We Must Re-Think EV's as a Green Alternative Solution
With few exceptions, the automobile industry has gone 'all-in' for electric vehicles (EV's). President Biden has mandated that conventional internal combustion engines (ICE's) no longer be produced after 2030 and that hybrids are to be abandoned by 2035. California has mandated that new ICE vehicles no longer be sold in California and 17 states have laws requiring that they follow California's lead.
This rush for green gold has been short sighted, looking for immediate profits without laying the foundation for an EV revolution.
Elon Musk, currently the richest man in the world (founder, CEO, and chief engineer of SpaceX; angel investor, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; and co-founder of Neuralink and OpenAI and now Twitter buyer), stated in 2020 that the electric grid could not support an all EV universe of vehicles as EV's would double the electrical demand placed on the grid. Musk predicted that it would take 40 years to transition to all EV vehicles. By 2022, Musk reinforced his prediction and said, "… at this time, I think we actually need more oil and gas, not less...", realizing the need for increased electrical production to 'fuel' the EV's.
Some argue that Musk is wrong. That EV's use less energy than ICE's and that there is no problem with supply as the electric grids are frequently at less than capacity, especially at night when EV's can be recharged without straining the grids.
While these arguments are nice in theory, they fail to comport with fact.
- Electric-grid operators from across the country are warning of the potential for blackouts as companies attempt to transition to green energy sources.
- California had to abandon its plans to decommission nuclear power plants because wind and solar generators were incapable of meeting demand.
- California recently warned not to charge EV's because the grid could not handle the load.
- Last winter the Texas electric grid, increasingly dependent upon wind and solar froze and caused shortages.
- National think tanks warn that evacuations during natural disasters could be catastrophic if there were a high percentage of EV's trying to leave southeast Florida and that the strain on the grid could cause a black-out for all of the Southeast USA.
- Currently, hydrocarbons (incorrectly called fossil fuels) provide more than 70% of the energy production in the USA.
So what to do?
First, there should be a realistic evaluation of the Green New Deal (GND) and the urgency with which it is being implemented. Democrats have defacto admitted that the GND is for 'equity' and will affect a redistribution of wealth. The justification is that if the GND is not implemented, the global temperature will increase by a couple of degrees. Ipsism has, on several occasions, quoted the science that the Earth has COOLED more than ten degrees over the past 12 million years. Forbes points out that more people die of cold than heat and there have been fewer climate related deaths over recent years. Ever notice that the 'new highs' of temperature break the records of the 1930's? Doesn't that mean we had similar temperatures in the 1930's?
Assuming that you disagree with Ipsism and think that the GND is the way to go, why the urgency? Aside from the fact that the USA is $31 TRILLION in debt and has a GDP of "only" about $22 Trillion per year, implementation of the GND is going to cost TRILLIONS (estimates range from $18 T to $100 T). The US takes in $3.5 to $4.5 trillion per year ($4.4 T in 2022 fiscal year). In FY 2021 total government spending was $6.8 T and total revenue was $4.05 T, resulting in a deficit of $2.77 T. As interest rates increase from about 2% to 6%, the elevated interest rate will increase the cost of debt service by $1.2 T -- meaning that the deficit (at current spending levels) will increase to $4 T per year.
So, with a nation debt of $31 T, increasing by $4 T per year, where is the $50 T for the GND going to be found? Are we going to triple (a 200% increase) the tax rates? Or wreck the solvency of the USA with a national debt two to three times GDP? That's what will be need to fund the GND for the next decade.
Should we slow down and implement the GND over 40 or 50 years? That would make the cost more manageable. The transition from hydrocarbons to alternative energy sources would be more orderly and less painful.
James Rogan opines, "Moreover, the magnitude of the task to transform the U.S. economy can only be fully understood in the context of the land required for green energy projects. Consider that researchers say wind and solar expansion would require up to 590,000 square kilometers of land. That amount of land is larger than New England plus Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. That is big. It will not happen." Obviously, the implications for implementation of solar and wind are enormous. If Rogan is correct, the GND is nothing more than a pipe dream and destruction of hydrocarbon energy production will be calamitous. The only rational conclusion is that replacing current energy production with wind and solar is impossible. At the same time, electric demand is going to grow due to the increase in electric use and the Government's push to convert appliances from gas to electric. You've been warned.
Alright, disagreeing with Ipsism that hydrocarbons are still the way to go, what's the alternative? Nuclear power plants and hydrogen fuel.
Ipsism is aware of the nuclear power plant scares caused by Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Safety for these large conventional plants has increased exponentially since these disasters. But expense has also increase exponentially. When problems create impediments, necessity is the mother of invention and an industry of 'mini-reactors' is growing.
Nuclear mini-reactors are small and can be locally placed with acceptable risk.
What about hydrogen (H2)? H2 is a reliable energy source and is being used to power vehicles. Notably, Toyota and Hyundai are producing H2 powered vehicles - still basically EV's but electricity is generated by oxidizing H2 to form water (H2O) without any carbon exhaust (remember -- some climate extremists consider water vapor a greenhouse gas). H2 vehicles can be refueled in a few minutes, compared to the few hours that it takes to recharge current EV's. Distribution of H2 vehicles is limited due to H2 sourcing.
H2 is finding increasing utility is large trucks (semis) not only because of available range but due to the weight of battery packs needed for rechargeable semi EV trucks (which reduces payload capacity) and the time for H2 refueling versus battery recharge. "Battery weights are a big issue affecting the transition with larger trucks", noted Ram Chandrasekaran (a principal analyst with Wood Mackenzie, an energy research and consulting firm).
The relationship between H2 and nuclear power plants? Nuclear power plants can produce H2 during periods of reduced demand.
Mini nuclear reactors can be geographically distributed to energize the power grid and during low demand can produce H2. The H2 would then be piped or transported to local H2 filling stations. And, yes this is the same problem as recharging stations: a retail network will have to be developed. Which means that this is the time that we need to evaluate the better solution. Do we proceed with recharge stations for an impossible to implement GND relying on wind and solar? Or do we halt the tumble into an abyss of energy fiasco? Now is the time to decide, before billions are spent on recharge stations that will be chronically underpowered.
Join Ipsism in calling for a halt to the Green New Deal. Stay with the tried and true hydrocarbons that energize the world. Or take the time to find a solution that will actually work to keep America moving. You've been warned.
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