The Dirty Secrets of “Clean” Electric Vehicles

Reposted from Forbes.

By Tilak Doshi,

The widespread view that fossil fuels are “dirty” and renewables such as wind and solar energy and electric vehicles are “clean” has become a fixture of mainstream media and policy assumptions across the political spectrum in developed countries, perhaps with the exception of the Trump-led US administration. Indeed the ultimate question we are led to believe is how quickly can enlightened Western governments, led by an alleged scientific consensus, “decarbonize” with clean energy in a race to save the world from impending climate catastrophe. The ‘net zero by 2050’ mantra, calling for carbon emissions to be completely mitigated within three decades, is now the clarion call by governments and intergovernmental agencies around the developed world, ranging from several EU member states and the UK, to the International Energy Agency and the International Monetary Fund.

Mining out of sight, out of mind

Let’s start with Elon Musk’s Tesla, the darling of the smart set. In an astonishing achievement for a company that that posted its fourth consecutive quarterly profit for the first time ever last month, Tesla is now the world’s most valuable automotive company. Demand for EVs are set to soar, as government policies in the West mandate and subsidize its use to replace the internal combustion engine of gasoline and diesel-driven cars and as owning a “clean” and “green” car becomes a moral testament to many a virtue-signalling customer.

Yet, if one looks under the hood of “clean energy” battery-driven EVs, the dirt found would surprise most. The most important component in the EV is the lithium-ion rechargeable battery which relies on critical mineral commodities such as cobalt, graphite, lithium, and manganese. Tracing the source of these minerals, in what is called “full-cycle economics”, it becomes apparent that EVs create a trail of dirt from the mining and processing of minerals upstream.

A recent United Nations report warns that the raw materials used in electric car batteries are highly concentrated in a small number of countries where environmental and labour regulations are weak or non-existent. Thus, battery production for EVs is driving a boom in small-scale or “artisanal” cobalt production in the Democratic Republic of Congo which supplies two thirds of global output of the mineral. These artisanal mines, which account for up to a quarter of the country’s production, have been found to be dangerous and employ child labour.

Mindful of what the image of children scrabbling for hand-dug minerals in Africa can do to high tech’s clean and green image, most tech and auto companies using cobalt and other toxic heavy metals avoid direct sourcing from source mines. Tesla Inc. struck a deal last month with Swiss-based Glencore Plc to buy as much as 6,000 tons of cobalt annually from the latter’s Congolese mines. While Tesla has said it aims to remove reputational risks associated with sourcing minerals from countries such as the DRC where corruption is rampant, Glencore  assures buyers that no hand-dug cobalt is treated at its mechanized mines.

There are 7.2 million battery EVs or about 1% of the total vehicle fleet today. To get an idea of the scale of mining for raw materials involved in replacing the world’s gasoline and diesel-fuelled cars with EVs, we can take the example of the UK as provided by Michael Kelly, the Emeritus Prince Philip Professor of Technology at the University of Cambridge. According to Professor Kelly, if we replace all of the UK vehicle fleet with EVs,  assuming they use the most resource-frugal next-generation batteries, we would need the following materials: about twice the annual global production of cobalt; three quarters of the world’s production lithium carbonate; nearly the entire world production of neodymium; and more than half the world’s production of copper in 2018.

And this is just for the UK. Professor Kelly estimates that if we want the whole world to be transported by electric vehicles, the vast increases in the supply of the raw materials listed above would go far beyond known reserves. The environmental and social impact of vastly-expanded mining for these materials — some of which are highly toxic when mined, transported and processed – in countries afflicted by corruption and poor human rights records can only be imagined. The clean and green image of EVs stands in stark contrast to the realities of manufacturing batteries.

Zero Emissions and All That

Proponents of EVs might counter by saying that despite these evident environmental and social problems associated with mining in many third world countries, the case remains that EVs help reduce carbon dioxide emissions associated with the internal combustion engines run on gasoline and diesel fuels. According to the reigning climate change narrative, it is after all carbon dioxide emissions that are threatening environmental catastrophe on a global scale. For the sake of saving the world, the climate crusaders of the richer nations might be willing to ignore the local pollution and human rights violations involved in mining for minerals and rare earths in Africa, China, Latin America and elsewhere.

While one might question the inherent inequity in imposing such a trade-off, the supposed advantages of EVs in emitting lower carbon emissions are overstated according to a peer-reviewed life-cycle study comparing conventional and electric vehicles. To begin with, about half the lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions from an electric car come from the energy used to produce the car, especially in the mining and processing of raw materials needed for the battery. This compares unfavourably with the manufacture of a gasoline-powered car which accounts for 17% of the car’s lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions. When a new EV appears in the show-room, it has already been responsible for 30,000 pounds of carbon-dioxide emission. The equivalent amount for manufacturing a conventional car: 14,000 pounds.

Once on the road, the carbon dioxide emissions of EVs depends on the power-generation fuel used to recharge its battery. If it comes mostly from coal-fired power plants, it will lead to about 15 ounces of carbon-dioxide for every mile it is driven—three ounces more than a similar gasoline-powered car. For every 50,000 miles driven, the difference amounts to 4.25 metric tons of extra CO2 emitted by the EV. Even without reference to the source of electricity used for battery charging, if an EV is driven 50,000 miles over its lifetime, the huge initial emissions from its manufacture means the EV will actually have put more carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere than a similar-size gasoline-powered car driven the same number of miles. Even if the EV is driven for 90,000 miles and the and the battery is charged by cleaner natural-gas fuelled power stations, it will cause just 24% less carbon-dioxide emission than a gasoline-powered car. As the sceptical environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg puts it, “This is a far cry from ‘zero emissions’”.

As most ordinary people mindful of keeping within modest budgets choose affordable gasoline or diesel-powered cars, experts and policy advisors the world over have felt compelled to tilt the playing field in favour of EVs. EV subsidies are regressive: given their high upfront cost, EVs are only  affordable for high-income households. It is egregious from an equity perspective if EV subsides are funded by the average tax-payer so that the rich can buy their “EV toys” at subsidized prices. 

The determination not to know, or to look away when the facts assail our beliefs, is an enduring frailty of human nature. The tendency towards group think and confirmation bias, and the will to affirm the “scientific consensus” and marginalize sceptics, are rife in considerations by the so-called experts committed to advocating their favourite cause. In the case of EVs, the dirty truths of “clean energy” should seem apparent to all but, alas, there are none so blind as those who will not see.

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August 4, 2020 6:07 am

Plus EVs have exactly the same tyre and brake emissions as an ICE vehicle. Have we reached peak idiocy yet?

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
August 4, 2020 6:25 am

EV brake emissions are less than ICE brake emissions as a result of regenerative braking.

Reply to  Alastair McIntosh
August 4, 2020 7:50 am

I have some experience with industrial regenerative braking. It is not even close to being noticeable at lower speeds.
Kinetic energy and electromagnetic induction are both proportional to the square of velocity.
Regen braking will be related to the 3rd power of speed. It is only effective at higher speeds. The vehicles are also much heavier. I wouldn’t expect much effect in city driving. Smooth drivers don’t use their brakes much at speed on the highway, so I would would not expect much difference in brake wear. I don’t know of any study on the subject.

Steve Case
Reply to  Billy
August 4, 2020 8:17 am

Having the experience of driving some electric cars, I want one. Regenerative braking? On a sixty mile round trip from San Jose up to Big Basin Park and back, the meter said we had more miles on the meter at the bottom than we had in the parking lot in the park at the top. Regenerative breaking really works slick ordinary driving, you don’t have to touch the break pedal, and the acceleration is phenomenal.

Reply to  Steve Case
August 4, 2020 11:33 am

Regenerative braking works great when decelerating from a high speed. However it’s pretty much useless for stop and go driving.
The slower you are going, the more current you have to put into the stator before you can get any measurable power out of the rotor.

Bryan A
Reply to  Steve Case
August 4, 2020 6:41 pm

But…that was driving downhill to gather the energy. You gain almost none on the uphill trek except for breaking into corners

Reply to  Steve Case
August 5, 2020 1:38 pm

“The slower you are going, the more current you have to put into the stator before you can get any measurable power out of the rotor.”

Not true for a permanent-magnet type motor, which is what GM used in the Volt.

John Hardy
Reply to  Billy
August 4, 2020 2:10 pm

Billy: go drive an EV.

I rarely use the brakes on mine except for the last part of the roll to a halt.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Billy
August 4, 2020 4:41 pm

Billy and Markw,

Regen braking is only worthwhile if you are coasting to a stop. If you have to do any kind of emergency braking regen braking provides no control. I was once in a car with regen braking while driving on snow and got scared to death. Not much of a way to feather the regen braking. It sounds nice maybe for CA, TX, or another southern state. Sounds dangerous for any state north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Alastair McIntosh
August 4, 2020 10:13 am

“EV brake emissions are less than ICE brake emissions as a result of regenerative braking.”
How much less? A little or a lot? Just curious.

I like the idea of an EV- just can’t afford one. I have an electric chain saw and intend on getting an electric lawn mower soon. An EV would be nice- but not to save the planet- but because I like electric motors more than gas motors.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
August 4, 2020 8:12 pm

I would like an electric lawn mower for the HOA dog park, since the storage is not air condition I think the batteries will be toast in a very few years. Enclosed spaces here in Arizona easily got over 120 most of the day. I lost four Ni-cads in one summer because I stored them in my shed. Since then I been reluctant to store any batteries other than lead acid out doors. Lead acid batteries only last about three years here in Arizona.

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
August 4, 2020 6:38 am

Wrong. More emission. EVs are heavier, and thus putting more force onto tires, breaks and road.

Reply to  Frank
August 4, 2020 8:00 am

I have a Tesla Model S. The regenerative braking is so effective, I rarely use the brakes. Almost always when I have to come to a full stop (from about 10mph).

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Bill_O
August 4, 2020 4:43 pm


What state do you live in? When that regen braking comes on when driving on an icy roadway how to you control it? The one I was in was scary on an icy road.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
August 5, 2020 8:53 am

I live in Northern California (we have no snow). Although, we have driven to Tahoe in the winter and the All Wheel Drive handled quite well in the snow. I guess I should point out that our motivation to purchase a Tesla was not to be ‘green’ but rather to give the middle finger to the state of California and their high gasoline taxes. Unfortunately, the state fought back by assessing huge fees on EV registrations. In California, if the taxes don’t kill you, it will be death by a thousand fees.

Reply to  Bill_O
August 5, 2020 12:18 pm


My Sierra foothill transportation department gets a cut of the county sales taxes that fossil fuel gas stations charge for fuel sold in the area. They are aware that the state has required charging facilities to start accurately measuring kWh pulled from the grid to charge EV’s. Hence they are looking at ensuring they get their fair share of revenue from any fees/taxes that are going to be collected from EV owners.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
August 5, 2020 9:11 am

Sorry Tim, my reply must have been moderated into the ether. I live in the bay area in California (no snow). The regenerative breaking is controlled by the accelerator. Easing off the accelerator will engage the breaking. The more you back off on the accelerator the greater the braking. We have taken it to Tahoe in the snow and the All Wheel Drive handled well. (this time, I’ll leave out the part about which anatomical digits I reserve for the state of California and their taxes, fees, and so on. And, maybe this will get through moderation)

John Hardy
Reply to  Frank
August 4, 2020 2:12 pm

Frank – go drive one

Tom Johnson
Reply to  John Hardy
August 4, 2020 4:38 pm

The motors develop several hundred horsepower. Quick stops from high speeds can require several thousand. Motors are limited by their current and cooling capacity in both using and producing power. Regenerative braking power must also be returned to the batteries, which also have limited re-charging current. In stop and go driving on a busy high speed expressway regenerative braking is quite insufficient.

Reply to  Tom Johnson
August 5, 2020 9:01 am

As a Tesla owner, it’s not been my experience. As I mentioned in the thread above, the regenerative breaking is highly effective in all conditions. There’s just not much need to apply the brakes other than full stops, having to stop quickly, etc. Admittedly, I don’t drive as aggressively as I did when I was young. (but I still choose male as my identified gender and we all know how males tend to drive).

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
August 4, 2020 6:44 am

Brake emissions would be lower on an EV due to regenerative braking.

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
August 4, 2020 3:17 pm

“Yet, if one looks under the hood of “clean energy” battery-driven EVs, the dirt found would surprise most. ”

In my country the major amount of electricity is generated by Hydro, There is some “renewable” installations but apart from Geo Thermal, the balance is basically taken up by coal or equivalent.
Thus for every “electric/clean car” all that happens is the “dirty” thermal station bear the extra load from so called “smart and clean” cars.

Electricity generation from the combustion of coal, oil, and gas provides baseload, backup and peaker electricity supply. Generation from these fuels is around a quarter of New Zealand’s electricity generation. Most of New Zealand’s thermal plants are found in the North Island, close to domestic coal, oil, and gas resources.

So in New Zealand and other nations except perhaps only Sweden and Norway, the “smart/clean” car is a myth.
What puzzles me is that almost no-one notices or mentions these facts.



Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
August 5, 2020 8:35 am

Great! Back to the “what I use is best!” Ford – Chevy. PC – Apple. ICE – EV. And on and on…

August 4, 2020 6:16 am

It’s called the Mamet Principle…. Pretend not to know….

August 4, 2020 6:36 am

The dirty secret? They are all coal and nuclear and hydro powered. Plus the massive amounts of toxic waste created in building, maintaining and disposing of them.

Reply to  2hotel9
August 4, 2020 6:55 am

Here in southeastern Michigan,
DTE Energy electricity
was 64% from coal last year.
So our electric cars
are 2/3 “coal cars”.

Most US counties
have half that percentage
of coal used for electricity
which is still a significant

Three cheers for coal cars
if you own a coal mine !

Reply to  Richard Greene
August 4, 2020 6:59 am

Coal, THE renewable energy source. Dig it, use it, dig more.

Carbon Bigfoot
Reply to  2hotel9
August 4, 2020 11:00 am

2hotel9—Freight car it in and dump it so when the gas supply lines freeze as they often do, shutdown for maintenance, or God forbid Antifa sabotages, them we have an adequate backup.

Reply to  Carbon Bigfoot
August 5, 2020 7:00 am

Going into Butler PA for doc appoint I drive over a section of railyard, long line of hoppers full of coal and another line of flats of large iron ingots on Friday. For industries that are dead they sure are moving a lot of weight!

August 4, 2020 6:42 am

Time and again we see that net Zero is not possible with the current population and energy demand. One conclusion is that net Zero will only be achieved with either de-industrialisation, widespread poverty and/ or depopulation.

Reply to  Simon
August 4, 2020 8:47 am

Planned Population not limited to Planned Parenthood.

August 4, 2020 6:53 am

“Thus, battery production for EVs is driving a boom in small-scale or “artisanal” cobalt production in the Democratic Republic of Congo which supplies two thirds of global output of the mineral. These artisanal mines, which account for up to a quarter of the country’s production, have been found to be dangerous and employ child labour”

If you care about these kids you should buy the cobalt. What I mean is that you aren’t doing them any favors by not buying their product.

Tilak K Doshi
Reply to  Chaamjamal
August 4, 2020 7:32 am

My article was not about stopping buying mineral products but the hypocrisy about EVs whose producers pretend as if this is not a part of its manufacturing process. And the fact remains that under current conditions, oil and gas cause far less environmental and social problems compared to mining for minerals and rare earths.

Reply to  Chaamjamal
August 4, 2020 8:34 am

Yes, given that they start in a pretty bad place, you are right about not doing them any favours. However they are all human beings with the same emotions, capabilities and potential as everybody else. So let’s start by wanting to treat them decently. I suggest a good model is provided by the criminalisation of ‘blood diamonds;’ we should demand that EV manufacturers warrant that the minerals used in battery production are produced in humane conditions, and the use of minerals otherwise sourced is criminalised.

Bruce Cobb
August 4, 2020 7:07 am

The real dirty secret about “clean” vs “dirty” energy is that they are what is known as Greenspeak. The words themselves don’t mean what you think, and that is deliberate. They are meant to confuse and to raise emotions, and to actually lie, even though on the surface they look harmless enough. What they are doing is conflating the fake, non-pollution of CO2 (which is in fact beneficial) with other, relatively harmless in most cases, actual pollutants. Yes, smog can be an issue, especially in urban areas, in certain weather or geographic conditions where it can get trapped.

Monna Manhas
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
August 4, 2020 10:12 am

The main component of smog is sulfur dioxide, not carbon dioxide.

Reply to  Monna Manhas
August 4, 2020 11:37 am

It’s more ozone and various NOx compounds.

August 4, 2020 7:08 am

What happens when you plug in an EV to recharge it? What happens in most countries is that a fossil fuel power station increases its output to meet the increase in demand, renewables can’t do this (besides hydro, geothermal and biomass), their sainted power is always on maximum.

Ron Long
August 4, 2020 7:10 am

As a mining exploration geologist and sometimes mining company executive I am often conflicted by mining opportunities where the risk to environment and neighbors of the project is obvious and uncertain to control. I wish there was some Certificate of Clean Production award that could be attached to modern, responsible mining projects. On the other hand, I just returned from my annual physical and my Doctor assures me that I will be carbon neutral by 2050. Stay sane and safe.

Joe Crawford
August 4, 2020 7:12 am

Unless someone comes up with a net-zero life cycle way of removing CO2 from the atmosphere society would have to revert back about 1.4 million years, i.e. before the controlled use of fire, in order to actually reach net-zero in CO2 emissions. In other words, reaching net-zero is totally impossible with current technology.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Joe Crawford
August 4, 2020 7:44 am

Of course this brings up the question of whether ‘net-zero’ CO2 emissions has to also include the approximately 2,500 tons of CO2 mankind exhales each year (

Reply to  Joe Crawford
August 4, 2020 8:32 am

Good point. Once you start equating fossil fuel emissions and carbon cycle flows it’s a mess. And yet that is what they do in NET ZERO computations and the vegan diet cure for agw.

Reply to  Joe Crawford
August 5, 2020 12:56 am

2500 million tonnes (500 litres per day per human x 6.8b people)

Reply to  Joe Crawford
August 4, 2020 7:54 am

Maybe you mean zero and not net zero. Net zero refers to a not really zero situation that involves the complicated but flawed mathematics of offsets.

Reply to  Joe Crawford
August 4, 2020 12:06 pm

And you’ve discovered the Green New Deal. A handful of elites using ele tricity from solar and wind, while the rest of us scrape out a living subsistence farming in between the windmills because there is no fertilizer, no fuel to bring food in, and no spare electricity to make our lives any easier. At least there will be bird and bat carcasses for protein for as long as they hold out.

August 4, 2020 7:16 am

It’s called the Mamet Principle

August 4, 2020 7:50 am

By the way, did anyone notice any particular decrease in the rate of CO2 in the atmosphere this spring when world+dog was in lockdown and few people were driving, flying, etc.? Me neither. The usual march decrease in rate was there, but at about the same level as years previous.

Reply to  shrnfr
August 4, 2020 11:39 am

The decrease in CO2 production was only about 10%. Given how noisy the signal is, it will take several years in extreme lock down before you are going to be able to notice the change.

Malcolm Chapman
August 4, 2020 7:57 am

Is this the same Forbes that pulled Shellenberger? If so, then perhaps the message is getting through.

Reply to  Malcolm Chapman
August 5, 2020 1:01 am

The very same, but I doubt very much the message is getting through

August 4, 2020 8:15 am

If 30,000 pounds is half of the total emissions of an EV and 14,000 pounds is 17% of the total emissions of an ICE vehicle, then that means that we are talking about 60,000 pounds vs 82,000 pounds, so the EV does indeed produce less CO2 emissions. But for those of us who do not think that CO2 is bad, this is not very relevant. The relevant thing is how much of the rest of the real pollutants are produced by both kind of vehicles, and more importantly, WHERE are those pollutants released. The farthest from anybody’s lungs the better.

EVs are a good environmental improvement regardless of whether you believe in CAGW or not. They are also an expensive environmental improvement, and not as convenient as ICEs for long distances, so they are not for everybody’s needs. But those whe CAN buy one and who do not have very strong needs of long-distance travel should definitely try. They are, in addition, a lot of fun to drive.

Reply to  Nylo
August 4, 2020 11:41 am

First off, the pollution from power plants is way, way lower than what you want to believe.
Secondly, how nice of you to feel good about polluting someone else’s lungs.

Reply to  MarkW
August 5, 2020 3:37 am

MarkW, I don’t understand how you have managed to understand the exact opposite of what I wrote. Something must not be working well in that head of yours.

August 4, 2020 8:23 am

The only reason I like EV at all is they lower the price of gasoline and in my case diesel for everyone else. Every car not using gasoline keeps a barrel of Middle Eastern oil out of the USA. Past that they are a toy for the rich so they can feel like they did something today to make the world better, its their participation prize.

Monna Manhas
Reply to  David
August 4, 2020 10:18 am

But why should I help to pay for the toys of someone far wealthier than I am?

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  David
August 4, 2020 4:09 pm

You’ve given lots of $$$ instead to rich people so they could get a discount on their toys in the form of tax credits.

August 4, 2020 8:34 am

looking at the history of “technology” over the last 100 years, this argument is moot. Without a doubt, electric vehicles, or something even better will be available in the “near” future. At least, probably ‘way before AOC gets rid of hydrocarbons.
My bet (please don’t rant) is zero point energy, the extraction of some of Eistein’s E=Mc^2 by overcoming the Coulomb forces between hydrogen nuclei like the SAFIRE Project Will it be ? I sincerely doubt it, but they are doing nice graphics to convince doubters that there may be something here.
Also, do not give up on ultracapacitors and flywheels. Better than batteries!

Reply to  Enginer01
August 4, 2020 11:44 am

Fly wheels will never work. There is no way around the gyroscopic forces. Secondly, there is no safe failure mode for them. If the flywheel fails when fully wound up, the car and the occupants pretty much vaporize.
Ultra capacitors at least don’t have the gyroscopic problems, however they too have no safe failure mode.
Zero point energy, exists but by definition it is unextractable.

Les Francis
Reply to  Enginer01
August 4, 2020 8:18 pm

You ever seen a small capacitor blow up?

I would hate to see an Ultra-capacitor go.

Years ago I installed industrial sized power supplies and rectifiers. We used 4 Farad Capacitors for filtering. I checked the connections at least 10 times before staring the power feed – terrified of them.

Trevor in Ontari-owe
August 4, 2020 8:36 am

And it’s not just problems related to motive energy, it’s also with respect to metals such as aluminum used extensively throughout our society including in the manufacture of “clean” vehicles.

New Guinea has a relatively large proportion of the world’s bauxite. I would urge readers to do a little internet research about the environmental and social impacts of bauxite mining in that country. For up-to-date (July 28, 2020) insights regarding impacts on people in the small village of Hamdallaye, I would recommend an article by David Pred: search “bauxite mining new guinea Hamdallaye Pred”.

August 4, 2020 8:44 am

Tesla revenue during the second quarter of 2020 is $6.04 billion, with $428 million, coming from sales of regulatory credits. Those GHG emission credits are mostly sold to other vehicle manufacturers like Fiat Chrysler, i.e. $428 million profit from ICE vehicle sales.

Steve Keppel-Jones
Reply to  Ngin
August 5, 2020 12:16 pm

Since their net income is only about $100 million for that quarter using their GAAP figure, that means they would still be losing money if it weren’t for the government subsidies in the form of emissions credits – if I am reading it right.

August 4, 2020 8:49 am

Where are the analysis of the mining of these exotic, toxic, metals and the tailings dumped on the ground, into the rivers and lakes while mining these metals?
Where are the analysis of the off-gassing of these exotic, toxic, metals/chemicals, and all of the toxic tramp chemicals that are removed during the purification process during the manufacturing of these Batteries?
Where are the analysis of the off-gassing of these exotic, toxic, chemicals during the manufacturing of these Batteries?
Where are the analysis of the off-gassing of these exotic, toxic, chemicals from the batteries while charging and discharging?
It has been twenty years since I was on a submarine but clearly remember we carefully monitored the atmosphere in the sub when doing an “Equalizing Charge” of the battery. In the same manner toxic chemicals in the battery, including the tramp elements left in the anode/cathode will be released during charging and discharging. These highly toxic chemicals then are released to the atmosphere and YOU get to breathe them. Lithium is also used as a drug psychologists use to address mental problems. Lithium batteries were burnt in the Fire pits during the Iraq war! Batteries are creating the same problem as they discovered Lead in gasoline did ~50 years ago.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Uzurbrain
August 4, 2020 4:48 pm

Suffering from latent chemophobia?
It is so easy to string “toxic” and “chemophobia” together in light conversation.
In science, many cases are governed by the old Paracelsus onservation that all substances are toxic but the harm is in the dose.
There is a pandemic of chemophobia sweeping through trendy literature right now. Best no to add to its spread. Geoff S

Reply to  Uzurbrain
August 5, 2020 3:41 am

The USA is already littered with toxic mine sites from the fossil fuel era in need of clean up

Reply to  griff
August 5, 2020 7:39 am

Yet again, griff proves that nothing he knows, is actually true.

There may be a few hundred “toxic” mines left. Given the size of the US, that doesn’t come anywhere close to “being litterred”. Every single one of those “toxic” mines was either a gold or silver mine. Nothing to do with fossil fuels.
When the fossil fuel “era”, does come to an end 500 to 1000 years from now, we will be shifting to nuclear, or perhaps fusion, if they can work out the remaining problems by then.

August 4, 2020 8:53 am

The most important comparison is the lifetime cost of the vehicle without taxes and subsidies.

Reply to  Roger
August 4, 2020 4:58 pm

Bingo. And it should not be about taxpayers paying for virtue signalling nonsense.
MIT did a November 2019 study of cradle-to-grave (mining to end of life recycling) of
EV vs ICE sedans. Mainly Tesla S vs Camry ICE.
Spoiler alert: EV are not currently cost effective and likely
won’t be for ~ 10 years. or so. Mainly depending on Li battery costs.
But, but… a Tesla is a hoot to drive! I want one, but don’t want to pay for one.

Abolition Man
August 4, 2020 8:57 am

Isn’t it wonderful that government welfare can now be given to the wealthy and upper middle class instead of helping the needy and the poor! If the working class and poor want to better themselves they should kowtow and grovel before their superiors; making sure to mouth the platitudes of faith that the CAGW religion demands! Ingrates and rebels need to be silenced for their heresies against the faith, and investigated for further action like re-education and auto-de-fes!

There! I feel so much more morally superior now; this stuff really works!

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Abolition Man
August 4, 2020 11:07 am

Nobody has even addressed the infrastructure costs if all transportation goes to EVs. Tesla level 2 charging at max requires upgrading your home to 400 amp service. From Tesla’s website, “Charging at 17.2 kW of power on a 240 volt circuit may require a home electrical panel upgrade to 400-amp service.” Whoa, $10,000 to $20,000. To say nothing of substation upgrades, local transmission lines, and most likely numerous transformer/drop upgrades. Higher voltages on transmission lines will probably also be needed to supply the power efficiently.

Reply to  Jim Gorman
August 4, 2020 11:57 am

400 AMP service would likely require a new transformer for every existing 200 AMP residential customer. The topic of infrastructure needs is being discussed later this month-

Workshop Schedule and Presentations
August 6, 2020, Session 3 and 4, Commissioner Workshop on Plug-in Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure
Session 3 – Modeling and Projecting Charging Infrastructure
Session 4 – Examining Needs for Infrastructure Development

Reply to  kakatoa
August 4, 2020 3:53 pm

Don’t most transformers support 2 houses? If so, you would only need to double the number of transformers. One transformer per house.

JimH in CA
Reply to  Jim Gorman
August 4, 2020 3:43 pm

I don’t see the need to upgrade from the usual 200 amp service. 17.2kW at 230 volts is only 75 amps.
It seems to me that all it would need is a 100 amp subpanel and breaker.
I can’t imagine that folks are loading their 200 amp panel at 100 amps or more. That would be using 16.5 mega watt hours a month, and an $8,000 bill. [ CA PG&E rates ]

Reply to  JimH in CA
August 4, 2020 5:33 pm

Nobody runs everything full out every minute of the month. However you do need the capacity if you ever need to run the stove, the dryer and the air conditioner at the same time.
If you also want to add recharging your car at the same time, you are going to have to up the size of the panel.

There’s also the dishwasher, water heater, and your kids over sized stereo.

Roger Knights
Reply to  MarkW
August 5, 2020 4:40 pm

“If you also want to add recharging your car at the same time, you are going to have to up the size of the panel.”

Not if the timer on the car’s charger doesn’t go green until midnight.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  JimH in CA
August 4, 2020 6:26 pm

Wait till you want the level 3. 145 kw @ 480 volts. That’s 300 amps BTW. The power company will love you along with the installers.

The big point is not exactly your service transformer. It’s all the upstream infrastructure they are going to have to add and/or upgrade to provide the new power demand. Just imagine having to double the size of every substation.

August 4, 2020 9:09 am

“Dr. Tilak K. Doshi is a Senior Research Fellow at the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.”

Anything he says against electric vehicles must be dismissed out of hand

Tilak K Doshi
Reply to  Dusty
August 4, 2020 5:18 pm

Ad hominem responses are when you have no counter arguments.

Bill Toland
Reply to  Tilak K Doshi
August 5, 2020 2:36 am

I think Dusty was satirising the typical response of climate alarmists.

Reply to  Bill Toland
August 5, 2020 4:58 am

Yes that is my intent

Tilak K Doshi
Reply to  Dusty
August 5, 2020 6:46 am

@Dusty — ok, pardon me for not seeing that you meant it ironically. There was little in that sentence for me to be able to suss that out. Cheers, Tilak

For the record, I don’t get a single cent from the dastardly fossil fuel companies, I am actually on a flat wage doing academic work as a visiting fellow and to which all of my op-eds are unrelated.

Tilak K Doshi
Reply to  Dusty
August 5, 2020 6:47 am

@Dusty — ok, pardon me for not seeing that you meant it ironically. There was little in that sentence for me to be able to suss that out. Cheers, Tilak

For the record, I don’t get a single cent from the “dastardly” fossil fuel companies, I am actually on a flat wage doing academic work as a visiting fellow and to which all of my op-eds are unrelated.

Tilak K Doshi
Reply to  Bill Toland
August 5, 2020 5:09 am

It wasn’t apparent that it was satire…

August 4, 2020 9:31 am

‘Once on the road, the carbon dioxide emissions of EVs depends on the power-generation fuel used to recharge its battery. If it comes mostly from coal-fired power plants, it will lead to about 15 ounces of carbon-dioxide for every mile it is driven’

Well yes: but look at all the places in Europe which now have ended the use of coal power or have dates to end its use.

There are now no coal power plants in Austria or Sweden. Spain shut half its coal plant down earlier this year. UK has 4 plants left, all of which will close in the next 4 years: Coal made up only 2.1% of the country’s total power mix in 2019. Portugal’s last coal plant will now close in 2021.

Coal power plants are closing across Europe…

what’s the CO2 figure without coal?

Reply to  griff
August 4, 2020 11:47 am

Look at the price and reliability of electricity in those same countries.

Reply to  griff
August 4, 2020 1:58 pm

And opening up in Asia..

comment image

Don’t worry, griff, with all these new COAL FIRED power plants, which will all last 50+ years, there will be plenty of CO2 emitted to fuel the world’s plant life.

And there is nothing your vacuous yabbering can do about it. ! 🙂

Reply to  fred250
August 5, 2020 3:39 am

India is slowing, Vietnam, Japan and S Korea cancelling…

Chinese building out more solar and offshore wind…

Really it is only China building and with their plant often running at half capacity, one day they’ll figure out it isn’t economic

Reply to  griff
August 5, 2020 7:41 am

Looks like griff actually believes the propaganda he’s paid to distribute.

Roger Knights
Reply to  griff
August 5, 2020 4:44 pm

“India is slowing, Vietnam, Japan and S Korea cancelling…”

Doesn’t Japan have 22 new plants in the pipeline?
(Of course it would make more sense to reopen their nuclear plants.)

Roger Knights
Reply to  griff
August 5, 2020 4:56 pm

Benny Peiser
GWPF Newsletter 18/06/20

1) Unleashing Coal: PM Modi Announces India’s New Coal Boom
IANS News Service, 18 June 2020

2) India ‘Frees Coal Sector From Decades Of Lockdown’: PM Launches Commercial Mining Auctions
IANS News Service, 18 June 2020

June 19, 2020 at 7:52 am · Reply
India also pushing up COAL production

Coal Power: Western Decline & The Rise Of Asia’s Tiger Economies
By Staff, The Times, Via GWPF, June 3, 2020

Germany Brings Last New Coal Plant Online
By Darrell Proctor, Power Mag, June 2, 2020

“Japan Continues Their Leadership In Rejecting Junk Science
Posted on April 4, 2020 by tonyheller

(Japan) has more than 90 coal plants and plans to operate 22 additional new plants. It relies on coal for more than a third of its power generation needs, resulting in an upward increase in carbon emissions.”

davidmhoffer November 25, 2019 at 9:52 pm
I just stumbled on this web site that tracks coal power plants globally by year. Shut down, running, under construction, planned…

The default when you hit the site is 2018. Take a look at what you see. Then grab the slider and mover it all the way to the right to see what the planned ones are globally. That’s a LOT of coal power!

Link to Global Coal Plant Tracker, 12,648 coal-fired units
By Staff, EndCoal, Accessed Dec 4, 2019

by Huileng Tan
Not only will coal continue to be the dominant fuel source in power generation in Southeast Asia, its use will grow and peak in 2027 before slowing, the Wood Mackenzie study found. By 2040, coal will account for 36% of Southeast Asia’s energy mix for power generation, according to the consultancy.

The demand surge is primarily driven by Indonesia and Vietnam, accounting for almost 60% of Southeast Asian power demand by 2040, said Tao.

Roger Knights
Reply to  griff
August 5, 2020 8:05 pm

“India is slowing”

That claim is rebutted on JoNova’s thread here: The slowdown in India and elsewhere is due to the coronavirus.

Reply to  griff
August 4, 2020 6:42 pm

So more Natgas will be needed…
That’s where I am invested
LNG will rein supreme

Reply to  griff
August 4, 2020 11:06 pm

No coal plants in Austria…true, 62% of electricity is hydro [Lucky Austria].
10% is biomass which produces 150% more C02 emissions than coal.

And Sweden…53% electicity is hydro [Lucky Sweden] and 40% is nuclear.
Interestingly in 1980 Swedes voted to phase out nuclear power stations by 2010.

And the UK…shifting it’s coal fired power plants to biomass [wood chips imported from Virginia]
That might change with Brexit.

Because in the EU…”The use of woody biomass for energy has been encouraged in particular through a tradable electricity certificate system and exemption from taxes on energy, and carbon and sulphur emissions”.

So in the EU you can run your Tesla on electricity produced from woodchips safe in the knowledge that you produced no carbons or sulphurs !

Reply to  GregK
August 5, 2020 3:32 am

But Austria used to have coal too and Sweden used to have coal too…

and the UK is unlikely to move beyond the one Drax woodchip plant. (Other EU countries use local waste wood and byproduct or alternate sources of biomass: only the UK imports unenvironmental Us woodchip)

Be honest: there’s a lot less coal power in Europe and by 2030 there will be virtually none…

Brooks Hurd
Reply to  griff
August 5, 2020 5:26 am

What will Germany use to backup their wind and solar power? Currently, Poland is supplying much of the backup power. I believe you will find that Poland still has coal fired power plants.

August 4, 2020 9:34 am

The discussion below reminds me a bit of the investigation on what caused the smoking in our microwave electronics- the internal fuse blew in our microwave- a few years back.

Hoyt Calgwell
August 4, 2020 9:42 am

“Zero emissions vehicles” should really be called “displaced emissions vehicles.”
The emissions are still happening, just not at the vehicle’s tailpipe.

August 4, 2020 9:58 am

Are we mining these exotics in these third world countries because it’s the only place they exist? I don’t think so. It’s the low hanging fruit syndrome. Known deposits cheaper to extract due to lack of labor equity and environmental concerns. What do the geologists say about known deposits waiting for their price point to be met and possible unknown deposits waiting to be found?

Ian Coleman
August 4, 2020 12:58 pm

Currently Teslas are about as common as Rolex watches. Elon Musk’s $35,000 Tesla was a fantasy.

Bob Bobby
August 4, 2020 1:35 pm

Batteries are for starting internal combustion engine’s, flashlights & vibrators.
EV are still powered by fossil fuel & they wouldn’t be possible without it.

August 4, 2020 2:00 pm

With so many of the minerals coming out from unstable, corrupt 3rd world countries. I wonder if the cry, war for oil, might morph one day into, war for lithium?

John Hardy
August 4, 2020 2:19 pm

So oil comes from nice well regulated countries with good labour laws???

This is special pleading nonsense, with many comments by folk who have never driven an EV. Forget the frigging CO2. The benefits of EVs:

* They are great to drive – fast, smooth, instant throttle response, bags of low end torque
* No tailpipe emissions so cleaner air
* Less low speed engine noise in town

Reply to  John Hardy
August 4, 2020 3:57 pm

“So oil comes from nice well regulated countries with good labour laws???”

For the most part yes. Anywho, when was the last time you saw a kid digging an oil well by hand?

Do you still own that EV dealership?

Fun to drive? So what? So are ICE cars
Cleaner air? Are you delusional or do you just hope everyone else is. Moving the exhaust to somewhere else doesn’t make the air cleaner, it just allows those who’s virtue signaling is stronger than their brain power to feel good about themselves.
Noise? Cars have been virtually silent for decades. The only ones that are noisy are the ones where the perpetually juvenile have added parts to make them noisy.

August 4, 2020 2:27 pm

The advantages of EVs are not in the form of lower emissions of green house gases. The whole global warming hysteria has helped the bring forward battery technology. I’m not convinced it was worth the cost but there are two definite and real advantages to EV’s. One is geopolitical. I’ve seen the size of cars shrink and then grow depending on oil prices. If some one tries to revive an oil cartel and gouge the consumer they know that consumers can switch to electric cars the same way they switched to four cylinders back in 1973 and 1979. Having the option of Electric cars puts a ceiling price on oil. Too high and too many drivers will switch.

The other advantage of electric cars is civil. Right now all roads must be outside because cars need to breath. When cars no longer need a place to put their carbon monoxide roads will be built underground or inside buildings. The advantage is not just that it frees up a lot of expensive real estate. The advantage is also safety and long term cost. Cities will not need to salt roads that are inside and roads that don’t freeze will not heave and crack.

Reply to  star man
August 4, 2020 3:59 pm

OPEC ain’t the boogey man you wish to believe and hasn’t been for decades.
Cars haven’t produced carbon monoxide for well over a generation.

If you think that building all roads underground is cheaper than salting them every winter, then you aren’t connected with any form of reality known to man.

Reply to  star man
August 4, 2020 4:01 pm

BTW, they’ve been building miles long tunnels for cars for generations.

Al Miller
August 4, 2020 2:41 pm

These have all been interesting comments to read, but entirely miss the point that the grand scheme of the plotters by their own admission is a redistribution scheme aka Marxism. This is all a big distraction form the war going on right in front of our noses. The fact that governments are using middle class taxes to subsidize wealthy play toys is all the more sickening.

Thanks WUWT
Reply to  Al Miller
August 5, 2020 4:06 am

I never see comments regarding EVs not paying any gasoline taxes for road repair and construction.
So right now, those who can afford an EV are getting a free ride in this regard. Eventually this will
have to be addressed, making EVs a little less attractive.

Reply to  Thanks WUWT
August 5, 2020 7:43 am

A lot less attractive. Depending on where you live, over half the price of a gallon of gas are the taxes built into the price. With that change, the so called lower cost of ownership disappears completely.

August 4, 2020 3:01 pm

I’ve got a lightly used electric lawn mower for sale at 10 cents on the dollar. It can’t handle even a small moderately thick turf after some good rains. It does look like a mower though and has wheels and a handle bar.

Don’t tell be about solar electric plane travel or self sufficient solar homes.

August 4, 2020 3:13 pm

only dirty secrets rubbish things !!!!!
no idea of electric energy !!!!

Ian Coleman
August 4, 2020 3:39 pm

Congratulations, star man. You have presented an idea that I have never heard before: Or course, the reason I have never run into the idea before is that it makes no sense. What possible advantage could there be in indoor roads? Suppose you wanted to drive across Los Angeles. Why would it matter if the roads were inside buildings?

Reply to  Ian Coleman
August 5, 2020 10:06 am

Thanks for asking. Has your city ever closed a road to allow for more pedestrian traffic? Toronto has closed their main street in the summer to allow for a mall experience. It’s very pleasant. With EVs city roads could be covered and the roof could become city parks. The road now appears to be underground but it’s not. Driving on these roads is better because there are no pedestrians to watch for. There is also no rain or snow, of more value to a Northern city than LA I admit. The roof-road could have bike paths and such. You could also cover it and make it a long shopping mall though shopping malls are going out of fashion.

That would only be the beginning. Let your imagination loose.

August 4, 2020 3:48 pm

For pity’s sake, can we please use the same units of measure throughout the article? Flipping from lbs of CO2 for the car and MT for driving is deliberately confusing and suggests the comparison is dishonest. It’s the kind of cheap rhetorical slight of hand the popular press is full of, and should be rejected out of hand by any intelligent reader. If your argument is sound, make it clearly.

August 4, 2020 8:24 pm

Better advocate for more oil wells, going to need synthetics for tires and plastics that build the car, and oh yeah, grease for steering components and oil for bearings.

August 4, 2020 10:30 pm

My new Hyundai Tucson costs A $30500
My Organization’s Hyundai ioniq Cost A $49,000 which I drive a lot.
In mountainous driving
Range Tucson 450km
Range ioniq 170km
The ioniq is definitely zippy.
The ioniq is inferior in practicality and running costs
A waste of money

Reply to  Waza
August 5, 2020 12:07 am

An Ioniq’s total cost of ownership is likely to be lower than for an equivalent ICE for an organisation…

Reply to  griff
August 5, 2020 1:23 am

How will it be cheaper?

Reply to  Waza
August 5, 2020 3:28 am

“Costs were found to be cheaper for electric vehicles due to less wear on the brakes and fewer moving parts,” write the study’s authors.

Reply to  griff
August 5, 2020 4:56 am

You only tell part of the story.

From your link:

Of course, as any EV booster will tell you, the difference in purchase price is often offset by savings on fuel and maintenance, as well as the various tax breaks and incentives that are available.

And when those subsidies finish:

The bad news: those government subsidies are a big part of the reason that EVs end up cheaper, and they won’t (and shouldn’t) last forever. For example, in the US, the federal tax credit will begin to phase out once a particular automaker reaches 200,000 in EV sales. Tesla will almost certainly be the first automaker to reach that milestone, probably sometime this year.

So, the $7500 currently given to people who can afford to purchase a new car paid for in part by poorer people will go and the EV’s total cost of ownership won’t “likely be lower” than an ICE

Reply to  griff
August 5, 2020 7:46 am

Replacing the battery pack costs more than replacing an engine, and the engine will last longer.

BTW, the battery pack and the electronics aren’t moving parts.

Once again, griff touts a study that only looks at the parts of the story that support the fairy tale they are trying to sell.

Reply to  griff
August 5, 2020 7:48 am

They are also counting on the fact that EV’s aren’t being taxed to support the roads they drive on.
BTW, the amount of damage done to a road by a car or truck is based on the per axle weight of that vehicle. EV’s are heavier than similar sized ICE vehicles.

Reply to  griff
August 5, 2020 8:46 am

griff, you’re posting fake-news sites. When are you going to learn what is fake-news and what isn’t?

Hint — practically everything is fake news anymore except what is here at whatsup and a few other sites/sources/people.

Reply to  griff
August 5, 2020 7:45 am


Let me know when you have some actual numbers.

August 5, 2020 2:42 am

It is not global climate change that is driving mass extinction of species on earth, it is habitat destruction. When the woke liberals wake up and see the utter devastation that mining of the minerals for EV’s will cause in some of the most delicate ecosystems they will then wonder why we made such a fuss over a temporary small rise in global temperatures. ( and no doubt blame everyone but themselves) No species has become extinct in modern times due to climate change ALL extinctions have been down to direct hunting or loss of habitat.

August 5, 2020 4:57 am

Few comments here address the situation that the the future manufacture of EVs will depend upon the acquisition of the raw materials necessary to produce the batteries that power them. If the UK alone, decides to go electric, then about twice the annual global production of cobalt; three quarters of the world’s production of lithium carbonate; nearly the entire world production of neodymium & more than half the world’s copper produced in 2018 will be required. Which leaves F A for the poor old USA, never mind Canada!

Simple arithmetic, (something you Yanks were good at once) means you’ll not be having to give up internal combustion I/C engines, in favour of electrickery, for the foreseeable future. No batteries, nor I/C & you’ll be facing another 1894 crisis in 20 years. Creek, canoe & paddlelessnesslessnesslessnesslessnesslessnesslessnes!..

OTOH, combine a wicked sense of humor with Yankee ingenuity and what do you get? “The World’s Best Bird Feeders®,” that’s what!

August 5, 2020 6:23 am

Here is Professor Kelly’s pdf for the GWPF.

August 7, 2020 1:32 am

“Indeed, over the same period, Australians bought two-and-a-half times more Rolls-Royces (158), seven times as many Lamborghinis (457), and 12 times as many Ferraris (818) than Renault Zoe electric cars’

Pete Peterson
August 12, 2020 5:02 pm

I’d like to see some info on how often the batteries in EV’s have to be replaced and what the cost of the replacemnent is. Also, exactly how are the depleted batteries disposed of/recycled?

Douglas Pollock
August 12, 2020 11:13 pm

I am afraid that the beginning of professor’s Michael Kelly is wrong in three orders of magnitude. In his article “ELECTRIFYING THE UK AND THE WANT OF ENGINEERING”, he claims that Dinorwig Power Station has a stored capacity of 9 GWh, storage required to charge only about 150.000 EVs of 60 KWh batteries. However, that hydraulic power station has 9.1 TWh stored behind its dam, not 9 GWh, i.e., 9.100 GWh of stored energy, thus enough to charge 151.670.000 small 60 KWh UK EVs.

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