My experience with a Tesla Model S and fast charging / supercharging stations

In my experience with a Tesla, what is most important about EVs is not the car itself (all of them are good, as this presentation shows) but the availability of level 3 (fast charging) stations. Level 2 is perfect for home-based overnight charging or charging at your office or work site. But I add about 40 miles of range for every hour of level 2 charging. Hence it is not practical for driving long distances – it would take 5 hours to add 200 miles of range. On a level 3 charger (often called fast chargers, Tesla calls them superchargers) I can add 100 miles of range in 15 mins (just time for a coffee break) and 400 miles in an hour (maybe a lunch stop?). This makes long distance travel a pleasure. I regularly drive from Boston to the New York City / New Jersey area (250 miles one way). The door to door time is the same as flying. Flying costs $250 round trip.  Driving costs me $8 round trip if I charge from my solar panels and $29 if I am paying Eversource. Did I mention the zero carbon footprint?

Today, only Tesla has a large network of fast charging stations. EVgo, Chargepoint and others are building their networks of fast chargers but today they are no where near as good as Tesla’s. This reminds me of the early days of cellphones – it’s not the phone, it’s the network!

Direct Air Capture Carbon Sequestration Technologies

Hi Mark another thought that might make its way into the building code initiatives:

This is in response to an email about Mitsubishi’s new modular carbon capture technology. 

Hi Jan, I am skeptical. Not because of the chemistry – there are dozens of chemistries for sequestering CO2, for instance NASA used lithium hydroxide on the Apollo moon rockets – but because of the cost. Current estimates are about $100-$200 per ton captured. You can buy a carbon offset in the regulated market for about $50 a ton and about $15 a ton in the unregulated markets. They have the same effect.

Unlike solar panels and wind farms where there is no consumable cost, all these carbon capture technologies use a consumable (Lithium hydroxide in NASA’s case, some source of amines in this Mitsubishi example) which means there is a cost you cannot get below for chemical-based carbon capture. Hence economies of scale, that have been so successful in solar and wind, cannot reduce the marginal cost to zero. The cost of the consumable chemicals sets a floor on the cost per ton of the carbon capture. 

The cheapest way to sequester carbon is to cut down a mature tree, plant a new one to replace it, saw the tree into planks and use them to build a house. This sequesters the carbon for about 100 years. There is no incremental cost as we do this already and people are perfectly happy paying $4 for a 2×4. What it needs is a building mandate to use wood rather than steel and concrete. Wood can be made into glued/laminated beams that can build up to 4 stories high.