Monday, April 21, 2008

Partner Update and Announcement

Coming this fall, mark you calendars for the Austin Energy Alt Car Expo and Conference. It's October 17th and 18th and it will be a great opportunity to see what's happening in plug-ins, mass transportation, and urban planning. For general and exhibitor information, call Christine at Platia Productions (310) 390-2930 or email

And here is a Plug in Partners Update:

Partners Update

There are currently 629 entities signed on as Partners. They include:
Ø Cities = 76
Ø Counties/Local Governments = 35
Ø Public Utilities = 166
Ø Businesses = 178
Ø Non-Profit Groups = 67
Ø National/Local Environmental Groups = 37
Ø Investor-Owned Utilities = 10
Ø State/Federal Agencies = 17
Ø Alternative Fuels Associations = 31
Ø Utility Associations = 9
Ø National Security Associations = 3

“Soft” Fleet Orders (total 11,431 orders)

Ø 1,733 Heavy Truck
Ø 1,891 Light Truck
Ø 1,150 Medium Truck
Ø 1,834 SUV
Ø 127 School Bus
Ø 3,494 Sedan
Ø 52 Tractor
Ø 1,150 Van

Campaign Activity

Ø WE are working through EPRI to partner with GM and FORD on PHEV development

Ø Working with V2Green to test V2G communication. Check out the press release at v2green.

Ø Working with the PEW Foundation in get industry partners

Ø Working with EPRI as a partner in the PHEV “Trouble Truck” research and development

Ø Attending national conferences to continue to get new PIP members and inform the public about PHEVs


Ø Last years energy bill, HR 6, created a plug in hybrid demonstration program at the DOE, loans for advanced battery production, and other needed incentives for manufacturers of plug in hybrids. Unfortunately, consumer tax incentives for the purchase of plug in hybrids were not included. Although consumer tax credits for PHEVs enjoyed bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, concerns over other tax portions of the energy bill resulted in the entire tax package being removed from the original bill.

Ø In 2008, the House of Representatives will try once again to pass a renewable energy and energy efficiency tax credits bill that will include a tax credit for Plug in Hybrids. The bill, HR 5351 includes a credit for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The bill would provide a tax credit of between $4,000 and $6,000 for purchasers of a PHEV. The base credit will be $4,000 for a PHEV with a battery of at least 5kwh. The credit will increase by $200 for every kwh of capacity above 5kwh up to a maximum of 15kwh. A 15 kwh battery would have an approximate all-electric range of between 40 and 60 miles depending on the configuration of the vehicle operating system and many other factors. This is the same bill that the House passed in 2007.

Ø The US House passed a bill that would extend a series of tax credits for renewable energy and energy efficiency and pay for them by eliminating or scaling back oil and natural gas industry tax breaks. The bill (H.R. 5351), would extend a variety of tax credits beyond 2008 and create new ones, including a credit for cellulosic ethanol production and an incentive for plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Ø April 23-27, AIP Convention, Las Vegas
Ø April 25-26, Alt Build, Santa Monica, CA

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

PHEV's and Water Consumption

In our last post on Blowback, we observed and opined that any movement forward exerts a force in the opposite direction, and that it is natural. However, this story on water consumption seems to be more than just natural clever shaping, it seems seriously wrong.

Here is the story and the claims.

Plug-in Cars Could Drain U.S. Water Supply,
Researcher Says
By Jennifer Bogo
Popular Mechanics
March 7, 2008

"A 30-mile commute in a gasoline-powered car would require the withdrawal of 18.9 gallons of water, according to a study he co-authored this week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The same commute in a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), meanwhile, would take a whopping 318 gallons.

All told, electric miles necessitate threefold the water consumption and 17 times the water withdrawal of gasoline miles. But wait, aren’t PHEVs the environmentally friendly choice? “If you are a plug-in hybrid owner and you have wind or solar power at your house, then you can feel really good about your plug-in hybrid using very little water, if any,” Webber told PM. “If you’re a hybrid owner and are plugging your car into the standard U.S. grid, then your car is not very clean, nor is it water-free.”

With the grid’s current composition, electricity production requires about 136,000 million gallons of freshwater per day, accounting for over 40 percent of all daily freshwater withdrawals in the nation. That’s because coal-fired and nuclear power plants that use steam to drive a turbine typically use water—vast amounts of water—to cool and condense the steam at the exhaust."

And here's the disclaimer, followed by the restatement.

"Though most of this water is returned to the source (albeit at a higher temperature), a 17-fold increase in demand would pose a real problem for water-stressed regions, making power plants more vulnerable to shut down during times of drought."

In truth, to make a meaningful statement about water consumption, one needs to quote, well, the consumption, not the amount of water that is used to cool the plant.

Otherwise, it's the rough equivalent of saying that hydropower plants withdraw all of the water that goes through the dam's turbines.

According to this EPRI document most conventional power plants use from 200 gallons up to 900 gallons per MWH, depending on whether the plant uses natural gas, coal, or nuclear fuel, and depending on the cooling technology employed. (in that order)

The misrepresentation in this story thus seems staggering.

If you take 500 Gallons per MWH as a blend between all of your plants, and each KWH of electricity gives you four miles, then actual water consumption to go the 30 miles in the story is much closer to four gallons not 318 gallons. Water consumption per MWH for a new natural gas plant is around 250 gallons per MWH. At that rate of consumption and at an average of 20 MPG, the amount of water per electric gallon of gas is about 1.25 gallons. Most thermal plants will use around 3 gallons. Of course, there is no water consumed at all with wind power or solid state solar plants.

And what about the water used to refine gasoline?

The number varies greatly, but the ConocoPhillips refinery in Billings, Montana processes 62,000 bbls of crude oil, or 2.6 million gallons per day. That is 879 million gallons of crude oil per year. The water usage for the plant is 456 million gallons. That works out to be 0.52 gallons of water per gallon of crude oil processed. The study uses a range of 1.4 to 2.9 gallons of water per gallon of gasoline.

And what about the water consumed in the Tar Sands? Or in Saudi Arabia where they use massive water flooding?

Now, if you read the abstract of the original report, you will see that it says that electrics require 3 times the water consumption and 17 times the water withdrawal. The story above even says that. But with a headline that says "Plug in Cars could drain the US water supply," and the lead paragraph saying "a whopping 318 gallons", it's hard to see.

But it's even harder to see how the authors' work could have generated such a headline, given their own conclusion.

"Overall, we conclude that the impact on water resources from a widespread shift to grid-based transportation would be substantial enough to warrant consideration for relevant public policy decision-making."
At Plug In Partners, we conclude that plug-ins powered by combined cycle natural gas plants use slightly less water than gasoline vehicles, and that plug-ins powered solely by coal and nuclear facilities will consume significantly less than the study's 3 times rate. We further conclude that the larger 17 fold increase number is mostly useful as a highly misleading headline.
Another writer from another publication could have just as easily written this headline:
Plug in Cars powered by Renewables will save US Water Supply.