Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Power Earth Transportation

Hawaii Planning State-Wide Electric Car Network 255

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the better-places-for-a-trial dept.
MojoKid writes to tell us that Hawaii is planning on implementing a statewide electric car charging network. While the initiative seems to highlight the lower carbon footprint, Hawaii doesn't exactly seem like the ideal candidate for this initiative. One reader pointed out that perhaps a solar or wind power generation initiative might be a little better suited for the island state. "We have tons of wind and sun here that could be harnessed for electricity, but Hawaiian Electric Company has enough control over the government to block most wind and solar projects, and they make more money burning oil and diesel because the PUC lets them pass the fuel costs directly on to the consumer. Gov Lingle is taking all the credit, but if she actually wants to make a difference in oil consumption in the islands she needs to get large scale wind and solar projects pushed through first."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Hawaii Planning State-Wide Electric Car Network

Comments Filter:
  • Would that be a...wait for it...wait...ethernet linear BUS topology?

    *rimshot*

    Thank you, I'll be here all night.

    Tip your server and avoid the crab louie like the plague.

    =Smidge=

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When I think of Hawaii, I think sunny. So it would make more sense to have a solar power initiative there and put an electric car initiative here in Rock Port where we're 100% wind powered.

    • by megamerican (1073936) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:19PM (#26007435)

      That's exactly what they are doing. They are using solar energy to power the car charging network.

      FTA:

      The infrastructure for this network will be powered by Hawaiian Electric Companies, with much of the electricity coming from renewable energy sources, such as "solar, wind, wave and geothermal."

      Even the editor didn't RTFA!

      • I remember reading that even if they used coal to power the grid, which is the dirtiest power source available, electric cars would be better for the environment than conventional engines, if you ignore the considerable issue of the disposal of the batteries. This analysis includes the power loss over the lines. Gasoline powered cars are dirty!
        • It depends on what you consider dirty. CO2 isn't dirty. It is a life giving gas.

          However, coal and gas powered things do emit more than CO2 which is bad for the environment.

          That's why I don't understand why the Western nations want to cut carbon emissions while givng countries like China, India and Russia a near free pass. China and India have almost no environmental regulations compared to the US and Western Europe. Shipping our industry overseas is actually going to increase pollution.

          It was odd to me that

          • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday December 05, 2008 @07:47PM (#26009041)

            CO2 isn't dirty. It is a life giving gas.

            Like many things, its good in moderation (for CO2, at the naturally occurring level in the atmosphere.) OTOH, adding CO2 faster than it is taken out of the atmosphere by natural processes is considerably less good; as such, it is "dirty".

            However, coal and gas powered things do emit more than CO2 which is bad for the environment.

            True. As do oil powered things, though CO2 is the main global threat (most of the other forms of pollution produce effects that, while more severe in the short term, are more localized.)

            That's why I don't understand why the Western nations want to cut carbon emissions while givng countries like China, India and Russia a near free pass.

            Uh, they don't. OTOH, they do want to reduce global carbon emissions, and given the actual per capita emissions, they don't have any credibility doing that unless the developed countries, which emit more, start the process.

            China and India have almost no environmental regulations compared to the US and Western Europe.

            True.

            Shipping our industry overseas is actually going to increase pollution.

            The idea is to make industry cleaner, not ship it overseas.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by maxume (22995)

          You just recycle the batteries. It isn't that big a deal. The atoms don't wear out, the molecules do (that is, a stable, reversible chemical reaction is a neat trick; when you are recycling them, you don't need to worry so much about the stable or the reversible anymore, so you can recover the material).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cayenne8 (626475)
          "Gasoline powered cars are dirty!"

          Yeah...but, they're fun to drive.

          But, even while I could see myself in a high performance electric car, like a Tesla some day...I shudder to think about losing my gasoline powered motorcycle!! Half the fun of that is the smell and sounds of a rumbling engine and well tuned exhaust. When that all goes, I'll be sad...hopefully it will be LONG after I'm dead and gone...

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Sparr0 (451780)

            The smells and sounds of a well tuned engine and exhaust are "none" and "none". The only "good" smells people describe from an engine are caused by leaks, and all noise is wasted power.

    • No, Geothermal (Score:4, Interesting)

      by d3ac0n (715594) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:25PM (#26007507)

      When I think of Hawaii, I think of Volcanos.

      Why in the world would they not investigate Geothermal power as an option? While I would agree, Wind and Solar would also be good, passing up Geothermal when you live on the flank of a volcano seems rather... odd.

      • Re:No, Geothermal (Score:4, Informative)

        by LMacG (118321) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:30PM (#26007561) Journal

        Only the "Big Island" (Hawaii) has an active volcano. The other islands still need alternate sources.

        • How about wave power?

          Please don't tell me that the opening credits for "Hawaii Five-O" were just special effects.

          Is Hawaii really just beach-break? It was filmed in Bali!?!

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jeffstar (134407)

            They are installing a prototype wave powered generator on maui. There are concerns that birds will be sucked through the turbine.

            Oceanlinx [oceanlinx.com] is the company

      • by Otto (17870)

        There are a couple of smaller scale geothermal plants there in Hawaii. The problem is how do you tap that power?

        You cannot control lava/magma, as the stuff melts everything. Plus, anywhere near the volcano is incredibly unstable and unsafe. So, you have to get at the heat indirectly, and from a good distance. You have to tap the inherent heat of the island itself, basically. All that lava heats up the entire underground area quite well.

        Current way they're doing it is to drill deep holes, which essentially b

        • But 89% of the houses in Iceland are heated with geothermal energy (http://iceland.ednet.ns.ca/schedule.htm).

          Can't Hawaiians use geothermal energy to at least heat their houses . . . um, in Hawaii . . .

          Wait, let me get back to ya on that one . . .

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by MichaelSmith (789609)
            What we need is a superconducting heat pipe between Hawaii and Iceland (I know, they are in different oceans). Then heat can flow to Iceland and cold in the reverse direction!
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by jeffstar (134407)

              what they really need is an inter-island grid. That way they can use big island's geothermal power, maui's wind power and solar on all islands.

              Plans [hawaii.gov] have been made to attach oahu, maui, molokai and lanai and build about 400MW of wind power.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by MichaelSmith (789609)
                We've got one of those from Tasmania to Victoria. It supplies hydro power from Tasmania to the mainland Australian grid.

                There's talk of putting in a pipe for fresh water as well. My uncle used to work for one of the water companies here. He told me that the water flow from Tasmania would be entirely gravity fed because it originates on high ground.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rei (128717)

        They have, and there are some small geothermal problems. One of the problems presentin Hawaii but not elsewhere, however, is cultural. Among some native Hawaiians, the volcano is still revered. Think of it as though someone discovered a way to generate electricity from Jesus statues involving drilling into them.

    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      When I think of Hawaii, I think small. So it would make no sense to have a solar power initiative to cover the entire place with solar cells and only provide 25% of the required power.

      • I think that much of the sugar cane is no longer produced on Hawaii, and therefore Big Island has a fair amount of unused land.

        Hawaii only has 1.2 million people, so the amount of and needed isn't too big. Scaling down from the 92x92 mile area need to supply the whole USA, would necessitate less that 1x1 square mile spot to generate 90% of the states non-car electric needs.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Retric (704075)
          Hold on, 92 * 92 = 8464 square miles, there are ~300 million people in the US so 8464 / 300 * 1.2 =33.8 square miles. Unless you think the people in Hawaii uses 3% of the electric that the average person in the US.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rei (128717)

        Hawaii consumes 10.5 billion kWh per year. Hawaii is 29,311,000,000 square meters. Sunlight hits the surface of the planet, if there's no clouds and if at a direct angle to your surface, at around 1,000W/m^2. For a place like Hawaii, a capacity factor of 20% or so seems realistic (capacity factor = percent of maximum power potential that you average over time). Let's go with 20% efficient cells. 29,311,000,000 * 1000 * 0.2 * 0.2 * 24 * 365.24 = 10,277,327,654,400,000 Wh per year. I.e, 10.3 trillion ki

  • Ride a bike. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zoson (300530) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:11PM (#26007337) Journal

    Being from Hawaii, and knowing how small Oahu really is.

    Get a bike.

    You can drive around the circumference of the island in about 2 hours. Enjoy paradise before you're whisked away to college and never get to go back.

  • What? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:12PM (#26007341)

    They're saying goodbye to the electric car?

  • Ideal location (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:12PM (#26007343) Homepage
    Ideal location for an electric car network. First, the islands are each relatively small-- thus, you won't have to worry about cars being driven out of state, and out of reach of the charging network.

    Second, it's warm all the time. Cold temperatures are a real battery lifetime and performance killer, and this may become a real problem with electric cars in the mainland 48, since people in Minnesota are going to want electric cars. It's a good idea to deploy the technology in the favorable places, like Hawaii, first.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by megamerican (1073936)

      I'm from MN and you hit the nail on the head. People with garages would have no problem with electric cars, but not everyone has that luxury.

      MN and colder environments would benefit from a hybrid car. Use a gas engine to warm up the battery. Once at a certain temperature rely on the battery system for power. Or have Jesse Ventura or (insert MN politicna here) come over and warm up the car for you.

      • by jfengel (409917)

        In Minnesota, don't you need a block heater anyway? Since you're plugging your car in to charge it, it seems a simple operation to also keep the battery warm enough.

        • Most of the time you do not need a block heater, if you have a garage, and even without a garage, not in many parts of the state (like the Twin Cities, where most of the population lives)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MrNiceguy_KS (800771)

      Ideal location for an electric car network. First, the islands are each relatively small-- thus, you won't have to worry about cars being driven out of state, and out of reach of the charging network.

      That was my first thought, too. At least from the consumer's point of view, the biggest downside of electric cars is the limited range. On Hawaii's islands, driving distances are limited.

      Another advantage that occurs to me is the tourism aspect. Obviously, the Hawaiian islands get a lot of it, and I think electric cars could fit in well. Imagine, instead of renting a car from one of the standard rental places, your hotel has a small fleet of electrics available. You can rent one for the duration of the

    • Re:Ideal location (Score:5, Informative)

      by Rei (128717) on Friday December 05, 2008 @06:39PM (#26008335) Homepage

      Common misconception.

      Your car has trouble starting in the cold because it uses a lead-acid battery. Lead-acid batteries lose power output *very* fast at low temperatures. Nickel-metal-hydride are a little better, but not much. NiCd, Zebras and the advanced forms of li-ion do excellent in the cold (traditional li-ion are fine in the cold, but you damage them if you charge them during below-freezing temperatures). A123s, for example, are rated for storage at down to -50C and usage at down to -30C.

      Most upcoming highway-speed EVs use advanced li-ion.

    • by mangu (126918)

      Ideal location for an electric car network

      I agree with your points, islands like Hawaii are ideal for electric cars. But I'd say there's another factor to be considered: which kind of use will those cars have? Taxis, for instance, aren't very good for electric cars, the time spent recharging is time lost for carrying paying customers. Ditto for delivery vans and all other service vehicles.

      The ideal use for electric cars is for commuters, they travel a fixed distance every day, will be parked at the same pla

  • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:12PM (#26007345)
    The infrastructure for electric cars is already in place as the majority of places are already on the electricity grid. All that has to happen is for the cars to be fitted with a plug and be able to charge off of house current (110/220). Then some enterprising person will come up with a 'coin operated' charging unit to be placed at the front of all comercial and public parking spaces. And it is all done.
    • The infrastructure for electric cars is already in place as the majority of places are already on the electricity grid. All that has to happen is for the cars to be fitted with a plug and be able to charge off of house current (110/220).

      Yeah, most places in the US are on our aging, antiquated electric grid. If all cars operated today were electric, and charged at night when there is less demand, there would still not be enough generation and transmission capacity to power them all.

      Then some enterprising person will come up with a 'coin operated' charging unit to be placed at the front of all comercial and public parking spaces. And it is all done.

      With this, the time it takes to charge a battery is non-trivial. Its not comparable to the five minutes it takes to fill your gas tank.

      I believe electric cars are the future, not hydrogen, ethanol, or biodiesel. That said, battery technology has to radically impr

      • With this, the time it takes to charge a battery is non-trivial. Its not comparable to the five minutes it takes to fill your gas tank

        If this is the same system that has been presented here in San Francisco, then it may also involve swappable batteries. The charging stations might include some at which batteries are switched in a matter of seconds or minutes, aleviating this issue.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Michael O-P (31524)

        Yeah, most places in the US are on our aging, antiquated electric grid. If all cars operated today were electric, and charged at night when there is less demand, there would still not be enough generation and transmission capacity to power them all.

        Citation? Or opinion?

        While you make some other decent points, I believe that our grid would ramp up with the adoption of electric vehicles.

        • Citation? Or opinion?

          A little of both.
          This story: http://www.motorauthority.com/expert-says-electric-grid-ready-for-plug-in-hybrids.html [motorauthority.com]
          It quotes an expert as saying that the grid could handle a, "60% adoption rate of plug-in hybrids by 2050." Now, my opinion is that the demand, and supply of primary-electric vehicles will be stronger well before 2050. And how much infrastructure development would have to take place between now and 2050 to make it possible?

          • by Rei (128717)

            A PNL study for the DOE says 84%. Either way, we're not going to approach that number for quite a while. And by the way -- part of the reason electric power is cheaper than gasoline is that electricity production infrastructure and its long tail is significantly cheaper than oil production infrastructure and its long tail. So, you're building cheaper infrastructure instead of more expensive infrastructure. Plus, electrics in general should help drop grid prices. Nighttime charging lets utilities make b

        • by MrEd (60684)

          Opinion. Citation. [pnl.gov]

          The problem isn't the bulk quantity of electrical energy needed*, it's the timing of the power. As long as electric car chargers can be timed to match times of excess generation capacity, then it's golden.

          * except for hydroelectricity

      • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:59PM (#26007907) Journal

        Yeah, most places in the US are on our aging, antiquated electric grid. If all cars operated today were electric, and charged at night when there is less demand, there would still not be enough generation and transmission capacity to power them all.

        Lucky all cars today are not electric. All cars tomorrow will not be electric. All cars next year will not be electric. All cars next decade will not be electric. Perhaps in 50+ years when all cars are electric we may have had time to incrementally increase electric supply to match the slowly growing demand. Stretch I know, but it's possible. Much more possible then waking up tomorrow in a world full of electric cars and not enough power to charge them.

        • I hope you're right. But the absolutely dreadful track record of the US improving its infrastructure, whether it be electric, broadband, or whatever, leads me to believe we won't confront the problem until there are rolling blackouts.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dbrutus (71639)

          Does the manufacture of electric cars somehow reduce the supply of Luddite, NIMBY, and BANANA protestors who shut down any effort to improve power generation and transmission? There isn't going to be a durable majority for improvements until people start dying from the brownouts and blackouts.

      • "Yeah, most places in the US are on our aging, antiquated electric grid. If all cars operated today were electric, and charged at night when there is less demand, there would still not be enough generation and transmission capacity to power them all."

        Not every one will buy one at the same time. this will permit the system to be improved over time.

        "With this, the time it takes to charge a battery is non-trivial. Its not comparable to the five minutes it takes to fill your gas tank."

        When you go the store

      • by Rei (128717) on Friday December 05, 2008 @06:56PM (#26008567) Homepage

        With this, the time it takes to charge a battery is non-trivial. Its not comparable to the five minutes it takes to fill your gas tank.

        Oh really? [findarticles.com]

        Altairnano solved this problem by using an innovative approach to rechargeable battery chemistry by replacing graphite with a patented nano-titanate material as the negative electrode in its NanoSafe batteries. By using nano-titanate materials as the negative electrode material, lithium metal plating does not occur because the electro-chemical properties of the nano-titanate allow the deposition of lithium in the particles at high rates. These electrical properties mean that even at very cold temperatures there is no risk of plating. No undesirable interaction takes place with the electrolyte in the Altairnano batteries, which permits the battery to be charged very rapidly, without the risk of shorting or thermal runaway. In fact, in recent laboratory testing, Altairnano has demonstrated that a NanoSafe cell can be charged to over 80% charge capacity in about one minute. Actual charge rates achieved in specific applications will vary due to the application environment.

        Altair has demonstrated the use of their cells in cars and trucks, giving them 5 to 10 minute charges. It's similar to Toshiba's SCiB that was covered here a couple months ago. Of course, even some non-titanate chemistries can charge quite well. Phosphates and stabilized spinel packs can usually take a full charge in 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Not necessarily (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Once&FutureRocketman (148585) <otvk4o702.sneakemail@com> on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:13PM (#26007365) Homepage

    Gov Lingle is taking all the credit, but if she actually wants to make a difference in oil consumption in the islands she needs to get large scale wind and solar projects pushed through first."

    This isn't necessarily true. Solar and (especially) wind generation technologies are developed and being deployed. The barriers in this case are political and secondarily economic, but once those barriers fall (due to cost of fuel, or due to political changes), adoption can be relatively rapid. Deploying large-scale wind is an understood problem.

    Electric cars, on the other hand, are likely to require a much longer adoption curve. For one thing, they are private vehicles, subject to private decisionmaking and biases. For another, there still isn't a really good, affordable electric car on the market. Third, they will require a well-established infrastructure before anyone but the early adopters will use them.

    So IMO it makes sense for them to focus on electric cars now, and on wind/solar tomorrow, because the leadtime on cars is going to be long. On the other hand, the benefit of moving to renewable electricity will hit the bottom line much faster, so they have an incentive to be working that angle actively too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR (28044)

      The problem is that electric cars have the economic pressure.
      Watch how oil has dropped. Say hello to SUVs and good buy the fuel efficient cars.
      Gas is back being cheap and people have short memories.
      I knew a person that had an electric car... In 1974!
      Electric cars will be dead soon until the next price spike. The difference is that it will take an even longer spike before companies are willing to invest in alternative energy after the beating they take this time around.

      This isn't my hope but just past experi

    • by tbannist (230135)

      Absolutely true. There's a pretty good interface that shields car from the internal mechanics of generators and vice versa, we call it electricity!

      Fortunately both generating stations and cars are protected objects.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by apoc.famine (621563)
      Solar and Wind? Are you friggin kidding me? I would have guessed that geothermal would have been the number one choice for a.....volcanic island chain. I mean, Iceland can give some pretty big pointers on that front.

      Still, I agree with your point. Once the car infrastructure is there, it's far easier to add in another method (or three) to produce electricity. Hell, people could even invest in their own private generation of choice, if they wanted.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:13PM (#26007369)

    >>because the PUC lets them pass the fuel costs directly on to the consumer.
    Of course, that's what businesses do!

    Hawaii is a terrible candidate for solar power. Obviously the author has no idea of how many hundreds of acres would have to be blanketed with solar arrays to provide enough electricity to run a fleet of cars. Additionally, studding the crest of every hill with windmills hardly seems like a plan. People come to Hawaii for its beauty. And considering the limited size, it's not like they have the equivalent of a southwest desert to plant these arrays. Operators would have to chop down trees and build them on hillsides.

    Of the 'green' alternatives, geothermal seems like a low-impact possibility. Nuclear, too. Small, safe, extremely high output, dependable.

    • What about wave / tidal power? There's plenty of that to go around, just as long as you don't plant the generators in the middle of Waimea Bay or Pipeline...

    • I was just thinking...solar? The heck? Your islands are VOLCANOS.
    • by Moridin42 (219670)

      >>because the PUC lets them pass the fuel costs directly on to the consumer.
      Of course, that's what businesses do!

      That isn't the only problem with that statement, which also said that the company makes more money by doing so. Unless they're charging the consumer more for fuel than their suppliers are charging the power company, how do you make money by passing on costs? You don't. Everything you gain by billing the customer you've already expended in purchasing the fuel. If, on the other hand, the powe

    • I was in Maui in October for a week. Another couple attending the same wedding, but staying at another hotel had to sign a form agreeing to be charged $150 for running the AC in their room, while they were not there. Yes, the hotel fines them that much if they forget to turn it off! Seems electric prices are through the roof in Maui, and the hotels are getting tired of eating the costs.

  • Government would be great, if it weren't for all of the politicians...
  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@[ ]u.org ['bea' in gap]> on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:14PM (#26007389)

    Don't try to solve multiple problems. If electric distribution can be solved, great. But idiots saying "If we can't solve every problem and have a green wonderland NOW then screw it." are just holding back progress. Solving power generation is a totally seperate problem and should be tackled by a different effort.

    Specifically, wind and tidal energy are NEVER going to be close to cost effective. If you want to solve generation build nukes. We know how to build them safe, we know how to recycle the fuel and we have enough domestic supply to last a century or so. If we can't move on to fusion or some other super tech by then we deserve a Darwin Award.

    • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:29PM (#26007553) Journal
      Treaties say we can't recycle the fuel. After the first use, we can reuse the fuel as the reaction core of a breeder reactor, and draw 19 times more power out. 5% of the power comes from stage 1, 95% comes from stage 2; stage 2, of course, is the complete transition from basic spent to fully weapons-grade uranium and then plutonium.
    • Don't try to solve multiple problems. If electric distribution can be solved, great. But idiots saying "If we can't solve every problem and have a green wonderland NOW then screw it." are just holding back progress. Solving power generation is a totally seperate problem and should be tackled by a different effort.

      Agreed. There's no point in building a huge network of wind farms without demand. An electric car network will provide demand in small increments at which time the power grid can slowly expand t

      • by Tweenk (1274968)

        Renewable suorces are cost effective and running wind or solar farms is certainly profitable, but the question is whether they can supply all the needed power. For Hawaii it seems like a very good solution, provided there will be some safeguards against windless cloudy days. For larger countries, especially flat ones far away from the equator, renewables aren't very effective (except perhaps geothermal and hydro, but the first isn't available everywhere, and the second isn't really environmentally friendly)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by NoKaOi (1415755)
      The points I was trying to make are:
      1) If you're going to set up an electric car network, start with the places where it makes the most sense. Like places where it isn't >30 cents per kWh with nearly all power generated by burning petro. Once it's established in places where it makes the most sense, then begin moving to other places.
      2) This is political showboating by Gov Lingle. She is doing this to make it look like she cares about reducing oil consumption as a distraction from the fact that she t
    • we have enough domestic supply to last a century or so.

      Current global uranium production meets only 58 per cent of demand, with the shortfall made up largely from rapidly shrinking stockpiles.
      Since US currently supplies only 5% of the world, for us to become self sufficient will require a huge increase in mining. Have any idea how much the tree huggers fight that?

      Also the US known sources of uranium are lower quality, and still net a total of 5 years worth of current worldwide use. The hundred years you quote, is "at the current rate of use", and the worldwid

      • by Tweenk (1274968)

        Those estimates are for the once-through open cycle associated with the PWR and BWR reactors. With IFR (ALMR) or similar pseudo-breeder reactors that don't need fuel reprocessing but rather burn close to 100% of uranium in a single pass (including U-238), the reserves increase twentyfold, and there's a lot of "spent" nuclear fuel that can be used in those reactors. There are also vast, practically untapped reserves of thorium which are several times larger than those of uranium.

    • by Rei (128717)

      Specifically, wind and tidal energy are NEVER going to be close to cost effective.

      Wind already is in some places. So, whoops to that idea.
      CIGS, too, should be able to best coal prices as it scales up. EGS may be able to as well.

  • I live in Hawaii (Score:5, Informative)

    by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:16PM (#26007409) Homepage Journal
    ...and let me tell you something about planning here. For the last 30 years they've been "planning" a system of rail transport on Oahu, and it simply hasn't come to pass. A lot of development projects here are simply shut down because many of the locals are very adverse to change. Even projects like these that have good environmental impacts at face value will require a ton of development. Behind that development will be an equal amount of litigation just to get the permits.
    I'm not one to try and sound negative, but it will never happen in Hawaii outside of Waikiki (a lot of development happens there in order to help boost tourism).
  • Question (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mosb1000 (710161)
    When has wind or solar ever been shown to be an effective, reliable replacement for fossil fuels? We need to develop methods for storing massive quantities of electrical(or thermal in the case of solar-thermal) energy before these power sources could be anything other than a supplemental power source.

    Perhaps they could consider a nuke plant instead. Those are actually cheaper than fossil fuels, and they are certainly more reliable than wind or solar.
    • by oodaloop (1229816)

      When has wind or solar ever been shown to be an effective, reliable replacement for fossil fuels?

      Are you using the fact that we haven't yet tried as a reason not to try in the future?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mosb1000 (710161)
        No, I'm saying you should have a plan that has some hope of working before you start to implement it. Building wind and solar plants for supplemental power generation is great (though expensive), but for now nuclear is a far better option.
      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        Not at all.
        nuclear works, is safe, and clean.
        Solar and wind have never worked as more of a supplement and we have been trying since the 70s.

        I am all for more research into solar and wind and using it as a supplement. But I wouldn't use groundless fears and miss information from letting me use a power source that works well and is proven. Yes I live near a nuclear power plant.

        BTW Three Mile Island didn't kill a single person and Chernobyl can not happen to any US commercial reactor because they are of a tota

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Rei (128717)

          Oh really? They've never worked? Because here I am in a state with almost 8% of it's power from wind, approaching our share from nuclear (11%-ish). Wind should pass nuclear in the next five years or so up here. Just a couple years ago it was less than half as much as we got from nuclear. Better explain it to my utilities that what they're doing is impossible.

          Wind in the great plains is actually cheaper than nuclear per kilowatt hour. It's almost cost-competitive with coal.

    • We need to develop methods for storing massive quantities of ... energy

      Perhaps we could find some method of storing energy in some sort of flammable liquid ... even better would be if we could find a proven process that already demonstrated the storage of energy in liquid form ...
    • When has wind or solar ever been shown to be an effective, reliable replacement for fossil fuels?

      Wind and solar are certain to be around long after fossil fuels have been used up.

      • Don't say 'used up' that makes you sound like a moron.

        Say 'become uneconomical' as that's the endgame.

        We can't even hope to 'use up' all the fossil fuels.

        They are mostly too damn expensive to get to.

        BTW you better hope we've still got some oil left or we won't be able to make the composites for the windmill blades. Oil will only be uneconomical as fuel. Much will still be needed for the chemical and plastic industries.

        Assuming all goes well (yeah right) eventually petrochemicals will be replaced

        • BTW you better hope we've still got some oil left or we won't be able to make the composites for the windmill blades.

          My hopes won't change a thing.

    • The cars will be storing the energy in their batteries. That makes them ideal for using renewable energy.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      I suggest you look at industrial level solar thermal.

      They are a 24/7 power source because we store the thermal energy. This is being done right now. It's not experimental, it is a ready to go technology.

    • Perhaps they could consider a nuke plant instead.

      I'm pretty pro-nuke, but the last place I think should be looking at nukes is a bunch of small islands in the middle of the ocean. Even fast-breeder plants still have waste that takes a few hundred years to cool down, and we have very little experience building them (the one in Japan has had an accident or two and never seems to get any closer to going online at full production capacity and the one in France wasn't operational either the last time I checked).

      Every island in Hawaii sits on a giant fresh wat

  • Energy costs are higher on islands. And in that spirit, islands make an ideal testing place for new energy infrastructure projects, like a fleet of all electric cars. Its a pretty interesting idea, replacing gas stations with battery swap stations. From the NYT [nytimes.com] (go to bugmenot.com [bugmenot.com] to get around the stupid subscription) article: "We always knew Hawaii would be the perfect model," he said in a telephone interview. "The typical driving plan is low and leisurely, and people are smiling." On this note, what ot
  • It's time to forget about individually driven cars & roads as you know them. Cars can still be individually owned, as far as government credit programs allow, but the driving needs to be centrally controlled & the roads need to be specifically designed for autonomous electric cars. Maybe they need inductive charging or 3rd rails embedded in the asphalt.

    You get in your car, dial up the destination, & a central computer synchronizes your trip with all the other cars so everyone can complete thei

    • You get in your car, dial up the destination, & a central computer synchronizes your trip with all the other cars so everyone can complete their trip without stopping. If cars were just invented today, they would all be centrally controlled, electric, & autonomous. Roads would be designed for autonomous cars & recharging.

      Right. Comes with a Pony. You do live in this world - where the FAA can't get it in it's budget to replace Radar units from the 60's. Where most doctors use paper charts.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        Where luggage at major airports occasionally gets to the proper destination.

        I realize this must be sarcastic hyperbole on your part. Either that or occasionally doesn't mean what I thought it did. 999,999 out of a million bags making it to the proper destination is 'most' if not statistically 'all' bags getting there.

    • by Gat0r30y (957941)
      What advantage does your solution have over effective efficient mass transit solutions which we already have experience implementing like light rail or trains?
      • by b0bby (201198)

        It doesn't require people to give up their cars, for one. People love their cars. We were discussing this at Thanksgiving - despite the horrible traffic around here, many people wouldn't use public transport even if it were free. I don't understand it, but it's undeniable that it's really really hard to get people to give up cars.

    • We could call these new, electric, autonomous cars by a new name, to differentiate them. I suggest 'tram.'
    • by bigpat (158134)

      Interesting, would need to replace all our intersections with rotaries though. Even still I don't see how you avoid stops when we reach a certain volume.

      But ideas which require changes to the entire "system" before being practical for even one person are not ones that are likely to succeed.

  • by grandpa-geek (981017) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:45PM (#26007739)

    Charging electric cars is mostly an overnight load. Wind power is mostly an overnight resource. If we had 25% wind power and every car were electric or pluggable hybrid electric, wind would provide enough energy for all the battery charging. Denmark is now at 25% with plans to go to 50%.

    Wind is also intermittent and variable, as is solar. Storage is needed between the generation and load to ensure that the right amount of power will be available when needed. Electric car batteries provide suitable storage. Without proper storage, some experts claim that for grid reliability you need as much conventional generation available as you have wind power running. There was an incident in Texas where they lost 1500 megawatts of wind generation in about four hours because a weather front came through and they had to dump interruptable loads and bring up conventional generation to maintain reliability.

    Hawaii Electric tried wind power some years ago, and it threw their grid into instability. Older wind generators eat lots of reactive power, and the need to feed their reactive power requirements was what made the Hawaii grid unstable. (Electric power has sine and cosine wave components. Reactive is the sine component. A common related term is power factor.)

    Newer technologies can take care of the reactive power issue, but it has to be done carefully. In the late 1980's Tokyo suffered a voltage collapse and blackout because of peculiar circumstances in which they simply ran out of reactive power.

  • It is one thing when Digg or someone else scoops Slashdot a day or two early, but Wired wrote about this three months ago.

    http://www.wired.com/cars/futuretransport/magazine/16-09/ff_agassi [wired.com]

  • I live on Hawaii island and study the energy issue so i can give some perspective.

    First, to dispense with the false choice in the summary: It's not "car charging network" vs. "solar and wind". Of course we need both. Renewables are held back for both political reasons (no carbon penalty, 'avoided cost', slow bureaucracy) and physical reasons (no storage, no renewable baseload except geothermal on this island). There are a _lot_ of important-but-unpopular things the State could do to really make a diff
  • You have a group of islands which are really active volcanos with some habitable land around them, and you're burning oil for energy instead of sucking energy out of the molten rock?

    In the Philippines, which has quite a few active volcanos (but far more non-volcano land area), they manage to get 25% of their electricity from geothermal. Given the size of the Hawaiian islands and the amount of geothermal available.... well, why are we even *having* this conversation?

  • Great testbed.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jemenake (595948) on Friday December 05, 2008 @06:32PM (#26008257)

    I've seen some comments that didn't think Hawaii was such a great venue for this, but I think it's perfect.

    For an alternative-fuel demo, you need to have infrastructure (ie, fueling stations). In places like California, this results in the governor picking a single stretch of highway which runs the length of half of the state and plopping down hydrogen fueling stations at manageable distances between them. The problem being that, you better not miss your next fuel stop because every station is pretty much "Last Hydrogen for 100 Miles" and you better not need to stray too far off of the anointed highway. On the other hand, some cities are trying to plop charging stations everywhere so that you don't have to *plan* your fueling... but that stops at the city limits.

    To really give people a picture of an alternative-fuel future, you need to have fueling/service available as ubiquitously as fossil-fuel stations are today.... and they need to extend as far as anyone might care to go. To keep costs down, you'd need to try a place that geographically limited... where people *can't* go too far away.

    An island is perfect for that. And Hawaii, in particular, is even better because it's a vacation hotspot. People will vacation there, drive their electric rental car, get a tan, have lots of sex, come back home and have all of those memories intermixed. So, electric propulsion gets a "cool by association" bump.

    So, I just want to be clear... I view this as a great *PR* move for alternative fuels. True, from an engineering point of view, there are better places to do it. True, it's a drop in the bucket compared to our continental consumption. True, we burn an assload of fuel to fly over there. But I see this as more about getting the U.S. to "buy in" more quickly to a future that doesn't involve petroleum. Something like this would finally be a testbed where people could experience electric cars without ever worrying about "Oh crap, where am I going to fuel it?". A possible true glimpse into the future.

    • Everywhere else the idea would be killed by people who say what if I want to drive to the next city, or state?

      I think Singapore should convert their taxi fleet to electric.
  • A private entity is trying to start up a wind farm on Lanai and sell the electricity back to Oahu.

    Holy flying crap, this is EXACTLY the way it should be done. A private party doing this, with their own money, their own risk, and they get rewarded with profit if successful. The taxpayer takes no risk.

    Like all things in Hawaii, the project may never happen due to the years of red tape, permitting, bureaucracy, etc. involved. Of course, when government effectively shuts this project down due to red tape, we

Life. Don't talk to me about life. - Marvin the Paranoid Anroid

Working...