THE term ‘range anxiety’ is often used in discussions about electric vehicles, or EVs. ‘Anxiety’ implies an irrational fear, but the worry is very real and is a fundamental drawback with EVs.
Furthermore there is little manufacturers can do to alleviate the problem, other than install bigger batteries, which just adds to the cost.
Last week the Telegraph reported on a survey which found that only six of the 20 most popular EVs could make it on one charge from London to Newcastle upon Tyne, a distance of 283 miles. These included:
• Mercedes EQS (OTR Price £102,160)
• Kia EV6 (£41,695)
• Ford Mustang (£47,530)
In fact, it was just another shoddy piece of journalism from the Telegraph, because the survey was based on the manufacturers’ official specifications, which come from laboratory testing. A quick check would have revealed this to the reporter.
As with all cars, the range is much less in real-world driving conditions. When this is factored in, along with the fact that no sane person would run the battery down to zero charge, the realistic range is little better than half the manufacturers’ claims, as the Telegraph itself has reported elsewhere.
And unless you have the odd 50 grand to spare, you will probably be able to afford only something like the Nissan Leaf, a snip at £28,495. For that money, you won’t even get 100 miles of range. Indeed one car tester managed only 60 miles on 82 per cent of the battery charge when it was full up with passengers and luggage.
You can forget days out to the seaside or into the countryside!
Although battery electric cars, in other words excluding hybrids, made up 11 per cent of new car sales last year, many of these are undoubtedly used mainly as city runabouts, with drivers owning a second, proper car for longer journeys. (Clue – take a look at how many EVs are charging up at the motorway services next time you stop off; I suspect the number will be tiny!)
The government is so concerned about the reluctance of most people to buy EVs that it is reportedly considering setting legally binding quotas for manufacturers. A target that 22 per cent of car sales must be electric in 2024 has been discussed, steadily increasing to 50 per cent in 2028.
Manufacturers might make that many EVs, but they cannot force the public to buy them. And there is nothing to stop people buying an imported petrol car, for instance from France or Germany. If these quotas go ahead, they will be terribly damaging to the UK car industry.
Of course, it is not just range that is a problem. It is estimated that over 40 per cent of car owners have no off-street parking, which raises the question of how they are going to charge up.
Meanwhile EV prices are totally unaffordable for most people. A typical electric family-sized SUV, such as the Kia EV6, will knock you back well over £40,000. The petrol equivalent, the Kia Sportage, is only £26,745.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that our governing class wants to take our cars away from us and force us meekly to use public transport and walk everywhere.
Windfall profits for renewable generators
I wrote a while ago about the enormous profits being earned by renewable energy companies, such as wind and solar farms. The government has now published the data for December 2021, which shows just how obscene these profits are, paid for of course by all of us on our energy bills.
Just to recap, nearly all of our onshore wind farms, two thirds of offshore wind and half of our solar power are subsidised via Renewable Obligation Certificates, ROCs. By law, suppliers of electricity have to possess a certain number of ROCs to cover their obligation each year, so they either need to generate their own renewable electricity or buy the ROCs. The market price set by Ofgem for ROCs is about £55 currently.
Renewable generators are awarded ROCs by Ofgem according to the amount of electricity they produce. The number of ROCs handed out vary between different technologies, but on average are worth about £75/MWh.
Effectively therefore the value of ROCs is a subsidy to renewable generators, which comes on top of income from electricity sales. The cost of the ROC subsidy, which is estimated at £6.6billion this year, is added to everybody’s electricity bills.
On top of the subsidy, of course, generators receive income from the sale of electricity. Historically the wholesale price of electricity has been around £50/MWh, but is now over £200/MWh. According to government data, wind farms, for instance, earned an average of £213/MWh from sales last December.
That means that offshore wind farms received a total income of £317/MWh, including the subsidy.
All in all, renewable generators received a windfall profit of £923million during December, the extra income over and above that from a market price of £50/MWh.
In business, prices can go up and down, and we sometimes have to accept the rough with the smooth. But it is intolerable that renewable companies should benefit so much at the expense of the public, when they are at the same time already being heavily subsidised.
It is high time that the ROC scheme was scrapped and replaced with something fairer to consumers.
Ban gas boilers, says infrastructure tsar
Sir John Armitt is the government’s infrastructure tsar. As chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, one of his jobs is to advise the government on its Net Zero strategy.
In an interview with the Telegraph, he says he wants to wean us off our gas boilers, but admits that the logical alternative of using hydrogen is a non-starter because of all the problems involved. The only option, he says, is heat pumps. But as he points out, nobody wants the useless things:
‘Why would you move to a heat pump at somewhere between £5,000-£15,000 as long as you can buy or exchange for a new gas boiler for £1,500?’
Worse still, heat pumps are not actually very good at the job of heating our homes. While they are fine for providing background heat, Armitt admits that in cold weather we will need alternative sources of heating.
None of this matters, though, to our infrastructure supremo. He has the obvious solution – just ban the sale of gas boilers.
How utterly patronising!
Armitt, who is also Chairman of the National Express Group and City & Guilds, Deputy Chairman of the Berkeley Group and a member of the Board of Transport for London, is obviously not short of a bob or two. To him and his type, £15,000 is loose change. The fact that policy decisions, which will hugely affect ordinary people, are being formulated by him tells us everything that is wrong with our system of government.