To signal the downside of electric vehicles before governments waste taxpayers money to promote them.
Governments around the western world are competing to adopt the most EV-friendly policies and the most aggressive legislation to drive conventional cars off the road.
There is a long list of problems with the rapid introduction of electric vehicles, especially if governments provide subsidies and other incentives.
Spare a thought for the road safety aspect of soundless cars that can accelerate like rockets. Consider the situation of pedestrians who are elderly or hard of hearing, and young children who may be careless crossing the street.
People who have experienced collisions and close calls with cyclists will appreciate the danger of missiles that do not make any noise to warn of their approach. This will be aggravated when the ownership of evs extends from the elite who drive them at present to the whole population including “hoons” and people under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Fires in EVs are notoriously difficult to control.
Like the subsidies and the feedback tariff for rooftop solar, public funding of subsidies for the purchase of evs and providing charging infrastructure is a form of redistribution from people who are often less well off than the beneficiaries who can afford to buy evs.
Road construction and maintenance are funded by the tax on petrol and diesel. EV drivers avoid those taxes and this amounts to a subsidy for the wealthy.
Major issues including child labour and toxic working conditions have emerged in connection with the mining and processing of minerals in Third World countries.
The additional electricity required
A study of the likely cost of supporting 100% EVs turned up astronomical numbers for the increased demand for electricity and the amount of additional installed capacity of wind and solar power required to provide it. See this reference for some numbers, : How Much More Electricity Do We Need To Go To 100% Electric Vehicles
For example, in Germany, replacing 44 million cars would call for 30% more electric power and 40% more installed capacity at a cost of $US 230 Billion. Replacing 60GW of coal and nuclear power would call for some 140GW of additional wind and solar power at a cost of 650 billion.
In the Netherlands replacing 8 million cars would require 21% more electricity and 24% more installed capacity at a cost of 27 billion.
In the UK, with 26 million cars the numbers are 36%, 50% and 140 billion.
For the US, 260 million cars, 30%, 44% and $1.4 trillion.
China, 154 million cars, $750 billion.
One of the hopes is to use the cars as mass storage facilities in addition to their transport function. Assuming 100% conversion, all the cars in the UK could store 100 times the amount of power in the Dinorwig pumped reservoir but that is only enough to power the UK for about a day. So after a couple of windless and sunless days the whole fleet would have dead batteries in the absence of conventional power.
In addition to the cost of power, who would dare to estimate the cost of replacing or renovating the current system of service stations to provide charging stations? That would have to include the extra wiring and underground cabling.
There will be major problems of grid disruption in suburban streets when numbers of Teslas start to fast-charge. That will be on top of the increasing problem of grid stability caused by the loss of inertia and the fluctuations of wind and solar input.
The volume of resources required.
The International Energy Agency calculated that the needs for “energy transition minerals” such as lithium, graphite, nickel and rare-earth metal would rise by 4,200%, 2,500%, 1,900% and 700%, respectively, by 2040. Refer The Role Of Critical Minerals in Clean Enery Transitions
In cautious and bureaucratic language the report noted that the world doesn’t have the capacity to meet such demand and there are no plans to fund and build the necessary mines and refineries.
The agency received a lot of publicity for their recommendation about putting a stop to coal and gas projects but there has been less attention to their 287-page report on The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions.
Upstream there is the impact of mining, process, transport and construction. As noted above, staggering amount of minerals is required, for instance to meet some ambitious targets the Netherlands alone would absorb all of the flow of rare earths and related minerals that are being mined around the world at present.
Check out this 5-minute video for a reminder of the volume of eathmoving required.
Downstream is the disposal of millions of batteries in addition to the loads of waste from decommissioned windmills and solar panels.
Consider the security implications of long supply chains from states that are political unstable or run by controlled by potentially unfriendly regimes.
All the issues listed above call for investigation and cost-benefit analysis before public funds are committed to provide subsidies and other incentives to increase the ownership of electric vehicles.