Project Better Place: are we all going to be slaves to the evil grid lords?

I want to like Project Better Place because I like the idea of EV’s and oil in dependency. But ever since I started following it’s progress I had a bad feeling about it. For those who don’t know what I’m on about: project better place (PBP) is a scheme that envisages the mass introduction of EV’s in small countries like Israel and Denmark. EV buyers would pay monthly for battery rental and access to a power infrastructure, the “grid”. Check it out here:

I can see a couple of things very wrong with it. The problem is that no matter how I sympathize with the idea of mass introduction of EV’s the truth is (and I hate to say this): it’s too early. There are a lot of technological breakthroughs going on right now, but it still takes some years before economical production of practical EV’s without major drawbacks is feasible. The problems remember are at this point limited range, long recharging times for batteries and high cost for next generation li-ion battery packs. PBP tries to work around this by adopting the mobile phone companies strategy by hiding the cost of EV’s behind a scheme of monthly payments, by installing an infinite number of recharging points and a cumbersome battery swop scheme.

First of all I detest the marketing strategy of mobile phone companies. They give you a high-tech full spec phone for “free”and subsequently make you pay big time for it by inflated phone bills. This is what PBP has in mind too: “free” batteries, maybe even a “free” car, just a little service contract which they will bill you for big time every month.

Secondly the whole network concept is very expensive and based on today’s technology. Tomorrow’s storage devices (EEStor?/next generation Li-Ion) will provide much faster recharging times and far longer range. All one would need then is a system of high current recharging stations, much like the present petrol stations that could fill up your batteries in minutes.

This brings us to the third problem: there is a huge chance that a multi billion investment in technology that is very likely to be obsolete before it is even fully installed will induce parties who have invested in this scheme to try to block out new technology that would render their investment essentially worthless. Plug in hybrids like the Chevy Volt are supposed to hit the market at about the same time PBP will become operational, and this concept makes the whole PBP grid concept useless already! Maybe that’s why rumour on the web has it that Renault/Nissan will pressure participating governments for exclusive right to sell EV’s . I guess investors would have to demand this because they can’t afford competition from next generation EV’s or plug-in hybrids that have no need for their grid. They would be out of business before you can say “abusive monopolist”. Nothing can be allowed to exist outside the grid. The grid lords need to rule supreme or wither and die.

So the fourth problem would be that consumers may have only a few models to choose from and a huge monopolist provider decides which models that will be and at what prices. Reminds me of that pride of the former DDR: the infamous Trabant. You bought one because it was the only model on offer and you needed a ride. I don’t want to be dependent on a monopolist grid lord for cars and battery rental at prices it determines.

Which brings me to the fifth problem: what incentive do the battery makers have to make their product cheaper if the costs are hidden from the consumer behind monthly payments for a “service contract”?

The sixth problem :what’s the use of achieving oil independence if you subsequently become the slave of an evil grid lord who is probably owned by petro dollar investment companies anyway? This scheme enables Big Capital to keep their fingers in your wallet, just like they are used to with current generation ICE cars.

Which brings us to the seventh problem: Renault/Nissan claims that driving their EV’s will be cheaper than current vehicles (in Israel that is where current vehicles and petrol face massive taxes, whereas PBP vehicles do not). What they don’t say is that next generation EV’s with affordable storage devices and no need for contribution to an expensive recharging grid will be even cheaper to run. A lot cheaper in fact.

Talk about cost: the eights problem is the kind of cost structure PBP proposes.The PBP scheme makes owning a car expensive but driving it cheap. But what about the need to make car costs variable? Most governments want you to pay per mile because of congestion problems. So eventually PBP drivers will end up paying an extra charge per mile apart from their monthly contribution to the PBP investors. This could make motoring very expensive indeed!

My final problem with PBP is: what happened to the promise of freedom and independence that seemed so alluring about EV’s? Freedom to me means to own my car including the batteries and be able to recharge them at home, preferably with electricity generated by myself with next generation photovoltaic technology and to be independent from big companies and governments looking to fill their pockets every month over my back.

Anyway when the right technology is available competitive EV’s will enter the market on their own power without any big brother/slave to the grid schemes and high current recharging stations will emerge very quickly too. In fact the right technology might already be available by the time PBP is supposed to become operational. If there has to be a large scale introduction of EV’s with today’s technology I would suggest to at least dispense with the expensive and cumbersome batteryswap scheme to keep overall investments down in technology that’s outdated soon anyway. Maybe it could be temporarily replaced with a scheme that would offer convenient ICE car rentals for those longer trips. And of course it should be guaranteed that next generation EV’s with better technology that can operate outside the grid will not be banned. Unless someone can prove me wrong here I have to assume this is one of the biggest an cheekiest scams Big Capital has ever tried to pull on the general public in modern history!

Well, the one technology that is being worked on is “flow batteries”. Its been around for a long time, but maybe now everyone will being working on it.

Vanadium Redox flow batteries has just finally come off of its patent about 2 years ago.

This basically will allow, if the shrinkage technology catches up, a fill up very similar to gas/diesel, except one removes the discharged electrolyte and then fills the vehicle with charged electrolyte, which could be done in the same time frame as filling your car.

The discharged electrolyte has basically an indefinite lifespan and the owner can then just charge the electrolyte and resell it. OR YOU DO IT FROM HOME! Have large tanks at home (buried maybe?) for your electrolyte that are charged by solar panels during the day and when you get home switch the juices and you’re set for the next day. Or charge normally with an extension cord.

The best parts of Vanadium Redox are:

  1. Environmentally safe (non-toxic and no pollutants)
  2. Easy and safe to replace electrolytes for a 2 minute charging of your battery.
  3. Electrolytes have an indefinite lifespan, so 50 year old batteries?
  4. Can also double as a storage place for power for your home. PV charges the large battery tanks during the day, switch juices from your car AND power your home at night at the same time.

The flow battery technology just needs to catch up. Its a great idea with great possibilities in EVs and is being tested on a smaller scale (golf carts) while already in use at some wind/solar farms and larger electronic companies.

PBP maybe needs to look into this more than anything.


PS I do not work for anyone in this industry. I am just excited about the idea of it and would love to support the idea personally.

So be very weary of schemes like Project Better place that have a vested interest in precluding new technology just like the present ICE car industry and that basically wants to step in place of the withering ICE car industry and indeed the oil industry as the party that gets to fill it’s pockets on a regular basis at the expense of the consumer.

Maybe your idea’s about Vanadium Redox flow batteries warrant a thread of their own in the batteries section of this forum but from what I get from Wikipedia this technology has a lower energy density per kilo than even ordinary Lead-acid batteries so I don’t readily see how this technology could help the EV cause.

Still your right that battery technology is evolving fast and that is exactly the core of my criticism of the Project Better Place scheme: It wants to waste an enormous investment in a power grid based on today’s technology. This may end up precluding new technology that are a threat to this investment from entering the market by insisting on legislation from participating governments that guarantees that their investment is protected from the impact from new technology. Note that PBP always seeks for cooperation with governments, since it cannot survive without guaranteed government backing. They cannot be dependent on market forces. That means that people who want EV’s in PBP zones will have no choice but to enslave themselves to the PBP grid lords including the payment of a monthly tribute for services which real monetary value will remain shady, just like the monthly fee you pay to your local friendly (greedy really) cell phone operator. Of course PBP is not a problem if people are allowed to operate EV’s outside the PBP grid. It will just be bankrupt very soon.

All of the rail road companies who built our first transportation industry went bankrupt as did most of the ISP’s who started the public internet.

Yes, projectbetterplace strikes me as something with an agenda that is not open to other or a mixed set of options.

Something’s need biodiesel for green solutions (jet aircraft, ocean vessels not controlled by our military, large remote equipment, etc) and this site says simply diesel must go - no regard to what type…

There is another problem with their grid / battery exchange - we went through the same thing there with propane tank exchanges - it cost you more money because some people to not take care of their equipment, and the exchange program then has to spread this cost out over eveyone. The guy who brings in a new tank pays for the guy who has an old tank out of hydro testing and maybe an old valve that needs replacing.

Same idea with batteries. If you are simply going to exchange it, why not pound on the battery long and hard, thus reducing the life in exchange for high performance to a few ? The little old guy putting along saving the planet is making up for the guy with a modified controller that can dump 400amps at a time.