The Fantasy of Wind and Solar-Part two: Electric Vehicles
The purpose of this series of blogs is to share my thoughts about whether oil and gas will continue to be something to consider as good investments, and to explore some options to the zombie like march to batteries running the world.
I have no expertise as a scientist or engineer. My observations are mostly logical arguments. I will cite sources as I go. Logic is what is in short supply. There seems to be no end to the fantasies of those who make the environment their religion. Facts don’t matter to religious fanatics.
Dreaming isn’t always vision. Vision does not cancel the laws of physics, but dreaming does. Some things are fantasies and dreams. Simple little inconveniences like gravity and the speed of light are what they are, they are not changeable. Before we leap willy-nilly into this EV and battery thing, we need to think and not listen to the squeaky wheels of serial complainers.
One “inconvenient truth” for the emissions followers is that air in the US has gotten cleaner, much cleaner, over the last 60 years. So, shouldn’t we stay on that path with known systems of conservation and cleaner emissions?(1)
News flash for the renewable energy super fans: Lithium is not renewable! Neither are the other 20 minerals needed for EV’s. There is also not near enough rare earth minerals to meet demand for solar panels or batteries. All of these materials are not renewable, they are finite. They may run out a lot sooner than oil and gas.
Rare earth minerals are the biggest challenge. China controls 85% of the rare earth market, but the supply there is already strained. A lot of the work is done with slave or forced labor working in conditions of constant contact with toxic chemicals. (2) (3) So, China is all in and moving full steam ahead to help addict a world to energy that forces the rest of us to through them to begin this grand conversion and then keep it running. Lucky the Chinese are totally reliable, huh?
Disposal of huge car batteries and solar panels is a mess waiting to happen. Solar panels last up to 25 years. Millions of tons of them will start to be retired soon. A Tesla battery pack is 1200 pounds. Batteries last 100,000 miles to over 10 years. They all contain toxic chemicals. Obsolescence could cause replacement before the life of the panels or turbines for wind.
Also because of the EV psychosis, car makers including Ford and GM have discontinued research and development on internal combustion engines. That makes no sense, because even the rosiest outlook for us driving mostly EV’s is decades away.
Another big problem for EV’s is getting them charged. There are currently 3 levels of charging for EV’s. Level one chargers are the ones you can plug into a normal outlet such as in your garage. This way of charging will fully charge an average EV in 12-50 hours. You get about 50-80 miles of range from 10 hours of charging. I hope your commute is short and you don’t have to pick up the kids at practice. Level 2 chargers are much faster. You can have these installed in your house for about $1500. They are similar to the outlets you plug the washer and dryer into. Level two chargers can charge your car in 3-8 hours. Level three chargers are the super chargers that we hear about. They can charge a vehicle to 80% in 30-40 minutes. You have to pay to charge no matter which level you use. When you are out of juice and traveling, you would really, really, want to find a Level 3 charger.
The problem for Level 3 chargers is that there are few EV’s that are built to withstand that high of a charging rate. Tesla has a nationwide network of superchargers but they only number about 1,106 with 400 of them in California. And they are off limits if you don’t own a Tesla.
So, it is only Level 3 chargers that really make sense for trips of any length. But even around town do you want to wait 40 minutes to charge if you are first in line? In President Biden’s plan for charging, he has a goal of 500,000 chargers by 2030. Only 50,000 or 10%of those will be Level 3 chargers. A nice premium up-charge for using a supercharger will most likely develop. Who wants to wait 3-6 hours to charge the car at one of the other Level 2 chargers? And you had better not run the air or heater. Those systems account for 17% of power usage in EV’s. That should be fun for the whole family. “We can leave the air on, but it will take about 40 minutes longer.” Just think of the extra sing-alongs and games you can devise to kill the time. And by the way, that 17% is not figured in when estimating range for your new car. So, on hot days, it may be wise to cut the heat off just in case.
Cold weather is a bigger problem. Since EV’s don’t have the natural heat of a gas engine, they need a lot of power to heat in cold weather. During bad cold snaps Consumer Reports recommends cutting your mileage estimates by as much as 50%. That will keep you busy with equations as each car will be rated for different percentages of reduced range. “Let’s see, I have 139 miles of range left. What is 37% of 139?” (4)
If the government is shooting for 10% Level 3 chargers, corporate America will not absorb the prohibitive cost of Level 3 chargers either. The MGM Grand in Las Vegas has 6,000 rooms. If 4,000 are occupied I wonder how that will look at check-out time with those Level 2 chargers. Could there be a new emotional condition, “Parking lot Rage? (5)
Also, 35% of all people in the US live in apartments. They don’t make extension cords that long. And the landlord can’t afford chargers, so there would probably be an upcharge on rents for using an installed charger or so much per minute or power used.
For EV’s our government gives up to $7,500 as an incentive to buy an EV. This is anti-competition that is paid for by you in taxes. As 10’s of millions of these cars start to sell each year the taxpayer cost will be enormous. At 10 million cars sold a year that is $75 billion in incentives. I understand we spend more on that sending checks to dead people and fraudsters. According to the Government Accountability Office in 2018, the federal government made nearly $150 billion in improper payments. This included $16 billion from the earned income tax credit, $36 billion from Medicaid, more than $3 billion from food stamps, and just shy of $10 billion from Medicare. Especially embarrassing was Social Security paying nearly $1 billion in benefits to dead people. (6)
Insurance and affordability. It will cost you about 23% more to insure an electric vehicle than one with a gas powered motor. Partly this is due to the replacement cost of the battery pack if it is ruined in a traffic accident. (7) Most low income households cannot afford an EV and insurance and may not be able to for decades. As electric rates rise from mass charging, the poor will share the burden of higher bills with the affluent, which will increase “energy poverty.” (8) These cars start in the $30,000 range which is just not attainable for many people.
All in all, one in five Californian have switched back to gas cars. The biggest reason being charging hassles. It is confusing to have a charger be called “high speed” but when you show up you realize you are in for at least 2 hours of charging. A recent cross country trip by a professional driver on the best route for EV’s speaks of constant range anxiety. Has anyone ever “run out of gas” in an EV? (9) If you do run out of juice, don’t expect a roadside charge. The only option is towing. AAA canceled its roadside charging project. Some companies are working on it, but it won’t be cheap. For now, your only option is to be towed.
Not only do you have to watch you power indicator, you have to stop 10-20% before that happens. Like running a conventional car to empty, using all of your EV’s charge can damage the car. Running completely out of power is known as ‘deep discharging’ and can lead to the battery deteriorating, reducing its performance and ability to hold charge. If you have less than 10-20% charge left, it’s always best to recharge if possible rather than letting it dip further. (10) If your range is 300 miles and you only fill it up to the recommended 80% that leaves you 240 miles. If it’s very cold it takes it down as low as 120 miles. You have to stop before you get below 10% charge. That takes your 300 mile range down to 80 miles.
In the US we have relatively low power bills. Could that change with EV’s? First, there is the cost of charging the vehicle added to other household power needs. Then there is the problem of extra costs to run the country on wind and solar. Germany is in the forefront of renewable energy. They supply 51% of their power from “renewables.” The cost per Kilowatt hour is 36 cents for Germans. In the US it is 12 cents. So, whatever it costs you for electricity, you could possibly triple it. All this new energy is expensive, so all items that need electricity will cost more. To do the math is complicated and usually skewed to make EV’s sound rosier than they are.
I am just scratching the surface as to practical problems for EV’s. I won’t even bring up towing a trailer or boat.
Part 3 will cover Windmills and other alternatives. Part 4 will cover the future of investing in gas and oil.
See you soon,