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Four parking places and a car. Let’s make that a stellar charged wedding.

Summary:
Graph 1. The increasingly inefficient use of carsSummary: parking places are a woefully inefficient use of space. And ugly. Cars are a woefully inefficient use of machinery. Using them, in combination with bi-directional charging of cars, to produce solar can amend this. Doing this the right way, parking places can be beautified, costs will go down and life will be more pleasant. A typical car is, like a washing machine, a household appliance. As such, they are woefully inefficient. The average car serves fewer and fewer people (graph 1). Around 95% of the time, they are not used. Aside: when preparing this article I discovered that we know a lot about km. traveled per person and time spent in cars. But it’s not easy to obtain dependable information about the amount of time

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Four parking places and a car. Let’s make that a stellar charged wedding.
Graph 1. The increasingly inefficient use of cars

Summary: parking places are a woefully inefficient use of space. And ugly. Cars are a woefully inefficient use of machinery. Using them, in combination with bi-directional charging of cars, to produce solar can amend this. Doing this the right way, parking places can be beautified, costs will go down and life will be more pleasant.

A typical car is, like a washing machine, a household appliance. As such, they are woefully inefficient. The average car serves fewer and fewer people (graph 1). Around 95% of the time, they are not used. Aside: when preparing this article I discovered that we know a lot about km. traveled per person and time spent in cars. But it’s not easy to obtain dependable information about the amount of time cars drive, even when car manufacturers must, thanks to cell phones, have excellent knowledge about this. Graph 2 provides some old information. But a little arithmetic can help: at an average speed of 50 km. per hour 15.000 km. per year boils down to 300 hours or 3% of the total time. Which tallies well with the graph.

Four parking places and a car. Let’s make that a stellar charged wedding.
Graph 2. Vehicle use during the day. On average: woefully low.

Aside from the inefficient way cars and parking lots are used parking spaces are ugly. And costly, as we (rightfully) require sewer systems to solve the man-made problem of surfaces not fit to absorb the amount of water of even a moderate shower. Inefficient, costly, ugly, unpractical.

Second, on average, there is much more than one parking space per car. Think: parking places close to malls and and offices, here some data on the 40 million regulated (i.e. not at home) parking places in EPA countries). At this moment, we’re wasting this space. On top of this, parking spaces often contribute to local heating as, surely when they are paved with asphalt, they become incredibly hot.

Four parking places and a car. Let’s make that a stellar charged wedding.

Figure 1. The unavoidable consequences of more than 1 parking place per car. A waste of space, heating the surroundings and ugly beyond words.

Fortunately, there is a solution. It’s called bi-directional charging. Electric cars have batteries. Most car batteries are, in combination with charging stations, outdated, old-fashioned and unpractical as they can’t be used as the home batteries we all soon will need and have. It’s called bi-directional charging and batteries have been able to do this for ages (it’s why they were invented). Soon, car batteries will also be able to do what normal batteries have been able to do this, too. Japan and China are taking the lead. Cars will have to be solar-charged at home, at work and at the mall. Instead of paying for a parking place, you will charge for a parking place! Solar and charging will also restrict parking lot heating as it channels solar radiation to the batteries and the grid.

Like all technologies, this requires as well as causes changes in human behaviour, which have to be undergirded by investments. The car gave rise to suburbia, the electric car will require comparable investments. First, we’ll have to put solar above parking places, which can be done in non-ugly ways (Figure 2). Mind: only 7 square meters are needed to power an average car during a year (averages).

Four parking places and a car. Let’s make that a stellar charged wedding.
Figure 2. Parking places do not have to be ugly and unproductive. They can be put to productive use. The no doubt concrete foundations have, however, to be replaced with superior recycled plastic ones.

Car batteries will have to charge local electricity use. On the macro level, the peak of electricity use is during the day, when the sun is shining and the cars have to charge. Charging when energy is needed elsewhere is not efficient. On the micro level, however, peaks during the day will be much more irregular than on the macro level (due to lunch breaks and whatever). Car batteries can easily be used to dampen local peak grid demand. If many thousands of local peaks occurring at somewhat irregular times will be dampened by car batteries charging and unloading on demand, average macro peak grid demand will decline.

So, let’s invest. And no, that’s not to be morally superior. It’s to have a more pleasant and less stressed-out life. Efficient, low cost, beautiful, practical.

Merijn T. Knibbe
Economic historian, statistician, outdoor guide (coastal mudflats), father, teacher, blogger. Likes De Kift and El Greco. Favorite epoch 1890-1930.

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