Electric vehicle update: 150 miles per gallon (1.5L/100km)

Here’s wishing that 2015 will be the most fabulous year you’ve had to date! And since it’s New Year’s Day, at least in the West, let’s cover something pleasant (yeah yeah, I know: something pleasant for a change!).

The Chevy Volt–explained earlier in In Praise of Plug-In Vehicles–has delivered 150 miles per gallon (1.5L/100km) in real time since it was purchased. This is not some biased guess on my part, the car tracks these things for you. Here’s a dashboard readout from this week:


And for those who live in rational countries (if there are any!) that use the metric system:


Now, if only the electric charging were powered by solar or free energy! That will come. By Bloomberg‘s calculations, the world is on track to install 35 times more solar photovoltaics in 2014 than it did in 2006 (52 gigawatts in 2014 versus 1.5 gigawatts in 2006). In the US, the perfect exponential chart of increases in solar electric installed capacity looks like this:


The chart is from the next link, which includes a quote about about solar panels costing 1/10th of what they did in 1998:

Massive growth of wind and solar in the USA

In the United States, the annual installed solar PV capacity has grown ~55% per annum since 2001…

The decrease in installed costs can almost entirely be attributed to the drop in module prices, which fell from $5/Watt in 1998 to ~$0.5/Watt in 2013…

And this is from the Washington Post:

     The coming era of unlimited — and free — clean energy

Futurist Ray Kurzweil notes that solar power has been doubling every two years for the past 30 years — as costs have been dropping. He says solar energy is only six doublings — or less than 14 years — away from meeting 100 percent of today’s energy needs. Energy usage will keep increasing, so this is a moving target. But, by Kurzweil’s estimates, inexpensive renewable sources will provide more energy than the world needs in less than 20 years. Even then, we will be using only one part in 10,000 of the sunlight that falls on the Earth.

OK, so there’s no way that the economy will hold together long enough to produce the investment in solar Kurzweil expects over the next 14 years, but the technical trend is very clear, even if the installations don’t take place with continuing straight-through exponential growth.

In rich-in-sunshine Australia, solar is definitely on track to overtake coal:

     Solar has won. Even if coal were free to burn, power stations couldn’t compete

And there are lots of links on the situation here:

     We Could Power All 50 States With Wind, Solar and Hydro

The big oil, gas, coal and nuclear companies claim that we need those energy sources in order to power America.

Good news: it’s a myth.

Of course, the naysayers, often well-funded by the Koch Brothers or the fossil fuel companies, claim that for solar to provide all of our electricity, we’d have to cover some humongous percentage of the Earth’s surface to do it. Here’s what it actually looks like based on needs projected out to 2030 (as always, you can click on the graphic to enlarge it):


(Map source.)

And I think we can look forward to the dogmatic branch of the scientific community being proved wrong again when truly free energy devices emerge, though Alice Bailey’s book The Externalization of the Hierarchy, written in the 1930’s and 1940’s, says that won’t happen till fairly soon after 2025. I can’t wait!

Lightning, and the Earth’s weakening magnetic field

Why lightning? Because, in articles found since July 1:

     Lightning Strikes 14 People In California

     Ball of lightning hospitalises woman and kills hundreds of pigs at farm in China

     Single lightning strike kills 45 head of Black Angus cattle on Montana ranch

     In Bashkortostan, lightning killed 101 sheep

     Two reports of lightning going inside homes and striking people down

     Family of four struck by one lightning bolt

     Second lightning strike fatality in two days at Colorado park, officials say

Four people were injured in Saturday’s strike, and eight were hurt on Friday, officials said in a news release.

For those interested, more headlines about increasingly fierce lightning since July 1 are at the bottom of this post.

From the Manifesto for this site:

This transition is not limited to things human. It reverberates through our entire energetic continuum: the Earth itself is having documented increases in earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, changing weather patterns, and extreme weather events; energy is dancing from the Sun as we’ve never seen before; even the Earth’s magnetic poles are on the move in accelerating fashion.

This is yet another manifestation of the full-spectrum energetic change we are beginning to experience. Yes, lighting strikes occur millions of times a day across the planet. But in recent months, the power of some of these strikes has clearly escalated. Single bolts are striking multiple people and are able to kill a hundred animals at a time. This is not usual.

The cause? It could be from the general increase in the power of storms documented here in several past posts. But it could also be related to this, based on the latest readings from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) satellite array called Swarm:

     Earth’s Magnetic Field Is Weakening 10 Times Faster Now

Once every few hundred thousand years the magnetic poles flip so that a compass would point south instead of north. While changes in magnetic field strength are part of this normal flipping cycle, data from Swarm have shown the field is starting to weaken faster than in the past. Previously, researchers estimated the field was weakening about 5 percent per century, but the new data revealed the field is actually weakening at 5 percent per decade, or 10 times faster than thought. As such, rather than the full flip occurring in about 2,000 years, as was predicted, the new data suggest it could happen sooner…

Earth’s magnetic field acts like a giant invisible bubble that shields the planet from the dangerous cosmic radiation spewing from the sun in the form of solar winds.

So, yet another example of acceleration and energetic change. When one combines this with the idea of an electric universe–that is, one in which electricity is present everywhere, a view that is being proven by excellent work summarized at sites like the Thunderbolts Project–then as the magnetic field weakens, our environment is being stimulated in an increasing way by the emanations of the Sun. Researches such as Mitch Battros have for years been showing an extremely high correlation between geomagnetic storms that hit the Earth and an increase in earthquakes and storms in the 24 to 72 hours that follow, as he did again this weekend at his Earth Changes Media web site:

BREAKING NEWS: Friday’s Two M-Class Flares Accelerate Ocean and Jet Stream Currents

On August 1st, two M-class flares fired off from sunspot regions 2130 and 2127, both of which were located at the Sun’s central meridian producing direct hits to Earth.

Within 24 to 48 hours of these solar storms, four tropical storms; Genevieve, Bertha, Halong, Iselle – were either produced or elevated. Within an additional 24 hours, the NOAA Tsunami Warning Center a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit near Lorengau, Papua New Guinea at 00:22:03 UTC, August 3rd 2014.

He could haven mentioned these earthquakes as well:

     Update: At least 367 killed in southern China after strong earthquake

     USGS: Earthquake Magnitude 6.1 – Federated States of Micronesia region

So, what’s the moral of the story?

1. If you are in the vicinity of a lightning storm, don’t mess with it. Ignoring the storm based on thoughts of the low probability of being struck by lightning may no longer be a wise approach.

2. Expect further acceleration in the trends documented at Thundering Heard: extreme weather, earthquakes, magnetic pole migration, and so forth, and take whatever measures, if any, you deem appropriate.

3. Expect an increasing effect from these energetic changes on society and on you, at all levels of your being.

Here are some additional lighting links gathered since July 1:

     3,400 lightning strikes in Central Oregon – dozens of wildfires erupt

     Spanish World Cup team plane struck by lightning on way back from Brazil

     Colorado man struck by lightning while filming storm

     Severe lightning storms tear through Chicago area

     Lightning knocks Atlanta-area man clean out of his ‘smoking’ boots

     Dramatic film of lightning strikes as July storms hit the UK

     UK storms cause further disruption after lightning

     UK freak lightning & hail plunge commuters into ‘Zombie Apocalypse’

     Spectacular lightning strike filmed in New York

     Lightning storm creates terrifying nuclear bomb-style mushroom cloud above Sardinia

     ‘Whistling’ Volcanic Lightning Heard Halfway Around the World




Plug-In Vehicle Update

Updating In Praise of Plug-In Vehicles, our mileage after two months with the Chevy Volt is 101 miles per gallon (2.3L/100km for the metric-minded). That included four drives of 350 miles and one drive of 250 miles during which the car runs from electricity only for the first 45 to 50 miles (70+ km), after which it runs from gasoline.

And in response to those who e-mailed warnings that electric vehicles are a bad idea in a world with an imminent EMP event: even though I have made the gesture–because it’s so easy to do–of storing my backup generator and other small backup electronics in a Faraday cage, I do not consider a devastating EMP event to be likely. As stated before, what I detect is accelerating evolution, with likely supply line disruptions. That is what I see, so that is what I plan for. I see no evidence of an impending planetary reset event. With humanity about to reap the full consequences of its good and bad decisions about finance, governance, war, health care, pollution, overuse of resources, taxation, energy, communications, etc., the conditions on this planet are perfect for humanity to learn how to live and how not to live. I think humanity will benefit mightily from this ingenious setup. Let’s see if we can.

In Praise of Plug-In Vehicles

Over the last three days, I’ve driven a car 150 miles without burning a drop of gasoline. That is quite a pleasure. Here’s how it happened.

On Aug 6, I wrote that the war drums were getting louder. So I reviewed my own preparations for the transition, this time focusing on energy and transportation. And I came face to face yet again with my own pitiable dependence on the oil cartel for transportation.

So I signed up for the daily e-mail from Green Car Reports, an excellent site covering advances in automobile transport via hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fully electric vehicles. And I contacted an extremely knowledgeable and very friendly fellow named Gordy who heads the Panhandle Electric Vehicle Association and converts vehicles with internal combustion engines to electric vehicles.

While doing my research, the war drums got much louder with events appearing to take place in the following order: troops entering Syria accompanied by the CIA as reported by Le Figaro; then a UN team of weapons inspectors arrives in Syria to test for evidence of chemical warfare; and then there just happens to be a poison attack in Syria that kills hundreds. Followed (of course?) by a report by the Wall St Journal that the US is refining its military options in Syria.

Which “kind of” ups the ante: If there is all-out war in the Middle East, how long before the price of gasoline doubles, or worse? Or gets rationed, or is simply unavailable at times?

So this further stimulated my interest in vehicles that can operate on electricity. A lot of whether these types of vehicles can work for a person relates to their driving needs. Gordy educated me that a conversion would probably not work for us, or better put, that a conversion would be too expensive to build to meet the requirements of my household.

So I looked at the available automobile products, which fall into three general categories:

1. Existing hybrids, like the Prius, that get modified by the addition of a small battery bank that enables a person to drive a small number of miles on electricity alone after the battery bank has been charged. For example, with the plug-in Prius, Toyota claims a person can drive 6 to 11 miles on electricity alone before the gasoline engine kicks in. Reviewers claim that this is actually 5 to 6 miles.

2. Newer hybrid designs like the Chevy Volt and Ford CMax Energi that have larger battery banks that offer 38 miles on electricity alone for the Volt and 18 miles for the CMax Energi, after which a gasoline engine takes over.

3. Fully electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, Honda Fit EV, Ford Fusion EV, Chevy Spark EV, and the Tesla Motors models that run only on electricity with no gasoline engine backup.

To be honest, I would have been happy to fully investigate Category 3, but I live in the Town of Boondocks just east or north or south or west of the Middle of Nowhere, and no one sells or services those cars around here.

And Category 1 seems like afterthought design that offers little benefit for a large increase in price, at least for my driving needs.

So I pursued Category 2, and am I ever happy it turned out that way. For those of us who have had very low expectations of General Motors for decades, the Chevy Volt is a very pleasant shocker.  Here’s how it works: The Volt has a sizable battery bank (16Kw) that powers an electric motor that propels the car. If one does not drive aggressively, one can go 50 miles on a single charge of the battery bank. If one drains the battery bank and continues driving, a 1.4 liter gasoline engine kicks in and acts as an electric generator, powering the electric motor that propels the car. So either the battery bank drives the electric motor, or a gasoline generator drives the electric motor. So if you want to drive straight across the US, you can do that, though most of the trip would be done with the Volt running on gasoline. This is a huge advantage over the all-electric cars in Category 3 which would need to drive the 100 miles or so (more for the far more expensive Tesla’s) that they can attain from a single charge, followed by a multi-hour period of battery re-charging before further progress could be made.

With the Volt, if a person drives less than 50 miles a day, they never need to buy gasoline, they can just plug the car into a standard (in the US) 120 volt outlet and the batteries recharge in about 10 hours, typically overnight. If there is a 240 volt outlet available, the recharge takes four hours, which would allow a person to drive 50 miles on electricity alone multiple times a day. But there is no “range anxiety” with the Volt as there is for the all-electric cars where a person sometimes ends up wondering whether they will get to their destination before running out of electricity.

The published all-electric mileage capability of the Volt is 38 miles, not 50. And I think that would likely be correct if one drives aggressively or at 70 miles per hour for the entire trip. But with non-aggressive driving averaging 35 or 45 miles per hour, 50 miles is attainable on a single charge.

These vehicles are more expensive than their gasoline-only counterparts. To ease the pain, some governments offer tax incentives. The US offers a $7,500 tax credit for the Volt and for the all-electric cars in Category 3. And because Chevy had a $5,000 price drop incentive in play for the Volt, and because we were willing to buy a 2012 demo model, we were able to get a decent price, so it pays to shop around. And powering a car with electricity is far less expensive than powering it with gasoline. Most EV owners talk about paying 1 to 4 cents per mile for their electric fuel depending on their electricity rate and their car, which is about 90% cheaper than gasoline. So the calculation for a Volt at today’s gasoline prices is that one will save over $7,000 on fuel costs over five years. And if gasoline costs double or worse?  After awhile, with the tax and fuel savings, these cars start to look cheaper than their gas-guzzling cousins.

People actually talk about payback on electric vehicles. Some criticize that the payback is too long. But have you ever heard anyone talk about payback on a gas-only vehicle? Of course not, one pays the car company for the car and the oil companies to run it. Period.

And driving with electricity is far greener than using gasoline. There are zero tailpipe emissions. Yes, the power company producing the electricity pollutes, but the pollution from a large power plant is far less per kilowatt than an internal combustion engine. And if one powers an electric vehicle with renewable energy–either with their own renewables system or if they are lucky enough to live in an area with lots of hydro power–the pollution drops to near-zero for the EV, and takes an admittedly tiny bite out of the oil production chain of drilling, pumping, transporting to a refinery, refining, transporting to a delivery point, and finally burning in an internal combustion engine. Each of those points in the oil production chain has it deleterious effects on the quality of life on Earth. So any reduction in that chain has value.

If you wish to educate yourself on these topics, the Green Car Reports web site is highly recommended, and attending a meeting of your local electric vehicle club, if you are lucky enough to have one, is an outstanding opportunity. I was lucky enough to attend a meeting of Gordy’s PEVA and it was one of the jolliest meetings I’ve ever attended. These folks doing electric car conversions are having a lot of fun and some people at PEVA reported that their heath improved after they switched to an electric vehicle. Unfortunately, given that the US has become a theftocracy, now that the big car companies all have plug-in offerings, the US government no longer gives tax credits for converting cars from gasaholism to electricity, only for buying new ones.

Who says a person can’t change the world


A fellow named Ace Hoffman from Carlsbad, CA has been working relentlessly for many years to alert the world to the dangers of these defective nuclear plants situated right between the Pacific Ocean and Interstate Highway 5, one of the busier highways in the world. Those plants also happen to sit right between Los Angeles and San Diego. Here’s a shot of the plants from Google Earth:

SanOnofreNot pictured, of course, is what’s called the Newport/Inglewood/Rose Canyon Fault Zone in which the plant was built. Great place for a badly-designed nuclear plant: on the coast, in an earthquake fault zone, near big cities, right next to the main highway for the area! What could possibly go wrong.

Now let’s hope that the de-commissioning process goes smoothly before a tsunami turns the place into a radiating shambles. Remember what was said here:

According to data at the NOAA Global Historical Tsunami Database, which has records going back to 2000 BC, there have been 34 tsunamis with a wave height greater than twenty feet over the last 400 years. Six of those, or 18%, have occurred since the year 2000…

Of course, all the still-highly-radioactive spent nuclear fuel from 44 years of nuclear power generation will be safely handled by … oh yeah, the USA has no plan for safely handling spent nuclear fuel.  In fact, skip the “safely” part, the USA has no plan for spent nuclear fuel at all. Except to leave it lying around. We sure wouldn’t want to hurt electric utility company profits by making them do something safe with it.

Anyway, closing San Onofre Units 2 and 3 (Unit 1 was closed in 1992) is major progress. At least these plants won’t be adding to the spent nuclear fuel pile. Congratulations, and thanks for changing the world, to Ace Hoffman, who writes cogently about the design problems of nuclear energy and nuclear plants here.

In Praise of Chest Refrigerators

Nearly every household on Earth has a fridge that totally wastes at least 1 kWh of energy a day (365 kWh a year).
— Dr. Tom Chalko, Mt. Best, Australia

Chest Freezer converted to Refrigerator

That’s a big claim by Chalko, but he has proven that it’s true. How?

Using vertical doors in refrigeration devices is an act against the Nature of Cold Air. Understanding and cooperating with Nature rather than acting against it leads to much better efficiency.

Chalko converted a standard chest freezer into a chest refrigerator. He says that if it were connected to the grid, he would pay about $5 per year for the electricity to run that chest fridge. (He powers his fridge from renewables, not from the grid.) We put a Kill-A-Watt  device that easily tracks appliance electricity usage on our standard American upright side-by-side refrigerator freezer, and it costs $600 per year to power that fridge. So $5 versus $600. Gee, tough choice there!

We’ve probably all sensed the cold air spilling from our upright refrigerator onto our feet as we pondered what to eat next with the fridge door wide open. Cold air sinks! Everyone knows it. But upright refrigerators fly in the face of that simple principle.

Plenty of businesses use chest refrigerators and freezers, but it’s rare to see a chest fridge in a residence. Notice that a lot of horizontal refrigerators and freezers in supermarkets don’t even have tops! Why not? Because cold air sinks! Every time we open our “modern” upright refrigerator, the cold air rapidly sinks out of it.

So, we could all go right out and buy chest refrigerators, but there is a problem with that. To buy even a small 5.5 cubic foot chest refrigerator, it costs over a thousand bucks US. Here’s the only one I can find on Amazon, it costs $1,148 as of this writing.  And the big box chain stores don’t even sell chest refrigerators. Our upright standard American refrigerator has about 13 cubic feet of fridge space. The 13 cubic foot chest fridge on Amazon costs $1,743. And we’d still need a freezer as well.

But chest freezers are far less expensive. A 5.5 cubic foot chest freezer costs between $160 and $200. Which is why Chalko converted a chest freezer to a fridge. And why we are running an experiment along similar lines.

We bought the used chest freezer in the picture above for $75 at a local yard sale. It works great as a freezer. The second expense was the little controller (the Love Controllers Digital Temperature Switch model TS-3) velcro’ed to the top of the freezer door in the picture, and a temperature sensor probe (the TS-11) placed inside the freezer and connected to the controller. Together, these cost $60. The controller decides when the fridge turns on its compressor to make things cooler inside. It’s set to keep the temperature at 38.5 degrees F instead of the below-freezing normal operating temperature of a freezer. So the freezer won’t have to work as hard when it needs to be a fridge rather than a freezer. So we spent $135, rather than $1,148 on the chest fridge from Amazon.

Chalko is an electrical engineer in addition to being a renewable energy pioneer and meditation teacher, so he built his own controller to convert that chest freezer into a chest fridge. He’ll sell you one of his controllers through his web site. It’s better than the one I’m using because it uses less energy than the TS-3 controller. But it’s also more expensive and I wanted a less expensive controller for my experiment.

From the initial Kill-A-Watt readings from our “new” chest fridge, it looks like Chalko is correct about strongly reduced power consumption when one has their refrigeration devices working with the laws of nature rather than against them.

Let’s wild guess that there are 500 million upright refrigerators in the world, likely a low estimate. So if Tom is right and each of those wastes one kilowatt per day, that’s 500 BILLION watts of electricity wasted. Every day!! And utility company power plants are rated in millions of watts of output, only the biggest can put out one billion watts in a day. So it sounds like we have hundreds of unneeded power plants? Gee, I wonder who benefits from all this waste. Couldn’t be that the power companies, power plant builders, and the fossil fuel suppliers like things just the way they are. Nah, they wouldn’t pull a caper like that. After all, they’re such nice people who really care about us, and the Earth.

Let’s think just a little more about this: When people install a solar photovoltaic array to get some power from the Sun, they typically buy a 1 kilowatt to 4 kilowatt array for their home. And one of those kilowatts is wasted in most homes on refrigeration!? Mind-boggling.

Anyway, here is a link to Tom Chalko’s site in Australia, this link is his single-page explanation of his chest fridge. And he has a link to a PDF with a full explanation of his controller and his fridge project. And the rest of his site has lots of great energy ideas. We found out about Chalko’s work from the premier renewable energy site in the US, Build-It-Solar.com, created and maintained by the amazing Gary Reysa.

And this experiment has convinced us to convert fully from vertical to horizontal refrigeration devices. We will post on this topic later with real-time results.

And if anyone wants to duplicate our experiment using the TS-3 controller, please find our e-mail on the Contact page and let us know. We can probably save you some time in terms of wiring that device to a freezer.