Electric vehicles next door

From today’s Guardian

The Irish government continues to aim for 10% by 2020, which would be 230,000 or so cars

50 replies on “Electric vehicles next door”

I guess the environmental benefits of this depend entirely on how the electricity is generated.

@Richard Tol

Do the government have any interim progress points along the way (e.g. an annual review of numbers of electric cars on the road, number of charging points rolled out, etc.) to ensure they will be able to measure whether they are getting there or not?

“The times they are a changing”..

Indeed as Kevin above says it will depend on how the electricity is generated. However if district heating was to be installed in power stations around Dublin then efficiency will go up. But you still have to burn hydrocarbons to produce electricity.

But the cost of hydrocarbons will go up, as more advanced technology is being employed to get the oil which is in deeper waters.

Perhaps carbon neutral, technologies such as wind, pumped storage methods as mentioned before on another topic will become mainstream.

But even it it all works out well, I still see two problems.

1) Firstly there will be a loss to the exchequer, less petrol / diesel will be sold, less VRT paid, less road tax paid as the number of electric vehicles increase. This money will have to be recouped from some other source.

2) Electric vehicles are fine for commuter runs, short hops around the city and maybe even a quick run Dublin / Carlow. However they will not tow a caravan or allow you to take the family to France etc. Hence most familys will probably have 2 cars, maybe even three. Just where are we going to get the parking space? Housing estates are already full with cars parked on footpaths etc.

@Richard Tol

Richard – you need to get back on the 6 o’clock news – The Insurance Companies are justifying increasing premiums by claiming equivalence between Weather and Climate …… and you might save us all a few bob (-;

I don’t drive!

@Sporthog Hence most familys will probably have 2 cars, maybe even three. Just where are we going to get the parking space?

The government has thought ahead and has put plans in place to address your concerns.
By banning technologies that are capable of generating the necessary power, and by addressing the demand side in their economic policies; they have ensured the average family wont have such problems in 2020.

@ Sporthog

Why not just rent a car for 2 weeks instead of buying it outright?

The problem with efficient cars is the huge amount of pollution caused by manufacturing of cars. Car sharing schemes, already in existence in Brussels and London, and similar to the bike rental scheme in Dublin. Would be cheap, environmentally friendly, and involve less of an infrastructure investment.

How much of current electricity generation capacity would by required to power 10% of th enational fleet?

@ Rory O’Farrell,

I take it you mean renting a fossil fuel powered car for trips to France and or towing caravans.. if so then yes perhaps that would work out.

@ Garry,

I take it you are talking about our marvellous record in Joined up thinking… We don’t even have any service stations on our main motorway routes, If we are to go to more electric vehicles then will we put in recharging points at our non existant motorway service stations?

Anybody driven the new motorway M9 Nass to Carlow? Lovely road but totally featureless. You would nearly fall asleep at the wheel. Why can’t we have a number of service / rest stops which would provide some local employment, offer a nicer driving experience for motorists, in addition enjoy the beautiful countryside which we have in this country.

I am glad that the media have picked up some of the problems with the plans to go electric. Apart fromt he obvious lack of supply of electric cars the infrastructure issues are also important – providing power points at all car parks and installing a technology that charges the cost to the particular vehicle owner is not going to be cheap and that is before you even consider the impact on electricity generation – Richard will have a better idea about the cost of this.

In the short term, small diesel engines are the way to go. At this point they are ahead of hybrid technology (e.g. Toyota Prius), but hybrid technology is improving and certainly makes a lot of sense for larger vehicles like SUV’s.

In any case accelerating the replacement of cars, even if gas guzzlers are replaced by electric cars, has a negative impact on the environment through the realse of CO2 during manufacturing. Furthermore, technologies are improving. I would argue that it is daft to accelerate the replacement rate e.g. via a scrapapge scheme (we have been over this one here a few times) as there is no net benefit (only costs).

@Sporthog – “Why can’t we have a number of service / rest stops ….”.
You are absolutely right there. Whenerver this topic comes up the NRA have no proper answer – one can’t help thinking that the NRA is not particularly interested in the road user. Of course electric cars might need a charge along a motorway. No doubt we are going to see some expensive afterthought as usual.

@ Edgar Morgenroth,

Indeed, what about the familys who travel with babies, children? Stopping on the hard shoulder of a motorway is extremely dangerous, apparently it is one of the most dangerous things to do on a motorway.

So just how is one supposed to change the childs nappy?

Shame on us, shame on this nation for its inability to think in a joined up fashion.

@ Sporthog

Yes, I mean normal cars. I once worked out the price of running a car (petrol, servicing, insurance and price of car itself) and found for the same price I could take 14 taxi trips a week. For my usage it is cheaper not to own a car.

@Richard Tol
re bank holidays
The same problem is faced by hotels, and problems of non-constant demand are faced by firms from cinemas to restaurants to air travel.
Simply charge extra at peak times.

@ Richard Tol,

There are about as many holes in the Minister’s policy as there were rust holes in the bodywork of that old Daihatsu Charade I used to drive back in the early 1980s.

Apart from the problems with infrastructure to charge these cars (home plug-ins or all night garage spaces?) and our continuing dependence on fossils fuels , one of the concerns with the present policy is that we’re proposing to be ‘leaders’ rather than ‘followers’. There’s no good reason for this other than so-called green ideology so far as I can see. Given this is a small island with a small population – a sizeable chunk of which is rural poorly served by public transport and in which a car is a life necessity – would we not be better off waiting to see how the shift to electric cars works elsewhere?

You can only put 230,000 electric cars on the road over the next decade if you can persuade 230,000 car owners to buy them. Granted we’re in the grips of recession, but new car registrations were down 63% last year. According to CSO, the number of new cars registered between january and August 2009 was 49, 142, compared with 137,566 in the corresponding period in 2008. Granted the scrappage scheme might boost figures this year and there will be some level of pent-up demand waiting fro release when the recessionary times are behind us, but I can’t quite see where a demand per annum for 23,000 very expensive electric cars is going to come from. Nor can I see where our government is going to get the funds to subsidise the purchase of electric vehicles for the next few years or how they might justify such expenditure.

Even marketing possession of a ‘green’ car as a status symbol may not have much traction anymore as climate change and CO2 emissions are rapidly slipping down the agenda of most people who have more immediate concerns to be getting on with.

Of course the ESB are quite gung-ho about all this, but one might expect that such enthusiasm may wane if and when we have political regime change. And if I correctly remember last week’s ESRI presentation on the likely impact of electric vehicles on transport carbon emissions, there is no appreciable impact if the transition is confined to small cars. Come to think of it, the only ’10-D’ I’ve spotted thus far was that shiny large black merc that pulled into the garage ahead of me this morning. I was almost afraid to look at it!

The aim of 230k electric cars by 2020 isn’t unreasonable per se. Given a roughly linear growth or slightly accelerating sales growth year-on-year you’d end up needing to sell between 45k and maybe 60k electric cars in 2020. You could achieve that by bringing in tax changes. After all, most of our behaviour is determined by taxation policy already.

So, all in all it’s eminently achievable, if you’re prepared to ignore the fact that we have almost no way of generating the electricity to run these electric cars except by burning fossil fuels, that you’d have to spend a god-awful fortune on recharging infrastructure, etc.

It might even be more environmentally effective to use electricity to synthesize hydrocarbon fuels and then to burn that fuel in existing IC engined cars, along the lines of the the UCSD program. After all, we have an extensive fleet of IC engined cars already, fuel distribution, storage, etc. IC engines are getting pretty darned efficient these days too and you can refuel them using a technology called “a tank and a hose”. It’s a lot more reliable and available than high power charging stations and if your car runs out of fuel at the side of the road you can usually find “a tank and a hose” to borrow somewhere nearby.

Again, it’s just a bit awkward that we have no current alternative to using electricity that would have been made from fossil fuel fired generation plants in order to synthesize this fancy liquid fuel or to charge these electric cars. You might be able to use wind electricity..I haven’t run the numbers…but I suspect you’d have wind farms on every open piece of ground in the country, and wave farms are going to take longer than 2020 to become common…all of which leads us back to the original problem that we’d be burning fossil fuels to make electricity to put in cars instead of burning fossil fuels in cars in the first place.

Of course the French, with their naughty nuclear power stations, could probably have a majority fleet of either electric cars or electrically generated synfuel cars by about 2025 if they set their minds to it.

Nuclear makes me nervous but damn – it does generate lots of electricity.


Motorway service stations are a good idea but they should arguably be built off existing junctions. Because there would then be no need for on-off ramps, the road would be less hazardous and the station cheaper to build.


The Guardian article has grants of £5000 per vehicle for UK scheme. Any idea what our govt has in mind with it’s ‘political will’? And if this is about Peak Oil, will these subsidies not just push up the cost of motoring prematurely?

I’ll ask the question again.

This time without the typos.

“How much of current electricity generation capacity would be required to power 10% of the national fleet?”

Reading some of the above is surreal: the idea of a fleet of electric vehicles for domestic use is utter madness. I suppose there is little harm, and some amusement, in discussing it – but you really cannot be serious about actually doing it? If you are … … God help us!

Someone mentioned our ‘cow-pat’ population distribution. The majority are attempting to cluster about a metro area which is a tad wet on the East side. A linear, as in joined-up, ‘cow-pat’! Lovely!

I am sure that that we can successfully analyze our developing transport predicament. But dealing with this predicament using ‘ideas’ that have proved to be very successful failures in the past is hardly going to work for the future. Now is it?

B Peter

@ Greg,

It would be possible to have specific times for charging electric vehicles. As I am sure you are aware peak demand occurs at certain hours of the day, but from 11p.m. onwards demand falls off until around 7 am when it increases again etc etc.

So there should be space on the grid for people to charge vehicles at night etc.

@ Greg,

Just back from having a quick google on the WWW about recharging electric cars. It’s all very dependant on the type of battery used and how quick the battery is to be recharged.

One company quoted 9.66 Kw used over 8 hours to recharge the battery,
http://www.greenaer.ie. But this car is limited to 50 Km / hr

So working that out is 9.66 /8 = 1.2 kw per hour.
1.2 x 230,000 = 277.8 Megawatts every hour. Factoring in transmission loss at about 10% = 305 Mw. These are rough back of a fag packet calculations etc, but it gives one an idea for this type of vehicle.

What does 305 Mw mean? Well most modern power stations built in Ireland today are in the capacity of 400 to 500 Mw. Moneypoint alone is around 900 to 1000 Mw.

The Renault site is more complex, they are displaying 3 battery recharging options, standard recharging about 8 hours, fast recharging 1 to 2 hours and the third option, pulling into a exchange station where you remove the depleted battery and fit a fully recharged unit, typically time for exchange 3 minutes. In addition they also mention a contract with a supplier for your battery. Possibly one will have to surrender the battery after 3 years in exchange for a new one. Depending on the technology batterys normally have a certain lifespan, after which they have to be recycled.

It’s a lot more complex than one might normally think, what if you don’t have a driveway at your house? Will you be able to run a electric cable across a public footpath?

And the idea of battery exchange stations makes me laugh, we have’nt even accepted that we require service stations for existing cars on new motorways. With our record of joined up thinking, Ireland has a long way to go.

Good old government policy. In London electric cars are exempt from the £8 congestion charge despite the fact that they still take up road space. And if you can afford a Tesla Roadster (£86,950) then £8 a day isn’t going to put you off.

Most journeys in Ireland are within the range of electric cars. Although most of us will still want a vehicle that will go from one side of the island to another from time to time without having to plug in overnight in Mullingar. There is a way around this problem though: have a standard interchangeable battery pack system country wide at whatever a petrol station looks like in a post-petrol world.

I can’t see this happening in a hurry. There just isn’t the population density in non-metropolitan Ireland justifying private investment in this kind of network unless EV penetration is very high and it’s a proven, tried technology abroad.

Sorry, why are we supposed to be world leaders on this stuff again?

My concern is whether we are backing the right technology. I hear that in Israel they have very advanced plans for a major roll out of battery exchange stations where power can be replaced in 2 minutes. On another point there is a company called http://www.gocar.ie that will specialise in sharing automobiles between users. The target is ambitious, it lays down a clear commitment to a new way of thinking.

Two big problems. 1. Where to get the lithium? Lithium, the main ingredient of car batteries is in short supply. There is not enough for global demand.

2. Battery swap, Recharging and reprocessing network. The Esb is tinkering with charging pointsbut you need a lot more than that. We have not signed up with betterplace.com which is the only viable battery management scheme I know of.

@ Richard Tol
Given that car usage in general (where car rental/sharing schemes as in Brussels come into play) has a far weaker seasonal component than the tourism sector, and given that there are already many car rental companies that cater mainly to holiday travel, I would say your arguments have zero empirical foundation.

Do you seriously believe there is a massive spike in car usage on bank holidays?

It probably actually decreases as less people drive to work.

Electric vehicles are fine for the daily commute and the weekly shop. They are not fine for the annual holiday (as noted by SportHog).

You replied that this can easily be overcome by renting a car for the holidays — this is your plan, not mine.

I do not think your plan will work because people tend to go on holidays at the same time.

@Richard Tol

I was perhaps unclear in my first post. The car sharing/rental scheme as in London and Brussels is mainly used for short journeys, similar to what is intended for electric cars. It required minimal infrastructural investment, and is successful. The cars can of course also be used for longer journeys.

If cars are used on average for 2 hours a day, that means about 89% of their capacity is not being used. The car sharing/rental scheme helps to overcome this. This benefits the environment as you need to build less cars. The pollution involved in car production is largely ignored when various schemes are presented to the public.

If electric vehicles became the norm, then I still consider car rental to be viable for longer journeys or hauling a caravan. I agree most people go on holidays at the same time. Similarly most people come to Ireland at the same time, when existing rental companies do most of their business. I do not agree that bank holidays are a major issue. It would be interesting to see what increase in car usage occurs on a bank holiday in comparison to a normal weekend.

Also if someone decides to drive around France as Sporthog originally suggested, this is very unlikely to be a trip over a bank holiday weekend. The rental would be over 2 weeks. Would you suggest someone buys rather than rents a campervan for the sake of two weeks usuage? It would be a similar market for car rental.

While I would expect an increase in the leisure use of cars during the summer, this problem has already been dealt with by existing car rental companies and campervan rental companies.

Reflecting overnight on some of the comments above (and the follow ups) leads me to have a serious concern for the quality of intellectual engagement with the issue – no personal disrespect to any individual – but it is deeply worrying to observe some of you floundering about so.

There is an absolutely ironclad, universal law: the Second of Thermodynamics. Please, please, acquaint yourselves with the drastic implications of this law for a society which has an absolute dependence for its continual survival on high density energy sources. Its not the ‘quality’ or ‘nature’ of the energy that is critical – its the difference in the energy levels between the source and the surroundings that provides the power to do useful work. A significant proportion of the original energy content will be ‘lost’ as the energy (electrons) flow from their highly reduced state to their oxidized state: its known as an increase in Entropy (low density energy).

Electricity is a very versatile energy source, but it has to be generated and transmitted. Some of you had better give a considerable amount of study and thought to the aforementioned – that is: Whence comes electricity?

Forget about electric cars: they are a complete waste of space: both real and virtual. We must do our damnedest to reduce our electricity consumption to the absolute minimum. How about conservation? Or is this just too non-PC?

@ BP Wood,

What exactly are you suggesting? In the generation of electricity there will always be losses. So what exactly are you proposing which will reduce the loss? Superconductivity maybe??

Whether we like it or not, the Green party are driving change with regard to car’s. Once your engine size goes over 2 lt the road tax increases rapidly, nearly expontentially. Large engined new cars are now hit with at 2000 E annual road tax. That is just totally unaffordable for the majority of people. The policy is to force large engined cars off the road through penal tax rates.

Whether electric vehicles make sense or not, it does not matter, this is something which will be enforced upon us. It is inevitable.

I think small electric vehicles for city driving will work. But parking costs in Dublin are a big factor in the cost of car ownership. You still have to park it, even if it is electric.

@ Sporthog: Conservation of electricity use. As in, use it sparingly.

Re-vamping the transmission lines with additional insulation will lower transmission losses. How about a reduction in the number of domestic appliances in homes? There is plenty of scope for a significant reduction – and it is virtually costless for the consumer. Might not even have to build any additional power stations (we will have to upgrade though).

‘Whether electric vehicles make sense or not, it does not matter, this is something which will be enforced upon us. It is inevitable.’ Spray those Greens with some election Roundup – fast!

Presumably the consumers have discretion over their wallets! They will purchase what they will – not what is prescribed by ideological fanatics. Private electric vehicles in the quantities being mentioned are utter madness in respect of their use of a very versatile, essential energy resource. Madness!

By 2020 I expect liquid transport fuels to be rationed for emergency services and agriculture. Though farmers with sufficient arable land may be able to grow oil plants to fuel their own vehicles. Aviation will be severely restricted. Trains and trams will form bulk of land-based public transport.

Check out the Export-land Model of Fossil Fuel Production and Depletion. Very nasty prognosis!

Would someone care to re-design the bi-cycle with heavy a duty rear wheel and high-ratio gearing – carrying capacity approx 150 kg. Should be able to do Cork-Dublin in 15 hours!

B Peter

@ Sporthog,

Thanks for your efforts. You give some indication of the magnitude of additional electricity generation required. I’ll read your comment, what I’m wondering is, if this is about CO2 reduction how is the electricity going to be produced and how this will impact on the available supply for industrial use.

@ B P Woods

“Presumably the consumers have discretion over their wallets!”

Not if the Greens get their way.

Of course one could choose to live in a mud hut or a cave and eat berries.

Maybe that’s what they really want. They certainly don’t want CO2 producing industry. They rather the Chinese did that on our behalf.

@ Greg and HF: Thanks for the comments. Unfortunately we have to burn something – be it hydrocarbon or carbohydrate. First it was wood, then coal, then oil, then gas, then … ? Guess we just ran out!

Neither ideology nor current thinking will be sufficient to overcome the shortage of fossil fuels. We have a few years before it becomes noticeable. The current global downturn is masking the slow decline in nett exports from the producers. I understand that consumption is still increasing in some less developed countries. Again the effect of this is masked by the downturn.

A systematic analysis of the technological growth of developed economies shows the absolute dependence on solid, liquid and gaseous fossil fuels. If you also factor in the technological leverage of sophisticated engineering made possible by the use of fossil fuels you have a complete picture of the absolute growth achieved.

There is a growing body of evidence and opinion that the marginal rate of technological ‘growth’ has maxed out (or is close to max). This means that there has to be massive increases in fossil fuel energy inputs if we are to ‘grow’ any further. Can’t be done! Its not the money cost that’s the problem; its the energy cost of extracting whats left under the land or the sea.

I have no idea whether or not our legislators are aware of the predicament posed by the Export-land Model for fossil fuel supplies. They may well be, but are keeping quite so as not to startle the sheeple. Ireland is ‘bollock naked’ in respect of energy security. And I am referring to the entire island, not just the republic bit.

In any event our heroic legislators are willing to piss away years of taxpayers incomes on insolvent financial institutions, when one tenth spent on energy conservation would be a far better bargain.

I think I will leave this topic be for the while. Perhaps the moderators of this blog might commission a power engineer to write a piece about energy generation. In the meantime I would recommend theOilDrum web site if you want to inform yourself.

B Peter

@ BP Wood,

I would not be so sure. If you take the tar sands in Canada, it has been estimated that 1/3rd of the worlds oil is there. Unfortunately to get 1/2 of this oil out of the ground you have to burn the other 1/2. In addition it is only viable when oil is above the $80 dollar mark. For this example the big problem is emissions. Burning 1/6 of the worlds oil to extract the other 1/6 is not environmentally sound.

In addition it is known that there are huge reserves of Gas hydrates on the sea bed, but the technology is not yet developed to get to this.

Huge oil discoverys have taken place off Brazil, trouble is it is in very deep water, but the technology is there to get it. There are only about 158 oil rigs in the world and about 53 of them are currently in Brazil. Rough cost for hiring a rig range from $500,000 to over $1 million per day.

In addition there is still large coal reserves, the UK alone has enough coal for the next 250 years or so. Trouble is it is cheaper to import coal than to extract it. I don’t think we will see major shortages before 2020.

The main problems are shortage of engineers and refinery infrastructure.

I am open to correction but I believe there is about 100 years of uranium supply left, in addition several large european energy companies are coming together to develop very large solar collectors in the Sahara, which will export energy to southern europe, hence reducing our reliance on Russia for gas etc.

In relation to your comment about improving the efficiency of a electrical distribution, insulation will not work. Most power losses occur due to I squared R losses. Yes there are inductive and capacitive losses, but I squared R losses are the main reasons. In addition for HV transmission transformers must be used for stepping up and then stepping down. Transformers are around 97 to 98% efficient. So more losses there etc.

I believe oil will get more expensive over the next few years, but remember about 66% of the cost of a Lt of petrol is Govt Tax. But for shortage of oil or energy, no I don’t think that will occur not for some time yet.

New technology is arriving, LED lightbulbs etc, Photo voltaic systems are only 12% efficient but IBM has developed focusing mechanisms where the cell can achieve mid thirties efficiency. The cavlary might arrive just in time!!

But the real problem is climate change, and That I believe will get to us first.

In relation to your comment about consumers having the choice of opening their wallet. Not really, a car is not a luxury item, it is a essential necessity for the majority. There are only very few lucky people who do not require a car. The people have no choice over parking rates per hour. No choice whatsoever. When was the last time the people were consulted over the tax on petrol?? Never. We have no choice on bus or train fares. Our wallets are opened for us and the money removed.
Even if you don’t travel at all, you pay for the cost of the goods which are transported to your shop for you to buy so you can feed your family.

But your comment on energy conservation does have weight.

@ Sporthog: I did not wish to come back to this topic but your comments re U and coal are very relevant. Years of future supply are calc on basis of CURRENT usage (ie. NO increases!). If you have an annual incremental increase – say +3% (just to make the math easy), you will x2 consumption in 21 years. If you increase consumption by +10% annually you x2 consumption in approx 7 years. Exponentials are very scary!

I recommend: Bartlett, A. (1978) Forgotten Fundamentals of the Energy Crisis. American Journal of Physics, vol 46, (no9). 876-888, Sept 1978. You should be able to use a search engine to find Bartlett’s articles.

Note the date of this article!

Thanks for your comments.

B Peter.

Just would like to add my 2 cents driving the EV revolution forward in Ireland with http://www.greenaer.ie . First of all with a very important statistic :

86% of Irish work commutes are less than 50km return (current Irish census)

EV s in Ireland make a lot of sense for a multitude of reasons:

-Fossil fuel dependence @ 90%
-Huge renewable power potential
-poor public transport infrastructure
-short traveling distances
– Relative low average driving speed
– Focus on the SMART green economy to lead the recovery of the economy

The greening of the grid greatly improves the case for EVs in Ireland and the targets there match the EV ambition.

ESB Targets:
2012 – 20% emissions reduction
2020 – 50% emissions reduction
2035 – 100% emissions reduction

Irish Targets:
2020: 10% of vehicles to be EVs or PHEVs = 230k
To achieve this: 2011 = 2k sales, 2012 = 4k sales, 2020 = 40k sales

Irish Renewables Targets:
2009: 1264MW (actual)
2012: 3000 MW
2020: 6000 MW
Night demand = 1400MW approx

Today EVs are already at least 25 % more fuel efficient than the cleanest thermal engines on the road . As the amount of wind energy increases the need to store this unpredictable source and regulate the flow on the grid gets greater. This is why EVs represent an important part of the equation.

REVA EVs carry half of the embedded carbon footprint from a manufacturing point of view than those of thermal cars thanks to a low energy manufacturing process.

From our experience with REVA 80% of EV drivers will be charging at home at night, the charging points address the problem of range anxiety but certainly are not the only solution to EV integration .

If Ireland wants to attract the attention of the rest of the world it needs to have the right EV incentives in place , all of them announced at the same time to ensure the greatest EV penetration and accelerate the adoption curve .

It is not complicated , in fact the single most powerful signal has been implemented in Oslo since 2003 : allowing EVs in BUS LANES. Seven years on and Norway is not even looking at abandoning this incentive .

There are no issues with congesting these lanes , the cars are clearly marked with EL on their license plates (Electric) . And if the uptake in Ireland is suddenly massive the law can be reverted after 3 years. Why would we allow thousands of unnecessary polluting taxis around the country to use these lanes and not EVs which offer a solution in terms of air and noise pollution.

Ireland today is not anywhere to be noticed on the map of EV friendly countries so the time is running out , a battery subsidy was announced in the Budget and we are still waiting to hear the finest details on it . Only four charging points will go live at Easter time when at the same time a shopping center in Sweden is purchasing sixty of them …

The future is exciting with the rise of Cleantech , smart meters , renewable power , EVs and Vehicle to Grid,…

Ireland certainly has the potential to reinvent itself and create thousands of jobs in this new field but the lack of unified political will could prevent this to happen.

There is enough oil in the world , the question is how much are we prepared to pay to extract it when we know all the consequences that its excessive consumption leads to .. why would we not invest in clean sustainable local solutions instead?

@Sporthog & BP Woods, for varying reasons..

In among all the apocalyptic predictions, a few things are important to remember. (this list is not necessarily MECE)
– there have been predictions that we’ll run out of oil (and gas) for a long time.
– these predictions will eventually be true, but eventually may still be some time
– between uranium itself and with re-processing on top, it’s quite likely that nuclear could run us for a long time.
– the earth is not a closed system, so the 2nd law is only vaguely relevant
– storage and distribution of energy is the biggest problem, not its generation or extraction (look up Heinlein and Shipstone for a fictional discussion that’s actually quite relevant)
– over time it is possible to create housing that’s almost entirely energy free, to create transport that’s enormously better than today’s, etc.,
– there are various potential solutions to the CO2 problem (presuming it exists) and the cavalry may actually arrive on time.

However, using the oft-misused Precautionary Principle, we should remain very anxious about energy supply and the potential consequences of climate change. Using the vanishingly rare thing called common sense, we should also admit that Ireland is highly unlikely to be a driver of planetary change. We are simply not big enough, could never spend the R&D money, etc..

Attempted government-mandated innovation in Ireland is far more likely to result only in vast expenditure on experiments that turn out to be dead ends, particularly if one of the attempts is to force us to reduce CO2 emissions by forcing electric cars on a country with no meaningful non-fossil electrical generation capacity.

Even if reducing CO2 is your aim, since liquid fuels are so wonderfully suitable for powering transport vehicles it might be better bang for the buck to substitute the rest of our energy mix with a lower carbon technology and to live with the transport CO2 for the moment.

Unfortunately, the problem for the moment is that there’s no practical alternative to nuclear, and nuclear has various emotional and technological problems which do make it less than stunningly attractive, tempting though it certainly is.

@ All,

There is also the factor that EV cars do not have other conusmable items like exhaust pipes. Hence there are secondary benefits.

But before we get carried away with EV, I think there is something fundamentally wrong and I am starting to get worried.

Are we pushing Ireland towards EV because we want to look good in front of the world? Why do we have to be the shining light of the world? Says who? [CENSORED]

Because Oslo has it, we must have it. Because the Germans have done this, we must do it better. There is a touch of keeping up with the Jonese’s about this.

Don’t get me wrong, as I said above in a previous post I believe EV will work for city commuting. All technologies have their advantages and disadvantages.

But with this countrys marvellous record in joined up thinking I feel we are running a serious risk of looking very stupid in front of the world.

For example the M50 does not allow vehicles which cannot exceed 50Kph. This will include some Ev’s. Has anybody thought of this factor? Just who in their right mind would buy a car for commuting in Dublin (a trip to IKEA for example) but they are not allowed to use it on the M50. As some people said before, You could not make it up.

German Engineering is respected and admired the world over. Because they concentrate on the facts of engineering and less on the political spin.

In Ireland we are very weak at common sense and engineering facts. But we are much stronger at political spin.

I firmly believe EV do have a place in our society. In addition when new technologies are introduced it is only then that hurldles are tackled and overcome. For example battery development has been very very slow over the last 100 years when compared to other technologies. Increases in battery efficiency have been a few % here and there. But developments are taking place with NanoTechnology which potentially might lead to large % increases in battery efficiency and performance.

We should only be implementing change provided it makes sense for the people, and the environment. Not because some [CENSORED] in Govt want to look good in front of the world.

@ Hugh Sheehy: “- the earth is not a closed system, so the 2nd law is only vaguely relevant”. Pardon?

“Unfortunately, the problem for the moment is that there’s no practical alternative to nuclear … ….” Yes there is: conserve our usage of electricity.

B Peter.

@B P Woods.
Several posts ago, you quoted the 2nd Law of Thermodymanics and recommended that we become familiar with it.

The 2nd law – although it has various semi-philosophical implications and is often phrased in very vague ways – is still rather specific once properly stated. Like Heisenberg, it’s as often misunderstood as understood.

The 2nd Law only applies fully to closed systems. Earth is not a closed system.

As for conservation versus nuclear, I agree that conservation would be good. Unfortunately, usage will still be non-zero and given global population levels I doubt that conservation will be enough in the short term. (by short I mean decades or even the best part of a century)

@B P Woods.

Whether or not the universe is an open system is entirely totally enormously irrelevant. I presume you’re not actually trying to make a point.

I was reading around and came across various electric car sites which claimed that electric cars (same weight, performance, etc) produced less CO2 than an equivalent hydrocarbon car (modern efficient engine, etc) no matter how the electricity was produced.

They included distribution emissions in the total, so it’s a source to wheel comparison that they’re considering.

This seems surprising to me. I had thought that the extra conversion steps in the electric car cycle would almost automatically increase CO2 emissions unless the electricity was generated from non fossil sources, which isn’t the case in Ireland. We could argue the toss on natural gas vs coal vs diesel vs gasoline and their CO2 intensity as a side argument.

Now, these sites are “pro electric”, so they may be favouring one side of the argument over the other, but I wondered if anyone has any good links to neutral parties who’ve looked at this for Ireland?

(example link – http://www.going-electric.org/docs/CO2-energy-electric-vehicles.pdf)

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