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Author Archives: Michael Barnard

Blockchain Contracts for Electricity: Underpinnings

December 23rd, 2017 | by Michael Barnard

Blockchain-enabled smart contracts aren't a home run in the utilities sector. There are many cases where the advantages are strongly one-sided. But that doesn't mean that they have no value or that value won't emerge

Tesla vs. Tesla: The Juice In Your Car Will Increasingly Come Through HVDC, Edison’s Preferred Current

December 16th, 2017 | by Michael Barnard

So that's HVDC and why the electricity you use will increasingly come through HVDC transmission. It gets more power delivered over longer distances, it's increasingly economically viable, it works better underground, it works better underwater, it can dodge NIMBYs and it reduces the challenge of variable renewable generation. It's one of the top innovations in the world of electricity, and it's coming soon to a grid near you

Ancillary Service Markets & Electronics Are Transforming Grids For The Better

December 13th, 2017 | by Michael Barnard

Not all of these ancillary services are currently in a position to take advantage of the advantages of market forces. There is significant regulatory burden in generation, a rational response to an historic natural monopoly. Now that electric grids are liberalizing with the greater ability to have multiple participants competing and driving costs down due to advances both in computerized administration and markets and new supply and demand control technologies, markets and proto-markets are emerging

Bitcoin’s Hot But Blockchain For Cleantech Is Interesting

December 12th, 2017 | by Michael Barnard

Bitcoin is very interesting for cleantech for two reasons. One is obvious: the primary currency sucks a lot of electricity, and more electricity demand is good for investment in renewable generation. Of course, a lot of the electricity still comes from carbon-rich fossil fuels too. The second is the underlying technology, blockchain, which has a number of interesting uses emerging in the cleantech space

Conspiracy Theorists, Climate Change Deniers, & The Rejection of Science

December 10th, 2017 | by Michael Barnard

The USA especially is in a challenging place right now. A significant portion of the populace although not a majority believes a variety of things which are provably false and appear immune to reason and fact. They are supported by a President who has ridden their willful ignorance to a powerful position, and in turn he continues to feed their warped world view. The USA was built as much on engineering and science as on capitalism. Rejecting it will only hurt a great country, and by extension, the world

A Tesla Model X On Mars Would Require A Few Changes

December 9th, 2017 | by Michael Barnard

You could retool a Tesla Model X and drive it around on Mars. But it probably wouldn't end up looking like a Model X. The rover that Mark Watney drove around in the movie based on Andy Weir's great book "The Martian" is much more likely to be what the hacked vehicle would look like

Hydrogen Might Fulfill 3–4% of Total Transportation Fuel Needs

December 9th, 2017 | by Michael Barnard

The USA alone uses roughly 220 billion gallons of hydrocarbon fuel a year for transportation. Diverting 3.4% of that to hydrogen as a fuel still displaces 7.5 billion gallons, and the gallons which will be diverted are the most polluting and have the highest greenhouse gas emissions. 

6 of 10 Big Electric Car Companies Are in China

November 23rd, 2017 | by Michael Barnard

Six of the ten companies that appear committed to electrification of their vehicle lines are Chinese. Most of them have international partners, but the international partners are mostly the four that have equivalent commitments

If GM Is Serious, It Will Still Take About 16 Years To Catch Up To Tesla

November 19th, 2017 | by Michael Barnard

Chevy plans to put three more cars based on the Chevy Bolt platform on the road by 2021, and then introduce a new modular electric platform supporting at least 20 new vehicles by 2023. If they stick to these plans, a reasonable question is how long it will take before they have more fully electric cars on the roads of the world than Tesla, if ever

7 Reasons The Future Is Electric

November 12th, 2017 | by Michael Barnard

Seven concepts -- fungibility, ubiquity, loose coupling, electronics outperforming the physical, human nature, economics and the future already being here -- make it clear that the future is electric

6 Factors Will Hasten Or Defer Peak Oil Demand

November 11th, 2017 | by Michael Barnard

We haven’t reached peak consumption, also known as peak demand. We are likely to reach it globally by 2050, but it’s unlikely to occur before 2030 at the very earliest. There are six major factors which make defining exactly when it will occur very difficult

Tesla Has Strong Advantages In Race To Self-Driving Cars

October 22nd, 2017 | by Michael Barnard

Is Tesla still ahead in the race to self-driving cars, or has it fallen back into the pack? I think it still has a much more complete and robust solution set than anyone over several factors which support one another. Other companies are a bit ahead in one component or another, but no one else has the complete set

Hydrogen Isn’t For Cars But Still Might Have A Transportation Role

October 15th, 2017 | by Michael Barnard

Hydrogen seemed like a viable contender to displace a lot of fossil fuels in 2000. But in 2017, it’s not credible for as many applications. We now know very well what it takes to get useful power from fuel cell applications, what it takes to store hydrogen, and what it takes to distribute it. And we know very well the trajectory of battery electric applications, its primary long-term competitor in most situations

Elon Musk Is Only Somewhat Right That Tesla’s Solar & Storage Can Scale To Rebuild Puerto Rico’s Grid

October 14th, 2017 | by Michael Barnard

There’s a lot more to replacing a grid than just solar and storage. Tesla can certainly help Puerto Rico rebuild, but it will be one of many participants in that process. It could easily make a lot of individual residences and office buildings more resilient with rooftop solar and PowerWalls. It could easily double or triple the amount of solar generation Puerto Rico has today. It could easily set up grid storage that would smooth the use of more renewables

Musk’s Suborbital Flights Likely Lower Carbon, If Not Actually Cheap Or Pleasant

October 7th, 2017 | by Michael Barnard

Musk might have something which would make the world even smaller and be more carbon neutral. The price and logistics might kill it, but not the speed and probably not the carbon footprint. Of course, if it took off and more people hopped to the other side of the world than do today, the net result would still be more greenhouse gases. Having traveled across the equator and international dateline several times, the duration, I can assert that the duration of travel is as much an inhibitor as the cost

Electric Cars Have Obvious & Not-So-Obvious Impacts

September 17th, 2017 | by Michael Barnard

Electric cars and other vehicles continue to gain momentum, just as autonomous features are becoming mainstream. But while potential job losses due to autonomy are a strong focus, the multitude of impacts electrification will have on road transportation aren't as clearly stated

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