#Electric cars and #Blackouts.

What if electric cars could actually prevent blackouts?

The current electric grid is an aging industrial age monster that still relies upon coal, natural gas and nuclear generation; technology that has not changed much since the 1950’s. Most of your power generation is many miles from your home, requiring a massive infrastructure of wires, substations, capacitors and telephone poles to heat up your coffee in the morning.

When (non-solar) homeowners start to crank up their air conditioning during a heatwave it can cause cascading failures, resulting in blackouts and brownouts. The grid can also be taken down by hurricanes, drunk drivers careening into telephone poles, and even solar flares from outer space!

If you’ve never heard of the Carrington event check this out:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859

In my previous post I wrote about the next generation of batteries and future electric cars capable of driving 1,000 miles on a single charge. One might think that 100 million electric vehicles plugged into the grid would cause MORE demand and more blackouts, but the opposite is actually true.

As the driver of a plug-in electric car for the last 4 months I began to not only consider solar for my home, but I actually got into the solar business!

People who drive hybrid or full electric vehicles are more likely to install solar. Once 10% of the homes in an area install solar the rest of the community is soon to follow. There will always be holdouts, those Amish folks that don’t own a microwave oven or use the internet. There will also be communities that can’t afford the investment in solar, another conversation altogether.

Imagine for a moment a grid tied subdivision with a couple hundred electric cars, and a couple hundred homes with rooftop solar.

In a blackout, even at night, the grid could switch to drawing power from plugged in electric cars. As the owner of the car you would control the parameters of the draw, and at what rate. For instance, you might only allow the grid to draw 200 miles of charge from your car, at 8 cents per kilowatt hour or higher. The app on your phone would notify you as the power is being exchanged, maybe even send you a competitive price bid for the remaining electricity stored in your vehicle!

During the daytime the rooftop solar in that area could supply all the power for the community, even to the homes that don’t have panels. Non solar homes would pay a set rate for their electric, with part of those funds going to the solar homeowners who generate the most energy during the blackout.

All the computational technology is already in place, there is already an app to monitor the energy consumption in my Volt and the power output from my panels. We don’t have the electric cars with a 1,000 mile range… but that tech is coming soon enough.

Residential solar, electric cars and a high tech grid could work together to ensure clean power for everyone.

Blackouts will become a thing of the past. Any neighborhood with enough rooftop solar and electric cars would never miss a beat.

Ben Alexander

April . 2017

Do #solar NOW, go off the grid by 2022.

Let me start with a graph on the price of solar:

The price of solar is finally LOWER than the cost of electricity from the local utility!

You will save more by installing solar now (and actually buying it, NOT leasing your panels) as opposed to waiting for prices to go down another 2%.

I’d rather pay down the balance on my panels each month, compared to sending my monthly $200 to the local utility where my money is GONE FOREVER.

My electricity is still linked to the local utility, during the day my panels will generate power for my home, any excess goes back to the grid for a 1 for 1 credit, at night the utility powers my home. Even on cloudy days my panels will generate power, and my solar is seamlessly blended with power from the electric company.

One question I get all the time is: “Why don’t you get a battery pack and totally go off grid?” There are a couple reasons for NOT going off-grid in 2017, one being the extra cost, but the main reason is the current level of battery technology on the market.

Even the longest range electric cars can only go about 280 miles on a single charge. Most cell phones can only hold a 2 day charge… most laptops 16 to 24 hours… all three use  lithium ion batteries.

There are many new battery technologies in development right now, from solid state lithium ion to carbon nanotube to graphene batteries.

Here is my prediction, based on watching and studying green tech over the last 2 decades:  A new battery technology will hit the market by 2021 that is LESS expensive yet stores far more energy than lithium ion technology. I don’t know WHICH new tech will win, but whatever makes it to market will represent a leap forward from current energy storage.

You’ll know the next generation of batteries has arrived when this happens:

Your recently upgraded cell phone can hold a 2 week charge.

An affordable electric car enters the market with a 1,000 mile range… and you can charge it from zero juice to 1,000 miles in just a few hours.  

By 2022 a home battery pack will allow you to:

Store 3 to 4 weeks of power.

AND

Disconnect from the local electric company, forever.  

There are billions of dollars being spent in research and development to invent the next generation of affordable energy storage. The company that cracks this code will earn billions in profits.

Oil companies won’t like it, but an electric car with 1,000 miles of range (priced below $25,000) will eliminate the demand for 4 cylinder gas burning commuter cars.

Homeowners with solar (installed now) and equipped with the new generation of batteries (installed in 2022) will leave the electric grid behind.

Of course, there will still be many people who hang on to their $3,000 per year electric bill (with inflation over the next 5 years your bill might even be higher). You’ll still see folks driving cars with huge gas burning engines, even when gas climbs to $4, then $6, then $8 per gallon at the pump.

The blog above this entry will discuss the impact of 100 million electric cars plugged into the grid….

Ben Alexander

April . 2017

This kid is the next Bill Gates.

Remember the name Connor Krukosky.

The young man in this YouTube video will either be a billionaire or a genius laboring in obscurity for a tech giant while earning a nice income:

 

It takes until the 25 minute mark until he gets it working.

I have to give huge kudos to Connor’s parents for supporting his magnificent obsession.

It makes one wonder how many young people in the upcoming generation are self taught geniuses, and how well are we developing them to their full potential?

At the end of the video he talks about his future… it looks like the video already got him a job with IBM:

https://www.fastcompany.com/3063265/this-teenage-ibm-employee-got-his-job-by-buying-an-old-mai

IBM is smart to hire him now. If they pay him $100K a year and just let him wander around the company he’ll randomly come up with a novel way to add an extra $100 million to the bottom line.

Ben Alexander

April . 2017