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