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Electric vehicle targets are just pie in the sky


RECENTLY I received this leaflet from West Sussex county council about a proposal to install six charging points for electric vehicles (EVs) in the road where I live, and inviting my comments. This is what I replied.  

Dear Sir

Freedom of Information Request

Proposed installation of Electric Vehicle Charge Points

Thank you for your notification regarding your proposed installation of EV charge points. Before proceeding with that, you should consider the following.

1. Most EV drivers will have a home charger and perhaps two. So having another point near to home is far less important than having one within around 50 miles or so away. The place for them would be in car parks, so that visitors who have travelled a few miles, can get home. They will have to hope that National Grid (NG) has not drained their battery of energy while they were parked. What agreement will you have with NG to allow them to use EV batteries to support the grid in emergency?

2. What will be the cost of the substations and connections needed at car parks and who will pay for them? A car park with 100 x 25kW EV charging points would have a prospective maximum demand (MD) of 2,500kVA at unity PF. (One hour at 25kW should facilitate a 60-mile journey on a fine day, because EV makers recommend the charge is kept between 20 and 80 per cent.) 

3. You will have a phased budget and a time schedule showing activities associated with the EV charge point installation. Please provide a copy of those items.

4. There is no hope that the National Grid power capacity will be sufficient to carry the MD load of the planned 300,000 EV chargers on the strategic road network by 2030. That is because at 100kW each – plus the load of 10million heat pumps – will double the prospective MD on the Grid to around 90GW.

5. You say that wind, solar and hydro sources will power 100 per cent green electricity. But on some days, solar and wind power output totals less than 1GW. Even trebling wind and solar capacity would leave a shortfall of 87GW. 

6. Indeed wind farm output averages only around 30 per cent over the year and it will require massive energy storage (eg in the form of H2) to make up for the 70 per cent shortfall. However, electrolysers require 2 units of energy (Joules) for every 1 in the H2 released. So, even more wind and solar will be needed.

7. The government plans for only 10GW of H2 capacity and – even if Pumped Storage capacity were doubled to around 6GW – there will still not be enough energy storage to keep the lights on when there is little sun or wind. As you know, we are still waiting for new nuclear power to replace the ageing nuclear fleet, but there is not much hope there.

8. Now consider the emerging shortage of raw materials. At 40kg per EV, around 60million tonnes of lithium will be needed to make batteries for 1,500million EVs globally. But only 130,000 tonnes came from mines in 2022, at which rate it would take over 400 years to make the batteries.

9. All of which should tell you that the phasing out of ICE vehicles by 2030 is pie in the sky. You say that the EV installation cost of EV chargers will not be carried by councils. Who do you think will carry the costs, if not the taxpayer?

Instead of premature expenditure and vain attempts to phase out ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) driven cars by 2030, you should be lobbying government to defer that at least to 2035, giving time for the policy to be re-considered.

I should mention incidentally that I live in a private road and you would need to get residents’ approval before you install six charging points (because many of those residents may have decided never to have an EV) thereby avoiding the rising expense due to material shortages, increasing electricity costs and road duty charges which are to transfer from ICE cars.

Roads with high-rise apartments will require a lot more than six points and the local distribution substations will need to be upgraded in many cases. Who will pay for that and how long will it take?

Before deciding on how many EV charging points are required, you might be better to carry out a survey  rather than installing chargers in places where they may never be used. Indeed, if you don’t want to be held to a Judicial Review, you should consult taxpayers before committing their money.

Yours faithfully

Roger J. Arthur CEng, MIEE, MIET

CC Andrew Griffith, MP

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Roger J Arthur
Roger J Arthur
Roger Arthur, CEng, MIEE, MIET, held senior positions in large international companies, at home and abroad, leading large projects and teams. He has over 30 years of experience in the electrical supply industry.

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