Monday, 19 February 2018

National Development Plan Short on Sums

Last week, the Government announced their plans for long term infrastructure spending that we, the already overtaxed taxpayer, will have to pay for. As is usual with these big PR events, they are big on glossy brochures but short on facts and critical analysis. Somehow the cognitive dissonance of Ministers announcing investments in airports while at the same time allocating €22bn to help fight "climate change" was lost on most of our media.

In this article, Pat Swords explores one part of the plan - electric cars.

This week our 'rulers' announced their plan for 2040. Let's just focus on one 'trendy' aspect:
So lets look at some simple sums, not a strong point of our glorious rulers, but relevant for plans which are meaningful and don't end up as an awful mess. To put the above into perspective, the CSO figures tell us that we have some 2 million cars in this so called 'Republic'. I accept that if one has enough money to buy a top range Tesla, one gets a 100 kWh battery pack, which on a good day can do something close to 400 km. This is what one is entitled to expect from what is a 'car' after all. However, the problem is when one needs to recharge it, as a domestic house is typically only set up for 7 kWh. So if you turn off all your other electrical appliances and wait 14 hours, you'll be ready to go again. Not very practical is it?

However, not to despair as they are going to build out new charging infrastructure for us instead. Well that 100 kWh battery may theoretically be 'supercharged' in something like 30 minutes, but let's assume that such a charging point can charge three such Teslas in an hour. This means that it has to deliver 300 kWh in an hour equivalent to 0.3 MW. So if we build a thousand of these, we then need a 300 MW power station to supply them. By international standards, this is a medium sized power station, which would be comfortably able to cover 10% of the average demand currently on the Irish grid. 

So in simple terms if you want to be able to charge 3,000 electric cars in an hour, which is only 0.15% of the number of cars out there, you need a new 300 MW power plant, which is a large enough to cover 10% of the current country's demand. It's pretty obvious that unless you string up the country with new power stations and pylons, none of this is going to work, unless the public is prepared to spend a lot of their hard earned cash on electrical vehicles, which they will just have to park most of the time, as they don't have the hours to stand in line, awaiting an opportunity to get a charge in at one of these new 'charging infrastructures'. 

This is actually some pretty basis stuff and you would think that before they go off announcing their grandiose plans, they would have thought about it first. After all the data is published and readily available, such as from the SEAI's annual publications:

Transport uses some 42% of energy consumed in Ireland, more than double that which goes into electricity generation. If that energy demand is to be switched from fossil fueled vehicles to electric vehicles, then the electricity infrastructure we have would need to be more than doubled, even allowing for the fact, that the current grid is somewhat lightly loaded at night. Think about this one, you get an allocated slot to drive your Tesla to the new charging infrastructure to hook it up between 2.30 and 3.00 am - is this progress?.

And what of the alleged CO2 savings ? 
If you were to buy a Fiat Punto, which does 120 g of CO2 per km, you could drive it for nearly 170,000 km before you would have emitted the same 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide. 

When one does simple sums, none of this makes the slightest sense, not least as to the why? We don't have an urban air pollution problem in our cities and the weather is just doing its own thing, claims of weather doomsdays are just wild speculation and with each increasing year it is clearly obvious how wildly speculative those claims are. So in essence electric vehicles are a trendy solution to a problem, which has never been assessed and quantified and actually doesn't currently exist. So why do we end up with this dysfunctionality? After all the Government's own procedures highlight:
  • Regulations and their implementation often result in considerable costs to the public service, to citizens and to businesses. It is important that these costs are taken into account.  Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) is a tool to assess the likely effects of a proposed new regulation and involves a detailed analysis to:
  • (i) ascertain whether or not the new regulation would have the desired impact and
  • (ii) to identify the costs and benefits associated with the regulation.

Can't find a Regulatory Impact Analysis for this Project Ireland 2040 and above announced regulatory changes with respect to vehicles in Ireland. However, there was a Strategic Environmental Assessment completed for this Project Ireland 2040, but there is no assessment in it at all with respect to what has now been adopted above with regard to electric vehicles:

Theoretically the Lisbon Treaty, which we voted for, states in its Article 3 that we have a  right to a "highly competitive social market economy". As far as I'm concerned, what car I choose to buy is my business and why should I be dictated to by some barmy ideological politician? I would also recommend that one spend some time talking to older Eastern Europeans about the 45 years they spent behind the Iron Curtain and subject to the rigours of a planned economy there. This whole proposal is an outrageous abuse. It is not the State's entitlement or function to intervene in the free market in this manner, not least as it doesn't have a single scrap of analysis to justify the position it has now adopted. 

After all oil in 2014 was $110 a barrel and due to the technology advances brought on by fracking, has reduced to a value consistently around $55. While we have not seen all of that benefit, due to the degree of tax on these fuels, we have seen quite a benefit due to the market forces, which control supply and demand of this energy source. On the other hand, the electricity market in Europe is totally distorted by political intervention, costs have soared out of control and we saw how recently Viridian with two perfectly good power stations in Dublin simply decided to walk away from them, as the electricity market place is such a distorted mess here. So why on earth would anybody in their right mind want to be forced by the State to buy a vehicle, for which the facilities to refuel it are completely inadequate and the fuel supply is from a completely distorted market place lacking in transparency and demonstrating no shortage of political interference? In other words cronyism and a lack of accountability, which is breeding corruption.  


  1. They also plan to stop Moneypoint using coal by 2025, the cheapest and most reliable form of electricity generation we have. And then they will wonder why Poland is out competing us.

    The plan mentions "energy efficiency" over 100 times but the same govt constantly promotes the interests of data centres which will lead to a massive energy generation bubble to keep them going.

    Electricity Prices is mentioned just once in the document where they expect that the Celtic Interconnector will reduce prices even though the UK interconnector has not done so. In fact, prices have risen every year since it came into operation in 2013. In all likelihood, we would have to pay the French to take our surplus wind power leading to higher costs. So there is no indication from the report that we will be paying higher electricity prices in the future if all this goes ahead. Madness.

  2. The world is mostly run on fossil fuels (81%).
    Nuclear makes up 5%,
    Renewables 14%
    When you hear 14% renewables, people may think we are doing great but when you look at the detail its miserable
    Hydro 2.5%, wood 5% , biomass5%, most of the biomass is food converted into biodiesel derived from palm oil soya oil rapeseed oil sunflower oil etc. And ethanol from sugarcane and corn cereal crops.

    The new renewables are the unreliable’s and they show a miserable performance
    Solar PV 0.19%
    Wind 0.61%
    Geothermal 0.57%
    Other solar water heating & tidal 0.26%
    Total new era energy = 1.63% totally insignificant
    March 2016 ECOFYS study on biofuels was published
    This study was commissioned by the EU was available in September 2015 but its publication was delayed until March 2016. Probably to avoid probing questions at the Paris Climate Change summit [ aka COP 21] in November 2015.
    Effectively this report shows that biofuels are more damaging to the environment than fossil fuels This study shows that some biofuels are up to 200% more polluting than standard diesel fuel and the calculations do not include emissions directly related to the biofuel production chain, including emissions related to feedstock cultivation and processing, biofuel production, transport and distribution. Biofuels are from 4% to 203% more polluting than standard petrol & diesel with the average being 81% more polluting. More polluting as follows Rapeseed +18%, Palm +203%, Soy +113% , Sunflower +4% giving an average for biodiesel of 81% more polluting

  3. It is difficult to comprehend the stupidity of the current government. Between the stupid Data Centre policy . Which will require a massive increase in generation capacity and now this . Which could quadruply the capacity requirement. With attendant grid increases. Almost all of the capacity increase will be fossil based as wind is incapable of supplying the demand. Wind turbines are junk engineering which do NOT COMPLY with Machinery Directive. But the greedy agri/financial types just do not a damn. They must be forced to finance their own losses not the taxpayer.

  4. Very descriptive blog, I loved that a lot. Will there be a
    part 2?

  5. At this stage, I have began to adjust to the fact that all connotations of the Irish government has gone off their collective heads. Its a mix of Alice in Wonderland, Monty Python and George Orwell's Animal Farm. I suspect there are a number of causes. 1) They are allowing teachers and holders of public jobs in technical subjects entry with humanity degrees. These could never pass the examinations of a proper science degree. 2) The control voters used to exercise over government through their elected representatives was taken away. Someone else is running the show. 3) The media has buckled under. The only way this can be sustained is if the rest of the world becomes and remains as mad as Ireland. That is the test and the rock this will be hammered out on. There are signs Ireland is sticking its head above the parapet like a stray dog crossing a busy motorway. Its a bit like the Laural and Hardy film where Stan undertakes to fight a professional boxer. However you cannot pull down a perfectly good electrical generating system and replace it with untried replacements without the whole thing being put a risk.

  6. The Irish Government cannot run the Police Force. Its one scandal after another. Yesterday it was revealed two civilians charged with compiling data on homicides were ordered to falsify the figures to make it look like the situation was not as bad as it it. There is a Tribunal of inquiry into the Maurice McCabe whistle blower affair. That is just what gets out. This is going on for 30 years and they can't fix it. They could not get the water supply right either. So with this level of incompetence, how can they get a national plan right? The answer is that they set up a body to handle the public relations aspect. Taxpayers money was used to promote the spin of the ruling Fine Gael Party. When that got out they had to dissolve that body. Irish newspapers, the Irish Times and Independent complied with orders from government to paint a rosy picture of the plan , pure propaganda. The level of corruption in Ireland is breathtaking