Magic Cars

Politicians praise electric cars. If everyone buys them, they say, solar and wind power will replace our need for oil.

But that’s absurd.

Here is the rest of my list of “inconvenient facts” about electric cars.

“The future of the auto industry is electric,” says President Joe Biden. He assumes a vast improvement in batteries. Better batteries are crucial because both power plants and cars need to store lots of electric power.

But here’s inconvenient fact 3: Batteries are lousy at storing large amounts of energy.

“Batteries leak, and they don’t hold a lot,” says physicist Mark Mills.

Mills thinks electric cars are great but explains that “oil begins with a huge advantage: 5,000% more energy in it per pound. Electric car batteries weigh 1,000 pounds. Those 1,000 pounds replace just 80 pounds of gasoline.”

But future batteries will be better, I point out.

“Engineers are really good at making things better,” Mills responds, “but they can’t make them better than the laws of physics permit.”

That’s inconvenient fact 4. Miracle batteries powerful enough to replace fossil fuels are a fantasy.

“Because nature is not nice to humans,” explains Mills, “we store energy for when it’s cold or really hot. People who imagine an energy transition want to build windmills and solar panels and store all that energy in batteries. But if you do the arithmetic, you find you’d need to build about a hundred trillion dollars’ worth of batteries to store the same amount of energy that Europe has in storage now for this winter. It would take the world’s battery factories 400 years to manufacture that many batteries.”

Politicians don’t mention that when they promise every car will be electric. They also don’t mention that the electric grid is limited.

This summer, California officials were so worried about blackouts they asked electric vehicle owners to stop charging cars!

Yet today, few of California’s cars are electric. Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered that all new cars must be electric by 2035! Where does he think he’ll get the electricity to power them?

“Roughly speaking, you have to double your electric grid to move the energy out of gasoline into the electric sector,” says Mills. “No one is planning to double the electric grid, so they’ll be rationing.”

Rationing. That means some places will simply turn off some of the power. That’s our final inconvenient fact: We just don’t have enough electricity for all electric cars.

Worse, if (as many activists and politicians propose) we try to get that electricity from 100% renewable sources, the rationing would be deadly.

Even if you added “Washington Monument-sized wind turbines spread over an area six times greater than the state of New York, that wouldn’t be enough.”

This is just math and physics. It’s amazing supposedly responsible people promote impossible fantasies.

“It’s been an extraordinary accomplishment of propaganda,” complains Mills, “almost infantile … distressing because it’s so silly.”

Even if people invent much better cars, wind turbines, solar panels, power lines and batteries, explains Mills, “you’re still drilling things, digging up stuff. You’re still building machines that wear out … It’s not magical transformation.”

Even worse, today politicians make us pay more for energy while forcing us to do things that hurt the environment. Their restrictions on fossil fuels drive people to use fuels that pollute more.

In Europe: “They’re going back to burning coal! What we’ve done is have our energy systems designed by bureaucrats instead of engineers,” complains Mills. “We get worse energy, more expensive energy and higher environmental impacts!”

I like electric cars. But I won’t pretend that driving one makes me some kind of environmental hero.

“There’ll be lots more electric cars in the future,” concludes Mills. “There should be, because that’ll reduce demand for oil, which is a good thing. But when you do the math, to operate a society with 5 or 6 billion people who are living in poverty we can’t imagine, when you want to give them a little of what we have, the energy demands are off the charts big. We’re going to need everything.”

That includes fossil fuels.

Image by (Joenomias) Menno de Jong from Pixabay

15 thoughts on “Magic Cars

  1. John, I agree that the cradle to grave environmental impact of EVs is similar to hydrocarbon vehicles. If you factor in the human cost of mining rare earth minerals in third world countries its much worse. You should do a report on hydrogen power as an alternative to EVs. Toyota has a number of hydrogen vehicles on the road today, about 14,000 I think. Fuel delivery would be similar to natural gas powered vehicles which are commonplace today and could be adapted to are current fueling station infrastructure.
    There may even be a commercial/ residential application that would end the solar / wind fairytale.

    1. The problem with hydrogen as a carrier is that there isn’t enough nuclear energy available to create carbon-free hydrogen. Renewables aren’t even
      a valid consideration. Current hydrogen is split from methane (natural) gas, which makes the entire endeavor a net environmental negative, like the foolish distractions of ethanol or renewables. While combusting hydrogen in lightly-modified internal combustion engines is a decent niche approach, likely the better “post-oil” solution would be for nuclear plants to synthesize fuel like the Navy has been doing for decades.

    2. Hydrogen is not a source of power, it is a method of transfer, like electrons. Still need to get the energy from someplace..

  2. Moved 5 years ago and had to replace some really old appliances. Got a GE electric stove with the ceramic top. After a little over a year one of the burners zapped a bug and within a few weeks the top cracked in the same spot. I am extremely careful. It would have cost $600. to replace the top which is approximately what it would have cost for a new one. Someone in the area had an over 20 year old Hotpoint for sale for 40 bucks. Got that 3 years ago and the only thing wrong with it was the temp sensor which my husband fixed. Also got a GE dishwasher which crapped out a little over a year as well. Got someone to fix it and he said a big part of the problem with new appliances is the government control. The handle broke and there is some plastic piece on the door that kept falling off and my husband had to duct tape it on. Then water got into it and it leaked out onto the floor. In the early 60s my mother bought a refrigerator, dishwasher, gas stove top and wall oven and 40 years later still work. If they are so concerned with global warming and the environment why are so many things being made that need to be replaced within a few years?

  3. I too am mystified by the news stories I’ve been reading praising the benefits of electric vehicles. I’m neither an opponent of proponent of electric vehicles. What concerns me most is the shortsightedness of those in favor of electric vehicles as it relates to the electrical grid. I have a power generation background and my first thought is, there is no way we can supply the base load required to support this new fleet of electric vehicles without Nuclear Power or Fossil Fuel electrical power generation. Solar, Wind, and Hydro only generate electricity when the sun shines, wind blows, or water flows. These green energy sources are site specific, which limits the feasibility and pure number of installations. There simply is not enough electrical storage available to meet our country’s energy needs when all these electric vehicles are plugged in using green energy sources alone. I’m fascinated when folks want to fire up their central a/c, plug in their phone, and bang away at their computer, but no one thinks about where that power originates from. In short, as these EV charging stations in homes and commercial locations hit the grid, get ready for brown outs, surges, and intermittent power outages. We either need to start looking at Nuclear energy as green energy or continue to permit the use of fossil fuel plants to supply the base load.

  4. Fusion nuclear energy is only a decade or so out. There is a fusion reactor that is part of an international consortium and will come online in 2025, and is expected to go commercial by 2035. With this type of nuclear energy, nuclear energy will become quite cheap and plentiful. This will not replace fossil fuels in the next 50 years, but it is a step to maybe eliminate a lot of the coal power that is online without causing a shortage of power on the grid and put the fork in all of this wind and solar panel nonsense!

    1. Power via nuclear Fusion technology has been on the radar for at least 30 years, if not more, BUT has always been just over the horizon, due in no small measure to the very considerable difficulties in containing & managing the fusion process. A great idea that has yet to evolve into a viable, manageable, commercial product. If past experience is any guide, don’t hold your breath for any change in the delivery date.

  5. You say this as though continuing to drive gas-powered cars is more feasible, however cars and trucks create many negative effects, emissions from use, particulates from tires, manufacturing pollution, traffic, tens of thousands of collision deaths, some 2.5 million ER visits, not to mention exorbitantly high costs for cars and gas, hurting mostly working families. The only problem among these mitigated by EVs is emissions from use.

    This is why we need to redesign our cities and towns and the ways we live to minimize trips that require a car. There is no way for individuals to fix these problems, they have to be tackled collectively. Some of the necessary changes include cities designed with amenities and services (schools, convenience stores, etc.) located close (within walking distance) to homes; more telecommute jobs; way way better public transportation and more micromobility. We need alternatives that are so convenient and seamless that driving feels clunky and impractical for all but edge cases. 80% of Americans already live in urban areas, and that number is projected to grow even further in the coming decades. Pretending like EVs will be practical transportation alternatives is simply a ploy by vehicle manufacturers to hold on to their increasingly impractical and outdated market.

  6. Every comment that I’ve read here starts with the supposition that the global warming hypothesis put forth by its proponents is real when actual science proves there is nothing to it. Any potential warming contained in CO2 and methane is almost completely overridden by water vapor. In addition, CO2 is actually a life-giving gas and before we started burning hydrocarbons the level of CO2 in our atmosphere was headed to levels that would not support plant life.

    1. Thank-you!! Your comment is so right-on, it boggles my mind that this basic fact is almost completely ignored. I guess it proves that if you tell a lie often enough people will eventually believe it’s true. The catastrophe we’re heading towards will not be from “climate change”, but rather from the lunatic policies and initiatives supposedly saving us from the imagined crisis. One of the best books on this that was recently published is “Fossil Future” by Alex Epstein.

      1. Amen to that Phil Carlson & Michael Attoe – I couldn’t agree more, including reference to Alex Epsteins most excellent book, “Fossil Future”. The demonization of CO2, a minuscule, invisible, tasteless, odourless atmospheric trace gas necessary for life on this planet is little short of insane. Driven by the Eco-Alarmists & now embraced by Carpetbaggers who simply see an opportunity & have seized it with both hands, now deep in our respective back pockets – just follow the money. They are now making a killing out of the subsidies associated with the ‘Unreliables’ (of wind & solar) to the tune of $Billions & getting away with it because of fear-mongering that’s succeeded in infecting the brains of the gullible.

  7. What happens when the battery in your EV dies. Where is the battery sent. To a landfill? To a recycling facility? The toxic and hazardous materials used in batteries is far worse than any fossil fuel.
    Who wants to buy a used EV not knowing how much life is left in the battery. If the battery is still available at all. The cost of replacing it can cost more than the vehicle is worth. Trade-in values will be lower if not discouraged. For that matter when an EV model is discontinued from production so is the battery, batteries are specifically designed to fit a specific platform, they are not generic.

  8. And Australia is responsible for what percentage of global emissions? 2%? You’re killing yourselves to eliminate a portion of that?

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