11 November 2023

Busting EV myths

Years ago (1990s) my uncle and his wife and colleague did a big consultancy project for the State of California on the prospects for EVs as part of a massive response to Climate Change, as well as older concerns about air pollution in general. At the time, having grown up with the usual American male love affair with cars, I was more than skeptical. People I respected said there was no way that burning coal or natural gas to produce power, then going through all the inefficiencies of batteries, etc., was going to make sense either economically or in terms of carbon emissions. And at the time I wasn't really wrong, but that was assuming that the still rather primitive EV systems then being tested (such as the EV-1) would remain more or less what EVs were. But now, as this "mythbusting" site notes, even when power to charge the batteries is produced from natural gas, the overall carbon emissions attributable to EV use are much lower, and are lower still over the longer life of the cars, than any combustion powered vehicles. Modern EV motors and batteries are good for well over 200,000 miles and the motors actually are serviceable for about 1 million miles... all the while not requiring a lot of replacements and maintenance, and paying down the carbon debt of their original manufacture with each additional mile. 

So, it's taken a while, but the era of battery EVs is here. Some of the legacy manufacturers, especially in Japan, are resisting the truth that hydrogen fuel cells or hydrogen internal combustion just doesn't work... so- called blue hydrogen is made from fossil fuels... so it's a dumb plan that has already been shown to be unworkable, in terms of infrastructure. And no serious person can argue that we should just continue to burn fossil fuels for transportation without a care. But batteries, on the other hand, continue to get better and cheaper, and in terms of simplicity, performance, and every metric other than the remaining need to build out the charging network over the next decades, are already on par in cost and far superior in performance to ICE cars. And, slowly but surely, we are transitioning to nonfossil sources for electric power. So a future with net zero carbon transportation is on the horizon. (The problems of air travel are much tougher to crack, but that's another matter). 

Honestly, I can no longer see the attraction of combustion engines and look forward to the day when the last one used to power a new motor vehicle is finally history. I think it's just possible I will live to see that day. 

(One of the dumbest myths mentioned, that an "old banger" is the green choice, is really laughable. The truth is that cars built before about 1970 on average produce about 100x the old smog pollutants than even modern ICE cars, and are woefully inefficient in terms of carbon emissions. Even more recent but worn out older cars are absolutely terrible in terms of efficiency and emissions.)


No comments:

Post a Comment

Gyromantic Informicon. Comments are not moderated. If you encounter a problem, please go to home page and follow directions to send me an e-mail.