Author Topic: Elon Musk and Tesla  (Read 5143 times)

ergophobe

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Re: Elon Musk and Tesla
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2014, 02:04:27 AM »
imho
Telsa may not be the answer to transport in the future.

Sure, first movers are not necessarily successful and it may be that the first mover moves too soon, before the market/culture/technology/infrastructure is ready.

It always drives me nuts when I see journalists talk about "energy from fuel cells" or compare electricity to petroleum. I understand Mackin's point - as consumers electricity and petroleum are both end products. But from an energy policy standpoint, electricity is really a means of transporting energy, not a source of energy.

There is no doubt that if we move toward using electricity for more things, that stresses the infrastructure and drives prices up. But the question is what are our potential sources for energy and how are they likely to be transported and distributed.

1. Fossil fuels. We know one thing - there's a limited supply and we aren't making any more.
 - Price future: this has to get very expensive as we run out unless it's actually obsoleted by then.
 - Distributions forms: liquid, gas and electricity
 - Distribution means: through tankers, pipelines and electrical lines.

2. Nuclear. Fission has the same fundamental problem as fossil fuel, plus the waste disposal problem. Fusion, as they say, is the energy of the future and always will be.  When I was in high school in the 1970s I wrote a paper about how fusion was 5-10 years from achieving breakeven. It's been 5-10 years from breakeven ever since. I have no faith we will see cheap, usable fusion before things get nasty with fossil fuel.
 - Price future: unclear. Possibly cheap if we can create cheap fusion reactors, otherwise fairly expensive.
 - Distributions forms: electricity
 - Distribution means: electrical lines.


3. Biofuels. Absolute non-starter with current technology. Biofuels are horribly inefficient and use the same part of the plant that people eat (the sugars and oils essentially). In the 1990s the DOE did a study and found out that the inputs for ethanol were greater than the outputs. The processes have improved since and we're on the positive side, but guess what? Many of the major corn-producing regions are drawing their aquifers dry (I just read an article saying that if farmers paid the same price for their water as Atlanta residents pay for tap water, a cheeseburger would be $23 - that, it should be noted, includes water the farmers get naturally in the form of rain, so not the most useful number, but in general agricultural water is ridiculously cheap and highly subsidized, which affects our perception of food cost and availability).

We may see a huge retraction in arable land in the coming century even without climate change, which will accelerate the process. Even putting that aside, the EU did a study to find out what it would take to meet 20% of their energy needs with biofuel and it was something like half of all the arable land.

The only hope here is that we learn how to convert non-edible, woody plant parts into biofuel (so corn stalks, cheatgrass and willow branches, but despite much hype under the Bush admin, I haven't heard much about this since - it might be like fusion: it's 10-20 years away and always will be). If we could crack this problem, this would be a huge source of fuel, but we don't seem to know how to do it yet.

 - Price future: given the future of water and population, I'm going to say the trend here will be up, possibly sharply unless we solve the biochem needed to break down woody materials. That could be a hard one to crack.
 - Distributions forms: liquid, and electricity
 - Distribution means: through tankers, pipelines and electrical lines.

4. Solar, wind, tidal.
We actually know how to get a positive energy balance here (as recently as the 1980s, the energy inputs to solar panels were more than their expected lifetime output, but this has flipped and is strongly positive). The problem is the storage and distribution systems suck. We know how to upgrade the distribution systems and we should do it anyway before a solar flare takes out every high-voltage transformer in the world and cripples the worldwide energy system (this is a very real threat).

And we do have storage options, their efficiency just stinks. Example: pump water uphill all day, store it in a reservoir and generate electricity when it runs back down hill at night - several nuclear plants do this already.

 - Price future: falling substantially. In some markets already competitive with fossil fuels. Huge advantage also in that it is not subject to long-term price volatility, which makes utilities planners very happy.
 - Distributions forms: electricity
 - Distribution means: electrical lines.

What is the one thing they all have in common? They can all be distributed as electricity. Of course, half of them can be distributed as liquid, which seems to have efficiency advantages right now.

That said, option #4 is the only one that I know of that has proven long-term reserves and the technology to implement today, so it's not a bad bet that the future of energy distribution is not tankers and pipelines and gas pumps, but electrical lines.

Finally, if we look at likely price evolutions, the ones that can only practically be distributed as electricity are the ones that have the best chances of seeing prices fall over time. The ones that are naturally liquid in form have very strong upward price pressures.

So if I look at all that together, I have trouble seeing anything other than electric winning out over the long term. The question is will the "long term" be short term enough that Tesla is still around to take advantage of it? I expect a sort of flattened hockey stick curve on this one, but have no idea whether the inflection point is 10, 20 or 30 years away (I'm sure it is not 50 years away).

And to be clear: fuel cells are a means of storing energy and therefore are "source neutral" but are really "electric" in terms of use. I just say that because people often say "yeah but what about fuel cells?" in these discussions.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2014, 02:10:15 AM by ergophobe »

Mackin USA

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Re: Elon Musk and Tesla
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2014, 02:03:55 PM »
GOOD INFO ergophobe

OFF TOPIC maybe BUT Harley-Davidson introduces electric motorcycle
Mr. Mackin

littleman

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Re: Elon Musk and Tesla
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2014, 02:54:36 PM »
Not much detail on the e-Harley yet, but here are some pretty pictures and a video:
http://www.rsvlts.com/2014/06/19/harley-davidson-electric-bike/

Its a nice way for them to leapfrog out of 1940s technology.

rcjordan

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Re: Elon Musk and Tesla
« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2014, 05:06:22 PM »

Drastic

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Re: Elon Musk and Tesla
« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2014, 05:14:25 PM »
Unfortunately it is not scheduled for production. This is a demo bike supposedly touring the country with a few of them getting rider feedback for 2 years. Sounds to me like a marketing ploy primarily.

http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/
These you can go and buy today, very interesting ride.

littleman

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Re: Elon Musk and Tesla
« Reply #20 on: June 26, 2014, 06:13:37 PM »
http://www.theverge.com/2014/6/25/5841024/toyotas-answer-to-tesla-is-this-70000-fuel-cell-car

Quote
Toyota may be the maker of the most iconic hybrid vehicle of them all, the Prius, but the Japanese company refuses to go all-in on electric and is instead focusing on hydrogen fuel cells for powering its future cars. The first among them will be a 2015 sedan that has today been priced at 7 million (roughly $70,000) for its launch market of Japan. That's right in line with Tesla's Model S, which will be its most direct competitor in the developing market for alternative energy vehicles. Toyota claims a cruising range of 430 miles for its hydrogen-fueled car and a refueling time of just three minutes both numbers underlining the key benefits of its technology over standard batteries.

Rupert

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Re: Elon Musk and Tesla
« Reply #21 on: June 27, 2014, 09:46:38 AM »
Had a ride in one of these over the w/e:
http://www.mitsubishi-cars.co.uk/outlander/phev-overview.aspx

145 mpg.  (claimed)
... Make sure you live before you die.

rcjordan

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Re: Elon Musk and Tesla
« Reply #22 on: May 03, 2018, 03:47:58 PM »
>first movers are not necessarily successful and it may be that the first mover moves too soon, before the market/culture/technology/infrastructure is ready.

From what I'm seeing, it appears the market started pulling away from Tesla/Musk this week.

Brad

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Re: Elon Musk and Tesla
« Reply #23 on: May 03, 2018, 04:31:57 PM »
What I'm waiting for is an electric small to mid sized pickup truck or small delivery van.

ergophobe

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Re: Elon Musk and Tesla
« Reply #24 on: May 03, 2018, 04:55:17 PM »
What I'm waiting for is an electric small to mid sized pickup truck or small delivery van.

AWD is pretty much a must where we live (otherwise you have to constantly put chains on and take them off). I am trying to hang on to my old cars until a reasonably-priced AWD EV comes to market. I believe the Chevy is available as AWD in Europe or is slated to be, but no plans for the US yet