Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wait, Watt?

Two facts of life have recently collided in Mr Brain and produced some speculation on events that can only end, in my opinion, one way.

Fact One: Everyone is going bugnuts over the prospect of electric cars for all. Everyone knows1 it's only a matter of time before the hated, smelly, inefficient, ungreen, socialist-medicine supporting, abortionist internal combustion engine is a thing of the past and people embrace clean, quiet, ecologically sound2, capitalist, insurance lobby friendly, life-protecting electric tractive power.

Fact Two: Everyone actually really does know from bitter experience that neither Con Ed3 nor LIPA 4 is able to supply the current (ha!) demand for electricity at the height of summer, nor keep it flowing reliably during the dead of winter. Both of these august bodies have reaped their share of August bodies as people succomb to the heat and humidity without the benefit of the air conditioner they bought because the juice wasn't flowing that day. In technical terms there is a shorfall in generating capacity during periods of peak demand. They run public service ads to the effect that if you don't stop using their product they will stop providing it, which is a pretty odd model for a capitalist business to adopt I think you'll agree.

So my question is: Where in Azathoth's name is the power to charge the battery5 of the family car going to come from?

Ten years from now LIPA will probably be running public service ads to an audience of angry and immobile people suggesting they switch to convenient, cheap and portable gasoline as an alternative to the fabled electricity rumored to flow through the wires on odd occasions when no-one is checking.

  1. I've already pontificated on the value of stuff "everyone knows" here and elsewhere
  2. If we don't talk about the environmental "footprint" of the electronics industry needed to support this venture, or question the environmental impact of the batteries required to make it happen
  3. Who supply electricity to New York City
  4. Who supply electricity to Long Island
  5. Yes, only one. If you connect two batteries together they form one battery. Add another and you still have one battery. Technical terminology is difficult for people who don't know how science works which is why they screw it up so often. Not only that, I can confirm after opening one that the majority of "D" cells are, in fact, "D" batteries, being formed from several disc-shaped cells stacked inside the case. Unless you put them end to end, of course. Then they would all be "D" battery. Funnily enough, I remember prising apart an Ever Ready "U2" (old UK name for "D") battery, only to find it was, in fact, a single, long U2 cell. If the manufacturers cannot get it right it's no wonder everyone else has trouble

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