By on December 9, 2010

Equal time: While Prez. Obama test-sat the Volt’s European sibling, the Ampera, in Lisbon, Nissan had its own celebrity test driver for the Leaf EV. “John Roos, U.S. ambassador to Japan, test-drove Nissan’s “Leaf” electric vehicle in Yokohama one afternoon in mid-November, just before the APEC summit got under way,” reports The Nikkei [sub]. Then the Ambassador deeply inserted his foot in his mouth. He said he was particularly intrigued by the way the Leaf was able to charge its battery with solar power, a feat he saw at a “smart-city” exhibition sponsored by the Yokohama city government. Roos then asked officials running the demonstration whether the technology could help reduce oil dependence in Hawaii. Oops, wrong question.

If there is one place where an EV makes the least amount of sense in terms of reducing the use of crude, then it’s Hawaii.  According to Newsweek, the island state draws “about 90 percent of its energy from imported crude.”  Sure, they want to wean themselves from the oil habit, but there is only so much you can do with sunshine and scenic waterfalls. And range anxiety? I wouldn’t want to brave the road to Hana in a Leaf,

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61 Comments on “Will The Leaf Save Hawaii From Oil Dependency? Ho Brah … Smokin’ Da Kine?...”


  • avatar

    Maybe i’m a little stupid, but I honestly don’t understand what you’re getting at.  Is the Leaf good for Hawaii or not?  Are you being sarcastic or serious?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I think what Bertel is implying is that Hawaii generates the vast majority of its electric power from burning imported fossil fuels. So if everybody on the island drove a Leaf, the consumption of fossil fuel wouldn’t decrease; instead, it would just all be burned at the power plants.

    • 0 avatar
      dhanson865

      “Hawaii generates the vast majority of its electric power from burning imported fossil fuels”
       
      You learn something new every day. I had no idea 90% of their electricity was from fossil fuels.
       
      http://hawaii.gov/dbedt/info/energy/ is the official site to learn more.
       
      http://www.eia.doe.gov/state/state_energy_profiles.cfm?sid=HI might be a good read also
      “Petroleum-fired power plants supply more than three-fourths of Hawaii’s electricity generation”
       
      From another site I get this quote though I’m not sure what year it is from it appears to be at least 5 years in the past. “In contrast to the rest of the nation, Hawaii use petroleum to produce 84.7 percent of its electricity. Biomass from sugar plantations and municipal solid waste was used to generate 8.2 percent of the states’ electrical power. the remaining 7.1 percent cam from coal, hydroelectricity, wind and geothermal.”

    • 0 avatar
      dhanson865

      correction for my post, I mistakenly said 90% electricity instead of 90% energy. I’m not that concerned about the fossil fuel use that is used for Planes, it’s the electricity generation that surprises me here.

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      On one reading – the only reading for Bertel’s castigation of Roos to make sense – Bertel is referring to Roos’s seeming ignorance of Hawaii’s energy generation issues.
      The other reading, where Roos is referring to the solar charging tech, Bertel seems like he’s coming out of left field.
      I’d give Roos the benefit of the doubt on this one.

    • 0 avatar
      protomech

      Here’s a quick, first-order analysis. Assume 100% of Hawaii’s power comes from gasoline. Furthermore, assume then that end-user cost is equivalent to end-user consumption – eg $1 spent on gas-generated electricity uses the same amount of gas as $1 spent on gas at the pump.
       
      For the island of Oahu, Hawaii’s most populous island, electricity costs $0.2153/kwh.
      http://www.heco.com/portal/site/heco/menuitem.508576f78baa14340b4c0610c510b1ca/
       
      Over the last year, gas in Honolulu (on Oahu) averages $3.35/gal.
      http://www.honolulugasprices.com/Retail_Price_Chart.aspx
       
      Meanwhile, the EPA tests the Nissan Leaf at 34 kwh/100 miles – at the wall socket, or the wallet.
      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/sticker-wars-leaf-beats-volt-ftc-trumps-epa/leafvolt/
       
      Now a bit of math to convert to MPG$:
      (100 mi / 34 kwh) * (1 kwh / $0.2153) * ($3.35 / 1 gal) = 45.7 MPG$
       
      So the Nissan Leaf (34 kwh/100 mi) costs as much to drive as a 45.7 MPG gas car, at the consumer’s wallet and (under the above assumptions) in oil imports. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s about 10% more efficient to burn your gas at the point of use (Toyota Prius) than in a gas-turbine power plant (Nissan Leaf), to make a HUGE generalization.
       
      However, a couple of mitigating factors:
      * HECO offers a subsidized EV charging rate, where a separately-metered charger operating at off-peak hours costs as little as $0.109 per kwh. This isn’t included in the non-subsidized calculations above, but it would of course result in a lower “fuel” cost to the customer.
      * I’m a bit skeptical about the overall benefits of EV subsidization, but I love the idea of subsidizing off-peak consumption. Depending on the type of power plant, it can be inefficient to idle or shutdown at night, so off-peak power consumption can use what would be otherwise wasted power. There’s not an unlimited amount of off-peak power available, so if the entire island switched to EVs HECO would need to make some infrastructure improvements. But it’s likely that overall gas consumption would drop, EVEN IF everyone on the island already drove a Prius.
      * EVs make sense from an energy independence perspective (solar / wind turbines / tide / hydro generators). ICE vehicles can be fueled with ethanol or biodiesel, so there are options there as well.

  • avatar
    tech98

    Seems like an electric car would make a lot of sense in a place like Hawaii. Small islands, so almost all short journeys. No-one’s doing range-busting 500-mile road trips.
    There’s a big push in Hawaii for wind power, solar and other renewables for the electrical grid because they want to be less vulnerable to oil supply disruptions.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    Statement:

    “Hawaii would be the perfect place for a nuclear power plant to reduce the need to import expensive imported oil”.

    Discuss.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      Yes. Agreed. Comple

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      I say do Nukes and wind/dolar/geothermal. The more the merrier. Of course some would object to wind tubines if it blocked their view of the ocean/scenery and some would object to geothermal (don’t want an ugly powerplant right next to Mauna Kea), and of course some would balk at paying for expensive solar cells and the expensive land to put them on… Well, on second thought, lets just put a nuke plant up.

    • 0 avatar
      Adamatari

      Instead of relying on expensive imported oil, Hawaii should rely on expensive imported Uranium? That’s not going to work.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Adam,
       
      “Thus, 1 kg natural uranium – following a corresponding enrichment and used for power generation in light water reactors – corresponds to nearly 10,000 kg of oil or 14,000 kg of coal and enables the generation of 45,000 kWh of electricity.”

      1 KG of uranium is $165 which generates as much power as $6,500 worth of oil.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Sure. They can just put the waste in 55 gallon drums and drop it in the ocean about 35 miles away. Cause that worked out so well for San Francisco.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      Not true for two reasons:
       
      1. Traditional nuke plants are too big.  Hawaii doesn’t draw enough power on one island to need a plant.  Sending power island-to-island makes no sense.
       
      2. Nuke plants are great base load.  They produce lots of power at all times, including the night time.  They are very bad at scaling up and down with use.  Hawaii doesn’t need nearly the power at night that it needs during the day.
       
      The traditional nuclear option doesn’t make sense.  There are newfangled small reactors which could make sense, but it is highly unlikely that they would get approved for this application.
       
      Solar actually makes tremendous sense for Hawaii.  Solar power is already well under the retail power rates on the island.  One thing the islands actually need is advanced energy storage for grid stabilization.  A moderate amount of storage combined with solar would do the trick very well, and could actually be cheaper than Hawaii’s current (expensive) oil generation.

  • avatar
    jmo

    there is only so much you can do with sunshine and scenic waterfalls

    There is always geothermal – what with all the volcanoes:

    http://www.punageothermalventure.com/About-Geothermal-Energy/13/geothermal-in-hawaii
     
    And range anxiety? I wouldn’t want to brave the road to Hana in a Leaf,

    How about a typical suburban Honolulu commute?

    • 0 avatar
      LALoser

      My commute from Ala Moana to Waikiki is 1.8 miles. It takes 5 minutes at 5:30 AM and 20 to 25 minutes going home at about 3 PM. Most come into downtown Hono from 6 to 8 miles out. Some mornings it takes 45 minutes to travel that far, but at least 35% of the time it can take up to 2 hours if it is raining or an accident.

    • 0 avatar
      Tree Trunk

      Bike?

    • 0 avatar
      LALoser

      A bike seems like a good idea,but it rains a lot here, standing water and dodgy drivers, it’s good that speed limits are low. In my job I have to run out for meetings at many military bases. If timed wrong it can take hours. The traffic here is not the scale of LA, but the travel rate has to be lower. The average MPH on the cars computer is 15….. 

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Uh, why doesn’t Hawaii, located on volcanoes, get its energy from geothermal sources?

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      Only one island, the Big Island, has active volcanoes. The Big Island is also, um, big enough to provide plenty of range anxiety. As Bertel says, yeah, you don’t want to be on the road to Hana (on the island of Maui) in a Leaf, either. Maui is also big enough that you wouldn’t want to be in an electric car.
      The Leaf/Volt/plug-in Prius might work fine in Honolulu, but our electrical infrastructure is, in a word, lousy. Small incidents are enough to blackout the entire island. In 2006 an earthquake on the Big Island knocked out power on Oahu, 200-odd miles away.
      We have the perfect site for a nuclear power plant, the deserted island of Kahoolawe, but the native Hawaiians would put up an epic fight. Our politicians might be dumb, but not that dumb.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      There’s been a geothermal power plant on the big island for decades.  I can’t understand why Hawaii isn’t big into solar.  Sunny almost every day, and electric rates are sky high.  With government incentives, payback on a home system would probably be less than 10 years.
       
      As for range anxiety, most Hawaiians aren’t hitting the road to Hana every day.  Electric cars would make a lot of sense there, assuming lower electric rates at night for battery charging.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Only one island, the Big Island, has active volcanoes

      You don’t need active volcanoes for geothermal.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    My understanding is that Hawaii is trying to get away from using oil to generate electricty althogether, not simply reduce. So yes, electric cars like the Leaf make sense. And from the local newspaper I read while on vacation they are already at least planning for the infrastucture to support those electric vehicles.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Since I’m stuck in a western PA winter, I’d like to visit Hawaii, drive a Leaf there, and test the theory.

  • avatar
    Adamatari

    I see Bertel is back on the anti-EV beat.
     
    In the case where oil is burned for most power, the crux of the question is whether it is more efficient to produce the power at a plant and transmit it to the cars (with attendent losses at the plant and through transmission), which use it quite efficiently, or whether it’s more efficient to import gasoline and burn it in car motors, which are very inefficient – this argument has been run through before, and using EVs is more efficient. On top of this issue are other practical concerns such as range and offroad ability. Certainly for rural customers, and such as nearly everybody on every island except Oahu, there are compelling reasons to keep gas powered cars. However, the bulk of the population is in Honolulu and its suburbs. Considering that much of the driving in Honolulu is low speed, and that having a small car is a MAJOR advantage in a town where parking spaces are very tight, there is a good practical case for the Leaf, both on efficiency terms and otherwise. Probably the best idea is to move more people into town and run rail based public transit (rail uses much less energy than rubber wheels to move).
     
    One thing that we must realize soon – fossil fuels and especially oil are key to nearly everything today, they are used in either the fabrication of items (e.g. plastics), the transportation of items (in Hawaii, that means nearly everything including food), and in the production of electricity (outside of Hawaii that means coal, and before you get smug on the US’s “Saudi Arabia of coal” status, coal use is growing exponentially on the back of China and other developing nations – that “200 year supply” becomes “20 years or less” very easily). They are finite resources with environmental impacts. The show cannot go on forever, we will run into supply issues that will force new behaviors – like we did a few years ago and will repeat shortly as oil prices go over $100 again. You can blame speculators and Saudi Arabia, but the truth is there is only so much oil.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      I see Bertel is back on the anti-EV beat.

      Is there some logic behind all the anti-EV bias?  I just can’t understand all the hate.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      “I just can’t understand all the hate.”

      What hate?

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      What hate?

      Ed, Bertel and many others seem to react far more negatively to EVs than other powertrain developments.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      They have been critical. But I have not seen any hate.
       
      And some strong skepticism seems warranted. Electric cars are hyped way more than warranted. I say that as someone who has a strong interest in electric cars. (In fact, I started my own electric vehicle company three years ago.)
       

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      And some strong skepticism seems warranted.

      It just seem the skepticism is much stronger than I’ve seen for other powertrain innovations.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Perhaps because there’s no actual “innovation” going on here. Lots of hype, lots of government money poured down a rat hole, but no change to the laws of physics. The fundamental flaws with electric cars haven’t changed in 100 years… which is about how long ago they were a viable competitor.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      but no change to the laws of physics.

      Maybe not the laws of physics, but the rise in oil prices from $17 a barrel 10 years ago to $90 a barrel today seems to have changed the math a little.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      @Steve65
       
      I don’t know why I let myself get sucked into this, but it’s ignorant comments like this that do it, so here goes;
       
      1. If you think that there’s been no innovation in batteries in 100 years, why don’t you show me a 100 year old battery that contained as much energy as your laptop battery in similar size and at a similar inflation-adjusted cost?  You are, quite simply: wrong.  Even lead acid batteries are in the process of undergoing tremendous advancement, with longer lives, drastically lowered costs and material quantities, and increased ability to produce power and deep cycle.
       
      Would you say that the internal combustion engine has had no innovation because it still uses pistons and valves, despite the fact that specific output, efficiency, and reliability have gone up drastically?  The same thing has happened in batteries, and it’s happening even more now due to government investment.  Zinc Air, flow batteries, ultracapacitors, advanced lithium ion – these are just a few of the next generation of batteries that are coming on the market now.  Costs on almost every modern battery technology are dropping well over 10% per year right now.  You call that lack of innovation?
       
      2. It’s true: petroleum has a very high energy density.  It’s also very easy to transfer quickly. HOWEVER: every vehicle does not need 300+ horsepower.  Every vehicle does not need to be able to go 300+ miles.  A Leaf will put an MGB to shame at the drag strip – it’s fast enough for most uses, including sitting in traffic (which is, sadly, what most of driving is these days).  It is an order of magnitude more energy efficient than the MG when driving in urban and suburban areas.  It is even an order of magnitude more efficient than a Veyron for that kind of driving, a vehicle which is known for it’s technological advancement.  In fact, the Leaf is actually very good at what it does.  It just doesn’t do everything. The Veyron can go 268 mph. The Leaf sips energy.
       
      Most families in the US have more than one vehicle.  Most families do not need more than one person in the family to go over 100 miles on the same day.  If they take a long trip, they can take the long trip car.  They don’t need every car to be capable of taking a cross-country excursion.  Unless they have decided to opt for the 1+ hour commute lifestyle, they can commute with an electric.
       
      Now I realize this is an era where people want an SUV for hauling themselves around, because they *might* want to go up to the snow every other year – but that’s ridiculous behavior.  It’s not even good economics to use an SUV once per year.  It would be far more economical to rent one when you need one.  But people don’t talk about economics when they get an overkill vehicle.  As we discussed on the last thread of this kind – no one talks about fuel costs when they buy a Veyron.
       
      In conclusion, the laws of physics don’t need to change for EVs to make sense.  Perhaps your mindset does.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      In conclusion, the laws of physics don’t need to change for EVs to make sense.  Perhaps your mindset does.
       
      Until I can refuel it in 15 minutes, no electric vehicle will meet my 3-car family’s needs, no matter how much money the government pays me to buy it, or how condescendingly you insist that it shoud.
       
      And if they met any meaningful percentage of current car buyer’s priorities, they woulnd’t need multi-billion dollar incentives to sell.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Until I can refuel it in 15 minutes, no electric vehicle will meet my 3-car family’s needs

      No matter how high the price of oil goes?  You don’t think it makes any sense to have backup technology ready for the next oil crisis?

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Steve,
       
      You don’t think it makes any sense for the government to subsidize EVs, so when Ahmadinejad starts sinking ships in the Strait of Hormuz because Israel blew up one of his reactors, the US economy is less impacted, as we already have proven technology on the road to help us ride out the disruption?

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      The 15-minute charge interval is an excellent vehicle selection criteria if you need to drive over 100 miles a day in that vehicle.  If you don’t, EVs actually save you time because you never need to go to the gas station.  An 8-hour charge interval isn’t the end of the world when the gas station is in your garage, in other words.
       
      For the record, my condescension was related toward your mischaracterization of technology improvements of the last 100 years.  I did not mean to imply that I thought you personally should buy an EV, or that the government should force you to get one.
       
      On the subject of incentives, the government has incentivized oil production, light trucks, and even whole automotive corporations on a massive scale, so I wouldn’t pretend that you have avoided them altogether.  And if you include the trillions we have to spend on national security to maintain our foreign oil supply, EV subsidies look like chump change.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      I don’t think a pure EV is, or ever can be, a viable replacement to the current IC car.
       
      Now, if you want to assert it as the solution in an era of a  profoundly altered lifestyle, that’s a different discussion altogether.
      But as it stands, no. I think public money poured into BEVs is just another manifestation (like the punitive gas taxation so frequently advocated here) of the government spending public money trying to coerce the public into behaving the way other people think they should.
      There’s been an endless stream of bright-eyed zealots trying to sell me electric cars since the 70s. They all tanked.  Now, it the Gov’t who’s the bright-eyed zealot. But the options are the same, the price penalty is the same, the limitations are the same, and the reality is the same – BEVs are not, and cannot be, a drop-in replacement for the family car. Until some sort of magic happens whichs makes them refuelable in a reasonable timeframe (and no, “overnight” is not reasonable).

      addendum:
      (we crossed in the internets)
      “development” ≠ “innovation” The EV now is still fundamentally the same thing it was a century ago. A battery, a motor, and some way to supply the one to the other. As stated, battery development has been going on all along. Yet the best it can offer is still thousands more costly, and orders of manitude less practical than a simple economy car. I can jump in a $10k Versa and drive SF to LA and back in a day. That’s just never going to happen with a BEV.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      A sports car can never be a viable replacement for a pickup truck.  A sports car can’t go off road and it can’t haul 4’x8’s of plywood.
       
      Attempting to borrow your line of reasoning, a sports car is thus a complete waste of time.  We should make disparaging comments about them every time they come up in the automotive press because they really suck at hauling plywood and furniture.  And we should remind everyone that buying a Porsche when you can get a brand-new, nicely optioned F150 for $30K, makes no sense at all.  After all, sports cars have been around for over 100 years and they still aren’t capable of hauling large objects.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Now, if you want to assert it as the solution in an era of a  profoundly altered lifestyle, that’s a different discussion altogether.

      I’d argue that it makes sense for the government and automakers to ensure that we have proven technologies in reserve when the next oil crisis occurs.

      You’d agree that a 15 min recharge time is crucial at $3 a gallon – it won’t be nearly as important at $9 a gallon.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      @Steve65
       
      I wouldn’t ever tell you what kind of vehicle to get either, but I’m a little puzzled as to why you consider the <15 min refuel/recharge time so important with a 3-car family. Let’s say you swap out just one of those cars for an EV. It’s your short-range errand and commuting car, so you just plug it in every night. At that point, what does it matter if it takes 15 mins or 8 hours? You go to bed, and in the morning you have a full “tank”.
       
      I can think of plenty of reasons for someone to decide against EVs, but in a multicar-family with a garage charger, to me recharge time would not be one of them. Just sayin’.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      @healthy skeptic
       
      That assumes that the vehicles are fully interchangeable. In my case, they aren’t. My car (small sedan, manual), wife’s car (medium sedan, automatic), work truck (one-ton, manual).
      Wife can’t drive my car. Either of us potentially may need to drive over 100 miles on any given day. Which do you propose is replacable with an electric?

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Which do you propose is replacable with an electric?

      I assume you wife has it within her to learn to drive a manual?  It’s really not that hard.

      Come to think of it if you replaced your car with an EV you wife could drive 2 out of 3 vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      @Steve65
       
      I’d say none of them, as it sounds like you guys both need too much range for an EV. But my point is, it’s the limited range rather than the recharging time that’s your biggest deterrent.
       
      I dont’ think we’ll ever see <15 minute recharging times, because that would require quite a lot of voltage and amperage. Although, if the Leaf can recharge to 80% (80 mi) in 30 mins, then I guess you could give yourself 40 mi in 15 mins, which might be enough to get back home and plug into your garage. Not a game I’d want to play, though, trying to eek out miles here and there.

  • avatar
    akitadog

    I’m kind of surprised that Hawai’i hasn’t jumped on the power source that’s with them at all times, WAVE POWER. The state is literally surrounded by this untapped energy source. You’d think they’d be the first to jump on this option. Geothermal as well, of course, considering the volcanoes, as mentioned above, and let’s not get started with solar.
    What gives? Why would the state be so slow in adopting these absurdly obvious sources? Something smells funny about that, like old unmarked bills in linen suit pockets.

    • 0 avatar
      ctowne

      Just speculating, but tidal turbines would make one hell of a mess of a surfer. And you’d have to shut that particular beach down. They could probably do it if they kissed that north shore goodbye as a tourist spot maybe… but i don’t think they will.

    • 0 avatar
      Adamatari

      Nothing is as easy as it seems. Wave power electric generation is still in its infancy – there has been some tidal power, but it requires geographic/geological luck that Hawaii doesn’t have. There are lots of alternative energy sources, but up to now it has been and still is cheaper to buy oil, which feeds a feedback loop – you don’t buy alternative energy because it’s expensive, and alternative energy is expensive because nobody buys it (less R&D, less economies of scale, etc).

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    just by reading the headline i knew what the argument would be. If all the brain power would be used to resolve the problem we already would have a green grid with EVs. but instead some people use all their energy on talking about how it is impossible to change anything.
     
    Everyone knows that EVs use some sort of electricity generated with different means. Almost everyone knows Hawaii gets most electricity from oil. and when you only think inside your box (like it always will produce electricity from oil, like god said so), of course an EV doesn’t help the oil-dependency of Hawaii. But maybe, just maybe, the Hawaiian grid can eveolve….
     
    i understand EVs have their problems, ut most can be overcome when thinking outside the box. the same way IC problems were resolved 100 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      You are correct.  The EVs actually could provide distributed storage.  If correctly integrated with smart charge/discharge controllers, they could actually allow for improved grid stability, even with massive amounts more solar on the grid.
       
      Unfortunately, thinking like that is not how we like to do things in the US.  There’s a perfect solution waiting, one we have all the technology and know-how to implement, but it will not make petroleum execs wealthy, so we aren’t doing it.  Shame, that.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      “There’s a perfect solution waiting, one we have all the technology and know-how to implement, but it will not make petroleum execs wealthy, so we aren’t doing it.  Shame, that.”

      There is no perfect solution waiting. Lots of countries, including the US, have spent billions of dollars on various types of energy. The only example of success is France, with its nuclear power plants. The rest of the new types of energy have been busts.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      I’m talking about solar combined with distributed storage, in the form of EVs.  No one has tried that, because it hasn’t made financial sense.
       
      However, we are hitting the price point with solar, EV, and controls equipment where this would actually be cost and value effective in Hawaii (not the mainland).

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    The telling part of this story is how EVs successfully charm people into forgetting about the source of the electricity that powers them, just like misdirection of the audience is the key to the magician’s art. I, for one, would be curious to know an authoritative source that shows that the total energy efficiency of the Leaf is greater than that of, say, a Versa (a similar-sized car), given all of the losses associated with burning oil to make steam to turn a generator in a power plant, transmission losses, battery charging losses, battery discharge losses and just the conversion inefficiency of the electric drive system (which, among other things, converts DC from the battery to AC for the motor, throwing off some wasted energy as heat in the process).
    It does seem to me that the Hawaiian Islands are ideal for a Versa-sized car, a Prius, or a Golf Diesel.  Vehicles speeds are relatively low, all — or almost all — highways are two-lane and trips are necessarily less than a days’ duration.  So, autobahn cruisers are seriously out of place.
    All energy in Hawaii — whether gasoline for cars or electricity — is expensive because it has to be transported to the islands by ship (there’s a least one refinery in Hawaii; but the crude oil still must arrive in a tanker).  Same issue for Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands.
    Speaking of calculations I’d like to see, I’d also like to see “mass transit” per-person fuel economy calculated out, based on the average load factor of a transit vehicle, rather than the assumption that the vehicle is filled to capacity.  I see a lot of buses driving around DC at off peak hours with less than 10 passengers in them.

    • 0 avatar
      hurls

      @Adamatari says the math has been done and powerplant–>electrical grid–>EV battery–>EV Motor is more efficient.  I’ve never seen that, so I can’t say either way.
      I’d be surprised if it were provably true. But not shocked.

      The issue is where you stop measuring, I suppose. e.g., adding in manufacturing power usage, mining of rare earth minerals for batteries, etc.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    small island driving Ev make sense, but how cheap and how well 110v is being distributed.
    if power cost more to make than raw gas from pump then why bother EV.
     
    as the moment  if gas be cheaper then wait till it goes up and make alternative plans.
     

  • avatar
    blowfish

    I see a lot of buses driving around DC at off peak hours with less than 10 passengers in them.

    in vancouver they’re using smaller bus,  maybe 30 ish passenger, low maint, less fuel, cheaper drivers.  it makes no sense to have a big bus with 2-3 pass. the fuel is not efficient for such a large bus.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Hawaii, being geologically unstable, isn’t prime real estate for nuclear power plants.

  • avatar
    nonce

    Quickly checking, Hawaii has 1.5 million people.  150,000 of them are on Big Island, which I am assuming — perhaps incorrectly — is the most populous.
    1.5 million homes is about the size for a nuclear plant.  There are a few people per household, Hawaii probably has bigger electricity requirements with AC.
    That’s under traditional electric use, however.  Electric cars can use as much as an entire house while recharging.
    Big Island is 93 miles across in its longest dimension.  A Leaf could get from anywhere to anywhere, as the crow flies.  Again, AC usage is high and would reduce range, but lower speed limits would make up some of that loss.
    I don’t think it’s entirely nuts for Hawaii to build a nuclear plant on one island and try to use that to run an EV car system.  But there’s far too much Big Engineering involved for me that I would try and convince them of it.  I also don’t know how they would bootstrap it.
    Advise: let Israel do it first. They have the nukes, they the engineering expertise, and they really really don’t like the people they have to buy the oil from.
    I was thinking solar would be great because of the equitorial region, but the solar insolence maps I look up show that they get a little less than Arizona.  Maybe it’s all the rain?
     

  • avatar
    amca

    You’ve gotta love the naive optimism of a man who thinks we’re going to drive cars powered by solar energy.  Can anybody calculate the area of solar panels needed to charge a Leaf in under a year’s time?  Huge.  And the cost?  I bet that would far exceed the already expensive Leaf itself.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      Sorry to stark this thread, but in the least sunny year on record for Hawaii has at least 4.3KWh of sunlight hitting each square meter each day.  At 15% efficiency, each square meter of panels gives you 235KWh of energy per year.  So to charge the 24KWh Leaf in that darkest year would take a little over a tenth of a square meter, or less than the size of two looseleaf sheets of paper.
       

  • avatar

    I’d like to see some competitive fuels hit the market. Specifically alcohol. Perhaps even mandate kits on all vehicles to allow the cars to run on alcohol. Produce the alcohol locally from plants. Sell it right next to super unleaded.
    All it would take is a lower price at the pump to become popular and could in turn get us “transportation fuel” independent.
    Then we would just have to work on the electricity generation. The thought of HECO powering all the cars in the state isn’t appealing.


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