Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gas Prices Up, Solar Prices Down.

Gas Prices Up, Solar Prices Down. This is a pattern you can expect to continue. In the words of a famous Men’s Warehouse Tailor:
“I guarantee it”

Gasoline prices will rise now that we have passed peak oil, pushed higher by 3 billion new consumers in China, India and the Middle East, pushed higher by increasing governmental regulations and the public’s desire for cleaner less polluted air. Billions of new consumers hunger for the same quality of life and quantity of consumption as 600 million Americans and Europeans. A quality of life fueled by the energy dense miracle of prehistoric composition, oil.

Decreasing supply, a five fold increase in consumption, a stricter regulatory environment… you can draw your own conclusion on what the price of gasoline will be in the future, say nothing about inflation.

Solar P.V. prices are dropping (have been dropping since their begining in the 50’s.) Currently in Southern California a residential installation will run about $3.75 to $4.25 per kw of Solar P.V. net cost. A 5kw P.V. system will net cost the owner between $18,000 and $22,000. Each kw of solar P.V. will produce 1600KWH of annual energy in Southern California, more on that later.

I have driven 24,000 miles in the past 19 months in Mini-E #183. An electric car driven by electrons produced 100% by solar energy. I consider it nothing short of amazing, incredibly fun to drive, it has transformed my life and my energy, transportation beliefs.

My Mini-E drives 3.5 miles per KWH. Using the national average of 12,000 mile a year, I need to generate 3500 KWH a year to “fuel” the Mini-E. This requires a 2.2 kw Solar P.V. system, (remember the 1600kwh per year?) however because of my TOU (time of use) rate structure, I get paid 29 cents a KWH during the peak hour when I am producing electricity and I get charged at night a cost of 14 cents per KWH. This is essentially 2 for the price of one. To make a long story short based on our SDG&E TOU rate structure and actual experience over two years, a system that is 1.65 KWH that generates 2640 peak hour KWH will provide 3500KWH of off peak electricity.

About the graphs:

The Solar P.V. chart is my actual cost, adding an additional inverter in year 15. I choose 25 years as that is the warranted period of the solar PV system. It will degrade slightly over that time this is true, but it will also provide electricity far past it’s 25 year warranty. All the charts depict 12,000 miles of driving. The gas charts use the U.S. fleet average for cars of 20mpg with the first year cost of fuel at $3.50 a gallon for 600 gallons. Your mileage or annual driving numbers may be much higher or lower but that is the fleet average. Electricity prices vary far more than gasoline so make sure to check out your own unique situation.

The gas charts are at 5% and 7.5% annual increase. The past 25 years gas has increased at 3.5% this would be about $84,000 in total cost. What do you think gas prices will do? 5% to 7.5% is my best guess.

I have driven for 32 years and up until the Mini-E, I purchased gas. It is my conclusion that the electric car is already cheaper than the gas car to own and operate for many areas of our country that are renewable energy based such as the Pacific Northwest, or for those such as I, that produce their own energy. I also believe that the electric car if adopted in mass quantities can clean our air and end our dependence on foreign oil.

Of special note is that the total cost of the solar P.V. system required to drive an electric car 12,000 miles a year for over 25 years, is less than the cost of buying gasoline for four years for a gasoline powered car.

Again, in the words of the Men’s Warehouse tailor, You will be buying fuel for your car for the next 25 years “I guarantee it”

The question is what type of fuel will you buy for what type of car?

Solar is $0.35 cents a gallon fixed in price forever.

It's a new world America!


Monday, December 13, 2010

There is safety in the status quo.

There is safety in the status quo.

As a driver of an electric vehicle, Mini-E #183 powered by renewable solar power for the past 18 months and 23,000 miles I enjoy greatly and many times find humorous, reading the many pundits writing and perspectives written about the electric car.

I divide the writings into three (general I admit) camps. The Preachers, the Practitioners and the Protesters.

The preachers are noble, hopeful, and imagine a more perfect world, a healthier planet, embracing an emerging technology that can lead us to the promise land of energy independence, renewable energy, and pollution free air. A more perfect world that can lead us away from war and dependence. The preachers at times, overlook practical roadblocks, real problems and market limitations in the message of a noble good. The preachers have very seldom produced a product in the marketplace meaningful to the real world.

The practitioners want to go beyond theory and the preacher, and put into practice the future. In this case the electric car.

They are the bleeding edge (there is a reason they call it the bleeding edge) early adopters willing and financially able to take part in the new electric mobility world. Similar to those who manufacture or purchase the first $3000 cell phone, the first $5000 computer, the first $15,000 plasma television, the first $200,000 ride into space and the first electric car.

The goal of the practitioner is to experience the new world and prove to themselves, either pass or fail, on the technology they embrace. They are inquisitive by nature, entrepreneurial by craft, they are motivated by many varied factors but united in the experience of discovery, of being pioneers, of imagining and creation of the future.

They are equally ably to reject technology that does not deliver on the promise, solution or intent as promised by the manufacture to the early adopter. Failure is not a final destination to the practitioner but rather a road traveled, a calculation on the path to the future.

The protesters are protectors of the status quo. They warn against perceived whimsical flights of fancy into the new world, they warn against the new and unproven, they decry changes to the structure to a society comfortable to them. They rail against government support of the new enterprise while ignoring the government support of companies of existing enterprise. They are assured by the performance of the current, they are rooted into today and what works for them.
They take comfort as shepherds of the docile.

The protesters have never advanced the cause of humanity through any endeavor in the history of mankind. They take pleasure in proving wrong the preachers and advocating to the malleable heard, the perils and dangers of the practitioners and the preachers.
There is safety in the status quo as the vast majority of the population lie here within.

Your interested in an electric car. So who's writing to believe?

I will let the reader answer that question themselves.

I end this writing by quoting in part “Security” written by Hunter S. Thompson (1955).

"A man is to be pitied who lacked the courage to accept the challenge of freedom and depart from the cushion of security and see life as it is instead of living it second-hand. Life has by-passed this man and he has watched from a secure place, afraid to seek anything better What has he done except to sit and wait for the tomorrow which never comes?

Turn back the pages of history and see the men who have shaped the destiny of the world. Security was never theirs, but they lived rather than existed. Where would the world be if all men had sought security and not taken risks or gambled with their lives on the chance that, if they won, life would be different and richer? It is from the bystanders (who are in the vast majority) that we receive the propaganda that life is not worth living, that life is drudgery, that the ambitions of youth must he laid aside for a life which is but a painful wait for death. These are the ones who squeeze what excitement they can from life out of the imaginations and experiences of others through books and movies.

These are the insignificant and forgotten men who preach conformity because it is all they know. These are the men who dream at night of what could have been, but who wake at dawn to take their places at the now-familiar rut and to merely exist through another day. For them, the romance of life is long dead and they are forced to go through the years on a treadmill, cursing their existence, yet afraid to die because of the unknown which faces them after death. They lacked the only true courage: the kind which enables men to face the unknown regardless of the consequences.

As an afterthought, it seems hardly proper to write of life without once mentioning happiness; so we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”


Mini-E #183