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Why can't we generate the power to run our electric cars?

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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 11:21 AM
Original message
Why can't we generate the power to run our electric cars?
What if:

Solar panels on the roof of the garage, generated the power that the car plugged into?

and solar panels in our yards/on roofs generated the power for each house?


It seems so simple, and do-able..

I know that solar has been "too expensive", but if we are truly in crisis mode, isn't it still cheaper to mass-produce and install these, than to waste all our money on wars?

Of course, this cuts out the poor power companies who have been bleeding us dry for decades..

Our whole energy crisis, seems (to me) to be more about preserving the monopolies and price gouging ways of the power/fuel industries, than about real energy services to people..
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Cronus Protagonist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 11:24 AM
Response to Original message
1. Personally, I don't know why geothermal power isn't widespread
Drill a deep, deep hole, pump plain water in one end, get high pressure steam out the other... what's so hard about that?
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Thothmes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 11:35 AM
Response to Reply #1
10. How deep do you have to drill
say along the east coast to hit formations that can supply a usuable and supply of steam.
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ColbertWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:10 PM
Response to Reply #10
17. Don't know about drilling depth, but...
...they've been doing in California since 1960: Wikip*dia
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Thothmes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 05:49 PM
Response to Reply #17
37. California and the West Coast are much
differently geologically than the East coast. Geothermal is very practical on the West coast and some parts of the Rocky mountains. On the East Coast
less practical, the geology is very old and the magma intrusions associated with mountain building cooled to solid rock millions of years ago. But we should exploit the resouce where ever we can. A large majority of Iceland's energy needs are met with geothermal energy.
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2KS2KHonda Donating Member (508 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:10 PM
Response to Reply #1
18. There are few places on the planet where those kinds of temperatures are shallow enough
for that to be doable. But using the earth as a heat sink/source just a few dozen feet deep can save a lot of energy...but it won't make steam.
:-)
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Cronus Protagonist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:15 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. I'm thinking no matter how deep, it's a good thing
Cheap, sustainable, green, and so on. Even if you had to drill five miles, and I'm sure there's a lot of the US where that's way deeper than necessary, I bet it would be worth it. And cheaper mo' better than "nucular" or coal.
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2KS2KHonda Donating Member (508 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:21 PM
Response to Reply #20
23. Well, it now costs from 5,000 to 10,000 per foot to drill a deep well.
I don't think anybody has ever gone 5 miles deep...it's probably technically feasible but it would cost a bundle (do the math). There would have to be an enormous supply of some kind of energy to justify that...even more than oil or gas I would say...otherwise somebody would be doing it; after all the drilling company/rig doesn't care what the reason for the hole is. :-)
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Cronus Protagonist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:24 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. Well, geothermal is almost limitless energy
And I'm sure we could solve any problem - heck if we can put a man on the moon in the 70's using computers that were less powerful than the ones in our watches today, we can drill a deep hole just about anywhere. And the cost can be gigantic and that will be OK because it can't possibly cost as much as a nuclear power station or probably even a coal power station. And did I mention it's green? heh :P
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2KS2KHonda Donating Member (508 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:41 PM
Response to Reply #25
27. Well I admit I haven't done an in-depth study of this but I see some obstacles:
If you did manage to drill into a superheated area some 5 miles down you've still got to get that heat to the surface to do anything useful with it without losing the energy on the way up. One possibility of course is to build a steam turbine generating plant at the wellhead...I'm pretty sure the plumbing downhole would be a nightmare at those depths and I'm not at all certain it would be any cheaper than a coal or nuke plant. Then there is the uncertainty back at step 1 of finding the desired geothermal formations...which can be anywhere from the surface like Yellowstone and Iceland to more than 100 miles deep in some places!
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Cronus Protagonist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:45 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. Yeah, there would be obstacles
Compared to nuclear energy, any obstacle can be overcome, IMHO.
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cliffordu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:51 PM
Response to Reply #28
30. No kidding.
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Parche Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 11:24 AM
Response to Original message
2. Solar
The desert southwest could power the whole united states

Africa could power europe,
middle east could power asia


simple
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 11:26 AM
Response to Original message
3. There isn't the will. That's pretty much it.
Solar power is, for practical purposes, a perpetual motion machine. Free energy.

Things would be so much better if we'd just listened to Carter.
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 11:30 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. It just seems like such a no-brainer..
Of course eliminating the "sellers of power" has to be the log-jam..There doesn't seem to be any other reason NOT to have done it decades ago..

I know we have people who are smart enough to have figured out a way to do it house by house..
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KansDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 11:31 AM
Response to Original message
5. "...than to waste all our money on wars?"
Edited on Tue Aug-19-08 11:32 AM by KansDem
$3,000,000,000,000 (Iraq war) \ 300,000,000 Americans = $10,000 for every American man, woman, and child.

Just think of what we could have done with that $10,000:

A family of four would have $40,000--
1) Send children to college
2) "Green" a house with solar panels and other renewable energies
3) Buy a new home
4) Pay off debt (student loans)
5) Buy two Priuses
6) Establish IRAs for medical care and retirement
edited to add: 7) Start a new business

But what do we have to show for Bush's invasion?

"-0-"
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elocs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 11:31 AM
Response to Original message
6. I think of solar power every time I see church building with those huge slanted roofs
facing south. I think to myself, what if that entire area were covered in solar panels?
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 11:33 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. or if the steeple had a wind turbine on it/in it
:)
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 11:39 AM
Response to Reply #6
11. I think of it every time I'm in a hot parking lot.
For crying out loud. Put up some scaffolding in the parking lots, put solar panels on top. Generate electricity, and park underneath and keep the car cool at the same time.
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ColbertWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:05 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. East Los Angeles College is doing that already...


The photovoltaic farm is expected to last at least 40 years and is currently producing about 45% of the colleges energy, or 1.9 million kilowatts annually for a yearly savings of $270,000.Los Angeles Times
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:58 PM
Response to Reply #15
32. Neat!
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ColbertWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 01:08 PM
Response to Reply #32
33. Yeah, the cars get shelter from the sun, the panels get sun for energy! n/t
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HughBeaumont Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 11:32 AM
Response to Original message
7. Your last sentence says it all.
Oligarchs can't truly own and monopolize the wind and the sun. Without repeat business (such as non-renewable energy, fer instance), there's no pressing off-the-charts need to get this developed.

Oh, there will be soon, and I'm either afraid they aren't going to be prepared, or it's the PTB's intention NOT to have us prepared.
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cliffordu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 11:33 AM
Response to Original message
9. There isn't a single reason we aren't running the entire thing off of solar.
Of course that would put the energy speculators out of business.

And we'd have to live in smaller houses, so there's less to heat and cool.

Of course people would have to drive less in smaller, slower electric vehicles - which is a non-starter here in the US where people buy their self image from Dodge and Ford and Toyota and Honda....

Wanna see blood in the streets revolution? Try and take the high performance gasoline powered automobile away from Americans. It is the Holy Ghost in our real religion:

The Church of Unbridled Consumption.




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2KS2KHonda Donating Member (508 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:02 PM
Response to Reply #9
14. With current technology, there are actually many reasons:
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ColbertWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:18 PM
Response to Reply #9
21. What I don't understand is why there aren't more towns like Coober Pedy...
...that underground wonderland Down Under:

"The harsh summer desert temperatures mean that many residents prefer to live in caves bored into the hillsides. A standard three-bedroom cave home with lounge, kitchen, and bathroom can be excavated out of the rock in the hillside for a similar price to a house on the surface. It remains at a constant temperature, whereas surface living needs air-conditioning, especially during the summer months, when temperatures often exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). The relative humidity rarely gets over 20% on these hot days, and the skies are usually cloud-free. The average maximum temperature is 30-32 degrees Celsius, but it can get quite cool in the winter."

(...)

"Interesting attractions in Coober Pedy include the mines, the graveyard, and the underground churches. The first tree ever seen in the town was welded together from scrap iron. It still sits on a hilltop overlooking the town. The local golf course - mostly played at night with glowing balls, to avoid daytime temperatures - is completely free of grass and golfers take a small piece of "turf" around to use for teeing off. "

(<|Copy and paste this link> to view an underground house])

--Wikip*dia



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2KS2KHonda Donating Member (508 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 11:56 AM
Response to Original message
12. Gathering enough energy is the problem. Here's a typical solar panel
http://www.southwestpv.com/Catalog/Solar%20Modules/BP%2...

it shows that they produce around 12 watts per square foot. So to charge a car up to one (1.0) horsepower you will need 60 square feet
running at full efficiency for an hour. (746 W/HP) so as you see you'd need a very big roof covered with the things to extract enough to run a car.
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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 11:59 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. The time issue...
are you saying with 60 square feet of solar panels it would take 1 hour to charge or are you saying that you need 60 square feet of solar panels to maintain peek charging?

if that's the case, wouldn't fewer at a longer period of time do just the same?

:shrug:
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2KS2KHonda Donating Member (508 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:06 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. The 60 sq. ft. would produce about 1 horsepower-hour of energy
so if you wanted to use that to run a car that needs let's say 20 horsepower, it would run it for 3 minutes. That's still 1 hp-hr.
Sure, fewer solar panels would take proportionally longer to gather the same amount of energy...and vice versa. :D
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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:23 PM
Response to Reply #16
24. Cool, thanks! :) nt
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NNN0LHI Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:10 PM
Response to Original message
19. I think we could if we wanted to
I know I could. I can't own a car that doesn't posses a decent heating and cooling system though. Too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter where I live. If I lived in some areas of the country where the weather is more mild I would consider it. But not here.

Don
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LondonReign2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:20 PM
Response to Original message
22. The math is interesting
The average US home in 2006 used 920 kWh/month.

It is difficult to use an average in terms of efficiency since different parts of the US get very different amound of sunlight, but the price to install solar is roughly $5-$7 per kWh.

So a fully installed system covering average usage (setting aside for now the incremental cost for plugging in yor car) would cost between $55,000 and $77,000, with a life expectency of 12-20 years.

Those numbers assume solar panels that are 12%-14% efficient. SunTech Power, one of the many Chinese solar companies, is opening a new plant that they say produces panels with 20% efficiency. That increase in efficiency would certainly help the price point for rolling solar out on a large-scale basis.
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LondonReign2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 02:48 PM
Response to Reply #22
34. Should have added...
So if we use the median numbers of $66,000 to install and a life expectency of 15 years, you get 165,600 kWh produced for $66,000, or approximately $0.40 per kWh.

Rates vary across the country, but I currently pay $0.138 per kWh.

So, putting aside environmental arguments, from a purely ecomnomical standpoint solar is still too expensive. And the cost of panels is only 50% of installation cost, so improvements in efficiency only reduce the cost by half of the efficiency increase.
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IDemo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:31 PM
Response to Original message
26. Sufficient power already exists to supply a large number of electric vehicles
Edited on Tue Aug-19-08 12:32 PM by IDemo
Mileage from megawatts: Study finds enough electric capacity to "fill up" plug-in vehicles across much of the nation

RICHLAND, Wash. If all the cars and light trucks in the nation switched from oil to electrons, idle capacity in the existing electric power system could generate most of the electricity consumed by plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. A new study for the Department of Energy finds that "off-peak" electricity production and transmission capacity could fuel 70% percent of the U.S. light-duty vehicle (LDV) fleet, if they were plug-in hybrid electrics. (Note: an earlier version of this release referenced 84% capacity based on LDV fleet classification that excluded vans).

http://www.pnl.gov/news/release.asp?id=204
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Occulus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:48 PM
Response to Original message
29. If the Polywell does what they think it will- if the scaling laws hold true-
We won't need solar or wind power.

Certainly not oil, at least for fuel; we'll be able to use oil as a lubricant only.

Meet the Polywell:



WB-7 producing a plasma using helium as a fuel for testing purposes

The reaction in the core when using boron-11, Bussard's proposed fuel:



We may be on the cusp of true fusion power. This form of fusion, called IEC (internal electrostatic containment) fusion, was being developed under a Navy contract by Dr. Robert Bussard, formerly of the Atomic Energy Commission, and one of the founders of our mainline fusion program, the Tokamak (which he later stated emphatically would not and could not produce net power).

However, with every piece of data the lab's current director, Dr. Rick Nebel (on leave from Los Alamos National Labs), lets slip, the Polywell looks more and more promising.

Assuming the scaling laws Bussard calculated hold true, and brem losses aren't an issue, we will have fusion power.

Here's WB-6, being assembled:

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LeftHander Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 12:51 PM
Response to Original message
31. How will utility monopolies make money? nt
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dysfunctional press Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 02:56 PM
Response to Original message
35. i looked into converting our house to solar...it's not as "doable" as you seem to think.
not yet, anyway.
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Spike89 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-19-08 03:39 PM
Response to Original message
36. promised advancements part of the problem
Ironically, the future of solar is kinda in the way of the present. The problem is that current solar is only about 12-15% efficient. Recent "breakthroughs" promise 20% soon. With high prices that are tied to low production numbers, it just doesn't make sense for most people to spend the money, especially when they know that the price/efficiency model could radically shift overnight.
In car terms, its like a 300 MPG car, but it cost $250,000 and everyone knows that a 500 MPG car that costs $150,000 is on the drawing board. Few people will buy the first car. With solar, the problem is that because people aren't buying the current technology, the costs for the next generation are staying high and discouraging investment. It'll happen, but that is part of why it seems so slow.
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