The myth of the electric vehicle

Published in Expansión

“The myth that the future belongs to electric vehicles is one of the misconceptions of the modern energy era”. The forcefulness of Vaclav Smil, recognized expert in energy and environment, discredits the coercive imposition of the electric car contained in the desideratum of the recently approved Climate Change Law, which advocates an energy involution and a true abdication of logic in the name of climate dogmatism. This law, which we Spaniards will pay dearly for unless our political class comes to its senses, is based, on the one hand, on the obsession with extremely inefficient “renewable” energies (which stands in stark contrast with the shocking omission of nuclear energy) and, on the other, on the mandatory use of electric vehicles for private transport. Both impositions are a mind-boggling attack on freedom (another step towards the new totalitarianism) and a vain attempt to violate the laws of Physics.

Doubts about the usefulness of the electric car date back to the beginning of the automobile era, when three types of engines competed: electric, steam and internal combustion. In 1906 a steam car broke the speed record by reaching 205 km/h but, after two decades of free competition to dominate the market, it was the internal combustion engine that clearly prevailed for the same reasons it still prevails today[1]. The inferiority of the electric car (BEV) is reflected in the rejection of consumers when they were left free to choose and it barely achieved a 1% market share. Even now, despite the increasing restrictions that push for their acquisition, they only account for about 2.7% of the cars sold in the world, a percentage that will grow in proportion to the aggressiveness of propaganda and coercion[2].

The new climate dictatorship wants to force us to buy vehicles that are not only more expensive, but also have characteristics that today, as they did a century ago, pose challenges that make them inferior to internal combustion alternatives. First, the average electric car has a range of only 300 km, roughly half that of traditional vehicles[3]. Although this is expected to increase in the future, the enormous weight of the batteries is a structural burden (an electric car weighs 50% more than its gasoline equivalent), and their dimensions reduce trunk volume. The actual range is always less than the advertised figures and produces the so-called “range anxiety” caused by the physical impossibility of refueling at a reasonable speed (the recharge duration being totally impractical) and by the lack of sufficient recharging points, which prevents travelling with peace of mind. In fact, if the wishes of the drafters of this law are fulfilled, forget about being able to go on vacation by car as you have been doing up to now.

Secondly, unlike traditional cars, the electric car has an expiration date. Indeed, battery life may be around 150,000 km according to the theoretical number of recharge cycles, but it may be less depending on the outside temperature, the usage regime and the recharge regime (like the batteries of your cell phones), which will force you to choose between maximizing battery life or maximizing range.

Thirdly, there are unresolved environmental issues surrounding lithium batteries (although the always selective environmentalists are as silent as tombs) and their intensive use of cobalt raises serious ethical questions, since the extraction of this mineral is linked to child exploitation and human rights’ abuses in the Republic of Congo, where 70% of production and 50% of world reserves are concentrated[4]. These mines, by the way, are mainly in Chinese hands[5], as are the rare metals also used in electric cars, with the consequent geopolitical risk.

Fourthly, a fleet of 100% electric cars would significantly increase the demand for electricity, requiring an increase in the system’s generation capacity of between 15 and 25%, an issue that is hardly discussed and which would require huge volumes of investment. On top of that, this law aims at an electricity generation based almost entirely on intermittent, inefficient and expensive energies such as wind and photovoltaic that do not generate electricity at night, just when most electric cars for private use would be recharging. Some politicians, keenly observers of reality, as is well known, may have noticed that at night the sun does not shine and the wind blows much less strongly, and that electricity can only be stored to a very limited extent (requiring even more batteries).

Finally, a massive migration of the private car fleet to electric cars would hardly reduce atmospheric CO2, to the frustration of the believers in the climate religion. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the manufacture of electric cars is much more CO2 intensive than that of internal combustion cars, both because of the batteries and because of their greater use of steel and aluminum. Before leaving the dealership and driving a single kilometer, an electric car has already produced 20 to 50% more CO2 than a diesel or gasoline car. The second reason is that the electricity consumed by an electric car comes largely from primary energies that emit CO2 (such as fossil fuel power plants) or have emitted CO2 in their manufacture (such as wind or photovoltaic), so the real reduction in emissions is much less than the propaganda would have you believe. In fact, the “green” character of the electric vehicle depends on the electricity generation coming from non-CO2 emitting sources. This is an absolute chimera, since the intermittency of “renewables” necessarily requires the system to be oversized in order to be backed up by traditional energy sources (see The Suicidal Spanish Climate Change Law, Expansión 22-5-21). Thus, according to a recent study, an electric car today would have to travel up to 200,000 km to begin to reduce CO2 emissions compared to diesel or gasoline vehicles with the same mileage[6], although the range depends on the sources of electricity generation. For all these reasons, and given that road transport of private vehicles accounts for less than 10% of total global CO2 emissions[7], several studies conclude that a 100% electric car fleet would reduce CO2 by between 0 and 5%. We don’t need saddlebags for this trip.

The Climate Change Law will make the electricity bill and the purchase of vehicles significantly more expensive, both because of their construction cost and shorter useful life, and because of the expansion of the electrical system needed to power them, as well as the foreseeable increase in taxes that would be levied on them (or do you think the State will happily give up the revenue from the tax on hydrocarbons?), and all this to barely reduce CO2 emissions.

“The intelligent deliberate and the fools decide”, wrote Anacharsis in 600 B.C. Drafted in blind obedience to globalist interests and approved in that sea of ignorance in which our legislators happily splash about, this law, like Carthage, must be destroyed to its foundations. I wonder if it would also be necessary to sow with salt a Congress so detrimental to national interests.

 

Fernando del Pino Calvo-Sotelo

www.fpcs.es

 

[1] Vaclav Smil, Energy: Myths and Realities. Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate.

[2] https://www.statista.com/statistics/960920/global-electric-vehicle-market-share-by-segment/

[3] https://newmotion.com/en/knowledge-center/news-and-updates/the-electric-range-of-an-ev

[4] https://blogs.prio.org/2021/04/cobalt-and-the-congo-a-sustainable-green-energy-transition-cannot-be-built-on-human-exploitation/  and  https://www.cfr.org/blog/why-cobalt-mining-drc-needs-urgent-attention

[5] https://www.mining.com/what-chinas-increasing-control-over-cobalt-resources-in-the-drc-means-for-the-west-report/

[6] http://blog.gorozen.com/blog/exploring-lithium-ion-electric-vehicles-carbon-footprint

[7] https://ourworldindata.org/co2-emissions-from-transport

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