Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Electric cars are shockingly bad


What is it about electric vehicles (EVs) that causes environmentalists to drool? Oh yes, ‘zero emissions’, unlike the wicked petrol car which does ’emit’ the (fertilising) gas CO2.

But wait a moment. EVs run on electricity from a battery which must be charged from, er, power stations that use fossil fuels. Since renewables contribute just a few per cent of the UK’s energy (sometimes), nearly all our electricity comes from either nuclear or coal/oil/gas.

Take a Tesla (while you can, they ain’t going to be around much longer). To travel 200 miles it requires 40kg of coal consumed in a power station. Express steam locos in the 1930s were consuming just 16kg coal for the same load (2 tons) and distance (a 500 ton express train used 4,000kg to travel 200 miles). Bear in mind that a petrol vehicle would consume just 20kg of fuel for the same distance.

Now add the battery. This weighs 800kg (nearly a ton) – the equivalent of ten passengers permanently on board. Manufacture generates 17.5 tons of CO2 per battery, which would take an average motorist eight years to produce from his petrol car.

Fire: even small lithium batteries are liable to catch fire or explode, releasing deadly toxins. The huge dangers for occupants in event of an accident are obvious. Fire hoses would only exacerbate the problem, causing the electrocution of victims.

Death from exposure: in winter, travelling, say, over the Yorkshire moors in a blizzard at night, the car ‘dies’ as battery power drops due to the cold. There is now no heating. You freeze inside, you freeze outside trying to find help.

As most of the numpties who think electric cars are viable live in towns, the above point doubtless passes them by. However there is a huge potential for traffic clogging due to ‘dead’ electric vehicles which has not been considered, nor has the issue of time to recharge. Currently the driver of an average petrol car takes about five minutes to fill up, pay and depart. If it takes an electric car a minimum of 75 minutes to recharge (five hours is more likely), either the queues are going to be astronomical and the time wasted ditto, or there will need to be nearly five million charge points installed at an estimated cost of £20billion. Some joker suggested battery swopping; just who is going to lug a battery weighing nearly a ton around a charging station?

The BBC took an electric car from London to Edinburgh. It took three days, slower than a stagecoach. People sometimes need to get to places quickly!

In case anyone thinks that there is a miracle battery just over the horizon, I can absolutely assure him or her that there is not. Battery technology is mature and, to quote Mr David Hume, miracles do not happen (at least in technology). There is talk of a hypothetical storage system using graphene (extremely thin sheets of carbon). Unfortunately the moment big currents were to be drawn from such devices the high temperatures would cause the graphene to ignite and ‘disappear’ as a cloud of CO2.

Then there is the problem of electric HGVs: battery weight? 40 tons minimum!

No law was ever required to ban horses and replace them with cars, so why do we have to ban petrol vehicles if EVs are really so wonderful?

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Philip Foster
Philip Foster
Revd Philip Foster MA (Nat.Sci. & Theol.)

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