Guest post by David Middleton
The purveyors of greenschist (a geologically inspired euphemism for green sh!t) seem to have an obsession with a phrase that they clearly do not comprehend: Tipping point.
Electric Cars Reach a Tipping Point
Sep 10, 2017
Say goodbye to gasoline. The world’s slow drift toward electric cars is about to enter full flood.
China, one-third of the world’s car market, is working on a timetable to end sales of fossil-fuel-based vehicles, the country’s vice minister of industry and information technology, Xin Guobin, told an industry forum in Tianjin on Saturday. That would probably see the country join Norway, France and the U.K. in switching to a wholly electric fleet within the lifetime of most current drivers.
Electric Cars Reach a Tipping Point? Only in Fantasy Land
Electric cars have not reached “a tipping point.” Even using Bloomberg New Energy
Finance Fantasy’s insanely optimistic forecast, the imaginary “tipping point” is still a decade away.
The announcement by a Chinese bureaucrat that their government will at some point in the future establish some sort of timetable for phasing out the sale of ICE (internal combustion engine) passenger cars can hardly be described as a “turning point.”
China Fossil Fuel Deadline Shifts Focus to Electric Car Race
September 10, 2017
Xin Guobin, the vice minister of industry and information technology, said the government is working with other regulators on a timetable to end production and sales. The move will have a profound impact on the environment and growth of China’s auto industry, Xin said at an auto forum in Tianjin on Saturday.
The world’s second-biggest economy, which has vowed to cap its carbon emissions by 2030 and curb worsening air pollution, is the latest to join countries such as the U.K. and France seeking to phase out vehicles using gasoline and diesel. The looming ban on combustion-engine automobiles will goad both local and global automakers to focus on introducing more zero-emission electric cars to help clean up smog-choked major cities.
“The implementation of the ban for such a big market like China can be later than 2040,” said Liu Zhijia, an assistant general manager at Chery Automobile Co., the country’s biggest passenger car exporter that unveiled a new line for upscale battery-powered and plug-in hybrid models at the Frankfurt motor show last week. “That will leave plenty of time for everyone to prepare.”
Deadline: “a date or time before which something must be done.” The timetable, if it ever materializes, may or may not contain a deadline. China’s fossil fuel deadline resides alongside the PEV (plug-in electric vehicle) tipping point in fantasy land.
What can explain this “irrational exuberance” for electric vehicles?
BNEF (Bloomberg New Energy
Finance Fantasy) sees li-ion batteries declining to $73/kWh by 2030. I guess that’s good. How many kWh does a PEV need to have in order to have a useful range? The average PEV consumes 30 kWh per 100 miles. So, a 60 kWh battery should be good for at least 200 miles. At $73/kWh, a 60 kWh battery should sell for $4,368. A brand new crated Chevrolet 350/290 Deluxe V-8 Engine has an MSRP of $3,448. By 2030, a 60 kWh battery will only cost 27% more than an 350 cubic inch V-8 internal combustion engine… if BNEF is right.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch… Or a Moore’s Law for PEV’s or any other greenschist
There seems to be a fantasy land assumption that PEV’s and other greenschist will follow the same sort of growth trajectory as integrated circuitry.
AUG 21, 2017
Electric Vehicle Prospects: Bad Analogies Are Worse Than No Analogies
I analyze petroleum economics and energy policy
Any number of pundits from Al Gore on down have compared adoption of electric vehicles to the history of the cell phone, which, some note, was not predicted by McKinsey in 1980. Others point to the rapidity with which the Model T gained favor with consumers.
But this is not necessarily more valid than using the laserdisc as an analogy for pessimism or the repeated previous failures of the electric vehicle to become a mass market item: why is always the pertinent issue. And this is something that so many pundits do not consider. In the Financial Times, John Dizard makes the poignant point: “Batteries, though, are not atomic bombs, integrated circuits, or penicillin. With a great deal of effort on the part of engineers, you get progress, not breakthroughs.”
Because electronics are not a good analogy for batteries. Batteries are chemistry, and, as Dr. Fred Schlachter, a researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, stated it quite clearly. “There is no Moore’s Law for batteries.”
Disagree? In 1981, you could buy 5 and Â½ inch floppy disks that held 128k of memory, a box of 12 was about 20 dollars. Now, a 4 Gb memory stick is not only smaller but costs about $6. For the same amount of money, you get roughly 100 billion times more memory in a smaller package. A 12 volt, lead-acid battery for your car costs roughly the same today as it did in 1981 with slightly improved performance.
Indeed, the most optimistic projections for lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles has improved in price by only about 15-20% per year, compared to the 100% per year for memory. And even that appears exaggerated by comparing the costs for batteries when production numbers were small. Most forecasts are for continuing, but relatively slow, declines in cost.
As Mr. Lynch points out, there’s…
No Moore’s Law for batteries
The public has become accustomed to rapid progress in mobile phone technology, computers, and access to information; tablet computers, smart phones, and other powerful new devices are familiar to most people on the planet.
These developments are due in part to the ongoing exponential increase in computer processing power, doubling approximately every 2 years for the past several decades. This pattern is usually called Moore’s Law and is named for Gordon Moore, a cofounder of Intel. The law is not a law like that for gravity; it is an empirical observation, which has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Unfortunately, much of the public has come to expect that all technology does, will, or should follow such a law, which is not consistent with our everyday observations: For example, the maximum speed of cars, planes, or ships does not increase exponentially; maximum speed barely increases at all.
Cars require a portable fuel, preferably one that is widely available, low in cost, and with a high energy density. Gasoline is nature’s ideal fuel. A full tank of gasoline contains as much energy as 1,000 sticks of dynamite. However, cost, national security, global climate change, and pollution lead to a national need to wean ourselves from powering cars with gasoline. There are not many alternate candidates. Natural gas is still a fossil fuel, and hydrogen can presently be produced only at a high energy cost and has low energy density. And then there is electricity. We power our mobile phones and our laptops with lithium-ion batteries—why not power our cars this way? We already have an infrastructure for generating and distributing electricity. If only we had batteries that could store enough energy to power a car several hundred kilometers and that were not too heavy and would not cost a fortune.
Sadly, such batteries do not exist. There is no Moore’s Law for batteries. The reason there is a Moore’s Law for computer processors is that electrons are small and they do not take up space on a chip. Chip performance is limited by the lithography technology used to fabricate the chips; as lithography improves ever smaller features can be made on processors. Batteries are not like this. Ions, which transfer charge in batteries, are large, and they take up space, as do anodes, cathodes, and electrolytes. A D-cell battery stores more energy than an AA-cell. Potentials in a battery are dictated by the relevant chemical reactions, thus limiting eventual battery performance. Significant improvement in battery capacity can only be made by changing to a different chemistry.
In addition to increased performance and lower cost, batteries need to be safe. Of course gasoline is not safe, there are hundreds of thousands of car fires every year in the United States. Nonetheless, the public is more wary of electricity than of gasoline, and the recent safety issues of lithium-ion batteries on Boeing 787 aircraft have done little to reassure the public about the safety of such batteries. Consumers are questioning the practice of putting into cars batteries that can burst into flames.
Improving the energy efficiency of cars is not a long-term solution to the problems related to combustion of fossil fuels, as cars will still be powered by gasoline. However, improved energy efficiency can happen and is happening. A good example of improved energy efficiency is hybrid cars, which can be considerably more energy efficient than traditional cars. We must take this pragmatic direction while awaiting that terrific breakthrough in battery technology we all so desire.
Moore’s Law started out with the observation that the number of transistors per square inch of integrated circuitry was doubling every year. That pace has slowed to roughly one doubling per 18 months. This “empirical observation” enabled the explosive growth of computing and communication technology over the past 40-50 years. We may not have Warp Drive, Phasors or Transporter Beams… But we do have far superior information technology today than could have even been imagined by Gene Roddenberry.
The energy density growth rate for batteries over the past 60 years has been about 3% per year (Zu & Li, 2011)… a doubling period of about 24 years. The inapplicability of Moore’s Law pretty-well covers the full gamut of greenschist tech.
So, neither the decline in battery prices nor the energy density of batteries can genuinely accelerate. That said, batteries will slowly become less expensive and the energy density of batteries will slowly increase. This will certainly lead to continued slow growth in PEV sales. This coupled with improvements in fuel efficiency could eventually lead to a peak in oil demand. Peak oil demand will probably happen long-before we actually reach Hubbert’s Peak Oil (unless we already reached it). However, neither Peak Demand, nor Peak Oil, constitutes “goodbye to gasoline” or supports the idiotic notion that “oil’s future is grim.”
Why Fantasy Land turning points aren’t going to put a dent in petroleum consumption
Why The Oil Industry Shouldn’t Fear Peak Demand
By Peter Tertzakian – Dec 01, 2016
The notion behind peak demand theory is fairly simple: some time over the next five-to-25 years many of us will hang up the gas pump nozzle for the last time. When that happens, the world’s insatiable consumption of more and more oil, growing year over year, soon to exceed an energy-obese 100 million barrels a day, will plateau and then start trending down.
Every pundit has an opinion about when peak demand will happen. Articles, podcasts and snappy videos mostly debate in what year our 150-year addiction to the product will begin to wane. Some think it’s as early as 2020; the authoritative International Energy Agency conjectures 2040. So there is a wide range of views.
Anybody with a spreadsheet can juggle cells and posit when the last growth barrel is likely to occur, but the real question is, “So what then?”
What does a peaking of oil market growth mean to producers? To investors?
In any maturing business environment, flat-to-declining markets make the battle for consumers’ business hyper competitive. In response, producing companies get rid of their unproductive assets (baggage) and shift their sole focus away from price. The emphasis moves lower down the income statement, toward how to cut costs, be more efficient in production and how to be profitable at lower prices. Conveyor belts become more efficient and the manufacturing emphasis shifts to just-in-time delivery and not being burdened with too much inventory. Leading companies place additional emphasis on how to improve their product offerings too – improving proverbial, “bells and whistles.”
Inefficient laggards who don’t adapt to the new competitive realities don’t survive the Darwinian cut.
Am I missing something? This sounds a lot like the oil business today.
Producers in the U.S. and Canada are already leading the way. So when peak demand sets in, today’s progressive light, tight oil producers in North America will already be positioned as “lean manufacturers” that are able to respond to price signals much faster.
There will benefits to the era of peak oil demand even though there is no sign that it’s happening yet. When it happens, the industry’s emphasis will be on profitability and a leaner carbon product, not so much on growth at all costs. Ironically, the industry is already adapting to the inevitability of peak demand, whenever that may be.
PEV’s may one day actually have a measurable impact on crude oil consumption; however the International Energy Agency doesn’t see that happening any time in the near future because growth in demand for petrochemicals, aviation, freight and maritime use will dwarf any savings in passenger cars, buildings and power generation.
Freight, as in big trucks carrying heavy loads over long distances, is not amenable to PEV conversion, despite Telsa’s latest Ponzi scheme…
Tesla is revealing a semitrailer this month that it won’t deliver for years — here’s why
Sep. 6, 2017
Tesla is expected to reveal a design for a semitrailer this month. CEO Elon Musk has been heralding this move into the freight business since last year, when he rolled out his “Master Plan, Part Deux.”
According to Morgan Stanley analyst Ravi Shanker, the vehicle will be what’s known as a Class 8 truck — a great big old over-the-road semi designed to haul large amounts of stuff. Despite that, Shanker doesn’t think the Tesla semi will have a long-range battery delivering 600 or more miles of range; something like 300 miles is more realistic, because of battery costs, and Tesla will deal with the range issue by swapping batteries or enhancing its charging capabilities.
In a note published Wednesday, Shanker suggested that Tesla wouldn’t start selling the semi until 2020, but that won’t prevent the company from lining up customers.
“We expect Tesla to start taking orders for the truck from the day of the event (we estimate a refundable $5,000 deposit),” he wrote. “We believe this could set off competition for intelligent trucks in the industry.”
Shanker calculates that the truck business could add up to almost $12 billion in business by 2028.
This all sounds pretty good, but remember that Tesla has taken something on the order of 500,000 deposits for its Model 3 sedan, at $1,000 a pop. As of August, just more than 100 vehicles had been delivered as Tesla ramped up production. But even with an aggressive ramp, it will take Tesla years to fulfill those preorders.
Shanker expects Tesla semi deposits to be refundable, and by now everyone knows that putting down some money to get a place in line to buy a Tesla can mean a bit of a wait. But in the short term, if Tesla debuts the semi alongside some industry partnerships and can encourage a healthy pace of preorders, it will have another funding stream at a time when its cash needs are rapidly intensifying.
What size battery could propel a semi 300 miles? Cummins has already unveiled a concept vehicle with a 100-mile range.
Cummins Aeon concept beats Tesla to the all-electric semi punch
Scott Collie August 31st, 2017
While the world waits for a Tesla long-haul truck, Cummins has swooped in with the Class 7 Urban Hauler EV concept demonstrator. The all-electric Urban Hauler, which also paves the way for range-extender hybrid long-haul vehicles, hints at a cleaner, greener future for heavy haulers.
The new Class 7 Urban Hauler EV, also known as the Aeos, eschews the usual diesel engine for a 140-kWh battery pack and electric motors. That means peak range is about 100 mi (160 km) and gross vehicle weight (GVW) is capped around 75,000 lb (34,020 kg). Extra battery packs could extend that to around 300 mi (483 km).
According to Cummins, the base battery and electric motors weigh about the same as the engine, gearbox, emissions treatment system and fuel tank in a conventional tractor. The company hasn’t said how much the battery packs weigh individually, but logic would suggest adding extra cells to boost the range will also add some serious weight.
A 140 kWh battery pack, which weighs as much “as the engine, gearbox, emissions treatment system and fuel tank in a conventional tractor,” yields a 100-mile range… presumably hauling a 75,000 lb load. At $200/kWh, that works out to $28,000 worth of battery. Triple that price tag and weight for a 300-mile range ($28,000), sextuple it for a 600-mile range and you get a semi with a $168,000 worth of batteries that can’t haul much more than its own battery packs… Brilliant! A new diesel tractor trailer runs “anywhere from $110,000 to $125,000 for a new tractor and $30,000 to $50,000 for a new trailer.” A tractor trailer averages around 6 mpg and has a total fuel tank capacity generally between 100 and 300 gallons. This yields an unrefueled range of 600 to 1,800 miles.
If we use an average fuel capacity or 240 gallons (2 x 120-gallon tanks), a typical tractor trailer can haul a heavy load 1,440 miles. If a 140 kWh battery yields 100 miles of range, it would take 14.4 140 kWh battery packs to yield a 1,440-mile range. Even if the cost of batteries falls to $73/kWh and the energy efficiency doubles by 2030, the 1,440-mile battery pack would cost $146,765 (2,016 kWh @ $73/kWh) and it would weigh 7.2 times as much as “the engine, gearbox, emissions treatment system and fuel tank in a conventional tractor.”
So… Neither Red China’s nebulous deadline, nor Tesla’s latest Ponzi scheme is not going to put a dent in petroleum demand anywhere outside of fantasy land.
Here is a land of imagination, hopes and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment the age of chivalry, magic and make-believe are reborn and fairy tales come true. Fantasyland is dedicated to the young and the young at heart, to those who believe that when you wish upon a star your dreams do come true.
About the author
In the interest of full disclosure: I have been employed in the U.S. oil industry as a geophysicist/geologist since 1981, with a six-year exile into management (2007-2013). I have always worked for “little oil” (as opposed to BIG OIL). I am a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) and Houston Geological Society (HGS). Despite my penchant for ridiculing greenschist, green is actually my favorite color… Oil is colored green on maps and well logs and I am a life-long New York Jets fan (argh).
I like oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear power and I even kind of like wind power…
Peak Oil is real but not really very relevant, abiotic oil is possible (despite a total lack of evidence for it) and is also irrelevant. Neither the reality of Peak Oil nor the lack of evidence of abiotic oil are part of a conspiracy to keep oil prices high. If it was, it would be a pretty p!$$ poor conspiracy because oil prices have been low for most of my career. And, no, ExxonMobil is not hiding the secret formula for turning (fill in the blank) into oil… But they did know all about Gorebal Warming waaay before Al Gore invented it… They knew it was wrong. When it comes to Gorebal Warming, I am a “luke warmer”… Gorebal Warming is just as irrelevant as Peak Oil, Abiotic Oil and Peak Demand.
As usual any and all sarcasm was purely intentional… except where it wasn’t.