The Issue with going all Electric

Discussion in 'Electric Propulsion' started by jehardiman, Sep 5, 2022.

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  1. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    I've been waiting for this updated analysis to be released following recent US/EU policy changes. I think everyone involved in shipping and ship design needs to read this to be prepared for the next decade and all the political/social fallout.

    This report isn't just about electric vehicles, it is about the need, risk, and environmental threat across the whole power spectrum. Mining, production, generation, transmission, storage, and end use.

    Non-fossil fuel propulsion is something I have followed, since college and through a 35 year career, when I noticed that 'rare earths' are just that. The following international analysis shows we, the world in general, are way behind, not in technology, but in resourcing. How much is needed, where it is mined, where it is shipped to for processing, and how is that all powered. Most of this is invisible to the average consumer and politician.

    It is important to look at the carbon footprint for the mining and processing of the raw materials as well as the production of generation infrastructure. It starts on page 195 of the pdf.
  2. Ad Hoc
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    I dont think anyone, or should not be, kidding themselves that going from fossil fuel to 'green' energy is a panacea. Any manufacturing in the cradle to well, will easily highlight that the whole process is not green.
    But the real question is, in the transition phase, can it become better over time than fossil fuel...
    Since the alternative is to keep the status quo, and keep pumping out GHG ad nauseam. Thus the transition may not be ideal, but its objective, for the future, is!

    I foresee the battery, for example, to have like a Moore's Law. And in fact we are already seeing this trend over the past few years alone. The battery is getting more powerful, lighter, and different chemistry bring new more sustainable options to the fore. Using sand for example is already being used:
    What is a sand battery? — Polar Night Energy,excess%20wind%20and%20solar%20energy.

    And not just in this large scale ESS option. But also there are now reports of using sand to replace Li in general batteries now too.

    So, it is not a panacea, yet, but without trying to change the narrative and ween ourselves off fossil fuel, it'll never happen.
    Thus change is matter if aspects are, for now, not as palatable as we would like.
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  3. BlueBell
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    BlueBell . . . _ _ _ . . . _ _ _

    I agree with both of you.

    My concern is the angelic mindset of the general public, the marketing recipients, of "green" cars.
    There is no such thing as a green car.
    A bicycle may be the greenest form of transportation (and it's still not completely "green" by any means, tires, alloys, plastics, transportation for delivery, etc).
    I do hope the global consciousness catches up before it's too late...
  4. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

  5. Will Gilmore
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    Will Gilmore Senior Member

    I would love to see the technology develop around electro-motive power. Most arguements against the "green" hype fail to point out that if the new choice were abandoned because it wasn't as green as we want it to be, another alternative would be pursued in its place. That is, if you don't want to build electric boats because they pollute the environment too much, consider that in place of that electric boat that wasn't built, will be a fossil fuel boat instead. It's not like we can consider no boat as an option.

    One can promote the greenest choice, like something like a bicycle or a kayak as the better choice, but here we may succeed in promoting the increased purchase of and use of bicycles, but that just may result in more bicycle without decreasing the purchase of cars. It's far more likely that the number of car sales and miles of car driving remains unchanged while more industrial production of bicycles is increased.

    Absolutely! +1
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  6. Milehog
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    Milehog Clever Quip


    A small price to pay for feeling good.
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  7. Alan Cattelliot
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    Alan Cattelliot Senior Member

    I heard a talk on radio during summer times about the challenge of getting "Greener". The development of alternative solutions appears to be the heart of the battle, although a more profound and difficult change is also to be done, that concerns our perception modernism. As BajanSailor and Milehog pointed out, in addition to use more electric devices, we also face the challenge to diminish our tendancies to consumption, while maintaining, in people's mind, the idea of a society that don't go backyard, but keep moving forward. What does it mean ?

    It means that we cannot afford, today, to keep using the same amount of energy, whatever form it is. We have to rationalize our desires, rationalize our way of doing things, while maintaining our economies strong. People should get used to diminish their buying habits, also reconsider their everyday life and the way they do things, still having the feeling that they are modern people, not living the way our grandparents did. It is the real challenge of the energetic transition.
  8. Milehog
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    Milehog Clever Quip

    Diminishing consumption is key. Even better, doing it does not require wasteful government programs loaded with kickbacks and favors. Problem is the power brokers don't profit from it; they need to sell fear to consolidate control.

    I have been steadily cutting back for the last twelve years. Even had a power company come out to see if my meter had been disconnected.
    Meanwhile the elites harp at us as they continue to squander assets to live their privileged lives.

    Rant over.
  9. duluthboats
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    duluthboats Senior Dreamer

    There is a wonderful choir here, and I love the chorus. For me, the 2nd verse is as important. Since I first used a trolling motor years ago I loved the fact that it was quiet, exhaust free, and did not pollute the water. Those are my reasons for going electric
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  10. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    Personally, I prefer diversified energy sources.

    Wife owns a Tesla. Expensive, but she didn't buy it to be green. She hates going to the gas station. And, she got 'free' charging for life of the vehicle as an early promotion. Off peak, the car costs in the neighborhood of $1.65 a gallon, for compare. Not beholding to Exxon is priceless.

    As for boats, making them all not gas or some baloney by 2050 is all politics. Two very different gas powered boats can have very different footprints. One can burn 60gpg and another 4gph, sure maybe the difference of 50 miles, but measuring burn is the rage.

    Balanced sources.

    But better batteries that have super high energy density sounds great to me.
  11. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    In the USA, and I suspect everywhere else, the power grid is already overloaded. If the general public starts buying electric cars, boats, etc., it will result and brownouts and blackouts. Whether we like it or not, a change is world lifestyle will be forced upon us. I am probably too old to see the full impact, but the next generation will for sure get the full impact of it. History shows that resources are treated as unlimited for as long as they last.
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  12. Alan Cattelliot
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    Alan Cattelliot Senior Member

    Regarding the notion of resources consumption, I wish everyone could take a moment to see this talk, if not already seen. It's fundamental to understand our societies are tricked by the mechanism of economy growth that feed them.

    The energy density is a key concept, in my opinion, that pleads to a massive use of nuclar sources, but for some countries, reluctance to its use or the time (=money) of development oblige them to produce electricity with coal-fired power plants, trying to keep up, in the same time, with public policies encouraging people to go electric. Hummm... Where are we going exactly ?
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2022
  13. duluthboats
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    duluthboats Senior Dreamer

    jehardiman, thanks for the link to the report. So much in it. I started at 195, now reading from the beginning.
  14. seasquirt
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    seasquirt Senior Member

    The issue with going all electric is that it's not 'green' because if the same power availability is required, and it doesn't come from millions of small engines spreading the pollution somewhat, it will have to come from an expensive metal network connecting huge generators, producing concentrated point sources of pollution, to charge batteries etc. Metals mining and smelting; trenching, or heavy poles for routing heavy electric conductors. More sub stations, control networks, and systems to fail. Environmentally, at least stationary point sources can make use of best practice methods to scrub out some of the pollution before it leaves the smoke stack. But battery technology must improve, and be more recyclable. Self discharging batteries are not environmentally friendly. I read about batteries using sand. I assume it's silica, and not old sea shells; but then, I did have a calcium battery once. Surely salt water sailors could use some sort of metal corrosion, re. anode and cathode plates, to generate low baseline power, which can be usable, until it disintegrates.

    I think being happier with less, and taking time to smell the roses is the right direction to go. A cultural change back to villages and towns instead of mega cities. Back to an electric steam punk version of the 1940's, before the industrial war machine was re-formed for its formal use, and then converted to pump out cars and white goods, and electrics - electronics, and synthetics, and consumer land fill. Go back to well designed good quality items which lasted for generations, just make them upgradable. Things with style and beauty to keep, rather than disposable. Do we really need a new model of telephone every year, and new style clothes each season ? But my idyllic imagination is disturbed when I think of how many boats there are, and the small supply of tree gums and resins and other ingredients to make a good traditional Viking style boat varnish. Tar is too messy. And the timber supply, - woe.
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  15. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    You need to be careful here about what is described as a "battery". The sand "battery" described in Ad Hoc link has nothing to do with storing electricity. It stores energy as heat and you pay the entropy penalty each time you change energy forms, so you need more actual generation. On the other hand, today many items that need significant lightweight power for short periods of time...(i.e. small electronics and weapons systems)...use primary batteries, that is batteries that are consumed while they generate power. There is a profound move away from primary batteries to secondary batteries because of the extreme waste and entropy issues which such systems.

    Shades of E F Schumacher (author of Small is Beautiful)! So just how did those uber socialist workers paradises work out?

    While it is true that distributed population reduces apparent effects on the environment (notice I did not say less), historically it has been the rise of population centers that developed the need and caused helpful technology to be developed. Today we are fed, clothed, and educated by the fruits of that development, to the point that it is the millions of small devices manufactured that moves my words from my keyboard to your screen; something unthought of when the first tree was felled for the first Viking boat.

    While I am sure that many people would content to live in a stagnant 2022 frozen in time, I doubt that could or would happen. Though often depicted in Si-Fi (as opposed to dystopian mega-cities), lets just sit back and look at what you would need to have a modern distributed is power distributed? information? food? All of those require infrastructure, and the more distributed society is, the more infrastructure is necessary. Then again, there is the social side of it, if you are a boat builder and spend all your time building boats, who grows the food to feed you? clothe you? I doubt that many wish to go back to a world lit by fire, and to not do so we need to get our arms around this energy problem.

    E F Schumacher was correct in one point though, we need to better manage natural resources across the whole world. It has taken a generation (my Earth Day generation) to sink in. We should have gone all nuclear decades ago.
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