How Do You Get From Dallas to Houston in an Electric Car? Wait About Five Years.

Categories: Transportation

EV-Charging-Station-Sign.jpg
There are plenty of these in Dallas. Not so much in between.
When you set aside any aesthetic hangups and knee-jerk assumption that any vehicle without an internal combustion engine is a piece of junk, it's pretty hard to argue that electric cars aren't a good idea. If we're are going to drive anyway -- and current habits and decades worth of automobile-centric infrastructure say we will -- then it makes a lot of sense to move away from a technology that spews greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, poisons the air we breathe, and leaves us bent over some dictator's oil barrel.

That's been happening in Texas, but some major hurdles to widespread adoption of electric vehicles remain, one of which is spotty infrastructure. While major metro areas in Texas like Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio are filling with charging stations (perhaps too many), there aren't many in the in-between areas, and no one wants to drive to Houston only to run out of juice and get stuck in Corsicana.

So a year ago, with $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities Initiative, the Center for the Commercialization of Electric Technologies began work on the Texas Triangle Plug-in Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan.

The plan was scheduled to be done by Friday for a public meeting at the North Central Texas Council of Governments, but it wasn't quite done. There is, however, a draft summary of recommendations that is ready.

The details get a bit wonky -- for example a proposal to encourage electric vehicle fleets "to participate in the ERCOT ancillary service market through a managed charging program" -- but there are some interesting takeaways.

For one, development of enough charging stations along the Texas Triangle's major corridors that drivers won't have to worry about running out of power will take at least five years longer on Interstate 45 between Houston and Dallas and I-10 between Houston and San Antonio. There's also a recommendation in there to create "PEV Friendly Community" program, a sort of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval that publicly recognizes municipalities with good electric infrastructure. Also, the plan proposes a law that would give a direct subsidy of $2,500 for the first 1,000 purchasers of electric vehicles to people living in air-quality non-attainment areas. (Air-quality non-attainment is EPA bureaucratese for "really polluted.") And other stuff.

The meeting's at 1 p.m. at NCTCOG offices in Arlington. Drive your electric car. Just make sure it has a good charge.


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50 comments
rufuslevin
rufuslevin

USE 2 BILLION D BATTERIES FOR BACKUP POWER....WILL GET YOU TO THE WOODLANDS AT LEAST.

wmckemie
wmckemie

Five years, $500k worth of study :-(  They could do $100k worth of study and take the remaining $400k and have several hundred conveniently located RV outlets in place within a year.  The J1772 standard is a horrible boondoggle.  RV outlets have higher capacity, less troublesome, FAR cheaper, and no less safe.  Without considering the WAY more expensive than J1772 direct DC charge stations, current Leafs are limited to about 3kw charging.  That is about 12 miles per hour of charge time.  New Leafs and Fords will do about 24 mph which is about the limit of J1772. 50 amp 240vac RV outlets will do as much as 40 mph, given the proper charger.  Incidentally, factory EVs make installing a high rate charger very difficult.  I have both a Leaf and a converted EV.  The conversion has a 40kwh battery and will go 150+ miles.  I can drive about three hours and then recharge in about four.  If I can find a convenient 50 amp outlet.  The Leaf can be driven less than 100 miles in about two hours and then needs about five hours worth of charging.  It is not practical to drive the Leaf within the triangle no matter where charging stations are located.  The conversion CAN be used to travel within the triangle, but I must be willing to spend more than twice the amount of time as is required by an ICE.  IF 50 amp charging stations are available.

 

It is probably cheaper overall to supply RV outlets at charging stations and require factory EV drivers to carry portable EVSE units.  Several options exist  for portable 240vac EVSEs.  All far cheaper than commercial J1772 stations.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

I want to see 18 wheelers replaced by electric ones.....I figure 14 tons of lead battery might move a 27000 pound trailer about 1/2 a block on a full charge.

pak152
pak152

when will folks get it through their heads that e-cars are not the best vehicle for long distance driving. sure use it for quick around town trips, but not from Dallas to Houston. when one looks at the charging times (hours not minutes) it would take quite some time. unless  you have a long extension cord.

TMMM
TMMM

"If we're are going to drive anyway -- and current habits and decades worth of automobile-centric infrastructure say we will -- then it makes a lot of sense to move away from a technology that spews greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, poisons the air we breathe, and leaves us bent over some dictator's oil barrel."

 

Outstanding.  Where do you think the electricity comes from, magic?  Or maybe oil, gas, and coal?  Since we can't have evil nuclear power plants because there's a .0000000001% risk of a meltdown.....

keeponcarryinon
keeponcarryinon

They could put a charging station every 3 feet but what good will it do when a car that goes 80 miles and takes 4 hours to charge costs 20k more than the same model that goes 200+ without needing to stop for gas?

 

If it takes a lifetime to recoup the extra cost saved on fuel-- how can anyone except the 1% that the little lefty dictators say they hate so much justify buying an electric car?

 

Oh wait.. because little lefty dictators will try and force everyone to buy one of these of ride on a bus full of the proletariat to the Bolshevik  meeting.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

OK, electric cars are the salvation to all of our environmental/energy woes and will deliver us from all of the evil of our pollution laden modern society and will usher us into a new enlightened age where ...

 

OK, I am over doint it a little bit, but lets look at a simple fact.  The energy has to come from somewhere.

 

Currently (according to latest statistics from EIA) the US consumes about 12 MMBPD of transport fuels, you know gasoline and diesel.

 

If we displace 10% of this oil consumption by electric vehicle usage, just how much electricity do we have to supply?

 

I'll make a few assumptions such as the overall energy efficiency from energy source to vehicle propelled down the highway for an oil burner and an electric vehicle are the same.    Another assumption is that the average energy content of transport fuel is 100,000 Btu per gallon.  If you disagree, then do your own math and present the numbers.

 

10% of the total transport fuel consumption is about 1,500,000 MWhr/day.

 

The capacity of ERCOT is about 1,728,000 MWhr/day.

 

Where is this energy supposed to come from?  And please don't say at night when there is reduced load on electric generating plants.  The generating plants have to burn something, be it fossil fuel or splitting atoms. 

 

If you say wind turbines, do you realize that this is about 375,000 4 MW wind turbines?

 

If you say solar cells, do you realize that this is about 393,000 acres of solar cells?

 

I'm not saying no to electric cars, but please realize that there is an impact behind that electrical receptacle.

Jiynx
Jiynx

Considering that over 90% of your driving is to and from work and the rest is driving around town to eat, shop, and activites, an EV makes a lot of sense.  Granted some people do travel out of town every weekend or criss-cross the metroplex a dozen times a day, and thats OK, then maybe an EV is not for you.

 

As for the EV's polluting more because of their source, the EPA did a very long detailed study based on the source of electricity and most places it was better or even, some it was not (hybrids were better).  Fortunately, it easier to change the mix of electricity and clean it up with either better fuels (it could be as easy as natural gas) or more efficient coal plants with carbon capture than trying to replace millions of cars on the road.

 

As for the diesel, a lot has to due with the Sulfur dioxide and the Nitrous Oxides it produces and the poullution they cause.  Our restrictions are heavier than Europe, and engines here require loads of post processing of the exaust to meet those standards, significantly reducing the gain in MPG.  Go to Europe, that "dirty" feel that turns the arcitecture black?  Yea thats their diesel, why bring it here?

 

As for the components, yes batteries take a lot of rare materials, and processing, but they are good for 10 or more years (just for cars, with more years after for utility use)!  How long will that tank of gas last you?  Materials is a wash, catyalitic converters have loads of rare materials in them as well as the alternator (its really a small electric motor), spark plugs, etc.  Don't forgot all those other parts in regular gas cars.

 

For the Tesla comments, BOTH numbers are right, but you have to look at their sources.  The 265 miles by the EPA is rated on the NEW 7 cycle test for cars that more acturately depicts range, including heavy AC/heater use, hard accelerations and highway speeds at 70 mph.  This is in comparison to the old 2 cycle test that had 55% city driving and 45% highway that only topped at 55 mph with no AC/heater.  Expect car MPG to drop once all vehicles are required this new 7 cycle test.  The 305 mile range Tesla reported was based on a constant driving at 60 mpg (high speeds really kill electric car range, so mix with city driving and you can easily exceed that range).  The old 2 cycle test, the high end Model S performed going 365 miles on one charge.   So yes, range my vary, but, it seems that if you are nice to the car, it should well exceed 265 miles.

roo_ster
roo_ster

"it's pretty hard to argue that electric cars aren't a good idea"

 

Only if you are a scientific ignoramus.  I love you guys, but it seems you all failed math, physics, and chemistry on the way to your writing gigs.

 

Do a little research and enlighten yourself.  The natural/mineral resources required to manufacture electric-auto components are best distributed amongst mild & moderate hybrids.  "Best" in the economic and fuel-savings sense.  All-electric autos are terribly sub-optimal, even before you consider things like cost, range, source of electricity. ("All Electric Powered Auto" is another way to say, "Mostly Coal Powered Auto.")

 

Even hybrids are really sub-optimal.  Turbo-diesel engines are generally superior economically and almost as good WRT fuel consumption.  If we didn't have the risible ULSD requirement, turbo-diesels would be superior to hybrids on fuel consumption, too.  Either ironically or by design, the EPA erects barriers to the widespread adoption of turbo-diesels, which are generally 30%+ more efficient than gasoline-powered autos and have none of the hybrid or electric vehicle drawbacks.

 

Seriously folks, do the math and don't just regurgitate the environut or petrodollar news releases on blog format.

Hannibal.Lecter
Hannibal.Lecter

Since everyone knows the power for electric cars comes from pixie dust and sweet-smelling unicorn farts....

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't it take at least 4 hours to charge an electric car and their range is a maximum of about 150 miles? Considering these things, wouldn't it just be smarter to take a bus, plane, train, or rent a car?

I know a couple who both have electric cars. When they need to take a long trip, they just rent a car. It seems smarter than stop 1 or more times along the way to charge the car. And, the couple say they save enough money in gas that they can easily afford to do this.

icowrich
icowrich

 @TMMM The idea is that it's better to have power come from a few central plants than from millions of little plants, so that you can take advantage of large scale efficiencies.  Also, most new plants are running natural gas, which is considerably cleaner.  It's also easier to convert a single plant to future generation technology than to convert millions of cars. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @keeponcarryinon battery technology is enjoying something akin to Moore's law.  Charging times are falling, capacity is increasing.  You should consider buying stock in Lithium producers (SQM in Chile is a great company, pays a healthy dividend and is the #1 supplier of industrial Lithium and sells phosphorus and other fertilizer products) 

icowrich
icowrich

 @keeponcarryinon A method for longer term trips would to have stations that simply swap out your batteries.  It would take no longer than filling a gas tank.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @floribun actually, at night power companies have excess capacity, as plants can't be turned up and down like your stereo.  Our peak demand arises in Summer Days.  Evening charging is essentially free.  That's the justification for most of our early amusement parks. 

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

I forgot to mention that I assumed that the availability of the wind turbines and solar cells was 100%.  Do your own math for the installed capacity based on a lower availability.

 

For perspective, 393,000 acres is about 614 square miles.  Dallas County is about 908 square miles.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @Jiynx Diesel isn't more polluting, the EPA has a bias against particulate matter, but ash isn't as bad as CO2 and other effects.  The Euros prefer diesel engines, we've got it in for them. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @Jiynx Tesla doesn't have a vehicle that has achieved what they claim.  Maybe someday, but as is, they're a joke.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @roo_ster Turbo diesels are totally competitive with hybrids for mileage.  Hybrids are full of unintended consequences.  Fully electric vehicles are greener than hybrids, as they're far simpler systems.

mcrickman
mcrickman

 @roo_ster Research the amount of electricity it takes just to refine one gallon of gas. Then run you figures again.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @Tim.Covington I don't think there's a car on the market that can get 100 miles yet.  They hope to improve that, but aren't there yet.  Actually the Chevy Volt is arguably the best option thus far, as the engine runs a generator providing greater range than any other electric powered option.

theslowpath
theslowpath

 @Tim.Covington Overall, yes you are correct that any distance further than a single charge doesn't make much sense - high speed rail or a plane would be a better choice. That said, the high-end Tesla Model S (with the largest battery pack) is rated to go 300 miles on a single charge, and will probably go farther. The Tesla Roadster was rated for 244 and there have been reports of people going over 310

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @icowrich actually cars aren't very polluting.  They're remarkably efficient such that most cars are "partial zero emissions vehicles" as were mandated by CA.  California raised their standard higher, but today, there's a single national standard.  All new cars far exceed even those.

keeponcarryinon
keeponcarryinon

 @scottindallas The Tesla cars that have been mentioned multiple times here still take hours to charge even with the $2500 charging accessory. 

 

Oh and the cheapest model is still 50 grand after $7500 in Obamabucks.

 

This is just little lefty dictator attempts to force everyone who isn't a liberal elite into public transit.

keeponcarryinon
keeponcarryinon

 @icowrich That would require standardization among manufacturers. It would also be absurdly expensive. 

 

Batteries like in the Tesla people keep mentioning weigh close to a thousand pounds. How would you propose that is just swapped out? These things aren't like the battery pack in an RC car.

 

I don't have any idea of what kind of safety requirements there would need to be to store all of those batteries. 

 

And then how do they all get charged? Monkeys pedaling bicycles?

pak152
pak152

 @scottindallas sorry but electricity is produced on demand  it is not produced and stored say like oil  or natural gas you either produce it or you don't sure they would like you to do certain activities at night  when the demand is less, but now you need to identify those industries that can switch their energy needs to night versus day.

 

 

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

The energy has to come from somewhere.  Just because the electric power plants are not fully loaded at night does not mean that they can produce electric energy without the consumption of some form of energy.

 

Your point is the idea promoted by electric power companies that no new generating capacity will need to be installed in order to serve the demand created by electric vehicles.

 

Electric power companies are doing their best to promote EVs as benign with no impact for the reason that I stated above ... the generation of 1,728,000 MWhr/day.

 

At a wholesale power cost of $50/MWhr, this is a potential income stream to the electric power industry of about $86 million/day or about $32.5 billion per year.  By comparison, the former TXU had a gross income of about $8 billion in 2010.

 

It is the same old tired story of "follow the money".

 

I would be willing to bet that as overnight demand goes up, power rates will also go up.  You know, the ol' supply and demand thingy.

pak152
pak152

 @mcrickman don't you mean how much electricity it takes to produce a gallon of gas?  Gasoline is a product of refining which is done to crude oil. once gasoline is produced it is blended. at what points in the refining process is electricity used?

pak152
pak152

 @theslowpath "s rated to go 300 miles on a single charge, and will probably go farther." is that without running the A/C, lights etc? how about the effect of cold weather on batteries? or heat?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @theslowpath They haven't actually gotten those results at Tesla.  They hope to, but have been frustrated with actually achieving those numbers. 

 

To all, Ed Wallace's show Wheels on Sat. Am from 8-1pm is the best source of auto info in the country.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

 @theslowpath Are you a Tesla salesperson? You keep pimping that car like it's your child, plus you're wrong. The Model S got rated at 265 miles on a charge. Stop exaggerating. Plus the Model S is designed as a luxury 2nd/3rd/4th car, which puts it in a whole other non-necessary class than the intentions of the Leaf/Focus Electric/any other electric replacement vehicle.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @sidewalkastro you're mistaken.  Big Brown is to our South East, which is the prevailing wind throughout most of the Summer.  TXI's concrete plant is next door, all in Midloathian.  Our power demand is much higher during the week, as are other industrial activities.  Cars today are "Partial Zero Emissions"   Gov't would rather beset the little guy than the big guy.  

sidewalkastro
sidewalkastro

 @scottindallas Coal fired plant is too far away to make Dallas air pollution. The wind rarely blows from the east anyway.

Cars maybe less polluting now, but there are a lot more cars plus all the thousands  of fracking sites have diesels ran compressors running 24/7. I work on Sundays and I can see the difference because there is a lot less traffic. Stop all the cars and most of the pollution would be gone in a few days.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @sidewalkastro Big Brown's coal dust, drilling, diesel engine soot, dust from construction, wind.   Cars get all the EPA scrutiny, while large industrial polluters are grandfathered in.  I don't know if you remember what the sky looked like in the 80's, there was a brown tinge on the horizon, that's gone.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

I read the link which you provided.  One item that is not clear to me in your reference is how the conversion efficiency of the electric power plant comes into play.

 

The point that I was trying to make is that just a 10% conversion of transport energy demand from traditional hydrocarbons to EV's still requires a very large amount of energy.

 

The fact remains that the majority of electricity generated in this country is from either coal, oil or natural gas.  I haven't looked in detail at the overall efficiency of both cycles (and I really don't intend to) but somehow given how our electricity is supplied, I don't see how EVs will reduce CO2 emissions to any significant degree.

 

In order to go to zero greenhouse gas emissions for EVs will require the construction of wind farms, solar plants and, yes Virginia, even nuclear power plants.

 

The point to my post was that a tremendous investment will be required in alternative (i.e. renewable) electric energy sources in order to make even a dent in the CO2 emissions from transport fuels.

 

If we add availability to my estimated requirements for windpower and solar power, 1,500,000 4 MW windmills; or, 2,500 square miles (net, exclusive of area needed for maintenance access and possible tracking arrays) of solar cell area are needed at a 25% availability factor. 

 

Regardless of how one views it, this is a tremendous requirement.

 

My presentation was just to point out the energy required for a 10% conversion from conventional transport fuels to electricity powered vehicles.

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