back to article White House to bung electric car industry $4.5bn in loans

The White House has said the US federal government will underwrite loans totaling $4.5bn to expand the use of electric cars. But before you go rushing to Elon Musk asking for a set of Falcon doors, note that it is only for building out charging infrastructure. The Department of Energy has expanded its existing loan program to …

  1. Mage Silver badge

    Electric car grants

    All the tax payers subsidising the rich.

    Electric charging for the masses needs a MASSIVE upgrade of the entire grid.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Electric car grants

      You *are* rich. At least richer than a Somalian until the outsourcing accelerates a bit more ;)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Electric car grants

      Electric charging for the masses needs a MASSIVE upgrade of the entire grid.

      The whole system - local distribution networks, HV transmission lines, and most critical of all, generating plant. In the UK thanks to the tree huggers, National Grid have to count wind power as part of the total capacity to keep the lights on in a "derated" plant scenario. Put simply, we don't actually have enough depatchable capacity to keep the lights on if there's a particularly cold winter, and we have any generating or transmission problems at the peak demand periods.

      And that's with current levels of demand. As a rough guide, each electric vehicle uses about the same power annually as an average UK house. You're not going to need much of the road fleet to be EVs before they are dramatically exacerbating the problems of lack of reliable generating plant.

      1. Timmy B Silver badge

        Re: Electric car grants

        I'd like to see where you get the statistics for each electric car using the same power as a house. You are also ignoring that the vast majority of EVs will charge over night when far fewer people are draining the grid.

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          Re: Electric car grants

          "I'd like to see where you get the statistics for each electric car using the same power as a house."

          I would like to as well. As far as I can tell a typical household in the developed world uses around 55-60% of its energy expenditure on private vehicles. But the conversion efficiency of an ICE is typically 30% while an electric motor is around 90% so the increase in domestic electricity consumption from converting all private vehicles to electric power looks to be at most 50% and probably significantly less.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Electric car grants

            "I'd like to see where you get the statistics for each electric car using the same power as a house."

            I'd like to see where the house is going to get turned off while the car is charging. Hint: The car is an addition to the household load, not instead of the household load.

      2. Northcroft

        Re: Electric car grants

        You seem to have missed a couple of points - cars do not mind being charged between 2am and 6am - and that in the UK most people drive their cars less than 50 miles a day. We just need a way of getting the cars to charge when electricity use elsewhere is low. It should not be a problem with wifi connected cars.

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: Electric car grants

      Indeed, on both points.

      One wonders why the "pro-'leccy cars for the masses" folks don't want to hear "If 50% of all vehicles in the Sonoma Valley were all-electric, there is absolutely no way for the existing grid to cope with the drain ... unless each vehicle had it's own time-slot for recharge, that is ... "

    4. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: Electric car grants

      Electric charging for the masses needs a MASSIVE upgrade of the entire grid.

      Or for every electric vehicle owner to own a small coal-fired (because it's cheaper than diesel) electricity generator for their transport needs. Might even be able to get a government subsidy program going to fund them ;-)

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      tax payers subsidising the rich.

      unlike the subsidies for the coal, nuclear and oil industry, which aren't owned and run by rich people at all

      1. Buzzword

        Re: tax payers subsidising the rich.

        Nuclear is subsidised, but the UK's nuclear power stations are entirely owned and run by the government*. There's no rich person owning or running them.

        (* the government of France, that is.)

    6. jphn37

      Re: Electric car grants

      The entire grid NEEDS a massive upgrade. It's very vulnerable to massive months-long blackouts, cyber attack, and more.

  2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Overlooked Problem?

    While having enough charging stations will help, there is still the problem of recharging times and basic thermodynamics. The faster recharging occurs the more of temperature build up you have; just touch any recharging battery. Depending on the battery design this will limit how fast you can safely recharge.

    One point not mentioned if rapid battery recharging was as easy as many think, submariners would be all ears. Diesel-electric boats are extremely quiet on electric motors but have to be at snorkel depth to recharge. The longer the boot is at snorkel depth the more vulnerable it is. So a very rapid charging battery would be tactically advantageous to allow for a short recharge time.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Overlooked Problem? / submarines

      Which is why modern, non-nuke subs use fuel cells. Diesel-electric is so 21st century...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Overlooked Problem? / submarines

        "Which is why modern, non-nuke subs use fuel cells. Diesel-electric is so 21st century..."

        AFAIK the fuel-cell subs need air tanks, hydrogen tanks, fuels cells and diesel engines. So quite a lot of extra baggage

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Overlooked Problem? / submarines

        "Which is why modern, non-nuke subs use fuel cells. Diesel-electric is so 21st century."

        They still are Diesel-electric but effectively with bigger batteries that are not charged by the engine but must be recharged at a shore base. And electric power is still very limited - hundreds rather than thousands of horsepower. There's also the vulnerability of hydrogen and oxidiser being stored outside the pressure hull.

        Fortunately for world security, the technology doesn't yet exist to build an ideal stealth submarine.

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          Re: Overlooked Problem? / submarines

          This discussion of submarine technology is fascinating but almost entirely irrelevant. In general the military's 'economics is not an issue' approach makes their choice of expensive toys a poor guide for the rest of us. I mean you don't see ordinary people non-Americans driving around in Humvees.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Overlooked Problem?

      Don't forget that a discharging battery gets warm too, so you don't even get to start off cold.

      Most batteries still have a maximum charge rate regardless of temperature, and this is why people are spending billions on battery research.

    3. swarfega

      Re: Overlooked Problem?

      It's also gonna need one heck of a fat snorkel if multiple times faster at recharging ... big-ass Stealth Snorkel maybe? And won't the whooshing or other intake resonating noises be a bit distracting or detectable - for some reason I'm thinking of Suzuki RF900R for an example at this point .... ;) Presumable it will also blow out more diesel smoke, it could be arranged like a Cummins-diesel engined pickup "rolling coal" with 2 sideways-pointing exhausts? :P

  3. WonkoTheSane
    Stop

    Charger hogs

    The biggest problem is not finding a charger space, it's finding one that someone hasn't left their plugin hybrid attached to ALL DAY, instead of just the 30mins it actually takes to reach 80% charge.

    Mitsubishi Outlander drivers seem to be the most common culprit.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Charger hogs

      When I plug my Outlander into the charger at home it tells me that it is 100% charged. A Green LED starts flashing. The Smartphone App also tells me the charge level.

      I've never tried to use a charger away from home/or the supplied charger so I'm not one of the guilty Outlander Drivers you see. TBH, the only chargers near me that I could use are at Morrisons and you get hit with a £75 fine it you are parked there more than 3 hours between 07:00-18:00.

      Care to share where these chargers (that are always in use) are?

      1. Timmy B Silver badge

        Re: Charger hogs

        We have been blocked in both Weymouth, Exeter and services on the M5 by PHEVs. The Exeter one was parked all day in the P&R whilst they went shopping. The obvious answer is to have more than 2 charging stations.

        All this is moot, though, since Electric Highway have imposed the crazy pricing scheme.

  4. MatsSvensson

    Rascals for everyone!

  5. Baldy50

    Cold climates

    I think electric vehicles are a fantastic idea and eventually will save significant amounts of pollution but when it's a cold damp day what keeps the people inside warm and the windows demisted?

    The info on fuel cells was interesting by allthecoolshortnamesweretaken and at least these would give out some heat when in use, don't know about the solid oxide types a bit on the toasty side.

    I think for now we have to carry on using petrol and diesel but could be used more efficiently as in the development of High Efficiency Hybrid Cycle engines, similar to the Wankel design which combines the features of the Otto, Diesel, Rankine, and Atkinson cycles, are more efficient and produce less heat.

    The hybrids using a diesel or petrol engine to provide extra power or charging on most are low tech mostly using piston engines?

    Hydrogen would be a good choice of fuel if it were cheaper and they reckon there might be oceans of the stuff under the sea bed, researchers from Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment claims to have found an abundant source of hydrogen in serpentinized rocks that form from spreading tectonic plates.

    Fracking moves off shore, we don't get many earthquakes here well so far.

    The US is a massive country so for long journeys I think for the foreseeable future gas guzzlers are still king!

  6. Disk0
    Facepalm

    perceived risks associated with technology

    Not all power has to come from "the grid", which at this point seems more inefficient every day. But I guess it's all the rage to ignore the possibility of new developments.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: perceived risks associated with technology

      "Not all power has to come from "the grid", which at this point seems more inefficient every day. But I guess it's all the rage to ignore the possibility of new developments."

      1) All this new power generation still has to be moved around though, so the grid stays regardless, unless we can somehow generate lots of power for almost no money anywhere, in which case we are already in a utopia.

      2) Talking about real-world issues and putting <insert new technology here> when deciding on policy isn't a good plan.

  7. Vadar

    charge off peak at night at home...

    and you put zero strain on the grid - in fact you help baseload stay up when demand is low - and with time of use pricing, the price you pay is great too. beats every other routine charging scenario hands down.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: charge off peak at night and add a new peak

      Charging at night is a mantra left over from the days of electric cars being a small hobby for a few, it really is 20th century in origin.

      Large power users have already shifted some of their load to off peak times and in area's where a large number have done that they successfully moved some of the peak from late afternoon to night. In doing so they removed the "zero" strain and created a demand greater than the base load resulting in some savings but not those promised.

      Even the electrical industry has adapted and where the night time rates are low enough they will take equipment out of service at night and have their workers come in even if higher labor rates have to be paid. Which increasingly they do not because the government has responded and put in programs to keep labor rates low even if national supply and demand would have them increase.

      There are a lot of industry and bean counters feeding off the $0 a MW rates that used to be available in some areas at off peak times.

      Electric cars are new load, they are not currently part of the peak load, nor are they part of the increasing power demands of the digital boom. Power demands of computers and digital devices is increasing and are also facing the reality of limited power being available. They too are looking at charging in off peak and running off stored energy during peak to save money.

      These two new loads, transportation and digital devices, will be more than can be supplied by a few panels on the garage or on top of skyscrapers.

      It isn't all bad though. The coming higher prices for grid connections will encourage more to go off grid and for those remaining to become more efficient.

      And there is Fusion, power will be too cheap to meter when we get that working. ;)

  8. Timmy B Silver badge

    We charge overnight. We can pick the time that the char starts drawing power too. Also there is no mention - I suspect people don't know about it - of the new technology where EVs will pump back unused cheap electricity during the day and reclaim the higher tariff, and then recharge at night when it's cheaper and less used.

  9. joea

    And the Hydrogen infrastructure?

    The Gov, picking winners and losers? Toyota has spearheaded the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, as seen in the Mirai, but seems unable to get buy in on infrastructure build out.

    Shame. Why should I have to move to California just to use one?

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