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:
- At least 500,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030 with additional charging infrastructure to cater for planned growth
- No new non-zero emission vehicles to be sold in Ireland post 2030
- No NCT Cert will be issued for non-zero emission cars post 2045
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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 - is this progress?.
And what of the alleged CO2 savings ?
- An electric car with a 100kWh battery has thus emitted 15-20 tons of carbon dioxide even before the vehicle ignition is turned on. This calculation assumes a 50-70 per cent fossil share in the electricity mix.
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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.