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Electric / hybrid aircraft propulsion (NOT cars)

mdoerr, Coventry was briefly a bright spot for electric vehicles, remember the MODEC van? Aart, we are back on EV’s! Tesla are supporting jobs in Derby, England so that is European enough for me!

Darley Moor, Gamston (UK)

Good news Neil. To my shame I also forgot that there is a model S assembly facility in Holland..

Son Alberti LEJF, Mallorca, Spain

BMW is out of question as this company acts actively against GA in Germany (Fürstenfeldbruck)

I never considered BMW to have any obligation towards GA pilots, I would have done the very same as their CEO and hadn’t I done that I would have had to step down because my private interests influenced my business decisions. I don’t think BMW are to blame but the terrible Bavarian government.

Still, the BMW logo is a spinning propeller (they used to be an aero engine producer before they got into cars). What could be more adequate for an aviator?

Definitely, mainly in burning coal. Now you not only get the 34% efficiency of the coal firing plant, you also get the 80% efficiency of the battery. For added benefit to the to the environment, they’re firing mostly brown coal, not hard coal

It’s an old debate but I think it is true: how you produce electricity is a separate issue. The electric car per se is clean. In 2013 Germany produced about 25% of its electricity from renewable sources (from 3.4% in 1990). It was a very good summer for photovoltaics and the number unexpectedly high. The result is that the big energy companies all posted massive losses because of low utilization of their power plants. Brown coal isn’t dirty anymore and there are interesting approaches for storing CO2. It’s a mix of all kind of technologies and we see a lot of innovation, also dead ends (like turning crops into fuel). The future is neither having to invade Iraq etc. to be able to drive Hummers nor producing tons of nuclear waste for which we have absolutely no idea what to do with.

BTW: one of the main arguments against GA is pollution of the environment. If we want continued acceptance of our hobby (that’s what it is after all), we better try to be progressive instead of defensive. We should actively seek replacements for avgas instead of just defending ourselves by saying that we’re pigs but there very few of us so it doesn’t matter. Same goes for the electrification of the powertrain.

It was a very good summer for photovoltaics and the number unexpectedly high. The result is that the big energy companies all posted massive losses because of low utilization of their power plants.

One of the more interesting issues with solar and wind is that because they tend to be unreliable in supplying the grid, power plants must be kept on ‘spinning reserve’ regardless of the need for power. That results from power plants needing significant time to ramp up and down in power output. This then results in a situation of excess power being produced. The ‘solution’ to that problem is to have flex rate arrangement with industrial customers that motivates them to use more power when it’s available and cheap. The problem there is that to use all the excess power, they end up paying those customers to take it – negative pricing. The motivation is to achieve high percentage of renewable power on paper, for political and regulatory reasons, but it’s not hard to see how the power companies end up losing money.

One technical solution is to collocate small gas turbine generators with the renewables so that they can produce power more reliably. The GTGs can start up fast and run on natural gas. In some cases this might allow the utility to shut off segments of a power plant, and restart later, although that is not without its own cost and maintenance issues.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 11 Mar 14:32

That results from power plants needing significant time to ramp up and down in power output. This then results in a situation of excess power being produced.

For this purpose, the German power companies were forced to build fast reacting gas powerplants in the last few years. “Unfortunately” 2013 was so good and saw so little fluctuation that those powerplants were not once turned on for the most part. There is a big political debate going on whether engergy companies should be compensated for keeping this capacity available.

The other big initiative is to restructure the power grid to transport power all across the continent. Today it is built under the assumption that both production and consumption are roughly equal at any place. Wind energy is mostly coming from Northern Germany (North Sea) while solar energy is mostly coming from the sunny south (with “sunny” being a relative term). Those new DC lines cost a lot of money and while everybody likes clean and renewable, nobody wants to have them in his backyard. You can’t imagine how many geological expertises have been funded showing why exactly they can’t be built at exactly the place they’re planned for.

One technical solution is to collocate small gas turbine generators with the renewables do that they can produce power more reliably.

For over 10 years already, every household in Germany has the right to supply energy back to the grid and be compensated for it. We see a lot of traction in cogeneration in households. A small engine is driven by gas and outputs both electricity through a generator and heat. One of the main players is Volkswagen which use a slightly modified car engine for this job. The efficiency is almost 100% but it requires a setup where you can use all of the heat and most of the electricity yourself (supplying to the grid is financially not very attractive compared to using it yourself). It makes a lot of sense in a house with a few apartments because those always need a certain amount of electrical power and heat. The decentralized power grid is an important political goal these days.

Germany is taking a huge risk with its energy policy but it’s fascinating to watch. Of course a lot of things go wrong and are setup wrongly (after all its’s government behind all of this) but the general direction is a good one. If it all fails, we’ll just threaten with bankruptcy and the UK and France will bail us out

Germany is taking a huge risk with its energy policy…

I see absolutely no risk there. The EU spends in excess of 50 Billion (American Billions, in German it would be Milliarden) Euros every year on imports of fossil fuels. Three or four years worth of that would buy a modern decentralised power grid fed mostly from renewable energy. Free energy (apart from the maintenance cost) forever. Where is a risk?

EDDS - Stuttgart

You watch this space. Tesla S will kill it in Europe. Absolutely kill it. Logic tells me that if it’s a runaway success in the US, then it should be 3x more of a success in Europe with 3x higher fuel prices. And with the supercharger stations, Musk is also supremely placed to be able to charge for energy to other car makers. He’s like Standard Oil all over again. I could foresee a future where Tesla will be the biggest car maker and transport energy provider in the world. I’m not joking.

Furthermore, electric could very well be the saviour of GA. There remains only a single obstacle left to crack – energy storage capacity. Everything else is already superior. Electric propulsion would almost eliminate maintenance, but what’s more – electric generation is not a proprietary technology and can’t be easily taxed, as it can be generated by anyone. You can’t refine oil in your backyard, but you can make electricity.

Fuel cells are a total dead end. The only reason we even talk about it is that oil companies and governments spend money promoting it. They would just love to get you into yet another proprietary fuel that they can easily tax and easily control.

The future is electric propulsion for all human transport. The sooner we stop resisting, the better it will be.

Last Edited by AdamFrisch at 11 Mar 14:53

I see absolutely no risk there.

The risk is that German household energy bills, by my brief exposure, are roughly 2-3 times what I pay in the US, and rising.

On the other hand, energy security is a very strong motivation and it should be. The green stuff is effective in convincing the population they should be paying the associated bills.

Hard to start up complicated power plants with bottoming cycles etc quickly – the stuff that makes power plants a lot more efficient. Nuclear is far from dead, makes a significant fraction of the worlds power, and cannot be ramped up and down quickly. Figuring out how to accommodate unreliable power sources into the grid is tricky, and as described above can create a negative benefit.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 11 Mar 15:15

I don’t think BMW are to blame but the terrible Bavarian government.

I have a few friends, who were fighting at that front and BMW had a lot influence in the destruction of Früstenfeldbruck.

Still, the BMW logo is a spinning propeller (they used to be an aero engine producer before they got into cars). What could be more adequate for an aviator?

It is not a propeller. The BMW logo was created in 1917, 12 years before BMW started development and production of aero engines.
It represents the colours of Bavaria. The famous picture with the plane was a 1929 advertisement, when BMW started with aero engines.
You can come to Munich and visit the BMW museum. There is part about the logo history.

I have to conduct business in Munich and it is much harder to reach that area now. I don’t see the point to buy something from a company that makes it harder for me to conduct my business.
Currently I fly into Nuremberg and use tube and train, which is still faster than Augsburg, Ingolstadt, Landshut and whatever is ‘around’ Munich.

United Kingdom

we better try to be progressive

Certainly! But our resources are limited enough that we shouldn’t focus on dead ends, but on projects that will have a huge impact, namely getting that stupid lead out of the fuel. The little CO2 we produce is really insignificant.

One technical solution is to collocate small gas turbine generators

Another one is hydroelectric storage plants. We have lots of them but unfortunately the german subsidy on renewables distorted the market in a way that made operating those plants a loss.

LSZK, Switzerland
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