Category Archives: Energy

Bill Gates: Nuclear power will ‘absolutely’ be politically acceptable


Nuclear power has to overcome a baneful reputation garnered by association with the atomic bomb and radioactive disasters, but it’s a necessary, worthy and surmountable challenge to correct the naysayers, according to Gates.

That’s because the need for clean energy is dire, and the operation of nuclear power plants produces no greenhouse gas emissions. According to Gates, new innovations in nuclear technology (in which he is an investor) are making nuclear energy safer and more affordable, and countries around the world are starting to adopt nuclear power.

Source: Bill Gates: Nuclear power will ‘absolutely’ be politically acceptable

Hyundai to replace battery packs in 82,000 EVs

After many EVs caught fire, a defect was identified inside the individual battery cells. The company will not replace the entire battery packs in their EVs made between Nov 2017 and March 2020.

Source: Hyundai Announces Massive Battery Recall For Roughly 82,000 BEVs

From an environmental standpoint, this large recall likely negates environmental gains from all EV sales. Yuck.

The immediate need for 82,000 new battery packs in an industry currently constrained by battery supply will hinder sales of many EVs for some time. Literally, this is 2 1/2 years production from a single large EV manufacturer (Hyundai).

Meanwhile, GM indicates they will have a fix for the Chevy Bolt EV fires in earlier models. They indicate a software update will be able to detect future battery problems, alert the driver, and then repair or replace the battery bank before it catches fire. The underlying problem on the Chevy Bolt is not the same as that on the Hyundai cars although both resulted in fires.

Why did the Chevy Bolt and Hyundai Kona batteries catch fire?

This linked story has a good explanation of EV battery tech and how a component failure may have led to battery fires.

Koren news sources are citing anonymous sources claiming that Hyundai has found the cause of the battery fires causing both the Bolt and Hyundai recalls.

Source: Cause of LG’s battery fires rumored to be found (updated) – Electrek

Battery chemistry and technology is difficult, more than most of us realize.

The rumors are that the car makers will end up replacing individual cells or entire battery banks. GM acknowledged earlier this week that they are making progress towards resolving the battery problem and implied that battery replacement might be an option.

The EV Charging Problem

Note – this video mistakenly references the Chevy Volt when it should be the Chevy Bolt EV.

Notes that the industry needs more DCFS chargers, easily accessible.

The video producer suggests we need a government program to get more chargers, pointing to Europe (he attended college in the UK). It is not a government program issue – its a wide open space issue, as he later notes in regards to Australia. But then comes back to insisting we need a government infrastructure program for charging.

This addresses the issue I identified for my own use, last year. For me it is not the vehicle range, so much, but the speed of charging when traveling long distances. The Chevy Bolt is a great EV – but maxes out at about 50-55 kwh in its maximum charge point while others are now charging at 100 kwh or more.

But due to battery chemistry, you cannot charge at the full rate from empty to full. Hence, as this video notes, you really want to do several short, fast charges, on a trip. But this requires easy access to DCFS along the route.

Continue reading The EV Charging Problem

Who needs conspiracy theorists?

Who needs conspiracy theorists when we have this? Jeez.

David Ismay, Massachusetts Undersecretary for Climate Change

Speaking at a Vermont climate conference, Ismay said:

“So let me say that again, 60% of our emissions that need to be reduced come from you, the person across the street, the senior on fixed income, right … there is no bad guy left, at least in Massachusetts to point the finger at, to turn the screws on, and you know, to break their will, so they stop emitting. That’s you. We have to break your will. Right, I can’t even say that publicly.”

Update: Ismay has resigned his position. He claims his comments were intended to mean the opposite of what he said; this did not go over well with the Governor.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the (British) House of Commons

Sir Lindsay Hoyle told a gathering of counterparts from some of the world’s most powerful countries that the pandemic shows people are prepared to accept limitations on their lifestyles – if they recognise it is for the greater good.

He was surprised by the willingness of millions of people to wear masks and accept new rules, and said the urgent response the world has shown to deal with Covid-19 should now be harnessed to address climate change.

White House Climate Czar John Kerry

Climate Czar explains that he is exempt from saving the climate because he is elite and you are not:

White House climate czar John Kerry traveled to Iceland by private jet in 2019 to accept an environmental award and defended his transportation choice to a reporter at the time by calling it, “the only choice for somebody like me.”

And to Confuse Us

Climate change may have started in the early 19th century, pre-dating large scale fossil fuel consumption, according to several peer reviewed studies.

Continue reading Who needs conspiracy theorists?

Good idea: Electric School buses

For most bus usage, range is not an issue. They are probably quieter and are not idling when stopped to pick up kids, spewing diesel exhaust.

The Beaverton School District is the first school district in Oregon to have electric school buses in its fleet. The district unveiled two new electric school buses, the result of their partnership with Portland General Electric.

Source: Oregon’s first electric school buses get rolling in Beaverton | KVAL

No idea what their cost was though and that does need to be taken into consideration.

I once lived in a city that decided to go big and began replacing its metro buses with hybrid buses, arguing they would cost less over time even though they cost about 4x more per bus than a new diesel bus.

All of their arguments proved wrong and within years, the new hybrid buses were taken out of service as they had worse fuel efficiency and cost far more than they had said. Consequently, I’m suspicious of the new EV buses – although I think this is a great application for EV technology and I hope this proves successful.

Continue reading Good idea: Electric School buses

EV Batteries in Winter

This topic is the subject of many social media posts.

There is sort of a semi-official account that one loses 20-40% of range in the winter depending on type of EV model, local temperatures, road conditions, and how you use your vehicle.

I’ve been reading a Chevy Bolt EV forum for quite some time. Recently, many people posted their own range figures for where they live.

For those in cold winter weather climates (MI, upstate NY, areas of the midwest) – they are saying they get 130 to 180 miles range, down from the full range of nearly 260 miles in warm weather.

Variables include outside air temperatures, road conditions, and use of electric heaters in the vehicles, and whether or not the car is pre-heated (while plugged into charging) before driving.

Regardless, EVs in winter time have issues. For those who are only doing local driving this is not a big deal – but for anyone contemplating taking their EV on a road trip in winter time (real winter weather) this may be a big deal, and especially for vehicles whose DC fast charging is not that fast.

the impact of EVs on climate, good but not a panacea yet

True …

One critical sector is transportation, which generates 28% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions — more than either electric power production or industry.

The media spotlight on EVs can lend them outsize importance in discussions of the car-climate challenge.

Source: Opinion: Want greener cars? Focus on fuel efficiency over electric vehicles – MarketWatch

About 18-20% of gas emissions are from personal vehicles AND lightweight vehicles used in business (cars, pickups and vans). The remaining 10% is split between heavy trucks, air travel and ships.

Of the remaining 70% or so, that is split between electricity generation and industrial applications. Much of the latter is onsite power generation.

As noted on this blog in the past, if you already drive a small, fuel efficient vehicle, the best thing you can do for the environment is to repair, maintain and continue driving that vehicle as long as possible. This is because half the energy a vehicle consumes in its life time can occur during manufacturing and eventual disposal/recycling of the vehicle.

EVs are more efficient, in many ways, but not enough to offset this in a meaningful way.

To be clear, I think EVs are neat and want to get one – but it does not yet make sense for me to do so. I drive a 42 mpg 2015 Honda Fit with many usable miles left on it. I have, however, put solar PV panels on my house (the majority of electricity produced by my local utility comes from fossil fuels so I have offset all of that) and I have installed two 220v outlets – one in the garage and one outside for future EV charging.

(Fixed some typos in the above. Still dealing with effects of three visual migraines yesterday, the third of which ended up with classic migraine symptoms, 12 1/2 hours in bed, and its not over with yet. I could not use my computer screen right now except that I am wearing dark glasses. Guessing anyone with migraine experience knows what this is about.)