Shockingly, Our Infrastructure is Nowhere Close to Ready for Government-Mandated Plug-In Electric Vehicles!

And what the government is doing. has pushed deployment ahead of engineering realities.

Should it really be any surprise that, as politics have pushed ending fossil fuel usage to fight global warming climate change emergency, not everything is proceeding in an orderly manner? From Popular Mechanics:

Giant Wind Turbines Keep Mysteriously Falling Over. This Shouldn’t Be Happening.

The taller the turbine, the more epic the tumble.

  • Turbine failures are on the uptick across the world, sometimes with blades falling off or even full turbine collapses.
  • recent report says production issues may be to blame for the mysterious increase in failures.
  • Turbines are growing larger as quality control plans get smaller.

by Tim Newcomb | January 23, 2023

Oops! Via National Wind Watch. Click to enlarge.

The taller the wind turbine, the harder they fall. And they sure are falling.Wind turbine failures are on the uptick, from Oklahoma to Sweden and Colorado to Germany, with all three of the major manufacturers admitting that the race to create bigger turbines has invited manufacturing issues, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Multiple turbines that are taller than 750 feet are collapsing across the world, with the tallest—784 feet in stature—falling in Germany in September 2021. To put it in perspective, those turbines are taller than both the Space Needle in Seattle and the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. Even smaller turbines that recently took a tumble in Oklahoma, WisconsinWales, and Colorado were about the height of the Statue of Liberty.

The story continues to tell readers that the manufacturers of these ever-larger turbines — the larger the turbine blades, the more wind energy they can capture — are experiencing all sorts of quality control and manufacturing problems, as these things are being rushed to market, to meet politically ginned-up demand.

The illustration I used? I did a Google search for collapsed wind turbine, and got about 1,250,000 results. Examples abound.

Machinery fails. That’s just a fact of life, modern machinery requires routine maintenance, and things can fail. Structures like wind turbines, set atop tall, slender towers hundreds of feet into the air, catch a lot of kinetic energy, and the wind turbines are designed not to just deflect that energy, but to absorb and capture it. That is a tremendous amount of physical stress, on every part: the tower, the blades, the mechanicals inside the turbine housing, and the foundation. Imperfections, cracks in concrete footings, several different things can lead to such failures.

There are other problems, as well:

America is on a fast road to adopting electric cars. Philly is already falling behind.

Charging stations in every cranny of the city will transform public thoroughfares as profoundly as street lights and underground sewers did a century ago.

by Inga Saffron | Saturday, May 20, 2023 | 5:00 AM EDT

Ever since Henry Ford turned automobiles into a mass market commodity, the parking and fueling of cars have been seen as two distinct activities, carried out at different times, in different places. That’s about to change.

See? I subscribe to the Inquirer so that you don’t have to! I’m not certain why the newspaper would restrict a labeled Opinion article to subscribers only, but it did.

Last month, the Biden administration rolled out new regulations intended to dramatically ramp up the production of electric vehicles and reduce our reliance on the gasoline-powered variety, a major contributor to climate change. The new rules put America on a very fast road to an all-electric future: In just seven years time, 60% of all new cars sold in the United States will have to run on batteries.

And Philadelphia isn’t remotely ready to handle them.

It’s easy to think of electric cars as simply old wine in new bottles; all we have to do is just trade in our gas guzzlers for EVs and that will be that. But because EVs now take four to six hours to fully charge, Philadelphia will need tens of thousands of spots where car owners can park and plug in. Providing charging stations in every cranny of the city will transform our public thoroughfares as profoundly as streetlights and underground sewers did a century ago.

Let’s be clear about this: when Inga Saffron, who writes about buildings and design for The Philadelphia Inquirer, tells us that “EVs now take four to six hours to fully charge,” she is writing about 220-volt 40-or-50-amphere at-home chargers. 480-volt commercial charging stations can do so in around an hour, while 110-volt at home units can take longer than the night. Charging times naturally vary based on the charging unit, the age of the vehicle’s battery, and how much charge remained in them when charging began.

Since few Philadelphia car owners have garages or private parking spaces, it seems likely that the city’s future charging network will end up in that public nether land between the curb and sidewalk. Unless the city takes a strong hand in the design and placement of electric chargers, we could soon see a land rush as people claim curb space for ad hoc charger installations, resulting in the same kind of chaos we had with streeteries. And given the amount of street furniture already vying for curb space — traffic signs, mailboxes, bike racks, and Big Bellies — the visual clutter would be extreme.

The “public nether land between the curb and sidewalk”? In many Philly neighborhoods, there is no such thing: the sidewalks extend from the front of the rowhouse right up to the curb. Parking in many of Philadelphia’s cramped, working-class neighborhoods is challenging, with many cars parked on sidewalks, because there’s just nowhere else to park.

South Carlisle Street, Photo via Google Maps, click to enlarge.

According to Zillow, 2543 South Carlisle Street sold for a quarter of a million dollars, $247,000 to be precise, and it had no parking. The photo shows that cars are lined up on one side of South Carlisle, but half of the street has no parking place in front of it at all, and there is no alley parking behind the units. The people on the side of South Carlisle with parking could, I suppose, install charging ports on the fronts of their homes, or perhaps underneath the small sidewalks to right at the curb line, to avoid the trip hazard of a charging cord across the sidewalk, but if you live on the side, the odd-numbered side, without parking, you’re just s(omewhat) out of luck. You might snag a parking place across the street, if you’re lucky, but you won’t be able to install a car charger. And if you did, roving bands of junkies would snag the power cords while you were charging your car overnight, to sell the copper for their next fix.

The good news is that the Kenney administration is finally starting to think about the massive changes that will be necessary once electric cars go mainstream. The Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability hopes to hire an EV specialist before (Mayor Jim) Kenney’s term ends this year, its policy director, Christopher Puchalsky, told me. But that doesn’t mean transportation officials are committed to building a charging network.

“Electric vehicles are an industry problem,” not a city one, Puchalsky said. “We can’t be in a situation again where the city has to accommodate itself to the car.” This time, “we want to make transit a priority.”

Translation: the city will use this to force more people to use SEPTA buses and subways. That may not be a choice a lot of people would like.

The most wryly amusing part of all of this: plug-in electric vehicles are most useful in urban areas, where people have shorter trips, than for those of us out in rural areas, but people in rural areas usually have more garages and other areas in which they can park their cars and safely install chargers for them. 🙂
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