Western societies are charging into the electrification of transport and heating without actually providing the electricity. This cannot be wished away.
In January, the then secretary of state for trade in Britain, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, told Parliament that “we are going to be requiring up to four times as much electricity” to meet demand for electrified heating and transport. Yet we are not building four times as much electric generation capacity.
The energy legacy of the Conservatives will be the loss of reliable energy. For example, only two years ago, the UK was running 15 operational nuclear reactors, but by 2030 it will be just three, and that’s assuming no further delays. The reality is that we have created two parallel energy systems; one of which works, while the other does not. The politicised grid mashes them together, making the one that provides reliable and low cost energy both expensive and unstable.
And then along comes a genuine cold snap which exposes our new reliance on nature, and sub-prime energy technologies. Climate change campaigners who are inclined to view any weather event as a policy message dictated personally by an Earth deity should remember this trick works both ways.
During our recent dunkelflaute – a period of high pressure, freezing temperatures and no wind – our onshore wind blades stood still for three weeks, consuming power, but not generating any. What wind power we got, and it wasn’t very much, all came from offshore facilities.
The Germans have bulldozed wind farms to get to the good stuff beneath: coal use in Germany is up 13pc in 2022. But over there, the industrialists and manufacturers have more influence, while our Oxford PPE-dominated policy classes in Whitehall are united in their groupthink – and immune from the consequences of their decisions.
See also The Downside of EVs, Briefing Note 21.11
The additional electricity required
A study of the likely cost of supporting 100% EVs turned up astronomical numbers for the increased demand for electricity and the amount of additional installed capacity of wind and solar power required to provide it. Refer: How Much More Electricity Do We Need To Go To 100% Electric Vehicles
For example, in Germany, replacing 44 million cars would call for 30% more electric power and 40% more installed capacity at a cost of $US 230 Billion. Replacing 60GW of coal and nuclear power would call for some 140GW of additional wind and solar power at a cost of 650 billion.
In the Netherlands replacing 8 million cars would require 21% more electricity and 24% more installed capacity at a cost of 27 billion.
In the UK, with 26 million cars the numbers are 36%, 50% and 140 billion.
For the US, 260 million cars, 30%, 44% and $1.4 trillion.
China, 154 million cars, $750 billion.
One of the hopes is to use the cars as mass storage facilities in addition to their transport function. Assuming 100% conversion, all the cars in the UK could store 100 times the amount of power in the Dinorwig pumped reservoir but that is only enough to power the UK for about a day. So after a couple of windless and sunless days the whole fleet would have dead batteries in the absence of conventional power.
The volume of resources required.
The International Energy Agency calculated that the needs for “energy transition minerals” such as lithium, graphite, nickel and rare-earth metal would rise by 4,200%, 2,500%, 1,900% and 700%, respectively, by 2040. Refer The Role Of Critical Minerals in Clean Enery Transitions
In cautious and bureaucratic language the report noted that the world doesn’t have the capacity to meet such demand and there are no plans to fund and build the necessary mines and refineries.