Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mini-E #183, 10,000 miles on Sunshine, UC Davis Reports First EV Study Findings

My marvelous journey into the future continues.

This past Sunday January 24th 2010, after 7 full months in Mini-E # 183, I passed 10,000 miles on the ODO.

Pause a second and think about this. 10,000 miles in a fun hot car powered only by sunshine.

Game changer? I think so!

The car is incredible and the best thing I can say about driving #183 is that it has settled into an entirely normal routine as a super fun and responsive daily driver accomplishing 100% of my driving task. The best attributes are the shear fun of driving the car, the times saved by not going to the gas station, the fact that its 100% charged and ready to go every time I hop in, and the $1800 a year I am saving on gas by powering the car with sunshine. The drawbacks, no rear seat which is a minor drawback and that’s about it.

Even the lease payment of around $800 a month while at first glance high, for me is pretty consistent with my other cars that I have had. A $450 car payment, $100 on maintenance (service tires, brakes) $130 a month on gas and $60 a month on collision and auto insurance, all of which are included in the lease of the Mini-E. I do look forward to the electric cars reducing in price and I acknowledge that I am paying a premium as an early adopter. Again for me its really not that much if any of a premium.

One of the joys of this journey is not only personally understanding and gaining knowledge as to if the electric car will work for myself and my family (passes on all fronts, you can really drive on sunshine!) but also to share this collective knowledge of 600 drivers with others interested in the electric car future.

No doubt that future will consist of many options in electric drive ranging from Hybrids to Plug in Hybrids to Range Extended Hybrids to Battery Electric cars to Fuel Cells.

BMW has reported on some of its findings to date in this 600 car field study. As a Mini-E driver I was one of 57 who also participated in an extensive study by UC Davis, the results of that study are ongoing but the first information on that study has been posted.

There are some pretty big surprises in the reports that counter commonly held beliefs such as range anxiety being a big issue, public charging being a major issue and the majority of drivers needing additional charging.

My personal experience is consistent with the majority of the report. I reported an average range under all conditions of 90 miles per charge and a daily drive of 40 miles.

You can read these reports at the following links.

BMW Presentation

BMW Field Trial Report

The County of San Diego and many of its 18 cities have also adopted a PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program that will allow home owners to finance capital improvements that are energy and water related in their property tax bill over 20 years.

Below is link for information on that program, you will want to read the last page where I compare fueling cost in a graph format.

Norby Presentation on PACE Program.


Peder, #183

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Charts for Cost of Solar Fuel

I have received a good number of off line emails asking me how I arrived at the incredibly low cost per gallon equivalents for an electric car powered by solar. As a basis for comparison, I used the average miles traveled by a car in the U.S. and the average fuel economy for cars and SUV's in the U.S.

below are some charts which I hope will help explain. (Hint, if you click on the charts they enlarge)

The above graph is the cost of fuel paying cash for driving a 20 mpg gasoline car for 12,000 miles a year. Fuel cost is $3.00 a gallon increasing at 5% a year. This increase is historically the same increase as the last 25 years from 1985 to 2010.

This next chart is the cost of solar fuel if you were to pay cash. Of note is that the total cost of the system is equal to 4.25 years of paying fuel cost in the 20mpg gasoline car.

The Mini-E gets 3.50 miles per KWH. To drive 12,000 miles a year on solar energy I need to generate 3500kwh. In Southern California that is a 2kw Solar PV. System. My install that I did 4 months ago came out to a net cost after fed tax credit of $4,000 per kw or $8000 for a 2kw system. This is roughly the system cost estimate from b.p. solar as well.
Assumed is a $2200 inverter replacement at year 12.

This next chart is the cost of solar fuel if you were to finance the purchase on a PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program.

The Mini-E gets 3.50 miles per KWH. To drive 12,000 miles a year on solar energy I need to generate 3500kwh. In Southern California that is a 2kw Solar PV. System. My install that I did 4 months ago came out to a net cost after fed tax credit of $4,000 per kw or $8000 for a 2kw system. This is roughly the system cost estimate from b.p. solar as well.


I am only comparing the cost of fuel vs. the cost of solar energy. No attempt is made to account for the cost of batteries whether they are life of vehicle or need to be replaced every 7 years. Nor is an attempt made to calculate the cost of replacement engines, transmissions, brake jobs, tune ups and other cost associated with a gas car.

Your results will vary depending on your sunshine profile and where you are located as system cost can vary by location. But if you're in the sunshine belt the above graphs should come very close for most people.

On a KWH generation basis Solar is essential 1/8th the cost of gas for me to drive for the next 25 years+. This equals $0.38 cents a gallon of gas equivalent. It is also a fixed price and protects me against spikes and inflation.

On a cost basis solar is $0.20 cents a gallon of gas equivalent as I only need to generate 1750kwh at peak time (30 cents per KHW) to pay for the usage of 3500kwh of off peak charging (14 cents per KWH)

That's my world, that's my real world experience.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Solar fuel for electric cars, does it work?

January 3rd, 2010.
8:00 am, our breakfast outside.
If you're an east coast Mini-E driver, try not to look at the picture.

Solar fuel for electric cars, does it work?
As long as the sun rises the answer is you betcha!

This writing departs from my driving experiences with Mini-E #183 and focuses in on my fueling experiences with my electric cars.

In 2009, I drove 12,500 miles in electric cars powered only by sunshine. 9500 miles in Mini-E #183 in just 7 months, and 3000 miles in the Gem E4. My New Years Reso was that I am done with gas period.

It has been a no compromise alternative to the gas cars of my past and has helped motivate me to create a more efficient non polluting source of renewable fuel in the form of a solar P.V. station on our roof for both our cars and our home. It has also been a far more enjoyable driving experience behind the wheel of the electric cars.

Try putting an oil well and refinery on your roof , if you get that far, try making them non polluting.

I believe that the emerging application of the plug in electric car coupled with new legislation in California that makes solar a net positive from day one for most people, as compared to purchasing electricity from utilities, will launch this county, then the state, then the country into a change in motive power and a change in the way we power our homes from consolidated sources of power (power plants, oil refineries) to distributed grid connected "in basin" sources of power (home or business power plants) during the next decade.

A power plant and a gas station in every home and commercial property. Fuel from the sun, captured and conveyed the 30 feet from the roof to your panel to the 220 volt 40 amp outlet, to the electron port (Or do we still call it a gas cap?) on your Leaf, Volt, BMW Active E, Plug in Prius, Ford Focus EV, Karma, Tesla, Think and the many other electric cars.

Solar PV works in California. System payoffs range from 6 to 12 years for house use and 3 to 6 years for auto use ( vs. gas at $3.00 a gal.) using the same money you pay to your utility company or gas station now.

The barriers are that it has high upfront cost and people move every few years thus are not willing to make the long term investment..

San Diego County last month voted to join other counties and cities through the League of California City’s and the League of Counties to enact a PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program.

Prior to this PACE Program you had to use a second home loan, a line of credit, credit cards or cash to pay for a Solar P.V. system. This relegated solar to the affluent few that can afford to pay for this. Good for the weathy 5% but unattainable for the other 95% of the population

What we needed to do was to make this work for every homeowner or commercial property owner. The major issue is that people tend to move every five years, don’t want to make the big investment as it is not their final home and the upfront cost.

People move every five years on average but buildings don’t. Financing Solar PV on the building rather than the person is the key.

The San Diego County program enables individual property owners both commercial and residential to finance renewable energy projects on their property tax bill over 20 years as opposed to their own personal credit. In most cases the increase in a property tax bill will be offset by an equal or greater savings on their electric bill. This saving grows over the years as the cost remains fixed for the solar PV homeowner but energy cost from the utilities rise every year for the non solar PV home owner.

Other benefits are that the system installs require no out of pocket expenses, and that property taxes are tax deductible, your utility bills and gas station purchase are not.

In my real world experience, owning solar PV systems on my home and driving electric cars over 12000 mile in 2009, solar fuel from a home PV System powering an electric car will range from 25 to 75cents a gallon equivalent to gasoline fixed for the lifetime of your PV System. For me its 40 cents a gallon of solar fuel equivilent.

It begins in California, and will spread to other sunshine states and eventually the entire country. Solar PV is most cost effective in the sunshine belt to be sure, but technology advances.

That’s disruptive and it will change our EVWorld.


Mini-E # 183

Our live solar production graph