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Cars electricity price swing

Published on June 18th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan

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Oil Price Swings Don’t Touch EVs (Graph)

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June 18th, 2012 by Zachary Shahan
 
 
Here’s a pretty awesome graphic on an issue we don’t actually touch on much when discussing EVs. Clearly, the price of oil is very volatile, due to a variety of factors (“the whims of OPEC, hurricanes, and instability in the Middle East,” as Max Baumhefner of NRDC writes). Fortunately for anyone who decides to switch to a clean electric vehicle, the price of electricity is not. Here’s the graphic for a visual representation of that:

Yet another reason to buy an electric vehicle next time you’re in the market for a car. (Thanks to a reader for passing this on to me.)

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • Pingback: I Love Electric Cars — Here Are 7 Reasons Why | Planetsave

  • RobS

    Zero’s ongoing insistence that individuals will have 1 acre solar arrays in the near future tells me all I need to know about his connection with reality. You claim I am overestimating the output of solar panels, at least I referenced a source for my info. Let’s use your number of 80w per m2, that would still make an acre (4047m2) array 324kw. If you actually believe you need that to charge an EV or my other personal use you are insane.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Zero – (in quotes)

    “Bob you must be crazy if you thin the price of vehicles is going to drop in the coming years.”

    Yep.  I’m crazy.

    A few years ago Tesla released their Roadster, a two seater that sold for over $100,000.  This week they released a much nicer finished luxury sedan that sells for $50,000.

    The 2013 Leaf and Volts will be out soon.  Watch and see how crazy I am.

    “And if you are trying to say that electricity is not going to rise in price too then you must be living in a different dimension to me. ”

    I suspect that I am.  

    If you read around on this site you will discover that both wind and solar generation on the grid is lowering the price of electricity.  Plus, as we’ve pointed out to you, by installing solar you can lock in the your price of electricity for decades.

    Actually you can lock in the price at grid parity right now and after a few years get  your electricity for free.  Once you’ve recovered the cost of your solar system via utility bill savings. 

    “You can bet that there will be massive personal solar installations in the coming years as people seek to ensure they have enough supply to cover their business and family requirements.”

    Doubt it.  A few kW for the house.  Another 2-3kW for each car.  

    “If you only drive once or twice a week but travel more than 300 km per trip you do not fit into the average model. Let alone people who travel more than 500km per trip.”

    Well, true.  And that’s why I’m not looking at an EV right now.  I need a reliable 150 mile (240km) range for my 2-3 monthly trips to the grocery store.  And I need 4wd.  But I’m not “normal” in that way.

    Right now over 50% of all drivers could easily make do with a 100 mile range EV.  All the rest could do quite well with a PHEV like the Volt and do most of their driving with electricity.  We could probably cut our overall personal oil use to 10% of what it now is.

    “The small amount of people who will be happy to have a maximum range of only 35 miles per charge ”

    You’re making shit up again.  Leaf – 100 mile range.  Honda Fit – 123 mile range.  BYD e6 – 200 mile range.  Tesla S – up to 300 mile range.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Zero (quoted)…

    “Due to the range issue with EV’s the owner is forced to pay for overnight accommodation every 300km for a top of the line model. ”

    Wrong.  We are installing rapid, Level 3, chargers along our highway system.

    “Now if we are taking about a leaf which can barely get to 40Km on a singel charge”

    If you want to continue this conversation make a concerted effort to not make shit up.  The Leaf has a 100 mile range.  Somewhat less in harsh conditions, somewhat more under ideal conditions.

    ” If time is also money than ICE’s win hands down in that regard no matter how high the price of fuel rises at the pump…”

    Again, 175 mile range with ~20 minute 80% charging means a 450 mile driving day with only one more stop than would be required with an ICEV.  Perhaps if you were a traveling salesperson doing 500 miles every day an EV like that would be a drag.  On the other hand, you’d save a boatload of money on fuel.

    “. And while the Model S can supposedly achieve 500Km there are all of about 100 of them on the road at the moment”

    The Model S was just released this week.  You are really stretching in an attempt to make a point.

    ” By all means purchase an Ev if you have the opportunity but don’t pretend it is because your are greener”

    How is burning 260 gallons of gasoline in a 50MPG hybrid more green than running an EV on wind or solar generated electricity?

  • Bob_Wallace

    Zero – I’m restarting the conversation here in order to get a wider ‘box’.

    Now, let’s take your points…

    “I’m not arguing in favour of ICE’s I’m arguing that you are not protected from price fluctuations by owning an EV.”

    If you put solar panels on your roof, send that electricity to the grid and get your charging power back via net metering you are protected from price fluctuations.-

    “There is nothing inherently green about EVs. The whole manufacturing process is just consuming more resources and faster.”

    You need to present proof for that claim.  It makes no sense to me. I can see no major difference in manufacturing an EV from an ICEV.  It might take even more energy to smelt/mill all that extra steel and aluminum for a fuel engine and its many components.

    “For a start most people do not get electricity from Wind power. Wind accounts for just a tiny fraction of the total amount of electricity that is provided to the grid globally. Most of it comes from Old King Coal and that is not going to change in the next 10 years.”

    At one point we got zero of our electricity from coal.  Then, over several years we built a lot of coal generation.  Coal peaked at 57% of the US grid supply a few years back.  Last year it provided 42.2% of our electricity.  This year it is running under 36% of our grid supply.

    Wind has now grown to 3% and will continue to grow.  

    Solar is on track to hit 1% in 2015.  And that’s an under-measurement as it does not count the rooftop solar that is consumed rather than sent to the grid.

    Today the Senate turned back an attempt by the coal industry to eliminate new EPA regulations which will result in several coal plants to be closed.  

    We already have over 100 existing coal plants scheduled for early closure and we are building almost no new coal plants.

    “The cost in energy to mine, process and transport the rare earth materials required for the batteries in an EV is significantly greater than you seem to be aware of. Just because it is subsidised by the Chinese Government and hidden away during the process of manufacturing doesn’t mean it is an efficient process.”

    That is incorrect.  If you believe it true then present some numbers.

    “ICE’s have the advantage that they are faster to fill and have a longer more flexible range”

    Yes, that is true.  However for >85% of all driving “fill time” is not an issue.  Most people will charge while parked.  Only a small percentage of our driving days exceed the range of EVs.

    With 20 minute 80% charging once we get to 175 mile range EVs you will be able to drive all day with only two short stops.  You’d have to stop at least once with an ICEV.  

    For the large savings in cost few people will complain about the extra pee stop.

    “EV’s are ridiculously expensive and have limited support infrastructure.”

    EV prices will drop.  A recent report by an auto analyst found that battery prices should be down to $250/kW by 2015.  That price would bring the cost of a Nissan Leaf well below $25k.  And after that prices should continue to drop.  It’s an economy of scale issue. 

    ” ICE’s can be bought for a couple hundred bucks if you are prepared to sacrifice some style”

    Come on.  Let’s keep it apples to apples.  Not new EV to gas junker.

    “You pay less in upfront costs and still save money even with price fluctuations with the added benefit of being able to travel for much greater distances. It’s hard to beat that with an EV.”

    Right now if you were to buy a full priced Nissan Leaf and drive the US average miles you would pay about the same over ten years as if you purchased a $ 20k 30MPG gasmobile.  I don’t think you realize how cheap it is to run on electricity

  • http://solarchargeddriving.com cbdh19

    Great graphic — but it’s kind of got me wondering about the claims made by the solar industry, and solar companies that electricity rates rise on average between 5 and 7% each year. In other words, ironically, the graphic seems to undercut the case to go solar, as the you’ll lock in the same cost of electricity for 20 years argument doesn’t mean much if electric rates in fact have stayed steady.

    • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

      will rise.

      our infrastructure is getting old, needs replaced. it’s been awhile, but it’s now time.

  • http://ronaldbrak.blogspot.com.au/ Ronald Brak

    There’s about 4 kg of lithium in a 152 kg car battery pack that can substitute for burning about 15 or so tonnes of oil.  Charging it with Victorian coal power would kind of suck, but you know what?  We’re shutting down our worst coal plants on account of how they suck.  So I don’t see how an EV pollutes more than a traditional car.

    • Bob_Wallace

      The US grid was 42.2% coal last year.  So far this year it’s running 36%, possibly less.

      The old “EV’s charged from coal plants” argument has run out of fuel.  Time to drag it off to the recycling yard and salvage those usable letters….

      • RobS

        Ronald is talking about my birth state of Victoria Australia which produces 92% of its power from brown coal, 25% of it from Hazelwood power station, the OECD’s filthiest power station producing 1.68 tonnes co2/Mwh. It really is a disgrace. In Victoria I’m sure EVs would be a net environmental loss.
        I’ve sinced moved to Tasmania Australia which is powered by ~85% Hydro, ~5% Wind, ~8% natural gas and ~2% imported from Victoria across a large undersea cable called Basslink.
        This scenario perfectly underscores the regional variation in the benefits of EVs, adjacent states with vastly different profiles in terms of the degree of benefit a shift to EVsmcould bring.

        • Bob_Wallace

          If the output from Victoria’s coal plants were “typical” then moving to EVs would be roughly the same as running on oil.  Perhaps Hazelwood is so bad that it would make things a bit worse.

          EVs run on 100% coal-generated electricity would either result in slightly more (two studies) or slightly less(one study) GHG than running on oil.

        • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

          Wow, didn’t realize you were in Australia. Thought you were American for some reason.

  • Jacques

    environmental score is against EV because of lithium battery. EV-car pollutes much more than traditional car. However, e-bike’s environmental score is winner against traditional small scooter.

    • RobS

      Yeh that once off fully recyclable item is way worse then thousands of gallons of fossilised carbon. Pure anti EV propaganda.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I can’t make sense out of your ”
      environmental score is against EV because of lithium battery” claim.

      Can you explain what you mean?

      • Zer0Sum

        I think the point is that it takes a lot of energy to create a lithium battery so it’s more efficient to just burn the oil for electricity/transportation instead of converting it to a Lithium battery through the mining and manufacturing process first.

        Either way it’s only marginally less polluting to use an EV in the short term. The oil is still consumed at some point.

        • RobS

          What complete tripe, how exactly is the oil still consumed at some point if you drive an EV?

          With regards to solar power don’t let some facts or reality get in the way of a good story. 20kw of solar will produce about 27,500kwh per year output, if your driving the Tesla Model S it consumes about 300 wh/mile so that solar array will allow you to drive 91,667 miles per year. In fact the average driver would need ~2kw solar array to supply all your EV’s power consumption. Whilst we have established we don’t need 20 kw you claimed such an array would require 1 acre or 4047 sq metres or 64m by 64m, a 20kw solar array is actually about 160 sq metres or 13m by 13m. The 2kw solar array you will actually need requires 16 sq. metres or 4m by 4m.
          The misinformation around is common but once someone starts claiming you need 4,047 sq metres of solar for a particular task when in fact you need 16 sq. metres that just takes the cake for ridiculous claims.

          • Zer0Sum

            I explained above how fossil fuels are consumed in the production of an EV. Just because it’s not being consumed directly in the process of driving the car doesn’t mean it is energy positive to own one.

            How far do you plan on travelling with your  2Kw solar powered car? About 10 meters before the next charge?
            2Kw is barely enough to ensure you can keep your fridge running throughout the night. Do you really expect people to believe that you can power a high performance car with that dinky little array? 

            Also how long are you planning to collect energy from the sun in order to provide enough juice for your car to go more than a city block? 

            A real man knows that you are lucky to get more than 80 watts per meter squared in most locations. So an acre gives you enough power than you can quickly collect the energy you need and not be stuck waiting for several hours every time you need a top up.

          • RobS

            There is zero basis for the argument that any more energy is used in the production of an EV over an ICE car.

            A 2kw solar array produces ~8.5kwh per day, enough to power a 300wh/mile EV 28.5 miles per day or 10,300 miles per year.
            http://www.solarchoice.net.au/blog/how-much-energy-will-my-solar-cells-produce/
            I’d suggest you learn about the difference between power and energy.
            “an acre gives you enough power than you can quickly collect the energy you need and not be stuck waiting for several hours every time you need a top up” oh alas, if only there were several hours in a 24 hour period where I wasn’t continuously driving my car. If only there were other things I did in my life that would allow me the few hours needed to top off my car. If only if I did unexpectedly need to top off my car faster then my solar array was producing there was another source of power available, it could be called a “power point” but clearly I’m digressing into fantasy.

            You seemed to miss my correction about the size of a 20kw solar array, about 160 sq metres compared to 4047 sq metres in an acre, an acre of solar panels would be 505 kw and would produce 695,578 kwh per year, enough electricity to drive a Model S 2,318,593 miles.

            Finally I don’t know why I’m arguing fact with anyone who actually uses ” a real man knows” as a legitimate argument…grow up.

          • Zer0Sum

            Try charging your car with a 2OKw array and you will be waiting for a while. I’m talking about having 20Kw of instant juice. That kind of power can only be sustained by a large array. So a 1 acre array is not unthinkable in that case. Of course if you are happy to wait for 8 hours to get to 80% capacity and only ever top up during night hours then I guess you should be happy to use a 20Kw array and your piddly 20 x 20 sq meters.

            In addition I am not arguing that ICE is more efficient than EV. I am arguing that the price fluctuations are still inherent in owning an EV because oil is used to create the car in the first place. Not only that if you want to have the same range as an ice you are forced to pay an excessively high price to own the vehicle and requisite power infrastructure. EV’s are not more energy efficient than ICE’s. The energy required is just used differently. In fact if you use solar it might be that you are doing more ecological damage due to the very dangerous chemicals released in the manufacturing process.

            Basing the purchase decision for an EV on environmental concerns is factually ignorant and anyone who believes it is buying into the great myth of our time. The marketing of the “green” industry is just a media friendly way to get people to cut back on energy usage because the truth that they have over estimated the oil reserves so they can play their stupid financial and political games is too hard for the elite to swallow. They don’t want to be held responsible for their ignorance. 

          • Bob_Wallace

            First, you need to show us some data that proves that it takes more energy to build an EV than to build a ICEV.  Without that your argument falls flat.

            Then, it’s going to have to be a tremendously larger amount of energy because ICEVs are incredibly inefficient.

            ICEVs waste about 80% of the energy in their fuel.  EVs waste only about 10%.

            Finally, few people will charge their EV from their own solar panels.  Almost all will send that power to the grid during peak hours and then get back the charging power they need from off-peak wind supply.  

            Most will not need, or will seldom need, a big fat fast charge.  Most EVs will sit for 8+ hours while their owners sleep.  The average daily drive is about 40 miles.  If you had access to only a 120vac outlet the Leaf will charge at a rate of five miles per hour.  Eight hours of charging to drive that 40 miles.

            Installing a 240vac outlet (similar to a clothes dryer outlet) would cut that time in half or allow 80-100 miles of charging in eight hours. 

          • Zer0Sum

            You are also over estimating the amount of energy you can collect from solar panels. Real world tests show the most efficient single junction panels available are pushing 80w sustained throughput. If you wanted to jump up to the most efficient triple junction cells you could almost double that amount but for 10 to 50 times the price. So the theory that you are safe from price fluctuations by owning an EV is a bit like saying now that I own my ferrari I don’t have to pay so much for my fuel. Most people can’t afford an EV and if it is only gonna get me a travel distance of 100Km I’m better off taking the train where I live for most things except supermarket shopping and then I can just take a cab for less than the cost of owning a car.

          • Zer0Sum

            Also you seem to forget that in order to charge your EV you need a parking space that is secure and accessible to a power outlet. That means you need to own or rent a house with a garage or secure off street parking. Further increasing the already highly inflated cost of ownership for an EV. While you are not going to be directly affected by fuel price fluctuations in regards to fueling your car at the pump you are not safe from the ongoing price increases that are being forced on society as a result of the fluctuations. When the cost of fuel rises everyone suffers. Owning an EV just means you are prepared for a time when there is no more oil available to allow you to drive your car at all. EV’s are for rich people but not for the environmentally or financially conscious.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let’s do some math.

            Average US driver 13,000 miles per year.

            35.6 miles per day.

            Nissan Leaf 0.32kWh/mile.

            11.4kWh per day.

            Most of the US gets at least an average of 4.5 solar hours per day.  

            2.5kW of panels in most of the US would produce (annually) all the power needed to drive 13,000 miles.  (A lot less in the sunbelt.)

            Just grabbing dimensions from a panel, the Kyocera KD135SX-UPU produces one watt from 11.5 sq. inches of panel.  Two hundred square feet of panels needed to produce 2.5kW of harvest.

            Again, no one is going to build some enormous solar array in order to rapid charge their EV.  That’s what the grid is for. 

          • Bob_Wallace

            Have you forgotten that in order to drive gasmobiles all over the place we had to build a very expensive infrastructure of refineries, gas tankers and gas stations?

            Have you forgotten that the grid already exists?

            Are you not aware that public charging points are already being installed all around the world?

            Are you aware that oil is massively damaging to the environment but that we can cleanly generate all the electricity we want with wind, solar, tidal, hydro, geothermal, wave, and biomass/gas technology?

            Are you aware of the current cost of gasoline?

            Do you realize that charging an EV with current retail priced electricity is cheaper than running a 50MPG hybrid on $2/gallon fuel?

            When is the last time you found fuel for sale at $2/gallon?

            Do you not understand that the price of EVs will drop over the next few years so that they will be affordable for everyone?

          • Zer0Sum

            I’m not arguing in favour of ICE’s I’m arguing that you are not protected from price fluctuations by owning an EV. There is nothing inherently green about EVs. The whole manufacturing process is just consuming more resources and faster.

            For a start most people do not get electricity from Wind power. Wind accounts for just a tiny fraction of the total amount of electricity that is provided to the grid globally. Most of it comes from Old King Coal and that is not going to change in the next 10 years. In addition to that thier is the small issue of government subsidies for the fossil fuel and mining industry. It is so bad that most coal mines are running at a loss and are only surviving because the govt’s of the world keep printing money to prop them up.The cost in energy to mine, process and transport the rare earth materials required for the batteries in an EV is significantly greater than you seem to be aware of. Just because it is subsidised by the Chinese Government and hidden away during the process of manufacturing doesn’t mean it is an efficient process.There is also the small issue of how much energy is used to extract the fuel from the oil fields so that it can be transformed into an EV through the manufacturing process. This is an inherently inefficient process.  With Gwahar at 80:20 water:oil it is not getting any less energy intensive to extract and refine the remaining reserves.We also have to take into consideration the cost in terms of energy and resources required to upgrade the grid so that it is not going to fry itself as more of these so called energy efficient EV’s come to market.If you can justify the energy consumption as “green” let alone prove that it is energy positive when you take all of the hidden details into account then you are clearly deluded. 

            ICE’s have the advantage that they are faster to fill and have a longer more flexible range. EV’s have the advantage that you don’t need to run them on ever diminishing reserves of oil. EV’s are ridiculously expensive and have limited support infrastructure. ICE’s can be bought for a couple hundred bucks if you are prepared to sacrifice some style. You pay less in upfront costs and still save money even with price fluctuations with the added benefit of being able to travel for much greater distances. It’s hard to beat that with an EV.

          • Zer0Sum

            Due to the range issue with EV’s the owner is forced to pay for overnight accommodation every 300km for a top of the line model. With a brand new ICE you can get 800km from a single tank. With the cost of accommodation ranging from 50 – 200 a night depending on where you stay it is considerably cheaper to run on fossil fuel and you get where you want to go in a much shorter time period. Effectively 1 day of travel with an ice and 2.5 days with EV. If time is also money than ICE’s win hands down in that regard no matter how high the price of fuel rises at the pump… Now if we are taking about a leaf which can barely get to 40Km on a singel charge we are going to be spending a while on the road for our family vacations. And while the Model S can supposedly achieve 500Km there are all of about 100 of them on the road at the moment so it’s gonna take a while for EV’s to start making a dent in the infrastructure and ownership cycle anytime soon. By all means purchase an Ev if you have the opportunity but don’t pretend it is because your are greener or more efficient. It’s only about transportation and energy security. Being green has nothing to do with it.

          • Zer0Sum

            Bob you must be crazy if you thin the price of vehicles is going to drop in the coming years.

            And if you are trying to say that electricity is not going to rise in price too then you must be living in a different dimension to me. From where I stand that price of everything energy related is going to continue to rise as less fossil fuel is available for a higher price and the ensuing increase in demand on the grid puts pressure on the infrastructure. 

            You can bet that there will be massive personal solar installations in the coming years as people seek to ensure they have enough supply to cover their business and family requirements.

            A circa 1 acre solar install will become a standard for successful business people. That ensures redundancy and supply and can even be used to offset some of the other costs of living that the new hyper inflated society the banksters are busily creating for us, is going to send our way.

            Most people do not live in averages. If you want to be prepared you have to account in peaks not averages. If you only drive once or twice a week but travel more than 300 km per trip you do not fit into the average model. Let alone people who travel more than 500km per trip. In the looming EV infrastructure those people are going to have to adjust dramatically and pay handsomely for the privilege of a few extra km’s. The small amount of people who will be happy to have a maximum range of only 35 miles per charge is not a real market and the automobile industry is struggling to provide for the rest of us who expect them to do better and be quick about it. 

            The sad truth is they waited for too long to start rolling out the next generation of cars and now they are going to make everyone suffer because of their greed and ignorance. They prefer to waste everyones time with pointless energy wars and killing innocent women and children while in the process consuming as much of the precious resources as possible.

  • Luke

    Good graph – and it’s interesting to see that the price of residential electricity has dropped since 1985.

    While I can agree that oil price swings don’t affect the price of electricity, I disagree in regards to EV’s. Depending on whether the price of oil at the pump is higher or lower, it may swing a consumer in favor of a traditional gasoline vehicle or a more modern electric vehicle.

    So, yes, the price of oil DOES influence EV sales.

    • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Good point. :D

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