You cannot Drill for Electricity!

“You cannot drill for electricity.”

That is the short answer to the question below:

Big oil companies are thrilled about the demand for electric products, including the demand for electric vehicles. The fact remains, you cannot drill for electricity…you have to produce it, using fossil fuels. Electricity is a secondary power source and the only plentiful, reliable, and cheap producer of electricity is Hydro, Nuclear, and Natural Gas. And of these three, only natural gas turbines can be powered on and off to meet consumer demand on the electrical grid. It takes hours and sometimes days to power up or power down a nuclear plant or a hydro plant, these are not “on demand” power generators. Natural gas is the most economical and practical producer of on demand electric power.

But first, lets take a look at the power grid in the US

The energy grid in the US is primarily fuel by nuclear & hydro power plants. Layered above these are natural gas turbines which can be powered up “on demand” fairly easily to meet consumer demands which are highest in the PM and in the AM when people are home or getting ready to leave for work.

Solar and Wind power is worked into the grid but in low amounts as they are sporadic and unpredictable and they threaten to inject too much (or not enough) electricity into the power grid. Keep in mind that there are not “batteries” storing electricity. When electricity is generated it is fed straight into the power grid.

As demand for electricity increases, so does the demand for fossil fuels. See sketch below:

So at the heart of the answer is this reality: It is not entirely true that replacing gas vehicles with electric vehicles reduces our demand or dependency on fossil fuels. You cannot drill for electricity.

Electricity is “secondary” energy source powered, in large part, by fossil fuels.

As battery technology improves and energy STORAGE technology is improved, then solar and wind energy could displace our need for fossil fuels. But that technology is a long way away. Tesla’s Powerwall is a solid step in the right direction.

Fossil fuels, at the moment, are too cheap and too plentiful to be replaced by any other technology.

That is a very interesting post. One thing that has struck me over the last few years is the high cost of green energy such as wind farms, etc. In the UK the cost of green technology, as governments look to hit their emission reduction targets, has led to a significant increase in the cost of energy for consumers. Massive taxpayer subsidies are keeping the green energy market afloat, how long can this continue?

I have solar panels. Yes, the solar panels were made using a lot of fossil fuels, but they will last for many years without using any more fossil fuels, water turbines, nuclear power or natural gas. When Tesla finally has the model 3 on the marker and they get up to my name on the waiting list I’ll use even less fossil fuel. I don’t trust Ford or GM when it comes to an electricity vehicles. They make good ice cars and trucks, but they don’t seem interested in making EVs. It will take a very long time for a substantial number of people to switch to EVs, but we do what we can.

Hi BobK53

Do you find green energy more expensive to harvest when compared to the likes of fossil fuels? From the articles I have read there still seems to be significant room for improvement in the efficiency of solar panels?

In another couple of years the cost of my solar panels will be paid by the savings on my monthly power company bill. At that time the clean energy cost is superior to the grid. In the spring and fall my power company bill is about $15.00. That is the minimum charge to be grid connected, even if I use no electricity from the power company
I may add more solar panels and batteries so that I can go off-grid and say good by to the power company.

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I think the situation you are describing will be the turning point for EVs and power generation in general. The more options to obtain your power the more competition this will inject into the marketplace which will ultimately result in lower prices, whichever way you obtain your power.

I drive two electric cars by choice, because cost to cost ICE wins out and will for several years. Electric cars run about $10,00.00 premium over ICE. Oil is not going away, because 52% of every barrel of oil is used for plastics and etc., not as ICE fuel. The market place will dominate based on buyer quantities. GM started production of EV1 in 1996, but could not develop the market. Solar panels still have high investment and maintenance costs. Batteries drive the cost up as well. At the end of the day, long distance travel has to be considered.
Oregon has about 60 sun days compared to Colorado which has 300 sun days, but heating costs increase in Colorado. Solar panels are however best way to share peak loads, as stated above. A fossil fuel turbine power plants can take from one to two weeks depending on operating temperature to shut down due to thermal stress. I design wind generator systems and have designed hydrogen and solar panel systems. We can get there, but we are not there yet. Thanks to all who are willing to put down money on panel systems which help drive the market. if you have bad hail storm, you just lost your solar panels.

Very well documented explanation of electric power production. There has not been any new nuclear power plants built in the US in almost 30 years. They will need to replaced with something. Due to lack of public support and understanding of nuclear power plants, I would be surprised if any more are ever built in my lifetime. The whole nuclear systems were never carefully thought out in terms of nuclear waste disposal, and killed nuclear generation in US. I worked on design of containment vessels for Hanford site waste disposal and real afterthought. Three mile island did not help either.

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On an average U.S. household spends nearly one-fifth of its expenditures on transportation, so saving on fuel can cut down their average family’s budget. Electricity is less expensive than gasoline and EVs are more efficient than gasoline vehicles.
But, there is this another study too which needs attention. Long back in an article in Huffington Post, I happened to read about the increased pollution with gas cars. It does a comparison of different perspectives. A view from tailpipe gave EVs the thumbs up (no emissions or pollution) while when shifting your focus to smokestack at night it needs a great deal of electricity generated by a power plant. Now, if the power plant runs on coal, it doesn’t need further explanation.
EVs, in fact, has the power to destroy the oil business, just a matter of when it will happen. In some places, there are additional discounts on electricity for PEV drivers with special rates for off-peak charging. Other responsible ways of electricity like energy efficient windows also would ensure saving expenditure (http://canglow.ca/how-do-energy-efficient-windows-work/).
Tesla is under threat from Trump’s hatred for EV tax Credit. Sadly, in the age of Trump, China is aiming for EV car dominance. The smart will win finally.

Big_Dee, you said that GM “could not develop the market” for electric. I don’t believe that GM really wanted to build electric cars. When they did not immediately sell or have the demand for 100,000+ electric cars they killed it. It took Elon Musk and Tesla to really develop a demand for electric. They specifically wanted to produce electric cars, and they had the intelligence to make them look GOOD. There are over 400,000 people who have put down $1,000 to reserve a Tesla Model 3, including me. Most of that was before they even started production of the Model 3. I could not afford the Model S and Model X luxury cars. Thankfully a lot of auto manufacturers have jumped into the EV market.
A lot of the use of oil to make plastic is turning into a bad mistake. Plastic trash is everywhere, including all over in the oceans.

Hi Bob

I would not discount your view of GM motors, but nobody throws away that kind of money, but was strategy to trade mileage credits for more profitable gas guzzlers in California. California was giving them a lot of help to promote the electric zero emissions cars. The GEM was original designed by group of ex-GM engineers. I do agree that the Tesla cars are great movement and would consider buying one myself.

There is certainly a down side to plastics, but a lot of things would be prohibitively expensive, were it not for plastics, which greatly reduce tooling and fabrication costs over hard machining. Plastic are here to stay as we research alternate materials.

Having said all that, use of oil to produce electricity is still much cleaner than using oil to power cars in spite of protests to the contrary.

Big_Dee

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Hi Big_Dee

Do have an information source that explains how burning oil to produce electricity is cleaner than using oil to power cars? Or, perhaps you were referring to using natural gas to generate electricity rather than using oil. Of course it is very much cleaner to use solar panels or wind turbines to generate electricity. We use solar panels at my house.