The power of electric

Have you noticed? In the United States there is a push toward more use of electricity to power our lives. I, for one, have. We see the impact of that in and around the home, on the road and even at the utility-scale level. What this means is there has been increased reliance on electric power and decreased dependence on items like gasoline, diesel and natural gas with few exceptions.

And, for good reason. Reasons, actually.

The move away more and more from natural gas use and toward electricity adoption as a power provider for home heating and cooling systems, clothes dryers, and stoves and water heaters, even, probably has as much or more to do with helping protect the environment and public health than with anything else. Electric stoves and clothes dryers seem today to be all the rage. We’ve been seeing and hearing a lot more about this in magazines, newspapers and on t.v. in the form of news stories and feature articles and in promotional advertising spots.

On the road, meanwhile, and around the home with regard to electric vehicle and yard and garden tool purchases and use, respectively, this no doubt has to do with the environmental and health aspects, but also in terms of saving money as well. With the cost of gasoline skyrocketing as of late and with health and the air and environment related to pollution and a warming planet, investing in more of an electric future appears now to be making more and more sense to more and more people.

What’s more, with the way electricity is generated nowadays, renewables like wind and solar energy have been playing a greater role.

In fact, especially where electric car battery recharging infrastructure is concerned, the President just recently announced that a half-million more electric vehicle chargers is the goal for America by year-end 2029. Planned cost for the additions? Five billion dollars.

One automaker in a television ad for one of its electric vehicle products boasts a range on a single electric charge of 600 miles.

Meanwhile, I’m seeing more electric appliances like electric lawnmowers, edgers and blowers being advertised on t.v.

Moving beyond the commercially-sold home-based, consumer products’ market, fully electric vans and trucks are making greater inroads into the business of package delivery. Even the United States Postal Service has gotten into the EV act, but, right now, on a very limited basis. The move toward wider adoption of this practice may be in the offing: Things like higher gasoline prices could influence a further move in the direction of more such EV acquisitions.

Staying with this theme, EV maintenance, due to fewer numbers of moving parts in electric vehicles makes them more maintenance friendly, meaning they’re simpler to maintain. This, however, doesn’t mean that in servicing said vehicles, the costs for such will be necessarily less expensive. The costs for replacement batteries, for example, are comparatively, still steep. Currently, these batteries are said to have a service life of 10 years tops.

For anything that operates automatically or autonomously, nothing, and I mean nothing, appears to be exempt.

Even passenger-train operations, to some extent, also appear to have caught the “electric-revolution” bug.

Caltrain in the San Francisco Bay Area along the peninsula, is in the process of completely electrifying its entire railroad operation between SF and San Jose, erecting poles to carry the electricity supply (otherwise referred to as overhead catenary), as well as procuring the electric trainsets themselves. In a December 2021 press release, the company expressed, “Currently, 95% of the foundations are installed with only 59 remaining. While the traction power facilities approach their completion dates, with all ten to be completed early in 2022, the entire overhead catenary system should be installed by 2022. The next phase of project construction will be on signal and system integration work. An electric locomotive will be testing the new catenary system in 2022 and the first cars of the new electric fleet will arrive in spring 2022.”

Broadly speaking, the sky’s the limit. And, even that doesn’t seem limiting as development in electric flight has thus begun. Serious development in this arena is going on as this is being written. Remaining to be seen, however, is whether success is right around the corner or further off into the wild blue yonder.

As to the news on the development front, this is indeed exciting!

– Alan Kandel

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Image credit: The illustration on the home page for this article: Siemens Mobility.

This post was last updated on Aug. 8, 2022 at 7:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.