Saturday, December 22, 2012

"Filling" The Sleigh...

"Another advantage to having an electric car...premium reserved parking at the mall!"
Julie Norby

More and more public chargers are being installed in Southern California. Hotels, Malls, Wineries, National Parks, all of our favorite places.

Soon, we can get rid of all the old smelly-dingy gas stations.

We're loving our BMW ActiveE!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sunny Money

Julie and I have generated 60 megawatt hours of electricity. We own our own micro power plant.

60 Megawatt hours is the amount of energy our Solar PV system has created since its installation in 2007.  Around July of 2012, the 30K we spent on the system was completely recovered by the savings in utility and gasoline cost.

A little background,
The site shows  50.5 megawatt hourss in total generation.  In late 2007 we installed our first 4.5kw (21 panels) system when we built the house,  that system had no data logger, it generated 7500kwh per year.   In 2009 we installed our “Sungas Station” when we became BMW Mini-E drivers, an additional 3kw solar PV system for a total system size of 7.5kw. (35 panels) It is at that time we installed the data logger and began the website count.   The total energy created pre data logger and post data logger is very close to 60 megawatts.

The basics of the system are that it generates approximately 11,700 kwh per year on average.   Our home uses 8000 kwh and our ActiveE uses 4000 kwh for 15,000 miles of driving.  With the benefits of TOU pricing where the energy is cheaper at night when we charge the car, we have accumulated a small credit from our utility over the last couple of years.  This year with the addition of the Honda Fit EV which uses 3000kwh, we will now have a bill from SDG&E for around $500.

What this system and two EV’s replace is $4000 a year in home electricity cost, $3000 in gas savings for Julie and $2200 in gas savings for me for a total of $9200 a year.   You can see the $8700 in annual savings can quickly pay for a 30K solar PV system.    We expect this system to produce for another 30 years with one inverter change out. That’s a future savings of $250K at the cost of gasoline and electricity today.  If, and its a small if, in the future the cost of gasoline goes up, then the savings would be far greater.

Do you think gas will go up in price in the future?

What does the 60 megawatt hours of electricity that I have generated to date do?

It will power the BMW Active E in normal everyday life about  210,000 miles. (3.5MPK)  This is the equivalent of 10,000 gallons of gasoline at approximately $40k in cost for a similar gasoline car. 

What will the 345 megawatt hours of  electricity that I will generate in the future do?

It will power the BMW i3 in normal everyday life over a million miles, 1,552,500 miles. (4.5 MPK) This is the equivalent of 74,000 gallons of gasoline at approximately $296,000 at today’s cost of fuel  for a similar gasoline car.

Together past and future,  that’s $336,000 in avoided fuel cost for a 35k investment, allowing for an inverter or two in the future.

Only electric cars can drive on solar energy.  In California it is 1/10 the cost of gasoline and it is saving us  hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

That’s what we refer to as “Sunny Money”
...and yeah, it feels good.

65,000 Solar powered miles. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

EVacation 2012. 550 Miles in the BMW ActiveE

EVacation 2012. 

What this post is not:  A harrowing story of long distance electric car driving  followed by a truck carrying a generator,  or a marathon of driving all day and all night for several days sleeping in five hour shifts while stopping  to charge.

What this post is: A normal couple, in a normal car, taking a normal vacation.  The electric BMW ActiveE on a wonderful road trip… bored yet? Read on!

Having logged 60,000 miles the past 3.5 years, mostly in a BMW MINE-E and the BMW ActiveE, I have seen many dramatic changes.  Beginning with a proprietary plug design for the Mini-E to today’s ubiquitous level two charging j1772 plug.  Although the Mini-E was a very capable car and I drove it 18,000 miles a year, a trip like this one  was simply not possible just a year ago due to the lack of recharging infrastructure.  I am very excited to see what the next year brings as level three DC quick charging  is now being deployed and the future BMW i3 will include fast DC quick charging.  I look forward to being able to fully charge on our road trips in 30 minutes or so.

The BMW ActiveE is far more than just a city commute car. 

Our trip,
Julie an I set off from home Sunday November 18th,  at 9:15am on a 110 mile drive from Carlsbad Ca to Indian Wells near Palm Springs.  This drive included beautiful scenery and a 5000 foot climb over the mountains and then drop down to the desert floor.  The drop down to the desert floor was  14 miles, 5000ft,  we regenerated 14% of charge back into the battery.

We drove from our home to Temecula, and briefly charged at a free public charging station in downtown for 60 minutes as we had breakfast and watched most of the first half of the 10am football game.  Around 11:30 we got back in the car and had picked up a 25% increase in battery charge.    We arrived at the Esmeralda Resort in Indian Wells at 1pm with 25% charge remaining.   The Esmeralda Resort has two GE charging stations for their guest to use free of charge, so while we familiarized ourselves with the hotel sipping on margaritas,  Sungas was sipping the juice tethered to the resorts charging station.   That night we drove 15 miles in the fully charged ActiveE for a dinner on the El Paseo.

Monday morning we did a 95 mile round trip to Idyllwild including a 5500 foot climb up the mountain.  We spent three or four hours walking around in this mountain town before driving back to our hotel.  We arrived back to the hotel around 2pm with 15% charge remaining.  For the evening we drove back to the El Paseo for a wonderful dinner at Mastro’s.

Tuesday,  We drove to Cabazon (past all the wind mills) to do a little Pre-Black Friday shopping at the outlet malls, This trip was 70 miles and we arrived back at the hotel with 30% charge.

Wednesday it was off to Joshua Tree National Park.  This trip was 90 miles in length, as we drove all over the southern portion of Joshua Tree and hiked to Cottonwood springs. We arrived back at the hotel around 1pm and went poolside.  That evening we drove to Palm Springs and had dinner at Copley’s, a 50 mile trip.

Thursday morning we set off for home around 8:30 am for the family Thanksgiving gathering.  The route we choose on the way back was 98 miles again with a 5000 ft climb.  We stopped in Temecula for a 30 minute top off and a quick snack picking up an additional 10% of charge and arrived home at 11am with 6% charge remaining.  We left for the family gathering 15 miles away around 2pm with 75% charge.

The four day trip covered 550 miles.  Had we used a gasoline car the trip would have been no different in composition. Our ActiveE averaged 4.0 miles per kwh for the 550 miles.  The energy for 475 of those miles came courtesy of the hotel. In a similar gas car, given the multiple climbs up the mountain, that would be around 25 gallons of fuel or $100 saved.  
We had a great Thanksgiving with our family.

Reflecting on the trip and Thanksgiving, Julie and I are grateful that we live in time where driving on solar energy made on a person’s rooftop is possible. We are grateful for the many blessings provided by nature and the many blessings in our lives.  We are the most optimistic about our future, both for future generations of our family and for the nation as a whole.   We see a path towards a better, less expensive, no emissions way to motor and to travel and to healthier cities.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and thanks for reading.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

BMW i3, A world’s best... world’s first... car.

As a driver of the BMW Mini-E, BMW ActiveE,  Honda Fit EV, and as an Energy Consultant and County of San Diego Planning Commissioner, I get to “play and plan” for future generations of technology, cars and people. Yeah, it's a fun job :)

This insight and experience gives me confidence in my prediction that the 2014 BMW i3 will be a world’s first... world’s best... car. A car that will revolutionize automobile manufacturing, transportation and urban planning like no other car sold before save for the Ford Model T.
Bold statement I know. Let’s get started on the many reasons why….

1. The BMW i3 will be the most energy efficient 4 passenger car  in the world. Currently, the 2013 Honda Fit EV has that international honor at 118MPGe, it’s a heck of a fun car to drive.  The Fit EV, weighs in at a relatively svelte 3250lbs thus the high MPGe efficiency.    The BMW i3 completely shatters that mark, having a curb weight of an estimated 2750lbs.  The BMW i3, optimized as an EV platform and 500lbs lighter, will be far more aerodynamic, 2 inches shorter in height  than the retrofitted gasoline Fit.   This combo of lightness and optimized aerodynamics will produce a world’s best 125-130 MPGe, averaging nearly 5 miles per kwh.
2. The BMW i3 will forever change automobile manufacturing.  Since the 1908 Ford Model T first rolled of the assembly line,  we have been manufacturing cars by stamping steel and welding the pieces together.  Carbon-Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) has been used in jets, exotic cars,  race cars, and in small bit piece doses, higher end mass production cars.  The BMW i3 brings a quantum shift to auto manufacturing ushering in the world’s first mass produced car with a CFRP passenger life cell.   This incredibly strong and lightweight cell is the key component of the i3’s weight reduction.   BMW will lead the world in producing light and efficient vehicles, with the BMW i3 as the world’s first CFRP mass produced car with many more models to follow.   The era of CFRP is born with the BMW i3.

3. BMW i3 is a car for the future. Since the beginning of the auto era, our cities and citizens have driven to the perimeter edge in the search of the newest, lowest price, homes, shopping and lifestyle.  This perimeter development pattern exploded in popularity with the advent of the interstate transportation system in the 1950s.  The glory days of the modern car era were the 50,s 60s, and early 70’s utilizing this new arterial infrastructure. By the early 1970’s some unfortunate consequences began to emerge, chief among them congestion, smog, generic sameness, and volatile gasoline prices.   Sitting in two hours of traffic, replaced the two hours of being a little league coach, or time with the family, or a hobby, or involvement with your community or church.  Driving 30,000 miles a year with high gas prices offset the savings of a less expensive home farther away from jobs.

Population trends clearly show a migration of citizens that are moving to and near the city.  Our cities and counties are planning for this shift, by being more efficient and more compact with our development and infrastructure.  Don’t worry, the single family home on a quarter acre is safe, there will just be far more options available in the near future reflecting the demands of the marketplace.   This tectonic shift in culture, location and population can be defined as “Moving away from urban sprawl and moving towards relocalization.” 

The BMW i3 will be heavily involved in car sharing, heavily connected socially with technology,  and a world leader in semi-autonomous driving options, primarily focused on de-stressing a city driving experience. All this while still providing a range extending option for travel between large city centers.  While most car companies are planning for business and car models as usual,  BMW with the i3 is planning for the future.

4. The BMW i3 will be the least expensive car to drive in the world.  With rising gas prices and the cost of driving going in one direction (up) for gasoline cars,  BMW is going in the opposite direction with the BMW i3.  If operated on utility supplied electricity the i3 will have an EPA estimated operating cost of $450 a year surpassing the current leader the Honda Fit EV.  If you live in mountain states with cheap hydro electricity operating cost will be a low as $350 a year.  If you produce your own electricity via solar, operating cost could be as low as $250 a year. No other car in the world will be able to drive so inexpensively.   At $20-$40 a month in cost, driving the BMW i3 will become less costly than a bottle of wine once a month at a restaurant. In other words, it’s no longer a major part of the family budget.

5. The BMW i3 will be a BMW. A rear wheel drive, little electric rocket with the handling dynamics and luxury of a BMW. New to the brand will be the design language of a skateboard with unfettered passenger and cargo space on top of the skateboard and drive components and batteries below the skateboard deck.  Unless your car badge has a M or AMG on it, or is a high end Ferrari, Lambo, Porsche or Tesla, the BMW i3 will leave you behind in the rear view mirror.  With a 0-60 speed in the low to mid seven second range, 165 electric horses and tons of torque, the BMW i3 will be nearly unbeatable off the line 0-40 mph.   The EV grin is going to get some bigger brighter teeth with the i3.

6. The Ultimate Driving Machine.  We’ll have to wait several months for the official specs to come out on the BMW i3.   However I already know the BMW i3 will have a world’s best MPGe, A world’s lowest cost of driving, Will be able to drive on sunshine I produce (that's the underline in ultimate) will be a world’s first in CFRP manufacturing, an unbeatable combination of  luxury, efficiency, and performance made possible by revolutionary car manufacturing and electricity, and will have a true 100 mile electric range. BMW has been visionary, methodical and strategic in their electric car development program and the payoff is right around the corner.  As A Mini-E and ActiveE driver, I am happy to have had the opportunity to experience and participate in the cars evolution towards production.

My garage is waiting :) 
60,000 sunshine powered miles.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Postcard From The Future

Hi everyone,

Julie and I are having a blast here in the future.  It’s a super place where the homes are powered by sunshine and cars run on sunshine.  It’s a very quiet and relaxing place to be, almost restorative in nature. Everyone here is so health oriented.

Here in the future, you just sorta get up in the morning and everything is ready for the new day and all of its explorations.  We seem to have a lot more money left in our pockets at the end of the day here in the future as well. 

The air is amazingly clean, the water crystal reflective blue, and the people are very happy and warmly welcome us.  I don’t know exactly how to put this but everyone in the future has a sense of a peace, calmness and optimism about the future.  We loved where we lived before and we have drilled deep wells and put down deep roots as we have lived our whole life there.  

I know this will be hard for some of you, especially our life long friends... we hope that you can forgive us as we have decided that we are not moving back to our old place.  Julie and I have decided to move to the future forever.  Please come visit us, who knows, you may find you like it here and want to move to the future as well.

Your friends always,

Peder & Julie

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Solar PV & Electric Cars are a Liberation, not a Limitation.

“The inertia of the status quo, is a powerful foe of progress”

The inertia of the status quo is always traveling into the future, blinded by the simple knowledge of today and yesteryear. The defenders, those invested in the status quo, love to throw stones at the uncertainty of tomorrow from the security of the front porch of today, no matter how decrepit and dangerous the condition of that porch.

As mankind progresses, our history is littered with defeated defenders of the status quo.  They’re  riding horses, using morris code, reading  by candle light,  taking pictures with a square disposable rotating flashbulb with Kodak film.  No better example of this axiom exist in our current timeframe, as does the “Stone Throwers”  against renewable energy and electric vehicles…and there are a lot of stone throwers.

Recently Michael Reagan the son of an authentic Republican, Ronald Reagan, was the latest “Stone Thrower” pointing to the limitations of electric vehicles and renewable energy in this Neo-Luddite writing.

Michael Reagan, your dad would have said to you “Aw Shut Up” as he famously did to a group of hecklers in San Diego’s Mission Valley in 1980.   I was there, we went bonkers!

Americans… Democrats and Republicans, all,  have always looked to the future with science and technology ushering in prosperity, problem solving, and the pursuit of a better world.   I trust and hope that you do see a problem in the combination of oil and transportation, your dad sure did.

To you, I write this response, crafted from reality not fear, from experience not rhetorical assemblages of talking points , from a realized dream not what was handed to me as fait accompli,  and from American patriotism not partisan attack on a political foe.  
Our experience (not opinion) is that Solar PV and electric cars are a liberation not a limitation.  
The first step.

When we  constructed our home in 2006 with conservation in mind (conserve is a root word to many others words  like "conservative")  we included a 4.5kw Solar PV System.  This system generated 8000kwh per year and along with reductions from our lighting retrofit, covered 90% of the 8800kwh per year household use.   I received a federal tax credit off of my own taxes when I made this investment, not from your taxes but off of my taxes, there is a huge difference.  In 1981 your dad Ronald Reagan instituted a tax investment credit and accelerated depreciation (another tax break)  if I went out and purchased new equipment for my several bakeries.  I did just that along with millions of other American businesses.   Your dad was right in 1981 and so is the investment tax credit for renewable energy.   With our Solar PV we had a 14% ROI and were saving $400 a month in utility bills. We found that to be liberating and a small measure towards independence and self reliance.

The second step.

In 2009 we began driving the electric BMW Mini-E,  We drove that car 18,000 miles a year. We found it liberating that we could provide the power to our car from electricity that we generated on our roof.  We added a 3kw system as our own personal fuel station for life. We nicked named it our Sunco Station.  The ROI was 33% and we saved $250 a month in gasoline cost.   We found that making our own fuel was liberating and another small measure towards independence.

The third step.

After driving 2.5 years electric and never needing a gasoline car, my wife, an elementary school Principal,  stepped into the driver’s seat of the BMW ActiveE.  After several months of driving, she/we discovered that our family did not need a gas car at all so we sold our gas car. This gave us a solar powered home and two electric cars that we generate the electricity for.

The bottom line.

We love our home and our life.  We are optimistic about our nations future. Our 2007 investment in our own future with Solar PV has completely paid for itself. Our cumulative change to EV's and PV has changed what use to be a bill of $4800 a year for utilities, a gasoline bill of $3000 a year for our first car, and $2400 a year for a second car to an annual bill of $0-$300 for all of the above.

We find it liberating   that the significant cost of utilities and gas is replaced by a paid off solar PV system and a utility bill of $300 a year powering our home and cars.  That’s almost $10,000 a year that our family can spend in our community creating American jobs and strengthening our community as opposed to enriching Oil Sheiks and Oil Barrons and exporting our nations wealth.

We find it liberating that our money is not going to nations that are hostile to the US.  Did you know that one out of every six barrels of oil comes from nations that are hostile to the US.

We find it liberating that our consumption does not contribute to national economic drain caused by the seven trillion dollar expense of securing the waterways and protecting the supply of oil since the 1990 Iraq invasion of Kuwait.  Do you remember the burning oil fields?

We find it liberating that our decision to generate zero emission renewable energy and drive zero emission cars is a small measure towards cleaner cities that most of our nations population live in.  Do you know that in our urban cities over 65% of our emissions are from our transportation choices and 15% from our houses?  I’m sure you understand that air quality and health care cost are related.

We find it liberating that we are contributing to the advancement of solar PV and electric cars that will one day soon replace oil. Oil that is so necessary and predictable in its transit routes in the theatre of war, essentially sitting duck oil tankers,  that 40% of our US casualties come from IED’s and attacks of our resupply convoys. That it is measurable for ever 24 fuel convoys an American soldier suffers a casualty and for every 50 fuel convoys an American soldier is killed.  

We find it liberating that we don’t visit gas stations and no longer need to worry about the volatile price spikes of gasoline that so damage the incomes of our families and our nation’s economic health.

We find it liberating that they are so easy and far less costly to maintain.  Solar PV lasting for 25 years plus and electric cars with 10% of the complexity of gasoline cars.

We find no difference and no limitations of solar PV and driving two electric cars one driven 20,000 miles and one driven 12,000 miles a year as compared to our prior experience with utility supplied electricity and gasoline cars.

Our experience is that Solar PV & Electric Cars are a Liberation, not a Limitation.

Michael Reagan,  it is my hope that you would be more supportive of American examples of this, a new front porch of American ingenuity, science, technology and wealth generation for American households.  I know your dad would be. 

It is my hope that we embrace the "blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity"  as contained in the preamble of the constitution which stands in stark contrast to your selfish  comment, go out and buy the biggest damn SUV you want. Enjoy your life. Step on the gas. 

That's prosperity for you Michael, at the expense of liberty and posterity for our children and the nation.  Your dad knew the difference.

One last thing Michael, drive a Chevy Volt or another electric car sometime, it’s a much more quiet, smooth, quick and enjoyable driving experience.   


Peder Norby 
County of San Diego Planning Commissioner

Sunday, September 9, 2012

We Will Never Go To War Over Sunshine.

Maj. Gen. Anthony L. Jackson, USMC (Ret.)


 "On Aug. 2, 1990, I was the Pentagon desk officer who took the call alerting America that Saddam Hussein’s forces were invading Kuwait to gain control of its oil fields. Since that day, the United States has been engaged in continuous conflict in the Middle East, in large part to protect the supply of petroleum..."

“...We can see this on an immediate and tactical level when we have to truck fuel to a base in Afghanistan. We may spend $100 per gallon getting it there — but the true cost is measured in blood. Fuel convoys draw enemy attacks, and it is measurable that we will receive one casualty for every 50 resupply trucks on the road..."

"...It would be myopic to think that this is just about Middle Eastern oil, or even just about oil. Today the market for fossil fuels is global, and we cannot protect ourselves from supply disruptions or price shocks just by choosing who we buy from, or simply by drilling more at home. The only path to energy and climate security is a comprehensive energy infrastructure focused on renewable resources and improved, harmless-emission fuels...”   Maj. Gen. Anthony L. Jackson, USMC (Ret.)   Fossil fuel dependence leaves America vulnerable

Today at 3pm, Julie and I will have the privilege to shake hands and visit with Maj. General Anthony L. Jackson (Ret) . Julie and I, along with our good friend, Brig. General David Brahms USMC (Ret) will be driving in Julie's BMW ActiveE to our meeting. Brig. General Brahms will be at the wheel.

In 2006 with the construction of our family home, we  began our shift to self reliance with Solar PV for our new home. We also began our shift away from gasoline towards electricity.  Our first electric car was a 2007 Gem e4.  We really loved the Gem and put 8000 miles on it in two years.  The Gem e4 was restricted in range and speed and could only make our local trips on low speed roads but we began to see the potential of electric mobility and the ease, simplicity and savings of plugging into the sun.  

In 2009 we began driving the BMW Mini-E, replaced in early 2012 with the BMW ActiveE, and we completed our transition to two electric cars in 2012 with the Honda Fit EV.  

Our cost to go solar was $31,000 over two installations. $20,000 for a 4.5kw system when we built the house in 2007 and $11,000 for a 3kw system to power the cars in 2009.   We also did a lighting retrofit changing out 120, 50 watt halogen bulbs to 8 watt led bulbs. 

Our total cost for the solar PV and our lighting retrofit was $33,5000. That cost was paid in full around March of this year with the savings from our utility bill and our gasoline bill.  We are essentially living and driving on free sunshine.

In the prior five years with one electric car and the house, we  generated the same amount of electricity as we  used thus a small TOU credit from our utility (currently at a $350 credit balance.)   This year with the addition of the Honda Fit EV we will use an additional 4000kwh so we will have a bill at the end of the year of around $600.

Electric cars are simply better to drive then their gas counterparts, they're cheaper to drive,  they're non polluting, they're faster, they're quieter and we will never go to war over sunshine.  We will never need to endure the loss of an American life, any life, or suffer a casualty  trucking sunshine around.

Here's a quick simple overview of our prior cost with our normal utility and two gas cars and our cost  with solar PV and two electric cars. The BMW ActiveE and the Honda FIT EV  are less in monthly payments than our previous cars, a Volvo S60R and an Infinity G35.
Julie drives 20,000 miles a year and I drive 13,000 miles a year.

Why the hell are we still driving on oil?  

Prior to 2007             Monthly               Annual
SDG&E bill                           $420                       $5040
Julie’s Gas                             $250                       $3000
Peder’s  Gas                          $200                       $2400

Total annual utility and gas for cars $10440

Actual Cost 2012
SDG&E bill                           $50                         $600
Julie’s Electricity fuel             $0                           $0
Peder’s  Electricity fuel          $0                           $0

Total annual utility and electricity for cars $600

Annual savings $9840


Sunday, September 2, 2012

We're driving electric 100 miles a day.

For the past three years, Tom Moloughney has been lapping me with more than double the EV miles averaging 99 miles of electric driving per day, compared to my 43 miles a day

Tom and His Mini-E #250

Being the competitive sort, I needed to figured out how I am going to match the EV miles of my good buddy Tom.   Some may call this cheating but, I enlisted my wife Julie to help  so we are now both driving EVs, driving 35,000 - 40,000 miles a year with no gas,  Julie  20,000 miles in the ActiveE and I, 15,000  miles in the Honda Fit EV.  Between Julie and I we will be at 100 miles a day on average!  (insert wimpy "you need your wife to fight your battle" jokes here)

So Tom, it's all your fault :) 

Our "family fleet" average mpg if gas models would be  25mpg, that's higher than the national average.  21mpg for the BMW 1 series and 30mpg for the Honda Fit.  For 35,000 miles of driving we would have used 1,400 gallons  of fuel at a cost of $5,800 annually to our family budget.    Having a paid off 6 year old solar PV system that generates 11,500 kwh per year, our driving cost on sunshine is essentially zero per year.
For fun, multiply that experience by 100 million American families and 20 or 30 years. 

...but i digress.

Having two electric cars, greatly increases the flexibility of uses. 

First, we have a practical hauler and a luxury sports sedan,  so who ever needs to haul stuff back and forth or do major shopping will take the Honda Fit EV.  It’s amazing what you can stuff  in that car.   In the evening it’s almost always the BMW Active E that we take out on the town. 

Second, we have doubled our electric range to essentially 200 miles a day  without needing to recharge in between.

Today (9/02/12) is a good example of how that works.

Julie and I  are driving the Honda Fit EV to go to church in San Diego this morning and then back home, 80 miles round trip.  The trip is to the south.

Around 1pm,  we will leave in the BMW ActiveE (the Fit EV will be charging in the garage) and head Northeast to Temecula for a light lunch and a visit with some fellow winegrowers and wine tasting,  65miles.  We will then go to Pachanga Resort and Casino for  a show, dinner, a little craps and blackjack, 15 miles.  While there for 4 hours or so we will plug into one of their 6 public chargers.  Finally, we will drive home after a fun night, 45 miles.

Today's trips will be 85% freeway driving at 75mph. we will total 205 sunshine powered miles, we look forward to a really fun day. 

This is a normal typical weekend for us.   We are usually somewhere out and about enjoying beautiful Southern California.

As you can see from our itinerary today,  electric vehicles are far more practical than just for the urban commute.  Julie and I use our BMW ActiveE and Fit EV for everything and they really shine on the weekends!  The cars have fit seamlessly into our lives with many benefits and no compromises. 

Update:    A really fun day of driving yesterday with 200+ miles. We arrived at Pechanga with a 30% charge and left for home with 90% charge.    Next to the ActiveE were two Prius plug ins.  I was surprised by how much larger they were compared to the ActiveE.   There are six free chargers at Pachanga Casino in Temecula.  Had these chargers not been available there are several more in Temecula and plan c was the BMW dealership in Escondido,  When relying on public charging it's best to have a plan B and if you can a plan C.  Most of the time plan A will work out :)


Future BMW i ?  driver.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Home, Two Cars, and a Twist of Sunshine :)

You can, most do,  purchase $4,417 worth of gasoline and pay $2400 annually  for your utilities. These are the average  family gasoline cost for the US and electricity utility cost for a typical California household (900kwh @ $.22 per kwh)   This is the way it has worked for over a hundred years, and the prices keep rising each year.

If you’re spending almost $7,000 a year of your family after tax income for gasoline and electricity, you have more than paid for the right to be skeptical of the newness, uncertainty and high cost of solar energy and electric cars.  I get it…I really do… gas and electricity costs are so expensive and budgets are so tight, that you can’t afford the high cost of solar or electric cars.

I would suggest that you be equally if not more skeptical of your gasoline, and utility cost, and more informed about where your hard earned money ends up, in their pocket or yours.   

Solar PV and electric cars are a combo that is less than 20% of the cost of the status quo.

Six years ago in 2006 Julie I built our home as efficiently as possible and installed a 7.5kwh solar PV system.   This system cost $30,000 after the federal and state tax credits ($39,000 without any credits) and generates an average of 11,500kwhs per year.  After 5 years our power plant has offset $18,000 worth of utility cost and $13,000 worth of fuel cost.   Thus it is paid off with the savings from both. Our home is a little larger and Julie’s commute is a little farther than most, so our own costs were slightly higher than the average family.

The bottom line is that Solar PV in California will pay for itself in 6-9 years with utility savings, and 4-5 years with a mixture of utility savings and gasoline savings,  and 3-4 years on gasoline savings alone.  

How can that be?

One example, the average two car family drives 24,000 miles a year and buys 1100 gallons of fuel each year. For 4 years that’s 4400 gallons of fuel.  The cost of that fuel is $17,600. The same 24,000 miles in electric cars uses 6500kwhs of electricity per year.   A 4kw Solar PV system will cost $16,000  and produce 6400kwhs per year for well over the 25 year warrantee period.   

With a car and gasoline you continue to buy gas every year for decades.  With electric cars and Solar PV, you are done paying for fuel after four years, the rest is gratis of the Sun.  The Sun has never raised it’s price for it’s energy.

Julie drives 18,000 miles a year and I drive 12,000 miles a year.  We have two electric cars powered by solar, and no gas cars.  The electric cars have seamlessly fit into our lives with no compromises.    We realize that many will need longer ranges for both cars thus gas, hybrid, diesel or phev is the right answer, most can get by with one electric car, and for many like us who live in large cities with round trip commutes of less than 75 miles. two electric cars will work fine.  There is no one answer that is the right answer, for some it may be a bicycle and or mass transit and no cars.  For us an electric  luxury sports sedan  and a practical electric hatchback with lots of storage, both powered by sunshine is the perfect combo.

Our utility bill, we have a $320 credit for the year.

We know the cost of gasoline and utility energy, it’s the way we lived for the 30 years prior.  We look forward to 20+ years of emission free driving, no energy cost and no fuel cost.  We’re estimating a lifetime savings of  $140,000 if there is no inflation and no increase in gasoline or utility cost (yeah sure,)   and approximately $350,000 with historical cost increases for gasoline and electricity.

You can live and drive on solar.  You can do so far cheaper than gasoline and utilty supplied electricicty.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Electronauts, welcome to our blog!

Peder and I are happy to be Electronauts and want to thank BMW for a great experience and partnership the prior three years with our Mini-E and ActiveE.  It’s a bit odd to thank a company that you are paying a lease payment to, as many other car drivers pay a lease payment or loan payment for an automobile, however our electric experience with BMW is different, life changing in a way, and deserves a thank you.

Our journey began with our decision to use solar PV in our home construction in 2006.  Peder’s previous summerhouse in Rømø Denmark, as well as the rest of the small Danish island, was powered 100% by wind energy from the offshore wind farm called Horns Reef. When we began the construction of our home in Carlsbad CA, we utilized this 'Partner with Nature" lesson and paired with our natural resource in Southern California which is of course the sun.

In 2009 we were excited to be able participate in the Mini-E field trial and accomplish another milestone, that milestone was driving a “real car” on solar power generated electricity.  Peder tells the tale often of when he was driving up to his first test drive of the Mini-E in Irvine California he was wondering if the car was going to go slower up the hills like a golf cart?  After 37,000 sunshine powered miles it was time to give back the Mini-E and for Peder to transition to the Active E, or so he thought.  

I had been a loyal co-pilot to Peder in the Mini-E and had driven the car about 5% of the time-I loved it.   Peder was unable to make the West Coast unveiling of the BMW ActiveE for the Mini-E Pioneers, as he was speaking at a local film festival that night screening the four BMW documentary films that featured Peder and his fellow Mini-E drivers Todd Crook and Tom Moloughney.   I took his brother Niels to the event.  On the way up to the event I was talking to Niels about all the exciting times and ease of driving the electric car and decided after seeing the BMW ActiveE that it was going to be my car and that Peder would have to revert to driving the gasoline car.

After six months of this arrangement, Peder was miserable and I wasn’t going to give up “my” Active E!  So we reached another milestone and decided to sell our lone remaining gasoline car and Peder is now happily driving a second EV.  

So, it’s been a heck of journey for us and I am sure for BMW as well.  What we thought was going to be a fun one year EV experiment with the Mini-E, with a default setting of “it will be impractical for all of our driving, but let’s try it out” has turned into the realization that not only is one EV very practical and works for our family, but that we don’t need a gasoline car at all.  That’s still amazing to us!

To end this writing, we have more in front of us than we do behind us.  We look forward to learning together and sharing together with the other Electronauts and with BMW.  Sure we have issues to overcome, but we love electric mobility and the freedom, energy independence, clean air and monetary savings for our family that it provides.

So which one of us will be the driver of the BMW i3 or BMW i8?  That’s a tough one…We might need a counselor to help us with that decision.

One thing is for sure; we will be driving an electric BMW for a long, long time.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Our Two Electric Cars Are Cheaper Than Two Gas Cars.

Mythbuster #1 Gas cars are not cheaper than Electric cars.

Julie and I are both working professionals and we require reliable transportation for our professions. In 2009 we began our transition into full electric cars with the BMW Mini-E. We had built a home in 2006 and Included a solar PV system in the construction of our home. The Solar PV system  led us to the desire of powering our cars via sunshine beginning with the 2009 BMW Mini-E. Our solar PV system is now complete paid off by the utility and gasoline savings from the prior 6 years. 

Today we have no cost of electricity.  Our home and car solution is a net zero cost for electricity and for the past three years we have accrued a $292 credit.  

If you are a "non solar"  utility customer as you look at the numbers below, factor in about a quarter to a third of the cost for utility supplied electricity compared to your current  gas usage.

When we began the transition in 2009 with the BMW MINI-E, our gas cars that we owned/leased at the time were a 2005 Volvo S60R and a 2005 Infinity G35. Below is a cost breakdown of the total cost of driving those two cars. We took a bath on the Infinity G35. 

Below that is our current cost of driving two very nice electric cars.  In our case our lifestyles and driving patterns allow us to go with two full electrics. We realize this is not the case for most/some families however, we were surprised that the Mini-E and ActiveE completed all of our needed trips thus the decision to ditch the last gas car.  You may be surprised as well at how easy an EV can fit into your lifestyle.

Essentially this is  a snap shot of the cost of the two gas cars that we used to drive and the two electric cars that we are driving today.

Our gas cars that we drove were the 2005 Volvo S60R and the 2005 Infinity G35

2005 Volvo S60R  
36 month lease $2500 down payment = $ 69 a month
Lease payments with tax $479
Insurance $ 80
Maintenance and repair $80 (tires and brakes on the S60R were very expensive)
Gas $175 per month

Total $908  per month

2005 Infinity G35
Purchase $34,000
Downpayment $10000  (over 48 months = $208 per month)
Payments $490
Insurance $80
Maintenance and repair $70 (tires, brakes, service, 60k services was $1600)
Gas $275

Sold for $13,000 same as the balance on the loan.

Total  $1123 per month

Total for two gas cars = $2031 per month

Our electric cars that we drive are the Honda Fit EV and the BMW ActiveE.  

2011 BMW ActiveE

24 month lease, $1900 down payment = $79 per month
Lease payment with tax $534 a month
Insurance $80
Maintanace and repair 0
Fuel cost 0

Total  $693 per month

2013 Honda Fit EV

36 month lease, 0 down payment
$2500 CARB rebate (-$69 )
Lease payment with tax $412 per month
Insurance $46 per month  (Honda pays the comp and collision)
Maintenance and repair 0
Fuel cost 0

Total  $389 per month.

Total for two electric cars =  $1082

Driving electric is a substantial monetary savings for our family. In addition to the savings, it is a better driving experience, cleaner, energy independent, never have to go to a gas station and at the top of the list, we as consumers have the ability if we choose (we choose to do so) to make our own fuel.  We as a nation if we choose can be equally energy independent.

We do not buy into the myth that electric cars are more expensive.
Peder & Julie
52,000 miles powered by sunshine
7.5kw system size, 11.5 megawatts a year. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Our Sunny Transition To Electric Driving

Bacon and eggs… for the chicken it’s a contribution, for the pig it’s a pretty big commitment.

Julie and I have made a commitment. We’re all in,
We are replacing our only gas car with a second EV to join the ActiveE.
2 EV’s, 1 EVSE,  1 solar powered home.

A huge heartfelt  thank you to BMW for their vision, leading the way producing the Mini-E and the ActiveE.  We have enjoyed every one of the 50,000+ miles of super fun electric driving adventures in these two cars.  Starting out as cautious inquisitive skeptics we were willing to put our toe in the water and trial the Mini-E.  These two cars have proven to us just how easy, how crazy fun and how inexpensive driving BMW’s on solar electricity is.  

In 2009 we sold our backup car after a month with the Mini-E.  I kept the car around because I thought the Mini-E would only partially fill my driving needs. Wrong, it did 100% of the trips I asked of it.  Two and half years later, I was super excited and expecting to transition into the BMW ActiveE…whoops did not see that coming …Julie my wife steps up and says the ActiveE is going to be her car.   

Quick decision time, would I rather be happily married and let her drive the ActiveE thus going back to a gasser?  Or insist on it for myself as the original pioneer?  I have been driving the gasser for the past six months and  I hate driving on gasoline after driving an electric Mini-E for two an a half years.  Some would say I made a wise choice.

We strongly considered getting two ActiveE’s, almost did but Julie had not yet lived day to day as an electric car driver, we needed a bit more cargo room, so we weren’t quite ready to get rid of the other gas car. Plus, how would we tell both of them apart?

funny, our clothes match the colors of our cars

Now with six months in the ActiveE under her seat-belt (a princess does not wear a belt)   we both realize that only once or perhaps twice a year do we need a long range car.  That we can easily both drive electric cars, swapping for or renting a long range car when needed.

Todd and Kari Crook have been a big inspiration to us as they have also gone 100% electric with only their ActiveE, and have had no instances where they needed a gas car.  In fact, one of the joys of the BMW program is getting to meet and know so many of the other drivers and the BMW personnel involved in the BMW i division.  We have made some really good friends.

So were all in!  We are selling the 2008 Ford Escape and leasing a 2013 Honda Fit EV.   The cars should get along well in the garage, the charging ports are in great locations to park side by side as our EVSE is in the middle of our garage wall.  We have been assigned a VIN and have been told we will have the car this weekend.   I'm looking forward to once again wearing that EV grin and trialing the Honda.  I hear it's a fast fun little car with amazing battery chemistry.  We will see :)

Our next big dilemma is….a BMW i3 or a BMW i8.  And which one of us gets to drive it?

funny, her clothes....never mind

We’re saving our pennies BMW.  You have earned our trust and thanks. We appreciate you partnering with us on our journey and transition to electricity.  We have changed the way we live and the way we drive.



Sunday, July 8, 2012

An Equation For Our Energy Future. EV+PV+ES=0

Some pretty smart and powerful people are projecting that EVs and PHEVs will gain 50% market-share in the next 20 years. What happens if 50% plus of our nation starts driving EV’s?

There is no question in my mind that this 50%  saturation can be accomplished easily with Solar PV plus Energy Storage or ES.  It can be done cheaper, better, cleaner and will be more reliable than our current monopolistic grid mix and utility distribution.

ES is the next frontier, the “Holy Grail” that will change our energy production and distribution model that remains largely unchanged for the past 90 years. It will happen at both the distributed energy and the utility scale energy levels.  Peaker plants, a very expensive energy source,  will be first reduced and then replaced by cheaper and better ES systems.

First a little background.

Six years ago we began driving EV’s powered by Solar PV.  In the early days it was a 2007 Gem E4 neighborhood electric vehicle. I remember that first year, our son with three friends drove the Gem about 10 hilly miles, 12mph up the hills and 25mph down the hills, they had to push the car back home the last mile as they ran out of juice. Although limited in capability, I loved the Gem E4, drove it several thousand miles, and the seed was planted. I was enslaved by the dream of one day driving a real car, real distances on real highways powered by sunshine via Solar PV.  My head was spinning with how this great combination of EV+PV would be and how dramatically it would change our world for the better. 

Today, that not so distant vision is a reality driving the BMW ActiveE powered by solar.  Last night our son and his friend took the ActiveE out on the town going to the movies, visiting with friends and returning several hours later having used only 30% of the charge after driving 30 miles.  Today and for the rest of our lives we will power both our home and our car for less than $3 a month. We have completely paid off our PV system with the gas and utility savings provided by The EV+PV combo  the past six years.
EV+PV  will soon become commonplace for all. 

EV’s are now as close as the nearest car dealerships,  and Solar PV permeates our airwaves, radio waves, social media and print advertisements ad nauseam.  In just a short year, you will be able to do both EV+PV with one visit to the BMW dealership as you purchase the BMW i3 or i8 and the Solar System in partnership with Real Good Solar. You will buy the car and the energy to drive that car forever at one time.  

That’s amazing progress in just six years…so what’s next? What is the next frontier?  The answer is reshaping our energy grid with renewable energy, electric cars and energy storage.

In this chart you can see our energy usage via our utility SDG&E. You can see the spike of charging the ActiveE at 8pm and our energy generation with 60% of our generation coming at peak hours beginning at noon.  It is an absolute truth that we generate on average 30kwh a day and we use on average 10kwhs a day to power the ActiveE, therefore we could charge the ActiveE during the day using 100% sunshine.  In reality there are two issues.  

1. We are not at home during the day. 2. We are motivated by price to sell the electricity at a high price and charge the ActiveE at a low price.

Power lines have the ability to send energy both to and from your home.  For the near term, it’s a good deal for the utilities to have the extra power provided by Solar PV at peak time, and they love the ability to sell you excess power at night for half price or less to charge your car.  For the long term, we need to add storage to the energy grid to buffer the renewable energy sources like wind and PV and to shave peak demand thus eliminating or reducing the needs for peaker plants.

Let’s look at our own residential system adding energy storage using three scenarios:  Price, Buffer and Off Grid.

1. Price.
Our energy rates from SDG&E are Super off peak, $0.14 per kwh, Off peak, $0.17 per khw, and Peak, $0.30 per kwh. If we added a 15kwh energy storage system to our home, our goal would be to store the extra 15kwh we generate during the morning off peak hours in the battery storage unit instead of selling them back to the grid (light blue.)  In the later peak hours of the day we would sell the energy back to the grid when the grid needs it the most (dark blue.) This would net us a gain of $0.13 per kwh.  Or $2.00 per day.   Accounting for some cloudy days this would be about $600 a year in savings.

Today, a 15kw energy storage  (ES) system is $15k. In the near term (the next 2-5 years) a 15kw ES  is going to be about $300 a kw for a cost of $4500.   This would give a payoff of 7.5 years.  The system life of these storage systems will be 20-25 years.

A better scenario will be the second life batteries coming off automotive use.  In ten years we can expect a $200 per kw new battery cost,  and  a 25% cost for a used battery with some repackaging cost, for an ES cost of $70 per kw.  A 15kw ES would cost $1050 and would have a payback of less than 2 years with a life span of 10+ years.  this price based model generally reflects what we know today for battery cost and battery cycle and calendar life.  Breakthroughs in price and cycle life will happen but it is unknown how dramatic they will be.

2. Buffer.

This is where the real benefit of energy storage will come into play.  It is important to point out that the current pricing structure of utility energy does not support using the ES as a buffer with the exception of level 3 DC fast charging in which demand fees are far greater than the cost of electricity..  

In this scenario we would have a 30kw ES. This would allow us to take our total overproduction of 30kwh during the day time and store it in the ES.  The ES would then be used to charge the ActiveE using 10kwh and to provide the 20kwh power to the home during the remaining hours when the sun is down.   

In this scenario, the home would only pull energy from the grid about 30 days of the year.   An additional 30 days a year the home would pull 1-5 kwhs a day to augment the usage on days of modest cloud cover.   In total the home and EV would still be grid connected and use energy from the grid at a rate of 1/10th the usage of a normal home. 

The cost for this scenario would be 30K today, $9k near term and $2k with used automotive batteries. 

3. Off Grid

At 60kw of energy storage for our home coupled with 20k of energy storage in the future BMW i3 and our home could be off grid.  The cost for that would be 60k today, 18k in the near future and 4k with used automotive batteries.

So imaging in the not to distant future, new homes that cost $500k now being able to provide a Solar PV system and 60KW of backup energy for an additional 40k. This will turn every home into a "gas station" providing "fuel" for their electric cars for life and will turn every home into an off grid or an extremely low energy usage grid connected home.   It will do so it 10% to 20% of the cost of the status quo which is gasoline and utility provided energy. 

In summary,

These scenarios also apply in various forms to commercial properties and commercial fleets.

In the short term battery storage or ES will be used simply to arbitrage the cost of energy, storing the energy at low cost and selling it at high cost.   This will have financial benefit to some as we seek to have more renewable energy sources replacing nuclear and coal, and will be of modest benefit to the grid lessoning the need for peaker plants.

In the long term, ES systems will revolutionize the grid. ES systems  will completely eliminate peaker plants, greatly reduce base load plants and place a strong emphasis on micro grids connecting distributed energy sources  in  localized grid systems stitched together by a national backbone of transmission.

In just a short decade or two, our utilities that have been relying on the same monopolistic practices for 90 years, will either die or adapt.  

Nothing remains rigid and survives.  Just one example how rigid long tenured companies can quickly become irrelevant.

The  first digital camera was invented by Steve Sasson, Kodak Engineer in 1975. It recorded the digits on a cassette tape.  Kodak invented the digital camera and had the right answer.

In January of 2012,  Eastman Kodak, the 131-year-old film pioneer, world icon and Captain of an entire industry,  filed for bankruptcy protection. SD/MMC cards were introduced in 2003 and in just 9 short years, Eastman Kodak was in bankruptcy.  

The energy world will change.
EV+PV+ES is the future.
Loving the BMW ActiveE