Tuesday, September 16, 2014

28 hours to 5 hours to 30 minutes. The future is arriving fast!

Julie and I are loving our our BMW i3's.  As a Mini-E driver, then an ActiveE driver and now both of us i3 drivers, I can say to you with experience and certainty the future is arriving fast!

Sungas 2 sucking the high "shocktane" juice in Carlsbad.

Each generation of BMW cars beginning with the Mini-E has allowed more flexibility and a greater radius of usability. In the Mini-E days it was a proprietary plug. Essentially it was either charge at home, find a friend with a Mini-E and share their home charger (this was very popular among Mini-E drivers) or use your 110 cable.

With the Active E it was standardized level 2 charging that allowed us to venture further from home base often stringing together locations with an overnight hotel stay to charge up.   It was a 5 hour recharge time for the Active E.

Now with the BMW i3 we are in the fast DC charge world.  Already in just a few short months we have traveled past LA and gone much farther and faster with just a short 20-30 minute charge to 85%.

The technology is simple amazing and greatly increases the flexibility of the electric car.   It's just a little easier to use now and the planning for a major road trip is getting easier each day.

Currently there are 5 CCS chargers in Southern California however by the end of the year there will be over a dozen.

This weekend in Carlsbad, Ca which is my home city,  the fifth and newest CCS charger was put into service by NRG EVGO Freedom Stations located at the Carlsbad Premium Outlet Stores

Here is a review of the station and my use of the station on 09/16/2014 :

The Station is an ABB Chademo or CCS 50KW Charger. 

I arrived at the station with less than 1/4 charge with 14 miles showing.  I plugged in at exactly 8:15am.

This is the welcome screen.  The rfid card reader was not activated yet so all I had to do is touch the screen for pump 2.   An important tip, after a few minutes of information display, the screen will revert back to this screen.  The charging cable is locked to your car and the charging continues. To get back to the information screen at any time simple touch the pump 2 button and it will go back to an active information screen where a stop charging touch button (see  picture below)  is located that will stop the charging and release the charging cable from your car.

In 15 minutes exactly I charged from 23% to 80%, an increase of 57%.

In 22 minutes I went from 23% charge to 85% charge, an increase of 62%.

I unplugged at exactly 30 minutes.   I went form 23% charge to 91% charge an increase of 68%.  The first 15 minutes of charging delivered 57% and the last 15 minutes of charging delivered an additional 11% as the charger slowed down at around 80-85%.


With this 50kw ABB charger it is possible to go from near zero to 85% charged in about 25 minutes.   In my test, I arrived at 23% indicated and it went to 80% in 15 minutes and 85% in 22 minutes.  It's just a guess but the tapering off begins somewhere between 80% and 85%.

This location is  great before 10:00 am and after 9:00 pm with lots of food and drink options nearby with an uncrowded parking lot.  Its a keystone location connecting Orange County to San Diego County.

When the Premium Outlet Stores open at 10am, the story changes a bit as the center is extremely popular and many cars will be using the charging station.  Last week I saw a Tesla "T-iceing" the location by simply parking in the EV charging space and not charging.   I've also seen the spots with gas cars parked there as parking during the day is scarce.

So if you plan to charge between 10:00am to 9:00pm be prepared with a plan B as you might be disappointed by a lack of availability at this popular location.

The future is arriving fast.  In Carlsbad, the future is here, in my garage and at the Carlsbad Premium Outlet Center.
It's amazing.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Update Month Three. We're killing it!

The idea is a simple one, harvest endless sunshine from a small portion of a roof to provide 100% of the energy needed to power a home and two cars with zero utility cost, and zero gasoline cost.

  • 1/4 of the way through the year,  -167 kWh and a $468 credit.
  • Stats, Stats, Graphs, Graphs. 
  • We're killing it! Ready to make a projection!
  • Our French import.
We estimate that we will be -$800 by Oct/Nov

Solar PV production holding steady at 1326 kWh

Electricity use for the two BMW i3's rose to 478 kWh for the month

We have a credit of $315 for the first seven months of the year

1/4 of the way into our "Driving to Net Zero Energy" challenge and as they say in political election coverage:
"I am ready to make a projection and call this race"

We will be below zero in utility cost and gasoline cost providing the energy for our home and guest house, and the two cars in the garage driven a total of 24,000 miles a year.  In fact we are so far ahead we will accomplish this goal four months earlier than planed with the January 2015 true-up bill from our utility. 

Our natural gas cost for a year is $301.27
We estimate at the true-up bill that we will have a credit of $400 to $450 for our electrical use and a cost of natural gas of $301 for the year thus  -$100 to -$150 in total energy cost for the year.

How about total cost?

As I mentioned in my first post in May, an asterisk is required regarding the cost of energy as our utility does not let us carry over our electricity credit to our natural gas cost.  Essentially our valuable peak hour electricity that we do not consume will be a gift to our utility.  As the years go by we will most likely convert one or two of the natural gas appliances at the end of their useful life to electric in order to reduce the natural gas bill by using our excess electricity credit.

Where are we with energy usage and gasoline cost now compared to 2007 when we began this path to energy independence?

In 2007 our energy cost were:

$3,800 a year in electricity
$   300 a year in natural gas
$2,800 a year for Julie's Infinity G35 gasoline
$2,400 a year for my Volvo S60R gasoline

Total:    $9300 a year in energy cost.  ($792 per month)

This is not far off the statistical norm for a US family which uses an average of 11,000 kWh per year ($3,060 at SDG&E rates) and $2912 for gasoline according to the 2012 EPA statistics.

In 2014 our energy cost are:

$      0 a year in electricity*
$  300 a year in natural gas
$      0 a year in fuel cost for Julie's BMW i3
$      0 a year in fuel cost for my BMW i3

Total $300 a year in energy cost. ($25 per month) 
* we donate $450 worth of electricity back to SDG&E.

You can see how quickly that $9000 a year in energy cost savings will pay off a $30K Solar PV system, $15k in extra construction cost for a thick well insulated home, efficient appliances and led lights and $1000 for a EV charging station in the garage.  We have calculated from the installation in January of 2007 we reached the payoff point in April of 2012.

From April 2012 and for the next few decades, we will have essentially zero or de minimus cost for energy saving us $200k to 300K in energy cost with escalating utility and gasoline cost.

How about total usage?

Julie and I live normal lives, things come up and situations change. The interesting part of our Drive To Net Zero Energy challenge is that we are real people with a real life and not some demonstration house with nobody living in it.

We have been doing really great using a net total of -167 kWh of electricity (generation vs consumption) for the first three months of the challenge. We can extrapolate the prior four months of usage pre i'3s, assuming we had the efficient BMW i3's and the extra 1kw of solar pv production which would have saved us 225 kWh per month. We estimate that by May of next year we will be very close to a net of 0 total kWh used, +- 250 kWh per year which is a normal usage and weather variable.

The French Import.

I bet you thought it was a car :)

Julie and I have decided to make an impact on two young adults lives.  We are hosting through Rotary Youth Exchange, a 17 year old French student named Peroline for a one year exchange. By doing so, an American young man is traveling to France to begin his year as an exchange student in France living with Peroline's family.

Our household has now risen to four and the extra electricity that our 17 year old exchange student will use will most likely push us into the positive use territory.

Hosting a 17 year old young lady French exchange student for a year was not contemplated and is not a very good idea for the Drive To Net Zero Energy Challenge!

But life is life, unpredictable, wonderful and real.  We are very happy to have Peroline as part of our family for the next year and we're looking forward to driving her everywhere, using lots of electrons, to see the sights of our great nation.

Our goal remains Net Zero Energy usage as well as Net Zero Energy cost.
We'll see how the the next 3/4 of the year goes.

Imagine a better future and your participation in it.

Next Month:
  • Charging stations and what's on the horizon.
  • Our CHG emissions 
  • Our version of GHG offsets

Editor’s Note, Peder is the Chairman of the San Diego County Planning Commission. His wife Julie is Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Solana Beach School District. They have been Field Trial drivers for BMW for five years. Together since 2009, they have driven 100,000 EV miles powered from roof top solar.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sungas Is The Least Expensive Transportation Fuel

"The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades"  
                                                               Tom Cruise 

Gas at $4.00 per gallon, Electricity at $0.08 per kWh, 12,000 miles per car.

Just pinch me!

Here is a handy dandy calculator from UC Davis called EV Explorer.

We thought it would be fun to compare our last two gas cars to our two BMW i3's. We slid the milage bar to get a cost of fuel for the BMW i3's that is slightly less than the epa sticker of $500 calculated at $0.12 per kWh.  This slight reduction is because we drive slightly less than the epa average.

We used the cost of gasoline which in our area is at $4.00 a gallon 
Lastly, we reduced the cost of electricity to $0.08 per kWh which is the levelized cost of electricity for our solar PV system throughout it's lifetime.   Our solar PV system was installed in 2007 and was paid off in utility and gasoline savings in April of 2012.

We are saving $5700 a year driving our two BMW i3's fueled by sunshine. That annual savings is nearly the annual cost of one of the BMW i'3s.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Update Month 2, Driving To Net Zero

The idea is a simple one, harvest endless sunshine from a small portion of a roof to provide 100% of the energy needed to power a home and two cars with zero utility cost, and zero gasoline cost.

Solar PV panels on a portion of our homes roof.

  • Month 2, -118 kWh in utility usage, -$162.57 in utility cost.
  • Stats, Stats, Graphs, Graphs. 
  • Solar PV as a transportation fuel.

A sunny two months has put us below the line,
Julie proves she is the more efficient driver.

Our BMW i3's drove 1667 miles using 381 kWh from the wall, 
and 22 kWh from 2 public charging events

GHG reductions for the month for our BMW i3's

Total utility electric use for our home and two i3's

Our BMW i3's used 381 kWh, our home and guest house used 854 kWh.
In the 3-4 summer months, we cool a 450 sq. ft subterranean
wine cellar so the electricity use is higher than normal for those months.

You can live well, and live Net Zero Energy. The cellar 
is cooled primarily by the stable earth temperature of 64 degrees

Our "True Up" bill after six months. You can see the change
 in energy use when we began our Driving To Net Zero challenge
 with the more efficient BMW i3's in May. 

We began our 12 month documented Driving to Net Zero journey on May 15th, 2014 and we're off to a really great first few months. The BMW i3's are proving to be super to drive and very efficient cars.  We each have approximately 2000 miles on the odometers now and we have had zero issues with our i3's to date.

It is possible to live in a house and drive two cars powered by sunshine.  Soon in the next few years, energy storage will become affordable. A household like ours will be able to make and store some or all of our generated energy, both in the cars and in the home energy storage system, further lessening the load on the grid.

July Focus: Sunshine As A Transportation Fuel.

Sunshine is our greatest, most equitable and endless natural resource. Solar PV systems are now blossoming everywhere it seems, like flowers on a sunny spring day. In all fifty states, homeowners, corporations and civic institutions are discovering that harvesting sunshine makes great economic and environmental sense.

I am excited about Solar PV lowering the sting of utility bills. However, the greatest value of Solar PV is when it is used as a transportation fuel which now presents a viable option to help us solve our most vexing national issues caused by our addiction to oil.

What are those issues? National security and defense costs, measured in both blood and dollars. Major cities like San Diego and Los Angeles having unhealthy air quality, with 60% of total emissions coming from the oil we burn in refineries and in our cars and trucks. Our national and family budgets siphoned off by the ever-increasing price of gasoline, as we slowly, voluntarily, export our wealth from our wallets and purses to foreign countries, some that are openly hostile to us.

The inertia of the status quo (oil) is a powerful foe of change. Its strength and certainty comes from the knowledge of today and yesteryear.

Today there are 200,000 plug in cars on the road, approximately 25% of these plug in drivers are making their own fuel for their own car on the rooftops of their own home.  That scares the heck out of the profiteers of the status quo.

They’re doing so at a cost that is 15% of the cost of driving on gasoline and fixed in cost forever as sunshine has never raised its price.  They are showing us the road to the solution of our most vexing national problem, getting off oil.

We think of our ChargePoint CT4000 Charging Station as a "Gas Station" of the future that fills our BMW i3's with sunshine electrons from our roof.  Just as gas stations have had a foundational relationship with oil companies the past 100 years,  I believe that in the next 100 years, Charging Station owners will have a foundational relationship with Solar PV.

It's a large segment of plug in drivers that already drive on Solar PV,  as the prices of Solar PV and EV's continues to fall, more and more will choose to drive on sunshine.

In California, our energy picture contains an ever increasing percentage of rooftop solar, utility solar, wind, geothermal and hydro. The future is looking brighter and cleaner than ever.

You can drive and live on sunshine at very low cost.

This is our actual cost of gasoline and Solar PV in San Diego
as of 7/01/14.  You can further reduce your cost by
approximately 25% with a TOU rate coupled with Solar PV.

Next Month:  Vehicle Charging Stations: past, present and future and a "surprise" from France that will certainly increase our energy usage. 

Thanks as always for reading and commenting.


(Past "Driving To Net Zero" articles)

Energy Challenge Introductory Article
Mid Month Article: The Energy Grid
Update Month 1
Mid Month Article: Does your Gas Station Pay you to fill'er up?

Editor’s Note, Peder is the Chairman of the San Diego County Planning Commission. His wife Julie is Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Solana Beach School District. They have been Field Trial drivers for BMW for five years. Together since 2009, they have driven 100,000 EV miles powered from roof top solar.

Friday, July 25, 2014

To Mars in the BMW i3

Julie I recently drove to "Mars" in our "Mars Electronaut Rover"

Location is the Badlands of the Anza Borrego Desert between Borrego Springs and the Salton Sea. Temperature was 114 degrees and we drove over 100 miles on one charge, descending from 5,000 to sea level at Palm Desert.

City Car, Phfff!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


"I believe within our lifetime,
all cars will be powered by solar energy"

They're multiplying rapidly!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Does your gas station pay you to fill'er up?

Gas stations get gasoline deliveries set at a certain price per gallon. The stations then sell you the gasoline for a certain price per gallon. Here's the important question.

Do you get paid by the gas station to put gasoline in your cars?
It's a crazy ass question I know, but is it?
Read on...

We get paid to fill up our two electric BMW i3's.
Here's an explanation of how this happens.

We average 400kWh of excess generation delivered by the sun during peak hours each month. We are credited $0.38 per kWh (annual average combining summer and winter rates.)
We use the same 400kWh per month at off peak and super off peak hours at the rate of $0.18 per kWh delivered to our two BMW i3's to drive a collective 1600 miles each month.

The excess generation of 400kWh makes us $152 per month.
The usage of the same 400kWh to drive our two i'3s 1600 miles cost us $72 per month.
This nets us an income of $80 per month.

Our Solar system was installed in 2007 and was fully paid off in April of 2012.

The difference is that gasoline is the same price 24 hours a day and very expensive and heavy to transport. Electricity is priced every 15 minutes and does not require a truck and driver to deliver it to your car or from the sun to your rooftop (that would be a very long drive.)  Generally, electricity is a high priced commodity during peak hours and a low priced commodity in the late night and early morning hours.  Solar PV and Time Of Use (TOU) rates can make that difference in price benefit the system owner and the electric car driver.

our monthly usage for two i3's driven a total of 1600 miles

our electricity generation and usage per month.

You can live and drive on sunshine :) Think about it.