Kleiner Perkins hints at plug-in car launch this week and they have said it “it is not an electric vehicle” and then said “do not think batteries”. My guess? It IS an electric car but it doesn’t use batteries. I mean what other kind of propulsion system would the car run on? It’s really annoying but modern vernacular confuses automotive propulsion with energy storage with regularity. For instance, a “hydrogen fuel cell” car IS an electric car … it just uses H2 as is energy storage and a fuel cell to convert it to electricity.
My guess is that this car in fact does use a fuel cell technology — possibly hydrogen fuel cell — and the real breakthrough is that they’ve come up with a more efficient way of using on-board electrolysis to make hydrogen gas (or whatever gas the fuel cell consumes). If that is true and the economics of this storage system compete with battery technology that could have a huge impact on the automotive field.
The new Chevy Volt will get 230 miles per gallon using the EPA’s standard approach to measuring “fuel efficiency”. That’s a pretty eye-popping number but it is weighted in the fact that a vast majority if not all city driving will only be using the electric engine. While this number may still be impressive it no longer really measures energy efficiency in a meaningful way or in any way indicates the cost to the consumer of powering the automobile. Still, I’m sure it will continue to get headlines and help the marketing department of Chevrolet. :^)
There is an interesting article nearing publication by Swedish professor Kjell Aleklett who is president of the Associate for the Study of Peak Oil. His article effectively claims that the IEA’s forecast for oil supply is nothing more than fiction and that the IEA is simply a puppet to larger political bodies. For more on this read the Platts’ article from The Barrel:
The latest peak oil projection: a stunning difference | Platts
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Politicians are well known for their strong opinions and moral fibre. Oh wait, that’s not quite correct … politicians are known for taking a position which serves them well and flogging it. Yes, that sounds better.
Friday’s “The Barrel” from Platts contributed on article titled: Regardless, House Republicans stick to their story. It illustrates how an MIT report (seen as a left-leaning educational source) was used by the Republicans to flog Cap-and-Trade as overly expensive to consumers. When the author of the article pointed out that they had come to a conclusion that was exponentially off the mark they decided to … ignore the criticism and keep flogging the message.
It sure would be nice if this kind of behaviour was laughed out of existence but I’m afraid this is just politics-as-usual.
The past week seems to have had two encouraging pieces of news in battery technology. The first piece of news – posted below – is in respect to potentially massive increases in power density (not to be confused with energy density) of lithium-ion batteries which dominate the consumer electronics marketplace. With this breakthrough Lithium-ion looks to extend it’s lead in consumer electronics and start to impose itself on the super-capacitor marketplace.
The second piece of news revolves around the lead-acid battery. Lead-acid is not compact, has a relatively low power density compared to its more exotic neighbours, has a very un-green sounding name (names can be deceiving), and looses its ability to recharge very quickly. However, It is inexpensive and all the materials needed are readily available. Where Lithium-Ion is the suave movie star, Lead acid is the factory worker but today the factory worker has had a make-over. By putting carbon additives into the witches brew that is lead acid some very impressive results are starting to be measured and validated by industry neutral sources. Lead-Carbon actually outperforms Lithium-Ion (at least today’s variety) in recharge lifecycle and is competitive with the power density of today’s Lithium-Ion (we’ll ignore the impending advances in Lithium-Ion in this category). All of this at a much more competitive price; Lead-carbon batteries are roughly 40% the cost of their Lithium-Ion cousins. For stationary, larger form-factor uses of batteries this is going to be a very big deal. Could this result in a smoothing of the intra-day electricity price curve as off-peak starts to be more economically shifted to peak?
Below is a two part article that talks about this new breakthrough; the second one takes a much more detailed view on Axion Power International as an investment decision.
Lead-Carbon: A Game Changer for Alternative Energy Storage
Alternative Energy Stocks | A Game Changer – Part II
There was an article on the Beeb (aka, BBC) Wednesday that talks about a breakthrough in battery charging technology. Using similar manufacturing processes and materials that are well understood they have found a way to recharge lithium-ion batteries in seconds and to boot the new batteries do not leave their capacity to recharge over time! Wow. Sign me up. This would be a complete game changer.
Article: Battery that ‘charges in seconds’
National Geographic has taken a set of pictures chronicling the Oil Sands projects in Alberta. Take a look at more pictures here:
National Geographic | Scraping Bottom: the Canadian Oil Boom
Found this very cool resource on the Guardian website (the Guardian is a major newspaper in the UK):
Some of the results might surprise you. For one, China has now overtaken the US in largest emitter. Second, the US is actually already reducing emissions unlike the Europe.
Jesus. What’s going on here? $40 dollar oil? I really wonder at which price point Texas oil stops being profitable? We must be getting relatively close.