The dirty secret of electric vehicles

rocky raccoon

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Rob, the only way to use energy is to convert it to another form of energy. The change itself is what allows it. Even a nuclear powered ship is essentially a steam turbine engine that uses an atomic pile rather than an oil plant to boil the water. The big difference is in the fuel efficiency.

Electric motors are very efficient, producing little waste heat but one still has to produce the electricity either by wire transmission or battery charging. Somewhere energy must be converted to another form of energy, perhaps several times. This results in losses at every conversion step. Nuclear plants are by far the best way in terms of energy density and reliability.
 

gulfcoastguy

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Nuclear power works 24/7 rain or shine. Solar works 12 hours a day if it’s a good day. It requires battery storage for nights or stormy weather. Nuclear power typically produces surplus power at night. That power can be stored directly in electric car batteries. Or it can generate hydrogen from seawater or wastewater and use the hydrogen as a form of stored energy.
 

nwdiver

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Or it can generate hydrogen from seawater or wastewater and use the hydrogen as a form of stored energy.
When we get to the point that H2 is cheap enough to use for grid storage it's going to make a lot more sense to use $20/MWh renewable energy to split water than $120/MWh nuclear. And those are 2020 prices. By the time electrolysis equipment is cheap enough (~2030) it's probably going to be closer to $10/MWh vs $150/MWh. Thermal generation simply cannot compete with wind or solar PV on cost, it's physically impossible. And... once you're using surplus energy to split water at scale intermittence is completely irrelevant.
 

gulfcoastguy

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I noticed that you didn’t touch the intermittent nature of solar energy. Most people will be charging their cars at night.
 

nwdiver

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I noticed that you didn’t touch the intermittent nature of solar energy. Most people will be charging their cars at night.
That's mostly because it's currently cheapest at night. Workplace charging is likely to become more and more common. There's also a lot of surplus wind at night. Once there are enough EVs to make it worth developing they can be integrated into 'virtual' power plants.
 

bwilson4web

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That fusion reactor is not reliable any time, any day, anywhere and requires huge amounts of energy storage. It also requires an unreasonable amount of collection area that could be put to better use.

Solar power is useful but not to reliably supply the grid for future demand.
Source: https://www.carbonbrief.org/solar-is-now-cheapest-electricity-in-history-confirms-iea

Meanwhile, a major part of the Tesla business model involves grid power storage and home solar roofs. There is an old saying, never let perfect become the enemy of 'good enough.' If not enough sun light, there is often enough wind for megawatt wind mills.

Bob Wilson
 
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