Predictions are Hard, Especially About the Future

Gasoline vs Electric Vehicle Future Fuel Costs

This was originally a comment on David Middleton’s post,

The original comment was from Detengineer, in reply to another comment from Mark, so the 2nd paragraph is directed at Mark, not David.

Detegineer goes into very good detailed calculations, on replacing ICE with EVs. Mod.

I think David is on solid ground regarding the future of the oil industry.

I read through your links and noted there were a lot of assertions, but very little in the way of data or logic to support the assertions. I agree with you that autonomous vehicles and transportation as a service (TAAS) will come to dominate the vehicle market. However, an autonomous vehicle can be powered by anything; batteries, an internal combustion engine, fuel cell, or even compressed air. Whether electric or internal combustion vehicles dominate the future market comes down to economics and project execution capabilities, and I believe we can make a fair estimate of this.


1. There will be no Idiot Swan events. There will be no outright bans on drilling or frac’ing. Tax policy will not provide heavy subsidies for renewable power or batteries, nor will tax policy unduly burden oil and gas production.
2. The difference in purchase price for an EV and ICE vehicle will be almost immaterial to the economics of vehicle choice. This is based on the assumption that TAAS will push vehicle lifetime mileage closer to 1,000,000 miles, at which point the dominant economic driver will be fuel cost.

Vehicle Fuel Cost:

Based on today’s cost of gasoline and electricity (my latest bill) the cost of each at the wheel is:

• Gasoline: $0.3415/kWh ($2.50/gallon, 20% efficiency)
• Electricity: $0.2667/kWh ($0.16/kWh, 60% efficiency)

(efficiencies from your link

This places gasoline at a 30% price disadvantage relative to electricity (not the more than 2:1 price disadvantage in your link

So if fuel cost for an electric vehicle is lower and the initial purchase price differential is assumed to not be a factor and TAAS effectively eliminates the charging management and range issues that affect EV acceptance, then why do I believe the EV’s will not take over the world anytime soon?

Simple. I have reason to believe that the cost of electricity will rise both because of rising demand and the move to renewable power generation. I also have reason to believe that the availability of electricity will be a constraining factor; we just can’t build it fast enough.

The Future Cost of Electricity:

Moving to 100% renewable electricity power generation will considerably increase the cost of electricity.

The installed cost of solar PV, wind, and for comparison combined cycle natural gas turbines (CCGT) are:

• Solar: $3,000/kW (multiple sources)
• Wind: $1,400/kW ( and )
• CCGT: $965/kW (EIA)

Of course to get the costs on a consistent basis we should include the cost of fuel for the expected life of the shortest lived capital investment, estimated at 20 years.

• Natural Gas NPV: $3,108/kW ($4.00/MSCF 2019 pricing from EIA, 2.5% interest rate)

This yields an equivalent installed cost for a combined cycle natural gas turbine of $4,073/kW.

So it appears that renewables really are cheaper, quite a bit cheaper, than all the other power sources. Could the proponents of renewable power be right?

No. We all know that we have to look at what it costs to provide reliable 24/7/365 power, which is a vastly different proposition than installing ‘nameplate’ power. To supply reliable power requires the installation of additional solar PV or wind turbines to produce enough power above immediate consumption to meet 24/7 power demand and batteries and inverters to store the power until needed. So we need installed cost for inverters and batteries:

• Inverters: $392/kW (National Renewable Energy Laboratory: “2018 U.S. Utility-Scale
Photovoltaics-Plus-Energy Storage System Costs Benchmark”)
• Batteries: $73/kWh (Also from “The Future of Electric Vehicles”, 2030 estimated

Based on this the estimated installed cost to deliver 1 kW of power continuously is:

• Solar: $17,792/kW
• Wind: $11,246/kW
• CCGT: $ 4,244/kW


• Solar: 8 hours minimum daylight in winter, no more than 1 day without sunlight, and 2 days to recharge after discharge.
• Wind: Average generation at 30% of nameplate, no more than 1 day without wind, and 2 days to recharge after discharge.
• CCGT: 85% mechanical availability.

Obviously how you play with the assumptions has a huge impact on cost. For solar I assumed a southwest desert climate with relatively long winter days and short periods without sunlight. Similarly for wind I assumed nearly continuous wind as one would expect in the mountain west.

What’s driving the cost is the need to install 5+ kW of nameplate capacity plus 40+ hours of batteries to support 1 kW of reliable 24/7/365 power. Costs escalate precipitously for conditions in the northeast (less sunlight, less wind). This is just a hugely inefficient use of capital (but an interesting spreadsheet exercise.)

Based on the installed cost we can estimate consumer power cost:

• Solar: $0.4059/kWh
• Wind: $0.2566/kWh
• CCGT: $0.0486/kWh

I’ve assumed a 5 year simple payout on capital invested. The fuel component of the power cost for the CCGT is the price of natural gas prorated for turbine efficiency of 60%.

When we including delivery charges we get a total cost of:

• Solar: $0.4959/kWh
• Wind: $0.3466/kWh
• CCGT: $0.1386/kWh

I chose a flat $0.09/kWh based on my power bill. This is likely underestimated in all cases as I would expect solar and wind to have higher delivery costs due to the geographically diffuse nature of the systems and the CCGT cost excludes natural gas delivery to the plant.

Vehicle Fuel Cost in a Renewable World:

The cost of power at the wheel again assuming 60% conversion efficiency in an EV.

• Solar: $0.8265/kWh
• Wind: $0.5777/kWh
• CCGT: $0.2310/kWh
• Gasoline: $0.3415/kWh

As we can see solar and wind are not at all competitive with gasoline, running respectively 242% and 169% relative to the price of gasoline. This is not going to incentivize anyone to buy electric cars; certainly not fleet owners. However we can see that natural gas retains a strong economic advantage over gasoline and assuming suitable supplies could support the conversion to electric cars.

The Future Cost of Gasoline:

Should electric vehicles start to reduce the demand for oil I would expect to see the price of gasoline drop, potentially quite a lot. On the low side the price of oil is limited by the cash flow requirements to keep production going. In refining margins would drop through cost cutting and the closure of high cost/bbl refineries and is limited by cash flow requirements. Speculating here but in dire circumstances gasoline prices could drop to between $1.00 and $1.50/gallon.

The one thing we can say with reasonable certainty is that the supply of oil will be adequate for the next several decades. Therefore the cost of gasoline is not likely to rise precipitously and drive the economics toward electric vehicles.

Converting Transportation to Electricity:

Thinking about it, in 2016 fossil fuels used for transportation represented 26.44 quads of energy (EIA). To put this in perspective fossil fuels represented 23.54 quads to electricity generation; transportation and electricity generation consume about the same amount of fossil fuels. The total fossil fuel contribution to electricity generation and transportation comes in at 49.98 quads. The cost to convert this infrastructure to renewables is below (in $Trillions):

What I never see mentioned is what it will cost to convert all the fossil fuels used in transportation to renewable electricity. Does nobody think about these things?

Transportation Electricity Total
• Solar $15.73 $14.00 $29.73
• Wind $9.94 $8.85 $18.79

These numbers exclude distribution costs and EV support infrastructure costs. If we call this an additional 25% to 50% above solar or wind installation costs then we are talking in round numbers $24 to $44 trillion. To put this in perspective the GDP of the US in 2018 was $20.5 trillion. To eliminate fossil fuels in transportation and electrical power generation by 2050 we need to invest $1 – 1.5 trillion every year, or 5-7.5% of the US’s GDP. (Note that this excludes nuclear and fossil fuels used by industry.)

Another way to look at this is we need to execute 1,000 – 1,500 separate billion dollar projects every year. My personal experience with multi-billion dollar projects is they take 8-10 years to execute and finding qualified people is like finding hen’s teeth. The management, engineering, and skilled trade resources are just not out there to execute in effect 10,000 separate billion dollar projects in parallel for 30 years. (Finding qualified people for a multi-billion project during the financial downturn in 2008-2010 was just about impossible.) Finally, if we were to try, the competition for resources would drive engineering and construction costs up tremendously.

Wrapping Up:

Oil will remain the primary transportation fuel for the next several decades. While a superficial look at today’s prices for electricity and gasoline seem to indicate a strong economic driver for converting automobiles from internal combustion to electric a deeper look at the probable future cost of electricity versus gasoline shows a strong economic advantage for gasoline over electricity derived from renewable sources. Electricity sourced from natural gas (combined cycle gas turbines) retains an economic advantage over gasoline and assuming suitable supplies exist could support the conversion to electric cars.

Regardless of economics, the large cost and skilled labor demands of converting the economy to renewables makes it highly unlikely that a significant portion of the fossil fuel supplied portion of the transportation market can be converted to renewables by 2050. Even if we limit the project scope to using natural gas derived electricity to support the conversion to battery powered cars limited management and technical resources will likely constrain the pace of the conversion.

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November 10, 2019 10:16 am

This very interesting analysis seems to ignore an obvious additional option – using ICE cars with engines (slightly) modified to use compressed or liquefied natural gas as fuel.
That may be optimal in terms of both end-user costs and capital requirements.

Iain Reid
Reply to  Igor
November 11, 2019 12:22 am

The report mentions moving to 100% renewables. This is not going to happen, it just won’t work. (Except for the rare case where hydro is a significant and feasible source of electricity).
Adding grid load by transitioning from liquid to electric vehicles then means an increase in fossil fuel generation. The whole idea of electric vehicles is based on a false premise that renewables will power them.
The simple reason is that renewables and nuclear cannot give any more power than they generate as they run at full available output, this
leaves the dispatchable fossil fuel plants to increase output to match the extra load.

Randy Wester
Reply to  Iain Reid
November 12, 2019 3:58 am

One notable featore of electric vehicles is that yhey hav ‘batteries’ of chemical energy storage cells, so they can charge at off peak times when there is a surplus of electricity.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Igor
November 11, 2019 5:44 am

Igor, my first thought was also on direct use for NG- it also is already distributed and available everywhere. Les Johnson did do an excellent job taking the handwaving out of the usual “comparisons” but few consider the enormous mining, processing, shipping, manufacturing, delivery costs and the huge demand for tech and skilled trades demand for this sector, already flagged by LJ for the contruction sector. And this front end part will require enormous amounts of … fossil fuels!! Thinking big with tiny brains (the wand waving GND set).

Reply to  Gary Pearse
November 11, 2019 8:28 am

Don’t need NG for vehicles. Best option is CTLs / GTLs (synthetic diesel or gasoline) via Fischer – Tropsch. Clean. Stable. Runs in current engines. Minimizes emissions. Cheers –

Reply to  agimarc
November 11, 2019 2:58 pm

Who is going to invest 100s of billions US$ into building enough processing plants for Fischer- Tropsch to make any difference (that’s assuming one can find enough places where those could be built and qualified people to build those) when oil prices are highly unpredictable?

Reply to  Igor
November 11, 2019 10:40 am

My opinion is we are at or near peak EV. Less more subsidy or government prohibitions I believe most everyone that can afford the EV has one. What I never hear discussions of; (except Eric Peters). EVs will not be useful much above the vitamin d latitude (about 37 degrees) in the winter. Near freezing you’ll end up at half the already limited vehicle range, god help you if you want to run the heater and the added benefit of waiting 40 minutes in the snow for a quick recharge. Cold enough, you have to warm the battery to be able to charge it. I love the image of a Tesla recharge station run by a diesel generator. My gas station has 24 pumps by maybe 10 minutes refueling. Similar capacity for EV would be near 100 charging stations. I’m pretty sure people don’t want to wait 40 minutes in line before 40 minutes of charging. No one can bring you a gallon of charge if you run out. As Mr. Peters points out, you get into an EV trying to calculate range based on the conditions.

Randy Wester
Reply to  taz1999
November 11, 2019 10:59 pm

Plugin hybrids check most of the boxes. Enough EV range for commuting plus engine for winter heat and long range when necessary.

Whether ‘pure’ EVs make sense above 37 degrees latitude is a good question. Great in summer, can get a full charge fron 10 kw solar panels most days. But at about 51 degrees north here the morning temp was minus 19 c, it took 2.5 hours to charge and warm before leaving at 10 kw, after 118 km we topped it up at 75 kw for 15 minutes and it cost $6 Canadian. We also plugged into a 6 kw charger free charger for a couple hours while shopping. Heat was on, range was down to 57% of rated.

But we saw gasoline from $1.10 to as low as $0.86 a litre so driving on that is also cheap right now.

Reply to  Randy Wester
November 13, 2019 2:05 pm

Agree with the hybrid solution. At least you have a backup to get you to the charging station.

Reply to  Igor
November 12, 2019 2:48 am

“…use compressed or liquefied natural gas as fuel.”

Propane (or “LPG”, which is 60% min propane, rest is butane) is a considerably better fuel than NG, simply because:
1) higher energy denisty (same volume of fuel takes you further)
2) easily liquified at sensible temperatures and pressures (tanks are lighter and do not require insulation or refrigeration)
3) infrastructure is largely already in place (to service BBQ and other cooking/heating/lighting needs)
4) only minimal engine changes needed (just fuel delivery at a minimum, compression and ignition modifications can be done if greater efficiency is desirable) – “dual fuel” is simple with lpg, even on a carby engine
5) liquid injected lpg gives no loss of performance and in some cases an increase in performance (as the fuel evaporates, it cools the intake charge, allowing for more air/fuel)
6) it is mostly an otherwise waste product – propane, and even more so butane, are flared off in large volumes due to lack of available storage.

Here in Aus, LPG is approx. half the price of gasoline – my 300 HP 5.7 V8 costs less to run on LPG than the 200HP 3.5 V6 on gasoline it replaced. Since I do a minimum of 1,000 miles a week, it’s worth it to me to get the V8, which is considerably better in longevity terms (not to mention driving pleasure).
YMMV (sorry, couldn’t resist 😉 )

Also, propane can be manufactured by polymerising NG – easy enough to do if required, so little risk of it being unavailable.

Randy Wester
Reply to  Kneel
November 13, 2019 2:59 am

LPG vehicles can be unreliable in cold weather, and fire code prevents them out of heated underground parking. I used to commonly see the big tanks in light and medium trucks but hardly ever now.

By ‘cold’ I don’t mean anything you would see in Australia, not sure why LPG isn’t more popular there and in other livable climates.

Electric cars are shorter range but don’t suddenly stop because a valve froze up in killing cold weather.

Reply to  Igor
November 12, 2019 8:13 pm

Using a 2 1/2 % discount rate for “invested/borrowed” money to fund all this is dishonest. The analysis would carry more weight for me if a realistic number – say 5 to 8 % – were used. Previous articles here at WUWT have dealt with this issue and have shown that wind and solar do much worse than even this analysis if the discount rate were truer to the real world.

November 10, 2019 10:22 am

I wonder what the uncaptured costs of decommissioning and maintaining solar and wind are? My guess is that the output of installed solar and wind drops over time as well. You have lots of little things scattered all over. It’s the blockbuster problem in the energy generation industry.

Reply to  Austin
November 10, 2019 8:33 pm

I guess we are about to find out , a good chunk of the early fleet is reaching its use by date.

Setting aside the usefulness of the output, I dont see why a properly maintained wind turbines output would drop over time.

Reply to  yarpos
November 10, 2019 11:00 pm

“Setting aside the usefulness of the output, I dont see why a properly maintained wind turbines output would drop over time.”

46 Reasons why wind power can not replace fossil fuels
…Dead bugs and salt reduce wind power generation by 20 to 30%

German study, wind farms in Germany alone kill 1500 tons yearly, of insects, disrupting food chain,
(Those dead insects create a lot of drag on windmills.)

You Can’t Have Offshore Wind Power Without Oil

The Clean Power Plan Will Collide With The Incredibly Weird Physics Of The Electric Grid

Grid Reliability: DOE Throws Down Red Flags On Unreliable Wind And Solar

The “New Energy Economy”: An Exercise in Magical Thinking
March 26, 2019
…About 60 pounds of batteries are needed to store the energy equivalent to that in one pound of hydrocarbons. Meanwhile, 50–100 pounds of various materials are mined, moved, and processed for one pound of battery produced.[54] Such underlying realities translate into enormous quantities of minerals—such as lithium, copper, nickel, graphite, rare earths, and cobalt—that would need to be extracted from the earth to fabricate batteries for grids and cars.[55] A battery-centric future means a world mining gigatons more materials.[56] And this says nothing about the gigatons of materials needed to fabricate wind turbines and solar arrays, too…
Study: Wind Power Increases Dependence on Fossil Fuels in EU; Germany Must Soon Begin to Scrap Its Wind Units—A New, Costly Environmental Issue  
On top of Winds unreliabilty and dependence of fossil fuels, it is neither Green nor Clean.
Big Wind’s Dirty Little Secret: Toxic Lakes and Radioactive Waste
…In 2012, the U.S. added a record 13,131 MW of wind generating capacity. That means that between 4.9 million pounds (using MIT’s estimate) and 6.1 million pounds (using the Bulletin of Atomic Science’s estimate) of rare earths were used in wind turbines installed in 2012. It also means that between 4.9 million and 6.1 million pounds of radioactive waste were created to make these wind turbines.

For perspective, America’s nuclear industry produces between 4.4 million and 5 million pounds of spent nuclear fuel each year. That means the U.S. wind industry may well have created more radioactive waste last year than our entire nuclear industry produced in spent fuel. In this sense, the nuclear industry seems to be doing more with less: nuclear energy comprised about one-fifth of America’s electrical generation in 2012, while wind accounted for just 3.5 percent of all electricity generated in the United States…

richard verney
Reply to  yarpos
November 11, 2019 12:21 am

What do you mean by properly maintained, and at what expense?

You see this with classic cars, they can, with proper maintenance, be kept in show room condition, but of course, you are talking about incurring costs, exceeding the costs that were involved in the original manufacture of the vehicle. You see the same with race cars, that used to be rebuilt after every single race.

Do you envisage replacing the wind turbine blades, and if so how often? These deteriorate with time, particularly in off-shore wind applications, where the blades are constantly, 24/7, being shot blasted with fine particle abrassives (ie., salt and in some locations possibly sand) which adversely impacts upon aerodynamics and drag.

Are you going to keep bearing tolerances as per factory specification? How often are bearings going to be replaced, shafts reground and rebalanced, and at what expense?

It is inevitable that there will be significant loss of efficiency as mechanical components wear, and which wear is uneconomic to address.

Reply to  richard verney
November 11, 2019 7:09 am

richard verney, you bring up a point. As a mech engineer, I balanced rotating equipment all the time. How in the heck do you balance one of these gargantuan pinwheels other than getting out on a blade and attaching a weight? And hoping you get it right the first time….

Reply to  yarpos
November 11, 2019 7:35 am

Wear and tear on the blades reducing their aerodynamic efficiency.
Worn gears in the gearbox reducing it’s efficiency.
Electronics degrade over time.

Dave Streeter
November 10, 2019 10:25 am

So the bottom line indicates that nothing much is likely to change for decades and probably not even then. Gasoline and diesel are the principal transportation fuels because they are the most practical and will remain so. Electric vehicles also rely on continuing low costs of copper.

Reply to  Dave Streeter
November 10, 2019 11:26 am

… and lithium and cobalt. Hmm.

There is a probably a valid niche market for EV for city centre use and commuting, where shipping the pollution elsewhere makes sense. Beyond that it does not make sense.

Whether sense matters depends how much we let the zealots control our future.

Big T
Reply to  Dave Streeter
November 10, 2019 6:01 pm

Then again, predictions of the past are dead on! Who would of thunk it!?

Reply to  Dave Streeter
November 10, 2019 7:45 pm

Excerpt from the conclusions of this paper:
“Regardless of economics, the large cost and skilled labor demands of converting the economy to renewables makes it highly unlikely that a significant portion of the fossil fuel supplied portion of the transportation market can be converted to renewables by 2050.”

I agree with the above conclusion. Since 2002, I have published the following similar statements:

“The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”

“Fossil fuels comprise fully 85% of global primary energy, unchanged in decades, and unlikely to change in future decades.”

Yogi Berra correctly stated:
“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

The esteemed Dr. Berra was correct. The IPCC and acolytes should take note, since every one of their very-scary predictions has failed to materialize – nobody should believe them.

Reply to  Dave Streeter
November 11, 2019 9:18 am

Copper costs are only kept low through replacement use of plastics and aluminum in plumbing, etc..Plastics are made with fossil fuels and aluminum requires huge amounts of electricity in manufacture.

Reply to  Dave Streeter
November 11, 2019 1:00 pm

My friends in northern California recently discovered how useless their electric cars were when the power was out and fires raging nearby. And PG&E says 10 more years of the same, at least.

Trying to Play Nice
November 10, 2019 10:28 am

Your gasoline price includes state and federal tax for roads. If we convert all vehicles to EVs, the loss of revenue from gasoline taxes will have to be added to either the electricity price or charged by the mile. This will significantly increase the excess cost for wind and solar over gasoline.

mark from the midwest
Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
November 10, 2019 11:11 am

The straightforward way to offset the lost gas tax revenue is up-front tax on electric vehicles. Drop the tax credit for purcase and add $3,500 to the purchase price to supplement road-taxes and the electric car market is fundamentally trashed

Reply to  mark from the midwest
November 10, 2019 4:24 pm

mark – clearly that won’t happen then. If replacing gas taxes with EV taxes becomes necessary, politicians will have to find a way of making it palatable to both manufacturers and consumers. But personally I cannot think of a way to do it right now.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
November 10, 2019 5:00 pm

You don’t have to think about it, someone in Govn’t will be doing that for you and it will just happen (Like the temporary MediCare levy hike by Gillard to help Brisbane flood victims).

Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
November 11, 2019 11:03 am

Replacement tax is already in the works, this started years ago due to more efficient cars causing a drop in fuel tax but their fix still applies to EV’s. Simply put a GPS tracking based tax. This has the added bonus of allowing governments to practice congestion based taxing. At least here in Oregon us citizens don’t need to worry about our every move getting tracked, they pinky swore that our GPS data would be deleted right away so there would be no issue with using it to track our every move. Doesn’t matter, they are democrats and breaking government record retention laws (FOIA) is no problem so we can trust them to delete our data.

FYI, they’ve actually tested the system using volunteers who gave it glowing endorsements. No big surprise there, the only people who volunteered thought it was a good idea to start with. There’s been no mention of the system recently but I’m sure it will rise again like a zombie but instead of mumbling “brains” they’ll be shouting “what’s in your wallet?”

Reply to  mark from the midwest
November 10, 2019 6:30 pm

A per mile charge would work. The mileage could be checked every year and the charge calculated based on miles driven.
There would be a problem with apportioning the state portion of the tax if one lives in an area that is near one or more state border.

Reply to  MarkW
November 11, 2019 7:37 am

It’s more likely that future EV’s will wirelessly transmit the mileage of your vehicle to your electric company once a month and the required tax, based upon the miles driven during the month, will be added to your electric bill, collected by your electric company, and forwarded by them to each of several government units, local, state, and federal.

Incidentally, if you drive too far over the speed limit your EV (and your ICE vehicles as well) will spit out a traffic ticket while simultaneously deducting the fine from your linked bank account and forwarding it to the local traffic authority.

Welcome to 1984. The above are among the reasonable things that will happen. China is in the process of showing us the unreasonable.

P.S. Would someone tell me if all comments now go through moderation before appearing? Mine used to appear right away, but no longer do and I have no idea what I said or am doing that would result in my comments being singled out, assuming they are of course.

Randy Wester
Reply to  Rod
November 12, 2019 3:06 am

I doubt they would restrict themselves to fining the driver of a EV, with a half dozen cameras pointing out and just one pointing in.

Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
November 10, 2019 1:50 pm

A very large part of the price of gasoline is taxes. As the proportion of EV goes up, either that gas tax will go up hugely or they will find other ways of collecting that money. If every car has 5G in the promised glorious future, expect every road to be a toll road.

Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
November 10, 2019 3:26 pm

I must say I resent the BC greenies who drive EVs. They are so so smug about using untaxed domestic electricity to charge, when I pay fuel taxes to support the roads they drive upon. On top of that, they seem to need an ICE as a second vehicle for longer trips!

Reply to  Fran
November 10, 2019 6:28 pm

The few EV drivers that I have talked to declared to me that since their vehicles are saving the environment, they deserve all the subsidies they get.

John Endicott
Reply to  Fran
November 12, 2019 9:35 am

They are so so smug about using untaxed domestic electricity to charge

there’s absolutely no taxes on your domestic electricity? at all? really? you luck duck.

Randy Wester
Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
November 10, 2019 6:35 pm

Alberta’s average electricity price / solar feed in tariff over the summer was $0.068 / kwh. Gasoline $1.10 with $.25 taxes per litre equates to $0.85/ litre before tax at the pump before tax.

Since $0.85 buys 12.5 kw, at 180 watts / km the 6.8 cent electricity base price equates to gasoline at 197 miles per imperial gallon.

Gasoline doesn’t vary much in price, but with an electric vehicle we have to get used to the cost of charging varying by an order of magnitude depending on time and place.

It only makes sense for EV drivers to pay for road use, perhaps based on vehicle weight x distance travelled. Roads could be different prices based on their quality or speed limit, and the road’s owners could even be automatically and immediately notified of, and liable for, car destroying potholes and other defects.

Reply to  Randy Wester
November 10, 2019 8:42 pm

Electricity at 7c per kWh, gasoline at $1.10

sounds like the 1970s from here in Oz

in my State x 4 for electricity , x 1.5 for gasoline (if you take the Loonie as being close enough to equal the Pacific Peso A$)

We are told renewables are putting “dowmward pressure” on electricity costs though, so I guess I can rest easy.

Randy Wester
Reply to  yarpos
November 12, 2019 3:19 am

6.8 cents is what the utility pays for solar. If you want to use more than the panels put out it’s 24 cents / kwh at our house.

B.C. price with taxes was $1.70 last summer, we saw 86 cents a litre today in Calgary. But we didn’t put any in the Tesla.

The temperature outside right now is minus 21c, which really slows down mosquitos but kills a lot of seniors.

Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
November 10, 2019 8:35 pm

Didnt Illinois just introduce an annual registration loading on EVs to extract some road tax?

Patrick Healy
Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
November 11, 2019 9:45 am

Over here in Queen Elisabeth s never never land, there was an article some weeks ago whereby some government minister was bewailing the loss of tax “when Britain will have outlawed all internal combustion vehicles” I think it was something like 3 or 4 billion a year by which we are ripped off now.
Mind you as we are already getting shafted for fuel at over £5-00 a gallon, God only knows what we will be paying in 5 or 10 years. Where are you Dr Yogi when we need you?
Btw the biggest stakeholder in the roll out of electric charging points over here is – BP.
Naturally the power supply comes from fairy dust an unicorn farts.

November 10, 2019 10:31 am

I read that tesla is complaining about the weak supply of lithium for his batteries? And California said no to opening sites for mining. I also read that the EV market is based on the amount of lithium and other materials needed? The uk is seeing a massive recycling problem as old batteries are plying up, what would happen if the billions of cars/trucks/bikes all need batteries every 7-10 years? Tesla is 100km before they drop to 80% efficiency, but depends on when its charged and how long between the batteries being totally drained.

Reply to  Sunny
November 10, 2019 12:02 pm

Not sure there are lithium shortages. A refining company in N Carolina is cutting back production as demand has been lagging. One example of many.
That could change is EV sales ever take off.

Reply to  Sunny
November 10, 2019 12:14 pm

Wow – your “Tesla is 100km before they drop to 80% efficiency” threw me off until I realized you meant 100 k ‘miles’.

Reply to  KaliforniaKook
November 10, 2019 12:52 pm


Lol I was walking and typing on my phone… I meant tesla batteries last according to tesla, 100 thousand miles before the batteries drop to 80% efficiency, but it all depends on charge cycles and general use 😀 Tesla’s seem to have a lot.of problems, ranging from the motors to the 1000 dollar door handles 😐 ive read the battery packs are very expensive if the need came to replace them, having a warranty is a must.

Matthew Bergin
Reply to  Sunny
November 10, 2019 2:05 pm

I would almost guarantee that no Tesla battery will make that age spec with a lifetime of 80% quick charges. That is how most owners charge them particularly during trips. Quick charges are a no no with batteries, causes lots of heat stress and cooling issues.

Reply to  Matthew Bergin
November 10, 2019 6:32 pm

Those high recharge cycle numbers rely on perfect charge and discharge cycles. Something that never happens in the real world.

Reply to  Matthew Bergin
November 11, 2019 4:12 am

Do ICE motors have an infinite life?

Reply to  Matthew Bergin
November 11, 2019 7:38 am

Talk about your non-sequitors.

Randy Wester
Reply to  Matthew Bergin
November 12, 2019 3:38 am

Tesloop had one pack go 300,000 miles before 10% capacity loss. All charging was fast DC. Some packs reached that point at 100,000.

Becaue the packs have thousands of cells they often are mostly salvageable /rebuildable

Bruce of Newcastle
Reply to  Sunny
November 10, 2019 12:42 pm

Small mining companies here in Australia have been finding vast deposits of lithium ore (spodumene mainly). I haven’t been keeping track lately but I’d guess it’s up to around 10 million tonnes of lithium in the ground – about a billion tonnes of ore.

We aren’t going to run out of lithium, but processing is a different question entirely since the method for extraction is energy intensive and produces a lot of waste. Permitting and getting a mine going is another issue, as that can take a decade or more to get through all the opposition from environmental groups and indigenous groups.

Reply to  Bruce of Newcastle
November 10, 2019 3:06 pm

Most of Australia’s lithium mines have recently shut down because there isn’t sufficient worldwide market for lithium from Australia right now.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Graeme#4
November 11, 2019 1:30 am

Too expensive.

Luis Destro
Reply to  Sunny
November 10, 2019 2:28 pm

It’s actually the cobalt which is in short supply, price of lithium is down wiith so much more being produced.

November 10, 2019 10:48 am

That was very nicely put. Kudos!

Mark A Luhman
November 10, 2019 10:56 am

I might be wrong but I did not see battery replacement in any of the numbers. Owning a gulf cart that has batteries makes the cost to charge them rather rather insignificant compared replacing them ever three years. Yes they are lead acid but to replace them with a lithium would three times the cost and I an not convince here in Arizona Lithium batteries will last three times as long.

Reply to  Mark A Luhman
November 10, 2019 11:36 pm

Lead/Acid are a joke in a vehicle application. Their rating is given at 0.1C. Even in a golf cart they could be pulled at 5 times that and that kills their energy efficiency and their cycle life. To get reasonable cycle life a lead/acid should not be taken below 70% of charge; efficient cycle range is thus about 30% of rated charge. That rarely happens in a vehicle so they give appalling cycle life.

An LiFePO4 battery is rated at 0.5C and usually drained at less than that rate. If they are operated in the range 30% charge to 90% charge then they will give very good cycle life; maybe as high as 5000 cycles. Of the order of 10 times better than lead/acid.

A lead/acid road vehicle is not in any way viable. A lithium battery road vehicle is marginally viable if you can live with range anxiety.

Reply to  RickWill
November 11, 2019 9:09 am

Most electric vehicles in use are golf carts and industrial forklifts, they use lead acid batteries, and are good for about 20km…. Your comments don’t explain their success…

John Hardy
Reply to  RickWill
November 12, 2019 1:28 pm

RickWill – I agree. Plus Lead-acid cells sulphate if not fully charged regularly, suffer from self discharge and the voltage sags a lot at high current

John A Klug
November 10, 2019 10:56 am

Getting 1,000,000 miles out of a vehicle over how many years? I suppose if it is operated like a taxi it might be possible here. Otherwise there is nothing left from all the salt we use here. I don’t think being electric reduces corrosion. The rear axle was ready to fall off my old Jeep after 15 years.

Reply to  John A Klug
November 10, 2019 2:08 pm

I have never passed the 110,000 mile mark. Four to eight years in the north winter application of fender-sol from the road is death to machines. Even in the south, the sun turns cars to trash in about the same time. Do you or your wife expect to be happy or even feel safe in a 40 year old car? At some point, the maintenance exceeds the replacement cost.

The numbers in this post are not believable. The assumptions absurd. The carbon cost to mine and refine are typically not counted in the lifetime impact. The dead batteries are not recyclable. I also know the maintenance costs for wind is never factored correctly. I worked building the remanufacturing facilities for the gear boxes. These fail well short of the claimed 30 year life. If subsidies and maintenance handled honestly as well as the line losses from remote sites these monsters are closed to zero gain.

Reply to  Mark
November 10, 2019 3:27 pm

My 1995 f150 has 315000 miles on it, but I live in the south.

Reply to  Robert
November 10, 2019 4:24 pm

My 2006 civic has 375,000 miles and they put truly ridiculous amounts of salt on the roads where I live.

Reply to  John A Klug
November 10, 2019 2:40 pm

The 1,000,000 miles estimate is for a fleet operated vehicle in Transportation as a Service (TAAS) operation. The assumption is that vehicle utilization will increase from ~2%/day for a private vehicle to ~20%/day (or more) for a fleet vehicle. Annual mileage will increase from nominally 15K to 150K, so figure vehicle life at about 7 years.

TAAS has got to have the automobile companies very worried. Total miles traveled is unlikely to increase very much, so increasing vehicle utilization by a factor of ten could depress vehicle sales 80-90%. I think this is why you see (for example) GM investing in Lyft. They need to have a foot in the door if TAAS truly takes off. Deriving all your income from vehicle sales could be a very bad business model.

Reply to  Detengineer
November 11, 2019 5:59 am

Either TAAS is just another name for a mass transit system, or you’re not calculating vehicle mileage correctly. A private vehicle goes from A to B and waits to return. A taxi-like TAAS vehicle needs to get from C to A to start with, winds up at B, with the next pickup at D. Roughly twice the total vehicle miles (twice the traffic?) nest-ce pas?

Reply to  hiskorr
November 13, 2019 3:54 pm

A taxi-like TAAS vehicle needs to get from C to A to start with, winds up at B, with the next pickup at D. Roughly twice the total vehicle miles (twice the traffic?) nest-ce pas?

Here’s the way I expect it to work:

1) Small (single-seat or two-seat) cars travel within neighborhoods, and pick up individuals to deposit them at main roads. The main roads have almost exclusively mini-vans or mini-buses. The mini-vans or mini-buses make almost no stops on the way to some destination. At the mini-van or mini-truck’s destination, passengers make disembark to another small car that takes them to their final destination, or the mini-van or mini-truck’s destination may be the final destination for all the passengers.

For example, picture a high school, college, or professional athletic event. Small cars pick people up to take them to where other people are also being delivered in small cars. The passengers debark into a mini-van or mini-bus to take them to the game. They all get out at the entrance of the athletic venue.

It’s not really either automated taxis or automated mass-transit. It’s a combination of the two…but a key point is that there is very little delay either waiting for the small car to pick each person up, or the delay in getting out of each little car and into the mini-van or mini-truck.

Think of it as a tree. People get on at the leaves, they get a ride to the trunk. The get in a mini-van or mini-bus they takes them down the trunk to the ground. (In other cases, the ground might simply be a second stop to get a small-car ride to the end of a root down underground.)

P.S. Another thing…the mini-vans or mini-buses are *flying* (figuratively). Speeds of 100+ mph would be common on most of the main roads, such as interstates.

Reply to  Detengineer
November 13, 2019 3:35 pm

Total miles traveled is unlikely to increase very much, so increasing vehicle utilization by a factor of ten could depress vehicle sales 80-90%.

I think total vehicle miles traveled could as much as double. But you’re right…if vehicle utilization increases by a factor of 6-10, sales are still greatly depressed.

Further, I expect the trend toward *type* of vehicle to shift dramatically towards smaller cars. For example, I don’t think there’s a single mass-production model in the U.S. that has only one seat. But since most travel is currently by a single passenger (i.e., the driver), it would make sense to have a lot of single-seat, or at least only-two-seat cars. Those single-seat cars could also be exclusively focused on short trips at low speeds. The resulting car design might easily cost less than $10,000 new. It’s tough to make much profit on a sub-$10,000 car.

Reply to  John A Klug
November 10, 2019 2:51 pm

The average commuter will drive 15,000 miles a year here in CA. You had better like your car because it will last you 67 years.
Such high life use vehicles are surely relegated to TAAS or taxis.
What exactly will drive the need for 1,000,000 miles? Power train? Batteries? Physical vehicle structure? Suspension?
Composite frames are relatively impervious to water corrosion, but the resins are thermoset plastic with relatively low high temperature capabilities (best materials max operating temp 650 °F while most are near 300 °F)) and are not impervious to thermal degradation and radiation exposure. Just ask the Swedes about making ships which couldn’t sail into tropical waters. (they’ve learned their lesson)
How long do you expect to operate a TAAS?
I was the lead designer for a project back in 1985 called ATTB (Advanced Technology Transit Bus). All composite structure, weighed far less than a conventional metal frame, lasted for a very long time….but the interiors, glazing, flooring, etc. would NOT last all that long.
I suppose if you never want to change the style of the iconic London cabs…
Most materials will not last that long with continued exposure and use. Interior fabrics will not. Most plastic materials or synthetic rubber will not.

Reply to  Rocketscientist
November 10, 2019 3:41 pm


I am assuming these high mileage vehicles will be limited to TAAS. You are correct that the engineering standards for vehicles in high mileage services will not be anything like your personal car. I am assuming that TAAS fleet owners will drive vehicle mileage as high as possible as this makes economic sense; they will be willing to pay a premium for a more robustly engineered vehicle to manage fleet turnover. This assumption may prove to be totally wrong. Only time will tell, but it will be very interesting to see how this plays out over the next 20+ years. However for the purposes of this screening study it allowed me to discount the very real cost difference between ICE and electric vehicles. This actually tilts the playing field towards EV’s.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Rocketscientist
November 10, 2019 8:16 pm

Commercial aircraft interiors are usually upgraded/replaced several times during 20 year operational life of 757, 737, 767, A319/320, etc. Avionics usually are too the support new requirements like TCAS, etc.

These fleet vehicles could be the same, a niche entrepreneurial startup opportunity for vehicle upgraders contracting to TAAS providers to keep their cars looking nice and new on the inside, while everything else, like motor, chassis remains the same.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
November 10, 2019 10:07 pm

You make a good point, but airliners are flying a lot more than 20 years on average.

November 10, 2019 11:00 am

Until we find a like replacement for fossil fuels going all electric is a non starter. Range, charge time, charge point availability (especially remote locations), and applications (think construction,farm equipment, flight, ocean travel) going all electric could be catastrophic.

Reply to  markl
November 10, 2019 9:22 pm

The replacement of the infrastructure across the country will be enormous to replace all those gas stations
Where is that in the calculations?

Randy Wester
Reply to  Catcracking
November 19, 2019 8:15 am

EV ‘infrastructure’ is not that big a deal – nearly all charging is done slowly, anywhere there is enough electricity to run a clothes dryer and space to park a car.

Competition, leaks, fire regulations, actual fires, and changing streets & roads change old traffic patterns and create new markets that already lead to old gas stations being ripped out and new ones built all the time.

The economy is hardly at risk, EV’s still have tires, accessory batteries, and windshield wipers, and people still buy food.

Probably a tax on annual vehicle registration is needed, maybe based on GVW and odometer distance, and they could budget to tar the eleven-year-old cracks in Alberta’s secondary highways. But probably all the money has to be added to the stack going to Quebec.

November 10, 2019 11:02 am

Besides fuel costs, there are physical limitations to EVs. US drivers love their trucks and SUVs. It takes a lot of batteries to push an SUV which is heavy and not aerodynamic. Batteries just add to the weight making the vehicle less pleasing to drive.
Given your assumptions about the absence of government mandates, I do not foresee the public giving up their SUVs for electrics. The quest for electric commercial trucking is even more far-fetched.

Reply to  KvS
November 10, 2019 1:25 pm

The gross vehicle weight rating of the smallest Ford F150 is 6100 pounds. The largest Tesla weighs a little over 4600 pounds. You can supposedly go 370 miles on a single charge in that model Tesla. I have no idea how to calculate the miles you could drive if the vehicle’s weight is increased by a third, but you can easily drive more than 400 miles on a single tank of gas in the 150. If EVs can’t do what the smallest F150 can do, they aren’t going to make much of an impact on pickup and SUV sales.

Reply to  jtom
November 11, 2019 2:22 am

As I understood it a Tesla’s range was affected to a considerable degree by the conditions one is driving in.
How does a sunny day in California compare with a winter day in Northern states with lights on and the heater going full blast?
Another point as to consumables even on EVs. Tyres do not like being left out in the sun, so if you want a set of tyres to last, especially in warm sunny California, you will surely need to cover them each time you park up for any length of time?

November 10, 2019 11:08 am

Forget batteries. They are heavy, last 4 years, while fuel cells last 9, and they give a driving range of 250 -350 miles. They are sold today in California, and would catch on elsewhere with more fueling stations. The fuel up quickly (you don’t have to sit there for hours while your batteries charge). They are clean. They will eventually sell themselves without subsidies. We’ll run out of lithium long before we run out of hydrogen. To bad for the petroleum industry, ‘tho.

Loren Wilson
Reply to  pochas94
November 10, 2019 11:47 am

Fuel cells are very expensive. They are only used when other sources of energy are uneconomic, like on space craft. They are efficient. They also get around the other elephant in the room: vehicle range and refueling time.

Reply to  Loren Wilson
November 10, 2019 1:44 pm

You are right about initial cost, still high. But for comparison purposes with the data in the following URL, driving 15,000 miles in a gasoline fueled vehicle getting 15 miles to the gallon on fuel costing $3.60/gallon (Los Angeles prices) would cost $3600. Once FC cars are mass produced and refueling is available nationally, which will take time, fuel cell cars will be a very attractive option.

4 Eyes
Reply to  pochas94
November 10, 2019 12:15 pm

Pochas, perhaps you could repeat the economic feasibilty study for fuel cells

Reply to  pochas94
November 10, 2019 1:48 pm

What production method do you propose for supplying all the hydrogen that would be required? Not being sarcastic or disagreeable; I’ve just always understood that it was energy intensive. I suspect it would only make sense in a wide-scale deployment if nukes generated the power needed.

Personally, I would have a problem with its storage, and the permeability of the tank. I have a 2001 Honda S-2000 with less than 11,000 miled on it. If it used a fuel cell, I would suspect the tank would always be empty every time I tried to drive it.

Reply to  jtom
November 10, 2019 4:03 pm


There are two ways to make hydrogen: 1) steam reforming using fossil fuels (usually methane) or 2) dissociation of water using electricity. Assuming we go with option 2 and we use wind/solar to generate the electricity the cost at the wheel will likely be very close to the cost for EV’s using electricity sourced from wind/solar. We can drop the cost of batteries for storing electricity (the energy is stored in the hydrogen) but have to substitute the cost of generating hydrogen, including the ~30% energy loss in the conversion process.

Reply to  Detengineer
November 10, 2019 7:40 pm

I think you need to do a little calculation as to how much solar and wind power will be required. Hydrolysis is very energy intensive, and you will need to produce enormous amounts of hydrogen if you plan to use it to fuel millions of vehicles.

I would be stunned if it were even technologically feasible (i.e., more turbines and solar panels needed than possible to fabricate), much less the economically feasible..

I’ll take a pass.

Reply to  jtom
November 11, 2019 6:18 am

Electrolysis, not hydrolysis. Sigh.

November 10, 2019 11:20 am

Les… You need some Yogi Berra references…

The math of EV’s does get quite bizarre when you scale them up.

A 2017 UBS report forecast that 45.6 million EV’s would be sold from 2014-2025.  If UBS’s global EV production forecast is accurate, lithium and cobalt production will have to roughly double relative to 2014.  The cumulative consumption of lithium from 2014-2015 will be equivalent to 69% of 2015 proved reserves.  Cobalt consumption will be equivalent to 47% of proved reserves.  This sort of production is not impossible; but it will be highly disruptive, particularly since most cobalt production is a byproduct of copper and nickel mining.  According to the IEA…

“In order to limit temperature increases to below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, the number of electric cars will need to reach 600 million by 2040”.

600 million EV’s would consume 907% of the 2015 proved lithium reserves and 615% of the 2015 proved cobalt reserves.  That’s a lot.  That’s disruptive.

Historical Mineral Production + EV Consumption
Lithium Cobalt Rare Earths
2015-2025 Totals (metric tons)      9,643,510                3,266,267        1,672,179
2015 Proved Reserves (metric tons)    14,000,000                7,000,000    120,000,000
 % Consumed @ 45.6 million EV 69% 47% 1%
 % Consumed @ 90 million EV 136% 92% 3%
 % Consumed @160 million EV 242% 164% 5%
 % Consumed @ 600 million EV 907% 615% 18%
 % Consumed @ 1,000 million EV 1512% 1024% 31%

615% of 7,000,000 metric tons is over 43,000,000 metric tons.  This not only exceeds the 2015 proved reserves of cobalt, it exceeds the identified terrestrial resource potential…

Identified world terrestrial cobalt resources are about 25 million tons. The vast majority of these resources are in sediment-hosted stratiform copper deposits in Congo (Kinshasa) and Zambia; nickel-bearing laterite deposits in Australia and nearby island countries and Cuba; and magmatic nickel-copper sulfide deposits hosted in mafic and ultramafic rocks in Australia, Canada, Russia, and the United States. More than 120 million tons of cobalt resources have been identified in manganese nodules and crusts on the floor of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans.


EV fans must also be YUGE fans of mining.

Ron Long
Reply to  David Middleton
November 10, 2019 12:19 pm

Dangit, David, now I don’t know what to think. I am profoundly against Green Weenies and their EV’s, and Bird Choppers, and Bird Smokers, and… wait a minute, mining? I am personally strongly in favor of mining. Shortfalls of cobalt and lithium? No problem, I can find more. Consider me confused and conflicted in Argentina, where there is a lot of lithium and redbed copper-cobalt-vanadium deposits.

Reply to  Ron Long
November 10, 2019 1:20 pm

The point is to dispel the political myths, overcome the appeals to empathy, and restore an objective basis to judge the fitness of each option on its merits as it is suitable to purpose. From recovery to reclamation, every option, including the so-called “Green” solutions, have an impact on the environment, sustainability, and humanity, and some shared (e.g. raw resources).

Reply to  Ron Long
November 10, 2019 1:24 pm

I think the USGS might have already counted that as part of their resource estimate… But it is hilarious. The Green Weenies probably don’t have the slightest clue that their eco-friendly batteries come from mining operations… which I have no doubt, they hate mining as much as they hate fossil fuels.

Reply to  David Middleton
November 10, 2019 6:42 pm

Food comes from grocery stores and cars come from factories.
Obviously no mining involved. /sarc

Michael Jankowski
November 10, 2019 11:20 am

Over closer to 1M miles, I would expect maintenance costs to be a big difference and at few EV battery replacements along the way…big $$$, possibly as much as the cost of a comparable ICE each time. Replacing a hybrid battery back is bad enough…replacing the battery packs in an EV is immense.

1M miles at 30 mpg is $80k at $2.40/gal. Purchase price and maintenance/major replacement costs should be part of a life-cycle analysis.

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
November 10, 2019 6:13 pm

Tesla Model 3 replacement battery cost between $3K and $7K (depending on size or range) with a battery lifetime of 300K to 500K miles. A lot cheaper than a new engine every 250K miles. Much simpler (low labor cost) than an IC engine replacement.

Also, no transmission to maintain or replace.

Roger Knights
Reply to  Duane
November 11, 2019 4:11 am

Google says: “The Model 3’s battery pack, which has four battery modules, is guaranteed to keep the 70% of its capacity for 100,000 miles. The warranty for the long-range Model 3 battery is 120,000 miles.”
“Tesla Puts Price on Model 3 Battery Module Replacement Around $5000-$7000. Elon Musk suggests battery modules will cost between $5000-$7000.”

A quote from Cleantechnica gives much better numbers—but it isn’t backing them up with a warranty.

“A lot cheaper than a new engine every 250K miles.”

Reconditioned engines can be had for very reasonable prices.

Reply to  Roger Knights
November 11, 2019 5:59 am

Warranty is not projected lifetime.

Most cars today are warranted for only 36 months or 36k miles. The average car today lasts at least 300k miles and 15 years.

Roger Knights
Reply to  Michael Jankowski
November 11, 2019 4:16 am

“1M miles at 30 mpg is $80k at $2.40/gal.”

Toyota’s new Dynamic Force engine gets 40 MPG; Mazda’s new Skyactiv-X engine (in its 2020 Mazda 3) gets 45.

November 10, 2019 11:21 am

Now try factoring in the 60% tax on petrol and diesel, that we have in Europe. Apply that to electric cars, and see how the figures work out.


Rich Davis
Reply to  ralfellis
November 10, 2019 12:46 pm

Of course government interference in markets can drive irrational inefficient behavior, but it can only go so far. The article makes a strong case that no matter what penalties and incentives are applied, the task of replacing 85% of energy use is technically infeasible. So what you would get is a large part of the population denied access to transportation. (But with the complete shutdown of the economy, who needs transportation anyway?)

You can pass a law or issue a regulation that everyone must ride unicorns to work. That doesn’t mean that everyone will ride unicorns to work. It means that nobody gets to work.

You can say that you will eliminate fossil fuels by 2045 or 2030 or whatever. Why not tomorrow? Just cut all energy use by 85% and euthanize most of the population. Don’t even need to euthanize, they’ll die in the food riots or freeze to death when winter sets in.

Reply to  ralfellis
November 10, 2019 1:59 pm

No need. That tax will be paid on something if petrol and deisel go away. You don’t think government will take a pay cut, do you? Good chance it will be embedded in the price of EVs, more taxes on electricity, tolls, or a miles-driven tax. If they increase taxes on other things sufficiently to recover lost fuel taxes, then a great many people won’t be able to afford an EV.

Reply to  ralfellis
November 10, 2019 2:44 pm

Tax on road fuel in the UK is 200 %. Are you getting your % s mixed up?

John Endicott
Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
November 12, 2019 9:57 am

He did say *Europe* not *UK* only. The Uk is on the more expensive end for road fuel, other European countries not as much. so it should not be too surprising to find the average across Europe as a whole might just be lower than that of the UK alone.

November 10, 2019 11:46 am

Question regarding natural gas vs gasoline: If things started to move to EVs fuelled by CCGT, would it be feasible to have natural gas extraction at current or higher levels with falling oil production? Or must we extract oil to get at the natural gas?

Reply to  Observer
November 10, 2019 2:36 pm

I think expecting oil production to decline if deisel and gasoline were forbidden might be a bad assumption.

Most everything we have is dependent upon oil-derived products. This civilization could not continue without them. The only thing I see happening is massive inflation on the prices of everything to cover the cost of production if oil companies no longer get revenues from fuels.

One thing never mentioned is jet fuel. I remember a glut of gasoline many years ago, because the need for jet fuel required refining more oil than what we needed for gasoline.

Mr. Middleton, if you read this, do you have any idea how much oil production could be curtailed if gasoline and diesel were no longer used, yet still produce enough to meet our needs for plastics, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, jet fuel, etc.?

Reply to  Observer
November 10, 2019 2:45 pm


Gas is found alone in dry gas fields. Gas and LPG is found in wet gas fields. Gas is usually co-produced in oil fields. If the oil is heavy enough co-produced gas is very limited. So the relative production of oil and gas can be tailored to the relative demands.

Standup Philosopher
November 10, 2019 11:59 am

I would like to say that many well meaning enviromentalists severely underestimate what it takes to replace fossil fuels with “renewables”. But when you talk to them you find out that they have made no estimates at all and simply declare as an article of faith that “It can be done!” Then you have those that say since one household can easily transition to owning/operating an electric vehicle why there should be no problems doing this nationally!

We dont currently have any way of providing the power necessary for 50 to 80 million electric cars to hit the road on a daily basis. Not to generate it or to distribute it from the power station down to the individual level. There is no way electricity will stay in 10c to 15c per kwhr range with the mass adoption of electric vehicles. It doesnt matter the source.

Replacing current electricity with “renewables” is already challenging enough, adding electric cars to the mix only makes it that much harder.

On the outer Barcoo
Reply to  Standup Philosopher
November 10, 2019 1:29 pm

Given the amount of on-street (daily and overnight) parking in most inner-city dormitory districts, how will such vehicles be charged? The distribution and emplacement of wiring would represent a problem of epic proportions.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Standup Philosopher
November 10, 2019 9:15 pm

They also have no clue how our modern agriculture industry works, the massive input of oil and nat gas at so many steps along the way. Nor have they considered how all those wonderous lettuces, fruits and veggies make it to the Fresh Produce section of their local grocer.

Eric Harpham
November 10, 2019 12:01 pm

There has been a suggestion here in the UK that all EVs should have a green number plate which would identify them as being able to enter city centres without a congestion charge. One EV driver wrote to the Daily Telegraph supporting the idea so that when he was driving at 60 mph on the motorway other drivers would realise that he was doing that speed, instead of the legal 70 mph, because his battery ran flat at 70 whereas at 60 he could complete his journey successfully. Oh! The joys of EVs?????????

November 10, 2019 12:04 pm

In the UK government collects just under £30 billion annually in vehicle fuel duty. Currently that sum is gradually replaced by road tax, which means that people who don’t drive much (often less well to do and elderly) will be disproportionately hit harder, since the road tax is a flat charge depending on type and age of vehicle. I currently pay £265 in vehicle excise duty but drive only about 1000 miles annually.

Joel O'Bryan
November 10, 2019 12:04 pm

“Therefore the cost of gasoline is not likely to rise precipitously and drive the economics toward electric vehicles.”

The assumption that there will be no “Idiot Swans” flies in the face of probability, observation, and most importantly, history. I see this analysis by Detengineer as an example of historical uniformitarianism, linear out to decades. But history tells us that sudden, rapid changes are what drives deflections in history. It’s a non-linear bifurcation, completely unpredictable and in hindsight, hugely pivotal moments in history that define hostory.

There are true Black Swans, then there are also hints of “Black Sygnets” (baby swans).
“Black Sygnets” all around — waiting to blossom to full-fledged swans all around us, we just don’t know which one(s) will do anything or the timing and then how one affects the other. Or even a true Black Swan no one saw coming until its landed. If you’d made a prediction in 2007 that by 2019 the US would be undergoing an energy dominance revolution based on its domestic fossil fuel production, you’d have been laughed off the stage.

Just look at socialist Bernie or lying Pocahontas getting huge support within the ignorant masses of their political party running for President. Neither has much of a chance individually, but like some “quantum tunneling” effect, give them enough time and eventually one of these idiots gets elected, and then its lights-out as they screw the entire system with their politics of socilism.

Idiots in politics are everywhere, not just on the Left. Georgetown Texas has an idiot RINO Mayor. We see new idiots lining up on the Democrat’s side: Slimey Steyer, Nanny Bloomberg, maybe even Crooked Hilly, b/c the Left is so f-ed up even the Left sees it.

One look at California and its obvious the energy market there is set to crash the state’s economy in a sudden “sandpile” collapse, only the timing is unknown. What Cal Dems are doing to its energy market and electricity affordability is criminal and its ultimate effects are predictable, and yet they still keep digging that hole deeper with each passing week. In NY State, Retard Cuomo is demanding the gas company deliver non-existent nat gas to NYC customers, so that when a predictable week-long hard cold spell hits in mid-winter, his voters will freeze. Yet he’ll no doubt blame the gas company and probably get away with it because the reporters and editors in their media are too ignorant and politically-blinded to report at what is really happening.

Massachusetts, home to some of the best engineering and science universities in world, has two US Senators who are about as full retard on energy, engineering, and physics as one could get and still be able to form coherent sentences. Yet they keep re-electing them.

No, I find the assumption that there will be no Idiot Swans or Black swans coming at us dangerously naive.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
November 10, 2019 1:43 pm

I think the Cal Demos are more like ostriches, the mythical ones:

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
November 10, 2019 3:02 pm


You are absolutely right – the probability of an Idiot Swan event is way too high. (I had another name for “Idiot Swan” but figured the name wouldn’t pass the PC police. Use your imagination.) I’m seriously wondering what my exit strategy is going to be if the Dems wet dreams come true. My extremely liberal siblings tell me they don’t think the Dems will go Full Retard, but I’d rather not bank on them not jumping over the cliff given the opportunity. (I wish I had Dave M’s video skills – this calls for the Full Retard video now.)

The purpose behind assumptions is to lay out under what circumstances the analysis that follows might be true. Take them with as big or small a grain of salt you choose. The two things I can say with reasonable certainty is:
1. If the politicians don’t go Full Retard EV’s will not dominate the market anytime soon.
2. If the politicians do go Full Retard horses will dominate the much smaller market.

November 10, 2019 12:19 pm

one thing I see often in these comparisons is ICE efficiency, and its low while I think the low figure is somewhat misleading.
the figure is due to the heat/thermal properties yet the figures never account for the fact that the waste heat is used to make fuel mixtures (normal o2/gas/diesel as well as ethanol blends) in cars work (brings block to specific temps) as well as actually heat the car. up here in cold climates that is very critical.
honestly I wish more time had been spent in the past engineering a diesel electric hybrid (ICE driven generator powering traction motor(s) ) that scaled down to personal vehicle size (locomotive size just a touch too big LOL ) over battery/fuel cell systems.

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  dmacleo
November 10, 2019 2:07 pm

They exists today. Buy a hybrid and sell the batteries, except the start battery of cause.
However, the ICE-electric system is more expensive than mechanical drive. When you use it on locomotives, it is because you want an all-wheel drive, no clutch and RPM relative to the power needed.

Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
November 11, 2019 11:07 am

ever here of a-1-a axle?
unpowered axles in middle.
early GE U25 had a non-notched throttle also.

Reply to  dmacleo
November 10, 2019 2:39 pm

You make a good point about why a diesel electric hybrid was never developed. A super efficient micro diesel ICE that weighed a few hundred pounds, say maybe 15-20 Kw, would supply some onboard charging for range extension, as well as thermal heat to keep the batteries and cabin warm in winter. Then you could actually have a pick-up truck that would double as a huge battery/generator for off grid work or living. Could also probably reduce the battery weight a bit to make up for the additional weight of a micro diesel ICE. Then you have a half chance at being able to have a functional motor vehicle comparative to the the functionality of a traditional gas/diesel vehicle. When I can buy one of these, then I am all in.

Mike Swenson
Reply to  Earthling2
November 11, 2019 2:35 pm

My Chevy Volt is an ICE Generator (maybe 80kw) and Battery system, works great, expensive tech and GM killed it this year. I think Honda may have a similar system but I am unsure

Randy Wester
Reply to  Mike Swenson
November 12, 2019 2:35 pm

Mitsubishi has an Outlander PHEV, Toyota has the Prius Prime and soon the RAV, Honda has a plugin hybrid / EV, etc, etc.

But who cares that GM stopped making the Volt if you have one and it suits your needs? (and even GM has a few left)

J Mac
November 10, 2019 12:19 pm

An excellent and convincing analysis by Detengineer!
Thanks for reposting it here as a separate article, as I had not seen this previously. I’ll circulate this to other engineer family and friends, for value added discussions during deer hunting get-togethers and over coffee and pie at their Thanksgiving dinner tables!

November 10, 2019 12:23 pm

Hold on there a minute, you gloom and doomsayers!!! Sheesh! What planets are you living on, anyway? It’s like you’re ALL living in a cave, watching B&W TV shows or something.

If you did a little digging, you’d know that cities like Chicago have had electric systems in place since the 1893 World’s Fair. The 3rd rail system for the El has been a large part of that for decades, and gets regular updates. There are also the commuter train lines run by Metra that are NOT diesel, but powered by electricity from either the third rail system or an overhead network of power lines, like the South Shore line. That has also been going on since red beans and rice were invented, and there are other cities besides Chicago that use the same systems to run their public transportation. I took the Metra trains to and from the city every working day after I moved to the ‘burbs, and I took the buses to work instead of driving because parking in Chicago is highway robbery! Some CTA buses and the PACE buses in the suburbs run on compressed natural gas and have done so since 1915 because it’s cheaper than diesel.

I do’t know what planet you’re living on but you need to look around a little more. Try digging a little deeper next time. You’ll get some surprises.

Reply to  Sara
November 10, 2019 1:44 pm

GAAHHHH!! 1915 should be 1960s!!!! (Fumblefinger typing again.)

Rich Davis
Reply to  Sara
November 10, 2019 1:58 pm

But what does any of that have to do with the article Sara?

Reply to  Sara
November 10, 2019 7:52 pm

Oh, gee whiz, I thought it was clear: in public transportation, the use of electricity and natgas as a means of moving vehicles and people has been in use for decades.

There’s ZERO need to anything about it. This has been in place for years, in fact, for decades. No fanfare, no shouting and waving, no virtue signaling – none of that. And frankly, public transportation is a better way to move people around in cities than using individual POVs.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Sara
November 11, 2019 9:17 am

No, not clear. Not clear at all. The article is about how something that is technically feasible is practically impossible. And also about how something that looks to be cost-effective with current supply/demand will become non-competitive when you radically shift the supply and demand curves and try to do it in an impossibly short timeframe.

You can theoretically walk to the top of the Empire State building on the stairs. Can you or anyone do it in 30 seconds?

Nobody said that it is impossible to have SOME electric cars. Obviously we already have some, what about 1-2% of new cars, maybe 0.25% of the total fleet? The issue at hand is what it would take to support replacing ALL internal combustion engines with battery-powered motors and keep all those millions of vehicles charged on an infrastructure that currently can’t come close to supporting it.

How can you use mass transit for the significant % of the population that lives outside of cities? You can’t. The capital costs of putting mass transit where there isn’t a critical mass of population would be outrageous.

Reply to  Sara
November 11, 2019 9:17 am

Sara, I am going to assume ignorance, which is curable – rather than idiocy, which is not.

Do you live in a house? If so, go take a look at your breaker box. (If not, there are pictures aplenty of them online.) Notice that there are several differently sized breakers – usually 15A, 20A, 30A, and maybe one or two 50A or higher. Those are to power specific lines in the building, lines that can only carry that much power. This is why you cannot just move your laundry room (with the stuff that connects to that high amperage line) to another part of the house – at least not without paying for a very good Christmas indeed for your electrician.

The same thing applies to city electric grids. A major part of the expense in installing an electric transportation systems (such as light rail) is laying in the lines to power the things. (Plus the maintenance – high voltage / amperage lines are far more expensive to keep up.) The ones that are already laid down in the cities are capable of powering those systems – but not anything else. You have to lay down new lines if you want to supply the power demands of many thousands of electric vehicles – or to supply the even larger electrical demands if everyone moves to all-electric domiciles, for that matter.

As to “better way to move people around in cities” – in some cities, in some circumstances, for some people. Dense-pack cities? Yes. Work schedules that are predictable and fall within the “rush hour” range? Yes. Able to access the required pick-up and drop-off points? Yes. However, those do not apply to an extremely large slice of the population – and never will.

Reply to  Sara
November 10, 2019 9:32 pm

The all electric Pennsylvania RR was converted to diesel electric

Reply to  Catcracking
November 10, 2019 10:25 pm

No. The electric portion of the PRR ran from NYC to Washington, DC, and from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, with a few secondary routes in the same area. Most, if not all, of that electric railway is still in place. It’s called AMTRAK from NYC to DC, and, I believe, SEPTA runs the section between Philly and HBG. And diesel-powered trains run on those tracks, as well.

Reply to  Catcracking
November 11, 2019 8:51 am

Catcracking, same w/the old Virginian RR in southwest VA — their electrified portion went out of business competing w/the adjacent steam then diesel-electric Norfolk & Western line in the mid-1950s.

Reply to  Sara
November 11, 2019 1:09 am

The London Underground railway system has run on electricity for years, and is the main way many Average JoesJoesses get to work.
The Extinction Rebellion mob had the bright idea the other day to glue themselves to the roof of a train and this upset the commuters waiting for the train who pulled the activists off the roof and allegedly gave them a good slapping.
Yet this is one of the means of transport ER are proposing we will all have to use, or else walk and cycle to work.

November 10, 2019 12:24 pm

It’s amazing watching everything be made unnecessarily complex and expensive because of a non-problem that none of you would even be alive to see anyway if it did happen, but it won’t. Blind faith.

Joel O'Bryan
November 10, 2019 12:26 pm

Every innovation and scientific upheaval in history has challenged underlying assumptions that were being taken for granted. It is unchallenged assumptions that blinds scientists to progress even when they are trying be faithful to the scientific method. We have to challenge assumptions. Scientists and enginees not challenging assumptions of “climate science” from the climate charlatans and carnival barkers is what has brought this entire heaping mountain of Climate Change feces into creation.

Every bit of the Green Tech schist the Left is promoting depends on massively increasing the mined mineral resources. Copper, cobalt, lithium, rare earths. None of that can be done without fossil fuels at every step of extraction to refinement. The Greens make hugely ignorant, hidden assumptions about those metals and minerals future availability to support their claims of 50% (or 100%) renewable by some arbitrary, politically chosen date to achieve another politically chosen arbitrary global temperature rise. The temp rise itself based on hand-tuned Cargo Cult junk climate models full of their own unjustified/unvalidated assumptions.

Every physicist before Einstein thought time was constant no matter the reference frame. That mass was constant regardless of how fast it moved. That bacteria couldn’t thrive and grow in the low-pH acidity of the stomach. That having CO2 near biological starvation was good for the climate of the planet. So many bad, false assumptions.

November 10, 2019 12:29 pm

“To eliminate fossil fuels in transportation and electrical power generation by 2050 we need to invest $1 – 1.5 trillion every year,”

The colossal blunder in logic is threefold : 1) that automakes wil continue to build gas powerd vehciles beyond 2024 in any significant numbers. 2) that the increased need for non-fossil fueled generated electricity will result in higher electric prices – that depends upon a renewable generation future ( i believe the development of gen 4 nuclear SMR reactors will prevail – it should be noted that adoption of no carbon generation, resulting from the current light water nuclear and hydro of 30%, augmented by 70% Gen 4 nuclear would cost LESS than one trillion and will produce electrc prices cheaper than current prices )
3) that electric vehicles have advantages over gas powered cars in terms of maintenance costs and drivetrain
longetivity, which is far greater that gas powered cars

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  ColMosby
November 10, 2019 1:04 pm

You’re funny ColMosby.

Your #1 has zero probability. Just saying such nonsense doesn’t make it true. It is so ignorantly wrong, it’s not even worth a detailed rebuttal.
Your #2) Gen4 at commercial scale is only a concept on paper, and commercial-scale nuclear plants take 15-20 years of planning, permitting and construction even when the design is known. So just because you “believe” something doesn’t make it reality.
Your #3) ignores the EV’s achilles heel. The battery and its lifespan, disposal, and cost of replacement.
And all those NorCal EV owners found out how quickly relying on grid power (regardless of generation source) to charge their cars can turn into a colossal mistake. Another problem with EVs is the batteries are really bad at delivering current in cold climates, again limiting adoption.

The future likely won’t play out like Detengineer describes above, but it has a far better likelihood than any of your 3 listed.
The blunder in reality is yours Col.

Matthew Bergin
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
November 10, 2019 2:16 pm

I will second that Joel. If electrical and electronic drive systems were anywhere near that reliable I would not have had a job for the last 35 years.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
November 10, 2019 3:59 pm

CM thinks because some car companies have said that they will electrify their entire fleets by 2024, that means all will be EVs. It doesn’t. Most will be hybrids.

Jim M
Reply to  icisil
November 10, 2019 8:12 pm

The auto manufacturers are free to say whatever they want, ultimately it will be the consumers that decide and so far EV’s have gotten a lukewarm welcome at best. It wasn’t too long ago that the manufacturers and government (US) said no more SUV’s and we all know how well that went over.

John Hardy
Reply to  Jim M
November 12, 2019 1:40 pm

Jim M – you might like to look up the sales numbers of the Tesla model 3 versus the Mustang and the BMW 3 series. The Tesla has wiped the floor with the other two this year

Reply to  ColMosby
November 10, 2019 8:52 pm

Above all, let’s not let the government force it. Let the people say what they want and can afford and let industry provide.

November 10, 2019 12:29 pm

“To eliminate fossil fuels in transportation and electrical power generation by 2050 we need to invest $1 – 1.5 trillion every year,”

The colossal blunder in logic is threefold : 1) that automakes wil continue to build gas powerd vehciles beyond 2024 in any significant numbers. 2) that the increased need for non-fossil fueled generated electricity will result in higher electric prices – that depends upon a renewable generation future ( i believe the development of gen 4 nuclear SMR reactors will prevail – it should be noted that adoption of no carbon generation, resulting from the current light water nuclear and hydro of 30%, augmented by 70% Gen 4 nuclear would cost LESS than one trillion and will produce electrc prices cheaper than current prices )
3) that electric vehicles have advantages over gas powered cars in terms of maintenance costs and drivetrain
longetivity, which is far greater that gas powered cars

Reply to  ColMosby
November 10, 2019 3:18 pm


1. You are putting the cart in front of the horse here. If electricity is not available no one is going to buy an EV at any price. Car manufacturers will respond to the market – eventually. But you bring up an interesting point – I wonder if the car companies are talking to the power companies? GM announced as part of the contract settlement with the UAW that they will convert an assembly plant to electric pickup truck production. Has anyone thought through where the electricity is coming from?

2. To be cost competitive with fossil fuels electricity costs have to come in about 4/5 times less than wind; call if $250 billion every year through 2050 to replace fossil fuels. This works out to running 2,500 separate billion dollar projects every year. My experience remains; the management, technical, and skilled trades staffing just doesn’t exist to support this level of work.

3. This is open to discussion.

Reply to  ColMosby
November 10, 2019 4:32 pm

If I live till 2024, I will still be driving my 1995 F150!

Roger Knights
Reply to  ColMosby
November 11, 2019 4:35 am

Half the population in the U.S. and 3/4 elsewhere doesn’t have a way to charge their cars at home. Providing charging spots at work would be very expensive and inelegant/awkward

Carl Friis-Hansen
November 10, 2019 12:45 pm

Apart from what David Middleton pointed out, that we do not have adequate resources for the current battery type, the battery car may not be so bad for some purposes.

If we along the way transform the electricity production from fossil/nuclear/hydro to mainly nuclear generation IV and hydro where feasible, thereby avoiding greening the Earth too much with CO₂, the cheaper electricity improves the profitable productivity for both the developed and the developing world, and make it more tempting to run battery cars where practical.

It should be clear, even for an XR zombie, that the low energy density for batteries makes battery cars unpractical towards unusable in cold environments, long-haul, sparsely populated areas and high consumption vehicles (military 65ton tank, bulldozer, etc.).
My guess is, whether or not we felled all the Green’s windmill-trees and went for improving the traditional power generation, we may see a lot of city folks going for the battery car as a first or second car. But let is be a natural development, please.
Take for example forklifts. The larger outdoor ones are mostly still diesel, but virtually all indoor forklifts are today battery driven. Earlier the indoor lifts were often LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) driven, which was probably cheaper to run, but not very nice indoors. That development came all by itself, no subsidies, no decree from authorities and no political pressure. – Why the h..l can’t it be the same way with ICE vs EV?

Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
November 10, 2019 1:33 pm

actually in many cases the cng/lpg lifts went towards batteries for internal warehouse usage due to insurance costs (property and workers comp) as well as osha rules.
I’ve spent lot of time at a few workplaces working out the details on these.
so you’re no decree from authorities statement isn’t right.
course the charging stations themselves had a whole other set of rules/regs that (in paper form) outweighed the cng/lpg lift rules.
you’ve not lived until a toyota battery lift has battery go from 30% to 0 and die with 3800lbs up 20+ feet in the air…….
rope off the area run a portable charger down wait an hour hope the 10k$ load of ball joints doesn’t hit the floor

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  dmacleo
November 10, 2019 2:43 pm

“… hope the 10k$ load of ball joints doesn’t hit the floor” – LOL, you are right, and I did see similar situation twice in the past.
I worked for a short while for a company making big trucks for lifting containers. These trucks had manual release valves for the same reason you described above, just in this case it may be engine failure instead of battery death.

Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
November 10, 2019 4:13 pm

iirc the toyota did have release however the load was just starting to cross over shelving so…..releasing would have dropped it AND broke shelf LOL
yeah a pain in butt.
fwiw I was trained to train others (certify them) for toyota, clark, mitsubishi,hyster forklifts.
majority of my training was clark (my most used training) and toyota lpg and electric.
really the clark courses were the best because, unlike others, while they did brand specific stuff (controls, daily checks, etc) they went above and beyond with generic lift safety stuff, positioning stuff, etc.

November 10, 2019 12:59 pm

Looking at the map of solar potential on this page makes me feel that Solar is a pure myth.

Other than the Southwest US the majority of the population centers of the US are in areas that receive only 70 percent of the theoretical solar potential. Then there is the fact that the North West and Central Midwest, Chicago to eastern PA, have less than 100 cloudless days. That means more batteries and 1,000 mile plus electrical transmission transportation.

Reply to  Usurbrain
November 10, 2019 2:54 pm

After a burst in 2016, new solar installation in GA has fallen dramatically, and tickles the zero level, today.

The environmental impact is seldom addressed for areas like here. The vast number of installations have been centered around Atlanta in North GA. Atlanta is built in a (pine) forest. There are trees. Lots of trees. Enormous numbers of trees. Clearing the land for solar panels is bad enough, environmentally, but it is insufficent. You must also clear the trees for some distance around the panels so they don’t block the sunlight falling on the panels. You might have less NIMBY (not in my back yard) protests in this area, but you will get a strong NITWIHI (not in the woods I hunt in) pushback.

Kevin Whalen
Reply to  jtom
November 10, 2019 10:10 pm

The guys in the woods are also more likely to have guns and annoying solar panels make great long distance targets

John F. Hultquist
November 10, 2019 1:22 pm

no more than 1 day without wind,
for wind I assumed nearly continuous wind as one would expect in the mountain west.

If you check here:

… you can see the wind (and other sources) being balanced by the Bonneville Power Authority.
This is for a week, and updates every 5 minutes.
Last year (Nov. 25th) I posted on the topic “When the Wind Doesn’t Blow.”
[There was a minor glitch in one of the charts.]
I just checked now (11/10/2019 @ 1:10 pm). This week has been a bust.

J Mac
November 10, 2019 2:05 pm

Re: “Idiot Swan Event”
Letting fascist socialists take control of your country seems to qualify. Water and electricity are intermittent and unreliable for the average Venezuelan, after 20 years of the Bolivarian Revolution and socialist ideals! The Chavez Venezuelan motto: “Motherland and Socialism”. It was changed from “Motherland, Socialism, or Death”, presumably because that was too prophetic! What follows is one citizens tale….
My Socialist Hell: Living in Post-Electricity Venezuela

Dr Deanster
November 10, 2019 2:06 pm

The problem with EVs is the practical use. This is why the left is in love with them, because switching to EVs requires an elimination of a lot of activity they disagree with, …. like pulling a boat, pulling a trailer with an ATV for hunting, large RVs traveling around the country. And this doesn’t even touch work applications, like the trucks used in plumbing, electricity, building, etc ….

All EVs are good for is toodle-ing around town, going to the opera, or some other urban pursuit. I know where I live, an EV is practically useless. Just about every house has an F150 or Silverado in the driveway.

Reply to  Dr Deanster
November 10, 2019 4:21 pm

The extremist element hates country folk.

I unironically embrace the bashing of rural Americans. they, as a group, are bad people who have made bad life decisions… this nostalgia for some imagined pastoral way of life is stupid and we should shame people who aren’t pro-city… It should be uncomfortable to live in rural America. It should be uncomfortable to not move.

November 10, 2019 2:21 pm

Comparing electrical and gasoline cars is difficult even if they were the similar in engineering sense and driven in a similar duty. An attempt for that comparison was written a few years ago and is available to read at:
or from this author.

November 10, 2019 2:28 pm

Wow. I thought this one had gone into Word Press Purgatory. I posted this Friday night US Eastern Standard Time and didn’t see it on Saturday so assumed it was gone. If I’d thought it might get elevated I would have done a better job on the formatting. Thanks Mods.

Luis Destro
November 10, 2019 2:48 pm

What was not included in electricity costing was nuclear, which is the cheapest here in Ontario, Canada. Followed by hydo then natural gas, the renewables, wind, solar and biomass must be subsidized which are the only way they would exist here. They got rid of coal.
Diesel and gas are heavily taxed and electricity is quite cheap with much less tax. Therefore, EVs could be very economical. If they were to tax the electricity at the same rate as the fossil fuels it would be a different story.

November 10, 2019 2:56 pm

The one thing we can say with reasonable certainty is that the supply of oil will be adequate for the next several decades.

Hmm no. We can’t say that with reasonable certainty. We have little idea of how oil price, demand, and supply are going to evolve.

November 10, 2019 4:23 pm

The author suggests “ autonomous vehicle can be powered by anything; batteries, an internal combustion engine, fuel cell, or even compressed air.” Compressed air is about the most inefficient means of energy storage imaginable. Great amounts of heat are generated and lost in the compression of air, representing lost energy, so compressed air is normally limited to uses where hydraulic fluids are undesiarable, or for powering tools and machines used in hazardous environments where sparks might ignite flammable vapors, or for inflating tires and so on.

November 10, 2019 5:52 pm

In the long haul, all these gorgeous calculations and comparisons become mute when the user does NOT have a choice in deciding how to use their “personal’ vehicle.
It is becoming increasingly clear that current and future generations are being groomed to accept bureaucratic rules on how they own/use personal transport, because Climate Change.

The current poorly envisioned transition from fossil to green energy is going to be extremely painful, even if only partly implemented. And some of it will get done, if only for political reasons.
It stinks of socialism and can never work as advertised.
You do want to be re-elected, don’t you?

J Mac
Reply to  yirgach
November 10, 2019 10:26 pm

….become moot….

November 10, 2019 6:34 pm

Amazing nonsense.

It’s like reading Popular Science again back in the early 1960s.
No more value or practicality now than then.

“Oil will remain the primary transportation fuel for the next several decades. While a superficial look at today’s prices for electricity and gasoline seem to indicate a strong economic driver for converting automobiles from internal combustion to electric”

I get the impressions that most of these kinds of comments are from urbanites who already have dependable, if inconvenient mass transportation.
Only, most of America does not have major avenues with charge stations.
‘ell! There are many places in American that cars/trucks have trouble reaching and returning on a full tank of gas.
People on the coasts get sloppy when they think everyone can just run down to the local gas station.

“Based on today’s cost of gasoline and electricity (my latest bill) the cost of each at the wheel is:
• Gasoline: $0.3415/kWh ($2.50/gallon, 20% efficiency)
• Electricity: $0.2667/kWh ($0.16/kWh, 60% efficiency)”

Which, I assume is a subsidised price if any renewable electricity is involved.
Otherwise, that electricity price is based upon industrially maintained LPG, Coal, Nuclear or Hydro generated power.

Meanwhile the gasoline price is heavily taxed:
A) to support EV subsidies
B) to maintain and build roadways
C) A government cut.

Then there is the claims:
” • Gasoline: $0.3415/kWh ($2.50/gallon, 20% efficiency)
• Electricity: $0.2667/kWh ($0.16/kWh, 60% efficiency)”

20% efficiency? Blatant minimization or reality.
Ignoring that internal combustion engines run at at higher than 25% thermal efficiency, engines undergoing testing in vehicles right now are approaching 45% thermal efficiency.

When the twin-charged, two-stroke opposed-piston engine of Achates Power and Aramco Services tests in the Ford F-150 later this year, the companies are hoping to see around 33 mpg – or about 37 mpg by CAFE standards. That’s because, where the typical modern internal-combustion engine can achieve somewhere around 25% thermal efficiency, Achates/Aramco say that their design can achieve about 45%”

Suddenly the predicted motor efficiencies of electric vehicles is not so impressive.
Especially since internal combustion engine are easy to scale up for heavy duty pickup trucks; while similarly advanced diesel engines serve heavy transport vehicles.

Then there are all the vehicles used where EVs are not even in dreamland; e.g. heavy toonage haulers used in mining, roadwork, tugboats, work boats, etc. etc. etc.

EVs at 60% thermal efficiency are tiny little critters that are capable of short hops in urban areas. When cold weather comes, they struggle to achieve any distances if the passengers want to be warm or kept cool in hot weather.

Unstated are the significant losses of energy when electricity is converted from AC to DC for charging the battery.
If renewables are in the picture, there is a significant loss of energy when the local DC current is converted to AC to be compatible with the grid.

Nor is there any solution in sight for fixing renewable energy’s unreliable inconsistent quality electricity.

But, their owners take great pride as the putt down the road by repeating to themselves, 60%. 60%. 60%.

What isn’t mentioned is that EVs motors are dependent upon circuit boards.
Circuit boards are plastic assemblies of hundreds to thousands of electronic components. One or two fail, and something major in the EV doesn’t work.
How? Solder joints and connections are very susceptible to cracking. Nor does solder age well.

It’s much too hard to find the misbehaving electronic component, so the entire circuit board must be replaced for significant sums.

That 1,000,000 mile vehicle mileage for EVs is impossible.
Internal Combustion machines nowadays easily reach 250,000 to 400,000 miles Rebuild the engine and they can go as far again. For a very significant discount price over the actual costs of EVs.

Right now, an extremely popular method of vehicle ownership is called leasing. Owners love leasing, usually because they can turn in their old leased vehicles and drive a new leased vehicle out the door.

Then there is the rest of the car exceptingthe engine.
Joints, suspension, bearings, even the wiring quickly show it’s age as the years pass by. The seat fabrics show wear, dry out and crack, the internal foams and springs break down; even the rails the seat moves on rust and stick. The switches and controls crack, break or just plain fail.

etc. etc.

Right now, I can load up my truck with camping gear and go camping, fishing, off roading, rock hunting, etc. I’ve crossed the country both ways twice camping and enjoying the outdoors.
I highly recommend the Pony Express Across Utah into Nevada. Denio and Virgin Valley in Northern Nevada are terrific places to visit. Those folks with small gas tanks might be lucky to find the Denio gas station open and with gasoline; otherwise it is wise to carry an emergency five or ten gallons.

My wife can fill the truck with her show gear and set up for any fiber festival she desires.

EVs that can replace these vehicles? Not on any practical time line during my life. That should reach at least 2030.

Reply to  ATheoK
November 11, 2019 6:31 am


Slow down one minute here. The point of my comment is that I agree with you 100%. You, like a great many commenters and posters have discussed at length all of the practical problems with EV’s, including range concerns. (I too have lived in the far west and am intimately familiar with range concerns.) The practical problems with EV’s were beyond the scope of this comment.

The point behind this comment was to do a dive into the economics and also to explore what it would take to convert the transportation sector to 100% renewables. To my knowledge no one has done this. This was done specifically to rebut claims that ‘fuel cost for EV’s is lower than ICE vehicles’ and that ‘EV’s will dominate sales in 10 years’.

At today’s prices it is objectively true that the fuel cost for an EV is lower than an ICE vehicle. The calculation is very simple. But it is not today’s prices that will drive the economics. Commenters in the popular press are blind to the fact that changing the source of electricity from fossil fuels and nuclear power to renewables will greatly increase the cost of electricity. This must be factored into the calculations, which are detailed lower in the comment. (BTW I also disagree with the efficiency numbers for ICE vehicles but used values from a link Mark Bahner supplied just to forestall any arguments on that point.)

One of the interesting things that came out of the calculations is that on a *nameplate* basis renewables are objectively cheaper than fossil fuels. So when Griff, et. al., bring this up they are not ‘wrong’. However 99+% of posters on WUWT understand there is a penalty for unreliability, but again I’ve never seen anyone attempt to calculate what the economic penalty for unreliability is (if someone out there has please accept my apologies). So I put together a calculation for what it would cost to supply reliable power (24/7/365) using published installed cost data for solar, wind, batteries, and inverters using assumptions that are very optimistic for renewables and what do you know, generating reliable power from renewables is damned expensive. We all already knew this based on what has happened to electricity costs in those places that have attempted to convert a large percentage of power generation to renewables; now we can at least put some fairly objective numbers out there.

The second part of the comment is an attempt to put some sort of timeline on how fast a conversion could occur if, by some miracle, the economics were to swing toward EV’s – or we were pushed that way by government fiat. I have nearly 20 years of large capital project experience working as an automation lead engineer. I am very familiar with the depth of the pool of available talent to execute these projects – it isn’t very deep (and I’ve retired myself out of that pool). So when we look at the size of the investment to meet an arbitrary 2050 deadline my gut feel says it just doesn’t add up. Politicians can ‘want to’ all they want, it ain’t gonna’ happen if the skilled people aren’t out there.

Dennis G Sandberg
November 10, 2019 6:57 pm

At a natural gas wellhead price of $4.00 per Mcf, a CNG station owner could buy natural gas on the market for approximately $0.94 per GGE. Add a $1.00 for the service, and at $1.94 compressed natural gas is cheaper than gasoline.

Why spend $millions for combined cycle gas plants to convert natural gas to electricity to squeeze into a series of conductors and transformers (that will cost additional $millions) to charge a battery (that won’t last the life of a vehicle) Just burn the NG in the vehicle. The vehicle is only 1/3 as efficient as the CCGT but the $trillions in avoided capital costs should make it a good deal.

Roger Knights
Reply to  Dennis G Sandberg
November 11, 2019 4:54 am

“Just burn the NG in the vehicle. The vehicle is only 1/3 as efficient as the CCGT but the $trillions in avoided capital costs should make it a good deal.”

But the extra space required for a tank to hold compressed natural gas, and its extra cost, has to be factored in too.

Matthew R Marler
November 10, 2019 7:41 pm

So if fuel cost for an electric vehicle is lower and the initial purchase price differential is assumed to not be a factor and TAAS effectively eliminates the charging management and range issues that affect EV acceptance, then why do I believe the EV’s will not take over the world anytime soon?

Simple. I have reason to believe that the cost of electricity will rise both because of rising demand and the move to renewable power generation. I also have reason to believe that the availability of electricity will be a constraining factor; we just can’t build it fast enough.

How soon is “not … anytime soon”?

How fast is fast enough?

I definitely agree that a sufficiently strong push toward total solar- and wind- generated electricity will curb the growth of the EV share of the vehicle market. But right now the US has a lot of unused night-time capacity.

Iain Reid
Reply to  Matthew R Marler
November 11, 2019 12:30 am


spare night time capacity is normal for a functioning grid. All that happens is the fuel load is reduced. It is not possible or desirable to run our grids without spare capacity.
Peaks and troughs in demand can be smoothed by pricing but it really is of no significance. Charging EVs at night will take up some of that demand but as I pointed out in another post, fossil fuel plants will increase output to meet that demand.

Matthew R Marler
Reply to  Iain Reid
November 11, 2019 9:05 am

Iain Reid : Charging EVs at night will take up some of that demand but as I pointed out in another post, fossil fuel plants will increase output to meet that demand.

I agree with what you wrote. I am not much of a fan of solar farms and wind farms, and at today’s prices and technologies I prefer ICE vehicles (I own two recent VW Jettas, but I know people who own Teslas and I like them also, but not at today’s prices.) I anticipate that for a long time the demand for electricity for EVs will be met by increased consumption of fossil fuels.

But I also think that the market for EVs will grow as lifetime costs of EVs are reduced and well documented, starting especially with fleets of vehicles that have consistent routes, such as letter carriers and delivery vans. So my questions were about rates: How “soon” will EVs constitute 10% of the cars on the road? 20% ? Does it matter if it takes twice (or 4 times) as long as my Tesla-owning EV boosters predict?

I drive from San Diego to Denver a few times per year. It’s 17 hours of driving, plus an overnight at someplace like St George UT. With charging stations now I place I estimate that the drive in a Tesla would be 1 hour longer. That’s not much of an extra cost if the lifetime costs of the Tesla are driven down low enough. So I think that the rate of adoption of EVs will be determined primarily by the rate at which the manufacturing costs can be reduced, as subsidies are reduced and taxes are adjusted (so EVs share the costs of maintaining the roads). I am not predicting these rates, but watching them evolve.

Reply to  Matthew R Marler
November 12, 2019 7:24 pm

I definitely agree that a sufficiently strong push toward total solar- and wind- generated electricity will curb the growth of the EV share of the vehicle market.

A sufficiently strong push towards more solar- and wind-generated electricity will encourage the growth of the EV share of the vehicle market. (The U.S. grid is not going to be anywhere near “total” solar- and wind-generated electricity for 30+ years, so it’s silly to even speculate on “total” solar- and wind-generated electricity.)

EV batteries can instantaneously put electricity into the grid or take it from the grid. This allows massive oversupply to be absorbed and massive undersupply to be avoided. Further, EVs are already providing another service, so the capital cost of their batteries is already being partially covered by another function.

For example, take a Telsa battery pack…say it lasts 160,000 miles to get down to 80% of original capacity. The owner replaces it.*** That battery pack can then be combined with thousands or even millions of other used battery packs to provide grid storage.

***If the owner is a fleet owner, which will likely be the case with autonomous vehicles, it may very well make sense to run down much further than 80% of capacity. Still, eventually it will probably make sense to remove the battery pack from the car, and it still might make sense to combine it with other used battery packs to draw electricity from the grid in surplus periods, and discharge to the grid when electricity is needed. (The decision will be based in part on the economics of recycling the batteries.)

Reply to  Mark Bahner
November 16, 2019 2:54 pm


EV batteries can instantaneously put electricity into the grid or take it from the grid.

Not today.

The article does mention that it could be done. It does not mention the changes that would have to be made to a vehicle to make this possible. This would include a link from the inverter that drives the car’s motor (bypassing the rectifier that charges the batteries) and some software changes to produce a single phase pure sinewave and match it to the detected sinewave of the power source. There would have to be software to decide when to charge the car and when to sell electricity to the utility. The software would require a link to the utility to communicate electricity prices in real time. There would be some set up required by the owner. None of this is technically infeasible but obviously this would add to the cost of the car.

Private owners may be very interested in powering their home from their car in the event of a power outage (I would), but I’m not sure they would be interested in selling power back to the utility. All it would take for me to kill this feature is discovering one morning that my batteries had 25% power and I was planning to take a long trip. I would turn this *feature* off immediately. Private owners may also not be thrilled by shortened battery life caused by more frequent discharge/recharge cycles. They may actually be able to make money on this, but the few dollars per monthly bill will be forgotten when the big bill to replace the battery comes around.

Fleet owners are a different story, and since we both think future car fleets will be large this requires deeper thought. Fleet owners will do anything to make money as long as it doesn’t compromise their primary mission, so can we make the economics and logistics work?

First up, fleet owners will likely have centralized charging stations. The rectifier to charge the car’s batteries will be built into the charging station, not the car, because it doesn’t make economic sense to put a rectifier in every car. Adding an inverter and controls to export power would not add much cost to the charging station. With this the fleet owner is set up to run a side hustle time shifting power from low cost periods to high cost periods.

The question is does time shifting work for a TAAS fleet owner? For solar power probably not; the fleet will presumably be busy during the day into the early evening when solar is available and need to be charged at night when solar isn’t available. (There is a huge assumption here that travel patterns do not change. I think they will change but how cannot be foreseen.) Wind power on the other hand is highly episodic but somewhat predictable; I would think there would be some opportunity here. Whether it’s big enough to justify the capital cost and fleet charging management efforts to capture it is unknown.

This allows massive oversupply to be absorbed and massive undersupply to be avoided. Further, EVs are already providing another service, so the capital cost of their batteries is already being partially covered by another function.

This contains two statements that must be checked:

1.) The automotive fleet can provide short term relief for utility mismatch.
2.) The automotive fleet can cover periods when renewables aren’t available.

Before we can answer either question we need to know the size of the available fleet in (for argument’s sake) 2050. In 2017 there were 234 million registered light vehicles in the US ( ). Assuming Transportation as a Service (TAAS) will achieve at least a 5:1 utilization increase the fleet size should decrease to 47 million vehicles. (We both agree that TAAS will reduce fleet size but you did not provide any numbers in your link. I believe a 90% reduction is achievable but chose 80% as a conservative number.)

Can the automotive fleet provide short term relief for utility mismatch?

Obviously not all the cars can be plugged in at one time, and only cars that are plugged in can provide instantaneous relief for utility mismatch. Assuming 10% of the cars are plugged in and that each car can charge/discharge at 50kW we have:

– 4.7 million cars
– 234 GW (million kW) charge/discharge rate

Working with your 2050 renewables projection of 42 Quads/Year, which yields an average power rate of 1,404 GW, the automotive fleet could handle an imbalance of about 17%.

So yes, the automotive fleet could provide short term relief for a fairly severe power imbalance.

Can the automotive fleet cover periods when renewables aren’t available?

I’ve been using 40 hours as the standard power outage period for solar and wind (2 nights and one day) in all of my calculations and will continue that here. At an average rate of 1,404 GW a 40 hour outage will require 56,167 GWh to cover it. Assuming each car can supply 50 kWh (50% discharge of a 100 kWh battery – slightly larger than a Tesla 3) the entire fleet can provide 2,338 GWh of power, or only 4%. (I would expect people to continue to need transportation during the outage, therefore the available power would likely be much less. This also assumes that the fleet is well charged – at least 75% – at the start of the outage. Depending on the start of the outage this could be much less. One should consider 4% to be a best case scenario and it should not be used for planning.)

So no, the automotive fleet cannot cover periods when renewables are not available.

Wrapping Up

This statement flagged this comment for further review for me.

A sufficiently strong push towards more solar- and wind-generated electricity will encourage the growth of the EV share of the vehicle market.

My first thought was probably not, but having thought through this I think you are correct. We know that the unreliable nature of renewables significantly distort pricing and therefore should renewables become a significant share of the power generation market there will be a large secondary market for time shifting power. It looks like fleet owners will have the ability to enter this market at a fairly low capital cost. If they can fit this in with their other fleet management needs it could be a nice opportunistic side hustle (and if there is money to be made you can bet they will figure out the how).

However the vehicle fleet does not look like it can be tapped to back up renewables for extended weather related outages; it is not (contrary to much written opinion) adequate to solve what is a very big problem. (I needed the answer to this question before I complete the other economic analysis I promised you.)

Randy Wester
Reply to  Detengineer
November 17, 2019 7:39 am

Some EVs have both AC and DC plugs, and some DC connectors have two-way power transfer as part of the standard. Plugin hybrids’ generators could additionally power any household (or maybe a half dozen households) for as long as the gasoline lasts.

But usually it’s far cheaper to have a dedicated backup generator for emergencies with a standard transfer switch, and to have all the equipment above the high water / maximum tsunami level.

And for all the other stuff you mentioned, someone has already thought of it and worked it out, because stupidity is not as common a trait among engineers as mechanics believe.

Reply to  Detengineer
November 18, 2019 7:09 pm

Not today.

Yes, my comment that “EV batteries can instantaneously put electricity into the grid or take it from the grid” was referring to when EVs will be owned by fleet owners providing transportation-as-a-service. It’s only when thousands or even millions of cars can be coordinated that it will make sense to carefully time removals of electricity from the grid and deliveries to the grid. No electric utility is going to be bothered with individual vehicle owners.

Assuming Transportation as a Service (TAAS) will achieve at least a 5:1 utilization increase the fleet size should decrease to 47 million vehicles. (We both agree that TAAS will reduce fleet size but you did not provide any numbers in your link. I believe a 90% reduction is achievable but chose 80% as a conservative number.)

One significant thing I think you’re missing is this:

1) Right now, a Tesla drives about 160,000 miles before dropping down to 80 percent of original capacity (e.g, a 100 kWh pack goes to 80 kWh). Elon Musk says Tesla batteries will be able to do a million miles before too long. Let’s say they bring it up to 600,000 miles. And let’s say a typical vehicle goes 100,000 miles a year. So it lasts six years before dropping to 80 percent of original capacity.

2) Right now, the thought is that no one wants that battery pack. But when vehicle-to-grid becomes common, all those batteries still with 80 percent of original capacity will become a very valuable commodity to the fleet owners. The fleet owners will be able to use those batteries that have been removed from vehicles to charge their own fleet, or sell the batteries or grid services of those batteries to the utilities.

3) So there won’t just be the 47 million battery packs that you’re thinking about. Instead, there will be the 100+ million battery packs that have come out of old vehicles. They won’t be able to provide (or soak up) quite as many kWh per pack as they could when they were new, but the total transfers to and from the grid from those old batteries that have been removed from cars will probably substantially exceed transfers to and from the grid from the operating fleet of vehicle battery packs. Especially since, as you correctly point out, only a small fraction–you assume 10 percent–of the operating fleet would actually be involved in removing or putting electricity into the grid at any one time, since most of the fleet would be on the road most of the time.

Reply to  Mark Bahner
November 21, 2019 12:39 pm


I agree that there could be a significant market for “lightly used” battery packs assuming fleet owners change them out at 80% (which they may not feel compelled to do). It would certainly make more sense than stashing them in Outer Mongolia. But two questions come to mind:

1.) Do battery packs continue to decline linearly, or do they fall off the table?
2.) Given that Li ion batteries are known to grow filaments during charge/discharge cycles when do they become a fire hazard?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I see both of them impacting the viability of this market.

Randy Wester
Reply to  Detengineer
November 21, 2019 3:13 pm

According to the graphs and extrapolations at, a battery in service reaching 80% capacity at 4000 cycles will continue to degrade linearly to hit 50% at about 13,000 cycles. Degradation seems to be more usage than age.

Some data at suggests that battery degradation in Model S batteries levels off after the first 5%, then then next 5% degradation takes much longer. Except for defects, none are going to go to 70% during the warranty – which is exactly what a warranty is for, compensation for defects.

But I don’t think anyone really knows how long today’s Li-Ion batteries will go, especially since the chemistry keeps changing. But I wouldn’t put a very old used EV pack in my house or even in a garage unless it had been recertified, and that plus a new enclosure might cost almost the same as a new battery pack.

If I put together a homebuilt one it would have to live in a buried concrete bunker. I don’t think they quite get like old, sweaty dynamite but I also don’t want to be the impetus for a new rule.

November 10, 2019 8:21 pm

Sadly we are well down the road into Idiot Swan events in Australia. Good name for this behaviour BTW.

November 10, 2019 9:23 pm

Electric cars are inferior to Internal Combustion Engine cars in every respect: Heavier, I mean a lot heavier, the battery in the Tesla Model S weighs 1,700 lbs, which also is very hard on the tires and suspensions. More expensive. Shorter range. Takes half a day to refuel unless you have a charging station that costs thousands of dollars. Fires that cannot be put out with water and burn for hours. If you run out of battery, the car becomes a brick, tow it and experience damage, cannot just walk to the gas station and buy a gas can and some gas.

Sure, none of this will change any time soon as battery technology has seen nothing new in quite a while.

Looking for an electric pick-up, or an electric 18-wheeler, anytime soon? Good luck. There are electric city delivery trucks, all the same problems, and worse.

Sooner or later the masses will realize that the weather seems the same to them, and nothing bad is actually happening. Lincoln said it best, “…You cannot fool all of the people all of the time!”

Randy Wester
Reply to  Michael Moon
November 17, 2019 8:14 am

Yeah, it’s all impossible. Yet… we drive our Tesla every day, all the way into town and back.

Yes, can take up to 5 hours to charge, at my house. So… what?

It also takes a long while to water the grass, but if I put a sprinkler on the hose to automate the task I can do other stuff.

Reply to  Michael Moon
November 18, 2019 7:26 pm

“Electric cars are inferior to Internal Combustion Engine cars in every respect:”

Electric vehicles have:

1) Fewer moving parts,
2) Do not pollute the air around the streets they are driving on,
3) Are quieter,
4) Are more energy-efficient,
5) Have a operating lower cost per mile driven, and
6) Perhaps most importantly, have batteries that can provide electric grid services, even when the the batteries are no longer even in the car.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
November 10, 2019 11:04 pm

Oil will remain the primary transportation fuel for the next several decades.

Longer than that if you are looking at the whole transportation sector, not just personal automobiles. In that timeframe there is nothing likely to be available and practical to replace oil for:

1) heavy rail locomotives
2) ocean vessels
3) aircraft
4) long-haul trucks

In addition, EVs using current battery technology are not practical for extremely hot or cold climates.

So absent a very significant technological breakthrough, oil will remain the primary transportation fuel for well beyond the next several decades.

Randy Wester
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
November 17, 2019 8:43 am

I’ll give you electric long haul aircraft as extremely unlikely, but battery powered boats that can cruise seven days would be 75 year old German technology. Weight is not as big an issue if it can be placed low enough.

Electric trains are hardly uncommon, where there is enough traffic to make it worthwhile.

Long haul electric trucking might never be practical, but it also might never compete with efficient higher speed rail.

And it’s all a moot point unless / until more carbon-free generation is built and brought online. No point charging a billion dollar electric cruise ship from a shore based diesel generator.

November 11, 2019 12:08 am

Can we all agree that renewable is not a thing (except for sun rays), and always write either

so called renewable
renewable, as described by statutes
renewable, according to the capricious definition

November 11, 2019 12:17 am

A fascinating read, but I would like to clarify one point in the assumptions put forward. That is this “8 hours minimum daylight in winter” – should that read “8 hours maximum daylight in winter”?

Dennis G Sandberg
November 11, 2019 8:14 am

Here’s the price of gasoline before the taxman gets ahold of it:

New York Harbor Conventional Gasoline Regular Spot Price:1.787 USD/gal for Nov 04 2019.

My power bill here in the People’s Republic of California averaged out over the past year is $0.25 Kwh, which I’m enjoying because when the nearby Diablo Canyon nuclear plant shuts down and Governor Newsome’s wildfire “fee” kicks in it will get a lot worse. Very upsetting to read about the totally stupid idea of electrifying our transportation system. Isn’t the nearly as stupid idea of burning carbohydrates (food) for a hydrocarbon substitute bad enough? If we don’t want to burn gasoline in our vehicles let’s burn natural gas (compressed)…like a lot of city buses are already doing.

November 12, 2019 1:22 am

Costings are not rigorous here.

You need to look at in addition:
Lifetime and depreciation.
Fixed operating costs – maintenance and security
Capacity factor the plant can achieve (and is allowed to achieve).
Cost of capital and time that capital is deployed before operational profit is achieved.
Decommissioning costs.
Third party Insurance costs. (this has been used to effectively render new nuclear uneconomic)

If you do this the real underlying costs of renewable are revealed. In particular with wind three factors are used to massively distort costs.
(a) They are assumed to run at a much higher capacity factor than they achieve in practice.
(b) They are assumed to last longer and need less maintenance than they actually do.
(c) There is no built in cost of decommissioning as there is with nuclear.

And that is before the cost of co-operatuon with a reliable technology is introduced

As we now are beginning to realise, legislation can drive technology out of business and make uneconomic technology profitable.

Reply to  Leo Smith
November 13, 2019 6:42 am


You are correct, the costs are not rigorous. This scoping study was assembled very quickly in an effort to get something out the door before comments closed. It was also biased toward renewables just to see if there was even a prayer.

I did address capacity factor, which just really kills the economics of renewables (and I used optimistic capacity factors!)

Coach Springer
November 12, 2019 5:34 am

Transportation As A Service – shared transportation – depends on both population density and task (volume,/weight/freight). Mass transit makes more sense for cities – the bigger the better. But even the suburban commuter riding a train downtown does not wish to add more waits at the suburban end of the commute. Of course, if only we could be stripped of our individualism and independence – then we could all be herded to population centers and make do with Ikea delivered by Amazon Prime.

November 12, 2019 12:42 pm

I think David is on solid ground regarding the future of the oil industry.

As I just asked Detengineer regarding the original comment (before I saw this repost):

David wrote, “Looks like Ford F-Series pickup trucks will still be outselling all EV’s in 2050. (US Energy Information Administration)”

Do you think he is on “solid ground” with that statement?

Reply to  Mark Bahner
November 13, 2019 7:37 am


I’m going to try to respond to your comments above and below over the next couple of days. This is to let you know that I am working on them.

The short answer to your question is no. Autonomous vehicles and transportation as a service (TAAS) are going to completely remake the automotive industry. If Ford (or GM or FCA) even exist in 2050 they will exist in a form that is completely unrecognizable to us today. TAAS is going to completely change how you make money out of transportation and the companies will reorganize to match how the business functions. Expect a dizzying array of bankruptcies, spinoffs, mergers, and completely new players. This is going to be one ugly, bloody bit of business. F150 sales? Who knows.

That does not mean that BEV’s are going to dominate vehicle sales. Since vehicle purchase decisions will be dominated by the TAAS fleet owners I think it’s safe to say that cold blooded economic thinking will drive the BEV/ICE vehicle sales ratio.

So it really comes down to trying to guess what the relative fuel cost for electricity versus gasoline/diesel will be. If the future is 100% renewable electricity then the economics decidedly favor ICE vehicles. While I didn’t emphasize this in my post if the future of electricity generation is natural gas powered combined cycle gas turbines then the economics favor BEV’s. Oil will have a tough time competing. The Oil and Gas companies (David’s end of the business) won’t much care whether oil or natural gas dominate as it doesn’t much matter to them; it’s all poking holes and producing product. They get paid either way. Obviously it matters a whole lot to the refining and marketing companies (my former end of the business).

What this really means is that David’s central thesis is still true in either scenario: the Age of Oil (and Gas) is still alive and well and will remain so well into the future. Arguing about F150’s is a sideshow that neither proves nor disproves David’s central thesis.

With all that said, you are correct that I didn’t look at mixed cases (this was avoided in the interest of time). I will look at your proposed 2050 energy mix and see what the costs look like. I’m personally intrigued to see if renewables can be fit in in a way that is cost competitive. We’ll see what falls out.

Reply to  Detengineer
November 13, 2019 11:02 am


You write:

That does not mean that BEV’s are going to dominate vehicle sales.

I suggest you take the 11-question quiz I prepared for David Middleton. (So far, he appears incapable of answering any of the questions.)

Note to David Middleton: If Detengineer or any other commenter on this blog answers all of the 11 questions, I will still give $100 to the charity of your choice, but only if you acknowledge the answers given by others as correct, or provide what you think are the correct answers for each answer by others that you think is not correct.

So it really comes down to trying to guess what the relative fuel cost for electricity versus gasoline/diesel will be. If the future is 100% renewable electricity then the economics decidedly favor ICE vehicles.

First of all…when speaking of the “future,” let’s stick to out to the year 2050. When you write, “If the future is 100% renewable electricity…” you’re inventing a scenario that no knowledgeable person would accept as plausible. No knowledgeable person thinks the U.S. will be using “100% renewable electricity” by the year 2050.

If you want your analysis to have any validity, rather than simply being a theoretical analysis of a hypothetical world that no one thinks will exist, you should use an electrical generation breakdown that you think is most likely by 2050 (in the absence of “idiot swan” events) (good phrase, by the way!).

Fortunately, we have some available assessments of what the electrical grid will look like in 2050. We have the EIA’s “Reference” case values…and we have my competing estimates:

You should choose one or both of those, or something in between, and then make your estimate for what percentage of light duty vehicles sold circa the year 2050 will be gasoline or diesel versus either battery electric vehicles (BEV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).

Arguing about F150’s is a sideshow that neither proves nor disproves David’s central thesis.

First of all, I want to correct a mistake I made…I was so exasperated with David’s cluelessness, analytical incompetence, and disrespect (and even lack of civility) that I accidentally changed his claim about “F-series” sales to “F-150” sales. My apologies for that. I should have always used “F-series” not “F-150.”

But arguing about Ford F-series sales isn’t a “sideshow.” David Middleton claimed that:

Figure 2. Looks like Ford F-Series pickup trucks will still be outselling all EV’s in 2050. (US Energy Information Administration)

As I pointed out previously, it only “looks like” that way to him because he’s a monumentally ignorant and analytically incompetent twit (on the issue of the likely future sales of EVs in the U.S.). So that’s not a “sideshow”. It’s at the crux of what sales of EVs will be like in 2050.

Reply to  Mark Bahner
November 15, 2019 1:51 pm


This blog refers to an excellent paper with an even better graph:

From the graph, in 2011, there were 792 gasoline automobiles per 1000 people in the U.S., and only 0.07 electric vehicles per 1000 people in the U.S. The question is, what will those numbers be in the year 2050.

I’ll put my predictions up on my blog eventually. But it might take weeks, as I’ve got other things to do.

Reply to  Detengineer
November 13, 2019 11:07 am

I’m going to try to respond to your comments above and below over the next couple of days. This is to let you know that I am working on them.

Oh…I should have started my comments with: “Thanks! Much appreciated! Take your time…I know we all have other things to do.”


P.S. For example, I’ve been trying to explain to all the Elizabeth Warren fans on the “538” website just how insane the idea of using an “executive order” to ban all fracking in the U.S. is.

Reply to  Mark Bahner
November 22, 2019 6:24 am



1. The future of the oil and gas industry appears to be just fine.
2. It is difficult to determine whether electric vehicles will dominate the personal transportation market by 2050. The future is very price and technology dependent. I believe that they will not but concede it is within the realm of possibility.


This is a scoping estimate written by a retired engineer from his home office. It is applicable to the upper Midwest of the United States.


It is assumed by a great many writers that battery powered electric vehicles (EV’s) are the future of personal transportation. One of the reasons cited for this is that EV’s have a lower power cost than gasoline powered cars (see for example the IMF report Riding-the-Energy-Transition-Oil-Beyond-2040). Indeed by my calculations in my little corner of the world this is currently true; at the wheel gasoline power costs 17% more than electricity.

Gasoline: $0.34/kWh
Electricity: $0.29/kWh

However what is true today may not be true tomorrow. To make an informed guess (and that is all this or anyone else’s prediction is) one must make a series of informed guesses about everything that may affect the relative cost of power at the wheel. This includes examining the efficiency of gasoline and electric vehicles and the probable future cost of gasoline and electricity.

Vehicle Efficiency:

The efficiencies used in the above calculations were:

Gasoline: 20%
Electric: 60%

These are based on values from the-future-of-electric-vehicles.

Tesla’s move from AC induction to reluctance motors (tesla-model-3-motor-in-depth) is expected to increase motor efficiency about 10%. Toyota’s Dynamic Force and Mazda’s Skyactive X engines are expected to have 40% and 56% thermal efficiencies respectively (mazdas-skyactiv-3-engine-could-be-as-clean-as-some-elec). Adjusting efficiencies appropriately (Electric: 70%; Gasoline – Toyota: 30%. Mazda: 40% to allow for transmission losses) yields these at the wheel power costs:

Gasoline – Toyota: $0.23/kWh
Gasoline – Mazda: $0.17/kWh
Electricity: $0.25/kWh

Toyota has a 9% cost advantage relative to electricity and Mazda has a 32% cost advantage. This shouldn’t be a surprise as any efficiency improvement to the relatively low efficiency of a gasoline engine will have a much bigger impact on cost than an improvement to the already fairly efficient electric car.


In my little corner of the United States gasoline taxes run $0.40/US gallon (the state is trying to more than double that). Electricity is taxed at 4% (based on my electric bills). It is a safe assumption that should EV’s become a significant part of the vehicle fleet the government will cast the eye of ‘revenue enhancement’ their way. It is impossible to guess how the government may enhance their revenues, but on the assumption that revenues will remain roughly equal (a bad assumption since there’s never been a government that didn’t want an even bigger slice of the pie) we can back calculate an equivalent tax rate on electricity. For me this is 19%. Rerunning the costs for gasoline and electric power at the wheel puts me near parity:

Gasoline: $0.34/kWh
Electricity: $0.32/kWh


The IMF article cited above states quite reasonably that should EV’s (as they expect) come to dominate the personal transportation market then the price of oil will drop to $15/bbl. We’ve been here before; in 1999 oil prices did hover around $15/bbl for a brief period, so this seems to be a reasonable number to work with. I would also expect refining costs to drop by about 50% as the refining companies reduce capital budgets and staffing back to the levels I experienced in the ‘90’s. This will result in a roughly 50% drop in the price of gasoline:

Gasoline Today: $2.50/gal
Gasoline Future: $1.25/gal

Which results in an electric car’s power at the wheel to cost 72% more than gasoline:

Gasoline: $0.17/kWh
Electricity: $0.29/kWh


Mark Bahner criticized (reasonably) this post for assuming a 100% renewables world and suggested that I should use a projection of energy demand in 2050, preferably his (markbahner…eia-versus-mab).
I used the estimated U.S. energy consumption numbers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories as my starting point (us-energy-use 2018). This chart has both production and consumption numbers, which allowed me to calculate projected energy consumption for electricity and transportation in 2050 from Mark’s production numbers. It was assumed that base consumption of electricity and transportation consumption increased by the same amount as overall consumption (8%). The drop in petroleum consumption in transportation was replaced with electricity. Estimated electricity consumption in 2050 worked out to:

Solar: 22.5 Quads/Yr
Wind: 19.5 Quads/Yr
Nuclear: 3 Quads/Yr
Hydro: 2 Quads/Yr
Geothermal: 0.2 Quads/Yr
Natural Gas: 6.6 Quads/Yr
Coal: 2 Quads/Yr
Biomass: 0.5 Quads/Yr
TOTAL: 56.3 Quads/Yr

15 Quads/Yr. of electricity are used in transportation, representing ~50% of the total energy use in this sector. This looks like Mark assumes a nearly complete conversion to electric cars by 2050, which is consistent with his published comments.

Based on this electrical consumption mix the estimated consumer cost of electricity is:

Consumer Electricity Cost: $0.247 – 0.295/kWh

This is stated as a range because the published installed costs for solar PV ranged from $1,130/kW to $3,000/kW. Published installed costs for on-shore wind were reasonably consistent at ~$1,400/kW installed.

These higher consumer electricity costs result in an electric car’s power at the wheel to cost 21-44% more than gasoline:

Gasoline: $0.34/kWh
Electricity: $0.41 – 0.49/kWh

The break-even cost for gasoline in 2050 would be in the range of $3.00-3.50/gal.

Worst Case Scenario:

The probable direction of gasoline engine efficiency, the cost of gasoline, and the cost of electricity all point toward EV’s having higher energy costs at the wheel. While all three scenarios won’t happen (can’t happen) for giggles here is what the relative costs look like:

Gasoline: $0.10/kWh
Electricity: $0.35 – 0.42/kWh

This puts the at the wheel power cost of an EV at 250-300% above the at the wheel cost of an ICE vehicle.

The Real Cost of Renewables:

Power from renewables is only available when the wind blows or the sun shines. To provide reliable (24/7/365) power requires backup power, either from conventional power sources or batteries. This burdens renewable power because it considerably increases capital cost and fixed operating costs (I have ignored fixed operating costs in this analysis; including them would further burden the cost of renewables). The estimated cost of reliable power from renewables is (excluding distribution charges):

Solar PV w/ Battery: $ 0.214 – 0.406/kWh
Solar PV w/ CCGT: $0.072 – 0.114/kWh
Wind w/ Battery: $0.257/kWh
Wind w/ CCGT: $0.079/kWh

For comparison purposes the projected power cost for a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine assuming 85% mechanical availability and natural gas at 2019’s rough average cost of $4.00/MSCF

CCGT: $0.055/kWh

Renewables backed by CCGT are burdened by the capital cost of the turbine plus the cost of natural gas to supply power when the solar or wind equipment isn’t. To make solar or wind backed by CCGT cost competitive with standalone CCGT either the capital cost of solar/wind needs to drop to $500/kw (Solar)/$300/kW (Wind) or the cost of natural gas must increase to $11.50-$30.00/MSCF (Solar)/$18.00/MSCF (Wind).

Renewables backed by batteries are burdened by the cost of the batteries plus the capital cost of the additional renewable infrastructure to charge the batteries when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. What surprised me is to achieve reliable power with renewables you have to install roughly 5 kW of power generation (wind or solar) to achieve 1 kW of reliable power using my optimistic weather availability estimates. If the weather gets worse the cost to provide reliable power skyrockets. These costs were also based on the projected cost of batteries in 2050, which is 1/3 the cost of batteries today. To make solar or wind backed by batteries cost competitive with standalone CCGT either the overall cost of solar or wind plus batteries must drop by 75-85% (this puts the cost of batteries at $22/kWh) or the cost of natural gas must increase to $30-$65/MSCF.


1. It is assumed there will be no Idiot Swan events. Obviously tax policy and government mandates can change the course of events, and as one commenter noted the probability of an Idiot Swan event is uncomfortably high. But it’s beyond the ability of this engineer to predict what will happen in politics.
2. It is assumed that Fleet owners will dominate vehicle purchases and that vehicles in service will operate 100,000 to 150,000 miles/year and will have service lives between 500,000 and 1,000,000 miles. This extended service life will render any initial purchase price differences irrelevant to the economics. This also assumes that maintenance cost differences can be safely ignored.
3. Costs are calculated assuming power generation and consumption remain constant. There is no estimate of additional costs to cover peak demand. This obviously understates the actual costs, both capital requirements and the estimated cost of electricity to the consumer.
4. Blended 2050 power costs assume all natural gas is used for CCGT’s in backup service to renewables. This was arbitrarily assigned to solar PV as this provides the lowest overall cost. The capital cost for the CCGT’s was omitted from the analysis because this is assumed to be a sunk cost. Published levelized cost of energy numbers were used for the remaining power sources (EIA 2020 projected found at wikipedia {yeah – I know}). The split between solar and wind is from markbahner random_thoughts.

Timid Guesses about the Future:

Assuming economics will be the dominant determinant of the future of both power production and vehicle selection then the future trend will be along a path near the economic optimum.

In power production this means that the installation of renewables will continue as long as subsidies hold out, however backup will be from conventional sources, mostly natural gas. Once the market penetration of renewables gets large enough subsidies will be removed (they become unsupportable) and the addition of renewables will be limited by economics. Given the large changes in solar/wind installation costs or natural gas prices required to effect a swing in the economics it’s safe to say that the future of natural gas looks fairly assured (and thus the future of the Oil and Gas industry).

The future of EV’s versus ICE vehicles is a little harder to predict. The expected cost of CCGT natural gas supplied electricity is about $0.15/kWh, which provides a 25% cost advantage over gasoline at the wheel. To be competitive gasoline must sell at $1.90/gal. However if taxes are equalized gasoline is competitive at $2.35/gal. Change gasoline engine efficiency and gasoline becomes competitive at $2.50-3.20/gal.

This sensitivity analysis tells me that the future split between EV’s and ICE vehicles is very price dependent. EV’s could have significant market penetration if future electricity generation comes from natural gas. If this occurs then once EV’s achieve significant market penetration then the price of natural gas and crude oil will become yoked (as it was before frac’ing). Local tax policy could have a very large impact on the local EV/ICE mix. Because renewables strongly negatively impact the cost of electricity then if renewables become a significant part of the power mix it is unlikely EV’s will achieve significant market penetration unless there is a significant (and unexpected) decline in oil production. Based on the probability of continued increases in ICE efficiency and the ability of the oil industry to match price to electricity over the long term my guess is EV’s are unlikely to achieve 50% market penetration by 2050 (but I’m putting exactly $0 on this).

Reply to  Detengineer
November 22, 2019 6:28 am

Crap. It looks like copying this into Word Press broke all my links!

Rudolf Huber
November 12, 2019 1:39 pm

Oil will remain the big boy in the berm for decades to come. No doubt about that. I think that more than EV’s, Natural Gas vehicles will make a bigger dent in the future. Simply because LNG vehicles don’t have many of the issues that one has with EV’s. First of all range. Those are no overnight scenarios. It will take time, but it will happen.

John Hardy
November 12, 2019 1:50 pm

This article is a very good start. As a climate change sceptic, and an enthusiastic EV driver of 6 years, there are however at least two other critical factors – firstly an EV is just a much nicer drive. Secondly cities are increasingly controlling ICE vehicles to reduce city centre air pollution

November 12, 2019 2:10 pm

I agree with you that autonomous vehicles and transportation as a service (TAAS) will come to dominate the vehicle market. However, an autonomous vehicle can be powered by anything; batteries, an internal combustion engine, fuel cell, or even compressed air.

Yes, an autonomous light duty vehicle in the U.S. could be powered by anything. (Including combustion of natural gas.) But by 2050, the majority of autonomous light duty vehicles in the U.S. will be powered by batteries.

How do I know? Technological analyses were a substantial part of what I did for a living. (I’m “semi-retired” as Tom Hagen famously said in the Godfather.) And I still do technological analyses for fun:

Global warming avoided by hypothetical Gen IV reactors

EIA AEO 2019 projections versus MAB (yours truly)

The future of transportation…written in January, 2013***

***Note that I wrote that “The future of transportation” post in January 2013. Tesla’s total sales in 2012 were…wait for it!…3,100 cars. (Not a typo…that’s not 31,000.)

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