Politicians praise electric cars. If everyone buys them, they say, solar and wind power will replace our need for oil.
But that’s absurd.
Here’s the rest of my list of “inconvenient facts” about electric cars.
“The future of the auto industry is electric,” says President Joe Biden. He expects a huge improvement in batteries. Better batteries are crucial because both power plants and cars need to store a lot of electrical energy.
But here’s inconvenient fact 3: Batteries are bad at storing large amounts of energy.
“Batteries leak and don’t last much,” says physicist Mark Mills.
Mills thinks electric cars are great, but explains that “Oil starts with a huge advantage: 5,000% more energy per pound. Electric car batteries weigh 1,000 pounds. That 1,000 pounds only replaces 80 pounds of gasoline.”
But future batteries will be better, I point out.
“Engineers are really good at making things better,” Mills replies, “but they can’t make them better than the laws of physics allow.”
That’s an uncomfortable fact. 4. Miracle batteries powerful enough to replace fossil fuels are a fantasy.
“Because nature isn’t kind to people,” explains Mills, “we store energy when it’s cold or really hot. People who envision an energy transition want to build windmills and solar panels and store all that energy in batteries. But if you do the math, you’d have to build about a hundred trillion dollars worth of batteries to store the same amount of energy Europe is now holding for this winter. It would take the world’s battery factories 400 years to make that many batteries.”
Politicians don’t mention that when they promise every car will be electric. They also don’t mention that the power grid is limited.
This summer, California officials were so concerned about power outages that they asked EV owners to stop charging cars!
But today, few cars in California are electric. Governor Gavin Newsom has mandated that all new cars must be electric by 2035! Where does he think he gets the electricity to power them?
“Roughly speaking, to shift energy from gasoline to electricity, you have to double your power grid,” says Mills. “No one is planning to double the grid, so they’re going to ration.”
Rationing. This means that some places simply turn off part of the power supply. That’s our final inconvenient fact: we just don’t have enough power for all electric cars.
Worse, if we (as many activists and politicians are suggesting) try to get that electricity from 100% renewable sources, rationing would be deadly.
“Even if you covered the entire continent of the United States with solar panels, you wouldn’t provide half of America’s electricity,” Mills points out.
Even if you added, “Washington Monument-sized wind turbines spanning an area six times the size of New York State, that wouldn’t be enough.”
That’s just math and physics. It’s amazing that supposedly responsible people encourage impossible fantasies.
“It was an extraordinary act of propaganda,” Mills laments, “almost infantile … frightening because it’s so silly.”
Even as people invent much better cars, wind turbines, solar panels, power lines and batteries, Mills explains, “you’re still drilling things, digging things up. They’re still building machines that wear out… It’s not a magical transformation.”
Worse still, politicians are now forcing us to pay more for energy while forcing us to do things that harm the environment. Their fossil fuel restrictions are driving people to use fuels that are more polluting.
In Europe: “They are burning coal again! We let bureaucrats design our energy systems instead of engineers,” Mills complains. “We get worse energy, more expensive energy and higher environmental pollution!”
I like electric cars. But I’m not going to pretend that driving a car makes me some kind of environmental hero.
“There will be a lot more electric cars in the future,” concludes Mills. “There should be because it will reduce demand for oil, which is a good thing. But if you do the math, to run a society of 5 or 6 billion people living in poverty, we can’t imagine that, if you want to give them a little bit of what we have, the energy needs are enormous. We will need everything.”
This includes fossil fuels.
Every Tuesday, JOHN STOSSEL posts a new video about the struggle between government and freedom on JohnStossel.com.