Amazon, charger costs, charger reliability, clean energy future, electric bicycles, electric fire trucks, electric school busses, Elon Musk, Ev battery replacement, fossil fuels, joe biden, nickel mining, solar power, Tesla, windmills
It’s time once again, gentle readers, for more electric vehicle reality, and a bit of irony. Actually the whole EV/Climate Change scam is rife with irony, and so we begin:
The electric vehicle of an unfortunate Washington, DC, tourist ran out of battery in the middle of a remote West Virginia road on Friday. Thankfully, a few unlikely good Samaritans were nearby to rescue the stranded traveler.
The wild sequence of events was recounted by Tucker County State Sen. Randy Smith (R) on Facebook, which occurred near a coal mine on Mettiki Coal access road U.S. 48, a few miles outside of Davis, West Virginia, according to WTRF.
‘Today at our mine off Corridor H an electric car from DC ran out of battery at the road entrance to the mine,’ Smith wrote.
The state senator noted that the vehicle was stranded in the middle of the haul road, meaning that workers had to act fast to not impede incoming traffic.
As a few coal miners came to assist, it was soon realized that the vehicle could not be moved by a tow truck since the bottom of the car was all plastic with nothing to hook onto.
With few options left, the coal miners worked with the driver to push the vehicle up the road to the mine where the traveler could recharge his car.
The article doesn’t say, but it’s unlikely the mine had a fast charger, so at standard house current, if the driver had a charger onboard, it would take up to four days for a full charge. That’s our bold, clean energy future.
On to the real reality part, courtesy of Mark P. Mills at fee.org. He provides 41 inconvenient truths about our bold new green energy economy. Take the link to see them all; I’ll provide a few of the most pertinent:
Renewable energy would have to expand 90-fold to replace global hydrocarbons in two decades. It took a half-century for global petroleum production to expand ‘only’ ten-fold.
Replacing U.S. hydrocarbon-based electric generation over the next 30 years would require a construction program building out the grid at a rate 14-fold greater than any time in history.
But what about the wonderful new battery technology that will allow us to store all the wonderful energy windmills and solar panels produce when, you know, it’s windy and the sun is shining?
For security and reliability, an average of two months of national demand for hydrocarbons are in storage at any time. Today, barely two hoursof national electricity demand can be stored in all utility-scale batteries plus all batteries in one million electric cars in America.
Batteries produced annually by the Tesla Gigafactory (world’s biggest battery factory) can store three minutesworth of annual U.S. electric demand.
To make enough batteries to store two day’s worth of U.S. electricity demand would require 1,000 years of production by the Gigafactory (world’s biggest battery factory).
It costs less than $0.50 to store a barrel of oil, or its equivalent in natural gas, but it costs $200 to store the equivalent energy of a barrel of oil in batteries.
Oh. But so what? Wind and solar are just as good and reliable as fossil fuel electricity generation, right? Right?
Over 90 percent of America’s electricity, and 99 percent of the power used in transportation, comes from sources that can easily supply energy to the economy any time the market demands it.
Wind and solar machines produce energy an average of 25 percent–30 percent of the time, and only when nature permits. Conventional power plants can operate nearly continuously and are available when needed.
No digital-like 10x gains exist for solar tech. Physics limit for solar cells (the Shockley-Queisser limit) is a max conversion of about 33 percent of photons into electrons; commercial cells today are at 26 percent.
No digital-like 10x gains exist for wind tech. Physics limit for wind turbines (the Betz limit) is a max capture of 60 percent of energy in moving air; commercial turbines achieve 45 percent.
Ah c’mon man! Batteries are ready to take over for oil, right? Right?
No digital-like 10x gains exist for batteries: maximum theoretical energy in a pound of oil is 1,500 percent greater than max theoretical energy in the best pound of battery chemicals.
About 60 pounds of batteries are needed to store the energy equivalent of one pound of hydrocarbons.
At least 100 pounds of materials are mined, moved and processed for every pound of battery fabricated.
Storing the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil, which weighs 300 pounds, requires 20,000 pounds of Tesla batteries ($200,000 worth).
As I said, take the link and read the whole, sobering thing. As I’m sure you recall, Joe Biden promised to take care of American miners, and once elected, stabbed them in the back, and is talking about investing in Canadian mines. Just for giggles, let’s examine the reality of mining a single metal necessary for EV batteries. Amazingly, this is from CNBC:
As automakers around the world set bold targets for vehicle electrification, many in the industry are looking to nickel — an integral component of most lithium ion batteries — as a major hurdle.
While there’s enough nickel in the ground to support a major EV ramp up, there are not enough planned mining projects or processing facilities to make the type of high-grade nickel that’s needed for EV batteries.
Meanwhile, the nickel content in battery cells is only increasing, according to Mark Beveridge at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. That’s because more nickel means energy density.
‘We’re heading towards, you know, 90 percent of the cathode being nickel for certain specific cell types,’ Beveridge said.
Russia has a lot of high-grade nickel, and its invasion of Ukraine has sent prices soaring to record highs due to fears of supply disruptions, even causing the London Metal Exchange to suspend nickel trading for a week.
Let’s remember any increase in EVs in America only enriches and empowers China, a nation that is not our friend, nor is it the friend of liberty. Even the mighty and oh-so-woke Amazon must bow to real reality:
CNBC reports that over a year, at least six Amazon fulfillment centers caught fire or experienced electrical explosions due to failures with their solar energy rooftop systems. Internal documents obtained by CNBC reveal that between April 2020 and June 2021 Amazon experienced ‘critical fire or arc flash events’ in at least six of its 47 North American sites with solar installations.
In the internal reports, an Amazon employee wrote: ‘The rate of dangerous incidents is unacceptable, and above industry averages.’ In June of last year, Amazon took all of its U.S. solar facilities offline temporarily to ensure its systems were designed and installed properly for continuing their use any further.
OK, but how about electric bicycles? They’re great for the environment, aren’t they? Arstechnica reports:
A rising number of fires caused by lithium-ion batteries has spurred New York City’s public housing authority to propose entirely banning e-bikes from their buildings. But the causes are not so simple, the solutions fiendishly complex, and the repercussions potentially devastating to thousands of hard-pressed delivery workers.
New York City firefighters have responded to 26 battery-based fires in public housing since 2021, according to reporting from The City. That includes fires in early August that killed a 5-year-old girl and 36-year-old woman in Harlem, and a death and injury in The Bronx. And battery-based fires are rising elsewhere in the city resulting in 73 injuries and five deaths, according to Canary Media, with 130 investigations so far this year. It’s a sharp upturn from 104 battery fire calls the year before, 44 in 2020, and 30 in 2019.
Oh. One of the issues being virtually completely ignored by EV cheerleaders is the cost/profit realities facing dealers. In much of the country, Wyoming for example, dealers don’t want EVs, because they don’t have the range and reliability drivers need, they cost too much, and their shortcoming are even worse in cold climates. And there’s this problem:
Though the best had to be when several dealer groups piped up about how much it’s actually going to cost them to install some of the newer chargers some manufacturers believe should be mandatory if they’re intent on selling EVs. Some showrooms are finding out that not all buildings are wired for the high loads incurred by modern charging systems, requiring additional financial investments they hadn’t counted on. With automotive dealerships using product delays as leverage for unprecedented vehicle pricing, it’s nice to see them getting a taste of their own medicine. Or it would be if the costs for updating facilities weren’t guaranteed to be reflected on future window stickers.
A recent report from Automotive News highlighted some of the NADA exchanges, offering up a few anecdotes where dealers were blindsided by how much it actually costs to set up some of their stores. In one case, the Orlando, Florida-based Starling Automotive Group said electricians doubled their estimate when they wanted to install Level 3 chargers yielding 150 to 350kW of draw.
The dealer group realized that installing the latest chargers was about to become substantially more complicated after the utility company explained its buildings weren’t rated for the kind of power usage required. Starling said the company stated that they would need to upgrade building services before any chargers could even be installed, effectively doubling the original estimate to a new total ballparking at $220,000.
That’s in addition to any downtime that occurs during the installation process, which could take well over a year to complete.
The same thing is true of home installations. Any significant increase in high output chargers in any neighborhood is going to run up against the same capacity problems. Either people are going to individually pay tens of thousands of dollars to their electric companies to upgrade the infrastructure, or those upgrades—if they’re even possible—are going to result in skyrocketing energy bill increases for everyone apart from the skyrocketing energy costs going green inevitably imposes. Just ask the Europeans. Oh, and this is an unremarked upon problem too:
And at this point, I owe the universe an apology. A few weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal published a piece about an EV road trip gone awry. The headline says it all: ‘I Rented an Electric Car for a Four-Day Road Trip. I Spent More Time Charging It Than I Did Sleeping.’
As a smug EV evangelist and self-proclaimed EV expert, I rolled my eyes. ‘They just didn’t plan well enough,’ I thought to myself, not realizing I was merely hoisting myself on my own petard. A few weeks later, it was time to drive from DC to Watkins Glen in the Finger Lakes region of New York, this time in a BMW iX. And despite plenty of planning, I still spent almost as much time stationary, arguing with charging machinery, as I did actually pulling electrons into the car’s battery pack throughout the 600-mile journey.
At each charging stop, in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York, I ran into problems. A five-minute wait to see if the car and charger would establish communications was invariably the case. Waiting 10 minutes was not uncommon. Even then, there was no time to relax; more than once, an error somewhere in the loop shut everything down after just a few kWh.
Only one of six charging stops was painless, and I found similar problems whether the station was operated by Electrify America or Shell Recharge. Frustration often got the better of me and I berated the white monoliths, channeling the spirit of Basil Fawlty to summon down all manner of ills upon them and their circuitry, to my shame. (But seriously, it’s all just so opaque. Why don’t they just bloody work?)
Then there was the problem of whether or not all of the chargers at a given location were even functional. At one EA station with a Plugshare rating of 9.8, two of four chargers were completely inoperable and a third was reduced to just 50 kW. Four days later, nothing had changed other than its Plugshare rating, which had increased by 0.2 points to the maximum score of 10, with a note in italics about the reduced-power machine.
OK, but surely the efforts of governments to electrify their fleets are bearing fruit?
Here’s another dose of reality:
As I pointed out in EVs: The Mustang Mach E; Police Heaven, emergency vehicles have to be ready to roll instantly, which means multiple EVS where a single conventional vehicle would do, just to have at least one vehicle able to respond 24/7/365.
OK, but how about school busses, then? They’re not emergency vehicles. Complete Colorado explains:
From the PGE site, we learn that diesel buses are about $90K to buy and cost about $1.11 per mile to run, including maintenance and fuel. Electric buses cost $350K (the Post article has them at $375K) and cost about $0.20 per mile, including maintenance and fuel. Clearly it’s cheaper to buy diesel and to run electric. The $260K cost differential between the two, however, effectively means that any district wanting to take advantage of lower operating costs is going to need help. Enter both the federal and Colorado state government to buy down the cost of the electric buses with big subsidies. Colorado and the feds pay 80% of the bus cost, and the district makes up the other 20%.
All the same, there are some things missing from PGE’s estimates. There is more capital investment to electrics than just their higher purchase price. Diesel is a known quantity. Shops have mechanics, tools, and knowledge about how to maintain them. Electric? Not so much. So add in the costs to train your mechanics and buy specialized tools. Oh, you’ll also need to install chargers. I couldn’t find numbers on the increase in costs for tools and training, but PGE was helpful enough to give estimates on the chargers and maintenance: $13,750 per and $1,100 per year respectively.
Interestingly enough, the break-even point, where the ridiculously high initial cost of an electric bus balances with conventional bus price and operating costs is 20 years! That’s supposedly how long an EV bus battery lasts (suuuure it does). In addition, heating an electric bus in winter reduces range by at least 50%, and in cold weather, it takes three times longer, perhaps more, to charge.
Speaking of replacing batteries, one family was smacked hard in the face by EV reality:
Avery Siwinski, 17, of St. Petersburg, received a used 2014 Ford Focus Electric from her parents that cost $11,000 and had 60,000 miles on it, WTSP reported.
After six months of driving, the vehicle started having some mechanical issues before it stopped running altogether.
Siwinski’s grandfather, Ray, sought to help her with the car problems, as her father had passed away in June from Stage 4 cancer.
Ray Siwinski realized it was a common problem for this type of vehicle to need its battery replaced.
But when he received a quote from the Ford dealership, he was told it would cost a whopping $14,000 to replace the battery – $3,000 more than what the family paid for the used electric vehicle.
He also noted that the quote did not include ‘installation and labor costs,’ WTSP reported.
They eventually found Ford doesn’t make or sell batteries for that model anymore—it was still in dealer parts lists, but none exist–so the vehicle is an expensive doorstop. EV battery replacement is about a third the MSRP—not counting installation and labor costs–which is why the used EV market is going to be essentially nonexistent. By that same measure, a bus battery would run more than $100,000 dollars.
Finally, I’ve been reporting for years EVs are bought by households in the top 7% of income, a fact even the New York Times has admitted. When you’ve lost the NYT…
Policymakers in Washington are promoting electric vehicles as a solution to climate change. But an uncomfortable truth remains: Battery-powered cars are much too expensive for a vast majority of Americans. [Emphasis added]
The bottlenecks will take years to unclog. Carmakers and suppliers of batteries and chips must build and equip new factories. Commodity suppliers have to open new mines and build refineries. Charging companies are struggling to install stations fast enough. In the meantime, electric vehicles remain largely the province of the rich. [Emphasis added]
At least one of our representatives has it right:
Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC), running for Senate, blasted Democrats for what he said will amount to working- and middle-class American subsidizing the rich.
‘I see that [Democrats] want to help rich people buy a Tesla and … want to hurt working families who are trying to afford gas,’ Budd said. ‘They completely have it backward.’
And the EV/Climate Change scams roll on and on…