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Solar Powered Cars - in our Future?

SylviaSylvia Posts: 1,636
edited March 21 in Toyota
To pick up many of the comments and questions as to whether or not Solar is an optional technology for powering cars.
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Comments

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,028
    Extracting useful quantities of hydrogen from water requires a massive amount of energy — energy that typically comes from burning oil or coal.

     

    You can also get hydrogen from methane but once again, it takes a "dirty" fuel to create a "clean" one.

     

    Another possible problem: Scientists call hydrogen a "leaky gas" that easily escapes from any container you put it in, potentially harming the environment.

     

    "It is not a neutral gas," Prather said. "It actually does interact in the atmosphere. And in some sense it needs a better evaluation."

     

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,145166,00.html
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Apparently you missed extraction process using solar energy in one of my earlier posts. It is already in place at a Honda facility in SoCal.

     

    These articles provide nothing but lopsided point of views.

     

    If indeed one takes the hard way out to producing hydrogen, or to make a point against it especially in terms of cleanliness, it would make sense to compare lifetime contribution towards environment from production facility to delivery centers to emissions from the vehicles. Here is what I mean:

     

    If a vehicle that uses hydrogen as a fuel travels 100 miles and uses X amount of the fuel to do so. In the process of extracting and delivering the fuel, combined with the vehicle’s emissions over the distance, let us assume the total emission “cost” is Z1.

     

    Likewise, another vehicle with gasoline or hydrogen travels the same distance and consumes Y amount of the fuel. The overall emissions cost is Z2.

     

    What criteria do these guys have to suggest that Z2 is lower than Z1?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,028
    Apparently you missed extraction process using solar energy in one of my earlier posts. It is already in place at a Honda facility in SoCal.

     

    What does it cost? Solar technology is not now or has it made much progress in the last 30 years. It is very expensive to squeeze kilowatts from the sun. If it was viable, myself and millions of people in So CA would have collectors on our houses. You cannot recoup your investment before it deteriorates from the sun that gives it energy.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,028
    What criteria do these guys have to suggest that Z2 is lower than Z1?

     

    You would have to get the studies from MIT & GM to find that answer. If Nuclear energy had a chance to proliferate in the USA, hydrogen might be a viable way to go. I don't see it doing anything but wasting billions of my tax dollars in corporate welfare.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    I notice a shift in your argument from the "clean" side to "cost" side. Are we done with "clean" now? If we're, then let us talk about cost, and viability.

     

    Well, viability isn’t an issue because it is a practical technology and as commonly seen as in the landscape lighting of my home’s front and back yards. As for as cost to set up fuel delivery system, I don’t have a clue about cost of setting up a conventional gas station either. With solar energy, however, you can take transportation out of the picture (either by way of pipeline or trucks or trains). It is all “natural”.

     

    If you know more about the associated costs on both sides, please do let me know.

     

    Picture of hydrogen refueling systems developed by Honda (this installation is in Torrance, CA):

     

    image

     

    Home Energy System (HES) is to the left which runs on CNG, and Solar Powered Fuel Station to the right.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,028
    I notice a shift in your argument from the "clean" side to "cost" side. Are we done with "clean" now?

     

    No shift. Both are important to the viability for hydrogen to ever escape the laboratory.

     

    I admit the HES II is an exciting piece of equipment. If it is ever affordable I would be interested in it along with a hydrogen car. Though the leaky factor of hydrogen does have me a bit concerned. I had not heard that before. If you leave your Honda FCX sitting with a full tank and come back 2 weeks later will it still be full?
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    No shift. Both are important to the viability for hydrogen to ever escape the laboratory.

     

    You think diesel/gasoline do nothing to the environment if they escape? Hydrogen is out there in the atmosphere already, BTW.

     

    I talked about shift because you didn't continue the discussion that you started and moved on to the next issue (which has since been debunked).
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,028
    I talked about shift because you didn't continue the discussion that you started and moved on to the next issue (which has since been debunked).

     

    If you are referring to the HES II, I think it is great. Can the average citizen afford it for his home? If not it is a lab toy that has not solved any problems.

     

    Nothing has been debunked by your posts. You have not proven that the study by MIT is faulty. You have not presented a study that refutes what they are saying. You seem to be caught up with Honda fever thinking they are going to save the world with their fuel cell vehicles. What does happen when hydrogen leaks? I know what happens when a hydrogen bomb goes off. It is one of the most powerful weapons ever built by man. For you to say hydrogen is totally safe may not be true. Where is your study showing the leakage of hydrogen is not a problem?

     

    So does that address both issues?
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Conventional thinking isn’t going to lead to innovation. That’s the problem with statements like these…

     

    “Extracting useful quantities of hydrogen (search) from water requires a massive amount of energy — energy that typically comes from burning oil or coal.”

     

    Notice an emphasis on oil and coal. WHY? What is wrong with solar energy? Perhaps wind too! At least one company is taking steps in the right direction. Whether they succeed or not remains to be seen, but you would never know unless you tried it. And that effort gets my vote. The naysayer could do better than standing on the side line.

     

    Speaking of safety, hydrogen or gasoline, I wouldn’t want to “live” close to either storage facility.

     

    As far as affordability is concerned, not everybody can afford everything. And then consider the impact of economy of scale. Prototypes cost a lot, especially in the development phase. This is true for new technological developments as it is for conventional technology. There is no free lunch. You have to earn it.

     

    Honda isn’t placing its bets on fuel cell technology yet, although they are opening up the sales to individual buyers. But to be prepared for the future, a progressive company couldn’t sit and watch and assume its all magic!
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,028
    I do applaud Honda for their efforts on fuel cell technology. When you show sites that have these vehicles and infrastructure in use, my interest is in HOW much will it cost for me to get one. As an example Chrysler spent years and millions of dollars on the diesel/hybrid. Not many people knew about it and it was scrapped due to high cost to the customer.

     

    What do you know about the Civic GX? I was really interested in converting a vehicle to CNG in 1997. I found several deal breakers. Lack of stations was not the biggest problem. The cylinders that store the CNG are extremely delicate. They have to be inspected on a regular basis. They have to be replaced after a few years. The local gas company where I work converted all their trucks to LNG/CNG. After 5 years they abandoned them and went back to diesel trucks.

     

    I would say solar conversion of water to hydrogen is a real "pie in the sky". Wind generation of hydrogen is a bigger boondoggle.
  • "What is wrong with solar energy?"

     

    .

     

    Nothing, but why add the extra, energy-wasteful step of hydrogen??? Just dump it directly into a battery.

     

    troy
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Nothing, but why add the extra, energy-wasteful step of hydrogen??? Just dump it directly into a battery.

     

    If that were practical, I’m sure that would be the route taken. But, it is fantasy at the moment given the technology on hand. You can only live in the present and dream of the future.

     

    There is a limit to trapping solar energy at the moment. Honda is using it, not only to produce hydrogen, but also to power some of its manufacturing facilities and cut down costs as well as emissions. However, it still requires help from the traditional methods to get the job done. The key here is “assist” and not “take over”. The latter could happen some day, but that isn’t now.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    I doubt you realize what economy of scale means, and that prototypes cost a lot for similar reasons. Do you think Honda SSM roadster concept from 1995 cost Honda as much as its production form, the S2000 does? At this time, it is about possibilities, and innovations start from there. Whatever it is, Honda’s move to announce sale of FCX to individual buyers was unexpected as far as I’m concerned. Apparently, IT IS practical technology, and Honda is going to provide whatever it takes. With fleet sales for about two years now, they have been.

     

    Civic GX is another story. It wasn’t available to individual buyers like you and I. Beginning this spring, it will be, with Phill. You don’t store CNG, you pump it from the pipes from your home, via Phill into your car. And if gas stations are progressive enough, they may offer Phill at their installations too!

     

    I would say solar conversion of water to hydrogen is a real "pie in the sky". Wind generation of hydrogen is a bigger boondoggle.

     

    Haven’t seen wind energy being used as of now (unless part of electricity used to generate hydrogen in more conventional way is coming from it), but to figure out pie in the sky as opposed to on your table, you will have to see it to believe. Drive down to Torrance, CA and you just might. It is not just a concept/an idea, it is a working model.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,028
    it is fantasy at the moment given the technology on hand

     

    Don't forget that fuel cell cars are fantasy until someone offers them at a comparable price to a current vehicle. The problems with solar has not changed. The electricity you get does not pay for the cells before the Sun destroys them. Plus they only work in places that have enough sunny weather. I did the solar water heater thing at my home in Lake Havasu, AZ. It was starting to leak at 4 years and unusable. The company that warrantied it for 10 years was out of business. The initial cost was way more than the electric saved.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,028
    Honda’s move to announce sale of FCX to individual buyers was unexpected as far as I’m concerned.

     

    Have you seen any pricing?
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    What is "comparable price"? There are cars selling for over million dollars.

     

    The electricity you get does not pay for the cells before the Sun destroys them.

     

    Really? How do you know? Tell me what was Honda thinking by installing its solar panels to power some of its manufacturing units to cut down costs (and emissions). Ideas?

     

    Plus they only work in places that have enough sunny weather.

     

    True. I was thinking about the same when troy suggested directly storing solar energy into batteries (actually, my landscape lighting at home works that way). To generate hydrogen, however, you could still use solar panels and thats the bottom line. Feasibility at all places may not exist, at least with current technology. But, this is an issue with conventional fuel as well, isn't it?

     

    Have you seen any pricing?

     

    If I did, you would have been told. I talk about things I see and know as facts, or my observations. Assumptions are identified as such.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,028
    Really? How do you know?

     

    My solar yard lights lasted a couple years. I have cheapo plugin light strings that are 5 years old and still work fine. The sun is hard on anything that is exposed to it for a long time. Why would Honda use Solar? Good PR maybe? It does make you look green even if you are not. Remember who did the most research on Solar cells, ARCO now owned by British Petroleum.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    If they lasted couple of years, they saved you a few bucks during the time. And out in the sun, they dealt with the same elements that those getting energy supply from electrical outlet.

     

    Good PR is part of doing business. Name a company that doesn’t rely on it. However, that’s not the end game. Cutting down costs plays a major role in the bottom line of companies. A company like Honda couldn’t ignore one for the other given that it likes to diversify the knowledge base and yet end up being one of the most profitable automaker.

     

    And it isn’t just solar energy that is part of the equation. There is more! If it were all about PR, I can bet you would have heard about them.
  • "If that were practical, I’m sure that would be the route taken. But, it is fantasy at the moment given the technology on hand."

     

    .

     

    Not really. I know several dozen people who operate their cars on pure solar. I know zero who operate H2 fuel cells.

     

    The solar is practical and doable NOW.

     

    The H2 won't be ready until 2030...and that's being optimistic.

     

    troy
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    If you don’t know a few people who are driving around in their fuel cell vehicles today, it doesn’t mean that technology doesn’t exist and is practically used every day.

     

    And nobody is suggesting solar power isn’t practical. I’ve quoted myself using it in some forms. However, in cars, we have a long way to go otherwise that’s where the automakers would have jumped in otherwise they would be blatantly ignoring the obvious. What do you think?
  • yerth10yerth10 Posts: 428
    Wind energy prices have declined from 18 cents / KWH to 4 cents / KWH making it more affordable, however Solar power is still unaffordable, but it will be cheaper in the future.

     

    However for extracting Hydrogen or supplying electricity for vehicles, it will be NUCLEAR power which will do the job efficiently as the current nuclear power plants operate for 90 % of the time in a year, whereas SOLAR, WIND, HYDEL

    operate for only around 30 - 50 % of the time in a year.
  • I suspect by the year 2050, most people will be driving short-range EVs (~50 miles) with on-board engines for long-distance. Also known as "serial hybrids".

     

    Some will have solar roofs.

     

    troy
  • kernickkernick Posts: 4,072
    Here's a good, clear link showing how much solar energy the earth receives.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_constant

    Technology can only work to collect the energy at the density it hits. It can and never will multiply the energy. Now since that energy is spread out and many times clouds interfere, so they'd need to be spreadout, all you'd neded to do is cover 10% of the Earth's surface with solar panels. Maybe in northern areas where the sun isn't so direct, 50% solar panel coverage would be needed.
    That'll be pretty tough to do when the world's population starts moving to 20B people and the extra farm land that will be needed to feed 3X the number of people now. Say 5X the energy we use now.

    Look, you seem like a nice person with good intent. But the numbers do not add up. If we don't find a powerful new energy source and it has to be nuclear for that, whether it is 100 or 200 or 300 years, population growth and energy needs will overwhelm any combination of wind, solar, and any leftover fossil fuels. It doesn't matter who's forecasts you use whether growth is a little slower or higher; the high growth is in undeveloped countries,which have proven to overwhelm any attempts to stabilize their growth and provide a decent lifestyle. The end will be the same regardless of when you get there. The future has to be new nuclear technology power.
  • yerth10yerth10 Posts: 428
    Currently this is the energy mix for the World.
    Oil - 37 %
    Coal - 27 %
    Nat-Gas - 24 %
    Nuclear - 6 %
    Hydro - 6 %
    Wind, Solar, Geo-thermal may provide around 1/2 %.

    In the future (2030), Wind & Solar may get around 5 %. That is still important. Every %age point make a difference. Since Oil & Gas prices are increasing, there is a talk about
    other fuels. Its natural.

    Unless something like Fusion comes, we are doomed.
  • "Maybe in northern areas where the sun isn't so direct, 50% solar panel coverage would be needed. "

    .
    That is a bit extreme! We've had Food famines in the past, but it looks like we're going to have an Energy famine in the future.

    Note this wouldn't be a problem is the earth's population was only 1 million humans, instead of 6000 million.

    troy
  • yerth10yerth10 Posts: 428
    Yes. Today's food consumption (rice, wheat, poulty, meat put together) is somewhere around 4 billion tons, but the fuels (coal, oil & gas) is around 10 billion tons. Definitely the alternative fuels will be needed.
  • kernickkernick Posts: 4,072
    you: Unless something like Fusion comes, we are doomed.

    me: "Doomed" is rather a strong-word. It has only been the last 100 years or so where large quantities of fossil fuels were needed. Otherwise the human race has grown and developed over the centuries.

    Our "need" for fossil fuels is based on our lifestyle choice. If oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy go away tomorrow, people would adapt, unless we're so psychologically weak as a society that we commit mass murder or suicide. Would we lose all scientific research and development. No! We could still have scientists working on fusion and other advanced technologies. Wood is used now as the primary fuel at some electrical power plants. And we would have wind and solar electricity for other crucial needs. And if you're really worried, start brushing up on your farming skills, how to plow with oxen and how to care for horses. (Hmmm. sounds like an Amish lifestyle.)

    So the only real danger is if there is no "Great" energy source after fossil fuels and our current nuclear fission. I tend to be an optimist, as I see every year, all kinds of new knowledge being discovered.

    I think people ought to be more afraid of scientists finding a new energy source, rather than running out of energy. Say someone creates a nuclear fusion battery, and it's about the size of a watch battery. The fuel is water. Great, right? Well if we worry now about someone using a suitcase nuclear bomb, we'd have much larger concerns if we find an energy source 100 - 1000X more powerful. :-(
  • kernickkernick Posts: 4,072
    And you should think about how much fuel is used to produce that 4 billion tons of food. Fertilizers, tractors and other farm equipment, trains to haul large quantities, delivery trucks, processing plants, packaging, refrigeration and freezing, pasteurization.

    So when you consider how much energy you get out of any bio-fuel, you must subtract off what you put in.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Technology can only work to collect the energy at the density it hits. It can and never will multiply the energy.

    True. After all, you can only transform energy, not create it. So, that limits us to whatever is available. But, how much of available energy can you convert today versus tomorrow holds the key, and measured as efficiency. That efficiency is expected to increase with improvements in technology.

    A laid back approach isn’t going to help in technological improvements that would be necessary for the future. And solar energy is going to be a part of it, not the end of it. Alternative energy transformation methods involving nuclear (limited), wind (limited), hydro (limited) power will also have a role to play.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,028
    And solar energy is going to be a part of it,

    Can you show me evidence where solar collectors are any more efficient today than they were 20 years ago? Are they any cheaper than they were in the 1980s? It still costs in todays dollars about $10k to put a system on your roof to supplement the power grid. With only a 5 year warranty. I already went this route in Havasu back in 1984. Even with the big tax credit it was a loss. The sun eats those collectors up in a few years and you are faced with a big bill to replace the panels. Solar is a "pie in the sky" to help with our energy problems.
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