Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sunrise On A Brighter Future

Sunrise on a Brighter Future from Peder Norby on Vimeo.

I love driving the Mini-E. My favorite time of the day to drive is early in the morning, as the sun is rising over our lagoon.

The dawning of a new day reminds me of our connection with a peaceful nature, of our ability to harvest sunshine using the sun as a “new form of gasoline,” and lastly, the sun rising is restorative as a new beginning. No matter the trials of the day before, when the sun comes up, it’s a new day.

My daughter Betina and I met last Saturday just before sunrise for a little fun with her Go-Pro and the Mini-E.

I’m getting a bit sentimental as we get ready to shift from the Mini-E to the ActiveE.

After 36,000 of the most fun sunshine powered miles the past two and a half year, I’m turning the wheel over to my wife Julie who has the longer roundtrip commute of 45 miles. I wish we could afford two electric BMW ActiveE cars but at this early stage, we simply can’t afford two payments. We also have yet to wear out our small 2008 SUV.

It’s Julie's turn next and she is very excited as she waits for her new car, the ActiveE. I’ll get to drive it at night and on weekends so I’m not to bummed about it :)

Enjoy the video, stay tuned for the next one featuring Julie and the ActiveE.

Mini-E #183, 36,000 sunshine powered miles

Friday, December 2, 2011

Go "Sun" Diego!

Nearly 1,100 electric vehicles now circulate in the San Diego area — the highest per-capita penetration of owners in the United States.

EVSE chargers are slow to roll out but they are coming on line faster and faster. The game of the chicken or the egg is soon to be history.

As a Mini-E driver soon to be ActiveE driver, and as a San Diego County Planning Commissioner, I am very excited about the clean energy economy, clean air future of San Diego.

I promise to keep EVangelizing what is in my opinion the answer to many of our domestic issues,  EV+PV

Go "Sun" Diego!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cars, Garages And Outhouses, An Electric Future.

I love driving the BMW Mini-E and contemplating how radically different the future will be because of the electric car.

In the early 1900’s, around the same time the first affordable cars were being massed produced, the outhouse moved from the back forty, to inside the home. Can you imagine the conversations of the early pioneers of that revolutionary technology?

Wife: You want to move that smelly stinky fly infested s---hole to the inside of my home?

Husband: Yup. Honey I promise it won’t smell because I’m putting a pipe in as well.

How radical was that!

The electric car offers us new technology such as no emissions from the car, which means we can radically change the way we interface with the car, both at home and at Home Depot. It is the emissions and fluids that cause us to park the car outside or in a garage.

In part one of the BMW film “Wherever You Want To Go”  (click to see clip) I imagined a future where in our dense urban cities, the electric car would ride up the elevator with you.

Think of it as a vertical road with parking places on each floor, replacing the shared experience and expense of a large multi level, mechanically ventilated subterranean parking garage.  In our single family homes of the future, the living space will incorporate the electric car (perhaps next to the pantry or the pool table) and what we know of as the “garage” will soon join the "outhouse" as an architectural relic of a past era. The ability to take a car inside is just one of many ways that electric vehicle technology will revolutionize transportation and land use planning. (planners hate the long rows of ugly garage doors facing the streets)

If you think this is a bit far fetched, remember the outhouse was once the norm,  and read on,

From the Miami Herald,

Pull over into the designated space. Turn off the engine. And enjoy the oceanfront view as you escalate in a glass elevator that takes you, while you are sitting in your car, to the front door of your apartment. No, this is not the latest Disney ride. The $560 million Jetsonesque tower will rise in Sunny Isles Beach. It likely will be the world’s first condominium complex with elevators that will take residents directly to their units while they are sitting in their cars.

From Germany,

Fed up with looking for somewhere to park? Afraid of your car being vandalized? Nervous about dark alleyways and gloomy underground car parks? Your worries are a thing of the past. Imagine living in a flat - but parking your car on the same floor! Using the special CarLift, within just two minutes you can be either zooming off or back in your own home again - a loft with unparalleled standards of safety, comfort and exclusiveness. The CarLift is a special elevator which takes you to the floor you live on without having to get out of your car. A transponder inside your car informs the CarLift that you're authorized to enter - and the CarLift knows which story to take you to.

Imagine the future, welcome to the future.

Mini-E #183, 35,000 sunshine powered miles

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The solution to pollution is elimination

“The solution to pollution is dilution”

This is the dictum that has governed the modern world since the mid 18th century and the beginning of the first industrial revolution. The dictum describes an approach to toxic management whereby sufficiently diluted pollution is acceptable and of no harm ( look at the picture.) Every factory, every discharger, every government, is controlled by this dictum.

Think of a “straight” 2 oz. shot of whiskey, versus a “mixed drink” consisting of the same 2oz. of whiskey in a 5 gallon pail of water, the latter makes it impossible to get drunk.

“The solution to pollution is dilution” governs every aspect of environmental law and is the backbone of the worlds Cap and Trade, Climate Action Plans and Kyoto protocol.

Fine and dandy in an agrarian world.

The world is changing rapidly and dramatically. For the first time in our history, more of earth’s residents, greater than 50%, are living in densely packed cities. The trend lines are that up to 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by the turn of the next century.

Back to whiskey, now think of 1000 people, each pouring 2 oz of whiskey in that same 5 gallon pail ( look at the picture.)

Today in a world where most of the population is living in mega cities, the dictum, like any good virus, has morphed into a new form more resistant to mans calculations and “antibiotics.” That morphed dictum and its relation to the mega city world of today is:

“The dilution of pollution when concentrated is a disaster”

One example of why I think it’s a disaster. A few months ago as an invited guest of the German Consulate, I participated in a high level exchange of information with 20 other world leaders, activist, corporations, scientists, academics and pioneers. I was seated in the Bradley Tower, on the very top of Los Angeles City Hall. Next to me on my left was a Global Vice President from Siemens, on my right was Mary Nichols from the California Air Resources Board. Speaking was Joschka Fischer, former Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister of Germany.

Vice Chancellor Fisher looked out the windows of the Bradley Tower room, over a 360 degree view of smog polluted Los Angeles, and said “Look what we have done! 15 million people live with ever increasing health issues and social degradation, with this air that we have polluted and that they breathe with every breath.” As a native So-Cal resident, I was struck like never before by that comment.

The new dictum in our ever increasing concentration of population centers must be:

“The solution to pollution is elimination”

Elimination of fossil fuels and elimination of combustion, as Amory Lovins would say, we need to Reinvent Fire. For the first time in our history it is possible and economical to live in mega cities powered by earth wind and fire. Geothermal energy, Hydro, wind, and solar.

We can today live in home powered by, drive a car powered by, and work in a building powered by geothermal, hydro, wind and solar.

This solution is not a pipe dream nor is it an academic exercise, it is the very description of my life living in a solar powered home, driving an electric car powered by solar energy and working in a city hall that is powered by solar energy. This transition for a nation and world will not be easy and it will be incremental, however the new dictum for our future and our mega cities must be,

“The solution to pollution is elimination” we should strive for that as leaders and as individuals in every decision we make.

I am happy to be affiliated, as a Mini-E field trial driver with a company like BMW that is leading the way in reinventing mobility for our mega cities.

We need to think differently about pollution.

Mini-E 3 183, 34,000 susnshine powered miles

Thursday, November 3, 2011

100 Million Electric Vehicles

If in the course of daily life, you use a yellow pages phone book, a manual typewriter or a rotary phone, you might find this vision of 100 million electric cars, a little farfetched.

For the rest of us, the question is not if, it’s how soon the electrification of the car will happen. And one of the big questions after how soon, is how do we make all that electricity to power a large percentage of our domestic fleet of 220 million vehicles?

The answer is surprisingly simple. To begin with we need to understand that 100 million electric cars will require 1/3rd of the gross energy of 100 million gasoline cars. Energy is expensive and is needed to create both electricity and to refine gasoline. The cost of this energy is contained within the retail price of both. The electric car is three times as efficient as the gas car converting that energy into road miles thus will use 1/3 the total amount of energy. This represents a huge energy savings as well as energy independence for our country.

Here are four basic reasons why we will have more than enough electricity without building one new utility power plant to drive 100 million electric cars.

1. An energy revolution is happening. The phenomena is that approximately 25% of electric car drivers are choosing, for the first time in history, to generate their own electricity for their cars via home solar PV or use renewable energy sources via a choice from their electricity supplier. Who knows if that percentage will go lower or higher as the electric vehicles moves beyond the early adopters? Most cars have a garage or a carport to call home and an increasing percentage of drivers will want to “own or lease their fuel station” on top of these structures at a fixed cost of less $0.40 a gallon of gas equivalent forever. 25% or greater of the 100 million cars will be powered by small scale home grown electricity and renewable energy.

2. Refineries are one of the largest electricity users in the country. The refining process to turn crude oil into gasoline uses approximately $0.25 in energy cost and 8 kwhs of total energy for every $3.75 a gallon of gasoline produced. 3 kwh of that energy is electricity the rest is generally natural gas. 3 Kwh of electricity will drive an electric car 12 miles. If you add the natural gas (the other 5kw of energy) to generate additional electricity this number grows even higher to 5 kwh or 22 miles in an electric car. 22 miles in an electric car is 100% of the current fleet average of 22 miles per gallon for gasoline cars, and remember this is just the energy used in the refining process! This is 100% or the total electricity required for 100 million electric cars.

3. Per the 2010 US Census, There are 112,611,029 households in the USA. The average household energy use is 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. Appliances, lighting, LED TV’s, Computers, DVRs, HVAC, and other components are all getting substantially more energy efficient each year. The average home size, growing the past 30 years, is now stabilizing and in some parts of the country homes are getting smaller. Efficiency gains of 20% in households are easily achieved with very low cost items such as insulation or LED light bulbs or new appliances when needed. Couple this with simple behavior modifications such as turning off the TV or the lights when you’re not in the room and a 20% energy savings in each household is a no brainer. This will conserve 2150kws per household. This is enough electricity to power 100 million electric cars 8,000 miles a year. If you add similar efficiency savings in places of work, schools, shopping and manufacture, Enough electricity can be conserved to power 100 million electric cars 12,0000 miles per year. This is 100% or the total electricity required for 100 million electric cars.

4. The electricity grid. Telegraph to telephone, analog to digital, digital to wireless, wireless to connected gps and data wireless. Using this comparison of voice communication, our electricity grid would fall somewhere between telegraph and telephone. It’s 100 year old technology that cannot store energy on the grid. Because of this we generate base loads of energy at 80% of consumption, and then use peaker plants intermittently to provide extra energy when needed on high load times or when a base plant is off the grid for servicing. Unfortunately when loads are extremely low such as at night, much of this base load cannot be used or stored and is run to ground as a waste product. In energy markets, between midnight and 5am electricity trades at a price of zero. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the base load electricity run to ground at night coupled with the capacity to use the existing power plant infrastructure more effectively could power 84% of our existing fleet of 220 million vehicles without one new power plant needed. How can this be? A large majority of electric car owners will choose to charge at night with this previously wasted energy, responding to when the prices are the lowest and when it is the most convenient for them to charge, while they sleep. Enough electricity is wasted due to lack of storage and unbalanced use of existing power plants to power well over 100 million electric cars 12,0000 miles per year. This is 100% or the total electricity required for 100 million electric cars.

In Summary,

I used 100 million electric cars as a number that represents about 40% of our US fleet. The electric car will not work for everyone in the near future and we need to be very realistic about that. Based on my experience driving an electric car the past two years and 34,000 miles, research conducted by universities and auto manufactures, and the price trend lines of any emerging technology, I have no doubt that the majority of urbanites, suburbanites and those in a two or more car family will find the electric car perfectly suited for their lifestyle with zero compromise and value added. In rural America, single car households, and those that drive long distances for work, the electric car is not the answer, at least not yet.

Shifting to 100 million electric cars will not be easy and will be one of the greatest challenges that we undertake as a nation. Significant challenges and great opportunities exist beyond just the supply of electricity covered in this writing. Scale and cost, charging infrastructure, availabilities of commodities such as lithium rare metals used in some motors are just a few examples of the challenges. Huge benefits to society such as cleaner air, lower health care cost, independence from imported oil, and lower cost of energy to drive for consumers also are part of the equation.

In the great debate between using gasoline or electricity as power sources for our cars, one issue is crystal clear, we already have more than enough electricity domestically produced to drive 100 million electric cars in a manor that is cleaner, cheaper with no dependency on foreign nations. Driving 100 million electric cars will require one third the energy and cost compared to drivng a gasoline car.

And my favorite argument of all... you will never be able to drive a gasoline car powered by sunshine.



Mini-E #183, 34,000 sunshine powered miles.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It takes a lot of energy to make gas.. A Bright Idea...part four.

It takes 6 kwh of energy to refine one gallon of gasoline to drive one car 22 miles. 

250 million electric cars (our US total of cars and trucks)  can drive all year without one new kwh of electricity generated.  Read on!

I don’t know about your home, but ours has approximately 150 light bulbs inside and out. Gone are the days when a square room had one bulb in the middle of the room and the outside of the home had one porch light.

So here’s a quick and easy way to fuel your electric car for the next 30 years, I love the dimmable LED bulbs that Home Depot sells.

50 Dimmable LED bulbs at Home Depot = $500

Each LED bulb is comparable to a 50 watt incandescent bulb. (it’s much brighter than a 40 watt bulb)

Each LED bulb saves 41 watts an hour.

Assuming the bulb is illuminated for four hours a day on average, each bulb would save you 164 watts a day, approximately 60 kwh a year.

50 bulbs would save you 3000kwh of electricity a year.

The 3000 kwh you saved by replacing the 50 incandescent light bulbs, will drive a BMW ActiveE 12,000 miles a year for 30 years which is the rated lifetime of the LED bulb.  (46 years or 50,000 hours)

You can drive an electric car 12,0000 miles per year for $16.66 per year of saved electricity. (The $500 in light bulbs divided by 30 years)

In an equivalent gasoline car the cost of gas would be about $2,000 per year or $90,000 (assumes 3% annual increase) for 30 years.

Another interesting electricity factoid is that just four 100 watt light bulbs on 24 hours a day will use more electricity in a year than driving an electric car 12,000 miles a year.
Did I mention that our country exports its weath and is dependent on imported oil?
Did I mention that these LED lightbulbs are made in the USA?

In Summary,

We don’t need to generate a single watt of new electricity in this country to fuel our entire electric vehicle fleet. Simply by using more efficient light bulbs, appliances, and electronic equipment like computers, TV’s and DVR’s in our 114 million households as well as our stores, offices and factories we can save more electricity than the electric cars will use.

It truly is that simple.

It’s your choice,
$16 a year to save the electricity or $2000 for gasoline.
50 light bulbs or 15,000 gallons of gasoline.


Mini-E #183 34,000 sunshine powered miles

Mini-E Diary, June 12th 2009: Driving on Sunshine

It's getting to be sentimental time as I contemplate returning Mini-E #183 in a few weeks and accepting the new BMW ActiveE. What was supposed to be a one year test drive for me, has turned into a guy-car love affair with the Mini-E over 2.5 years and has resulted in an altered view on life and our future.

 Nearing the end of the Mini-E trial, I once again love cars and the joy of driving, that passion was lost for over 20 years. My views on our collective future are very optimistic as I can see a clear path towards energy independence, cleaner and healthier cities and a much lower cost of driving.

For me, the Mini-E is more than just a hugely successful field trial of a car technology, it is an answer to questions far beyond just the car, that have concerned me about our future.

I am sure we will love our ActiveE; however the Mini-E will always be the car that altered my views on driving fun and an optimistic future. It belongs in a museum like the San Diego Automotive Museum, if it can no longer stay in my garage.

The Mini-E is the best and most fun car I have driven in my 34 years in the driver’s seat. I have driven the Mini-E more miles per year than any other car in those 34 years. So much for range anxiety and a limited functionality.

After two and half years and 34,000 miles, the words of my first post in June 2009 (see below) still ring true, a deeper truth based on a longer tenure.

Put that magic in a bottle and sell it to the world BMW.

June, 12th, 2009

WEEK 1: The tires struggle to maintain their thin connection to asphalt as you mash the pedal to the floor, racing down the freeway onramp from 20mph to 80mph in a knats breath of time. BMW/Mini has detuned the drive train so as not to let their drivers do something really stupid, or break the test mule that is the Mini Cooper. The car is on the perpetual edge of control, tires sounding off, steering wheel twitching as there is so much power and torque in that speed range.

The car is ultra responsive letting you get a little out of line but not to far as BMW has the Dynamic Stability Control permanently on (smart move on their part.) You are not driving a typical small car and the sooner you realize that you have a beast underneath you that requires your full attention as if on a race track, the better off you are.

Cruising the freeway at 60 you turn off the stereo so you can hear the quiet. You decide to pass a truck. Damn! That is the first thought that comes to mind as in ‘torque now” and loads of it as the car aggressively assumes the spot in front of the truck.

Before I go any farther, I should clarify that it is very easy to drive the Mini-E like a regular car, really no different than a gas car, (except no gas, brake pads, rotors, oil changes, transmission work ….) and you don’t need what it can give you in spades to simple cruise from point A to point B. Why would you drive like that? OK now that the “car is normal” disclaimer is over, back to the fun world!

Driving as an enthusiast the car gets about 90 miles per charge with 10 miles in reserve. Driving freeway speeds 65 to 75, the car gets 110 miles per charge and in the city about 130 to 140. Charging at home is an hour to a couple of hours typical as I plug the car in a 50% or lower state of charge. A quick 30 minute top off gives me an additional 25 miles.

I have range anxiety!

In my G35 I drove about 18 mile a day, In My Mini-E I drive about 80 miles a day, I am anxious that I may never be able to drive the short range of 18 miles again. It’s a trip to Space Mountain only ten times better every morning as I simply must sneak in a 20 minute drive around the lagoon on twisty roads while the wife is in the bath preparing for her work day.

Driving around the lagoon which is located on the Pacific Flyway migratory bird route, you literally hear the birds! It is an unreal experience to drive on a fun twisty road with windows down and hear the birds! OK it sounds corny but when you drive full electric new experiences come to your senses and you notice them immediately.

I’m driving on sunshine, sunshine that powers my home and provides the sun fuel for my Mini-E. Try that in a gas car!

I am liberated, dependent no longer on the mandatory drug of oil from foreign land. I invite you to join me. For more info on the car and home,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thanks for reading and commenting!

A record day yesterday for this blog.  More and more people are interested in electric cars such as the Mini-E and they're  interested in saving energy and energy security.  Thanks for reading, it's why I write :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Solar Energy Beats Gasoline By A “Clean Country Mile” It takes a lot of energy to make gas... Part three.

Continuing on with my financial analysis of the energy cost to power gasoline and electric cars.

As you know by now, I power my BMW Electric Mini-E by solar energy. I drive on sunshine. My overall system size is 7.5kw and that system powers both our home and car. It is a balanced energy use and energy generation solution, We generate 11,700KWH a year and we use 11,700KWH per year.

Each KW of a solar PV system cost approximately $3700 when part of an average sized residential system. The space required for that one KW is about 60 sq feet, about half the size of a small bedroom.

In California and other sunshine states, that one KW will generate approximately 1550KWHs of electricity annually. The solar PV warranty is 25 years, thus generating 38,750Kwhs over the 25 years. It should be noted that there is a slight degradation of annual generation over that time, and that one inverter replacement will most likely be needed as well. However the system will last a far greater lifetime than the 25 years of warranty (think of a pane of glass and how long that last) so we are going to call those data points a push.

The cost of driving an electric car powered by sunshine 7,750 miles per year.

Electric cars are evolving quickly, electric cars such as the Mini-E are returning between 3.5 and 4.25 miles per kwh. The upcoming BMW i3  will be pushing the 5 miles per Kwh threshold. For this analysis, as it looks at the next 25 years of driving, we will assume a 5 miles per Kwh efficiency.

5 miles per kwh multiplied by 38750 KWHs equal 193,750 miles driven for the energy cost of $3700. This works out to to 7,750 miles per year, and a cost of $148 per year, per kw of generation. It also provides absolute certainty of energy cost, as the sun never increases it’s price.

The cost of driving 7,750 mile per year powered by gasoline.

Over 25 years the gas at today’s mpg efficiency, a car travelling 7750 miles per year will consume 8800 gallons of fuel. Using the US fleet average of 22mpg, driving 7750 miles a year, a gasoline car will consume 352 gallons of gas or $1442 for the first year at $4.00 per gallon. And no you’re not reading this wrong, a solar pv system cost is the same or less than buying gasoline for three years ($3700 total cost for solar vs. $1422 annual cost for gasoline.).The next 22 years of driving the EV are on the "house of the rising sun" :)

Let’s be generous and assume that the gasoline car fleet averages 40 mpg during the next 25 years beginning at 22mpg of today and ending at 60mpg in 25 years, That would be an average of 194 gallons annually and 4850 gallons of fuel for the nest 25 years. With a modest multiplier of 3% annually for the increase in gas prices you’re looking at $35,000 in fuel cost for the next 25 years. If gas prices and cars maintain their current 22mpg fleet average, that number would be approaching $80,000. If crazy stuff happens in the oil supplying regions and  global consumption increases dramatically, your guess is as good as mine. This is the uncertainty of energy cost.

To summarize,

At a fleet average of 40mpg, a gasoline car will use 4850 gallons of gasoline which will cost $35,000 to drive  7750 miles per year for the next 25 years

An Electric car driving on Solar will require 60 sq. ft. of space, $3,700 in cost to drive  7,750 miles per year for the next 25 years.

"The answer my friend, is blowin in the wind." The answer is the ""sunshine on my shoulders."  It cost 1/10th (and is dropping in price) as compared to gasoline.



Mini-E #183, 34,000 sunshine powered miles.

Song title credits:
The Animals
Bob Dylan
John Denver

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It takes a lot of “Energy” to make gas... Part Two.

I used coal in the title of the first post as a cheeky reference to the favored argument by EV naysayers that electric cars replace a tailpipe with emissions from a coal powered electricity plant.

They still might want to look in the mirror :)

The previous blog post has been picked up by Autoblog Green and by the Washington Post and dozens of other sites.  This has led to well over 100 comments from individuals debating the statistic  and offering input as to how much electricity and how much energy is required to make a gallon of gas.

Some agree with my conclusions some don’t.   Some say it’s higher some say its lower.   All kinds of data is offered in the comments usually with several zero’s behind it,  cherry picked data depending on the  point of view of the author pro or con.

I wish there were an Energy information Agency FAQ that answered this simple question, How much energy is used to make a gallon of gasoline?

Unfortunately there is not a simple answer and it’s very complicated to find the information to make a compelling case either way. The various nature and different qualities  of crude and the various efficiencies of refineries add to the complexity.

So let’s keep this simple shall we?

Step 1
Let’s begin with the price of a gallon of gas and the percentage of that that goes to refining.   According to the Energy Information Agency on this page
16% of the August 2011 gallon of gas cost of $3.64 goes to refining cost thus  resulting in $0.58  a gallon in refining cost.

Step 2
According to the EPA and the Petroleum energy guide on this page
(abstract page 3, first paragraph) Refineries spend typically 50% of cash operating costs (i.e.,, excluding capital costs and depreciation) on energy,

So we have 50% energy cost for a refinery, which would result in a cost of energy to make a gallon of gas of $0.29  per gallon.

From here we split off into energy types or feedstocks used to make gasoline.

Step 3
According to the Energy Information Agency,
Just less than  50% of the energy cost come from Natural Gas and about 33% come from electricity,  Also much energy is generated by co-generation, with an undisclosed amount of Natural Gas used to provide electricity for the refinery.

Using the energy cost to refine  of $0.29 and dividing that by 33% gives you $0.10 of electricity cost per gallon of gas.

Step 4 What do refineries pay for electricity and energy?  Good question.  The most they would pay is the wholesale cost of electricity. 

As an energy plant owner myself that has over generated for the year, SDG&E is paying me 3.7 cents per Kwh of generation . You can bet the power plants pay between two and three cents per KWH.

Congratulations, you were a net energy generator!
Account Number: 582687++++
You generated more electricity than you consumed when you trued-up earlier this year. As a result your Net Energy Metering (NEM) account will be credited for the excess generation.

Excess generation:
1607 kilowatt-hours (kwhrs)
Credit per kwhr:
Amount Credited:

With a cost of $0.03 cents a kwh we can come to the conclusion that refineries use around 3 kwh of electricity per gallon of gasoline. 
Furthermore, refineries have nearly 50% of their energy cost in Natural Gas, about $0.14 cents per gallon, If that Natural gas were used in a plant to make electricity an additional 2kwh of electricity per gallon would result for a net total of 5 kwhs of electricity per gallon of gas. 

Using these simple government non biased information websites of the US Energy Information Agency and the EPA, as well as my own payment from SDG&E, the information resulted in a 5kwh of electricity used  to make a gallon of gas. Not to far off of my original estimate of 6kwh per gallon of gas.   Throw in unknown energy cost to extract, pump, ship, store, truck and sell, I am confident an additional kwh or two would be added to that figure.

I stand by original conclusion that a gas car with an average fleet 22mpg will use more electricity (or if you prefer, electricity equivalent in energy units) used just in the refinery process to drive 100 miles as compared to an electric car.

Add to the discussion, what do you say?  


Mini-E # 183, 34,000 sunshine powered miles.

Friday, October 7, 2011

It takes a lot of coal to make gasoline

BP Oil refinery in Long Beach California

Quick draw critics of the electric car often (miss their target) criticize EV’s because in their words “Electric cars simply replace a tail pipe with a smokestack” The gist of their argument is that the emissions still occur, not at the tail pipe but at the electric power plant. That great observation is usually followed by the statement that 45% of our grid electricity is coal and coal is dirty thus the EV provides no net gain.

The critics may want to look in the mirror…..or in their garage.

In California, refineries are the second largest users of electricity. Moving water around the state via water authorities is the single largest user of electricity. You guessed it, refining crude also takes a tremendous amount of water!

It is a simple fact that just the refining of gasoline requires approximately 6 kwh of electricity per gallon of gasoline. In fact electricity and natural gas cost are estimated to be 43% of the US oil refineries total expenses. If you tack on the energy required to extract and transport the oil to the refinery and then to the gas stations as well as the energy cost of the gas station, I’m sure that number jumps a few more kwh per gallon.

So let’s be conservative and cut the oil guys a break and say it takes 8kwh to extract, ship, refine and transport each gallon of gas.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.  Drum roll…….

It takes more electricity to drive the average gasoline car 100 miles, than it does to drive an electric car 100 miles. A gas car at the US fleet average of 21mpg will consume approximately five gallons of gasoline which took 40kwh (5 times 8)of electricity to make, to drive 100 miles. An electric car will use approximately 30 kwh of electricity (3.3 miles per kwh) to drive the same 100 miles.

In summary,

Gas cars use more electricity than EV’s, thus polluting at the smokestack, They burn that refined gasoline in a very inefficient engine, thus polluting at the tailpipe. In our large urban cities in the US, the emissions caused by our transportation fleet accounts for 70% or greater of our man made emissions and visible particulate matter (smog) and related health care cost. Think of that as smoking two packs of cigs.

Electric cars run on electricity created by a mixture of energy sources. Many electric car drivers like myself quickly discover that making your own via solar PV is the best and cheapest way to fuel (about $0.40 per gallon of gas equivalent) Think of that cleaning up the air in our major cities, saving money and as not smoking,



Mini-E #183, 33,000 solar powered miles

Source material below.

Petroleum Refining:

The United States uses more petroleum than any other energy source. Petroleum provides the U.S. with about 37 percent of the energy we use each year. Petroleum can’t be used as it comes out of the ground. It must be refined before it can be used.

Oil refineries use a lot of energy to convert crude oil into gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, chemicals, and other products. Almost half of a refinery’s operating costs (43 percent) is for energy. (US Energy Information Administration)

In a 2008 report, Argonne National Lab estimated that the efficiency for producing gasoline of an “average” U.S. petroleum refinery is between 84% and 88% (Wang, 2008), and Oak Ridge National Lab reports that the net energy content of oil is approximately 132,000 Btu per gallon (Davis, 2009). It is commonly known that a barrel of crude oil generate approximately 45 gallons of refined product (refer to NAS, 2009, Table 3-4 for a publication stating so). Thus, using an 85% refinery efficiency and the aforementioned conversion factors, it can be estimated that about 21,000 Btu—the equivalent of 6 kWh—of energy are used per gallon of gasoline refined:

The documents referenced are as follows:

US Energy Information Administration

Wang, M. (2008), “Estimation of Energy Efficiencies of U.S. Petroleum Refineries,” Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory,

Davis, S., Susan W. Diegel, and Robert G. Boundy (2009), Transportation Energy Data Book, edition 28, National Transportation Research Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory,

NAS (2009), Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use, The National Academies Press,

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dufass and the Mini-E. D’OH!

A disclaimer, it’s my fault, not the car, and my family will be “lashing” me for years.

Mini-E #183 and I have had a wonderful relationship the past 33,000 miles and 2.5 years. It’s been a relatively event free time, which is amazing considering the Mini-E is out in the wild in the hands of drivers like me D’OH! with no or little infrastructure to rely on.

I’ve had three driver error events, two in the past. and one this past weekend.

First about two years ago, was the combination of my hard working schedule and a string of appearances at events the same evening. I arrived home at midnight and forgot to plug in the car. The next morning I had a Planning Commission meeting with a roundtrip of 80 miles and only 40 miles of range on the car. I groveled to my brother and borrowed his gas car for the day. He was merciless in his mockery of “Mr. Electricity Was Better.” The Solution to this problem is a simple web interface and smart phone application so that you can check, be alerted by text message, to insure you are plugged in for the night, this is standard on all new electrics. The Mini-E has no such communication so my brother made a plaque as a gift to me. D’OH!

Second, about 1 year ago, My race car cousin was visiting from Denmark (to see an Indy car race and a NASCAR race in the USA) I was down at my parents, an 80 mile roundtrip, and he asked to take the car around the block. About 20 minutes later he brought the car back with a huge grin on his face. I could smell the burnt rubber, he had some serious fun and depleted my battery to 30%. Nonetheless, I thought I could make it home D’OH! I came up about a mile short, (BMW you don’t want to know how I got the car home ) The solution to this problem is not to let your race crazy Danish cousin drive your car!

This past Saturday I made my third mistake D’oh! It was the compound accumulation of three error’s in judgment.

Saturday evening I was to attend my friend Chris’s birthday party, about a 75 mile roundtrip in the Mini-E to a rural area of San Diego County. Earlier that morning I had made a run to Home Depot and another garden store and used about 10% of my battery, no problems, no need to plug in as the 75 miles is a piece of cake with 90% battery. Error #1 D’OH Always recharge when you have the chance!

I rely heavily on the GPS map in my smart phone. I program in the destination and keep the blue dot on the purple line. I arrived at the party about 15 miles east of Hwy 15 and had a great time. As I left the party, I realized I had no cell connection but hey no problem, I’ll just follow the blue dot backwards. I drove about 15 miles expecting to come up on the Hwy 15 and I still had no cell reception thus the blue dot did not move! I pulled over and tried a compass app on the cell phone, It does not work without a connection! I kept driving and 5 miles later I found myself in Ramona, 35 miles east of Hwy 15! I had gone the wrong way over 20 miles! Now I had range anxiety, I was 45 miles from home and only 32 miles of range left. How I missed that 10% of range that I used in the morning. If I had recharged in the morning, I would have had enough range to get home. Error # 2, Don’t rely solely on technology! D’OH! (BMW please tell me there is a compass in the ActiveE and the I-3

So who you gonna call? Mom and Dad. I could make it to their home about 20 miles away. I could charge for a few hours and then drive home. But…..D’OH! I did not carry my 110 cable with me, it was at home. Error # 3 always carry the 110 emergency charging cable with you, you know, just in case you have an emergency. D’OH!

I had to borrow my sisters giant GMC and drive home to get the cable. The next morning I came back with the cord, recharged the car during the Sunday Football games, and suffered endless merciless barbs at the hands of my several siblings. It was awful! At 4pm I drove home, me and my Mini-E, all was good.

The worst part of the whole story, I had to put $80 in gas in the GMC monster SUV. 20 gallons of gas to get from ¼ tank to full. Ouch!

Mini-E # 183  33,000 sunshine powered miles, driven by a Dufass.

Post Script,
Lest you think this post has in any way exposed a weakness in the electric car, be assured that my driving errors in gas cars were equal to the electric car and in some cases were much greater… the 350 mile 5 hour driving error by the two smartest guys in the world. That story shall wait :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Supremacy of Electric Cars, the Misguided Tea Party.

It’s been very interesting as a generator of renewable energy (7.5kw solar PV) and as a driver of EV’s powered by the sun, to read about the “Top Ten”…, or the five reasons why…, or the 12 things you need to know…. post’s regarding electric mobility. Most of these writings are focused on the perceived and in fairness, real short comings of today’s electric car, often written by folks who have never experienced the joy of driving an electric car (more than a test drive.)

Not to get too political, but as a lifelong conservative, I am shocked at the Tea Party’s response to these innovations and advancements that offer independence, self reliance, improved health, jobs and wealth creation, as well as military strategic benefits, while ignoring long standing government subsidies to oil, gasoline cars (cash for clunkers) and the related dependencies and cost (protection of oil) that have the net result in the exportation of our nation’s wealth.

Promoting the idea of $2.00 gas for all Americans is in my view promoting the decline of America, the decay of our car companies, the exportation of our wealth and the degradation of the health of our citizens living in major population centers. While the world marches on and innovates with science and technology breakthroughs, those in Tea Party America want to stand still and stand shackled to our dependency on oil in a form of slavery and dependence to foreign nations.

What happened to independence? To self reliance? To conservative principles such as conservation? To wealth creation for individuals and for our nation? To saying “To hell with you if you want us to be dependent on your tea and volatile taxation !”

Let us never forget that the original patriots of the 1773 Tea Party threw overboard the product of an oppressive foreign nation and their East India Tea Company (EITC) who sought to relegate us to their servitude. Who severely misjudged the will of the American people for independence and misjudged their desire for tea at any price.

A true modern day equivalent of a Tea Party acting in the spirit of those original patriots of 1773, would be one that threw overboard the product of foreign nations and their Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) who seek to relegate us to their servitude. Who severely misjudged the will of the American people for independence and misjudged their desire for gasoline at any price.

A true Tea Party patriot would “make their own tea” for the equivalent of $0.40 cents a gallon of gas, and not make populist moronic proclamations such as “if you elect me I’ll give you $2.00 a gallon gasoline.” How’s that for a loaded but true paragraph?

Well, deep breath, rant over, a prayer for my fellow conservatives and on to what Gas Cars can’t do.

You’ve heard what the electric car can’t do. I thought it would be fun to flip the tables and talk about what gas car can’t do and why the electric car and electricity will be the motive power of the future.

With 40,000 miles clocked in the drivers seat of EV’s for the past four years, I’m qualified to give you a lay person’s practical experience.

In no special order.

Gas cars are not emission free. They will never be emission free. Our American cities are saturated by emissions and visible particulate matter. 15 million citizens live In Los Angeles and are surrounded by and breath with every breath, toxic visible emissions caused by our transportation fleet. These emissions from transportation account for 70% to 80% of the total emissions and related health issues and cost in our major cities. The electric car is 100% emissions free when powered by renewable energy.

Gas cars rely on a commodity, oil, that is in the hands of the few, desired by many, protected at great cost by superpowers, and is becoming harder, riskier and more expensive to extract. Gas will always increase in price and in my lay person’s opinion, looking at 2-3 billion more consumers educated by facebook and the Internet to what the good life is, will exponentially increase in price in coming years. Electric cars can run on dozens of sources of electricity including hydro, geothermal wind, and solar. With renewable sources of energy, Mother Nature has never raised her price.

Gas cars rely on 100% on Gas Stations, that is simple to understand. What is harder to comprehend is the conveyance system and related cost/pollution to get that oil from Saudi Arabia, Canada, Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and Venezuela to your gas tank. Electric cars powered by solar energy (generated during the day)have a conveyance system of 30 feet. From the rooftop to your batteries. Electric cars are charged (from the existing grid) primarily in the safety and comfort of your home while you sleep.

Owners of Gas cars can’t make their own gas. Perhaps an asterisk is appropriate here. If you’ve got two acres and want to grow corn, ferment it and then distill it (against the law) to ethanol, perhaps you can make your own ethanol gasoline equivalent. For electric car owners, if they wish, its 100 sq ft of rooftop or backyard and you can make your own solar fuel to drive 12,000 miles a year for the equivalent of $0.40 a gallon of gas.

Gas cars are poisonous. If you disagree, (please don’t try this) roll up your windows and port the exhaust of a gas car to the interior cabin, please change your mind before you die. Electric cars are not poisonous.

Gas cars require the national policy of protection of gasoline supply. America spends untold trillions of dollars to secure the safe stable deliver of gasoline to our population from overseas. Nearly 70% of what you put into gas cars tank is imported. Electric cars run on electricity. No matter the source, electricity is domestically supplied and not imported. The money, the profits, and the jobs stay in America.

Gas cars are inefficient machines. The most efficient gas cars convert gasoline to motive power at less than 33% efficiency. Electric cars convert electricity to motive power at 90% efficiency.

Gas Cars are noise polluters. OK, I admit to being fond of the exhaust notes of a high performance car. I love the sound of being at a Formula One, Indy Car or NASCAR race (I’ve been to all three) But I’m fond of those in the same way I am fond of listening to a P51 Mustang at an air show, or listening to a 1900’s 4-8-2 Baldwin Steam Locomotive pulling out from a rail yard on an exhibition run down the rails. In the city or on the street where I live, I prefer less noise pollution. We’ve moved on past these complicated mechanical marvels. The Eclectic car is quiet.

Gas cars are heavy on maintenance cost. It cost a lot to keep those 400 moving parts in tip top operating condition! Friction brakes are so last decade!

Gas cars evolve slowly. They remain mostly unchanged in their DNA from 100 years ago. We’ve moved from the Radio to the B&W TV, to Color TV, to the LCD TV, to the Internet in less than 50 years. I won’t even pretend to understand how that 10 mega pixel image is transferred to a chip the size of a postage stamp that holds 1000 of images without a moving part. Electric cars are evolving rapidly.

Well, That’s a good start, please feel free to add to my list and to share it broadly. And please don’t diss me for being a conservative. We are all Americans and we are diverse and imaginative of every creed color and belief system… including the Tea Party.

God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy, Billy Currington



Mini-E #183, 33,000 miles powered by sunshine.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

“Sun”day is everyday,

I’m in heaven drinking from a bottle of our estate 2007 Herons' Flight "Brunello" as I type. I look into the wine through the glass, I marvel at this ruby red “liquid love” made by sunshine, earth, water and time, with a small interpretive role played by me. The wine, from clusters of liquid sunshine, is harvested  twenty yards from where I write.

Wine has been made of liquid sunshine (grapes) for thousands of years, unimproved by mans advances in technology. Generally speaking, the relationship of man and wine is an equation. The greater the machinery, the greater the mechanization, the greater the intervention of mans inventions, the lower the quality of the wine. More consistent and in greater quantities, but much lower in quality.

A quality wine grower is not a conqueror of wine, but rather, a protector of wine and a partner with nature. An environmentalist by fiat. The more natural the processes are; sunshine, rainfall, gravity, Oakwood, cork, nutrients, subterranean earth, the better the wine. This has been the way for thousands of years.

Tonight, I greatly enjoyed a film documentary of a close friend recently passed, shared with 700 friends at the historic La Paloma Theatre. We drove to that event in BMW Mini-E #183 on the energy of harvested sunshine, harvested twenty yards from where I write.

There is no question that man has the ability to overpower nature, but at what cost? Do we have the wisdom to accept Mother Nature as an equal and a partner, or do we insist on our supremacy as humans overpowering, exploiting and polluting her?

The question is, do we have the wisdom to be a protector of nature and a partner with nature? Do we have the wisdom of lessening the mechanization of man, extraction of oil, pipelines, port storage, ocean tankers, refineries, gas trucks, gas stations, engine, transmission, exhaust, and the millions of moving parts needed to get our gasoline from the ground to the La Paloma Theatre?

We can learn a lot from wine.

I am the most optimistic now, more than any other time in my life for our future. I participate in, and have witnessed that we can now power our two most prized inventions the automobile and the home, by sunshine. We live and drive on sunshine, four years for the house and two and a half years for our car.

We can harvest this gift of nature from our rooftops or land at a cost far less than gasoline or natural gas both in dollars and in our health. We can shrink the millions of moving parts and thousands of miles of conveyance, for gasoline, gas engines and transmissions of our cars, to a conveyance of twenty yards of sunshine and less than eight moving parts of our electric cars. We can eliminate 100% of the current emissions that harm and kill millions of all earths creatures including us humans around the world, to zero emissions and the corresponding greatly improved health.

Please let us possess that wisdom and let us not desire to conquer Mother Nature but rather to partner with her and protect her. It can be “Sun”day, everyday for everyone.  Sunshine has been the answer for thousands of years. The sooner we figure that out the better off we will be.

We will get there  one person, one car, one home at a time. Make no mistake we will get there, it will be a far greater world when we do. Mans best vintage is yet to come. Thank you BMW for your efforts with the Mini-E, ActiveE and the upcoming i3 and i8.

One more sip from our earth, water and sunshine that is my wine, one more sip for the eternal optimist that is me, one more thought in remembrance of a good friend before the last drop of the day passes.


Mini-E #183, 32,000 sunshine powered miles.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

OPEC is soon to be history. Meet the new energy cartel, YOU!

For less than the equivilent of 4 years of buying gas ($220 a month), you can drive on sunshine for the rest of your life, 20,30,40 years or more.

Imagine a future that allows you to purchase a zero emission car and "gas" for a lifetime? No pollution, no dependency on foreign oil, wealth creation for individuals and personal independence? That future is here.

This is a great idea for BMW to offer when it rolls out the i3 and i8

Mini-E #183 32,000 sunshine powered miles

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

EV+PV is cheaper and cleaner. Ford and Sunpower to change the way we motor.

I am extremely excited about a planned press conference tomorrow (8/10/11) between Ford and Sunpower.

As frequent readers may know, I have powered my Mini-E with Sunpower solar panels installed by Stellar Solar for the past two years and 32,000 miles. I have written at length about the low cost of driving on solar with my real world conclusions that it is about 10% to15% the cost of gasoline and offers an ROI in excess of 30%.

Essentially, Powering my Mini-E or any electric car for that matter, with Solar PV cost the same as buying three to four years of gasoline. After that, you’re driving on free endless sunshine for over 20 years, and that’s just the guaranteed energy production from the panels. In most cases with quality panels like Sunpower, you will be driving on free sunshine for the rest of your life.

So why I am I so excited? My hope and my prediction is that this will be a partnership between two international market leaders that will bring great benefit to consumers and to our environment. How so? The same way car makers and oil companies have had a mutually beneficial relationship for 100 years,.

I am hopeful that what will be announced tomorrow is a cooperative purchase experience for a retail customer of a Ford electric car. That a person will be able to buy a Ford Focus Electric, Transit Connect Electric or a C-Max Energi plug in and purchase a Sunpower system at the same time financed by either Ford or Sunpower to fuel their car with clean renewable energy forever. A true zero emissions combination.

The synergies in financing both the car and the Sunpower system are great as most buyers are financing their car purchase for three to six years, and to add on a solar PV system to the same three to six year loan results in a total customer cost that will be similar or in fact lower from day one, to a comparable gas model plus the $250 a month for gas (assuming an average of 15,000 a year.) The relationship to the size and cost of the Sunpower system, and the miles that you drive is proportional to the cost of gas in most cases except extremely low mile drivers.

Most are familiar with Solar PV replacing grid energy for a home that has an ROI of 10%, or a payoff time of between 8 and 14 years, however when you use solar PV replacing gasoline, the ROI grows to over 30% with a payoff of three to four years.

Can you imagine a future that allows you to purchase a zero emission car and the renewable energy to power your driving for a lifetime all in one stop shopping? No pollution, no dependency on foreign oil, wealth creation for individuals and corporations and personal independence?

That is the future I imagine, and that is the future that will change our world.

Let’s hope the future begins tomorrow with Ford and Sunpower.



Mini-E # 183, 32,000 sunshine powered miles with Sunpower PV

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

BMW ActiveE offers lower total cost.

I have driven 31,000 miles in a little over two years, powered by only the sun. I love saying that!

Last week BMW showed details about the upcoming BMW i3 and BMW i8. As a Mini-E driver, I know the role the Mini-E drivers are playing in validating and bringing forward this technology. As a driver, I would have no problem at all telling you horror stories about the car if warranted, however the Mini-E has been a blast to drive, problem free, and the most fun, best car I have driven in 32 years on the road.

Around December, my wife Julie will become the driver of the phase two car which is the BMW ActiveE, a 1 series coupe which will serve as a “development mule” carrying and testing in real world conditions over millions of miles, the future running gear of the BMW i3.

While it’s not inexpensive to be part of this field trial, and the i3 and i8 will be no less expensive, I thought I would do my best to put the cost into perspective compared to driving my previous car, a Volvo S60R which I drove for four years and 58,000 miles. The Volvo was a great car and the last of 4 Volvo’s over 16 years that I leased/owned. In my case, I lease 65% of the time and buy 35% of the time. If I were given the choice of the S60R or the electric Mini-E same-same, the Mini-E would be my choice by a long shot.
My total monthly cost for the Volvo S 60:

Volvo S60 R

36 month lease $2500 down payment = $ 69 a month
Lease payments with tax $479
Insurance $ 89
Maintenance and repair $140 (tires and brakes were very expensive)
Gas $260
End of lease cost $30 (extra mileage)

Total $1067 per month

My total cost of the Mini-E:

BMW Mini-E

30 months, 11 month lease at $930 (first month free), 18month lease at $640 no down payment.
Average lease payment with tax $730
Insurance $26
Maintanace and repair $0
Solar Electricity $25 ($7500 divided by 25 years divided by 12months)
End of Lease cost $0

Total $781

Now comparing 5 years of driving the Volvo(s) S60, which admittedly are a very nice car but by no means extravagant, and I think arguably is considered in the same class as the BMW 1 series the cost are:

Volvo $1067 per month (as above)

BMW ActiveE

Lease inception fee spread over 24 months $83
24month lease at $535 tax included
Insurance $89 (both liability and collision)
Maintenance and repair $0
Solar Electricity $25 ($7500 divided by 25 years divided by 12months)
End of Lease cost $0
Total cost $732 per month

That’s a difference of $335 a month lower or $20,100 lower total cost over 60 months for the ActiveE and Mini-E.

The lesson in this is that while you may enjoy a low car payment or lease payment for a comparable gas car to the BMW ActiveE, you must also add the cost of gas (gas is expensive!) repairs, insurance, origination fees, etc. to get your total monthly cost. I think you might be surprised at how well the electric car (any electric car) does in the total cost department. Your results may be higher or lower than mine, but this is my real world experience of the cars I drove before the Mini-E and the ActiveE.

See how it stacks up for you when you compare the total monthly cost of your car to an ActiveE. I am looking forward to the BMW I3 and i8.

Bravo BMW
Mini-E # 183, 31,000 sunshine powered miles.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Mini-E, Golf, James Dean and Carmageddon!

What have we done!

The writing below is through the filter of my experience living with an all electric BMW Mini-E. As no two lives are the same, your experiences may vary (I love saying that!)

Julie and I live in North San Diego County. For over two years and 31,000 miles we have been scooting about in our Mini-E all over San Diego, Orange and Riverside Counties. Our lives are unchanged as far as our driving patterns and routines with cars for the past 20 or so years.

It’s absolutely no different for us since pre Mini-E when I was driving a nice sedan and Julie was driving a small SUV. Annually we are now putting about 2000 more miles a year on the Mini-E than my previous sedan and about 2000 less miles on her small SUV. The main reason for this is that the Mini-E is nearly always the car we choose on evening or weekend ventures. Who wouldn’t, free gas via solar, non polluting, fun as heck to drive, and always 100% full and ready for the days adventure. It ‘s the only car since I was 25 that I wash by hand 

In the 800 days or so that we have had the Mini-E, there have been exactly two times when the Mini-E was the “wrong club in the bag” to use, both trips to northern California. An 8 iron is not the club to use when you need a 300 yd. drive. In our bag we have two clubs, a small SUV and the Mini-E. (do you know that almost  50% of all golf shots are on the putting green and that 4/5ths are from 150 yards and closer?)

That being said, if we were a one car family, I would choose the Mini-E to use 360 days a year and then for the one or two times a year, for the long drives, rent or borrow a “driver” to use. Why drive a car as your only vehicle that is perfect 5 days a year and a beast of burden the other 360 days?

I believe for many, especially in urban cities such as San Diego this makes sense.

Last week we used the “driver”,  to tour the Pacific Northwest racking up 2800 miles in eight days,  making sure we visited Napa, Sonoma, The Willamette Valley and Paso Robles (noticing a theme?)

On the way home we drove the entire 900 mile length of California on Hwy 101. As we drove this nationally important historic route home, I was channeling the Beach Boys, James Dean and the car culture of the 50s 60s and 70s made possible by the car and the interstate transportation system. What a great era exploring unique interesting places as the car and the road set us free to move about the country as we like.

It’s safe to say that the mind numbing cars of the 80s (K-car,) the generic sameness of urban sprawl (my Home Depot looks like your Home Depot,) and the increasing congestion on the once free flowing open road (Carmageddon in LA) pretty much trashed this idyllic dream.

Or did it?

We have our challenges to overcome to be sure, but I’m noticing a strong pendulum swing back to relocalization. We are once again accentuating our unique differences as “places” creating a tapestry of diversity in our unique towns worthy of having visitors as opposed to the sameness of the past three decades. We are once again designing cars with unique attributes and differences, and we are still moving about the country, however that movement is becoming smarter using the right club for the drive. Perhaps it’s a plane, a train, a bus, a car share, an electric car or a small suv that we will use.

Our next trip, a car free weekend on Amtrak with bikes and the electric shuttles in Santa Barbara.

I love this place! And I love our Mini-E. Looking forward to the Active E.

I hope LA survives this weekend and Carmageddon!


Peder (proof I am a treehugger below)
Mini-E#183, 31,000 sunshine powered miles.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Choose Independence.

90% of phones will be wireless by 2010
90% of TV’s will be flat panels by 2010
90% of homes will have computers in them by 2010
90% of the U.S. will be using the internet by 2010
90% of refrigerators will be twice as efficient by 2010
90% of cameras will be digital images on memory cards by 2010
90% of the U.S. will know of Google by 2010

If someone was quoting the above in 1980, you would have discarded the person as crazy or a hopeless dreamer, what the heck is a Google? They are today all part of our lives and we accept the facts above as normal. We even have a slight indignation about them, sort of a “no duh, I’m not stupid, of course they are” in our attitudes about what is our daily living. 

In the near future:

90% of cars will be EV’s and Hybrids by 2030.
90% of those cars will be charged at home vs. a traditional gas station by 2030
90% of those will be charging at home will charge with renewable energy by 2030
90% of those will sell back to the utilities their energy at peak times for a 100% or greater profit.

If your laughing hilariously (dude your crazy!) or have concluded that I am a first class nut job, please refer to the first list of 90%s, and also know that I live today with the second 90%s list in my daily life. Is the prediction of 90% of cars will be EV’s and Hybrids by 2030, so hard to believe considering the innovations of the past?

Google recently conducted a study titled “The impact of Clean Energy Innovation” The Impact of Clean Energy Innovation Study
among their conclusions:

90% of cars will be EV’s and Hybrids by 2030
1.1 billion barrel reduction in oil use by 2030
$155 billion per year in GDP increase by 2030
1.1 million net new jobs by 2030
Household energy costs reduced by $942 per year by 2030
49 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050

In our family's case, our household energy cost has been reduced by $4000 a year, our gasoline cost has been reduced by $2400 a year. There’s an EV in our garage, solar PV on the roof, we charge at home, we sell back our power to the utility during peak hours at twice the price, we use the energy at off peak hours at half the price to charge the car and cool the wine cellar. Our annual household utility bill is zero or below zero. We refer to that as normal and as energy independence.

Believe in our future, in the imagination, innovation and creativity of future generations, in the Independence of our County. We’re on a trajectory towards fixing our most vexing problems, I am now more than any other time in my life, most optimistic about our future as a nation.

Happy 4th of July, choose Independence.
Mini-E #183, 30,500 sunshine powered miles.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Mini-E, a valuable car in the drive for a more sustainable lifestyle

Julie and I took a 40 mile RT drive in Mini-E #183 today to visit with our friends Andy and Tess in Vista Ca.. They live in a beautiful 1400 sq ft. craftsman bungalow built in the 1940s, recently restored, on 1.5 acres of land. Julie and I are helping them establish a 800 plant vineyard that we will plant in February 2012. The vineyard will produce around 1600 bottles of premium Viognier, Brunello and Cabernet Sauvignon wine annually. A very nice story, what does this have to do with Mini-E?

The Mini-E is part of the drive for a more sustainable lifestyle, especially if you harvest your own sunshine to provide the energy to drive the Mini-E. Our gifts that we brought Tess and Andy were a Native Californian ‘Indian Mallow’ pupped and then own rooted from a mother plant in our native plant garden, several zucchini’s and yellow squash grown in our garden, ½ dozen eggs, laid by our vineyard fertilizer machines, and two bottle of our home estate wine. All delivered in the Mini-E using no gasoline and producing no pollution.

A peasant’s lifestyle in the old days was a requirement of economic life. I would suggest that neo-peasantry today is a requirement for an enjoyable life. Essentially, a life that is more in balance with nature is a life that is lived to a higher degree outdoors with hands on the earth, living, rather than looking at an LCD screen. A way of life where we are more self reliant, self generating, and giving to our communities and our friends, as we share and barter different goods between neighbors, a more localized and healthier supply chain of food and vegetables and beverages that taste amazing!

Our trip in the Mini-E was made with power harvested from the sun, bringing gifts harvested from the land, grown with rainwater harvested from our roof top, helping friends plant their land, while drinking incredible wine made from our grapes, contemplating a better future…

I’m not sure how all this squares with mega cities with a growing percentage of our population living in cities of 10 million or more. I would suggest to you that sustainability in such cities is a far wider conversation than just mobility and reduced emissions.

We need to keep our ag and food production localized and achieve a balance between the land, the buildings and the occupants. They all have wonderful gifts to share if we are wise enough to use them to their fullest, if we are wise enough to truly be sustainable.

The Mini-E, ActiveE, i3 and other electric cars are a giant leap forward towards that tapestry of a sustainable life. Now all we need is an app that points us to farmstands, farmers markets, local co-ops, and community gardens as well as to charging stations.  Perhaps a Vertical Earth Garden is the way we will grow our food in tight urban areas. They are popping up all over Encinitas Ca.

A raised wine glass to you, Skol!

Mini-E #183, 30,000 sunshine powered miles.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Cost and Savings of our Home Energy Plant and Fuel Station

If you find this writing compelling, please share it broadly.

Cost of the energy plant upgrades with tax breaks $35,000
Cost of the energy plant upgrades without tax breaks $54,000
Achieved Savings after four years $23,720
Projected savings after six years (cost parity) $38,196
Projected savings after nine years (cost parity with no subsidies) $59,910
Projected savings after 30 years $155,980
Projected savings after 30 years (adjusted for rising gas and electricity cost) $445,000

This post is going to be a little techie. This will definitively describe to you how our home energy plant and electric car fueling station is far less expensive than utility supplied electricity and gasoline for a gas car with or without government subsidies. This is our actual experience as a typical family and home owner, car driver.

Julie and I constructed our home and moved in in late 2006. Our base year before the installation of Solar PV was 2007, January 1st 2008 we turned on our first 4.5KW solar pv station.

you can see how it went down in 2008!
In 2007 our electricity use was $4928. Our gasoline use for our Volvo S60R was $2,600 a year. This establishes a baseline of $7,528 a year for electricity and gas use.

Our cost associated with our original 4.5kw solar PV system was $20,000, 2 years later we added a 3kw system to power the electric car for $12,000. We have also upgraded our lighting in the home to LED and CCFL for a cost of $3,000.

The total cost for our home energy upgrades was $35,000.

Without any state or federal grants or subsidies the cost would have been $54,000.

We are approaching the end of our fourth year for the system, I am rounding to four complete years. Our average energy bill for the home and the electric car has been $290 per year for the past 4 years.

This represents a four year savings in energy cost for the home of $18,520 ($19,680-$1,160)

We have been driving Mini-E #183 the past 2 years 15,000 miles a year, saving $5,200 in gasoline cost. The electricity cost is included in the above $290 per year figure, so a net savings of $5200 a year.

Our total savings to date after four years of solar PV powering the home and two years powering our Mini-E equals $23,720.

Adding two more years, 2012, 2013 at an annual savings of $7238 ($7,528 minus $290) equals $38,196

This is a six year savings in utility energy cost and gas cost of $38,196. (Parity with original energy system cost) Our ROI on home solar compared to utility provided energy is 12%, the ROI on solar electric fuel compared to gasoline is 33%

The Solar PV system will provide energy for 25 years warranted and well beyond. A simple calculation of taking that six year savings number and multiplying it by five for 30 years of energy production yields $190,980 or a net total savings of $155,980 ($190,980 minus $35,000)

That simple calculation is in today’s dollars and does not factor in the rising cost of future electricity and gasoline in the next 25 years. Remember solar is a fixed price (the sun has never raised its price) and gas and electricity will continue to rise in cost.

The real savings adjusted for increasing gas and electricity at 5% a year is nearly $450,000

first year, $7528.00
In summary.

Cost of the energy plant upgrades with tax breaks $35,000
Cost of the energy plant upgrades without tax breaks $54,000
Achieved Savings after four years $23,720
Projected savings after six years (cost parity) $38,196
Projected savings after nine years (cost parity with no subsidies) $59,910
Projected savings after 30 years $155,980
Projected savings after 30 years (adjusted for rising gas and electricity cost) $445,000

Multiply our experience by 100 million American households and you have national energy independence, a much healthier, cleaner USA, and much wealthier families and a country.
That’s our experience and our simple road map, take a drive with us :)
Thank you Stellar Solar and BMW Mini-E for making this a reality.

Mini-E # 183, 30,000 sunshine powered miles

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mini-E #183, 2 years, 30,000 miles.

What a powerful little car.
The single best car in my 33 years of driving experiences.

The fundamentals of our family’s life have not changed at all the past two years, the way we drive our car, historically averaging 12k-15k a year, has not changed at all the past two years. How we drive, primarily with one pedal in an electric Mini-E powered by renewable energy, detours in a radical way from the previous 32 years of driving.

A little over two years ago, I drove up to Irvine for my first test drive of the BMW Mini-E as an inquisitive skeptical Mini-E Pioneer. Would it go slow up the hills? Would it be safe to drive in the wet? Would I be able to get to where I wanted to go? Would I fit in the car? Will it always turn on? Would the batteries wear out prematurely? Would living with the car be too complicated? Would my wife, family and friends think I was crazy? Oh my, the questions!

I drove the Mini-E that day with Huw John, my Mini-E rep, both of us 6’3” and in that short 10 minute drive, a match was struck creating a flame that continues to grow within me. I was stunned at the performance and fun of driving the Mini-E and at the possibilities of living and driving with electricity.

The past two years with Mini-E # 183 has done no less than alter my opinion, my imagination, creativity and hopefulness that we as a family or a city or a nation can become energy independent, that we can become wealthier, that we can clean our air and live a healthier life, That we can have global energy equity with electricity, standing in stark contrast to the have and have not’s of an energy source that is in the protected hands of the few.

For those that are fearful or for outright opponents of the electric car, ( Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh I’m calling you out ) replace your fear with imagination and curiosity for the future, while maintaining a dose of healthy skepticism. The electric car or any car for that matter, won’t work for everyone, but they will work for a majority of American households.

As I have written before, "Our greatest roadblock to our future, is the inertia of the status quo."

I believe, fear is rooted in the lack of knowledge or experience in a subject matter. Nature abhors a vacuum, so we fill that vacuum with the comforts and knowledge of the status quo and with the comfort that 99% of the population understands us when we support the status quo, (especially if we are a talk show host or a radio personality.) It amazes me, the lethargy of our population, and the desire of folks to offer inane comments about electric cars. It reminds me of the awkward times in classrooms a few decades ago when the students knew more about computer technology than the teachers did, so to hide their lack of knowledge the teachers just banned the calculators and computers from school, lest they be thought of as less than the students.

Those of you over forty can perhaps remember being in awe over a neighbor who installed one of the first garage door openers and who actually had a magic “genie” in their car to open the garage door remotely. We would stand in their garage and gaze up at this transformational device while our neighbor drove around the block remotely opening and closing the garage door. Today, nobody builds those old fashion heavy garage doors anymore; we have evolved thankfully to lightweight rollup electric garage doors powered by genies.

After two years our Clipper Creek EVSE, or charging station, is as exciting to us as your garage door opener is to you. Both are electric devices about the same size, located in the garage. It’s just another appliance running off of house electricity similar to your oven, cook-top, dryer, air conditioner or garage door opener.

A daily drive in the Mini-E is about as exciting for me, as a drive in your exciting car is for you, It really is no different. In the two years we have had the car, the Mini-E has been able to make all our trips except two, both trips to Napa Ca, where we would take the Ford Escape, even prior to getting the Mini-E.

In two years and 30,000 miles I have not gone to a gas station. My sympathies are with the owners of the gas stations as I know their future is fairly short lived. I’ve noticed more and more of them are closing, perhaps investors are sensing the same thing. In less than a year from now my own personal solar fueling station located on my roof will be paid off entirely simply by the savings of not buying gasoline for three years ($7,000) For the rest of my life, I will be paying $0.00 to drive 15,000 miles a year. What will you be paying for gasoline for the next 25 years?

A few decades ago many of us began to recoil when being in close proximity to a smoker. At first we would find a table away from the smoker, and later we would ban smoking all together in most restaurants and places where the public gathers. Second hand smoke is disgusting to me and I am sure it was for the food service worker who was inhaling all day. If you smoke that’s fine but keep it away from me because its unhealthy.

As a Mini-E driver I am beginning to look at tail pipes the same way. Why are we polluting our air? In major urban areas, 70% of the man made emissions come from our transportation tail pipes. Imagine a world of electric mobility powered by renewable energy and those emissions turn from 70% into a big fat zero. Imagine those that are living by freeways and heavily trafficked roads breathing clean air once again. I would present an argument that there are as many cars as there are people, and that breathing second hand smoke from 300 million cars is a far greater national health threat than second hand smoke from smokers.

So here is my summary from two years of driving a solar powered BMW Mine-E.
It’s better, it’s cheaper, it’s healthier, it’s more fun, It last longer, It’s better for my neighbor and I continue to have a blast and love Mini-E #183.
You can live and drive powered by sunshine.

Whether the first sunny and warm spring day, or your two year anniversary with an electric car powered with renewable energy, sunshine always makes you smile:)

Mini-E #183