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Volkswagen Group shows 3 hydrogen fuel cell concepts at LA Show: Audi A7 Sportback h-tron; Golf Sportwagen HyMotion; Passat HyMotion

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Audi A7 Sportback h-tron. Click to enlarge.

Audi and Volkswagen, both members of the Volkswagen Group, unveiled three hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle demonstrators at the Los Angeles Auto Show: the sporty Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro, a plug-in fuel-cell electric hybrid featuring permanent all-wheel drive and the Golf Sportwagen HyMotion, a fuel-cell hybrid, both received a formal introduction in the companies’ press conferences. Further, Volkswagen brought two Passat HyMotion demonstrators for media drives. (The Golf and Passat models have identical hydrogen powertrains and control software.)

All three incorporate a fourth-generation, 100 kW LT PEM (Low Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane) fuel cell stack developed in-house by Volkswagen Group Research at the Volkswagen Technology Center for Electric Traction. (Volkswagen is tapping some expertise from Ballard engineers under a long-term services contract, earlier post.) The Group is already at work on its fifth-generation version, said Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi, during a fuel cell technology workshop held at the LA show, and may be ready to talk about that technology by the end of next year.

In visual terms, the fuel cell vehicles basically resemble their production counterparts, reflecting the Volkswagen Group’s strategic approach of developing alternative drivetrains so as to increase the powertrain options available to customers within the high-volume model lines. This is the opposite of the approach taken by Toyota with its Mirai fuel cell vehicle (earlier post) and Honda with its new FCV Concept (earlier post).

“Fuel cell technology is running in competition with long-range battery electric vehicles. We don’t know which technology will be the winner.”
—Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg

The technology developed and chosen for implementation in these demonstrators also reflects the Group’s focus on leveraging the capabilities of its modular toolkit approach (modularen Baukästen). (Earlier post.) Put another way, the fuel cell technology is being developed so as to work as components in the MQB (transverse) kit, the development of which is led by the Volkswagen brand, and the MLB (longitudinal) kit being driven by Audi.

The ultimate goal—one that Volkswagen Group and brand executives consistently emphasize—is to enable “bumper-to-bumper” production of brand models equipped with different drive systems (gasoline, diesel, natural gas, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric and fuel cell) using the same production line. (Earlier post.)

The Group is not—unlike Toyota, Honda and Hyundai—announcing production dates and initial markets for its fuel cell vehicles.

In 2009, we forecast that a breakthrough in hydrogen fuel cells could not be expected before the year 2020. We are still convinced of this. The fuel cell is and will remain an important an important supplement to our electrification strategy. We wanted to show you that we will be ready to launch when all of the issues related to hydrogen infrastructure have been solved.

—Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, Member of the Board of Management at Volkswagen responsible for the Development Division

Those issues include not only the availability of refueling stations, but also the ability to produce hydrogen from renewables, Dr. Neußer said in his remarks introducing the Golf Sportwagen HyMotion.

VW Technology Center for Electric Traction
Since the 1990s, Volkswagen has been researching the potential of hydrogen fuel cells and transferring this drive technology to production cars. At the end of the past decade Volkswagen decided to build a dedicated Technology Center for Electric Traction near its headquarters in Wolfsburg, to further advance its capabilities in fuel cell development.
The Isenbüttel site was chosen for this center and construction of a special research center for electric drivetrains began in 2001. The infrastructure of the technology center includes a dedicated hydrogen fuel station. Volkswagen produces the hydrogen for the pressure tank station from renewable solar-generated electricity. A photovoltaic array was installed at the site for this purpose.

The Fuel Cell Stack

The fuel cell system comprises more than 300 individual cells that together form a stack. The core of each of these individual cells is a polymer membrane, with a platinum-based catalyst on both sides of the membrane.

In a PEM fuel cell, hydrogen is supplied to the anode, where it is broken down into protons and electrons. The protons migrate through the membrane to the cathode, where they react with the oxygen present in air to form water vapor. Meanwhile, outside the stack the electrons supply the electrical power. Depending on load point, the individual cell voltage is 0.6 to 0.8 volts. The entire fuel cell operates in the voltage range of 230 to 360 volts.

The main auxiliary assemblies include a turbocharger that forces the air into the cells; a recirculation fan which returns unused hydrogen to the anode, thus increasing efficiency; and a coolant pump. These components have a high-voltage electric drive and are powered by the fuel cell.

There is a separate cooling circuit for the essential cooling of the fuel cell. A heat exchanger and a thermoelectric, self-regulating auxiliary heating element maintain pleasant temperatures in the cabin. The fuel cell, which operates across a temperature range of 80 degrees Celsius, places higher demands on the vehicle cooling than an equivalent combustion engine but achieves superior efficiency of as high as 60 percent—almost double that of a conventional combustion engine. Its cold-starting performance is guaranteed down to -28 degrees Celsius.

During the fuel cell workshop, Dr. Neußer said the Group is focused on two major areas of focus in the fuel cell stack to get the efficiency as high as possible with the goal of maximizing range. The first is to bring pressure losses as low as possible.

The second, and the key issue, he said, is the membrane technology itself. Volkswagen is working on nanostructuring the platinum coating to achieve as high a surface area as possible while also reducing the thickness.

(In an aside, Dr. Hackenberg noted that the nanostructuring work for the membrane assemblies has synergies on the battery side, where Volkswagen is exploring the use of very thin layer nanostructures very similar to what is being done on the fuel cell side.)

Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro plug-in fuel cell hybrid

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A7h140013
Click to enlarge.

The Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro fuel-cell plug-in hybrid demonstrator features the fuel-cell stack in the engine compartment and an 8.8 kWh battery pack and an additional electric motor in the rear. The drive configuration gives the zero-emission Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro 170 kW of available power—a new level of performance in fuel cell cars. There is no mechanical connection between the front and rear axles; as an e quattro, the A7 Sportback h-tron quattro features fully electronic management of torque distribution.

Because the exhaust system only has to handle water vapor, it is made of weight-saving plastic.

The A7 Sportback h-tron quattro is a genuine Audi—at once sporty and efficient. Conceived as an e-quattro, its two electric motors drive all four wheels. The h-tron concept car shows that we have also mastered fuel cell technology. We are in a position to launch the production process as soon as the market and infrastructure are ready.

—Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi

In the fuel cell mode, the A7 Sportback h-tron quattro needs only about one kilogram (2.2 lb) of hydrogen to cover 100 kilometers (62.1 mi); the energy content of 1 kg of hydrogen is equivalent to that of 3.7 liters (1.0 US gal) of gasoline. The tanks can store around five kilograms of hydrogen at a pressure of 700 bar—enough to drive more than 500 kilometers (310.7 mi). The range is boosted by up to 50 kilometers (31.1 mi) by a battery with a capacity of 8.8 kilowatt-hours, which is recharged by recuperation or alternatively from a power socket.

Like a car with combustion engine, refueling takes no more than around three minutes. The Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mi) in 7.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 180 km/h (111.8 mph).

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Top left. Hydrogen fuel cell system. Top right. High-voltage components. Bottom left. quattro drive. Bottom right. Packaging. Click to enlarge.

The 8.8 kWh Li-ion battery in the h-tron is adopted from the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid. (Earlier post.) The pack is located beneath the trunk and has a separate cooling circuit for thermal management.

The high-performance battery can store energy recovered from brake applications and supply powerful full-load boosting, enabling the impressive acceleration. Both the front and rear axles have no mechanical connections for the transmission of power. In the event of slip, the torque for both driven axles can be controlled electronically and adjusted continuously.

On battery power, the Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro covers as much as 50 kilometers (31.1 mi).

The battery operates at a different voltage level than the fuel cell; hence, there is a DC converter (DC/AC) between the two components—this tri-port converter is located behind the stack. Under many operating conditions, it equalizes the voltage, enabling the electric motors to operate at their maximum efficiency of 95 percent.

The power electronics in the front and rear of the vehicle convert the direct current from the fuel cell and battery into alternating current for the electric motors to drive the front and rear axles separately.

The two electric motors, which are cooled by a low-temperature circuit together with the voltage converters, are permanently excited synchronous machines. Each of them (the same motor used in the eGolf, earlier post) has an output of 85 kW, or up to 114 kW if the voltage is temporarily raised. The peak torque is 270 N·m (199 lb-ft) per electric motor.

The electric motors’ housings incorporate planetary gear trains with a single transmission ratio of 7.6:1. A mechanical parking lock and a differential function round off the system.

Switching from automatic transmission mode D to S increases the level of energy recovery when braking, so that the battery is charged up effectively during sporty driving. Brake applications, too, are almost always accomplished fully electrically: The electric motors then act as alternators and convert the car’s kinetic energy into electrical energy that is stored in the battery. The four disk brakes only become involved if more forceful or emergency braking is required.

The four hydrogen tanks of the Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro are located beneath the base of the trunk, in front of the rear axle, in the center tunnel. An outer skin made from carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) encases the inner aluminum shell.

Since 2013 Audi has been operating a pilot plant (earlier post) in which renewable wind power is used to produce hydrogen by electrolysis. At present, this hydrogen is still used in an additional production process to obtain synthetic methane (Audi e-gas). A future move to feed this hydrogen into a hydrogen supply and filling station network would make it available for refueling fuel-cell vehicles.

Golf Sportwagen HyMotion fuel cell hybrid

The Golf Sportwagen HyMotion is a full cell hybrid, that functions very similarly to a gasoline- or diesel-electric hybrid, except that the primary propulsion is electric, powered by the fuel cell.

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Click to enlarge.

The hydrogen Golf highlights the potential of the MQB approach. The fuel cell, as noted above, is shared with the hydrogen A7; the 100 kW, 270 N·m (199 lb-ft) electric drive motor comes from the e-Golf, and the 1.1 kWh, 36 kW Li-ion battery pack comes from the Jetta Hybrid.

Volkswagen essentially is showing the Golf SportWagen HyMotion to demonstrate how a hydrogen fuel cell could be implemented in an MQB-based vehicle.

The motor and coaxial two-stage 1-speed transmission are located at the front of the engine compartment; also in the engine compartment are the fuel cell stack; cooling system; tri-port converter and the turbo compressor.

The power electronics are located in the center tunnel area; they convert the direct current (DC) into three-phase alternating current (AC) which is used to drive the motor. The power electronics also integrate a DC/DC converter, which converts energy from the high-voltage battery to 12 volts to supply the 12-volt electrical system.

The high-voltage lithium-ion battery is mounted close to the trunk and rear suspension. The 12-volt battery is also mounted at the rear. Two of the total of four carbonfiber composite hydrogen tanks are housed compactly under the rear seat and the other two in the luggage compartment floor. The hydrogen is stored in the tanks at a pressure of 700 bar. As in all other Volkswagen vehicles, the tank filler neck is located on the right side at the back of the car.

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Energy flow display showing battery (blue), fuel cell, triport connector, auxiliaries (NV), fuel tank and motor. Pressing any of the powertrain elements brings up a display with more information. (Screen from the Passat.) Click to enlarge.

The lithium-ion battery is the second powerplant in the vehicle, and it plays an important role in the drive system. In addition to storing the energy recovered during regenerative braking, it is also an important component in all phases during which the chemical reaction needs to be initiated by feeding oxygen and hydrogen to the fuel cell (the latter via the turbo compressor), such as when driving off from a start.

At this point in time, the fuel cell has not built up enough electrical power to drive the motor by itself. In these phases, the lithium-ion battery jumps into action and supplies energy to the electric motor. The high-voltage battery also operates like a turbocharger during fast acceleration and while accelerating to top speed—i.e., boosting to supply overall system power of 100 kW or 134 hp.

The front-wheel-drive Golf SportWagen HyMotion accelerates from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 10.0 seconds; driving range is about 310 miles (500 km).

Comments

HarveyD

The major problems with BEVs are not charging places but (1) long time to fully charge (30+ minutes) and (2) the weight of the 120 kWh battery pack required for extended range and (3) the high cost per kWh.

Batteries weight and high cost may be solved by 2020/2025/2030 but time to fully charge 120 kWh in 5 minutes may take longer to solve.

Once those three problems are solved, ICEVs, HEVs, PHEVs will be phased out and most FCEVs too?????

Davemart

Bob:
Your argument seems to me to be circular and essentially:

If batteries go down a lot, and other things don't, then they will be much cheaper than the other things.

Those most in the know, and who are actually spending the money, don't know how things will work out, which is why they are spending the money on both fuel cells and hydrogen, and only small companies which could not possibly afford to do both are trying to call a winner.

I prefer to stick with the most prevalent expert opinion, which is one of agnosticism.

Bob Wallace

Harvey, I think this is not a real problem -

"(1) long time to fully charge (30+ minutes)"

The only time an EV driver is going to use a rapid charger is on a long drive day. Once we've got 200 mile range EVs that means starting with 200 miles, stopping 30 min, driving 180 miles, stop 30 drive 180. 560 miles with one hour spent charging. Eat a meal and pee/get something to drink during those charging stops.

A FCEV driver will stop and refill, using about 10 minutes. Then almost all will stop for a meal and again to pee/get something to drink. They will spend maybe 40 minutes not driving, arriving at destination 20, even 30 minutes ahead of the EV driver.

To save that half hour on a 550 mile drive they will spend $55.50 to $93.59 for hydrogen (Toyota's numbers).

The EV driver will spend $16.50 (also Toyota's number).

Then there's the rest of the year. 13,000 miles at 17 cents costs $2,210. At 10 cents $1,300. At 3 cents (for the EV) $390.

The FCEV driver, if they refill with 20 miles left in their tank will stop 46 times a year to refill. Interrupting ones drive, getting out, hooking up, swiping, unhooking, getting back in. 15 minutes? That's 11.5 hours vs the multi-use time spent only on long trip days by the EV driver.

Bob Wallace

"If batteries go down a lot, and other things don't, then they will be much cheaper than the other things."

It's a very safe bet that battery prices will go down. Nothing other than increased production levels is needed to bring down battery prices. No new inventions. No magic pixie dust. Just more automation and larger scale material purchasing.

Toyota says that hydrogen may eventually go down from 17 cents a mile to 10 cents a mile. Switching to "clean" H2 would be more expensive.

Being agnostic is fine. But try to not define closing your eyes to clearly verified facts as agnosticism. That's the sort behavior that believers engage in as a way to protect their beliefs.

Engineer-Poet
No, E-P, I avoid you as much as possible.

Indeed, Bob, to the point of making absurd excuses for using the ban-hammer (not that I don't sneak in anonymous comments under your radar from IP addresses you haven't logged as mine).  But as long as you stand behind your act, the ridicule rifle will be loaded with snark-points and the cross-hairs centered on you whenever you're in view.

Even when we work the price down to Toyota's assumed lowest price it's still going to be cheaper to drive an ICEV.

Absolutely.  This is why the H2 FCEV is a plaything for the "ecologically conscious", not a serious environmental measure or transportation machine.

I see you're doing a lot more quantitative stuff than I recall in the past.  Perhaps I've been a good influence on you.

Roger Pham

@Bob,
>>>>>"Being agnostic is fine. But try to not define closing your eyes to clearly verified facts as agnosticism. That's the sort behavior that believers engage in as a way to protect their beliefs."

Verified facts:
1) A 6-gallon steel gasoline tank costs $50, capable of delivering 300-mi range in a 50-mpg HEV or PHEV.
2) A BEV having equivalent range would need 100-kWh battery pack. At cost of @$100/kwh cell level or $150/kWh pack level, the battery pack would cost $15,000!
3) A 140-hp BEV at $65 per hp would have a power train cost of $9,100.
Thus, for BEV, $9,100 + $15,000 = $24,100 for power + e-storage.
4) A 140-hp PHEV having 70-hp engine + transmission at $45 per hp would cost:
$3,150 ICE + $4,550 e-power train + $3,000 for 15kWh battery @ $200 per kWh + $50 gas tank = $10,750 for PHEV's power + energy storage!

How on earth would a 300-mi BEV compete in purchasing cost with a PHEV with equivalent range, without gov. subsidies, when a BEV will cost over $13,000 to deliver the same result as a PHEV? Energy cost per mile would be about the same, since the PHEV can use home electricity for 80%-90% of the time.

Bob Wallace

First,I'd have to understand why an EV has to have a 300 mile range.

Some people may take off on long drives with a baloney sandwich and an empty bottle to pee in, but most people stop and take a break after a few hours.


Davemart

Bob said:

'It's a very safe bet that battery prices will go down. Nothing other than increased production levels is needed to bring down battery prices.'

At the pack level the Tesla runs something like $250-300kwh.

Even at $100kwh at the pack level, and that is lower than we have any real idea of exactly how to make, with most of the quoted prices being at the cell level, then a car with a really decent ICE replacing range needs 100kwh.

That comes to $10k for the battery alone.

Nope, we don't know that batteries can definitely reach very low prices.
You are just assuming they will.

Companies such as VW don't know, and so are developing both batteries and fuel cells.

They would not be doing that if they knew what the answer would be.

I go along as I said with the industry consensus of experts.

You assume you know better.

SJC

Question assumptions. Many assume that battery prices will come way down, but that has to do with economies of scale driven by marginal cost. The curve may not be as attractive as many assume.

Will batteries go from $400 per kWh to $200 to $100 in the next 10 years? Maybe, but probably not for the reasons everyone assumes. A 2X,3X or 4X improvement in energy density will do more to reduce costs. You go from 6000 cells, to 3000, to 1500 cells per car.

Bob Wallace


Citigroup last week cited $230/kWh as the key mark where battery storage wins out over conventional generation and puts the fossil fuel incumbents into terminal decline.

UBS, in a report based around a discussion with Navigant research, says the $230/kWh mark will be reached by the broader market within two to three years, and will likely fall to 100/kWh.

And it predicts that the market for battery storage will grow 50-fold by 2020, mostly in helping households and businesses consumer more of their solar output, but also at grid scale and with electric vehicles.

So here are some highlights gleaned from the UBS discussion with Navigant:

Navigant estimates the cost of materials going into a battery at the Tesla Gigafactory on a processed chemical basis (not the raw ore) is $69/kWh [this metric is per kW per hour of operation].

The cost of the battery is only ~10-20% higher than the bill of materials – suggesting a potential long-term competitive price for Lithium Ion batteries could approach ~$100 per kWh. Tesla currently pays Panasonic $180/kW for their batteries, although conventional systems still selling for $500-700/kWh. But Navigant says that the broader market place will reach the levels Tesla is paying in the next two to three years.

http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/battery-storage-costs-plunge-below100kwh-19365

Bob Wallace

"Companies such as VW don't know, and so are developing both batteries and fuel cells."

Let's turn the clock back 5, 6, 7 years. At that time it was believed by many that we had to develop a replacement for oil because of Peak Oil. It was also clear to others that we needed to get off oil because of climate change.

Batteries weren't very good. Fuel cells seemed, I would imagine, as likely the answer as batteries. I suspect people assumed the H2 would be clean and not reformed methane.

Several car companies started developing both FCEVs and EVs. In some companies their group think probably favored one solution over the other.

Four years ago Nissan introduced the Leaf. The Tesla S hit the market only a bit over two years ago. I suspect the Leaf, Tesla and other EVs made knees knock in the companies that picked the FCEV route, but they plunged ahead.

Before long we'll see FCEVs up for sale. We'll see independent reviews and some owner experience reports. Over a couple of years we'll probably get a very good idea if FCEVs have a future. Perhaps they do. I can't find an objective reason why the market would swing to FCEVs but perhaps there's a factor that has yet to be identified.

Davemart

Bob said:
'Tesla currently pays Panasonic $180/kW for their batteries'

That is the Panasonics, not the Tesla pack.
Estimates for the price of that still centre on $250-300kwh.

Batteries need to have huge amounts of cost come out, which will need new chemistry such as solid state and/or lithium sulphur, not simply larger scale production.

Maybe it will happen, maybe it won't.

NONE of us know, Bob.

Bob Wallace

You are right, Dave, none of us know.

But the people who are very knowledgeable about batteries are consistently telling us that EVs push out other vehicles when battery prices drop low enough. They consistently talk about battery price, not pack price.

We have Navigant Research telling us that the material cost for the Panasonic cells that Tesla uses is about $70/kWh and the finished price should drop to about $100/kWh. That is consistent with what I've been reading for some time.

Citigroup recently cited $230/kWh as the key mark where battery storage wins out over conventional generation and puts the fossil fuel incumbents into terminal decline.

UBS has stated that the $230/kWh mark will be reached by the broader market within two to three years, and will likely fall to $100/kWh. (Tesla is already at $180/kWh based, apparently, on their purchasing volume.)

http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/battery-storage-costs-plunge-below100kwh-19365

Tesla/Panasonic is predicting a 30% cost drop when their new factory is running. That's under $130/kWh.

Based on what multiple sources are telling us we need no new chemistry to make EVs dominate. All we apparently need is large scale production (economies of scale).

Look at this graphic, Dave -

http://thecleanrevolution.org/_assets/images/cache/autoxauto/2124.jpg

At $250/kWh PHEVs and hybrids are goners. At $150/kWh ICEVs need fuel for less than $2/gallon to compete.

I recognize that this is data that some people don't want to accept. But if one can't show how the data is wrong and throws it away then they are not behaving as a rational player, but a "believer".

Engineer-Poet
Citigroup recently cited $230/kWh as the key mark where battery storage wins out over conventional generation and puts the fossil fuel incumbents into terminal decline.

Only if you cycle it daily.  Amortizing $230 over 10 years @ 7% costs $32.05/year.  If you need storage to buffer wind/solar cycles, you will cycle about 1/week.  52 cycles/year gives you 62¢/kWh storage cost.  This is not even competitive with gasoline for generators, which costs on the order of 50¢/kWh for fuel @ $4/gallon.  Only if you cycle daily can you get the cost down to the arbitrage between off-peak and peak rates, and the only way to cycle daily is with cheap base load.  The all-RE grid need not apply.

If you only have overnight storage, you still need the entire grid's generation for backup (perhaps minus some peakers), and you'll still have to pay for all of it.

At $250/kWh PHEVs and hybrids are goners.

Only if you ignore utility.  To get range even remotely competitive with a car carrying an ICE requires a Tesla-class battery.  85 kWh @ $250/kWh costs $21k, the price of a car right there.  This still requires a 30-minute charging stop after about 2 hours of driving.

At $250/kWh, the PHEV is very attractive.  If you carry 10 kWh and cycle it 5x/week, storage costs ~13¢/kWh.  If power costs 12¢/kWh this yields 25¢/kWh at the wheels, very competitive with gasoline @ $4/gallon.  At 33 mi/charge, 250 charges/year and 45 MPG fuel displaced @ $4/gallon, $300 of electricity replaces $730 of petrolelum (and quite a few trips to the filling station).  The battery pays for itself in <6 years.  There are no range limitations.

if one can't show how the data is wrong and throws it away then they are not behaving as a rational player, but a "believer".

A little irony is good for the blood.

Bob Wallace

- Only if you cycle it daily.

The average price of NG peaker electricity in California is $0.492/kWh. Batteries at $230/kWh would under price peakers at a bit less than 1 cycle per day. And that's not where batteries kill fossil fuels, it's where fossil fuels start into terminal decline.

EOS Energy Systems is grid testing storage that is expected to be $160/kWh and 10,000 cycles. If their technology works as they claim then thermal plants get another shove toward their grave.

- To get range even remotely competitive with a car

You're assuming a 300+ mile range is worth enough to get people to pay a lot extra for something they would rarely use.

I can give you the math again, but basically someone driving a 400 mile range ICEV (or 300 mile FCEV) is going to arrive at destination only a few minutes ahead of someone driving a 200 mile range EV. The ICEV driver will spend $1,000+ each year for that small time advantage and spend some number of hours at filling stations the rest of the year.

Some may find a PHEV their best choice with battery prices at $250/kWh. Since we're pretty sure that Tesla is now paying $180/kWh then it's not $250 battery prices that are going to support PHEVs but cheaper battery prices which are likely to make them go extinct.

Engineer-Poet
The average price of NG peaker electricity in California is $0.492/kWh.

How many hours per year are these peaker plants called upon?  You link no cites.

Batteries at $230/kWh would under price peakers at a bit less than 1 cycle per day.

But how often/many hours are the peakers actually called upon?  And can you even cycle your batteries 1/day, if you only have weather-affected RE to charge them?  Remember, you crazies in California killed about half the state's carbon-free base load generation already, and you're trying to kill the rest.

EOS Energy Systems is grid testing storage that is expected to be $160/kWh and 10,000 cycles. If their technology works as they claim then thermal plants get another shove toward their grave.

No, Bob.  The so-called "renewables" get shoved toward their grave.  They cannot supply the reliable overnight generation to make certain the peaking batteries get charged when they need to be charged.

You're assuming a 300+ mile range is worth enough to get people to pay a lot extra for something they would rarely use.

People insist on lots of extra space and seats they rarely use either.  Use your brain.

someone driving a 400 mile range ICEV (or 300 mile FCEV) is going to arrive at destination only a few minutes ahead of someone driving a 200 mile range EV.

A battery is going to require about 30 minutes for a half charge for the foreseeable future.  The shorter the range, the slower travel will be.  If you can travel 100 miles at 70 MPH before needing a 50% top-up in 30 minutes, your average speed drops to 52 MPH; a Leaf travelling 45 miles at 70 MPH before a 30-minute top-up averages just 39 MPH (and spends almost half the time charging).

A 200-mile EV is going to require fast chargers spaced no wider than 75 miles.  We're a ways from that, and those fast chargers are of little use without firm power to feed them.  Neither solar nor wind can provide firm power.

The ICEV driver will spend $1,000+ each year for that small time advantage

The PHEV driver will capture most of the benefits of the EV, without any of the range and time limitations.

Bob Wallace

E-P

Once again as you are shown to be incorrect you become less and less civil. I'm going to quit this exchange before you threaten me again.

I will answer some of your questions on the way out.

Some gas peakers get called on several times a day and some are run only a very few hours a year. Batteries will take over the frequent use first. We don't have a storage solution for the "few hours a year" except for PuHS. CAES and flow batteries are potential solutions.

With wind and solar now cheaper than new coal and new nuclear it has become a bad economic decision to build new thermal plants. You claim to be an engineer. Do some math. Discover why almost all new capacity is wind, solar and gas.
---

A PHEV driver will enjoy most of the benefits of an EV. And right now if you drive long days more often that the typical driver a PHEV can be a better choice. But as battery prices fall the PHEV becomes a less good purchase.
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Wind + solar + hydro + geothermal + storage + biofuels + NG provides "firm power".

Nuclear requires storage and/or dispatchable generation to provide "firm" power that matches load. Nuclear advocates seem to frequently forget that a constant output source does not fit demand profiles, it only works for power below the annual minimum. (And that can be supplied more cheaply with renewables and storage.)

Engineer-Poet

Bob the One-Trick Pony writes:

Once again as you are shown to be incorrect you become less and less civil.

Every time someone contradicts you, no matter how good the case, you accuse them of "incivility" or some similar infraction.

I'm going to quit this exchange before you threaten me again.

Aiming snark at you is a "threat"?  Only to your credibility.  Withdrawal is your only option, since you can't ban people on GCC and fare poorly when trying to defend your claims with facts.

Some gas peakers get called on several times a day and some are run only a very few hours a year.

And you neither claim nor cite anything to say what fraction of peaking generation or hours per year your figure of 49.2¢/kWh applies to.  Plus, batteries are not generators.  They cannot be called on to supply extra power longer than their limited capacity holds out, and they are net consumers of electricity.

Batteries must be fed by generators, and if there's no surplus to charge them for a while (like the BPA's latest one-week wind outage) you're right back to needing those same peakers.  But the peakers will cost more, because the amortization and O&M still need to be paid.

Last, Denmark has the massive hydro resources of Sweden and Finland to call on for carbon-free peaking.  Denmark still gets 48% of its electric generation from coal, only 33.8% from wind.  This is proof that large energy storage systems are insufficient for an all-renewable grid.  France is proof that 80% nuclear is not very difficult.  Your prescription has been proven not to work.  Your claims to the contrary are lies.

With wind and solar now cheaper than new coal and new nuclear it has become a bad economic decision to build new thermal plants.

Because the political and financial risks of coal and nuclear are too high in most places.  Coal, justifiably so; nuclear, because the likes of you have helped destroy it politically.

Discover why almost all new capacity is wind, solar and gas.

Because wind and solar are heavily subsidized, and the financial risks of quick-built, low-investment gas plants are small.  Meanwhile, the nations of Arabia are ordering whole fleets of nuclear plants to generate electricity and desalinate water.  They have the cheapest hydrocarbons and some of the best solar resources in the world.  The ghost of Farrington Daniels wants you to explain why they're doing this instead of building square miles of PV and solar stills.

But as battery prices fall the PHEV becomes a less good purchase.

A point I have made myself.  If the 30-minute half-charge is the rule, at some range (around 4-500 miles, by my estimate) the stops required by the human element are sufficient to keep the vehicle going longer than the driver can go.  Power-through-the-road is another technology that obviates most need for range extenders.  Neither of these are coming all that fast, though.

Wind + solar + hydro + geothermal + storage + biofuels + NG provides "firm power".

NG is not renewable.  Biofuels, especially tree wood, put carbon inventory in the atmosphere until they can re-grow, and mature trees sequester carbon faster than small ones.  N. American impoundment hydro (the only kind which really offers storage) is maxed out and the environmental community is trying to get it removed.  Remaining US geothermal potential in the lower 48 is just a few tens of GW, most of it west of the Mississippi.  Wind and solar are erratic, not firm.

You should know all of that better than I do.  For you to make that claim says you're either a liar, or you are so blinded by ideology that you can't see the blatant contradiction staring you in the face.

Nuclear requires storage and/or dispatchable generation to provide "firm" power that matches load.

Storage helps the case for nuclear (which is why Ludington was built for Palisades, decades before Michigan got any real wind farms).  Nuclear can also track load; France does it with PWRs, and BWRs do it quite naturally.  Worst case, nuclear can simply dump excess steam directly to condensers.  There are no associated carbon emissions and the fuel is changed on a schedule, so the cost is the cost of engineering the bypass and the foregone sales.

Nuclear advocates seem to frequently forget that a constant output source does not fit demand profiles, it only works for power below the annual minimum.

False.  Nuclear can be turned down by significant amounts, can be designed for everything up to a full-load reject... and even if your claim was true, it would STILL be the environmental option of choice because it can supply that minimum load essentially 100% of the time with carbon-free energy.

You would rather have a grid that's 48% coal than a nuclear-based one that's nearly carbon-free.  There is one thing you are not, and that is an environmentalist.  You may be a romantic idealist in your heart, but everything you say constitutes support for fossil fuels for eternity.

Bob Wallace

OK, I'll play some more. Engage in as much name-calling as you like.

And you neither claim nor cite anything to say what fraction of peaking generation or hours per year your figure of 49.2¢/kWh applies to.

49.2 cents is the average cost. The average cost for every hour peakers run in California, from a few minutes to days.

California peakers provide only a small percentage (~5%) of the total power provided by all gas generation.

http://www.energy.ca.gov/2014publications/CEC-200-2014-005/CEC-200-2014-005.pdf

Natural gas currently supplies about 45% of CA electricity.

http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/electricity/

Less than 3% of CA electricity comes from gas peakers.

As batteries take short term smoothing/regulation business from peakers the cost of peaker power will rise. Not extremely rapidly because most of the cost of power from a peaker is fuel, not fixed costs.

- Batteries must be fed by generators, and if there's no surplus to charge them for a while (like the BPA's latest one-week wind outage) you're right back to needing those same peakers.

As we add batteries to the grid we will add more wind and solar generation. With batteries to scoop up and store the peaks wind and solar will be supplying more power directly to the grid.

You are correct that at this point in time we are going to use gas peakers for deep backup, that's what we have, that's what we now use.

The use of NG for deep backup is not the best way to slow climate change but, realistically, that is what will happen because supply decisions are based on costs, not carbon at this point in time.

Whether the major input are renewables or nuclear deep backup will be NG now and for a while into the future. There are no nuclear peaking plants.

When you try use an event such as "BPA's latest one-week wind outage" remember that nuclear also disappears for extended periods. Sometimes for years.

- France is proof that 80% nuclear is not very difficult.

France proved that a large number of reactors can be built in a relatively short amount of time. It proves nothing about nuclear being affordable. Nor does it prove that a large amount of nuclear could be build nearly as fast as a similar (output) amount of wind and solar.

- Your prescription has been proven not to work. Your claims to the contrary are lies.

My 'prescription' that one can run a grid on renewables, storage and a small amount of dispatchable generation has been proven not to work? Where?

I think it more accurate to say that my 'prescription' has been shown to work on very small scale in the Tokelau islands with 100% solar electricity and will soon likely be demonstrated on a bit larger scale. El Hierro island will be 100% wind with PuHS by June 2015. It will be several years before a major grid will be essentially 100% renewables. (With the exception of those grids which are already 100% renewable thanks to large hydro resources.)

Because wind and solar are heavily subsidized, and the financial risks of quick-built, low-investment gas plants are small. Meanwhile, the nations of Arabia are ordering whole fleets of nuclear plants to generate electricity and desalinate water.

Nuclear has received massively more subsidies in the US. Something on the order of $185 billion to wind's and solar's $25 billion. When/if the new US reactors come on line they will be more heavily subsidized than wind and solar that come on line that same year.

I can't tell you why the oil-rich nations are installing nuclear in addition to renewables. Perhaps they don't feel a need to be careful about how they spend their vast wealth.

- NG is not renewable. Biofuels, especially tree wood, put carbon inventory in the atmosphere until they can re-grow, and mature trees sequester carbon faster than small ones. N. American impoundment hydro (the only kind which really offers storage) is maxed out and the environmental community is trying to get it removed.

I made no claim that NG is renewable.

Using wood biomass shortens the time carbon stays out of the atmosphere, only by a modest amount in the case of very fast growing trees. The important point is that we could use biomass for the last small percentage of "deep backup" and avoid using fossil fuels such as NG which take carbon out of sequestration and add that carbon to the carbon cycle.

The US has a significant amount of existing 'impoundment' that is not now used for generation but can be converted. We are already adding turbines to existing dams.

- You should know all of that better than I do. For you to make that claim says you're either a liar, or you are so blinded by ideology that you can't see the blatant contradiction staring you in the face.

Stating that "Wind + solar + hydro + geothermal + storage + biofuels + NG provides "firm power"" makes me either blind or a liar?

Nuclear can be turned down by significant amounts

While that is true, some reactors can adjust their output to some extent and steam could always be dumped it simply makes no economic sense.

You're starting with the most expensive new generation (aside from coal). The cost is created almost entirely by fixed costs, there's no meaningful savings created by shutting down as with NG and its fuel costs. Dropping output increases the unit cost of power sold. Load following with nuclear simply makes it even less affordable.

- You would rather have a grid that's 48% coal than a nuclear-based one that's nearly carbon-free. There is one thing you are not, and that is an environmentalist.

You are very free with the word "liar". Would you please find one single place on the internet where I have stated that I would prefer a grid with any amount of coal rather than a nuclear-based grid?

I think this might be an interesting test of character.


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