Wednesday, 26 July 2017

All Electric Cars by 2040?

The man who said "who needs experts" is still inventing new ways to mislead the public. Michael Gove, as Environment Secretary, has announced that from 2040 the UK will ban the sale of non-electric cars and vans. This is following France who made a similar announcement some weeks ago.

Thankfully Gove will be long out of office by 2040 but the planning needs to start now. 

Putting aside the criticisms that this does not address the immediate air pollution problems in our cities, it all sounds fantastic until you look below the surface spin! I wonder if Amber Rudd (Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change) and her civil servants have done the calculation below, which shows that we would need to build between 3 and 7 new power stations every year from 2020, in order to supply the demand from charging electric vehicles. Is that going to happen? Did Gove ask her opinion?

We would also need to build a publicly accessible charging infrastructure and improve the energy density of batteries and their longevity significantly. At the moment the typical range of an all electric vehicle is about 100-200 miles and battery packs last 5-8 years. Since they are very expensive to replace this is important, especially for the used car market.

In cities, where there's nowhere to park cars except on the highway, I don't see how owners will be able to charge them. Are we really talking about kerbside charging points every two car lengths? In Islington, where I used to live in the 1990's, the local vandals would have fun collecting the plugs and cables for scrap!

I'm in favour of reducing air pollution, and maybe even reducing the carbon dioxide generated by road transport by using renewables and nuclear instead of fossil fuels to generate the electricity. It could all be done if there was a real political will behind it, but to achieve this transition by 2040 needs some funding and sustained joined up thinking across government departments. I don't know whether you've seen much of either recently but I haven't, certainly not from Michael Gove and his erstwhile friend Boris the liar!

1 US gallon is 3.785 litres
l /US gallon
so to replace all road fuel would need
or per day
or an average instantaneous demand of
allow double for peak load
so it would need this many new power stations
or over 20 years
per year


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