Friday, April 01, 2016

Poems, Lyrics and Theme Songs

This is a very short poem (if we can call it that) I have read a long time ago. 

The author has seen a proud pigeon walking about like a General, at the same time a hawk was circling above. One day this same hawk may gobble up the pigeon, but it's not this day and the pigeon has no scare or care for the hawk. This inspired the poet :

Let my hawk circle above me
We have still fight in us
Dammit!

-Mikhael Lermentov - 

The fighting spirit of which brings us to this modern classic. This is from the TV series 'firefly'

Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me.

Take me out to the black
Tell them I ain't comin' back
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sky from me.

Leave the men where they lay
They'll never see another day
Lost my soul, lost my dream
You can't take the sky from me.

I feel the black reaching out
I hear its song without a doubt
I still hear and I still see
That you can't take the sky from me.


Lost my love, lost my land
Lost the last place I could stand 
There's no place I can be
Since I've found Serenity

And you can't take the sky from me.



This improvisation may sound little political, but it's not. Just take it as humour.. or as motivation because there are similarities.

If it is saving the world and protecting the environment that we choose as our fight, then it so far has being a loosing battle. Electric Vehicles were subjected to a huge and ridiculous tax all of a sudden, no incentive for Solar, forests are being cleared out, even the reserves, coal power plants being designed and built and so on...

Still, there are certain things politicians and big businesses can't take away from us...

Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me.

Take me out to the black
Cut down trees, build coal plants
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sun from me.

Take out forests, kill EVs
Bulldoze what we already have
Lost my soul, lost my dream
You can't take the sun from me.

Sell out everything we have
Store paddy in airports
I don't care, I'm still free
And you can't take the sun from me.

Lost our jobs, lost our land
Lost the last place we could stand 
Bring ETCA and ruin it all
But you cant take the sun from me


Politicians, parties and governments come and go. They are not in this for us. 

Get an EV, go solar and never step inside a petrol shed or a CEB/LECO again. 
Save the environment and get your freedom as well while you still can, folks! 
After all, They can't take the sky (sun) from us!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Green Cars - A personal history from Prius to LEAF



Back in 2005 I bought a Toyota Prius car. Which was a time that type of car was rare in here. (1997 model of Prius. The very first commercial version of it intended to sell only in Japan. Prius started to get imported only in 2001) Since people generally were afraid of the new technologies I got a good price so I went for a second car of the same model before long. Those did work well till about 8 more years from that point... I think I did a little bit to promote greener hybrid vehicles. 

Compared to those insane risks, a EV buyer today is not taking much of a risk at all! You can find more about those past fun stories if you are interested, in Toyota Prius Car - Experiences from a long term user , part 2 of that and finally in here : What's Wrong With Prius ? 



Even though hybrids wasn't an end solution to the CO2 emission problem and getting totally away from petroleum, they did a nice transition in preparing peoples minds for what's coming. Thanks to hybrids people learned to appreciate and love greener features as well as getting rid of their fears for newer technologies.

Electric vehicles were a total game changer though. Even I didn't anticipate such progress in EVs in such short time. Credits should go to Nissan and Tesla. However, the first EV I was interested about was Mitsubishi i-miev (due to the example set by a good friend of mine), if not for few stubborn kids who didn't like the looks of that nice little car (kids have strange logic!), I would have bought one of those. As it was, I became a LEAF owner (entire director board at home was firm in this and I was over ruled). This was in April 2015 and once again I got a good price because I was just happened to be ahead by 2-3 months before LEAF started to become the fashion in here.

I always wanted to write a post on wonders of this cool car, tips and tricks, best practices etc but by now there are many forums out there and many people have done that already. People seem to be reasonably familiar with the car, those who are still new, we try our best to get them up to speed at our stations. Model 2012 seems to be the oldest which can be found in here. 2013 model came up with few significant improvements to battery, engine and software. However, 2014 and 2015 have no big differences compared to the 2013 model. 2016 model is supposed to come up with a 25% increase of battery power, so we can expect to increase the range by similar factor. If you are someone who get 160 kms from a fully charged battery, you are expected to get 200km from the coming model.

Nissan Models advertised for far into the future include 300km range, self driving etc. On the other hand Tesla says they will start producing cheap model 3 cars in mass starting from end this year while it is now almost official the silent giant Apple is designing it's own car in secrecy. Future look good!



So why should we get so excited about fully electric vehicles ? because they provide us a way to be totally away from fossil fuels. Once we get power from the grid, we could easily control things and optimize things. A mixture of Solar, Wind, Sea Wave, geo thermal, hydro and even nuclear could power our vehicles.

The mere thought of doing all our transportation using clear, clean sunlight one day.... saving the entire planet from the mess we have created. Isn't that a worthwhile goal to take few risks, to work a little harder and to dream a bit ?

Want to clarify doubts on the logic of arguments and cross check the numbers ? read here.

If you are still having doubts why it is worthwhile to bet your money on and take even a personal risk if needed and go for a EV, you can read this story about venus for motivation! :-)

It will be a much bigger risk for us all to not to go for a green vehicle!




Sunday, January 24, 2016

Is a Tesla car really a symbol of Green in here ?

In a previous post, we discussed RRR and how to spot fake environmentalists  damages they do and some associated mis conceptions.

That got us thinking....


I am a fan of Elon Musk and Tesla. It's a great car but it's not yet a car for the masses, it's a car for the super rich, even more so in here. It may be a symbol of green in California, but here in Colombo, it's a symbol of luxury, wealth, comfort and general poshness. There may be nothing inherently wrong in that list, however, greenness or environmentalism is certainly not one belong in that category. Remember, the first R, indulgence and luxury is bit far away from that. there has been some discussions in local circles recently about the time a Tesla taking for a full charge in a normal fast charging station here in Sri Lanka.

Here is our take on the matter : if a tesla comes to a GF network station, we would may be take few pictures of it, have a nice chat with the owner and have a good look at the car too, and we would enjoy that time but at the end of it, we will simply have to ask the car to get to it's home. (may be charge it a tiny little bit so it has just enough to reach the nearest park or it's home). We wouldn't block our fast charger which is still a scarce commodity (for the masses) for hours on behalf for someone who can easily afford one at home (if one could afford a Tesla, why not a 20kw personal charger ?)

Good Elon knows this, that's why he is designing the new model 3 which is supposed to be a car for the masses.

Now that one we WILL treat as a symbol of greenness along with other EVs. We are waiting to charge one...

Your thoughts ?

Pretending Environmentalists - Identify friends and foes of EVs

When the CEO of the company I was working in long time ago, was explaining about results of the latest funding round of the company (which was doing good at the moment), we asked who are the people who are in line to fund us so far. 'A flower attracts all sorts of insects, you know.." came the quick and entertaining answer.. we laughed.


If environmentalism is a flower (a fashionable one too these days), it attracts all sorts of insects right now. Some of whom are a help to the flower, some of whom help themselves but their activities either indirectly helping the flower or at least does it no harm. There are another category of insects which are just helping themselves in such greedy fashion that they are actually damaging the flower itself.

This remind us of that lion who said 'I love vegetarians!' False environmentalists are such that when they say they are environmentalists, what they really mean is that they want to make money out of environmentalism and from environmentalists. Unfortunately, some of those do it by so unethical and opportunistic ways that the process can only be described as more or less of a robbery. Taking advantage of, deceiving and robbing of environmentalists, can not be doing much good towards environmentalism.

There are many ways we can identify false environment lovers. One is the triple R. Well, the three good concepts of Reduce, Re-use, Recycle as put forward by Green Peace. Even though it sounds like simplistic, it in fact has a deep philosophy.

We can not  save our planet or the environment without some sort of reducing the consumption, simply because the planet has limited resources against a growing population who needs more and more. It's a philosophy in one end where our instincts of consuming more, going for luxury, more expensive and bigger has to be transformed into much softer and refined form of taste where we learn to appreciate the finer aspects of life and take joy in consuming sparingly. Learning to practice moderation in things against indulgence. It needs wisdom, intellect, education and self restraint. Such shift in mentality will create a long lasting and sure way of saving the planet. For such a society, concepts of re-use and recycle will also come naturally. In a way it's just a matter of being sensitive towards the world and others who live on it.



There can not be an environment lover without a person inside who is practicing reducing/moderation in things. If we are not keen in reducing, what chance we got to combat with carbon emissions, global warming or green house effects for example ? how to protect dwindling forests and habitats of others, depleting resources and fish in seas.. etc.

On the other hand it is very easy to spot businesses which has set up, designed and tuned to opportunistically make money out of environmentalists, EV lovers/owners, people who like to migrate to Solar power etc.

In case of EVs (as an example), cars are relatively new, owners are few and they all need charging options. Once you buy a car you need to rely on someone for fast charging. In developed countries, charging is available for free or at very low cost. In such cases, it is natural to do it via a membership scheme. Now, how are we to identify a business in these parts of the world where charging is not free, not even fair by the rate and still charging memberships as well ? In early days there will be fewer service stations, spare parts vendors etc.. If one is keen on making money at any cost one could use the early monopoly to raise pricing into such levels (knowing that the customers have limited choice) that it becomes almost a day light robbery but still legal and can get away with.

Can such people, organisations and businesses be categorised as green or environment friendly ? only common aspect between them and an environment lover is that they both deal in the same technologies and options. However, one is using those with the intention of helping the planet while the other is with the intention of making money only. A lion who deals with vegetarian animals is not a vegetarian itself! When the lion says he 'loves vegetarians' he means he loves to eat them!

Environmentalists and early adopters into new (green or not) technologies need to be careful of pretending 'environmentalists'. Their activities more often than not are more harmful to the good cause than activities of those who are direct foes themselves. Direct foes like Big Oil, pollutants, companies who defy conservation laws are easier to identify and hence easier to fight with in the long run. However, fake 'friends' who sneak in as environmentalists and then destroy emergence of new technologies and movements are hard to deal with and the amount of damage they do can be high too. Sometimes they may not aware themselves about the harm they do, but we need to.

Lets take another example.  If we consider the EV sector in here, it is a sensitive time. People were (at least before the budget) thinking of switching into but are cautious about charging points, cost of electricity, spare parts etc. Still the brave ones and early adopters along with environment sensitive individuals take the plunge. Imagine this sensitive environment and add a fake environmentalist into this fragile eco system. A one who says he is helping EVs and providing related services but at a very high cost so he can make maximum profits before the real competition sets in.

If the fake 'green' company managed to get it's way you will see high prices for charging, memberships and then higher cost for servicing and equipment. Now the traditional automative industry can easily point out to the high costs EVs have to go through and mathematically prove to the masses that EVs are actually more expensive to operate and own. In addition, lot of potential early adopters getting discouraged and move away from EVs just after having a look at the charging cost, service cost etc. If this goes on for a while and a fake(s) becomes a monopoly, the entire industry will die out before it even see the day light. That would be a nip in the bud even the petroleum industry would be proud of, if they managed to achieve it. Petrol car dealers would be happy too.

This is not an exaggeration. Here are some numbers if we need more proof to convince our selves. Imagine we charge Rs70 for a unit of electricity to charge a EV. Now, a single unit is normally will take us for about 7 kms. So the cost for one km would be Rs 10, and everybody knows a hybrid car and even a good petrol car would beat that. So for whom are we supporting by enforcing such unfair pricing models on EV owners ?

Imagine there is a Rs 5000 annual charging for EV owners. Is this membership fee is to develop the charging infra structure ? if so, what exactly is and where is that infrastructure after all these months ? That money has clearly went on as personal profit for someone. All though we could argue whether that's a fair/ethical business or not, there shouldn't be an argument at all whether that's a environmental friendly business or not. This is the way to kill EVs, not the way to promote it!

How do other countries and communities deal with such fake do gooders ? there is one recent example which comes to mind where a pharmaceutical company tried to raise the cost of a drug in such a huge magnitude that it caused an outcry world wide. Public awareness has resulted in total failure of such evil attempts by that company that they received swift justice. You can follow the story in here. In that example, even though that company was a pharmaceutical company dedicated into that field including research, they were clearly not an asset or a positive for the improvement of healthcare of people.

Martin Shkreli is the founder and chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, 
which raised the price of the drug Daraprim to $750 a tablet from $13.50. 

CrediPaul Taggart/Bloomberg, via Getty Images

Likewise, just because someone is in the EV sector, doesn't make them green. Just because someone has to unwillingly drop their bad habits and pricing models temporarily due to public outcry, doesn't make them green or good all of a sudden. History, is an indication on where the real motives are.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Tale of Two Planets - our Doomsday prediction and the way out.

We have heard about climate change, global warming, green house effect etc.. but among the general noise of work, advertisements, entertainment, gossip etc they also fade away as any other topic would. In todays well connected, busy and distracting world, nothing can maintain the scope or be in the center of attention for more than a week.

There are other philosophical questions/thoughts as well about who we are and what our goals, purpose are but they too have no chance keeping up with the changing, dynamic, eventful busy world. Human mind has this weakness.. even if it manages to identify what is the essence, most important issues and priorities (once in a blue moon that is).. it cant stay focused on those priorities for much long. If we finally manages to have a long term focus on something, they are usually the less important things like jobs, careers, profits etc.


How dare we say things like careers are less important ? Well, they are less important because there are simply more important things than them, whether we like that or not. However important they may be, once in a blue moon realizations don't have much more of a chance than a snow flake in hell to compete (in terms of grabbing and sustaining the attention and focus of our minds) against day to day issues, matters like economies and careers, gossip, news, hobbies. So we fall back to maintain the status quo and life goes on as usual....


However, there are those rare times when u hear a story..... stories are powerful. A proper story connects with you and your beliefs and values in a way that the message get sinks in like no other. These stories change the world.  Some of Ted Talks have done that for few people, so I have heard. Some of powerful speeches from influential people have done that for some others. It could be Martin Luther Kings 'I have a dream', or Mahathma Gandhi or Steve jobs 'connecting the dots' to some. For most of us, we probably haven't heard the story meant for us, not yet!

This is about such a story... I heard a part of it first from 'Cosmos' TV series from Neil de Grass Tyson





I later read the essence of it in the form of a quote from Elon Musk




See whether this is the one which was waiting for you!

Story goes like this....


Venus and Earth are sister planets, in that they are very similar to each other. They are close, about the same distance to the sun, similar sizes with hard surfaces and an atmosphere. Similarities were much numerous several hundreds of millions of years ago.



Like its sister Earth, Venus also was a beautiful planet. It had its own nice blue oceans of liquid water. It was a heavenly planet, conditions were very close to that of bearing life. However, there were violent volcanic actions on Venus which continuously put billions of tons of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon Dioxide levels in the air contributed to Green House effect where the sun light could come through the CO2 layer into the planet but can not get out of it, and hence it traps suns energy, raising temperatures higher and higher. much like how the high temperatures are maintained inside green houses.


When green house effect reaches certain level it becomes like a chain reaction, leading into rapid temperature rises, we call it a runaway green house effect. This is exactly what happens to the Venus, rising temperatures made the sea water evaporate into atmosphere and then leaked away slowly into the space. Venus never saw water again, and the beautiful blue oceans were no more. Meanwhile temperatures rose even faster... Fast forward to few hundreds of millions of years to the present day and we see Venus today is a much hotter planet than even Mercury (which, as you know is much closer to the sun). With high temperatures Venus has a high atmospheric pressure as well. It's dry, hot and very inhospitable to life. A hell, in short....


This was the natural path which was set for its sister as well. Earth also has high volcanic activity those days and writing was on the wall basically. However, a nice twist of things happened here on earth. A thing called trees appeared!


Trees had this habit of taking Carbon Dioxide out of the atmosphere, releasing Oxygen back and storing Carbon in its bodies. Rapid expansion of Trees meant slowly Oxygen levels in the atmosphere rose while Carbon levels were kept in check.


Of course the body of tree eventually die, decompose and Carbon Dioxide (via the activity of micro organisms) will go back into atmosphere. However, this decomposing process is much slower compared to expansion of trees, by the time one decompose, several more tress would grow into take more Carbon Dioxide out.  More importantly, large parts of Trees and Animal bodies got trapped beneath the earth surface and got stored as hydrocarbons. Since this was below the surface these carbon stores were there for millions of years. This made the carbon cycle to break and atmospheric carbon levels never grew into threatening levels capable of creating a green house effect.


Therefore, success of life as we know it on planet Earth is very much indebted to the fact that carbon being stored below earth surface (due to the activity of trees) without getting it into the atmosphere.


Without this storage, earth too would have very well followed its close sisters path.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what we have been reversing in past few decades. In our moment of madness and greed, we are digging up buried carbon, bringing them back up to the surface and burn them into the atmosphere! Currently we add as much as 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year!


Now to the dangerous runway green house effect.. this is the chain reaction when one thing leads to more of the same, until the cycle becomes unbreakable and too late to stop. We are seeing signs of it even now.. increased temperatures mean less ice in polar caps, less ice means less sun light reflected back into space, means further increases in temperatures. Methane (an even more dangerous green house gas than carbon dioxide) buried in the bottom of sea bed get released when sea water reach certain high temperatures, Methane trapped in perma frost get released when those areas in siberia get defrosted... etc. Once these actions reach a certain tipping point, there is no way back and it will be too late to reverse..


Imagine Venus... a hot, boiling, barren hell which was once a beautiful planet with a blue ocean.


Elon Musk has summarized this as follows.

"Burning Fossil Fuels Is the Dumbest Experiment in History, By Far."

Changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere and oceans by adding enormous amounts of CO2 that have been buried since the Precambrian Era is a crazy experiment indeed.

Once we see fossil fuels in this angle, we can never go back and see it as a precious resource or as 'black gold' anymore. The most important and possibly the only real use we can get from Fossil Fuels is to keep them safely buried under the ground, never to be dug up ever again! 


The greatest challenge in our generation is to battle climate change. That is to reduce and stop carbon emissions. In other words, to get away from fossil fuels! This is the most glorious battle field there ever can be in our generation, where heroes will be made and villains will be defined. 

Friday, December 04, 2015

DC fast charging, how bad are you really ?

This post is for electric vehicle owners and fans. The question asked is a frequently asked question in forums and discussions. I guess it is also one of those nagging questions every vehicle owner silently asking himself every time he/she waiting at quick charge station while the green car silently filling itself up...

There is a reason why this question is so frequent, it is because the EV industry, powerful all electric car batteries (they are generally more powerful than hybrid vehicle batteries) and specially the concept of fast charging at commercial scale were still a recent phenomena that there hasn't been enough time to do conclusive testing and arrive at conclusive answers.



However, this is no longer the case. Recently several research, tests and analysis with medium term data collection has been done, to such a degree that we now do have some data to answer this question. Yea, there could still be some nagging minor doubt here and there on exact numbers, but in general the question can be reasonably evaluated.

In older days (about 5 years ago or more), understanding was that fast charging may damage the battery a bit over long time but no one was sure by exactly how much by over 8-10 years of usage, since lack of data. Nissan and Tesla both now seems to be thinking that the long term battery degradation due to quick charging is not as bad as previously thought. Infact they now think that the total number of miles travelled is the main factor affecting battery life than the method of charging (L2 or L3). You can see this by comparing Nissan Leaf owners manual (UK) in 2011 with the one they issued in 2015

 2011 LEAF owner's manual:
Use the normal charging or trickle charging methods to charge the Li-ion battery and minimize the use of public Fast Charge or Quick Charger.
Avoid exceeding 70-80% state of charge when using frequent (more than once per week) public Fast Charge or Quick Charging.
NISSAN recommends that quick charging not be performed more than once a day
2015 LEAF owner's manual:
NISSAN recommends using normal charging for usual charging of the vehicle. Use of quick charge should be minimized in order to help prolong Li-ion battery life.
Avoid sustained high battery temperatures (caused, for example, by exposure to very high ambient temperatures or extending highway driving with multiple quick charges).

Note how soft the wording in 2015 version of the manual (compared to strict warnings in 2011), also they are putting more emphasis against high temperatures instead. Nissan web site actually goes further and even recommends fast charging.

See here Note this section specifically.





"0% TO 80% IN 30 MINUTES USING RAPID CHARGERS


Rapid Charging at electric car charging stations allows a LEAF to charge from 0% to 80% in approximately 30 minutes.  Available across almost the entire UK motorway network, you can also find them in Nissan Dealerships, IKEA and Waitrose, plus various other locations.

Nissan recommend the use of the Ecotricity Electric Highway as it’s currently free (you will need to register first) and provides access to a wide range of Rapid Chargers to help you on those longer journeys. For example, using the Electric Highway on a journey from London to Bristol could cost you absolutely nothing!"

Word "recommends" is now used without restraint but at the same time they have managed to sneak in the "0% to 80%" just to make sure! This kind of summarises the present understandings and research stats.

Infact, even as early as 2012, they have got bit bolder. Speaker here is Mark Perry, Nissan North America's Director of Product Planning. 



At first he uses strong assured phrases such as "Nissan is designed with fast charging in mind', "2-3 times of fast charging daily, no problem", "car is intelligent enough to protect it self" etc but when grilled, says there could be small percentage difference over 10 years, so the optimal is to charge up to 80% but still he maintains there is no significant damage in 100% charging (except 'small percentages over 10 year') and go for it if we really need it. 

This is another section from the manual :


  • Info on charging in LEAF Owner's Manual: "Overview" / "Efficient use of your vehicle" / "Li-ion battery life" section.
    Nissan recommends:
    • Only charging to 80% in order to maximize battery life:
      "Long life mode
      NISSAN recommends charging the Li-ion battery using the long life mode to help maximize the Li-ion battery useful life. Long life mode can only be set using the charging timer function. The long life mode is set by changing the [% Charge] to [80% Charge (Improves Battery Longevity)] using the following procedure.[7]
      Furthermore, the LEAF's warranty includes an exclusion regarding Li-Ion battery being charged full on a daily basis "despite the lithium-ion battery keeping a high state of charge level (98-100%)." [8]
    • Allow the battery charge to be below at least 80% before charging.
    • Avoid leaving vehicle for over 14 days where the battery charge state is zero or near zero.
    • Allow the vehicle and Li-ion battery to cool down after use before charging.
  • If vehicle will not be used for long period of time, NISSAN recommends charging with "long life mode" (charging only to 80%, see above) and to charge once every 3 months
Here, there is an important piece. Note that the 0-80% rule is a general health guideline which is applicable even for L2 charging! It is not associated with quick charging only.

Anyway, Nissan may be interested in its business and if the battery died after 8 years, the burden will be on users so we need some neutral party to come up with test data. Given that it is still 5 years since the launch of commercial level EVs, those are hard to come by.

I managed to find one such at following : http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy15osti/63700.pdf (Let us know if you find more.) Here too they agree that the long term impact is not significant.

Another angle to look at the issue is to ask the question 'what happens at quick charging which may cause problems for the battery'. The answer is, high power is associated with high temperatures! High temperatures as we know are not good for batteries. Larger the power, higher the temperatures can go while charging. This is why no body even asking the question of damage due to slow L2 charging. (however the 'optimal' habit of not charging more than 80% applies to the L2 charger as well as mentioned earlier.)

Therefore, if we are really concerned, it would be prudent to minimize whatever damage and risk by using less power as possible. 40KW would be better than 60KW, 30KW would be better than 40, 20 would be bette than 30, and L@ charging would be safest of all etc but we can not wait long period to charge the battery if we are to use our cars in practical day to day usage. So at some point we will have to draw a line and find the correct balance between practical usage and ultra safety over long term.

Personally, I myself of the opinion that 20KW provides us that balance. It is fast enough for most of our requirements (I'm yet to find a case that it exceeds one hour for a charge), cheap enough to afford fair prices to EV owners, safe enough for batteries against high temperatures since it uses less power. However, I would not write off 30KW either.

Using beyond that (40KW or more), I think is a mistake for Sri Lanka. Here are the reasons :
1) Our grid provides only 60A max with 3 phase, beyond that you need a dedicated paid transformer.
2) If you go for such a transformer, then that huge cost will usually come to the end customers but why should EV owners pay for transformers ?
3) If you do not go for a transformer then you can draw only 60A, meaning your 40KW charger is actually under utilized. If thats the case, why should end customers pay more for power they are not even using ?
4) Risks associated with long term battery life. (however minor they can be)

To summarize then :
1) When possible, charge only up to 80% (whether it is L2 or L3)
2) If you really have to charge up to 100% to get the range, don't worry too much over it but at the same time, try not to do it too often either, just to be on the safe side.
3) let the battery cool down after the drive before charging. (since we know that the temperature is the enemy)
4) less power the better for the battery so whenever possible, use lesser KW if you are very concerned about long term battery life.
5) Reduce amounts of occurrences where the battery is discharged very low. If it goes too low, let it cool down a bit and charge. Dont keep the battery in Low of High charge states for longer durations.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Electric Vehicles - Facts and Myths


I was out of blogging and social media for a long time (for good, so I thought). So many things have happened in last few years. Few years ago, I have written about Toyota Prius which got some discussion going on about the hybrid vehicles. Well, as they say a lot of water has flown under the bridge!

Just thought of coming back and write this since I have heard so many untruths recently about electric cars that it was almost hard not to have a say in some sort. So many have commented on these already, but I will just for the record add my 2 cents here as well.

1) Sri Lankan electricity grid can not take so many electric vehicles.
People who say this belongs to two categories, those who don't know enough and those who knows but knowingly and willingly trying to mislead others due to vested interests.

Some of electric car owners have already opted for net metering with solar panels, and many others are also planning to do so. Market analysis show that utilisation of solar power (via net metering) is so high among EV owners. So it is not correct to say that EV owners are a burden on the grid. Besides, Sri Lanka has a surplus of electricity at off peak hours (nights after 10PM) that anybody charging on those times are not a problem to the national grid at all. Not to mention the fact that new coal power plants are producing enough electricity for the country.

2) Electricity is produced using hydrocarbons so charging cars from electricity has no benefit in terms of environment or carbon emissions.

We can excuse people who say this out of lack of subject knowledge, however I suspect there are quite a few who propagate this knowing very well that it is not true at all. Compared to the combustion engines of motor vehicles, power plants are efficient by an order of magnitude! Even if we use electricity produced by a power plant using diesel or coal, it is still much more clean and will be using much less hydrocarbons than we pumping from the shed and burning in vehicle engines which are no way near the efficiency levels of industrial power plants. This can be so easily verified by a quick google search or from wikipedia that a further discussion on this is utterly unnecessary.

One last thing.. should we really need to mention that there is a seizable component of electricity produced without hydrocarbons ?

3) Importing more vehicles is not good for the national economy as we loose foreign currency.
True, but why then target EVs specifically! 2.5 million tax is not really a tax, impact of that is so huge that it cant be described any other way than as a measure to kill an emerging sector at its birth!

Surely, petrol/diesel vehicles could have been taxed more and some concessions could have given to environment friendly EVs and Hybrids. As a nation, we would have save money from petroleum imports. This is such a no brainer and something almost all other countries in the world are following.

4) EV owners who use solar power at home for charging will not be contributing towards the economy.
It is sad and disappointing to hear that some of learned businessmen and politicians have even entertained this thought! the argument goes like, EV owners if moved into using net metering with solar panels, will not be using petrol sheds and will not be paying electricity bills. So they can no be taxed and hence they are not contributing to the economy.

Do we really have to provide an answer to this argument ? When learned people comes up with this type of arguments we can just get an idea about how high the amount of vested interests could be.

Any sane person will not fail to see the huge positive impact a single person can make by becoming petroleum independent. Such a person will be an asset for an country and will be saving a huge amount of money annually which would otherwise be burned in a car or in a power plant to provide his energy needs.

Now, basic economics tell us that such a person will then spend that money (he has saved) in investments, savings or consume goods/services (which the others in the society has produced). That is certainly not a bad thing for the economy. Taxing should be a tool to improve a society, not to destroy one. If we still need to tax such a practice (instead of encouraging more people to follow that path, like other countries are doing), at least we should be finding some other ways to tax without killing off both Solar power and EV usage in one stroke. Almost any measure would have been much better than the one which has actually taken in this case!

Two good trends we have seen in Sri Lanka recently are the use of EVs and use of solar power (PV). Many people have opted for net metering which is a great save for petroleum importing developing country like ours. EVs seemed to encourage that trend further, at last it started to seem like some good things may happen to our economy and environment. It is very rarely one see something which is good for the economy and environment both at the same time. Sadly, this is the hope which is now made to go down in smoke, in favour of the petroleum importers, petrol/diesel car importers and few mega businessmen.

We may be engaging in many industries and businesses in many fields, some policy decisions may hit us on our profit margins here and there. As intellectually honest people we need acknowledge bad decisions and harmful decisions to the country/society even if they benefit us personally in the short term, vice versa.

If certain acts which are harmful for a country seem to benefit us, then that may be an indication that we may be in a wrong business, or engaging in some unethical, unpatriotic or anti-society business practices. This is what we need to say to those who trying to justify/promote the EV tax hike.



Monday, May 20, 2013

Quotes are back !

Here are the past quotes accumulated on this site over few years.

If you have a good one, feel free to send it in. We are considering whether to revive the Daily Quotes. (as Weekly Quotes may be)

For new visitors, we had a daily quite contest some time back where we chose the best quote we came across each day and recorded them on the Daily Quotes page. We had a similar thing for images as well but that died out eventually.

Enjoy!