Climate Change Weekly #427: With New Energy Technologies, Beware of Spontaneous Combustion

From Heartland Daily News

H. Sterling Burnett March 3, 2022



  • With New Energy Technologies, Beware of Spontaneous Combustion
  • Podcast of the Week: Mega-drought Claim for American West Depends on Statistical Trick
  • AP to Pass Off Paid Press Releases by Climate Alarmists as News
  • U.S. Corn Ethanol Worse for the Climate than Gasoline
  • Temperature Adjustments Are Inconsistent And Don’t Match Reality, Scientists Find
  • Climate Comedy
  • Video of the Week: What Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Means for Global Energy Markets
  • BONUS Video of the Week: John Kerry Laments Ukraine Invasion Distracting World from Climate Crisis
  • Recommended Sites

With New Energy Technologies, Beware of Spontaneous Combustion

It’s not uncommon for films and books in the horror, sci-fi, and mystery genres to feature characters spontaneously combusting. TV reality shows documenting strange mysteries sometimes feature instances where people have, to outward appearances, erupted into flames without any apparent cause.

Whether in fiction or the real world, instances of spontaneous combustion are usually traced to outside forces or poor personal choices. In fiction, the cause might be pyrokinesis, a curse, witchcraft, or, in mysteries, some elaborate device that causes the targeted character to catch fire. In the real world, the causes are much more mundane, such as faulty electric wiring in a blanket or nearby space heater or falling asleep with a burning cigarette in one’s hand.

A real-world example of spontaneous combustion, instances of which are becoming far more common, is devices with lithium-ion batteries erupting into flames without any apparent outside cause. This endangers lives and property, not just by the flames but also from the toxic fumes these fires emit.

Airlines were among the first to take notice of this problem. The risk was so great that they banned certain products containing lithium-ion batteries from planes. Airlines also restricted the class of battery devices that can be taken in carry-on luggage, to batteries with limited storage capacity. Even small backup batteries are banned from checked luggage.

A Google News search for the phrases “electric car house fire” or “house solar battery fire” turns up dozens of stories from the past couple of years detailing instances where battery systems connected to recently installed solar arrays or electric vehicle (EV) batteries being charged in garages spontaneously combusted, burning down all or part of peoples’ homes. Dozens more articles warn of the dangers to homes from such devices.

In August of 2021, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported approximately 12,000 residential energy solar panel systems’ battery modules had been recalled by their manufacturers in 2020 and to that point in 2021 because of the threat of combustion. This wasn’t because the electricians failed to do their jobs when wiring up the systems; the fires were caused by the systems themselves. The battery modules’ chemical makeup and construction make them prone to overheat and catch fire on occasion.

News stories and government reports detail numerous instances of EVs spontaneously burning. When an electric vehicle catches fire in or after an accident, that’s understandable. Cars with internal combustion engines can catch fire in these cases as well. It’s another thing entirely, however, when a car spontaneously catches fire when stuck in rush-hour traffic or when unattended, parked on the street or in one’s garage. Electric vehicles have been known to do this, especially while charging or caught in highway gridlock. In 2021, Chevrolet recalled all its electric Bolts to replace their battery modules because of the fire risk.

Then there are the large-scale fires associated with the battery modules intended for or installed in electric vehicles. In late July of 2021, a fire erupted at one of the largest battery factories in the world, a partnership with Tesla in Australia. The factory caught fire during testing and burned for days, with firefighters initially unable to fight the blaze because they lacked respirator equipment to protect them from the toxic fumes. Authorities told nearby residents to stay indoors and close windows and other air vents.

The Australian battery factory fire was by no means unique. CNBC has detailed more than 40 such spontaneous combustion incidents at battery factories or battery storage facilities in the past decade, most of which occurred in the past three years. A fire at a battery factory in Arizona in 2019 seriously injured two emergency responders, and two firefighters in China were killed when a battery module connected to rooftop solar panels at a shopping mall burst into flames.

It is relatively rare for large, modern ships to catch fire and burn for an extended period, much less having to be abandoned and sinking because of fire. They are made of steel and have modern fire-suppression equipment installed or available. Perhaps this equipment is no longer modern enough. In mid-February, a cargo ship carrying battery-powered Porches, Bentleys, and Volkswagens totaling hundreds of millions of dollars in value erupted into flames. Whether the battery modules caused the fire is unknown. What is known, however, is that battery packs at least fueled the fire, making it grow quickly and emit toxic fumes. The crew could not put out the fire before the fumes forced them to abandon the ship. It burned for days and sank before a salvage crew could get it safely to port.

In a previous issue of Climate Change Weekly, I detailed some of the environmental drawbacks of the push for a big EV expansion in the United States. And in a recent post on Liberty and Ecology, I detailed some of the practical hurdles that make it unlikely EVs will suit most drivers’ needs in the near future. But inconvenience is one thing; the fact that the battery modules powering EVs and backing up rooftop solar systems are prone to spontaneous combustion and thus potentially deadly is another thing entirely.

This much is clear: before you add a solar system with backup battery to your home, check with your homeowner’s insurance to find out what you have to do to keep from voiding your coverage in the case of a battery-caused fire. Do the same when purchasing an electric vehicle you intend to charge in your garage. These systems require special wiring, and you should make sure to get the electrical work certified by your local government agency in charge of such things. Otherwise, if a battery fire burns your house down, you may find yourself in for a second shock when your insurer tells you the incident was not covered.

SOURCES: PennliveCNBCRoad and TrackClimate Change WeeklyLiberty and Ecology

Check Out All Our Presentations in Scotland

Podcast of the Week

The other day, Heartland Institute Senior Fellow Anthony Watts was a guest on the John Steigerwald Show on AM1250 The Answer in Pittsburgh.

Watts was invited on the program to rebut claims that the American West is experiencing the worst drought in 1,200 years. That’s right, since the 9th Century A.D., and that human emissions of carbon dioxide is to blame.

Not only did California just experience one of the wettest Decembers on record, Watts explains how this claim of the worst drought since the year 822 depends on a statistical trick. The study also just blames all warming since 1850 on human activity, but the data show the earth was on a warming trend long before the start of the Industrial Revolution and there is quite a bit of warming one must blame on nature.Subscribe to the Environment & Climate News podcast on Apple PodcastsiHeartSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts. And be sure to leave a positive review!

AP to Pass Off Paid Press Releases by Climate Alarmists as News

In mid-February, the Associated Press (AP) made official what I have long maintained is standard practice: passing off press releases and blog posts from climate change activists and groups and those who fund them, as if they were actual news stories.

According to an AP press release, the agency is accepting an $8 million grant from five prominent foundations known for promoting and backing organizations that promote climate alarm. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Quadrivium, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation are funding the hiring of more than two dozen journalists to report on climate issues primarily from Africa, Brazil, India, and the United States.

AP says this program is its “largest single expansion paid for through philanthropic grants, … illustrat[ing] how philanthropy has swiftly become an important new funding source for journalism.”

“This far-reaching initiative will transform how we cover the climate story,” said AP senior vice president and executive editor Julie Pace in the press release announcing the grant program. I’ll bet!

Commenting on AP’s decision to take millions from climate-woke foundations to fund climate reporting, Climate Depot’s Mark Morano said,

The media’s coverage of climate change has sunk to a new journalistic low. … The mainstream media, led by the Associated Press, is now publicly admitting they are just phoning in their coverage on “climate change.” Led by the Rockefeller Foundation and others, the AP will be parroting what the ideological activist groups’ funding pays for, while actual news will be tossed aside.

Journalistic standards are now officially out the window. There will be no attempt to present a patina of objectivity, balance or unbiased news by the AP when it comes to “climate change.”

With this announcement, AP has very publicly ceased to be a legitimate news gathering and reporting organization, at least in reporting on climate change. It has become a bought and paid-for shill for the environmental movement, spreading climate alarm around the world.

Upton Sinclair reportedly once said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Similarly, William Jennings Bryant reportedly said, “It is useless to argue with a man whose opinion is based upon a personal or pecuniary interest.”

Can anyone honestly believe AP will report objectively on climate matters when climate change alarm foundations are giving it millions of dollars? This is especially egregious when evidence indicates a climate crisis is not in the offing and bad weather events are not extreme in the context of history and recent data. To do so would be to bite the climate-woke hand feeding them. Reader, beware.

SOURCES: Climate DepotAssociated Press

Heartland’s Must-read Climate Sites

U.S. Corn Ethanol Worse for the Climate than Gasoline

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds adding ethanol to or substituting corn-based ethanol for gasoline causes more greenhouse gas emissions than using gasoline without ethanol.

The study found the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which specifies the amount of biofuels that must be be added to transportation fuel in the United States, resulted in 24 percent higher greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector than would have occurred without the mandated substitution of ethanol for gasoline required by the federal government in the 2005 Energy Policy Act as expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

The study also reported a variety of other negative effects of the government’s ethanol mandate. For instance, the ethanol mandate caused corn prices by to rise by 30 percent and the prices of other crops by 20 percent. Higher prices resulted in corn cultivation increasing by 8.7 percent in the years after enactment of the mandate. The study also reported the rapid expansion of corn grown for ethanol resulted in an annual growth of fertilizer use nationwide of 3 percent to 8 percent. The RFS also measurably decreased water quality, wildlife habitat, and the storage of carbon dioxide in the soil.

The study by researchers in a variety of scientific disciplines—agroecologists, environmental modelers, and economists from University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of California-Davis, Kansas State University, and the University of Kentucky—was funded in part by the National Wildlife Federation and U.S. Department of Energy.

“It basically reaffirms what many suspected, that corn ethanol is not a climate-friendly fuel and we need to accelerate the shift toward better renewable fuels, as well as make improvements in efficiency and electrification,” Tyler Lark, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a scientist in the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Technology Networks.

SOURCE: ReutersTechnology Works

Temperature Adjustments Are Inconsistent And Don’t Match Reality, Scientists Find

New research published in the scientific journal Atmosphere states the methods routinely used to adjust raw data recorded for European temperature records are flawed and introduce systemic bias in the reported adjusted temperatures.

In the paper, titled “Evaluation of the Homogenization Adjustments Applied to European Temperature Records in the Global Historical Climatology Network Dataset,” 17 researchers from 13 countries examined data adjustments applied to the European temperature records in the dataset over the last 10 years.

The Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) monthly temperature dataset is the main source of thermometer records used by official government agencies charged with monitoring, tracking, and reporting temperature and weather data, such as NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

Over time, temperature records from individual weather stations often show abrupt changes due to local factors that have nothing to do with global or national temperature trends. These include changes in the location of the weather station, changes in types of thermometers used, and the growth of urban heat islands near or around stations.

In a process called homogenization, NOAA, which maintains the GHCN dataset, uses computer programs to correct for these non-climatic changes by identifying abrupt jumps in the records through statistical methods and applying formulae to adjust the data.

Examining the homogenization adjustments for more than 800 European temperature records in thousands of datasets, the researchers found the adjustments often changed dramatically within a single day and from day to day when NOAA reran its computer program. The analysis showed just 17 percent of NOAA’s adjustments were consistent from one run to the next. In addition, the researchers found less than 20 percent of the adjustments made by the computer simulations corresponded to an unusual jump in the data trend that matched a change in the system or location, such as a new artificial heat source being erected nearby or a shift in location.

In addition, the adjustments were repeatedly applied to past records, as a new day’s temperature was added to the set, meaning, for example, data recorded at a site in 1951 could change from day to day as new temperatures were recorded.

Unless errors were found in how the previous adjustment was calculated, homogenized temperatures from the past should not be changing from day to day. This indicates a systematic problem with the homogenization program.

“[T]he authors warned that these bizarre inconsistencies in this widely-used climate dataset are scientifically troubling,” the Center for Environmental Research and Earth Sciences reports. “They also are concerned that most researchers using this important dataset have been unaware of these problems until now.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “Garbage in, garbage out.” In this case, however, the garbage looks like it’s being generated by the homogenization process itself and churned, much like the mulch it resembles, on a daily basis.

SOURCES: CERESAtmosphereManhattan Contrarian

Video of the Week: What Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Means for Global Energy Markets

On this episode, The Heartland Institute’s H. Sterling Burnett, Linnea Lueken, and Jim Lakely discuss what Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will do to energy markets — and how the world can isolate Vladimir Putin with their own forward-looking energy policies. Spoiler alert: That does not mean a faster transition to “green” energy.

BONUS Video of the Week: John Kerry Laments Ukraine Invasion Distracting World from Climate Crisis

John Kerry, President Biden’s international “climate czar,” lamented on BBC Arabic that the invasion of Ukraine is distracting the world from taking action to stop climate change. That might be the coldest thing so far said about the war that just broke out.

The Heartland Institute’s Donald Kendal, Jim Lakely, Chris Talgo, and Justin Haskins break down the lunacy in this highlight reel from the In the Tank Podcast — streamed LIVE every Thursday at noon CT.

Climate Comedy

via Comically Incorrect

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Ireneusz Palmowski
March 5, 2022 1:16 am

“Thanks to the pattern change developing a powerful high-pressure system over northern Europe, an early March Arctic cold blast with temperatures around -15 °C is forecast to spread into eastern Europe in the coming days. The favorable flipped pattern delivers extremely cold weather and snow also farther west into central and southern Europe next week. This is due to the Polar Vortex southern lobe turning towards Russia and Europe after being parked over the United States and Canada for most of the Winter Season 2021/22.”

Ireneusz Palmowski
March 5, 2022 1:34 am
Reply to  Ireneusz Palmowski
March 5, 2022 10:55 am

Will it be cold enough in Canada to kill the pine beetles?

Ireneusz Palmowski
Reply to  Phil Salmon
March 6, 2022 3:10 am

That may be the case.comment image

March 5, 2022 3:13 am

Spontaneous combustion? Lithium batteries are ubiquitous, and while they do pose a special kind of fire hazard, no one seems dissuaded from using them yet. We all have them. Every commercial airline flight has lithium batteries of one kind or another on it. The assessment of risk and management of that risk is highly overrated by people on this forum. You don’t have the data, you just have some anecdotal evidence of the problem. If EV’s fail it won’t be because of the battery fire problem, IMO.

Reply to  Tom.1
March 5, 2022 6:51 am

Part of the issue IMO is battery size. A phone battery failing is fairly trivial (absent it happening on e.g., a plane or in your pocket) but is a different beast altogether in a car or more importantly in a massive energy storage facility. That said, I think you are correct to say that won’t be the downfall of EVs. The bigger issue IMO is the illogic (physically and economically speaking) in planning to use battery storage to enable reliance on wind and solar. In that sense, focussing on battery safety is a distraction from the real issue.

Reply to  Ebor
March 5, 2022 7:32 am

What the grid scale batteries are going to be used for (my impression) is short term grid stabilization. I doubt the economics of full scale back of the grid ever works, unless somebody comes up with a much cheaper way to store energy. Energy storage is hard. Batteries will probably get safer as their use increases.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Tom.1
March 5, 2022 8:58 am

The recently announced Wooreen Energy Storage System in Australia is a 350MW/1400GWh system in Victoria due on line by 2026 and currently the second largest such storage system in the world.

It will power 230,000+ homes for 4 hours.

Reply to  Dave Andrews
March 5, 2022 1:01 pm

And after 4 hours……

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Dave Andrews
March 5, 2022 1:52 pm

So it won’t last all night on a freezing cold day? Hmmm,……

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Tim Gorman
March 6, 2022 2:53 am

Just connect it to 100,000 homes. See? …it works.

Reply to  Tom.1
March 5, 2022 7:31 am

I’m trying to decide if you are overly minimizing these hazards, though you do acknowledge the special fire hazards exist. I guess I agree with you except that you probably underestimate the effect of these deficiencies on dissuading battery use. In fact, there are regulations in place that prohibit the use of certain batteries in certain situations, and battery safety protection continues to be a major area of battery research and development. So, manufacturers are addressing this.

You are correct that we all have them. In consumer electronics, as component sizes are minimized, power consumption is decreased and this naturally places less demand on batteries.

I used to sometimes carry a portable battery pack on international travel and a couple of times in China of all places, undoubtedly where the devices were made, they were confiscated from me by airport security. This certainly dissuaded me from using these battery packs. Now airplanes themselves usually have their own power outlets and, as mentioned, devices don’t draw as much power, lessening demand on batteries.

You didn’t mention these applications, but with regard to batteries for home power backup and EVs, etc., miniaturization can only reduce current demand so much. One should rightly consider fire potential in purchasing decisions involving batteries for these applications.

On your last point, fundamental physics comes into play with regard to EVs. Despite the masses of IC engines, transmissions, etc., EVs are heavier for similarly sized vehicles because of their batteries. From conservation of energy principles, EVs consume more energy all things being equal, and they create more brake and tire dust in addition to more wear on roads.

This situation is unlikely to change because battery redox and combustion chemistry is fundamental to disadvantages of batteries and advantages of IC engines, respectively. Hybrids address these issues.

Technically, EVs will fail because of battery limitations. That doesn’t mean that they will necessarily fail commercially because now governments distort the marketplace like never before.

Reply to  Scissor
March 5, 2022 8:59 am

I think we’ll have EV’s in our future one way or another. If the autonomous vehicle technology works out, we will for sure. You won’t need to own a car you’ll just call one with your phone when you need it. When you’re done with the car it can drive itself back to a charging depot where, because it has a battery, can be charged with relatively cheap wind or solar power.

Reply to  Tom.1
March 5, 2022 9:23 am

I think you are right but for my needs, which includes some off-roading, EVs aren’t the way for the foreseeable future.

More choice is usually a good thing.

Reply to  Scissor
March 6, 2022 4:55 am

The solution is simple for our oppressive governments – no off roading for you (but lots for us, you silly little people)

Reply to  Tom.1
March 5, 2022 11:13 am

“Relatively cheap wind or solar power”

Relative to WHAT?

As to your other point about EVs not being unsafe, or not as unsafe as implied on this forum:

There may be a future where some new battery may be safe, but until then, once a lithium car fire damages a large building requiring an insurance company to pay big bucks for the liability, the restrictions on EV car insurance policies as to where you can park your car may well make EVs not so pleasing to the virtue signaling crowd, especially those who need to park in garages in cities. And not being able to park your car in your garage and charge it there would be a real wake up call.

The article about the town in Colorado, where the late season fire wiped out 300 houses, that adopted an energy code that requires providing provisions for car charging, is funny to think about.

Reply to  Drake
March 5, 2022 12:55 pm

Solar power or wind is low cost as long as you can abide the intermittency. Your concern of fire risk seems somewhat hypothetical. When it happens, the world will figure out how to deal with it; do you think we’ll see another Felicity Ace any time soon? Batteries will get safer. There are over ten million EV’s worldwide; go count the damage they’ve done. Get some data.

Reply to  Tom.1
March 5, 2022 7:08 pm

Does 3 days ago count as soon?

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Tom.1
March 5, 2022 1:55 pm

I carry emergency supplies in my car. Water, food, blanket, flashlight, spare batteries, hazard markers, flares, etc in case I have a breakdown or get caught in a traffic jam for a long period of time.

I’m supposed to carry that all in a suitcase when I call for an autonomous vehicle with my phone? Even autonomous vehicles can break down in freezing cold weather or get stuck in a blizzard, traffic jam, etc.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
March 5, 2022 2:04 pm

I guess you need the emergency supplies when you are going to the grocery store, the mall, or commuting to a meeting downtown? It may not work for everyone though. I get that. It’s still an open question as to how much market penetration the EV’s can achieve as long as ICE cars at available. I get that too.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Tom.1
March 5, 2022 2:37 pm

So I still need my own personal car? Why then would I use a autonomous vehicle?

What do you do at 5pm quitting time when everyone wants their autonomous car to go home? Sit in the bar for 2 hours till one becomes available for you?

If you buy something large at the mall, e.g. a 65″ TV how do you get it home in the autonomous car? Are all of them going to be F150 pickups?

How are you going to finance the callable autonomous cars? A timer like in a cab? What’s to keep you from just calling one from a payphone and then just walking away without paying? Are they all going to be funded via local taxes? Hard to keep current public transportation funded let alone a huge fleet of autonomous cars.

It’s not a matter of maybe not working for everyone. It’s a matter of not working for most. And that affects the cost/benefit provided, i.e. higher taxes for no benefit for most.

Reply to  Tom.1
March 6, 2022 8:15 pm

Yeah, check out the longevity of Cuba’s ICE cars from the 1950s.

Peta of Newark
March 5, 2022 4:02 am

In The Brave New Green World, one will ask whether conventional explosives will be needed ever again…. by military, terrorists, the general public, pissed off people or simple drunks ##

BBC Headline:”Southampton station fire after scooter thrown on to rail tracks

## <shudders> I’ve just reminded mesel’ of the ever lovely BoJo, equally ever drunk.
He seems to have been fairly quiet these days apart from issuing childish & baseless personal insults aimed at Mr Putin and other brainless soundbite junk about Ukraine.
Even Mr Barndoom has come out with better quality stuff…

Last edited 2 months ago by Peta of Newark
Tim Gorman
March 5, 2022 5:17 am

From the section: Temperature Adjustments Are Inconsistent And Don’t Match Reality, Scientists Find

“The analysis showed just 17 percent of NOAA’s adjustments were consistent from one run to the next. In addition, the researchers found less than 20 percent of the adjustments made by the computer simulations corresponded to an unusual jump in the data trend that matched a change in the system or location, such as a new artificial heat source being erected nearby or a shift in location.”

And yet the CAGW advocates take NOAA’s adjustments to the GHCN data set as an article of faith. If this is the case in Europe then it is also the case everywhere.

“In addition, the adjustments were repeatedly applied to past records, as a new day’s temperature was added to the set, meaning, for example, data recorded at a site in 1951 could change from day to day as new temperatures were recorded.”:

Generalized adjustments to multiple past data records should be avoided like the plague. There is simply no way to know what a station’s measurement device accuracy over time has been. To guess at an adjustment today and then apply that to past data as well is just the height of idiocy. 

“Unless errors were found in how the previous adjustment was calculated, homogenized temperatures from the past should not be changing from day to day. This indicates a systematic problem with the homogenization program.”

Pst data should not be adjusted at all! If someone mows the grass under the station today and it causes a change in the temperature measurements how do you justify applyng an adjustment calculated for today to past measurements? You don’t know what condition the grass was in at past times! It was probably brown during the winter and green in the summer and what did those changes cause in the temp measurements?

March 5, 2022 6:58 am

Data obtained by Air Quality News through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that in 2019 the London Fire Brigade dealt with just 54 electric vehicle fires compared to 1,898 petrol and diesel fires.

Reply to  griff
March 5, 2022 6:59 am

How common are electric car fires?

Research by AutoinsuranceEZ, says battery electric vehicles have just a . 03% chance of igniting, compared to internal combustion engine vehicle’s 1.5% chance

Reply to  griff
March 5, 2022 9:15 am

The insurance group did a better job of making a comparison than your simplistic approach of just looking at absolute numbers. However, their comparison was made on the basis of sales, not usage or distance traveled, etc., so it still leaves something to be desired.

You failed to note that according to the study, hybrids were the worst. A cursory examination of AutoinsuranceEZ shows them to be decidedly woke. Whether this biased their study is something one might investigate.

Reply to  Scissor
March 5, 2022 11:20 am


Since griff did not provide a link, I know, unusual for him, do you know if the study put the hybrids in the ice column or the ev column?

Or were there 3 columns, as it appears there should be?

Asking because, as a generally lazy person, I never thought there was ever a reason to reinvent the wheel and was always ready to steal from those before me than build from scratch, if you have read the report, I don’t have to. I trust you to give me the true scoop, not the griff slanted poop.

Thanks in advance for your reply, but of course, I am just asking. No pressure.

Reply to  Drake
March 5, 2022 2:05 pm

Here is a link to an article about the study.

Reply to  Scissor
March 5, 2022 12:33 pm

Maybe normalize the data by millions of vehicle miles by type. Then apply a known factor for battery/ICE usage in hybrids. Then you could start to compare EV and ICE car fires.

Reply to  griff
March 5, 2022 12:17 pm

I don’t think frequency is the problem. The problem is the consequences when they happen. If you have very few fires, but they happen in crowded car parks in the basement floors of buildings, or multistory parks of any sort, then the fact that there are very few of them is unimportant. What matters is that when they happen you have a major disaster on your hands.

I would like to have an EV, for local driving. But there is no way I would keep it either in a garage or near enough to the house to set the house on fire.

I know that the chances of it spontaneously igniting are very low indeed. But if when it happens it means your house going up in flames unpredictably, you are not going to risk it.

Perhaps we should be following the precautionary principle, so often invoked by the climatarians, in this case…?

Bryan A
Reply to  griff
March 5, 2022 11:34 pm

With 39,200,000 petrol cars and 1898 fires that’s approx 1 fire for every 20,650 cars
With 345,000 Electric cars and 54 fires that’s approx 1 fire for every 6,388 cars
If ALL cars in the U.K. were electric 39,200,000/6388 = 6136 fires instead of 1898 … 3.2 times as many potential among electric vehicles

Reply to  griff
March 5, 2022 9:03 am

You seem to have problems looking at both sides of the equation. Nominally, EVs represent one percent or less of those in use and certainly much less than that considering percentage of transport on a mass/distance basis.

Multiply 54 times 100 for a fairer comparison or normalize the data for each type of technology, brand, etc.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  griff
March 5, 2022 9:45 am

As usual griff you never tell the whole story.

First of all there are many many more ICEVs on the roads than EVs

Then there are the things you have to worry about with regards to an EV fire compared to a fire in an ICEV.

The following quotes are from a document from the UK Bedfordshire Fire Service

“During an electric vehicle fire over 100 organic chemicals are generated including toxic gases carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide – both fatal to humans”

“The Fire Brigade will always wear full PPE with respiratory equipment. However this level of protection isn’t necessarily available for all members of the public or other public service people”

“For the Fire Brigade the real problem when it comes to an EV fire is trying to put it out. The service has two main options, let it burn or extinguish it, but many EV manufacturers advise for a controlled burn, ie allow the vehicle to burn out while protecting the surrounding area”

“Once the fire is out the problems are not over. EV fires can reignite hours, days or even weeks after the initial event. Recovery firms are increasingly concerned about dealing with EVs”

Last edited 2 months ago by Dave Andrews
Reply to  Dave Andrews
March 5, 2022 12:23 pm

Exactly. The technology is not fit for purpose to replace ICE cars, because an ICE car fire is (a) rarely if ever spontaneous (b) easy to put out promptly with readily available fire extinguishers. Whereas an EV is not possible to put out with such equipment, burns for a very long time, and emits poisonous gases while doing it.

Maybe there is a way of using them that will not be a like for like replacement. In the country, park in the driveway 10 meters or so away from the house, and expand parking lot spacing so they are never closer to each other than a couple of meters. Keep them out of dense urban areas – which is where they would do most good to limit pollution.

Possible. Another reason why the general forced adoption of EVs will be accompanied by a sharp reduction in car ownership. I am guessing 80-90%.

Bryan A
Reply to  griff
March 5, 2022 6:10 pm

AND…What is the ratio of Electric Vehicles to Petrol vehicles?
Hint, the UK has 39.2M passenger cars on the road in 2021
Number of EVs 345,000 and 670,000 hybrid
Plug-in EVs make up <1% of the cars in the UK and hybrids are <1.7%
Soooo about 1.5/100
EVs simply aren't in wide enough use to gather any meaningful data on Potential problems and likelihood of spontaneous combustion.
The likelihood of having an accident with one is extremely small so I would expect the ratio of combustion from accidents would be similar. However for that to be the case 1898 petrol fires would equate to about 30 EV fires. It would seem that at 54 the ratio of every fires to Petrol fires is greater than the ratio of vehicles about 3/100

Bryan A
Reply to  Bryan A
March 5, 2022 7:19 pm


Last edited 2 months ago by Bryan A
March 5, 2022 12:08 pm

The way to check it might be to take a known station, with a known record of temperatures, then take it out of the set to be homogenized, and see whether the homogenized values corresponded to the actual values.

Do this enough times and you get a realistic assessment of the validity of the procedure.


Tim Gorman
Reply to  michel
March 5, 2022 2:21 pm

Not sure that will work. It depends on the uncertainty of the single station being the same as the uncertainty of the combined stations used as the homogenization value.

March 5, 2022 2:40 pm

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that almost any method of storing energy that is energy dense enough to be useful is going to present some dangers if you can’t control the release rate. Gas is pretty dangerous, but we seem to be able to keep that contained. But even storing kinetic energy like a flywheel or springs is pretty dangerous if it gets out of control.

Probably coal is the safest form of energy taking into account energy density, controlling the release rate, and getting it back under control if it starts going wobblely.

I live in a forest, I worry all the time about its energy density and propensity for the energy release rate to get out of control.

March 5, 2022 7:05 pm
  1. Re: Spontaneous Combustion – there’s nothing like a steak grilled over a lithium fire.
  2. Re: Russian Invasion – in the halls of government “forward-looking energy policy” does not exist. The phrase is oxymoronic in that context.
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