Friday, July 01, 2005

Transportation Unification

When your favorite football team plays football in the fall of each year, perhaps 30,000 vehicles are parked in order for the 70,000 fans to come to the Stadium. If each car has 200 horsepower, then approximately 6 million horsepower is parked during that 4-hour game period.

That represents about 4500 megawatts of power potential. A city with a million people may need about 2500 megawatts of electrical generation potential. Therefore, there is a larger power plant in the parking lots in and around the stadium for those four hours than in all the generation capacity found in the coal, nuclear, gas, and wind plants of that city

Let's assume that a plug in hybrid-electric vehicle has a 50 horsepower engine and a generator and motor to match. It may or may not run on hydrogen. Or assume we have a fuel cell vehicle with a 37 kW fuel stack. Now assume that 10% of the million or so registered vehicles in the city were such vehicles. Those 110,000 vehicles could provide about 4,000 megawatts of electrical capacity.

The issue here is not one which asks the question "why do we not use the excess power capacity of our cars to power our homes and offices?"

Rather, the question we should ask is, " why can't we use our cars to power our homes and offices if we want to, or when we must?"

Why are the two systems, our transportation power system and our electrical power system "noncompatible?"

It's as if one is a Mac and the other is a PC.

A unification of these two systems would provide substantial value to the overall energy infrastructure. Transportation power plants could be used to shore up electrical generation shortfalls during peak periods of use during a heat storm in August, or for emergencies during an ice storm in January, or a thunderstorm in May.

This concept is now called V2G, for vehicle to grid.

A unified energy system would allow homeowners to power their off grid homes with their cars by charging up battery banks. Such a house would not only be self-sufficient, it would have numerous powering options.

Solar powered homes with a unified energy strategy could reduce the size of the photovoltaic array and/or omit back up generation.

All electric vehicles and plug in hybrid vehicles help achieve this unification.

The owner of an electric vehicle can charge his or her car from green power from a wind farm, with brown power from the coal plant, with their own photovoltaic systems, or with local back up generation that runs on natural gas, propane, or hydrogen. Whether the vehicle uses batteries or fuel cells is a non-issue on this strategic issue.

The systems can and should be unified.

Unification will reduce costs by reducing society's total investment.

It will increase the reliability in both systems.

It will create a better, stronger more competitive market.

It will provide an avenue for true driver independence.

The unification of our transportation power infrastructure

with the electric grid that powers our homes and businesses,

would significantly alter the energy landscape

and the way we operate in it.

It will also keep us from having to fight wars

for oil.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This one on unification is terrific for us non techy types. The football stadium image worked. The vision is clear and seems so do-able - except for the lack of intent of we the people.

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well said, Oz

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This seems so straightforward and smart. It is nice to know that solutions to our situation are just minor tweaks away. It is diconcerting to see that those in control do not chose to tweak the system because of their vested positions.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the next time, some one tells me we must have oil, I will direct them to this article... excellent piece.

1:09 PM  
Blogger oZ said...

there is a substantial effort to begin to entice the car companies into making plug in hybrids occuring now in this country.

an advanced plug in hybrid industry will open the way for the unification of the energy sector, and we will all benefit from it.

tranportation appliances that can run on many fuels are remarkably close and achievable in the very near term.

12:43 PM  

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