My First Electric Car

We recently bought a used Nissan Leaf. I am still waiting to see what charging it will cost, but I have a hard time believing it will be more expensive to run than the overly complex machinery built into the average internal combustion engine. Hopefully this story is correct.

Morning Edition – It May Not Cost You More To Drive Home In A Climate-Friendly Car – September 27, 2016


I had no idea that I would need a postscript to this post, but I really didn’t know that the Koch’s were this stupid.  They’ve decided to go to war with Elon Musk over the future of the electric car.

The oil and gas industry may have thought it had killed the electric car, but sales — boosted by generous government subsidies — rose dramatically between 2010 and 2014, and energy giants are worried the thing may have come back to life.

Time to kill it again.

A new group that’s being cobbled together with fossil fuel backing hopes to spend about $10 million dollars per year to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government subsidies for electric vehicles, according to refining industry sources familiar with the plan. A Koch Industries board member and a veteran Washington energy lobbyist are working quietly to fund and launch the new advocacy outfit.

Huffington Post

Elon Musk, of course, wasted no time and no snark when it came to responding to this threat.  As the linked article rightly notes, electric vehicles are not the only vehicles that receive subsidies.  Oil fueled vehicles, plastics (everything) is enabled by heavy subsidies to the oil and gas industry.

Planet Money – Oil #4: How Oil Got Into Everything – August 19, 2016

As the Tweeting Elon Musk linked article at The Guardian explains

Fossil fuel companies are benefiting from global subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year, equivalent to $10m a minute every day, according to a startling new estimate by the International Monetary Fund.
The IMF calls the revelation “shocking” and says the figure is an “extremely robust” estimate of the true cost of fossil fuels. The $5.3tn subsidy estimated for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments.

The Guardian

The Koch’s may object to subsidies for all industries, but I don’t see them rejecting them personally. They are more than happy to cash those government checks themselves in spite of their ideological opposition to them.  Nothing cures the hurt of grave violations of your personal beliefs quite as well as millions of dollars of infused cash.


The October bill has arrived and, given the difference between last October and this October temperature-wise, the increase in electric consumption for last month was > 300 KWH which amounts to just over $80 in additional electricity.

Given the fact that in regular drive mode I can beat any sports car off the line, and that maintenance costs are near zero for the vehicle aside from replacing batteries and maintaining the moving parts in the front-end, I consider this car to be an excellent enhancement in city mobility.  I think I’d like to have two of them, one for each child. 

What’s Going to Replace Gasoline?

I’ve blogged on the subject of Alternative Fuel in the past. Others are now running polls on the subject. Here’s the results of one of them:

When asked, “what will be the next best automobile alternative to petroleum?” here’s how nearly 16,000 people responded:

  • 33% chose hydrogen fuel cells
  • 21% chose biofuels
  • 21% chose electric (battery)
  • 17% chose unknown/no opinion
  • 2% chose compressed natural gas
  • 2% chose liquefied natural gas
  • 1% chose liquefied petroleum gas

As you can see, not are there a lot of possible options, but we’re pretty well divided between those options. Each alternative fuel has its pros and cons, but it unfortunately it appears that it’s the lack of definitive information that’s making it difficult for us to settle on “the next” fuel.

read more | digg story

Why bother to ask the average Joe what he thinks about it, it’s like asking him to decide whether we need to irradiate food (oh, wait, we did that. Turned out well, didn’t it?) or stem cell research needs to be pursued (ditto on that one) perhaps we should leave it up to the experts.

Aside from which, saying they are all untested is not factually precise. Biodiesel is currently in use in several areas around the world, and there are even vehicles produced now that can burn it. You can just pour straight vegetable oil into most diesel engines and they will run just fine.

Personally, my next vehicle will probably be a diesel, one that is set up to run a variety of fuels right from the manufacturer (Mercedes Benz already offers one) would be preferred.

There’s also the distinct possibility that we’ll invest in an electric car for day to day commuting. There are several places in town that either offer or retrofit vehicles themselves to run on electricity.

I’m also not counting out the introduction of compressed air technology, two versions of which were featured on Beyond Tomorrow recently. These options aren’t even mentioned in the poll.

So, which direction should we take? All of them. The only way to test which fuel is best is to subject them all to market forces and see which fuel system is successful in a open market place.

…and that means getting the government and it’s associated popularity contests completely out of the picture.

Who Killed the Electric Car?

Got into yet another discussion about alternative energy the other day, specifically concerning the movie Who Killed the Electric Car? (which I haven’t seen, but wouldn’t avoid seeing if I had the chance)

It wandered off that subject and onto the subject of Stan Meyer and water power.

The discussion jogged some of the old gray matter and I remembered a video I was sent a few months back demonstrating this guys technology http://hytechapps.com/aquygen/hhos so I decided to dig and see if they were the same person. They aren’t, but the tech seems similar.

I don’t know how real any of this is, but there is some good reading (for those who are interested) here: http://waterpoweredcar.com/stanmeyer.html and here: http://www.waterfuelcell.org/

For those interested in getting down to the brass tacks of the subject, go here: http://www.waterfuelcell.org/moreinfo.html

The video that was linked concerning Stan Meyer’s invention is more than 10 years old; which begs the question why we haven’t seen any further developments in the technology, if it is for real.

I’ll leave it to the conspiracy theorists to come up with the answers to that one.

Generating Power

Every time I hear someone lamenting “But what will we replace the oil with if we don’t buy it from the Middle East?” I run across some other way that we can generate power without relying on imported oil.

Methods like this one http://www.oceanpowertechnologies.com A proprietary system that converts wave energy into electricity. Or maybe you just want fuel for the car? Check out Biodiesel. Want to heat your house? Vegetable oil can be used for that as well (Stumbled across this process just recently. Garbage into Oil. Another obvious process) Then there is always the sexy solar panels and wind turbines.

As an architect, I’ve always been fond of the earthshelter home, myself. Position your home correctly, with just the right amount of soil built up around it, and you have a home that stays cool in the summer and warm in winter, with little or no need for air conditioning. Combine that with rainwater harvesting and a decent photovoltaic system, and you’ve got a potentially self sufficient home.

As I stare at the electric bill that my standard builder home gifts me with each month during the typical Texas summer, I can’t think of a more beautiful dream than to not have to write that check anymore…

Peak Oil

I scared a member off of Liberty List (a Yahoo!Group I once moderated) today by posting the following in response to his query,

What do you think of Peak Oil?


If such a thing did occur (sudden collapse of the economy due to lack of oil) there wouldn’t be much left that is worth living for, much less investing in. Thankfully, there are replacements for natural oil that are making headway in the marketplace. Biodiesel is one example. 

When I first stumbled across the doom and gloom mantra being preached by modern ‘environmentalists’ (I was recycling when recycling wasn’t cool, BTW. I don’t think much of today’s crop) I did some research into the subject of shortages and what has happened through history when they occurred. 

The one that seemed most similar was the period when we shifted from whale oil to crude oil (the IMHO misnomered ‘fossil fuel’) there were similar predictions of doom and gloom, none of which came to pass because the markets simply shifted to crude oil.
I was unable to track down the articles I originally referenced for these facts, they have been covered up by thousands of repetitive articles on ‘Peak Oil’. That fact says more than any number of historical links. It’s the ‘in’ idea of the moment, and that’s all they are talking about. But it isn’t convincing to me.

To quote Steven Levitt:

What most of these doomsday scenarios have gotten wrong is the fundamental idea of economics: people respond to incentives. If the price of a good goes up, people demand less of it, the companies that make it figure out how to make more of it, and everyone tries to figure out how to produce substitutes for it. Add to that the march of technological innovation (like the green revolution, birth control, etc.). The end result: markets figure out how to deal with problems of supply and demand.

Freakonomics: “Peak Oil”:Welcome to the Media’s New Version of Shark Attacks

This observation sums it all up for me. I just don’t have time to contemplate end of the world scenarios, I guess. And the guy bailed on the whole group after I posted that. Do you think I was coming on too strong?


Editor’s note, 2019. Query answered. People want to believe that fantasies can occur in the real world.

RAnt(thony)-ings