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Author Topic: The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...  (Read 6357 times)

Bob Wallace

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The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...
« on: May 04, 2013, 08:01:45 PM »
A company called Eos has announced that their zinc-air battery will be installed on the New York grid in 2014.

Eos claims 75% efficiency and 10,000 cycles for $160/kWh.  $0.016/kWh cycle. 

This would mean 5 cent/kWh electricity could be stored and used for less than 10 cents.

Let's say we get 50% of our electricity directly from wind at 5c/kWh. 20% directly from solar at 7c. 10% from hydro and geothermal at around 7c. The last 20% stored wind at 5c + 4c.

(0.5 x 5c) + (0.2 x 7c) + (0.1 x 7c) + (0.2 x 9c) =6.4c/kWh

We can live with that. And the generations following us can live a lot better if we do.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2013, 11:16:34 PM by Bob Wallace »

jonthed

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Re: The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2013, 04:31:01 AM »
Yes, very encouraging news!

So many renewable energy opponents seem to fail to realise that all it takes is viable energy storage, and the game will change massively. The fact the Utilities are keen is very telling.

CraigsIsland

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Re: The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2013, 07:37:31 PM »
my utility company (regional-based) allows for a 60% or 100% of energy to "come from renewables" in exchange for a higher rate. 100% without hesitation.

utilities could be key.

jonthed

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Re: The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2013, 09:41:30 PM »
One other technological development that is incredibly promising, and possibly a more important last piece of the gas/petrol puzzle, is also nearly falling into place: in wheel electric motors.

Ford recently showed off their eWheelDrive Fiesta; http://green.autoblog.com/2013/04/29/ford-fiesta-in-wheel-motors/,
and Protean Electric showed off their version; http://green.autoblog.com/2013/04/17/protean-electric-production-ready-in-wheel-electric-drive/,

Because, even if the electricity supply and the grid get sorted out by renewables and storage, it still leaves the huge problem of transport. These in wheel motors are a silver bullet for this, as they can be retrofitted to any standard car, and it will still retain its petrol engine functionality as well. They'd save people money on fuel, and help reduce pollution. No drawbacks once the price is viable.

So rather than expect every one to suddenly buy new electric cars (not gonna happen), we can instead hope that people will add these in wheel motors to their cars to simply turn their existing vehicles into hybrids, giving them great fuel savings as an incentive.

Could even hope for some sort of government grant scheme in some countries to really get them rolling.

gfwellman

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Re: The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2013, 01:22:32 AM »
You know what in-wheel electrics need?  Better road maintenance.

ccgwebmaster

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Re: The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2013, 03:56:18 AM »
You know what in-wheel electrics need?  Better road maintenance.
Taking freight off the roads and putting it back on railways would do good things for the road surface, I suspect. It would also substantially reduce the carbon footprint of moving "stuff" around, notwithstanding the trickier "final mile".

Bob Wallace

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Re: The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2013, 06:34:09 PM »
Moving most of our freight to electrified rail makes immense sense to me. 

That would be the most energy efficient, it would be relatively easy to electrify our railroads, it would take heavy truck traffic off our roads which would greatly decrease road damage and lower congestion.

The 'last mile' could be done with battery powered trucks.  Someone has already built a demo 100 mile range 18-wheeler.  For those factories/warehouses more than 100 mile from a railroad we could use battery swapping.

("Relatively" - easier to string wire over our train tracks and add an electric pickup to our existing hybrid diesel/electric engines than to turn all our 18-wheelers in to BEVs.)

gfwellman

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Re: The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2013, 08:52:01 PM »
Agreed about electrified rail.  Even now without a carbon tax, higher fuel prices have been shifting some freight from longhaul trucking to rail.

We need a new HVDC national transmission backbone anyway ... if we build it along the railways, we'll have the power easily available to the locomotives.  Pay for it with a fraction of a carbon tax and a lot more freight will switch to the rails.

TerryM

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Re: The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2013, 09:48:03 PM »
With the totally solar powered light rail system in Calgary as a model I've wondered what % of rail electrification could come from solar panels along the right of way.


Terry

Bob Wallace

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Re: The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2013, 12:53:55 AM »
"what % of rail electrification could come from solar panels along the right of way"

Somewhere just under 20% if no storage was used.  That's the percentage of sunny hours over a year.


TerryM

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Re: The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2013, 07:01:24 PM »
Bob


<20% is still a substantial savings. If half was retained for paying for the new infrastructure and half was used to lower rates it would make rail more competitive. I'd envisioned a system where on site power would not be stored, but would be utilized as fast as produced by traffic on the line. With no property acquisition or storage expenses, payback would be quite rapid, The gangs putting in the system could have most the cost savings associated with assembly line production & altering an engine to include an electrical pickup would be a minor change rather than requiring new propulsion systems.
The US rail system is in need of lots of maintenance work anyway & something on these lines might provide the impetus for a revival of rail freight. The system in place now where freight is           
containerized then moved by truck, sea or rail would in most cases simply lose the truck component at a savings in time and cost.
I'm not sure the "last 100 miles" is a huge concern. If rail transportation proved itself as a cheaper, faster and more reliable alternative it wouldn't be long before every manufacturer or distribution center had lines running to their loading docks.


This whole scheme seems to be something that could be done with very little up front costs and substantial savings to everyone. The only objections would be from FF producers, truck manufacturers and truck drivers. Why isn't it being instituted as we speak?


Terry

Bob Wallace

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Re: The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2013, 07:46:11 PM »
Yes, 20% is substantial.  I was trying to point out the fact that the Sun shines only (roughly) 20% of the time.  If one wanted solar to play a larger role then storage becomes an issue.

Wind and solar are likely to end up having very similar LCOEs.  Somewhere at or just below five cents per kWh. 

Storage will have some sort of a price.  If Ambri's liquid metal battery works then it might be on a couple of pennies.  If it's something like Eos's air-zinc battery then closer to ten cents.  Or pump-up hydro somewhere between the two.

The cheapest electricity will be electricity straight from the generator rather than stored electricity.  The wind blows more than 20% of the time, far more in good wind sites.  Wind, even if it turned out to be slightly more expensive than solar, will probably play a dominate role because it is available more hours per year.

The best idea, IMO, is to use grid power for trains.  The more we combine supply sources and demands the more variability is smoothed.  Trains and non-train demand can share generation and storage. 

Trains might even be a way to do some load-shifting.  We might, for example, run many more trains late at night when other demand is down and the wind typically blows harder.  Or if supply was stretched thin and brownouts were threatening we might halt a few trains or run them at a slower speed for a few hours until the crisis has abated.

--

I've had the opportunity to ride on some of Europe's rail system the last couple of years.  After many years of flying, cramped into airplane seats, and years of driving highway speeds, in the company of speeding 18-wheelers, I'm in love with trains.

gfwellman

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Re: The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2013, 06:15:19 AM »
I should mention that "Truck-Rail-Truck" is big business(*) today.  I'd say that for the majority of the volume, the "last 100 miles" is typically closer to 25.  I wouldn't really expect a vast expansion of end-customer branch lines & railheads - there's no room in existing urban/suburban areas.  Also, there's a point at which switching onto many branch lines is less efficient than handling the final 20 miles with trucks.  What would be nice would be for this electric network we're talking about to have a few more terminals, both in under-served areas to cut down the longer dray runs so the last 100 miles is really 100 or less, and on the outskirts of major urban areas so that the typical 10-40 mile drays are more like 5-20.

The shorter the drays the easier it will be to electrify the trucks.  That'll still be challenging, because a typical drayman's day is continuous driving, even if each run is only 20 miles.  But here's a wild idea.  Build batteries into the *chassis* (the frame with wheels that you put an intermodal box onto).  The driver and his tractor drive all day, but any individual chassis typically only travels one or two legs a day.  Thus, every pickup is a battery swap.  Make it a normal part of terminal operations to make sure that chassis batteries are charged before a box is mounted on it.  Tell the customers they have to plug in chassis while they've got them.  Of course the tractor has batteries too, or it couldn't bobtail (drive with no chassis).  But whenever it has a chassis, it would run on that battery and even recharge the tractor from the chassis if necessary.  It might hardly ever be necessary to plug in the tractors even at night so long as everyone stays on top of charging the chassis batteries.

(*) one that indirectly pays my salary - I do a lot of intermodal software work - hence my interest.

Bob Wallace

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Re: The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2013, 06:56:13 AM »
chassis = trailer

Interesting idea.  Easy enough to make work.  Each trailer would need a fairly simple wifi unit which would allow remote monitoring.  If it wasn't plugged in/charged when it should be, easy enough to send an alert. 

It would be a question of whether that would require more or fewer batteries than a straight swap system with batteries mounted under the cab.  Under cab swaps could be extremely fast, well under a minute.  (Better Place swaps a Renault battery in 1:13.)

Something else to consider is moving lighter freight to late night high speed rail as we build that out.  Not the bulk stuff, but the sort of packages that UPS/FedEx now fly longer distances.  Engines and rails should be available during hours when fewer people want to travel.

The original plans for the California HSR system had four sets of rails.  North/south with a separate set for freight.  I think they dropped the freight set, but it would seem that a lot of freight could move at night on the passenger rails.

Building a HSR system will mean some new routes and the opportunity to serve at least a few new locations not now close to rail.  Containers could be shuttled on HSR lines to slow freight lines.

And, as freight moved back to rail, factories and warehouses would migrate back to rail sidings.  Reverse the move to interstate exchanges that has been underway.

Artful Dodger

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Re: The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2013, 09:23:46 AM »
With the totally solar powered light rail system in Calgary as a model...
Hi Terry,

The C-Train is wind powered (since 2001). The wind farm is near Okotoks.

Calgary Transit has newer initiatives as well such as converting all transit stations to LED lighting. Over 46% of downtown commuters travel by Calgary Transit to their work.
Cheers!
Lodger

TerryM

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Re: The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...
« Reply #15 on: May 18, 2013, 10:42:29 AM »
My bad - I apparently saw "renewable" and read "solar"  It's harder to envision long thin wind farms stretching along the right of way, but perhaps possible with redesigned towers?


Your solution for keeping the batteries in the semi-trailer is brilliant. This is where the weight should be distributed anyway & each trailer certainly moves less often than the tractor.


Bob's comment about factories migrating back to where sidings are available makes sense. We have two large Toyota assembly plants nearby that make extensive use of the rail facilities and their own large spur lines. I noticed while driving across western Canada in 2011 that Costco trains where each container was destined for some Costco distribution center were a regular sight. Apparently at least some large manufacturing and retailing concerns are already on board with the railroads (at least in Canada). I believe I read that Buffett & Gates both have bought large chunks of Canadian railroads - these guys have the money to initiate some of the innovations we're discussing.


Terry



Bob Wallace

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Re: The Last Puzzle Piece May Be Falling Into Place...
« Reply #16 on: May 18, 2013, 05:17:08 PM »
Quote
“Along the route of the Trans-Siberian Railway, trains of oil tank cars extend across the landscape for miles.  Each tank car, black and tarry-looking, with its faded white markings, resembles the one that follows it... a trainload of these cars defines monotony.

The Trans-Siberian Railway covers 9,288 kilometers between Moscow and the Pacific port of Vladivostok, or 5,771 miles.  In other words, if it were twenty-one miles longer, it would be exactly twice as long as Interstate 80 from New Jersey to California.  Laying awake near the tracks  in some remote spot at night you hear trains going by all through the night with scarcely a pause.

(T)he Trans-Siberian Railway is all-electric, with overhead cables like a streetcar line - you find the tracks are empty of traffic only for five or ten minutes at a time.
...
Besides oil, the railway carries coal, machinery parts, giant tires, scrap iron, and endless containers … just like the containers stacked five stories high around the Port of Newark, New Jersey, and probably every other port in the world.”

Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier (2010)

The Trans-Siberian was not originally electric.  Over a number of years it was converted away from fossil fuels.

Imagine very long trains with only five to ten minutes between them.  There is a massive amount being moved by rail.  Electrified rail.