Hole-In-One (Bill)

s2042I’ve been busy, literally digging into stuff.  The morons who built my house screwed up, so heavy rains gave me a wet basement.  By digging, I’ve been able to seriously whack my electric bill, saving ridiculous amounts of Watts.

More explanation: the property was not graded properly.  A house is supposed to be surrounded by a mild slope, causing rain to run off away from the foundation (and any basement if present).  Failure to grade leads to a damp basement, and in extreme cases foundation damage or settling.  My basement was damp in general, and certainly after serious rains, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I’ve been digging for months now, adding drainage features.  Then I threw the spoil toward my walls, to alter slopes.  I’m not even finished, and already I’ve been able to turn off the dehumidifier in the basement.  Without it, the electric bill fell sharply.  The first month, I didn’t pay attention much.  The second month was a coincidence.  The third month, however, showed me the dehumidifier had been the one biggest energy use in the house, since my electric bill is now half.  Yes, half.  Just digging cut my electricity use in half, and my EV is now “paid off” (in wattage terms) several times over.

I have to retract that first part: the general contractors for the house weren’t morons.  They aren’t paying the monthly utility bills, I am.  So what do they care if they “screwed up”?  Someone bought the new house, so for a builder, they succeeded.  Succeeded in suckering at least one homebuyer.  I, a later owner, am a sucker no more, and not an energy sucker.  Which makes me wonder: how many screwups are there, in this land of detached houses, and how many are simply being covered up by energy sucking? Continue reading

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Gogoro: The Tesla of NOT TESLAS

Yeah, we’ve all heard “the Tesla of _____” get tossed out.  It’s usually hype, all hype.  You know what?  A scooter startup might actually resemble Tesla more, and not how most people would expect.  Bear with me now.

Gogoro kept mum ’til CES.  No one let on what was in progress, except to say energy.  They raised $150 million in seed money somehow- way more than Rimac Motors of course, and into aerospace territory.  Also, the founders are from Taiwan tech firm HTC (of phone fame); backer #1 is HTC’s Cher Wang.  This is like Tesla’s Elon Musk coming from Paypal.  So, some new kind of charger maybe?  Boy, were we wrong; Gogoro revealed they are, at first glance, a scooter company, yet not- they happen to have a scooter, and something else in progress.

Sure, other people are building electric scooters, not the least of which is BMW- that’s right, the ultimate scootering machines.  Gogoro’s ride is suitably phone-like; it has sleek, hard lines more like bizzaro furniture, and LEDs shimmering front and back.  No, Gogoro’s trick is not some vehicle, but a platform, and not for your boots.  Gogoro battery modules pull out of the chassis, and slot back to recharge in public kiosks.  Kiosks that will rent batteries to Gogoro riders, plus other customers they don’t say yet.  Who else do Gogoro plan on attracting?  Let’s speculate:gklcf

-The original scooter riders
-Other electric 2-wheelers
-Electric cars
-Other consumer electronics: Lawn care
-Other consumer electronics: Home hubs
-Grid backups and grid substitutes Continue reading

Brammo Go BLAMMO

And the other tire drops: Brammo, that electric motorcycle company that talked a big talk, now tanks big time.  After not even three full years of Empulse motorcycle sales, Brammo, Inc. now ceases to exist as an independent entity, having been bought out by Polaris Industries (makers of ATVs, snowmobiles, the Victory and Indian gasser motorcycle brands, etc.).  Whether they will exist at all is now Polaris’ play.  brmm

The first public clue was Brammo announcing an “end of season” clearance sale.  An end of season sale last August.  Personally, late August/early September is when my riding season is in its second wind, literally.  Anyway, Brammo slashed prices by about half on some bikes.  Then it was seen that dealers- such as they were- still had 2013 Brammo Empulses to get rid of.  They still had clearance Empulses into 2015.  The second public clue were the reports of little or no activity at Brammo headquarters/factory in Oregon.

My clue, however, came years ago, dealing with these Keystone Choppers.  In my experience, Brammo was chasing a phantom: the fickle tastes of a small segment of motorcyclists, itself a small segment of vehicle buyers in general.  Rather than start with a good technology base, then digging in with plans to grow out from there, Brammo tried to nail it with one shot.  They thought they had to have a multispeed transmission/clutch to replicate the “real motorcycle” experience.  Instead, contracting IET for trannys delayed production and sale, and made Empulses the worst of both worlds: the limited range of an electric, with the gear slop of a gasser.  Meanwhile gear losses net you even less range. Continue reading

4 Light Bulbs: One BIG Bulb

I’ve written a lot about canceling an EV’s electric usage, via (surprisingly few) “nega-watts”: electricity saved elsewhere.  I’ve mentioned lighting so far.  LED lamps use under a quarter of incandescents’ power- more like a fifth or sixth, meaning they even save over fluorescents.  I also mentioned these nega-watts then cut air conditioning too, since wasted bulb energy turns into heat.

Well, let’s go ahead and stake that vampire good, shall we?  One cannot discuss power savings, and the grid in general, without tackling the A/C question.  What shall we do with the one biggest load in the house, and most businesses too?  Grid load is driven by the hottest days’ A/C load, by definition.  Utilities plan on the max expected A/C usage, then upgrade their network to match.  Anyone with the grid in mind must plan on hot summer afternoons, too.

702fI know what I’ll do about A/C: the rest of my plan.  The last time I needed roof work, I got the lightest shade the company had.  I’ve bought new windows and more insulation, to put in my attic and walls; I’m about to buy even more.  My utility has their own initiatives: subsidies for efficiency, and for A/C budgeting.  In the future, I may nail that coffin once and for all.  I’m looking into a ground heat pump, drastically more efficient than plain ol’ air conditioners. Continue reading

OP-Ex? (or Indonesia, BOOM)

First Norway, then Iran, now Indonesia.  Even oil-rich nations can’t ignore the future.

The Iranian government had previously turned to natural-gas vehicles.  Tehran is highly polluted, and this “oil-rich” nation is actually fuel-poor.  It doesn’t have enough refineries to turn crude oil into finished fuels, nor enough hard currency for refinery construction.  What oil they have, then, should be saved for export (and gaining hard currencies), meaning Iranian motorists should consume something else.  Natural gas uses much less refining, and is hard to export due to handling and packaging issues.  Iran then encourages its drivers to fill up on domestic natural gas, saving their oil.

Now add electricity.  The government is promoting hybrid cars and electric bikes, even founding a lithium battery factory.  The electricity can be generated by natural gas (a more efficient usage anyway) or with the low-grade residues from oil refining- “bunker fuel,” the dregs of the process.  Or, by solar, which is not a problem in A DESERT.

Indonesia, too, is seeking modern vehicle tech.  Despite being an oil exporter, Indonesia sought natural gas and EV technologies from the US delegation after the recent Beijing summit.  Indonesian cities are also choked with scooter and diesel exhausts; the nation also wants to export what oil it has, and not just light it up.  In Indonesia’s case, they’ve been developing biodiesel from tropical plants as an oil substitute.  It’s clear, though, that biodiesel only goes so far.  There’s only so much land that can be sown with palms, and it’s nowhere near enough.  Indonesia is approaching a third of a billion people, yet wants to stay an oil exporter.

The future isn’t approaching, it’s here.  We can export it.  And yet, I’m still hearing haters.  Why?  Because “you can’t put a gun rack in a Volt,” and other “probably”s… including from people who complain about the dollar.

See also: Bhutan, BOOM, From The Land of The Ice and Snow:, Nor-way To Go!, The Shells Fell From His Eyes

Bhutan, BOOM

bteLadies and gentlemen, we have our first country: essentially all electric vehicles, per national policy.  Bhutan had been in talks with Nissan; now, the nation’s soliciting Mitsubishi and Mahindra.  Bhutan can leapfrog to the future: no fossil burners (and thus money burners).

Bhutan’s in a precarious position.  Physically, they’re at the top of the world, the Himalayas.  Economically, they’re pretty much dependent on India for finished/manufactured goods.  That’d ruin the Bhutanese Ngultrum, except their currency is pegged to the Indian Rupee anyway.  Still, too many Ngultrums go out instead of in.  The one big exception: hydropower.  Like Norway and Iceland, rugged terrain and deep gorges mean abundant clean energy.  Bhutan’s top export (and arguably top product, period) is hydropower; the country exports the clear majority of its generating capacity to India.  Meanwhile, there’s no oil; any vehicle goo has to be purchased with whatever hydro profits are left over.

At least for now.  As a country they wised up; they’ll keep more hydro and Ngultrums local by adding EVs, not oil cages, motorbikes, and scooters.  Really, how hard’s that math?  Easy enough that Japan, France, China, Norway, Iceland, and even parts of Canada (an oil exporter like Norway) realized this.  Even Iran subsidizes EVs due to a trade deficit. Continue reading

Riding-Season Reasons

It’s 2014, and 238 years for the US.  For motorcycles, and technologic motorcycles at that, might as well be Year Zero.  On hand already, we have:

Zero Motorcycles
Brammo Inc.
Agility Global Ltd.– UK delivery only

And on tap, supposedly this year :

Mission Motorcycles Inc.
Lightning Motorcycles
BRD Motorcycles

This is besides later, more-tentative motorcycles from Yamaha, Energica, Harley-Davidson, KTM, and Voxan, possibly Mugen/Honda, Saroléa, and Tacita.  Plus scooters.  So, one’s a freak, two’s a coincidence, three’s odd, and four’s a fad, right?  Then seven, ten, or more must be a movement.  “There is that sense of being at the beginning of something new, and part of our future… It’s coming,” says American Motorcyclist Association chair Maggie McNally-Bradshaw.  A new way of working has reinvigorated a stale field, perhaps most importantly by enabling new entrants.  Young blood will invite even more young blood. Continue reading