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It is difficult not to resort to invective when the subject of electric motor cars comes up at the dinner table, so crazily uniformed are most people who sing their praises as a solution to the world’s environmental woes.
It is not true that electric vehicles are cleaner than petrol- or diesel-driven ones. Green enthusiasts are deluding themselves if they think so.
They fail either to think things through or they are wilfully remaining encased in the warm, fuzzy – some might say hypocritical – thinking that drives much of the Green Agenda.
Perhaps “hypocritical” is too harsh, but ignorant they certainly are and it only takes a smidgen of rational thought to prove it.
In the first place, electric cars are much heavier than conventional ones. It therefore follows that it takes more energy, not less, to move them from A to B.
Much more. Add passengers and groceries and it is even less efficient. That is physics one-0-one. It’s a fact known since Isaac Newton. It is called his second law of motion. Passionate Greens might care to look it up.
Asking the question: “Where does the energy used by electric cars come from?” gets the answer: “From power stations, dummy.” Not from those inefficient, allegedly clean ones like photovoltaics and wind generators, but nasty, coal-fired or, even worse, nuclear-powered ones.
How can wind generators, photovoltaics and electric cars possibly be worse than petrol and diesel ones is the Green retort, but this ignores the batteries needed in all three cases to store the electricity produced.
Moreover, the lithium batteries in electric cars are, in green terms, filthy.
Lithium comes from mines, mostly in China and South America. This in turn means transporting the stuff to where the cars are made or, if they get round to making them in Colombia, to their customers in Europe and the US. That takes energy, too. Purifying lithium is also energy intensive, often using both heat and chemicals. Waste is also produced. How green is that?
Of course, a more efficient battery may come along but the odds are that it, too, will use a metal of some sort. It probably will not change the energy equation of electric vehicles.
If electric vehicles are ever to be better than petroleum-fuelled ones, three things will be needed: super-lightweight and efficient batteries that do not contain metals; super-efficient power stations that use neither coal nor gas; and a constant supply of electric energy that is cheaper than petrol or diesel.
Perhaps this Gadarene slide towards electric vehicles is unstoppable. Perhaps being Green will become as mandatory as being Christian in Western Europe in the 14th century, in which case logic and rationality will be thrown out of the window.
The Green movement won’t wait for viable technological solutions to its concerns. It is a greater pity that it insists on embracing false solutions like wind generators and present-day electric cars.
There is a technical solution, if you insist on believing that carbon dioxide is poisoning the planet.
It’s called a fuel cell. It works by turning hydrogen into electricity, exhausting water and oxygen into the air. There are already concept cars using this system.
If only the Greens would wait.
* Keith Bryer is a retired communications consultant.