Sunday, May 6, 2012

Electric Genes

I am a frequent poster on Seeking Alpha on energy subjects, especially about batteries, renewable energy, and the follies of (most) electric vehicles. I have been fascinated with energy projects my whole life; pre-high school I was inspired by a project in  Engineers Dreams to siphon the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea and make huge amounts of electricity. Forty five years later, Dead Sea Power is still active, still a great idea, but still not built.

Electricity is in my genes. I have occasional fantasies of running a PV-powered vehicle on Criehaven island, which is not totally crazy. Trying to propel EVs (electric vehicles) at 70 mph over 200 miles per charge is crazy and pure hopium; investors falling for that fairy tale will lose.

On the other hand, occasionally driving a small vehicle slowly over short distances on an island with difficult (and expensive) access to fossil fuels is an example of a (very) small niche that might be suitable for EVs. Electric off-road vehicles ("4-wheelers"),  off-road motorcycles, and some utility vehicles do exist.

My great-grandfather, George Krementz, was an electric aficionado.  He electrified his jewelry factory, one of the largest in the country, before AC power was available; he generated his own DC power in Newark NJ in the 1890s. When the factory was closed in the 1980s, some of the original 19th century equipment still had their original DC motors, which had huge, ancient AC-DC converters so they could run off todays' grid.

One of my great grandfather's prides was his electric delivery car. Well, I actually have no idea if he was proud of it or even how well it worked; all I know there is an old family photo of the car, emblazoned with "Krementz", which was used for deliveries in New York. Electric taxis came to NYC in 1897.

Krementz was known then, beside uncompromising quality, for complete vertical integration. I smile thinking that he had his own coal powered generator to run his car.  A century later today's EVangelists still run their EVs from coal, too.