Pictures, We Got Pictures

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Whew... On Friday, March 27, several club members attended the world premiere of The Burden, a documentary about how fossil fuel dependency bogs down our international relations. and the forces we send to police those foreign relations.  In fact, our armed forces get it coming and going.  They are dispatched due to our oil dependency, and are themselves bound by their own high consumption.  The premiere was held at the visitor's center and theater under the Navy Memorial.  There was a reception beforehand; afterward, we had a Q&A panel with the director and other figures in security and energy (i. e., the same thing).

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Didn't know there was a mini-museum and theater under the Navy Memorial, didja? Continue reading

April 2015 Minutes

Lots of E-Vents, including a big one coming up: the 2015 EV Grand Prix on May 16, at RFK Stadium. But plenty of other news this month. We started immediately with mingling, pizza, and drinks. As usual, the Rockville Library will validate your parking in the garage across the street. President Ron called the meeting, and we introduced new faces all around. Attendees represented makes of all types, e-bikes, conversions, and even a biodiesel driver. Three people are now shopping for EVs, and our regular Carsten has quit his job and is starting a solar company. Pedro from the University of Maryland is doing an EV study, and did a survey of our charging habits, preferences, and desires.UMD logo

Bill spoke for Nabih, the organizer from Global EEE for the EV Grand Prix, who had a prior appointment. The third running of the metro area high school engineering, racing, and teamwork competition will be 1:30 Saturday, May 16. It will take place in the parking lots north of RFK Stadium; this had been the site of a fossil-fueled race a decade ago. See the event's Facebook page at facebook.com/DCEVGP. Emil and Charles were on hand from the DC government, to brief us on activities (such as making RFK happen) and thank us for our help. Their goal is to operate the E-Vent on only solar or biodiesel generators; meanwhile, they are supporting DC high school teams. DC EV GP logo

The number of high schools keeps increasing; we are now over twenty, and some schools will have multiple entries. Mentors for school teams are still welcome by all means. For the purposes of the club, we are explicitly soliciting race volunteers. There is a particular need for tech inspectors, checking off competitors' vehicles per the rules. However, there's no shortage of other roles: media, concessions, staffing information or display tables, or just crowd control if nothing else. See our signupgeniuswebsite and help us out however you can. Before the race, there will be an EV parade at 1:00 (which means show vehicles must be lined up well before). Please sign up to be in the parade, especially if you have a vehicle that isn't already represented. Or just volunteer to wrangle the other parade entrants.

The first annual Montgomery County Green Fest in Takoma Park was a success. There were ten cars, many from our club, a panel discussion on EVs, and members as event volunteers. Similarly but smaller in scale, Raymond Chu held an EV presentation in the Calvert County Library. We ran a booth at the National Sustainable Design Expo in Alexandria; this was primarily college projects, but we got enthusiastic questions too. The DC Environmental Film Festival featured the world premier of The Burden: Fossil Fuel, the Military, and National Security; a few of us attended the documentary, and a Q&A afterwards with the director and several bigwigs.

More E-Vents were occurring, or are upcoming; besides the Earth Day concert on the Mall (too crowded for cars), meet-and-greets/car shows were held by Geico, TSA/EPA, Takoma Park itself, Fort Meade, the USPTO, NIH, and Rockville Science Day at Montgomery College. After the EVGP will be the annual Junior Solar Sprints at Friendship School on Benning Road May 19. There will be a fundraiser/car show for wounded veterans in Herndon the morning of May 9, see Michael at operationvetshaven.org. The Fathers' Day car show in Crystal City needs some clean action again, see Rob. Continue reading

EV Air Quality and Human Health

Time to throw another shovel of dirt on the "EVs are just coal burners" myth.   Professor Volker Sorger's group, in George Washington University's Electrical Engineering department, sought to test that hypothesis.  Their conclusion: no.  In multiple future scenarios, mass adoption of EVs still results in better DC health gwsmloutcomes, despite the area's four coal plants and negligible hydro.

Pepco's energy portfolio, while cleaner than the national average, is hardly spotless.  But EVs, as we already knew, use a fraction of the energy of GVs (gas vehicles), as internal combustion and multispeed transmissions are surprisingly lossy.  What's more, adoption of EVs (which mostly charge at night) gives a utility options to run their plants and grid better.   Further into the future, EVs used as electricity storage ("V2G") or simply as flexible power demand ("V1G") enable smart grids, and clean generation (such as wind turbines) closer to demand.  Coal or oil, where used as an electricity source, is often kept away from homes, blunting the health impact.  But gasoline engines emit pollutants everywhere, residential or not.  Overall, EV scenarios showed a noticeable drop in lung cancer, and hundreds of fewer DC/MD/VA cardiopulmonary-related deaths per year.  Continue reading

Brief News on Short Cars

We already knew GM was releasing the Spark EV for Maryland sales- the first East Coast market.  Now, Honda announced lease renewals for Fit EVs; they don't want to kill the electric car (yet).  Current leaseholders, and customers for used Fit EVs, can sign two-year extensions or leases respectively, for $199 a month.  There is no down payment or mileage limit, and collision coverage is included.hfev

It's not all mooncakes and saki, however.  The terms indicate this extension is the end; there will be no option to re-extend or purchase in 2017.  And this is all assuming you can find a Honda Fit EV.  The company made little effort to promote or sell them any more than they had to.  Still, we've got members who have one and they recommend them.  As long as you like blue, apparently.

March 2015 Minutes

As we've said before, good luck Charlie. And as we've also said, lots of stuff going on for the Spring. We started right off with pizza, drinks, and well wishes to our outgoing president for a happy hike. Then we introduced new people, including George from the Skyline Automotive Museum in Front Royal, Virginia, and multiple Tesla reps.

Our main guest, however, was Sarah Oleksak, of the Department of Energy's Workplace Charging Challenge. The DoE's EERE division does vehicle research with the Argonne, Oak Ridge, and NREL national laboratories, among others. But with the Workplace Charging Challenge, they are doing outreach and programmatics for us e-thusiasts. The outgoing Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, calls the workplace a "second showroom," and program data shows that wcclemployees with charging are twenty times more likely to go electric than the average motorist. We, certainly, are used to getting the Five Questions in parking lots. Employees, in turn, must prompt their management to install (or just allow) charging. The WCC has then used data, employee experiences, and intermediary groups (like our own parent EAA) to convince further companies. As of the 2014 update, there were over 180 major companies enrolled in the program, with over 300 worksites.

Data from WCC and the EV Project goes to the Idaho lab; they've found that 90% of over 180 WCC companies get their slots filled up five days a week. This is despite an average of 11 slots per company, since those drew an average of 26 EVers. Of those, the most common (LEAF and Volt) did almost 40% of their charging at work; Volt drivers actually seek charging more than the LEAFs. Level 1 charging started out being more popular, but Level 2 caught up within years. Most companies prefer smart EVSEs, not dumb outlets, which is an opportunity for ChargePoint, GreenLots, and other service providers. One exception was Telefonix, which installed a smart L1 network. Overall, installations are still continuing, despite many grants tapering off, and building LEED certifications not really recognizing the oil savings. Charging goes beyond Scope 1 and increases your building energy use, without accounting for the employees' steeply-reduced consumption and emissions. Sarah closed by giving us materials and links.

Of course, federal employees are (mostly) left out without a law getting passed. Sarah mentioned California has put forth some state resources for federal offices, and a Florida DHS office is in a leased building, so the landlord did the installation.

More locally, member Charlie is now the proud owner of a Tesla. Some members have written in, supporting MD Senate Bill 762 for charging in multiunit housing; it's spearheaded by Senator Brian Feldman. Our partner BEVI has received money from Constellation Energy, and updated the Marylandev.org website. The Maryland electric highway project received its official announcement as expected; ground has already been broken on some of its fast chargers. In case fy8TCnWryou haven't been following, Maryland will install DC chargers (both CHAdeMO and SAE CCS) from Hagerstown to Ocean City, Elkton to Waldorf, including many Royal Farms locations. Many are slated to be online this year. Meanwhile, Greenlots will be doing similarly in parts of Virginia.

We're soliciting "trail bosses"- people to honcho our public outreach events. It's quite simple, organizing volunteers and their EVs on days of festivals, showings, etc. These include the first Montgomery County Green Fest, and the DC STEM Fair, this March 28. The MoCo Fest will have speakers, an EV panel discussion, and of course our vehicles on display. We already have the usual suspects- LEAF/Volt/Tesla, but could use a Ford C-Max or Honda Fit EV if anyone can show them. Contact Joyce or JD. Continue reading

Thoughts on President Obama’s Executive Order on Federal Sustainability

On March 19, Pres. Obama announced an executive order designed to cut GHG emission from the federal government in half within a decade. This order has many moving parts, targets and reports. Several parts bear on EV’s:

Section 3(g)(v):

“(v) planning for agency fleet composition such that by December 31, 2020, zero emission vehicles or plug-in hybrid vehicles account for 20 percent of all new agency passenger vehicle acquisitions and by December 31, 2025, zero emission vehicles or plug-in hybrid vehicles account for 50 percent of all new agency passenger vehicles and including, where practicable, acquisition of such vehicles in other vehicle classes and counting double credit towards the targets in this section for such acquisitions; and

(vi) planning for appropriate charging or refueling infrastructure or other power storage technologies for zero emission vehicles or plug-in hybrid vehicles and opportunities for ancillary services to support vehicle-to-grid technology;”

So, new purchases would be 20% plug-in 5 years, and 50% in 10 years. Ambitious!

 

Section 7(f):

“(f) consider the development of policies to promote sustainable commuting and work-related travel practices for Federal employees that foster workplace vehicle charging, encourage telecommuting, teleconferencing, and reward carpooling and the use of public transportation, where consistent with agency authority and Federal appropriations law;”

Yea! The President said workplace charging! However, notice the qualifier. We still need an act of Congress to get around the appropriations wall at GAO. The state of the art is the “EV-Commute Act”, HR 4645 (current state here) It’s been introduced in the House. Should we write letters to our House members?

 

Section 10(a):

“(a) sustainable operations of Federal fleet vehicles, including identification and implementation of opportunities to use and share fueling infrastructure and logistical resources to support the adoption and use of alternative fuel vehicles, including E-85 compatible vehicles, zero emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles, and compressed natural gas powered vehicles;”

What missing? H2. Interesting that hydrogen vehicles appear to be absent from the entire exec. order.

 

Section 12(a):

“(a) GSA shall ensure that vehicles available to agencies for either lease or sale, at or below market cost, through its vehicle program include adequate variety and volume of alternative fuel vehicles, including zero emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles, to meet the fleet management goals of this order.”

GSA will ensure that the federal government is buying enough alt. fuel vehicles.

 

Section 12(b):

(b) DOE shall assist the United States Postal Service (USPS) in evaluating the best alternative and advanced fuel technologies for the USPS fleet and report on such progress annually as part of the planning requirements of section 14 of this order.”

Of special interest to EVADC President Ron Kaltenbaugh, who is interested in electrifying the postal fleet. Go Ron!

 

Section 19(d):

“(d) "alternative fuel vehicle" means vehicles defined by section 301 of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, as amended (42 U.S.C. 13211), and otherwise includes electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, dedicated alternative fuel vehicles, dual fueled alternative fuel vehicles, qualified fuel cell motor vehicles, advanced lean burn technology motor vehicles, low greenhouse gas vehicles, compressed natural gas powered vehicles, self-propelled vehicles such as bicycles, and any other alternative fuel vehicles that are defined by statute;”

This could be read as including hydrogen, but it’s not clear. They are electric vehicles, no? But, usually they’re referred to by name….

 

Section 19(aa):

(aa) "zero emission vehicle" means a vehicle that produces zero exhaust emissions of any criteria pollutant (or precursor pollutant) or greenhouse gas under any possible operational modes or conditions.

 

H2 vehicles read on this definition.

 

Fill-A-Lot…

The month is warming up, and so are the E-vents:

  • The Solar Impulse all-electric plane has begun its round-the-world flight.  As I write, they're on leg 2 over the Middle East... with not a drop of fuel.
  • Author Levi Tillemann will discuss his book, The Great Race: The Global Quest for the Car of the Future, at the Takoma Park location of Busboys & Poets this Tuesday, March 10 at 6:30 pm.  Actually, it's within DC, 234 Carroll St NW.
  • In Formula E racing, the series will charge up Miami on March 14.
  • Our next club meeting will be March 18, at Rockville Library again.
  • The first Montgomery County Green Festival will be March 26, rain or shine.  We have a representation of cars to show, but more cars- and more enthusiastic owners and e-thusiasts- are always welcome.
  • Another "car show" will be in Bowie, April 11.  The Bowie Green Expo will be at the Kenhill Center, 2614 Kenhill Dr.
  • Then, of course, no shortage of E-vents on and around April 22...

How Big is the Tesla Gigafactory – Washington DC edition

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As I write this, the Tesla Gigafactory is currently being built in the Nevada desert, near Reno.  In case you haven’t been following this remarkable project, it is to be an enormous factory for manufacturing lithium ion batteries, entirely in the 18650 cell format, which will be used in upcoming Tesla models.  In fact, by 2020, the Gigafactory alone will produce 50 GWh/year of batteries, equivalent to all current 18650 production worldwide.  I’ve also read that additional Gigafactories may be in the works.

The enormous scale of this project is one aspect that makes it so fascinating.  People all over the place are noting the factory’s gargantuan size.  In fact, when I comment on it in online articles (under the handle Leptoquark), I’ve taken to calling it the “River Rouge of batteries”, in homage to the famous Ford River Rouge factory complex in Dearborn.  When the history of our transition away from gasoline and back to electricity is written, the Gigafactory will likely have a prominent place in that history.

Recently, Zach at EVObsession wrote a piece[1] summarizing size comparisons of the Gigafactory with other large structures, including Dallas Cowboys Stadium and the US Capitol building, which got me to thinking: since so many tourists visit Washington DC every year, the spacing of the iconic landmarks on the Mall would make a good way to understand the scale of this project.

So, using Zach’s estimates of about 1100 m by 430 m for the dimensions of the building, and allowing for a surrounding parking apron matching the Tesla simulation, I created two images.  The first is a map of the Western end of the Mall, showing that the Gigafactory would fit neatly between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.  It would cover the Reflecting Pool, Constitution Gardens and the National World War II Memorial.  The green boundary is the parking apron.

The second image is the view to the West looking out of the top of the Washington Monument, which I took on a recent visit.  I’ve added the Gigafactory building outline in a perspective view.  Note especially the size of the people in the foreground.  This matches the scale of people in recent pictures[2] from Bob Tregilus of the construction site itself.

Hopefully, these images can add some perspective on what is now under way in the Nevada desert.  Or, as Dr. Morbius put it in Forbidden Planet,

“Prepare your minds for a new scale of physical scientific values, Gentlemen”.

[1] http://evobsession.com/big-tesla-gigafactory-graphics/

[2] http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1096994_tesla-gigafactory-new-photos-show-progress-on-battery-plant-in-Nevada

Scott Wilson

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February 2014 Minutes

Our new digs in the Rockville Public Library are great! They're right off the ice rink on Maryland Ave. in Rockville Town Center. Hope to see you there for the next few meetings, even if you missed February (brrr). Member Deborah lives just 1/3 of a mile from the Library, in case the charger in Garage A isn't enough. The Library also validates Garage parking at a discount. We started with pizza, drinks, and cake, then introduced everyone. Welcome to new e-thusiasts of domestic, clean, and quite snappy transport. New and existing members are encouraged tomcplr sign up with our umbrella organization, EAA, which offers us a discount.

We recapped our Auto Show(s!) outreach. The DC Show had club members' cars, an electric racer and a spare chassis, Phelps High School's EV Grand Prix racer, and a pedal/electric Elf enclosed recumbent, quite the draw. We were also next to EVs from Chevy and Cadillac, VW, BMW, Kia, and a Hyundai hybrid. This included the Chevy Spark (now coming to Maryland) and 2016 Volt. Toyota unfortunately chose to promote a fuel cell car, sticking the Prius Plug-In in a corner. However, GM did invite Volt owners to a presentation with news and developments. The Baltimore show also placed us well. We had a Think City on display; unlike DC, Baltimore had electrics from Ford and Mercedes. Thanks to all who volunteered their EVs, time, and effort.

A little more exclusive was an EV charging summit on Capitol Hill; senators Merkley and Carper attended. California utility PG&E announced an initiative for thousands of EVSE sites, including plans for multiunit housing. This had members discuss charge networks with only one or two sites in driving distance, or odd membership terms.

In state news, Maryland's EV Infrastructure Council announced a deployment. After a settlement with Constellation Energy, 3 firms bid to install EVSEs with the money, including fast DC chargers. Both CHAdeMO and SAE CCS chargers will run from Hagerstown to Ocean City, Elkton to Waldorf. Ground's already been broken on some, with October openings; no word on if sites will also have J1772. Continue reading