I think the main reason they did not make the transition to (partially) electric cars earlier is that they did not want to cannibalize their business with non-electric cars. Another point is the still-missing charging infrastructure and the (to my limited knowledge) lack of some universal standard for charging stations. The final point is that today potential buyers of electric cars still have many good alternatives that are as much or even more ecological than all-electric cars. If you look e.g. at the new models from Volkswagen or BMW, many of the smaller ones use 4 liters of gasoline / 100 km or less (i.e. > 71 MPG), which is pretty hard to beat in terms of eco-friendliness and efficiency considering that electricity is still much more expensive than gasoline in terms of energy / price.
One driving factor in the transition to partially electric cars might be that there are not many other possibilities left to further increase the efficiency of conventional engines. In fact, most of the increase in efficiency that we have seen in the last decade was not due to better thermodynamic design of the motor block but better control of e.g. the fuel injection through more advanced sensors and electronics. As this optimization path seems to have reached is maximum potential it probably makes a lot of sense to use electric motors to e.g. recover braking energy, which should shave off another few percent in fuel consumption (Toyota already proved the feasibility of this very successfully with their Prius series).
I've had two electric cars. I've only charged publicly a few times. Many parking garages have installed chargers. I charge at home in my garage. I wake up every morning with a full charge. Many people who've only owned gas-powered cars don't consider this advantage.
A Nissan Leaf or a BMW i3 can only go 80 to 100 miles on the battery. But that covers the average commute of nearly every American commuter. With a charging place at work, you'd be able to swing a 70 to 100 mile daily commute and never need a public fast-charging infrastructure. If you commute more than 100 miles each direction, an EV may not be for you.
Installing workplace chargers:
For long distance driving and fast charging, that's currently a mess. Only Tesla has a respectable offering on that front. It's worth considering that most people don't drive long distances very often.
Tesla has made a huge investment. One might speculate that their proprietary infrastructure will eventually become the standard charging network everyone is waiting for.
Tesla SAE Adapter: http://shop.teslamotors.com/collections/model-s-charging-ada...
SAE Combo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAE_J1772#Combined_charging_sy...
In their home market in Germany electric cars have very little acceptance: expensive, low range, electricity is mostly generated with coal, no infrastructure, ...
The program of the German government to have a million electric cars is largely a failure.
Before there will be a million electric cars in Germany, there will be ten million electric bicycles.
BTW coal makes up for only 20 % of the electricity production in Germany, and most of the coal-based power plants are quite "clean" in the sense that they make good use of the available energy (in most cases the heat waste is used industrially and emissions are heavily filtered).
As I said before, adoption here is mostly a question of availability, cost and efficiency, all three of which need to be improved before customers will see electric cars as a "reasonable" choice.
These are unrealistic industry-produced numbers. This is widely discussed in Germany that these numbers are a joke.
Also forget the massive amount of energy going into the production of these cars and the materials they use. The huge space and infrastructure they are using... we still have air problems in the cities because of the diesel cars.
> 20 % of the electricity production in Germany
Coal has a share of 43.6% of electricity production in Germany.
> in most cases the heat waste is used industrially and emissions are heavily filtered).
The filter ash is going where? The coal is coming from where?
CO2 is not filtered.
It's the US, not Germany, that is excessively wedded to coal generation.
Hybrids are more accepted (I myself wouldn't buy one, but most car makers have hybrid versions of all their popular models) so again I don't see the problem. If anything, having hybrids would open up their markets to a larger consumer base.
The actual "high speed" charger for the EV1 was 6.6kW, so a 75% charge would take a little under two hours. On a normal NEMA 5-15 socket, a 75% charge would take about ten hours.
To charge at 50kW you'd need DC fast charging technology, which wasn't available until a decade later.
I think that a lot of people don't really understand, on a deep level, how living with an EV actually works. Much of the discussion I see seems to be based on the idea that an EV works like a gas car, except you use a plug instead of a nozzle when you fill it up at the station.
A full charge of a 16.5kWh battery in 3 hours requires 5.5kW charging power. That's nothing special, and it doesn't come anywhere close to what you'd need to charge 75% in 15 minutes.
I was responding to the parent post absurdly contending a useful automotive charge could be achieved in 15 minutes from a standard wall outlet.
So i've saved half a percent of my total fuel consumption. Useless individually. But of course potentially enormous savings when rolled out to a fleet of thousands of cars
I could see electric motors taking the place of the drive shaft and trans axel arrangement. You could easily add "awd" to many cars by electrically powering the previously non drive wheels. The best use is launching as that is where my mileage dives.
I am not a fan of the i3 because of the compromises made to the iRex for CARB regulations. A slightly larger engine and fuel capacity are warranted.
Ideally what I would like to see for a car the size of mine; small 1 to 1.5l engine capable of driving the wheels direct after speed is reached with electric responsible for getting the car off from stop. Chevy does a great job with the Volt but I think batteries still have a long way to go considering the weight required for so little range most offerings have
I could do all that with my old car "manually", but I only tried it a few times.
However, I was talking about the case of decelerating in neutral with a car having a start-stop-type system. Rolling in neutral is always more efficient if the fuel is also cut off, but often even with the car running on idle.
The article specifically mentions the 3 series becoming a hybrid (not what type; the ActiveHybrid 3 and ActiveHybrid5 already exist for limited sale), but it also speculates:
"The new range of cars could be driven by separate electric motors powering the front and rear wheels, with a small gasoline engine to generate electricity to extend the range of the batteries"
So, basically, we don't know what their precise plans are, but the article does not indicate that the 3er will have a gas engine powering the wheels.
If you've got an electric drivetrain, adding a mechanical drivetrain: gearbox, driveshaft, differential, and powered axles, is a lot of additional weight. Powering a generator and transmitting power via electricity to the electric motors you've already got in the wheels makes a lot more sense.
Yep, it's 'just' a "plug-in hybrid". Good for low emissions and high mileage ... on paper.
Out of ~1300 Volts tracked, 70% of the miles traveled were EV only. Keep your snark out of facts.
It has a larger battery than most plugins, and my daily commute is 98% electric.
Most natural gas comes from fracking, which may be a major air polluter in addition to many other known problems.
Fiat-Chrysler: upcoming Town and Country PHEV
Ford: C-Max, Fusion PHEVs.
What am I missing here?
GM/Ford also have hydrogen cars in testing e.g. Chevrolet Equinox. And Fiat has had a number of hydrogen cars they previous developed.
Another point that's very important, is that every single hydrogen car I've seen so far looks either dumb or ridiculous. It's been true for most EVs, too, so far, which makes me wonder if they do it on purpose to sell few models and then say "there's no demand for clean cars" or something. Fortunately Tesla came along and showed everyone else you can actually sell a "normal" looking EV car.
We are talking about the future technology of the masses here.
And yes car companies can make normal looking hydrogen cars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex09fldnr1E
Pushing hydrogen cars is insane if you want to be clean.
Hydrogen Fan: But the exhaust is only water!
Me: All electric cars have no exhaust!
Hydrogen Fan: Well they do at the coal plants!
Me: So we are going to count electric production? What about Hydrogen production? Today it uses fossil fuels and outputs carbon and methane worse than coal plants.
Hydrogen Fan: But the real exhaust is only water! And you could eventually get the hydrogen back out of the water!
Me: That's not how Chemistry works. Where does the energy come from to split the water molecules?
That's about when I gave up on the conversation as it derailed into the aforementioned beliefs that the guy built a Hydrogen Fuel cell that somehow fueled on water, spit out water as exhaust, and was capable of driving a car in the 70s but then his garage experiments were stopped by a government conspiracy. (I presumed drugs were heavily involved in the actual reality of this story, this was a middle aged guy working in a hardware store.) This entire conversation felt like par for the course when dealing with people that think hydrogen powered cars are anything but a ruse. You even hear variations on it from the Big 3 car companies. ("Well we almost had hydrogen working in the 70s but the government stopped us." Yup, it was clearly the government and not, say, the basic laws of chemistry and physics.)
As land becomes more and more expensive housing density is increasing worldwide. This means fewer houses will have dedicated garages/driveways and apartments are going to become more popular. This increases the chances that your car will not be within distance of a power socket.
Hydrogen doesn't have this problem. It works exactly like petrol does today. It doesn't require much education or really any change in user behaviour. It is simply another nozzle at the gas station just like when LPG/Natural Gas was introduced.
In order for electric cars to become a good alternative, they need to be chargeable in <5min at least.
I'm not sure what would happen if you had a whole residential street wanting on-street chargers, though. At that point, we might need some new planning rules. Doesn't seem an insuperable problem, though.
The same would have to happen for almost all residential streets in Berlin. Even ignoring the fact that there simply isn't enough space for chargers everywhere, it's also not practical financially.
And again my workplace in London was a big car garage. I don't see how that magically ends up with per bay power with the current chicken/egg situation.
You will get a ticket if you put a liquid-fuelled vehicle in those spaces.
These tend to be filled with Nissan Leaf and cars of that kind, I've yet to see a Tesla in one (do all Tesla owners charge at home?).
It's pretty inconvenient to own an EV that you can't charge at home. It's doable in some cases, but it's far better to have home charging.
I'm pretty sure that 90+% of EV owners of all stripes charge at home, whether Tesla, LEAF, or other. If you see them charging in public, it's usually either to get a bit of extra range because they're planning to drive beyond what a single charge can give them, or they're just taking advantage of the availability of changing even though they don't need it. Mostly the latter.
(Just in case it comes across wrong, that isn't meant to be disparaging. I plug in when there's a free charger even if I don't need it. If it's offered, I figure I might as well take advantage. I do leave my phone number on the dashboard in case someone comes along who actually needs it to get home.)
I just don't understand how electric cars scale out to all consumers given the housing situation. There would need to be an electric charging unit on every parking spot. Is this logistically practical ?
(US uses 110V residential, 220V industrial; Europe uses 220V/230V/240V residential, 400V industrial; Additionally usually british and German wall sockets, at least, offer up to 16 or 24A, which, again, is more than US sockets. If the socket delivers more power, you can charge faster)
US industrial is variously 208VAC, 240VAC, 277VAC, and 480VAC; some are single phase; some are three phase.
If you're discussing only the "walk up and plug into an existing outlet" situation, EU charging will be faster. Not so for permanently installed chargers.
As for the very last point, the supply equipment negotiates with the car to advertise how much supply it has. Unless you can tell it to charge at 24A, it doesn't "know" and the charge will be at the slower rate. Same in the US. If I plug my trickle charger into a typical 15A plug, it charges at around 12A. If I plug the equipment into a 20A plug, it still charges at the same rate, because the equipment doesn't know that a higher amperage is available.
For permanently installed chargers, this will be a lot more power.
Note that the J1772 charging standard won't supply 400VAC-3phase, but IEC 62196 will allow that super-fast AC charging.
Then again, they'd be in a pretty good position to monitor spaces used and already have a billing system for parking time, adding cost of power would be quite straightforward.
And it's going to be a long time before 100% electric occupancy is a real problem.
Note that you'd only need to size for average use, not peak use. With a bit of cleverness (and expense) you could set a power limit for the whole garage and distribute it between the charging cars, rather than letting everyone charge full blast. Most people will drive under 50 miles per day on average and will charge overnight, so you really only need to deliver about 1.5kW per car. (50 miles at 300Wh/mile is 15kWh, assume "overnight" is ten hours of charging.) You'd want to be able to provide more for those who need it, but that's probably a reasonable number for an average.
I have 10kW charging at home for my Model S and it's major overkill for local driving. Most public chargers are about 6kW, which would still be plenty for daily charging.
So having 500 spots in a garage means you'll need to have some technology that is aware of which car is in need of charging and when the owner is expected to return. You can then set dynamic pricing to motivate car owners to charge at the moment you have enough capacity and encourage them not to all request full charge-rate at busy moments in the garage.
In any case, allocating power between cars is relatively easy. The cars themselves can be told how much they're allowed to draw, and this can be changed on the fly, so you don't need any fancy power electronics, just enough smarts to monitor usage and tell cars how much they can take based on that.
6.6kW adds about 25 miles of range per hour of charging.
It's only the slow trickle charger that takes a long time (in fact can be over 24 hours).
Storing hydrogen is difficult, it will leak out of steel and embrittle the steel.
The biggest drawback, as it stands today, and quoted from the article you linked is this:
"You won't even go 100 miles on current tech hydrogen tanks that are still safe to carry around in a car."
However, some of the drawbacks could very well be the reasons hydrogen wins out. Again, quoted from the article you linked:
"Even though a HFC-powered car is essentially an electric car, you get none of the benefits like filling it up with your own power source, using it as a smart grid buffer, regenerating energy during braking, etc."
Those look like good ways to maintain the something similar to the present distribution change.
It'll be interesting to see how this unfolds. People will argue over which is the better technology, but that isn't necessarily going to be the deciding factor.
Electricity here in Ontario costs twice as much during the day as it does at night (US$0.12 vs US$0.06 per kwh). If you cycle most of a Tesla battery every day that's ~$120 a month in electricity savings. Not sure if that offsets the battery lifespan costs, but it's not nothing.
And you don't do it for free, the org operating the charger can get electricity cheaper if it agrees to modulate load to match demand.
We didn't run out of whale oil, coal, or wood. We haven't run out of oil, but as cheap solar infiltrates as solar generation drops in price, it will make much more sense to run personal transportation on clean and simple electricity.
I just know that I will drive to the same gas station, use the same hardware to put it into my car, wait the same amount of time and pay for it exactly the same way I do today. Only it will be clean. And I won't involving changing my life to fit my car.
> use the same hardware to put it into my car
It is not the same hardware: hydrogen pumps are far more complicated, difficult, and expensive than gasoline pumps. (http://ssj3gohan.tweakblogs.net/blog/11493/why-fuel-cell-car...).
> wait the same amount of time
Hydrogen cars will always have very poor range compared to hydrocarbon-fueled cars. So for the range that you get, you will spend much more time pumping. See the blog-post series above for more on that.
> and pay for it exactly the same way I do today
Because the infrastructure is many times more expensive than petroleum infrastructure -- and this is not just a matter of relative economies of scale, but a fundamental attribute of hydrogen -- you will need to pay much more to recoup those capital costs. Again, read the blog post series above (I'll stop repeating this, but it holds true for every point).
> Only it will be clean.
Only at your tailpipe, which is a false form of cleanliness. Systemically, Hydrogen is dirty. Hydrogen production is spectacularly inefficient. The only remotely efficient way of producing it is to extract it from hydrocarbons -- in which case it would actually be cleaner to generate work by burning the hydrocarbons directly. Truly "clean" methods of hydrogen production (electrolysis of H2O) require copious amounts of electricity, which must come from somewhere, and again would be better used directly, via a battery-electric vehicle. Basically, any energy source which produces hydrogen could be used to directly power a vehicle, and would be 5x-10x cleaner by doing so.
> And I won't involving changing my life to fit my car.
You have already changed your life to fit your car -- by driving to gas stations! Home-charging is a feature, not a bug.
Besides, if you really want to drive to a remote location to get a complete top-up of your range -- that's what battery-swap is for. Battery-swap stations are far cheaper to build than hydrogen filling stations, and can give you more range, more quickly, than hydrogen pumping. And they are truly clean, not imaginarily clean.
If you could simply replace gasoline with hydrogen, then your arguments might have some merit (although it still wouldn't be "clean" by any real measure). But you can't, and therefore your arguments don't.
All your other complaints are irrelevant to the consumer.
Batteries improve ~15% per year ($$$ / kWh stored). It appears to be some sort of moore's law for batteries. It also means we'll see way better batteries in 10 years (4x better regarding $$$/kWh).
Now with way more range and non-stop travel (2-4x) the bottleneck will be how long you're willing to sit in your car without a major break (sleeping).
Such a future would be very similar to charging your phone at night. Most people can get away with just charging at night. Even if they travel. I expect the car battery capacity to grow beyond the point where intraday charging is relevant at all.
And once we've reached that future going to a gas station will seem like a strange thing of the past. Yep, it might be 10-20 years from now. But we'll hopefully all watch this happen.
If anything it's the electricity infrastructure that already exists, and you only need chargers installed, which are far cheaper than hydrogen stations - which is why we're already seeing thousands of EV chargers across the US and only a handful of hydrogen stations.
Cars use a whole lot of energy, gasoline stores a whole lot of energy. I doubt there are many places around the world where electric power distribution systems are equipped to serve vehicles, on top of cooling, heating, refrigeration, electronics, etc.
The same could be said of the hydrogen infrastructure, except that hydrogen faces a massive chicken-and-egg problem. There are a grand total of twelve hydrogen fueling stations in the US at the moment. These stations cost a ton of money to build. Who will build them if there are almost no hydrogen cars on the road? Who will buy hydrogen cars if there are almost no filling stations?
EV charging infrastructure is relatively cheap. That means it doesn't face the same chicken-and-egg problem. A person whose daily driving fits entirely within their EV's range doesn't need any charging stations except the one at his house, which can typically be installed for $0-2,000. (The $0 is for if a suitable outlet is already available and you just use the mobile charger that comes with the car.) And since the stations are relatively cheap, that means that businesses can install a few to attract EV owners without making it a major investment. Because of this, there are already over 10,000 public charging stations in the US, with more showing up all the time.
Each additional station stresses the grid a little bit more. But it also contributes money to maintaining and upgrading the grid. As long as stupid political forces don't prevent utilities from gradually upgrading over time, there will be no problem there.
Not quite true. It's estimated that up to 75% of light-duty vehicles (the kind regular people drive) could be converted to electric without requiring major grid upgrades. The one major assumption is that most people would be charging their vehicles at off-peak hours (overnight) which is already the case.
Half-credit. The DOE has shown that 77% of light vehicles could move over to overnight electric charging without adding any additional grid capacity.
If we need more capacity, we add additional renewables to the grid.
This is also where you get into discussions about the "smart grid". The thing to note is that the grid in most countries is already "smart" on the production/generation side: it has to be to deal with changes in demand over time, particularly given something like the bathtub that happens every single day. The goal of the "smart grid" is to make consumption smarter by signaling better when demand might change (my owner just got home from work for the day, your house says, so please get ready for higher power needs this evening) and electric cars are a vanguard for the "smart grid" precisely because they are programmable consumption devices with useful consumption patterns that can be smartly adjusted. An electric car (or its charger, same difference) can ask the grid for energy and adjust its energy input to the grids needs (and vice versa), charging on a slow trickle during high demands and a full blast to help fill in the bathtub. Cars use a whole lot of energy, but primarily in short bursts (trips to/from a destination) and ultimately spend a lot more time parked. With a little bit of information from the user, or a bit of inference from pattern matching, a car can predict about how long it will be parked and about how much charge it will need for the next trip (which is not always 100%; if you drive to lunch from work you probably are only planning to go a short distance because you have to return to work just after lunch). The energy grid loves this because it can better predict demand over time and better adjust consumption to meet generation and vice versa.
(This is all even before you get the "smart grid" facets that electric cars are giant parked batteries and that a truly "smart grid" could borrow energy from an electric car to meet high demand and then repay that energy (with "interest") as demand shrinks back down. It's this part that gets a bunch of interest when people talk about the "smart grid", but that's actually a less practically useful part of it than just consumption demand knowledge and preparation/time-shifting. The "battery loans" would more likely be useful and actionable merely at the scale of between your personal car and home than at the level of the grid.)
Tesla only has one charger and that is in SW Michigan near Chicago though they recently announced one more in the Ann Arbor-Detroit area.
Incorrect. Even if you run a car off coal, its cleaner than gasoline. That coal fired plant has better emissions controls, and is more efficient than the powerplant in your vehicle. And the grid will continue to become "cleaner"; a gas-powered vehicle will never reduce its emissions over the life of the vehicle.
Emission controls yes, but CO2 release cannot be captured and you can't beat entropy - energy is wasted on conversion from chemical=>electric=>mechanical rather than just going directly chemical=>mechanical.
As for Lithium, even if Li-ion remains the best technology we have for the next ten years (which it might not be? ), we should be able to find better ways of mining Lithium , like electrolysis from seawater. After all, it's probably the most abundant metal in the universe.
And what I said about coal power is factually correct. Germany installed 11 GW in new coal power plants from 2011 to date. When you crunch the numbers, that gives you a production of ~80 TWh per year from the new coal plants.
Now, as the article you linked points out, this has replaced old coal plants being phased out. This means their argument of "nuclear power was old and needed replacing, so we might as well just scrap it" could be equally applied to coal.
I did not know international media would portrait it so... wrong.
That's wrong. Coal in Germany is stagnating and going down. There are literally dozens of fossil fuel plants for closure...
And don't forget the subsidies for oil and gas in the UK are ~20x those of renewables.
But hey, as we all know, co2 is love, and "this green crap all has to go".
I'm not saying you are wrong - but can you show me your source for this?
Renewables, by contrast, make up ~7% of the UK's electricity generation and <1% of its fleet of road vehicles, so even the relatively generous subsidy schemes don't make that much of dent in the UK budget.
All you need to see is that they're taking our money by force, and you can make sense of everything they do - it's all about keeping us blind to the exploitation so that they can keep on doing it.
King's had "The Divine Right" to rule over everyone else, and governments have "The Social Contract", which amounts to the same thing.
I've been a customer of Ecotricity for a while now, and they've been able to consistently improve their mix while keeping prices stable. I don't believe the regulatory environment is working against them, and they don't make that claim either.
whilst the tories are indeed changing the subsidy picture, renewables in the UK can still get FiT tariffs to quite a reasonable degree, which is driving a lot of the investment in these areas.
So yes, nuclear waste is a serious issue, but let's not forget that the alternatives have major environmental costs as well.
(not from the US)
1. Nuclear waste, even when not processed, is not that large in volume and it can be stored in a space on the order of a hectare (about 2.5 acres) for the entire US nuclear waste production over several decades. Consider the comparative amount of storage needed for just coal ash, as well as the environmental hazards that presents.
2. The reason the US does have comparatively more waste is because the government forbids any reprocessing of nuclear fuel. For example, merely separating out the more radioactive isotopes, you can greatly reduce the volume. Reprocessed fuel can also be partially reused in a nuclear reactor and the French have great experience with that.
3. Even reprocessed "spent" fuel can be useful in 3rd and 4th generation reactors. Spent fuel today is still a valuable future resource, so it needn't be buried and guarded for millennia afterwards.
4. Natural nuclear fuel usage can be greatly more effective with nuclear breeding, which can turn non-fissile U-238 and Th-232 into the fissile U-235 and U-233 respectively. Right now, what's actually burned is mainly U-235, an extremely rare isotope (the minor constituent of "natural uranium") and that's comparatively as rare and expensive as platinum. Breeding can increase the energy obtained from the same quantity of fuel by 10-100 times.
To me the main problem with nuclear energy is not the waste, which even if we never intend to recycle is such a tiny volume that being afraid of it is like an elephant being afraid of a mosquito. The problem is rather the chernobyl/Fukushima risk.
I am not a specialist but I understand that switching to Thorium could reduce a lot that risk. Most nuclear reactors around the world have been built in the 60s/70s. I would expect that if we decide to replace them, there would be a sufficient critical mass to justify the cost of moving away from uranium.
The risk from these types of accidents is less than the toll from fossil fuels in normal operation.
For Fukushima: ".. no confirmed casualties from radiation exposure.." "no evidence to support the idea.. will lead to an increase in cancer rates or birth defects".
But yes, more modern reactors would be better, but these aren't being built.
Take into consideration that 2 nuclear bombs dropped on Japan did not cause Japan to not exist afterwards. In fact, the damage and death toll from those two bombs was less than from the wholly conventional Tokyo firestorm.
Yes, nuclear technology is a big lever, and yes, big levers are dangerous. But it's simply not as earth-shatteringly more dangerous as people believe.
Remember that there have been no deaths so far from the Fukushima meltdown, which was about as bad as you can imagine, with bad siting, bad technology, bad safety precautions, awful handling etc. At the same time, the Tsunami that caused the meltdown did cause over 15000 deaths.
Again, I think you've reached the right conclusion, but looking at the lack of long-term damage from the bombs doesn't tell us anything either way about the potential for damage from a reactor.
1) I wrote "take into consideration". That means that this is something to consider, not something that proves my thesis conclusively. So your criticism is misplaced.
2) You also miss the fact that bombs are designed to cause as much damage as possible, whereas reactors are designed to contain damage as much as possible. A candle contains much more energy than a stick of dynamite, yet the former is far more damaging.
Compare the section: "Chernobyl compared with an atomic bomb".
But what do the IAEA and the WHO know about anything?
First, they show conclusively that "amount of radioactive material" is not the be-all/end-all measurement that you make it out to be. Nuclear tests put a total of 100-1000 times the nuclear material of Chernobyl into the atmosphere, and yet we are also still here.
> It makes no sense to "take into consideration" [..]
Furthermore, they do exactly what you claim "makes no sense". They "take into consideration" the effects of the bombs, and they compare those effects. They do come to the conclusion that the effects are different, one factor being that Chernobyl had more material, a counter-effect being that the radiation from Chernobyl is much more low-level and thus much less harmful (in fact, there are indications that low-level radiation may be beneficial).
But "into consideration" they certainly take. QED.
That kind of stuff is why we need to get rid of nuclear power altogether. All that's holding us back is politicians and their bribes.. and of course, to a lesser extent, people who rationalize not moving away from nuclear power.
Fukushima was a standard design. Built by European and US companies in the same style as dozens of plants in Germany.
This is not "Fukushima was unsafe". If you say "Fukushima was unsafe", then half of Germany’s reactors are unsafe.
Shutting them down was the only option.
> making a few permanent wildlife reserves in the irradiated areas isn't a global catastrophe
You are talking about Japan. A country with one of the highest population densities worldwide. Declaring a whole province – and one with lots of history – off-limits is not going to happen. Currently they’ve been digging out the ground in half of the province.
EDIT: Some more info:
Fukushima was a Boiling Water Generator built by General Electrics. Reactors of the exact same design are Krümmel (Germany), Brunsbüttel (Germany), Philippsburg (Germany), Isar (Germany). Krümmel and Brunsbüttel had constant issues, including the town next to it having the highest cancer rate on the planet.
The same design used by Fukushima is described in Wikipedia as "the second most common type of electricity-generating nuclear reactor".
> Fukushima was a standard design.
The design was unsafe. The company knew this. In fact it had been known for 35 years. It was not unfixably unsafe, and in fact 5 of the 10 reactors had been upgraded. These 5 shut down properly during the Tsunami and survived without problems.
The main design flaw was that the vital emergency cooling equipment was sited in an unprotected building outside the protected reactor. This is especially troubling if you site your reactor on a Tsunami-ridden coast. It's less of a problem in the middle of Germany, where there are no Tsunamis. Or to put it another way: if you have a Tsunami reaching the middle of Germany, a meltdown at these powerplants is going to be among the least of your problems.
Of course, it is hard to demonstrate improvements, especially when nuclear power is so demonized.
It doesn't make sense to say it's hard to demonstrate improvements when it's not even under our control.
But demonizing nuclear power has nothing to do with it.
Gee, what a great idea! In fact, a slightly improved reactor was operating in the other Fukushima plant, and all its reactors were shut down safely after being hit by the same Tsunami.
More modern designs are safer still. For example, there are designs that do not require external power for a shutdown at all.
No, unfortunately, that's not all that's holding us back. There are still some pretty substantial, e.g., storage and transmission problems with the renewables.
Unless you want us to keep burning coal or some other nonsense like that...
Build power lines from everywhere to everywhere, and refit transformer stations to be up to the load of users producing more than using, and you fix that, too. (Incidentally, in Germany we’re having a huge debate about a huge powerline currently, NIMBY is one of the worst things that happened)
You do realize that the largest ever energy-generation accident was a dam failure? 171000 people killed in 1975 when a dam in China failed. And overall, hydroelectric facilities claim 94% of the fatalities of energy-production accidents.
What I am talking about is hydro-pump-storage.
That type of storage has no dam that could fail – you take two lakes, one higher than the other, connect them with a tunnel, and place a turbine in the tunnel. Now you can push the water up (store energy) or let it flow down (produce energy).
However, it is simply not true that hydro-pump storage never has a dam.
In fact, when you look at the list of pumped storage stations, the vast majority of them have dams:
When coal has a major incident, though, it still produces the same pollutants as if it's working correctly.
When nuclear has incidents, like the plants of Brunsbüttel and Krümmel that frequently had leaks, you end up with the highest leukemia quote worldwide .
Krümmel had major issues, with nuclear fuel being found in the area around the reactor, outside, on the ground, with the power plant leaking coolant frequently, and more incidents. 
Mismanagement with Nuclear can lead to far more problems than mismanagement with coal.
More Info and Links:
 https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leukämiecluster_Elbmarsch (Sadly, only German article available).
"Coal mining accidents resulted in 5,938 immediate deaths in 2005, and 4746 immediate deaths in 2006 in China alone according to the World Wildlife Fund"
So each year more deaths from coal accidents alone than the entire predicted, somewhat speculative and hard to ever prove death toll from Chernobyl over the next 20 or so years.
Here are 3 articles comparing the death-rates of various means of generating power.
Nice graphical representation:
For each death attributable to nuclear, 4000 are attributable to coal. 4000:1. Incredible, but apparently true.
NASA shows the deaths that have already been prevented due to nuclear, currently the rate appears to be 80000 per year. That's 80000 people alive per year who would have been dead without nuclear:
Forbes has a nice comprehensive overview that shows rooftop solar having a higher death rate than nuclear:
[EDIT: pulled salient points from the quoted articles into the post]
It's fair to say the author's methodology is interesting. Only 50 deaths from Chernobyl count... as it would be "tenuous" to count other people that eventually died from radiation poisoning (even using the figures accepted by bodies responsible for promoting atomic energy). It's apparently not "tenuous" to count ballpark estimates of a million lives shortened due to coal particulate poisoning, however, or indeed to guesstimate 1/6 of all roofing deaths are likely to be from solar. It's something of an understatement to say this is not the most intellectually honest exploration of statistics around an issue.
Compare with the New Scientist's claim - based on a study by the IAE - that the ratio should be around 14:1 for coal, and 1.5:1 for natural gas. Better than coal, certainly, but not spectacularly safe even compared with burning other fossil fuels
Not sure why quoting the WHO is "interesting", unless you mean "interesting" as in "a good way to proceed".
They say the death toll could reach 4000 (from the pool of emergency workers), but so far only 50 have been confirmed.
' [..] the radiation-induced increase of about 3% will be difficult to observe.'
'Poverty, “lifestyle” diseases now rampant in the former Soviet Union and mental health problems pose a far greater threat to local communities than does radiation exposure.'
'Persistent myths and misperceptions about the threat of radiation have resulted in “paralyzing fatalism” among residents of affected areas'
'Notes Vinton, “The most important need is for accurate information on healthy lifestyles, together with better regulations to promote small, rural businesses. Poverty is the real danger. We need to take steps to empower people.”'
I mean, if you're doing a sincere comparison with "people whose lives may have been shortened by coal dust" and "back of the envelope guesstimate how many people die installing domestic solar", you simply don't pick "people definitely proven to have died from radiation poisoning at Chernobyl" as your comparison point.
Coal would look remarkably safe (which it isn't) if you required similar standards of proof of coal dust rather than lifestyle factors being the cause of premature death.
The future Chernobyl deaths are just that: predictions about what may happen in the future. They think it could happen, but they don't know. And due to the extremely low level of the signal, it will be very hard to tell if they do occur, because as the WHO report states, other effects such as poverty are much more significant.
So, no, the comparison to coal dust is not unfair at all.
But, for the sake of argument, let's completely ignore the coal dust and other respiratory or global warming effects, and concentrate on just the proven accidents. Heck, let's be super unfair and leave in the estimated possible statistical future deaths from Chernobyl, but only consider the documented deaths from coal accidents. That gives us 4000 deaths for Chernobyl and 4000-6000 per year for coal. So even when being totally unfair towards nuclear, it is somewhere between 20-40x safer than coal.
When you level the playing field, you have the 50 deaths from Chernobyl and around 131 others, though that includes lots of accidents not related to power generation. Around 180. Let's double it and call it an even 400. So 10x fewer deaths than coal. Except that's per year vs. since ever. So we're talking around 500-1000x safer.
No matter how you slice and dice the numbers, nuclear power is vastly safer than existing means of power generation, even given the sorry state of the industry today.
Of course, we should still be doing as much solar as we can (just be careful when installing!), and we should improve reactor designs so they are even more safe. For example using the liquid fuel thorium reactors, or concepts such as PIUS, which uses passive mechanisms relying mostly on physical laws to shut down and cool the reactor, rather than active mechanisms that can fail as they did at Fukushima-Daiichi. And hope that one or more of the multitude of nuclear fusion projects makes a breakthrough.
OK then, I sincerely acknowledge that the estimate of 4000 Chernobyl casualties is much more widely accepted (including by the nuclear industry) than the WTO's more speculative guess at how many people are having their lifespan reduced by exposure to coal particle dust. I'm not sure why you would think otherwise, but then I'm also perplexed by your assumption that none of the 3940 total casualties the WHO predicts from increases in rates of cancer and leukaemia among those most closely exposed to Chernobyl radiation have happened yet.
The lack of confirmed Chernobyl deaths is because - as the report you linked to states - cancers are common cause of death among people not exposed to nuclear accidents, not because 50 acute radiation sickness victims and 9 kids with thyroid cancer are the only people living or working near Chernobyl to have died a bit young over the last 30 years. I mean, I'm not sure any individual lung cancer has been directly proven to be a result of working down a coal mine either, but it would be an unusually outspoken proponent of coal that argues that it should be discounted as a risk altogether because of that, or because of difficulties gauging the precise size of the effect when miners tend to be poor and smoke a lot.
I'm going to go out on a limb and consider a published study
suggesting nuclear is around 14 times safer than coal and 1.5 times safer than natural gas a little more valid than your own back-of-the-envelope exercise, or indeed a blogger whose use of statistics is rather creative.
though much as with flying being safer than driving, that's to a large extent because nobody is suicidal enough to run a nuclear plant with safety standards comparable to those of Chinese coal mines.
"Im Zuge der Auswertung der Studie zeigte sich, dass nicht Umweltfaktoren, wie die Nähe zu Kernkraftwerken, zu Militärflugplätzen oder anderen häufig als Verursacher in Rede stehender Anlagen mit dem Auftreten der Leukämiefälle korrelieren, sondern dass demografische Faktoren die signifikantesten Merkmale darstellen, in denen die untersuchten Cluster übereinstimmen."
Mathematically-speaking that remaining half pound of U238 will fully turn into lead approximately... never.
My understanding is that the radiation problem in Germany is since Chernobyl...
I don't think people's viewpoint on this issue has anything to do with nationality.
> if the waste is dealt with properly and stored safely
At least in Germany, nobody figured out yet how to store the waste properly for a long-time. Remember, that the country is densely populated. For example, take a look at the Asse II mine.
There's a world outside Germany. Pay someone outside Germany to deal with it.
The thing is: No matter how often it is repeated, there is currently no safe place to store a sufficient volume of nuclear waste securely anywhere in the world. It's not just a simple question of "paying someone else".
Developing those sites seems possible but the solution to the waste problem isn't there yet.
It didn't fly well with either public opinions, though.
Using those sites for commercial waste is not allowed anymore since 2005 though.
And how is that going ? Not good.
The biggest problem with nuclear waste that everyone keeps overlooking is the potent NIMBY issue. In democracies politicians need to do what their constituents want in order to survive. And constituents will forever be scared to the bone about nuclear waste anywhere near them.
The occasional wind turbine workers and rooftop solar installers have been killed doing their work; in extremely small numbers but each turbine and rooftop only makes a minuscule quantity of energy.
Hydro is usually very safe, except that the dams can fail and wipe out entire cities. When Banqiao Dam failed, 26 thousand people died. If you want to talk about the "what if" dangers of nuclear, you have to accept that Hydro's "what if" scenarios are far, far, far more deadly.
Deaths per trillion kW hours
440 Solar (rooftop)
I notice that Wind and Solar aren't much worse than Nuclear, though, and they don't produce highly radioactive, toxic waste we must safely store for millenia, don't take decades to set up, don't cost as much, do not require incredibly high levels of competence to be safe...
I'm all on board for wind and solar, we should be deploying as much of it as possible. But if we want to eliminate fossil fuels from the world economy in the next 50 years, we need more than just solar and wind.
Saying that nuclear power produces "highly radioactive, toxic waste" is extremely misleading and demonstrates a core misunderstanding of the nuclear fuel cycle. This stuff is only scary because it has been pitched as the boogie monster by anti-nuclear weapons campaigners who were completely uneducated about the difference between the two.
If you educate yourself about nuclear power, your views might change.
If we were to stop using hydro or wind the number of related deaths would quickly drop.
With a lifetime of 100.000 years, today's nuclear waste has a potential to kill tenths millions.
You have fundamentally misunderstood the nuclear fuel cycle, and some very basic facts about radioactive material. The stuff that "kills" has a short half-life. The stuff that lasts for millennia is almost safe enough to store in your underpants.
Rather than parrot ignorant statements of others, please consider learning more about nuclear energy.
That it is dangerous for millennia seems to be a popular belief, so a source would be valuable.
Seems a bit strange having to cite something I learned in secondary school science class, but okay.
Furthermore, electric cars can be used as energy reservoirs during high demand periods.
That said, a frequent complaint about wind is higher output overnight. Wind and electric cars could be a perfect match.
Also, nuclear is not perfectly clean either. The reactor may produce clean energy, but everything else that is needed to power it and maintain it is not clean energy.
The difference, of course, is that coal subsidies are in the easier-to-ignore form of "allow you to kill a lot of people downwind from your plant without compensation."
To me the biggest impact of moving to electric cars is to move the pollution (air+noise) away from where people live. And that benefit alone is certainly worth significant undesirable effects on areas where people do not live (mines, etc).
A car is about one ton of metal. Whatever the source, it takes the same energy to move it around. Underground resources on the Earth are limited. Each new tech revolution brings us 60 years more of petrol/nuclear/(place any fantasm here), but the number of revolutions is limited, just like Moore's law.
What is happening here is that a car would be the equivalent of a 60-horse carriage in the Middle Age. What kind of kings are we to deserve such servitude from the nature? The ideal of having cars is not a good idea. Carpooling isn't even a reasonable solution.
Americans don't become aware of it because they live with very cheap petrol with low taxes. The rest of the world invents new urbanism based on the impossibility of having 1 car per person. We mix companies and residential area, so we can just walk to work. We're solving the last mile issue of food delivery. We're researching the equation of population density vs pollution. And even in my country (France), petrol isn't expensive enough to make people realize that cars are an un-solution to quality of life.
Even if supposing that we can bury the pollution and invent magical energy, there are major political side effects to digging this energy out. All this money US is spending on war shouldn't be carried by all taxpayers but integrated in the cost of a gallon of petrol. Then they'll realize what is the real cost of petrol. You may assume new forms of energy / pollution burial wouldn't create the same side effects as petrol, but I'm afraid that might be a fantasy.
The problem of cars in dense urban area has more to do with pollution (which electric cars solve) and space (traffic jams) than morality.
When you eat a 10th of a cow per year (200g/day), you consume the same energy as one seat in a Paris-NYC flight, and the same energy as necessary to heat a house for a year, and the same energy as the Earth produces per year, per inhabitant. So, choose only one of those ;)
It's not about saving tigers, kitties, noise or morality. It's that the Earth doesn't produce that much energy, so we're not in a stable situation on the long term.
There are "footprint comparators" that you might have seen on the Internet: A European has a footprint of 2.5, which means it requires 2.5 Earths of wheat fields and uranium mines to feed, cloth and house everyone like a European. It takes 6 Earths to nurture someone like in the US.
So we can only sustain this pace of spending resources as long as we keep others poor (aka as long as Middle East/China/Asia don't enter into a consumtpion society). That's where I claim: We may have to take part with our cars in the future and therefore we'd better build our cities so that we don't need to move around that ton of metal per person.
The side effects of emitting CO2, nuclear waste, wars in the Middle East or costing an unsuspected cost through taxes are just different forms of the same constraint, which can be studied through energy consumption in Joules per inhabitant.
To give an example, there has been some concern recently about diseases affecting bees. Beside adding to the variety of the world, bees play an important function in pollination. Could we do this pollination artificially? Probably yes, but not without a considerable amount of effort, and bees do this work very well for free.
Besides this, I don't want the world to be dominated by a single species, for me the world is far richer and more interesting from the contributions of nature (if want to view yourself as separate from it, whereas really we're part of it).
The article says BMW's move is in anticipation of stricter environmental laws in the EU. The situation could give Europe or certain regions there a 'first-mover' advantage, if it hasn't already.
Once the 'Silicon Valley' or valleys of clean tech are established, where all the talent, capital, services and infrastructure are and where business is done over a beer/wine/etc, it's not going to suddenly shift to the US when Americans catch up on climate change issues, especially if Europe offers a large 'single market' for this technology. China could also be building an insurmountable lead.