Guest essay by Larry Hamlin
EVs have been hyped by the climate alarmist renewable energy activist crowd as an effective approach for reducing greenhouse gas emissions regarding transportation energy consumption, which for many nations is a large portion of their total energy use.
EVs are fundamentally energy handicapped due to the low energy density of batteries versus the high energy density available in fossil fueled vehicles which results in significantly reduced mileage capabilities for EVs compared to fossil fueled vehicles.
These EV mileage limitations versus fossil fueled vehicles become even more exaggerated when additional energy demands are needed to support vehicle air conditioning and heating loads, hill climbing requirements and operation in cold temperatures that decrease battery stored energy capabilities.
Additionally the higher cost of EVs compared to fossil fueled vehicles dictates government mandated cost incentives being applied that attempt to make EVs more financially attractive with these incentives paid for by taxpayers.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal addressed these complex and generic problems with EVs.
The article notes the improvement in EVs sales comes at a price and is subject to limitations:
“But that progress comes with two big caveats: First, it has relied on extensive public subsidies and, second, it has done little to reduce planet-warming emissions of carbon dioxide. If electric cars are ever to displace gasoline engines without government putting its thumb on the scale, they must not only keep innovating but outrun fossil fuels where productivity also keeps advancing.
The federal government offers a tax credit of up to $7,500 each for the first 200,000 electric or plug-in hybrid cars a manufacturer sells. Throw in state tax credits, subsidies for recharging infrastructure, relief from gasoline taxes, preferential lanes and parking spots and government fleet purchases, and taxpayers help pay for every electric car on the road.
What happens when the credits go away? When Hong Kong slashed a tax break worth roughly $55,000 for a Tesla in April, its sales ground to a halt. In Georgia, electric vehicle sales plummeted 80% the month after a $5,000 tax credit was repealed.
Many optimists think falling battery costs mean electric vehicles (EVs) will inevitably displace the internal combustion engine (ICE). Last week, Bloomberg predicted electric cars would become “price competitive” with ICE cars in eight years without subsidies.
But such scenarios hinge not just on the cost of batteries but on the price of oil and the efficiency of competing vehicles. Economists Thomas Covert, Michael Greenstone and Christopher Knittel, in an article for the Journal of Economic Perspectives, estimate that at the current battery cost of $270 per kwh, oil would have to cost more than $300 a barrel (in 2020 dollars) to make electric and gasoline equally attractive.
If battery costs fall to $100, as Tesla Founder Elon Musk has targeted, oil would have to average $90.”
The WSJ article presents the Covert, Greenstone and Knittel study graph demonstrating the superior cost performance of fossil fueled vehicles versus EVs based on battery cost and oil prices.
The study also demonstrates the very significant changes in battery costs and oil prices that would have to occur to change the clear advantage that fossil fueled vehicles enjoy.
The impact of lower EV subsidizes has a significant and dramatic negative outcome on sales resulting in greatly reduced purchase of EVs as documented in numerous articles.
In the case of China the EV purchase “speed bump” is quite significant and described as:
“According to UBS, sales growth of new-energy vehicles including pure electric cars and plug-in hybrid automobiles, are expected to slow to 20 per cent for the whole year in 2017, compared to the 63 per cent year-on-year increase recorded in 2016.”
“In China, policies always have a huge impact on the auto market,” said UBS analyst Hou Yankun. “As government subsidies drop, the market is losing a major driving force to spur the growth [of the electric-car segment].”
This cutting of EV subsidizes by Beijing with the resulting decrease in EV sales is yet another defeat for California Governor Brown who amazingly regards China as his partner in “leading” the fight against global climate change even though China is committed to building over 700 new coal plants in the next decade.
The financial viability of EV producers is also in question as noted in an article from business financial watch guard UBS.
Despite the many unanswered questions and thorny issues facing EVs the UK government has decided to throw caution and any pretense of rational thinking to the wind and mandate an end to the sale of all diesel and petrol cars by 2040.
Exactly how this UK government mandate is to be accomplished and how much it will cost is now the subject of many articles in the UK which are spelling out the enormous costs and complexity that such a mandate will create since the government announcement completely evaded and ignored these critical issues.
The Telegraph article lays out the massive increase in UK electric system loads of 30 GW per year this “mandate” will create and explores the power plant options available and required to meet this growth which it quantifies as costing about 200 billion BP.
The article also provides information clearly demonstrating how difficult and unprecedented this UK government mandate will be in trying to accomplish a more than 30 million vehicle transition from petrol and diesel vehicles to EVs.
Additionally the article shows the extremely limited options that are available for UK residents to select from regarding their “choice” of EVs.
In another article The Telegraph notes the huge infrastructure costs associated with eliminating petrol and diesel cars in favor of mandated use of EVs.
Regarding Tesla’s and the UK government “zero” emissions claim for EVs Bjorn Lomborg notes:
“Like other electric cars, it has “zero emissions” of air pollution and CO2. But this is only true of the car itself; the electricity powering it is often produced with coal, which means that the clean car is responsible for heavy air pollution. As green venture capitalist Vinod Khosla likes to point out, “electric cars are coal-powered cars”.
The people of the UK might be forgiven for their considerable skepticism of yet another clueless government mandate dictated by their arrogant and ignorant politicians given the debacle of the decade old UK government mandate requiring the sales of increased numbers of diesel vehicles to address climate change.
Government incentives provided to push the increased sale of diesels in the name of climate change have resulted in diesels becoming 36% of UK cars up from only 14% in 2001.
After providing government incentives encouraging the sales of diesels driven by claimed benefits for climate change the UK government will now impose new pollution taxes on diesel vehicles and ban diesels from traveling on roads during rush hour.
The proposed banning of petrol and diesel vehicles with mandated conversion to EVs along with new diesel vehicle pollution taxes and driving restrictions now proposed by the UK governments climate alarmist politicians clearly signals to the populace that these officials are truly a complete bunch of idiots.
As WUWT noted the emissions performance of diesels is terrible and does not significantly reduce CO2 but definitely increases other harmful pollutants which are negatively impacting cites all over the UK. and Europe.
Further the government mandated diesel emissions debacle is growing elsewhere in Europe with major announcements that all major car manufacturers in Germany have colluded in hiding flawed emissions performance of diesel cars whose sales they have been promoting in the name of helping climate change.
Through these absurd actions the UK and European governments have demonstrated that they are absolutely incompetent at defining and implementing policy regarding climate and energy issues and that the politicians in charge are distinguished by their ignorance, gullibility and climate alarmist stupidity.
These outcomes clearly support that efforts by governments in the UK and Europe to address the transportation energy sector energy and climate issues need to be immediately curtailed and new approaches devised to explore these areas that hopefully involve other than the demonstrated political incompetence present in these governments.