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March 26, 2008


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Howard Owens

Fascinating interview on Charlie Rose with John Hofmeister, CEO of Shell.

In it, he says that one of the things holding back wind power is lack of production capacity. Manufactures have years of back orders to fill, mostly in Europe.


For the first time last summer I saw the windmills in Oklahoma used to produce electricity. It's actually amazing at the amount of electricity that is produced this way. I liked your post and it would make the perfect match to used the wind produced energy at night to charge our cars.


When I was in Austin recently for the South by Southwest Festival, I met a man who is a wind power expert. He told me that the state of Texas has more wind power than anywhere else in the U.S. Not because all the farmers have become environmentalists. It is because they can make a nice income doing it. The world will change but we can't always rely on it being based on philosophical changes. Sometimes it's just about money.


I would love to see a hybrid car which can recharge itself through home electric points so that it can save unnecessary wastage.

Yemek Tarifleri

And why wouldn't you, if you were them.

Jim King

Jim King – London, April 2008

Comments on Project Better Place’s white paper
The Future of Transportation

Who I am
I am an independent Business Analyst with a keen personal interest in Peak Oil and the future of transportation. I have 8 years experience in the oil sector (Shell, BP, Aramco); a further 5 years experience in the transportation sector (London Underground, British Airways, Ford); and over 25 years’ broad-ranging IT experience in business and data analysis, performance measurement and business intelligence roles, working with 19 companies (4 FTSE-100) on 27 major assignments in 8 different countries. I am also a regular attendant of the UK government’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and Gas.

Purpose of my comments
I have been following with interest the progress of your company in the economic press and consider your business ideas to be very promising. I was inspired by your white paper on The Future of Transportation and excited to note the recent announcement of your planned groundbreaking deployment of an Electric Recharge Grid (ERG) in Israel, backed by Ehud Olmert, and with the collaboration of Renault/Nissan in the development of a new ‘fast swap’ battery-powered Electric Vehicle (EV). And also now your expansion into Denmark.
Based on my professional experience, I nevertheless foresee a number of challenges facing your ambitious business plans. These are in a nutshell the following: 1. developing a strategy for an uncertain future, 2. extending vehicle range, 3. reducing drivers’ fear of running out of charge, 4. presenting supportable emissions claims. These issues will have to be addressed.

How can I contribute to the succcess of your business plan
On the assumption that you are interested in enlarging your team with skilled and enthusiastic people, I provide you with a brief overview of these challenges as I see them, together with a possible approach for addressing them. Should you find my ideas of interest, and my skills of relevance, I would be interested to learn more about the possibilities to join your team in a mutually beneficial capacity.
The Challenges ahead
Developing a strategy for an uncertain future
The timing of global peak oil is inherently unpredictable and will only be known to have occurred in retrospect, while the subsequent post peak profile of declining oil production will not necessarily follow a smooth bell curve. Thus, the profile of the expected post peak rising trend in the price of oil (which is assumed to be the main driver of consumer demand for EVs) will depend on many complex and interrelated supply/demand factors and will therefore be difficult to predict. At the same time, the collective denial of the reality of Peak Oil allied to an irrational residual loyalty to CVs will cause mass consumer demand for EVs to lag behind the rising trend in the price of oil.
Rising to the challenge…
Ø Adopt Bakhtiari’s model of the anticipated transitional phases in the post-peak decline in global oil production as a theoretical framework against which the strategy can be mapped and tracked.
Ø Develop an early warning device driven by a cohesive set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) chosen to detect Bakhtiari’s transition points and thus to anticipate the rising oil price and local consumer demand for EVs.
Ø Scale the strategy according to the gradient of the post-peak decline, since the severity of the down slope will be a principal determinant of the rate of oil price increase and thus rising consumer demand for EVs.
Ø Realign the strategy to fit real-world deviations from the framework.
How I could contribute…
I have used a wide range of innovative techniques for modelling and measuring cause and effect, and for making forecasts in uncertain circumstances, including:
Ø Developing an early warning device for a major UK supermarket that enabled them to mitigate the risk of panic buying in an unprecedented supply / demand situation, while also contributing to their best-ever sales forecast.
Ø Designing a performance management system for London Underground that aligned over 1,000 existing KPIs into a structured framework that enabled managers to track back from exceptional effects to the underlying cause.
Ø Using neural computing techniques to perform market segmentation and to build a tool to forecast demand for a major UK retailer.

Extending vehicle range
As EVs/ERGs are deployed beyond actual and virtual island areas into continental landmasses they will need to be capable of supporting longer journeys and offering a range performance comparable to the CVs that they are seeking to replace. Assuming today a battery-powered EV range of 100km, a driver wishing to undertake a journey comparable to that which would be feasible in a CV (say 500-1000km) would be obliged to stop and exchange batteries approximately 5-10 times at hourly intervals. This initial lack of parity between purely battery-powered EVs and CVs is likely to prove unacceptable to all but the urban/virtual island-based motorist, and will inhibit early EV uptake in continental areas.
Rising to the challenge…
Ø Adopt a transitional approach to EV design, developing a serial hybrid EV incorporating battery exchange technology whose method of operation is able to be easily and incrementally modifiable by service technicians from serial hybrid to pure battery EV mode.
Ø Initially, the EV would operate as a serial hybrid, using a small on-board Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) to recharge the battery and extend range at least as far as the next exchange station.
Ø As battery power , ERG coverage and thus battery EV range increase over time, the hybrid would need to rely less and less on its on-board ICE until eventually it could be removed altogether.
How I could contribute…
I am an articulate, persuasive communicator and innovative problem solver with a keen eye for detail, quick to absorb the concepts and terminology relevant to a particular business area and adept at gaining the respect and co-operation of stakeholders at all levels of the business organisation. Thanks to my work in the transportation sector, my extra-curricular research, and my participation in the UK government’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and Gas, I have a broad-based knowledge of the issues surrounding the future of transportation in general and EV/ERG development in particular.

Reducing drivers’ fear of running out of charge
In the early stages of EV/ERG deployment, drivers undertaking longer continental journeys will have a legitimate fear of running out of charge and finding themselves stranded at the roadside. These pioneers are likely to be uncertain of their remaining EV range and of the location of the nearest suitably-located exchange station. This problem might well be exacerbated by the phenomenon that major oil companies may be reluctant to host battery exchange facilities at their petrol stations. As a result, drivers will be uncertain whether a given exchange station will have an adequate stock of pre-charged batteries for exchange. Check the logical reasoning
Rising to the challenge…
Ø Develop an enhanced on-board Global Positioning System (GPS) enabling route planning based on real-time monitoring of route, position, EV range and known locations of ERG Exchange Stations .
Ø Provide real-time display of stock levels of pre-charged exchange batteries available at given exchange stations.
Ø Provide ability to reserve a pre-charged exchange battery at a given ERG exchange station.
Ø Develop partnerships with major out of town retailers (e.g. Tesco – in the UK) to host battery exchange facilities.
Ø Develop partnerships with vehicle recovery companies (e.g. AA, RAC – in the UK) to provide an emergency roadside battery exchange service.
How I could contribute…
As a business analyst and systems designer I am skilled in problem solving and in communicating my solutions to technologists that are able to implement them. I am also adept at modifying a proposal in the light of what is actually possible. Try to come up with something more concrete

Presenting supportable emissions claims
You claim in your White Paper that your proposed framework could “eliminate the entire projected growth of CO2 emissions in the developed world over the next 25 years.” However, EVs can only claim to be zero-emission vehicles to the extent that the generation of the electricity required to recharge their batteries is itself a net zero-emission process, i.e. the emissions of EVs are effectively transferred from the exhaust pipe to the chimney of the power station that energises the ERG within which the EV is operated. Generalised marketing claims that EVs operating within an ERG offer reduced or even zero-emission transportation solutions will become subject to increasingly stringent advertising standards as the EV/ERG market develops and becomes more competitive.
Rising to the challenge…
As the EV/ERG market develops Project Better Place will need to calculate scientifically supportable figures to back their marketing claims for EV/ERG emissions. The most significant comparator will become the difference in net emissions between fossil fuel powered ICE vehicles and their EV and hybrid EV counterparts, where these EVs are assumed to be drawing their energy requirement from a particular ERG fed by power stations based on generation from a particular energy mix.
How I could contribute…
I am widely experienced in synthesising data from different sources, normalising it, and using it to perform complex calculations.

Malcolm Kass

Wow, that is some entry. Well, for anyone who actually gets to the end of this post, I have a quick question. How much energy does it take, cradle to grave, to create and dispose of a wind turbine? I am not being hypothetical, I am just curious. I know that the polymers used in many turbines are developed from high energy intensive processes due to the necessary "toughness" these materials need to withstand nature 24/7. Trust me, I am not trying to be anti-green, but I think the entire scope of many problems is sometime pushed aside in our society in lieu of the thought that "turbines turn, electricity made, Hooray!" Unfortunately, scientists are some of the worst perpetrators of this, leaving the intellectual mess for the engineers to clean up.

I guess I think that a series of small steps usually is the "safer" was to go vs. huge mega-steps. Why can't we push for smaller cars first, and then go from there?

Miael Andersson in Gothenburg,Sweden

The Norwegian goverment owned electric company Statkraft have tested a windmill connected to a electrolyser equipment and storaged for the Hydrogen gas.So when it is not windy enough the electrolyst hydrogen gas at a small island outside Haugesund in Norway can make electricty by fuel cells.In a future the power from windmills can be storaged in hydrogen gas and then be electrity in fuel cells.But both Denmark and Norway have a huge capacity in wavepower which they today still not use.

The swedish start-up company Seabased is now developing their new wavepower concept with a new generator concept with a pistong instead of a rotating movement in existing electric generators.
Waves at sea have more up-and-down movements than rotating movements!

But we have even a larger effect in Negawatt, to use much less of energy than today.In the becoming decays we will save o lot of electric energy in using power electronics like rectifiers for AC/DC instead of transformers like today.
Power electronics on siliconcarbide substrate is the promising future of saving electricity.

Domain Classifieds Listings

They were saying in the news that the biggest hurdle to employing windmills in the US is that most consider them to be eye sores. I think it is about time for us to get over aesthetics and get buy with substance. I think black smudge on bridges in big cities is uglier than windmills.

oilfield equipment

i just love the windmill concept. I think this is the way the U.S. should go too. I was at the north carolina coast and saw some windmills. they looked awesome.

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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

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