see an uptake in electric cars anywhere.

Anyway, you still need petrol for the “electric” Volt to put it into “extended range mode”

By the way, the 4 seater aspect of the Volt’s spec is very well hidden on their website.

Most people would expect a car of this size to be a 5 seater and wouldn’t be expecting to cart around a 200kg dead weight in the back. I guess they don’t like to tell you that

andyS December 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I’d like to add that I am not claiming that electric cars will never work, just that the current selection and price range don’t work for me.

Every technology has its day. For example, the tablet PC was around long before Apple brought out the iPad. It is sometimes a collection of factors, including price, that make a technology fly.

Phil Scadden December 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I agree. The technology is not ready now. We didnt claim it was. I do think it is coming and we will have to make it work or do without vehicles. Woody biofuels are possible bridge but the technologies are similarly not ready yet (see http://hot-topic.co.nz/from-smoke-to-mirrors/). See which comes first.

If you look at my bio, you will see that I work in fossil fuel so I dont expect to be made redundant any time soon however desirable that might be.

Thomas December 20, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Andy, the vast majority of people drive 50Km or less in a day. This is within very easy range of today’s electric car technology. If you think that every car must be a swiss army knife of transportation – in other words a 7 seater SUV or so – you are mistaken. I have a modest electric car which does my regular short range commuting – 80% of my needs – with ease.

andyS December 21, 2012 at 6:30 am

Thomas, the Volt is only a 4 seater. How many people in NZ do you think will pay $80k for a 4 seater car? Even the smallest hatchbacks are 5 seats these days.

Phil Scadden December 21, 2012 at 9:05 am

The i-MiEV is also available new here by the way. Very few NZers will buy a new car period. What matters is what you can get second hand from Japan. Plug-in Prius would probably be the first and there is information on converting 7-seater estima Hybrids to plugin which suggests people are doing it. I’d expect i-MiEV and Leaf to start showing up within 5 years.

As Thomas says though, (and our energy analysis backs), the majority of transport is less than 50km with one person. Earlier in our analysis, we pointed out the folly financially of commuting in the car you go on holiday with.

However, harping on about the limitations and cost of today’s electric vehicles is really beside the point. There is plenty we can do right now (like get to 100% renewables for electricity generation) and we can look to electric vehicles in the future to further reduce our dependence on FF as the technology gets there.

andyS December 21, 2012 at 9:18 am

Very few NZers will buy a new car period

I very much dispute that claim.

A random search for iMiev gave me this.
http://www.caradvice.com.au/111080/mitsubishi-i-miev-review-2/

where it states

In 2012, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV remains an enormously expensive city car at $48,800

Even if you assume that NZ will somehow build its vehicle infrastructure from Japanese hand-me-downs, you will still need to wait for the price of a Japanese electric car to fall below the cost of an NZ new petrol car, which is maybe a third of the cost of an iMiev for the equivalent.

Unless they can bring down the cost of electric vehicles significantly, no one will buy them, which is precisely what we are seeing in most countries.

Thomas December 21, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Andy, how many Porches have been sold in NZ? And how many does a normal Porch 911 seat?
The current Volt is one of the first of new kind of car. Early adopters with some spare cash will love them.
The EV market is evolving and we are at the beginning of a new era.

andyS December 21, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Thomas, if I buy a Porsche, I don’t expect Kim Dotcom to be sitting in the middle of the back taking up room for a 5th adult, which is effectively what the battery of the Volt is like

(actually I don’t think Kim Dotcom actually weighs 200kg, so the battery might be actually heavier than him)

A local car dealer has a Volt in stock. They don’t expect to sell it, so they say. On the other hand, I see lot of Porsche on the road, esp those Silly Pepper things seem very popular with the Merivale set.

Thomas December 21, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Andy, like it or not, EV sales are growing exponentially at the moment. The Volt sales are topping 20,000 units already.
http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Electric-cars-plug-in-hybrids-gain-sales-4135729.php
And remember, this is early days. We are at still the beginning of the EV revolution but the time derivative of the sales figures is decisively positive!

andyS December 22, 2012 at 10:05 am

Yes Thomas, I am sure that sales for EVs are rising exponentially in California. All those Facebook millionaires need something to fritter away their money on.

Meanwhile in Germany, The Spiegel is less upbeat

The electric car fits neatly into the German government’s plan to leave the dirty world of fossil fuels behind it by mid-century. Just over a year ago, Chancellor Angela Merkel set the bold goal of increasing the number of electric cars in the country to 1 million by 2020. But today there are only 4,600 of them driving on German roads, a mere 0.01 percent of all registered cars, despite years of research. So much for a high-voltage success story.

German drivers don’t want electric cars, and it’s not hard to understand why not. Part of the problem is that most e-cars can’t travel further than 100 kilometers (62 miles) before needing a recharge. Prices, too, can run as much as €10,000 ($13,000) higher for an e-car than one with a traditional internal combustion engine

Although if you have a Volt, the recharge problem goes away because the “extended range mode” (i.e the petrol generator) kicks in.

Oliver Bruce December 22, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Andy,

Fair point about electric cars – yes they’re not taking off like they have were projected to. But nor did Windows tablets, or smartphones prior to Apple’s iPad and iPhone. As you say, several factors need to come together before this sector takes off.

But there’s enough tinkering by enough companies, and sufficient talk of battery technology advancing and coming down in price in shortish timeframes, that we’re getting close to the point where we’re starting to see them becoming feasible. They are already competitive in some segments: the Tesla Model S is the same price/size/performance as a Porsche Panamera – just not in the cheap hatchback categories.

Thomas December 23, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Andy, since you are so obsessed with the Volts price and its 4 seat capacity, this website will give you some relief:
http://www.electriccarsnz.co.nz/pages/products/cars.htm
This NZ company imports EVs from China to NZ. Your 5 seat family sedan for $38,999 and even a 5 Seat SUV is on offer, besides smaller cars. Range is given as about 160 to 180Km.
Interesting isn’t it?

andyS December 24, 2012 at 8:24 am

Thomas,

this website will give you some relief:

Cor blimey

I have to agree though the Special Style Car is a bit of an Eye-catcher, although for the same money you can by a Chinese Made Great Wall 4×4 SUV

Thomas December 24, 2012 at 9:03 am

The point is Andy, you can buy today a 5 seat 100% electric sedan for a similar price as a 5 seat petrol car (under $40,000) and with a range that is about 3 x the average daily distance driven by cars in NZ. Even ff your employer does not allow you to plug in at work, you can commute all over Auckland for example without a chance to run out. If you drive long distances for weekends or holidays, keep an old second petrol or diesel car for these occasions.
And remember, this is the beginning – not the end of the EV revolution. Battery technologies are getting better and cost are coming.
BTW did you check their full size passenger bus out? It claims a theoretical EV range of 3000km!! at constant speed. http://www.electriccarsnz.co.nz

andyS December 24, 2012 at 9:21 am

Come on Thomas, so you really want one of those cr@ppy “Special Cars” made in China, or do you want the super-cool, super-hip, all electric Yikebike 100% conceived and designed in Christchurch NZ?

It’s not to late to contact Santa. he’s probably on Facebook too.

Beaker December 20, 2012 at 3:11 am

Re your claim that for wind, the energy return on investment is not high. Just flat wrong.
http://www.wind-energy-the-facts.org/en/environment/chapter-1-environmental-benefits/energy-balance-analysis.html
I am not an expert on electric cars-v-efficient IC using existing technology, but if someone claimed that it takes about as much energy to manufacture the IC engine and transmission as the rest of the car, would you or I be surprised?
We also need to move beyond the current technology and it is clear that there is far more potential in electric cars than in IC cars, so supporting a transition to electric power is sensible.
“And most of the world’s solar panels are made in China using electricity from coal-fired power plants – not very climate or environment friendly!” So we should… not do anything and continue with China’s current power generation instead of making stuff to reduce future emissions? This does not make any sense.

Phil Scadden December 21, 2012 at 9:37 am

Used cars figures from EECA.

As I have repeatedly said, you are correct for the situation today, but it will change for the future – it must. I dont see why you feel the necessity to harp on about it – unless of course in your mind, EV = more windmills which you hate. Generate the electricity from nuclear power then.

Of course pricing carbon could change the economics drastically as will free-market competition as the technology matures.

andyS December 21, 2012 at 9:47 am

, EV = more windmills which you hate.

I don’t quite make the connection between EVs and Windmills unless you are combining two technologies that are overpriced and underperform.

Of course, things *have* to change, but we had electric milk floats in London when I were a lad about 40 years ago, so the idea isn’t exactly new. You think they might have had a chance to improve the technology in that time

CTG December 21, 2012 at 1:54 pm

The first thorium reactors were built in the early 60s, but there are next to none of them in production at the moment. You think they might have had a chance to improve the technology in that time.

andyS December 21, 2012 at 1:57 pm

They don’t need to improve on them. They work already. It was a political decision to go down the Uranium route

Thomas December 21, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Show me one commercially available Thorium reactor. Yes, it works in principle, but can you buy one?

John ONeill December 23, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Thorium should work in current reactors, with minor changes in fuel and techniques. Work is underway in Norway and Russia on adding thorium to fuel rods, to make the fissile resource much cheaper and more abundant. China’s 200MW pebble bed reactor should be finished in two years; it’s based on the German Thorium High Temperature Reactor. India has the biggest target for thorium, planning to make it the mainstay of electricity production.
However the constraint on nuclear ( apart from paranoia ) is not fuel cost, which is trivial, but the initial construction cost. There are many different proposals for designs which might reduce cost, but the biggest part of the cost is interest on capital. Dams are similar to reactors in having high upfront costs, very low running costs, and low CO2/kwhr emissions. Nearly all major hydro plants worldwide were built with government funding; nuclear power is on a par with hydro for the share of world electricity production ( and far above other renewables ), but has much more potential for expansion.
Off topic, the insulation suggestions include plastic sheeting outside window panes. Isn’t inside the way to go? You can even use gladwrap and double sided tape – ridiculously cheap and easy.

Oliver Bruce December 23, 2012 at 10:24 pm

“Thorium should work in current reactors, with minor changes in fuel and techniques.”

Source? This sounds great if its the case, but I’m skeptical.

Re: “However the constraint on nuclear ( apart from paranoia ) is not fuel cost, which is trivial, but the initial construction cost.” – quite agree. I’m also a fan of more smaller scale power projects than less large scale projects. Working in the industrial sector, large scale projects are the most likely to be derailed, and the benefits of distributed generation are well established.

Insulation with plastic sheeting is good, cheap and easy and many people would benefit – but don’t think get carried away thinking it’s going to make a substantial dent in your energy consumption. Its only a small part of the overall energy puzzle.

andyS December 24, 2012 at 7:47 am

One thing that hasn’t been talked about is the possibility of manufacturing liquid fuels using nuclear energy.

Kirk Sorensen has mentioned this quite a bit as have the Chinese. e.g

Jiang Mianheng, the son of China’s former president Jiang Zemin, said that power from thorium reactors will help extract hydrogen that the country would convert to methanol, a clean burning fuel for cars.

The reactors will also provide process heat to industry, replacing CO2-emitting fossil fuels, Jiang said in an address to the Thorium Energy Conference 2012. And combined with more conventional nuclear, they will also help establish energy independence in a country that today relies heavily on imported coal and that by 2030 will import 75 percent of its oil and about 40 percent of its natural gas, according to a BP report.

http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/bulletin/son-of-chinas-ex-president-thorium-will-help-shape-countrys-energy-future/7269

Phil Scadden December 24, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Hydrogen cars have had some hype but so far electric cars seems closer to breaking the technology hurdles. Storage, distribution and safety are the major hurdles. And so far, you get more km/kWh with electric.
“Does a Hydrogen Economy Make Sense?” Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol 94, No 10, pp 1826-1837

Thomas December 25, 2012 at 11:56 am

H2 is a bad battery no matter how you turn it around. It either requires cooling with a significant loss of energy or high pressure with a significant loss of energy or low energy density storage, with a significant loss of energy. You can use H2 to bind to Carbon (from where??) to make Methane, but again, is this a better battery than LiIoFe or future renditions of similar technologies? Doubt it.
The conversion of electrical energy (batteries) into torque is just very very good. Hence electrical storage systems are borne with an advantage that is hard to overcome with any other technology at present.

noelfuller December 24, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Thomas – thanks for the Chinese electric cars. The cheaper ones are actually in my price range – I’ve been waiting for something of the sort for a while, the smallest would do me fine. Bemused by the figures: exactly same acceleration given but no weights to cross check, not that that concerns me. The most interesting bit is the 1200 charges lifetime. At my rate of use just one full charge per week would do me. I doubt I’ll live even half that time. Hmm … perhaps I will defer investing in Energyshare for a while. They are not that keen on “island” operation afterall.

Noel

Thomas December 25, 2012 at 11:51 am

Word of caution: I have not tested or looked at these. So bring a grain of salt or two to the bargain…. Being Chinese, like most things coming from there, I would caution to check for workmanship and read the small print with a magnifying glass…. (if the translation is legible)…
But the prices are right and the performance believable.
If you are seriously interested check this out: http://bev.com.au/
They sell also in NZ and being made over here (Oz) there is perhaps the benefit of trust…

noelfuller December 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm

I see Clarkson Enterprises are going to have their launch in March. The 2 door Dlevz1009 has a kerb weight of around 1200kgs. Seems heavy ?hence 15 seconds to 100 km/h.

I’ve looked in on the Oz car from time to time. There’s always some drama about getting into production or sourcing spares but it seems a good car, just more than I have available.

Noel

Thomas December 26, 2012 at 7:48 pm

That sounds heavy. I converted a Toyota starlet to an EV and my curb weight after the conversion was only slightly above the original weight and I can still carry 5 passengers on paper. That is despite the fact that I used Led Acid batteries.

noelfuller December 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I,ve searched for specs on all these cars and made a table of what numbers interest me for comparison, in particular trying to see past all the puffing that appears to be going on, and the weird errors or confusions generated by people trying to enter english terms without knowing what they are doing – materials: mental was one achievement.

Ever since I owned a 1938 Morris 12/4 series III, I’ve wondered what is meant when I read power ratings for cars. There is certainly a lot of “puffing” about. So for each car I’ve come up with 3 numbers for power (KW), and variations, battery voltage (V), ampere hours (Ah), torque (kilonewtons kn), kerb weight (kg), there are variations so the larger numbers are what clarkson use:

DLEVM1002—-22,30,55 KW — 334 V — 50 Ah — 147 kn –1305 kg 4 door sedan
DLEVM1005—-22,30,65 KW — 334 V — 60/100 Ah –147/215 kn — 1305 kg The special
DLEVZ1008—-15,22,45 KW — 114 V — 160 Ah –135 kn — 1300 kg 4 door hatchback
DLEVZ1009 12,22,52 KW — 144 V — 160 Ah –142 kn — 1200 kg 2 door hatchback

I collected more stuff but the most interesting vehicle in terms of performance for money seems to be 1005 if it has at least a 100 Ah battery. I don’t know what ‘M’ stands for but those cars, including the SUV, have bodies made of stainless steel.

Now the 3 power numbers:
I am suspicious of the 50 Ah for the 1002 but that is all I can find. Regardless of the labels, the lowest number I take to be the continuous operating power, the middle one the maximum power available for a short time, the top one a bit of outrageous puffing but possibly the instant power delivered by an array of super capacitors when one puts the foot down for sudden acceleration. Nowhere did I find any mention of regenerative braking – that’s a big downer. I thought regenerative braking a must. Now, have I got the above right?

I hate tabling info and having it wind up all jammed together but below two tests::
EV EV EV EV EV
Hmm nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;did that work?

noelfuller December 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm

First test (pre,/pre) did not work, edit does not work and entered  $nbsp;  &nbsp the second test wrong,, try again.

Thomas December 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Hi Noel!
The models with the high voltage system are probably preferable. A 50AH battery at 334V is theoretically not much different than the 111V model at 150AH in stored energy. BUT: The higher the voltage the lower the current with that the lower the losses. The 100AH 334V special will cost a lot more than the 50AH version.

John ONeill December 24, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Oliver-
From the wikipedia article on the Shippingport reactor, the first in the world producing civilian electricity at scale-
‘ The third and final core was a light water breeder, which began operating in August 1977 and after testing was brought to full power by the end of that year. It used pellets made of thorium dioxide and uranium-233 oxide; initially the U233 content of the pellets was 5-6% in the seed region, 1.5-3% in the blanket region and none in the reflector region. It operated at 236 MWt, generating 60 MWe and ultimately produced over 2.1 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. After five years the core was removed and found to contain nearly 1.4% more fissile material than when it was installed, demonstrating that breeding had occurred.’ The reactor was still working fine before it was closed down – it had been Admiral Rickover’s pet project, and after he was finally eased out of office nobody pushed the concept. The core was also a fairly elaborate,labour intensive design, not ready for full scale rollout.
Just a few days ago it was announced that a Norwegian company will be trialling fuel rods containing thorium at a research reactor. Norway has very large deposits of thorium ore; the element was first identified there, hence the name. The thorium can be seeded with either uranium, or plutonium from spent fuel or dismantled weapons.
Re electric cars, my friend’s RAV4 had about 29 kw/hrs storage. He’s just replaced a few of the batteries with a newer design of Li-ion cell, so bringing the total up to 32 hrs, and the makers claim much bigger improvements should be possible. He’s also working on retrofitting another, lighter vehicle.

noelfuller December 27, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Alternatively the middle power number i quoted above is the actual storage as inthe RAV4 John referred to, but do the numbers come together?

noelfuller December 27, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Thomas
The interesting thing is that the third power number (65KW) and the higher torque (215 Nm) are figures quoted by Clarksun enterprises for the Special and they only go with the 100 Ah battery, so is it for real, or is it puff? I’ll ask. With respect to air resistance that styling, which does not appeal to me, may be the reason for the larger engine and battery capacity. Still it may be rather more useful and durable than the hatchbacks. It could for instance carry about a solar recharger for extended range away from recharge stations – that large roof is just wasted!

What I want to know is what the expected life in terms of time rather than recharges that battery may be. The warranty is 5 years on car and battery so that implies a longer ‘shelf life’.

Thomas December 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Noel, the 65KW are realistic. They mean a current of 200A at 334V.
My little 72V car draws 350A up hill. So 200A is nothing unusual.
If you are interested ask the car importer for the battery type, manufacturer and the data sheet of the battery cells. You can then work out the safe discharge current limits.
65KW will be only needed for brisk acceleration of up hill driving. My Starlet uses about 5KW to roll through traffic horizontally at 60Km/h.
The roof as a solar charger… the area will give you perhaps 2m2 or 150W perhaps of charging power. Then you would need to invert this up to the charging voltage of the battery pack. You will quickly see that the contribution of a solar car roof to driving is minimal.

noelfuller December 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Thanks Thomas, my education proceeds so short term high load ok. I’ve requested clarification re the 100Ah battery.

I never for a moment seriously imagined the roof as a running contributor to charging (I do take an interest in that Aussie solar power north to south race – carbon fibre ultra streamlined one man machines) but if I had to park somewhere in the sun to await a solar recharge I would fancy just operating a switch. Even the Tesla Roadster has a portable solar charge option and look at the space it has not got to carry stuff around.

In that respect I rather fancied that solar thread reported recently, if it could be woven into a sail to extend the electric motor range for my sailing kayak (9.1 m² in 2 sails). At present I use a 2 hp honda outboard in the absence of wind which is the norm in rivers and during periods where one dares the dangerous as in crossing the Kiapara harbour mouth during a calm and tend to leave the sailing rig behind when it is useless. Woven solar fabric, let alone sails, is still a way off though and high performance small outboards rather expensive relative to what I have, but things change.

Thomas December 28, 2012 at 6:12 pm

The fabric sounds great. I imagine one could perhaps embed this thread into a clear round fiber which could then also act as a lens to concentrate the light towards the center…
The devil will be in the details such as contacts at the ends, shorting or breaking.

noelfuller January 3, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Forget Wind turbines, try Tornado Towers instead
Create a big tower, capture a tornado – well wind one up somehow – zero emissions, (US)3c/KW 200 megawatt of power, no storage required. Sound interesting? Proof of concept to come.
Press release here

Noel

noelfuller January 7, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Without any claim to virtue I today stopped the largest portion of my greenhouse gas emissions. I failed to properly secure the radiator cap on the lexus. It’s so easy. I was musing on how much simpler a full electric car would be while on my way to the chiropractor to recover some walking ability, when the motor lost power then ceased operating altogether without seizing up. An explosion within the distributor blew it off its mountings and rather bent the rotor shaft. Two Iraqi refugees helped me call a tow – helping out is “for humanity” they said. The tow truck driver is an ex Aussie fireman glad to be in NZ.

Now where is that electic car when I want it?

Noel

noelfuller January 8, 2013 at 11:13 am

Legacy, not Lexus

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