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Monday, January 23, 2023

EVs: Blowin' in the wind

All UK sales of petrol and diesel powered vehicles are to end by 2030. Electric (EV) and dual fuel types made up 23 per cent of new purchases last year, but progress may slow down as the promotion approaches the less eco-minded end of the market.

EVs have advantages - helping cleaner air in towns, cheaper energy costs per mile (at point of use.) Their maximum range is improving, too. And it’s such fun quietly creeping up on people at pedestrian crossings or in supermarket car parks!

Nevertheless, try as they may, the drivers cannot entirely ignore the fact that most of the electricity originates from burning coal, gas or imported woodchip - hardly ‘green’ ! As for nukes, ‘Atomkraft? Nein danke!’ (we’ll see quite enough of that in Ukraine if the madness escalates.)

How about renewables? The contribution from them is relatively small, and has its own problems. Tidal energy projects threaten the ecology of shores and wetlands. Sun- and wind-power are unreliable.

What you need is something that works all year round, and most importantly maintains the illusion of ‘saving the planet’ - perception is all.

We have a modest proposal…

What our windmills need is a constant, steady blast of air. So let’s not rely on fickle Nature: let’s provide it ourselves; or rather, arrange for Ireland to provide it. We have in mind a vast range of gigantic fans stretching from Dundalk to Wexford, blowing a ‘fine gale’ across the Irish Sea towards serried ranks of windmills stationed between Blackpool and Cardigan Bay.

The construction on both sides will create much-needed employment for both countries, and foster goodwill in Dublin that may also help smooth over the EU’s obstacles to cross-border trade with Northern Ireland. Meanwhile Westminster can tell Britain’s motorists that their vehicles are being charged ‘sustainably’ (within our borders, which is what matters) and that our nation is advancing rapidly towards Net Zero.

How will the Irish fans be energized? By the usual combination of imported fossil fuels, of course (and surely HMG can come up with a scheme for financial reimbursement.) If the model is of the Dyson bladeless type (scaled up hugely), no birds will be chopped and thanks to the air purifier design, atmospheric pollution particles will be (re)absorbed.

Alternatively, Ireland could build a host of nuclear power stations. It would be their turn to dump radioactive waste into what, to make them feel even better about it, we might agree to rename the English Sea.

Either way, no EDF for the building work please, what with their delays and cost overruns. Bring in the Chinese, who know how to get things done. You can’t have too much international goodwill; nor self-delusion, come to that.


A K Haart said...

It's an interesting idea, but that vast range of gigantic fans could blow us across the North Sea and physically closer to the EU. Or it could blow Ireland across the Atlantic.

Sackerson said...

Perhaps we could follow suit and blow ourselves down to a warmer latitude.

Paddington said...

There is the matter that generating the electricity via coal or gas and then driving an electric car does produce less carbon than driving gasoline or natural gas powered cars, due to the efficiency of electric motors.

Sackerson said...

@P: Yes, slightly less, calculated one way; possibly more, calculated another. The EROEI of electric vehicles when you take into account the extraction of rare earths for the battery and the need to replace it periodically is hard to compute. This article on EROEI is thought-provoking: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2015/02/11/eroi-a-tool-to-predict-the-best-energy-mix/?sh=30748df6a027

Sackerson said...

JD comments (and I didn't know the news item):

Another reason to avoid EVs -

It was announced earlier this week that the Norwegian shipping company Havila has become the first company to prohibit EV cars on their ferries, following the sinking of the ferry “Felicity Ace” last year, which resulted from a fire of EV car batteries.


One of my heighbours has an electric car, it has an MG badge but is made entirely in China. Haven't seen him in a while so I haven't been able to ask him how it is running. I know he has to plan routes around the availability or otherwise of charging points.

Paddington said...

The best news is that the batteries are completely recyclable, which is not true of current cars.

Sackerson said...

95% of cars recycleable already, by law: https://www.cartakeback.com/blog/in-the-know/recycling-week-10-car-components-that-can-be-recycled#:~:text=Did%20you%20know%3F&text=From%202015%2C%20the%20End%20of,This%20was%2085%25%20previously.

Paddington said...

I didn't know that. I did know that places here had a heck of a time separating the different alloys.