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Honda FCX Clarity  (Source: Honda)

  (Source: Honda)

  (Source: Honda)
Leases begin in summer 2008 at $600 per month

The gasoline-electric hybrid news has come in at a furious pace at DailyTech over the past few weeks. Honda announced its intention to bring a small, sporty hybrid to market; Fisker announced its gorgeous hybrid sports sedan and GM yesterday showed off new hybrid full-size pickups and full-size SUVs.

Honda has a new fuel efficient vehicle of its own to tout and the word "hybrid" is nowhere to be found. The company finally pulled the wraps off the production version of its FCX fuel cell prototype -- now called the FCX Clarity.

Exterior design-wise, the FCX Clarity closely mimics the earlier prototype, but now features government-spec bumpers front and back and smaller wheels. Inside, the FCX Clarity uses a gauge cluster and heads-up display similar in fashion to the current Honda Civic. Otherwise, the interior looks rather normal if you can get past the overabundance of silver-painted plastic.

When it comes to the powertrain, the FCX Clarity uses a 100 kW V Flow fuel cell stack which is 65 percent smaller than the one used on the first generation FCX. Other powertrain components include a 171-liter, 5,000-psi hydrogen fuel tank, a lithium-ion battery pack and a 95 kW (127 HP) electric motor.

According to Honda, the FCX Clarity is good for an equivalent of 68 MPG and has a range of 270 miles. Also, since the FCX Clarity is a fuel cell-powered vehicle, there are no CO2 emissions -- the vehicle's only emission is water.

"The FCX Clarity is a shining symbol of the progress we've made with fuel cell vehicles and of our belief in the promise of this technology," said American Honda president and CEO Tetsuo Iwamura. "Step by step, with continuous effort, commitment and focus, we are working to overcome obstacles to the mass-market potential of zero-emissions hydrogen fuel cell automobiles."

The FCX Clarity will see limited service in the Southern California area beginning in summer 2008. Customers will sign up for a three-year lease at price of roughly $600 per month. Honda also notes that the FCX Clarity qualifies for a $12,000 IRS tax credit.



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But....
By lobadobadingdong on 11/15/2007 9:55:04 AM , Rating: 3
Where do you get the hydrogen fuel to fuel it?




RE: But....
By Chris Peredun on 11/15/2007 9:58:36 AM , Rating: 5
I suspect at a hydrogen refueling depot, which is why they're being released in limited numbers in southern California only. Once the infrastructure extends beyond that point, hopefully we'll see more widespread offerings.

And as a side note, it's a relatively attractive vehicle - and compared to the first-generation FCX, it's downright striking.


RE: But....
By Zoomer on 11/16/2007 9:48:24 PM , Rating: 2
I think it really looks like their airwave. :)


RE: But....
By 16nm on 11/15/2007 10:02:36 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, where to get it and how much energy is spent creating and storing the hydrogen versus how much it can create? The idea of a car that only emits water is exciting but is it feasable...


RE: But....
By Cygni on 11/15/2007 11:29:43 AM , Rating: 4
The lease includes a small hydrogen producing generator that you store in your garage. It connects to your normal natural gas line in your house, and converts it to hydrogen. It also has the added bonus of functioning as a generator for your house (through the use of its own internal fuel cell) in the event of emergency power failure.

It should also be noted that the $600 a month covers not only the car and the fuel producing base station (which produces your hydrogen fuel much cheaper than it would cost you to fill up on gasoline for 3 years), but also ALL maintenance and care on the car during the lease.

In the end: no, the cost does not balance out vs simply leasing a Civic, but as noted, early adopters always pay a cost premium to be on the edge of technology.


RE: But....
By daftrok on 11/17/2007 1:51:51 AM , Rating: 2
That and it would be great if the rich and famous actually purchase this vehicle. Not only will it be good PR but also compensate for the ridiculous amounts of energy wasted on their other vehicles and electric power for their houses. This would help bring down the price of the vehicle for the consumers and stimulate mass production.


RE: But....
By JumpingJack on 11/15/2007 2:03:34 PM , Rating: 3
Split water. High school chemistry.


By whydoibother on 11/15/2007 11:33:12 AM , Rating: 3
The car is fueled by natural gas. You get an adapter and fuel it from home. Since the natural gas you run through this car goes through a fuel cell rather than your furnace or stove, it doesn't get burned and doesn't produce CO2. It also takes care of a lot of infrastructure concerns, since natural gas is already widely available. Nifty, actually.

I read this in other tech articles. I wonder why they didn't mention it in the article above...




By whydoibother on 11/15/2007 11:39:45 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, to clarify, the natural gas runs through a hydrogen generator you put in your garage and the hydrogen runs the car. The end result is the same, though.


By masher2 (blog) on 11/15/2007 11:40:41 AM , Rating: 4
> "Since the natural gas...doesn't get burned [it] doesn't produce CO2."

Err, no. Where do you think all that carbon in the natural gas goes? Natural gas is methane (CH4). It reacts with the steam (H20) used in the process to release H2 and CO2.


By walk2k on 11/15/2007 1:32:06 PM , Rating: 2
http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/owning/ho...

quote:
CO2 emissions for a household using the Home Energy Station are 30% lower than those for an average household using a gasoline-engine car and commercial electricity.


The Home Energy Station also provides heat (replacing your natural-gas furnace) and electricity in the case of a blackout (or in the case you can generate your own electricity from natural gas cheaper than purchasing it from the grid, I suppose).


By masher2 (blog) on 11/15/2007 2:05:30 PM , Rating: 1
> "CO2 emissions for a household using the Home Energy Station are 30% lower "

Thanks. I tried to calculate it myself, but apparently the station isn't quite as efficient as I assumed, as my figure was substantially higher.

In any case,the point is the same. CO2 is still being generated, albeit at a lower rate. Hopefully there will soon be better means of hydrogen production than steam reformation.


By killerroach on 11/15/2007 1:34:18 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly... however, for comparable amounts of power, natural gas is a relatively clean fuel when compared to gasoline. Not as clean of a solution as biomass processed through AFEX, but still quite the improvement.


By walk2k on 11/15/2007 1:40:05 PM , Rating: 2
The energy station is really only a short term solution.

Once refuelling stations become more common you won't need it, necessarily (though it sounds neat, for homeowners, not so much for apartment dwellers).

Hydrogen can be generated from multiple sources (like, water) using electricity from any source (such as solar, wind, etc...)


By Calin on 11/16/2007 4:49:18 AM , Rating: 1
With an efficiency lower than steam reformation.
And as electricity costs will follow the overall energy costs (gas, coal, oil), electric generation will be less efficient than steam reformation (assuming you are a use for the excess heat)


Tax credit on a lease??
By ninjit on 11/15/2007 12:48:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The FCX Clarity will see limited service in the Southern California area beginning in summer 2008. Customers will sign up for a three-year lease at price of roughly $600 per month. Honda also notes that the FCX Clarity qualifies for a $12,000 IRS tax credit .


That sounds very misleading to me.

I may be wrong, but I don't think you are eligible for Tax credits on a vehicle you don't own, unless Honda lets you purchase the vehicle at the end of the lease, and even then 3-years down the road that credit will have dropped substantially from $12k.

If it's true, then that's pretty sweet - it essentially lets you drive the vehicle for free for 20 months.




RE: Tax credit on a lease??
By masher2 (blog) on 11/15/2007 12:55:27 PM , Rating: 2
According to the IRS, to quality for the AMV credit, you have to actually purchase the vehicle.


RE: Tax credit on a lease??
By Lord 666 on 11/15/2007 1:13:31 PM , Rating: 1
That is incorrect; the credit applies if you purchase or lease it.

http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=157557,0...

The vehicle must be acquired for use or lease by the taxpayer claiming the credit.


RE: Tax credit on a lease??
By masher2 (blog) on 11/15/2007 1:15:38 PM , Rating: 2
You have misread the law. You must acquire (purchase) the car for either your own use or to lease to others.

So if you lease the vehicle, the leasing agency could potentially qualify for the credit, but not you personally.


RE: Tax credit on a lease??
By Lord 666 on 11/15/2007 1:26:46 PM , Rating: 1
After reading your post, just checked on Honda's site itself and again you are correct.

As you point out, there might be several leasing companies (American Honda Finance included) making a fortune off this tax credit, but not passing onto the consumer or disclosing it. I don't know what a Honda Hybrid lease looks like but could it be Class Action if they don't disclose it?


RE: Tax credit on a lease??
By masher2 (blog) on 11/15/2007 1:39:10 PM , Rating: 5
With all due respect, where is this innate urge to sue coming from? The tax credit belongs to whoever plunked down the cash to buy the vehicle. If you sign a lease, you agreed to its terms. The notion of coming back later with a suit because you felt you were "owed" a credit is a bit puerile.

In any case, if a company leases the vehicle and doesn't "pass on" that savings, then some other company will, and undercut their prices. That's the nature of the free market. In fact, I strongly suspect this current $600/month rate already reflects much of that credit. I don't see how else it could include this very pricey car, plus all maintenance, AND the delivery and installation of a state-of-the-art hydrogen production facility in your own home.

Finally, you have to remember this is just a credit,and not a cash payment. For instance, a leasing agency that is currently not showing a profit will get zero benefit from the credit, making it extremely difficult to pass that on.


RE: Tax credit on a lease??
By Lord 666 on 11/15/07, Rating: -1
RE: Tax credit on a lease??
By Hoser McMoose on 11/18/2007 8:48:45 PM , Rating: 2
Given how expensive fuel cells are and the limited quantities in which this car is being produced it probably costs Honda well over $100,000 per vehicle WITHOUT taking into account the sunk R&D costs.

They are then leasing it for ONLY $600/month? I would say that they most certainly are passing that $12,000 credit on to consumes and then some!

There's no way that Honda is making ANY money off this vehicle. At best it's a hope to get a leg-up for if and when hydrogen fuel cell vehicles become popular 20+ years from now.


refueling
By tobinsmith on 11/15/2007 11:40:31 AM , Rating: 2
As for how this vehicle is refueled, Honda also is developing a home fueling station that uses a home's existing natural gas supply to produce hydrogen. The automaker now has such a fueling station on its research and design campus in Torrance.

It is supplied with a new version of Honda's home energy system, powered by natural gas, that generates hydrogen, electricity and heat for water heating, that is claimed to reduce household energy consumption by 50%.




RE: refueling
By Chernobyl68 on 11/15/2007 12:02:22 PM , Rating: 2
also, I'd rather not have a 5000 psi ANYTHING in my car. No thanks.


RE: refueling
By phorensic on 11/15/2007 3:08:20 PM , Rating: 2
Power steering systems commonly have over 1,000 psi of pressure. Rock crawlers and desert racers commonly upgrade to higher pressure systems with hydraulic rams. Buses have been running for years on CNG at 3,600 psi with the large storage tanks overhead. Rock crawlers will run a similar CNG (or lower pressure LNG) setup in an extremely abusive environment. Welding tanks are routinely filled to 2,000-3,600 psi and carted around on delivery trucks. All these examples don't seem to have many problems in their long term history.


RE: refueling
By Spuke on 11/15/2007 7:10:29 PM , Rating: 2
Direct injection engines (BMW 335i, Pontiac Solstice GXP/Saturn Sky Redline, Chevy HHR SS) have high pressure fuel injection systems (varys to over 2000 psi).


It does not use natural gas fyi
By soothsayerman on 11/15/2007 4:52:37 PM , Rating: 2
It does not use natural gas fyi...

It is a Proton exchange membrane fuel cell which uses hydrogen.

The only emmission is water.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton_exchange_membr...




RE: It does not use natural gas fyi
By masher2 (blog) on 11/15/2007 5:00:04 PM , Rating: 3
The fuel cell doesn't use natural gas. But it uses hydrogen, which itself is produced via natural gas, via steam reformation.


RE: It does not use natural gas fyi
By soothsayerman on 11/15/07, Rating: 0
RE: It does not use natural gas fyi
By Spuke on 11/16/2007 2:49:35 PM , Rating: 2
The home refueling station that comes with this car USES natural gas to create the hydrogen that powers this car.


Looks like a Prius
By swtethan on 11/15/2007 10:00:35 AM , Rating: 2
It does.




RE: Looks like a Prius
By Spivonious on 11/15/2007 11:42:24 AM , Rating: 2
It looks like a four-door Insight to me.


RE: Looks like a Prius
By SilthDraeth on 11/15/2007 10:20:55 PM , Rating: 2
Thats the first thing I thought when I saw it.


tax credit for lease?
By etekberg on 11/15/2007 10:48:56 AM , Rating: 3
While I commend Honda for bring this to production, even if it is a complete failure, I question if this lease is elligible for the tax credit. My friend leased a hybrid and later found out that he wasn't elligible for the tax credit as he did not own the vehicle. doh!




Emissions?
By clovell on 11/15/2007 1:58:00 PM , Rating: 2
So, the tailpipe emissions are water. But, to get the hydrogen into the fuel cell, you have to run natural gas through a machine that extracts the hydrogen and puts it in the car, right?

So, CO2 is output - where does it go? How much is there?




Bomb on Wheels
By tjr508 on 11/15/2007 7:51:09 PM , Rating: 2
170+ liters, 5000psi
With a tank that big, even 5000psi of water could ruin someone's day. Multiply that by a factor of 95 or so and that's how dangerous this tank is.




Ahh!
By kenji4life on 11/15/2007 9:36:40 PM , Rating: 2
The third picture was taken going 62 mph or kph through pure fog with the driver's door open and noone driving!! ahh!




Costs Too Much
By Ecopractical on 11/18/2007 12:11:50 PM , Rating: 2
The biggest problem with hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles is their cost! Until automakers make these technologies affordable for the "common people" they will remain only in the garages of the rich.

This is also true of most significant eco-technologies. Water to air heat pumps are expensive to install as are solar panels.

When a family who makes $20,000 to $40,000 (U.S. Middlewest)per year can afford these technologies then the world will see significant reductions in carbon emissions.




I'd buy this! '=)
By Hafgrim on 11/15/2007 2:32:28 PM , Rating: 1
Honda Clarity Looks beautiful to me, I'd buy it!
Hope its catches on like wild fire, ooo bad term to use for cali. =P
*plays the Jetsons theme song while puttering & whizzing by in my shiny new Clarity*!




waste of money
By mdogs444 on 11/15/07, Rating: -1
RE: waste of money
By Lord 666 on 11/15/2007 10:27:50 AM , Rating: 3
Where didn't you read "12,000 IRS tax credit" ? Over the cost of the lease, you are paying a $2400 premium.

Not to mention a full-size car that qualifies for CA's HOV lane with one person. Too bad its not in NJ.


RE: waste of money
By masher2 (blog) on 11/15/2007 10:53:14 AM , Rating: 4
> "Where didn't you read "12,000 IRS tax credit" "

Translation..why pay for your hybrid, when you can force all your friends and neighbors to pay for it for you?


RE: waste of money
By wordsworm on 11/15/07, Rating: 0
RE: waste of money
By masher2 (blog) on 11/15/2007 12:46:46 PM , Rating: 2
> " no one is paying taxes for that car"

I'm not sure where you get that notion. The cost of maintaining the government and the federal debt is fixed. If one person pays less, everyone else pays more. They may not pay more immediately, in that year's tax bill...but they'll eventually foot the cost.

The cost of a tax credit is paid out by all other taxpayers. This is rather basic.


RE: waste of money
By walk2k on 11/15/2007 1:36:18 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, the same way that every tax-payer pays for schools even if they don't have kids, social services even if they don't use them, and the Space Shuttle even if they never leave Earth.

Yep, rather basic. :roll:


RE: waste of money
By Spuke on 11/16/2007 4:12:23 PM , Rating: 2
Why the :roll"? It IS basic. We all get taxed for things we may not use. If you don't like it, get yourself and your friends to vote against politicians that support these types of programs.


RE: waste of money
By jak3676 on 11/15/2007 10:57:17 AM , Rating: 2
That and you get the $12,000 tax credit in the year you file your taxes. The benifits of having that money up front can easily wipe out that $2400 premium.

$12,000 invested for 2 years at a concervative 5% will make up about half of that ($1,230) and if you can get 10%, that's more than $2,500.

On the flip side if you pay down $12,000 in high interest debt, the benefits could be even better.


RE: waste of money
By mdogs444 on 11/15/2007 11:00:16 AM , Rating: 2
First its $600/mo, but does not say what the down payment is...and I promise you its more than just the $2000 or $3000 Civic/Accord down payment.

Also, the tax credit its for purchasing I believe. Not sure how that works with leasing, but im positive its prorated if does.

We dont have HOV lanes in Ohio, but dont see a need for them at all around here and i live in a downtown metropolitan area.


RE: waste of money
By theapparition on 11/15/2007 12:42:05 PM , Rating: 2
TCO, is the real measure. Total Cost of Ownership, just as it sounds.

The MPG numbers seem nice, but what about the cost of the natural gas used to convert into hydrogen fuel. Last I checked, priced of natural gas in my area were going through the roof. No one has mentioned the cost for the fuel to make the fuel, plus the electricity to power the fuel making/compressing/pumping machine.

Now add any sort of tax offset (without looking up the IRS code, doubtfull of the full 12k credit), and subtract any sort of maintenence on this, factor in your driving habits, and you should have your answer for the TCO.

I doubt that this will be worth the premium in the end.


RE: waste of money
By Spuke on 11/16/2007 4:18:09 PM , Rating: 2
Can propane be used to power the home unit?


RE: waste of money
By Ringold on 11/15/2007 11:05:00 AM , Rating: 2
600 x 36 = 21,600 - 12,000 = 9600 for a car that after 3 years you don't own, can't fuel many places, and have little forward visibility on how much this fuel will even cost.

Not to mention zero utility outside of a certain radius from a hydrogen fueling station. This basically necessitates a second vehicle. Reliability, of course, is also unknown.

Conspicuous consumption (individuals willing to dump money to obtain a luxury) is necessary to get many industries up to speed.. but really sort of hard to make the cost efficiency case for this one.

Not to mention, the legalese surrounding terms like "tax credit" can mean anything from a real 12k off your tax bill to 12k off your taxable income. Not to mention the sort of wealthy individuals buying one could make a lousy move on the stock market and end up with a tax loss -- and thereby get nothing out of the credit at all.

You get one of these right now because it makes you feel warm and fuzzy, not because an accountant says its a good move.


RE: waste of money
By SeeManRun on 11/15/2007 11:40:53 AM , Rating: 4
Internal combustion engines have been around for 100 years. You want a new technology that solves all the problems of that proven technology in only a few years? Give it some time, its a starting point. I doubt the very first automobiles were affordable either. People probably had horse and buggies, and said the exact same thing about the horseless carriage; too expensive, and certainly much more than the hay costs for your horse.


RE: waste of money
By Verran on 11/15/2007 10:32:07 AM , Rating: 2
Early adopter's costs are nothing new, nor are they unique to alternative fuel vehicles. It's a step in a new direction.

As with everything, we let the richies pay too much and beta test it so that in ten years we might be able to afford an improved model ourselves.


RE: waste of money
By zsdersw on 11/15/2007 11:27:46 AM , Rating: 2
The Prius should be so lucky as to look like this car. The Prius is ugly. This one from Honda isn't.


RE: waste of money
By Flunk on 11/15/2007 11:30:23 AM , Rating: 2
"Pay an extra $400/month for a car that looks like an ugly Pruis and gets an extra 35MPG?"

Have you not grasped that this vehicle does not use gasoline? MPG is a worthless measure for hydrogen vehicles. This car is not designed to be the most cost effective vehicle on the planet. It is more of a test for hydrogen technology to see if consumers are interested.

Take it as it is, the first market trial of a new fuel technology.


RE: waste of money
By DallasTexas on 11/15/2007 11:34:59 AM , Rating: 1
This is a great example of how innovative technology can bring environmentally friendly vehicle and drive less dependency on polluting fossil fuel.

Hope the Japanese they sell lots of them!

Is it "cheaper" than gasoline ICE? Nope. As long as the cost of polluting the environment is free, it will not. As long as subsidizing the price of oil by waging war to keep it flowing, it will not be.

The hidden cost of "cheap oil" is becoming more and more important.


RE: waste of money
By Ringold on 11/15/2007 12:06:37 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
As long as subsidizing the price of oil by waging war to keep it flowing


Oil flowed under Saddam.
Oil flows now.
It still goes to international markets.
No change.

Any environmental and health externalities, though, aren't included, you're right there. The war thing is just a tired left-wing horse that's unsubstantiated and been trotted out a few too many times.


RE: waste of money
By DallasTexas on 11/15/2007 5:49:18 PM , Rating: 2
I beg to differ. The amount of money pouring into the middle east is not because it has great beachfront property we want. It's because it is where oil comes from.

Never mind the Iraq war, but if you want to go there, it is estimated to be $600B direct cost and another $600B as result of having it (those one legged soldiers coming home actually are a cost burden). Is this not an oil subsidy?

I'd rather be free from oil dependence altogether. The "tired left-wing" sling is actually quite tired too but nobody cares because it's the condition of taking the time to convince a moron.


RE: waste of money
By TomZ on 11/15/2007 9:43:50 PM , Rating: 2
Proof by repeated assertion is not effective. As Ringold rightly pointed out, oil flowed before and after we got involved in Iraq. Therefore one wonders what oil problem people like you think the war is intended to solve.

No, the real reasons for the Iraq war were WMD, concerns about terrorism, and a desire to help promote stability and democracy in the Middle East. These reasons, though somewhat misguided, actually make some sense. Oil doesn't.


RE: waste of money
By Spuke on 11/16/2007 4:33:37 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention the VAST majority of our oil comes from Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela, and Nigeria (in that order). Iraq is number 6 but is half of Mexico's exports to the US.


RE: waste of money
By Xietsu on 11/22/2007 12:16:44 PM , Rating: 2
Iraq is about funding private interests (i.e. corporate conglomerates [banking and a large other variety of companies]) in order to reap massive profit. If the US actually did anything reminiscent of rational, then we would have 500,000 troops in Iraq until it was stabilized -- and even then, its only purpose (a reconsituted Iraq) would serve as a democratic/military ally to the US in the mid-east region, where strong ties are surely hard buys for the American guys. It isn't about oil, and should you suggest such, I surmise the Lord's blood may just border upon a scalding boil.

(P.S. Satirical metaphoric reference to comedically hypothesizing God's considerations upon this subject are made for reasons attributed to the descriptors already utilized herein [e.g. "satirical"; "comedically"].)


First Post
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/15/07, Rating: -1
RE: First Post
By etriky on 11/15/2007 10:29:35 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe right now that is true. The future will most likely be different.

http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=9278


RE: First Post
By jak3676 on 11/15/2007 10:46:06 AM , Rating: 3
Yes this does have some reliance on the energy grid, but how many times do we have to show that the US currently generates electricity much more efficantly than any internal combustion engine. It's not even close. Even if all your electricity came from only old, obsolete coal power plants, you would still be an order of magnitude cleaner, more efficient and cheaper than using the most efficient ICE.

ICE's (even the very best) are really inefficient. It's mostly a matter of scale. Power plants get huge benifits from economy of scale.


RE: First Post
By masher2 (blog) on 11/15/2007 10:50:45 AM , Rating: 4
> "How about some bluetec diesel hybrids? "

Diesels can be up to 35% more efficient than a gas engine. That means 35% less emissions...but they're still emitting. Plus, the efficiency means money saved on fuel. Some people will use that savings to drive further, others will use it to buy larger vehicles. That'll eat up a certain percentage of the savings. And our population is still growing, which means more people driving each year.

The upshot is that even if everyone in the nation switched to a diesel hybrid, in 2-3 decades our emissions would be right back where they started.

Hydrogen is a wholly different beast. Couple it with nuclear power, and you have a true zero-emission source.


RE: First Post
By jak3676 on 11/15/2007 12:52:31 PM , Rating: 4
Just be careful that you don't let perfection come in the way of progress. Fuel cells can indeed be used as a great battery, but I don't think they are the only answer either.

If we can get some percentage of the population to switch to an efficient diesel, and others to switch to a strong hybrid (I don't know of any diesel hybrids available in production now - hopefully model year 2009 though) that will only help.

If we can use these technologies that consumers are already familiar and comfortable with to cut energy consumption in the short term, that's great. That will give us some more time to build the infrastructure necessary to go to a more efficient all electric energy market.

The US does seam stuck in this mindset that there is some great technology just around the corner that will solve all our energy needs and we don’t need to make any changes until then. Very few seem to realize that it's not that simple.

Nuclear certainly needs to be a big part of our future, but there will still be minor contributions from solar, wind and hydroelectric. No matter how much some people may want it; coal power and oil will not be going away anytime soon. We should indeed continue to strive to make them more efficient. The current ethanol and bio-diesel programs are very poorly managed at a national level with incentives and hand outs only encouraging wasteful development. That doesn't mean that they are entirely worthless either, they just need to be refocused as part of an overall national (or global) policy. There may be some additional supply sources that come online soon too - again, they more suppliers the better, but don't look for any single answers to a complex problem. Even with all the various energy supplies taken together, they will not solve the equation on a whole. They only address supply.

We also need to develop better national (or global) strategies for cutting demand through increased efficiency. High energy prices will spur some consumers to make more efficient decisions, but we have whole industries and lobbying groups out there that are pushing to keep the status quo. The government ends up subsidizing poor decisions and inefficiency while consumers often look at short term price instead of long term costs. There is some balancing that needs to be done here. In the US we pride ourselves on personal freedoms. We can protect those even when people choose to waste energy, but that doesn't mean that we can't mandate certain levels of national efficiency. We don't need to ban Hummers to raise the national MPG averages and we don’t need to ban incandescent light bulbs to cut electricity usage. We should be smart enough to create various taxes/credits and pricing schemes that correctly identify the costs to consumers and nudge the country in the right direction. Some of this is as simple as allowing tax breaks for putting additional insulation your attic, like we’ve done before. Some of this may require some new thinking.

Made up numbers here, but stay with me. As it is now, simple incandescent light bulbs probably cost less than a buck, and let’s say they use 20 dollars in electricity for some set period of time. A compact fluorescent bulb costs about $4 and uses less than $10 in electricity for that same time. A solid state bulb (LED) may cost $7 and use $6 in energy. There are lots of people that will look only at the up front cost and purchase the old standard, cheap light bulb. What would happen if when you went to the store to buy a light bulb, you had to purchase some set amount of electricity with it, but that cost of the electricity was immediately credited toward your electricity bill? People would then see that they had to pay $21 for a standard incandescent light bulb, $14 for a compact fluorescent and $13 for a LED bulb. People would still be free to choose whatever they wanted and their costs wouldn’t change. There are still plenty of cases where the more efficient bulbs aren’t a simple drop in replacement, and they aren’t always the most appealing temperature (color) of light, but at least consumers would see a more correct cost up front.

It may not be as simple as my light bulb example above, but you could combine the energy cost into just about any item from consumer electronics to automobiles or industrial machinery. Don’t get caught up in the details, I’m not trying to advocate any specific plan, just someway to show the energy cost in a more compelling manner. Hanging a yellow tag on a water heater that shows how much it will cost you run for a year is a nice step, or listing EPA approved MPG numbers are nice, but we can easily do more to show people the benefits of conserving energy without limiting personal choice.

It seems like there aren't any groups out there that are trying to work both sides of the issue. On one side you have the oil and energy companies that only benefit from high demand and high prices. They will all they can to increase supply so long as it doesn’t cut into the price they can charge. On the flip side you end up with Greenpeace and similar organizations that don't believe that humans should consume any energy at all. Somewhere in the middle you have the government that hands out money to whichever organization lobbies the hardest and in the end consumers end up with a lot of poor choices and limited innovation.

Sorry, had to get that off my chest


RE: First Post
By Lord 666 on 11/15/2007 1:21:45 PM , Rating: 2
So you are saying the modern diesel hybrid is an anwer to the question of "how can we hit 35mpg by 2035" that can be rolled out now giving us 2 to 3 decades of reduced fuel consumption? The big Three and Toyota to say it can't be done is BS and you just proved it.

The money we save by driving our 2006 Jetta TDI vs the 2005 Honda CR-V is around $150 per month. This money is put into our child's saving's account. The cost savings between petrol and diesels are significant and real.


RE: First Post
By masher2 (blog) on 11/15/2007 1:28:53 PM , Rating: 2
I'd respond to your first paragraph, but unfortunately I can't make heads or tails out of it. The second paragraph is a bit clearer:

> "The cost savings between petrol and diesels are significant and real. "

Of course, and I never denied it. However, no one can deny that diesels still use a nonrenewable fossil fuel and still generate emissions. They are therefore not a long-term solution.


RE: First Post
By Lord 666 on 11/15/2007 2:26:17 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry about the first paragraph, I've been practicing my political-speak.

quote:
The upshot is that even if everyone in the nation switched to a diesel hybrid, in 2-3 decades our emissions would be right back where they started


With the recent talk of increasing fleet economy to 35mpg by 2025, the Big Three and Toyota have said it cannot be done. But if the US switches all vehicles to diesel hybrids as you state, it would give the US 2-3 decades before emissions comes back to the current leve(and implied fuel economy as you early indicate 35%+ fuel savings by using straight diesel. It would also meet the 35mpg fleet economy instantly.

However, we both agree that nuclear and hydrogen power is THE long term solution.


RE: First Post
By masher2 (blog) on 11/15/2007 2:41:32 PM , Rating: 2
> " It would also meet the 35mpg fleet economy instantly."

Agreed. However, the OP said "how about some Bluetec Disels instead. " That implies dropping hydrogen entirely in favor of sole reliance on diesels. Which of course, doesn't solve anything but a short-term problem.

> "However, we both agree that nuclear and hydrogen power is THE long term solution"

Yes, we're in total agreement on this point.


RE: First Post
By Cygni on 11/15/2007 3:48:39 PM , Rating: 2
Something of note on the subject of using nuclear power to produce hydrogen is the Sulfur-iodine cycle and high temperature electrolysis.

Currently, hydrogen is produced through steam reformation of natural gas... which unfortunately counts CO2 as its primary bipoduct (actually CO first, but CO2 after a secondary reaction). Also, using straight electrolysis to break down water is highly energy inefficient. We would be better off simply using electric cars over using large scale electrolysis.

However, future GenIV nuclear reactors could produce absolutely massive amounts of hydrogen very efficiently directly from water through both high temperature electrolysis... and perhaps further in the future, the sulfur-iodine cycle. GenIV reactors are expected online by 2030... which could prove to be the critical point for any move to a nuclear/hydrogen economy. HTE would massively boost CO2 friendly hydrogen production, and should be able to undercut the price of fossil fuel derived hydrogen by a notable margin.

Just throwin' in some more info into the pot, hah.


RE: First Post
By whydoibother on 11/15/2007 11:30:53 AM , Rating: 1
This car doesn't use coal. It uses natural gas. See my post below.


RE: First Post
By SeeManRun on 11/15/2007 11:43:19 AM , Rating: 2
I am not sure radiation is something that just gets released like you imply. Also, not sure how coal releases anything radioactive.


RE: First Post
By masher2 (blog) on 11/15/2007 11:49:42 AM , Rating: 2
Your average coal-fired power plant releases over a kg of uranium each day...from that found naturally within the coal itself.


RE: First Post
By Chernobyl68 on 11/15/2007 11:59:44 AM , Rating: 2
people almost always confuse "radiation" with "radioactive contamination"

from: http://greenwood.cr.usgs.gov/energy/factshts/163-9...

quote:


Abundance of Radioactive Elements in Coal and Fly Ash
Assessment of the radiation exposure from coal burning is critically dependent on the concentration of radioactive elements in coal and in the fly ash that remains after combustion. Data for uranium and thorium content in coal is available from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which maintains the largest database of infor-mation on the chemical composition of U.S. coal. This database is searchable on the World Wide Web at: http://energy.er.usgs.gov/products/databases/ CoalQual/intro.htm. Figure 1 displays the frequency distribution of uranium concentration for approximately 2,000 coal samples from the Western United States and approximately 300 coals from the Illinois Basin. In the majority of samples, concentrations of uranium fall in the range from slightly below 1 to 4 parts per million (ppm). Similar uranium concentrations are found in a variety of common rocks and soils, as indicated in figure 2. Coals with more than 20 ppm uranium are rare in the United States. Thorium concentrations in coal fall within a similar 1–4 ppm range, compared to an average crustal abundance of approximately 10 ppm. Coals with more than 20 ppm thorium are extremely rare.
During coal combustion most of the uranium, thorium, and their decay products are released from the original coal matrix and are distributed between the gas phase and solid combustion products.


Coal, being carbon, is pretty much not radioactive at all. But it is a matrix of material deposited millions of years ago and so obviously that not all that's there.


RE: First Post
By JumpingJack on 11/15/2007 2:01:34 PM , Rating: 3
... And if Christopher Columbus would have listened and believed the world flat he would have not discovered the new world.

...and if Edison had given up on his first attempt, then we would have no light bulb.

...and Albert Sabin decided it was easier to treat polio rather than prevent it there would be no polio vaccine.

... and if man had not the ambition and, ironically a fuel cell, Niel Armstrong would have not taken that small step.

The nay sayers and critics are the one without vision, true visionaries look past the hurdles to the goal, the struggle to get there is just a momentary pause.

Hydrogen is the future gentlemen, begin to accept it.


RE: First Post
By martinrichards23 on 11/17/2007 11:17:11 AM , Rating: 2
Could not agree more.

Anyone who understands the relevant chemistry, physics and economics can see clearly that hydrogen is the only feasible medium/long term solution.


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