The *Literal* Hospital-EV Industry

See also The “HospitalEV” Industry and The “HospitalEV” Industry (cont’d)

mehHospitals have taken to EV charging.  As stewards of health, and of the public good in general, medical facilities are inclined to support clean vehicles.  On a more-selfish level, health care is heavy with educated professionals, who are early adopters of advanced tech in general, and cars in particular.  From a strictly-practical view, hospitals and clinics are places to spend an hour or three.  Might as well top up. Continue reading


Littl(er) Fat Man

Last week, the Tennessee Valley Authority and engineering firm Babcock & Wilcox signed an agreement to work towards small nuclear reactors.  The issue is that, unlike other forms of generation, nuclear hasn’t been scalable.  One nuclear reactor, to say nothing of an entire nuclear facility, simply is not cost-effective in a time of tight financing.  Large reactors are practically custom-built to their individual sites.  Meanwhile, wind, gas, and especially solar come from factories, where they’re cranked out on an assembly line.  The factory can be accelerated to produce more, then still more, then upgraded to produce even more.  Individual upgrades don’t require one big outlay, and thus, expensive financing terms.

The new reactor concepts are a fraction of the size of today’s reactors, and more like coal generators.  The point is to produce more of the reactor in a factory, and less in the field.  Once a site is running, adding one more reactor is then more scalable and less granular than it is today.  In other words, the ante is lower each time the nuclear industry tries to play a hand. Continue reading

Receptacle Roundup IXa: Tesla Roadster

So there’s a startup- a startup car company.  Not only are we grappling with startup car makes and models, but two new connector/protocols.  Bit of a gambit, don’t you think?  What’s so special about the plugs that couldn’t already be done with any of the existing standards I’ve already discussed?  So special as to incur a network optimization problem, and deployment issues?

A little background: California startup Tesla Motors has produced two models, the Tesla Roadster and Model S.  Neither are hybrids in any sense; it’s electrons, or gravity.  Nor can their massive battery packs be swapped out.  Thus, like the Honda Fit EV, the designs’ charging method or methods is all-important.  Unlike the Fit, both Teslas have massive packs- 40 to 85 kWh.  This produces their ranges- from double the Fit’s, to possibly more than triple in some trims and driving conditions.  But again, it places a steep burden on the charging method, which again is new and not adopted by any other maker.
Tesla released its new Roadster with the Roadster connector, then a new one again, for the Model S.  If you had the chance to start from scratch, would you do it this way?
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New-nanimous? Canadimous?

See also: EUnanimous (kinda)

-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg just announced EV charging plans in his State of the City address.  By this plan, the number of chargers should grow to 10,000 by 2020, from just over 200 now.  Many would be in commercial parking structures, but there are also plans for on-street and residential (apartment/condo building) installations.

thtns-Canadian restaurant chain Tim Horton’s just announced their EV plans.  One location in Ontario already has two units; the company headquarters also had a unit installed for their trials/demos.  No hard details were given on further Tim Horton’s locations, but it sounds like the emphasis is on construction of new restaurants.

What do I think of this?  Tim Horton’s is great; what some tout as the Canadian “equivalent of McDonald’s” is highly accessible, highly visible, and it’s high time.  Many places in Canada and the northern US already had plugs for block heaters or oil heaters, but not explicit and higher-powered EV connectors.  New York City, however, is a mixed bag as far as I’m concerned.  To a fair degree, electric cars don’t make much sense in Manhattan, since… private cars don’t make much sense in Manhattan, gas or otherwise.  I can see this in the outer boroughs, though. Continue reading

For Whom The Dell Tolled

There had been runup, but this week it was official: Dell’s being bought out.  Michael Dell leads an effort to take his namesake private again, putting up his own billions.  Most funds, though, are from an investor group; they will buy up company stock in circulation.  Presumably it’s to perform major surgery that shareholders en masse would find distasteful, but is probably bitter medicine.

Dell (the company and the man) built a global business on cheap PCs.  IBM started the platform, but Dell made it a machine.  An operation to make so many PCs, so efficiently, that few could compete on price alone.  And it worked; Dell sold boxes to desks everywhere, which in turn made many “Dellionaires.”  Some of the boxes hinged, as cheapening PCs spread into cheapening laptops.  That tail wagged the dog, however: cheapening laptops spread into cheapening mobile platforms (smartphones and tablets), while Dell stood by.  Says tech writer Dan Lyons:

I recall very clearly a conversation with Michael Dell where he told me that these little PDAs and phones were never going to be a big deal because who would ever want to read things on such a tiny screen?  No, he assured me, the PC had a strong, vibrant future ahead of it.

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Receptacle Roundup VIIIb: CHAdeMO cont’d

Where was I… Electrically, then, CHAdeMO demonstrates the ability to (mostly) charge in 30 minutes.  Hence, DC fast charging or quick charging (DCQC).  But neither road vehicles nor charging infrastructure are gadgets, peculiar to a lab or your desk.  The cost certainly isn’t localized to your wallet, or lab budget.

Ready?  A CHAdeMO site costs… tens of thousands of dollars.  That’s approaching the cars themselves (and more than motorcycles)- clearly not something for your garage.  With its three-phase, high-current power demand and installation (usually a trench, possibly concrete work) it’s painfully obvious: DCQCs are commercial outlays, not consumer tchotchkes.  The issue of CHAdeMO deployment and use then turns into marketing, network coordination and optimization, even macroeconomics.  Which is not to say it can’t happen… it kinda has already.

cdmarJapan, the standard’s home market, has over 1,600 units in the field.  Europe has several hundred, while North America has over a hundred.  These high-profile charger deployments simultaneously follow EV uptake, and lead EV adoption.  At tens of thousands of dollars each, the equation is hairy, and can (has?) become contentious.  A CHAdeMO installation costs as much as 2-10 Level 2 units, or maybe a dozen or two Level 1.

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