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Biden’s Electric Car Delusion
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s election promise to vastly increase electric cars in America makes no sense. It would leave people with unreliable vehicles, huge transportation costs and do nothing to protect the environment.
Beside aiming to ensure “100% of new sales for light- and medium-duty vehicles will be electrified,” The Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice makes the following commitments:
- Biden will work with our nation’s governors and mayors to support the deployment of more than 500,000 new public charging outlets by the end of 2030.
- Biden will restore the full electric vehicle tax credit to incentivize the purchase of these vehicles.
- Biden will work to develop a new fuel economy standard that goes beyond what the Obama-Biden Administration put in place.
A Canadian engineer recently ran the numbers involved in the switchover to electric vehicles (EVs) and concluded that, in order to match the 2,000 cars that a typical filling station can service in a busy 12 hours, the filling station would require six hundred, 50-kilowatt chargers at an estimated cost of $24 million. The station would require a supply of 30 megawatts of power from the grid which would be enough to power 20,000 homes. Unlike home recharging stations, these would be operating at peak usage hours where the rates are the highest.
Where would all that power come from? As quoted on The Heartland Institute’s Web site, Dr. David Wojick, director of the Climate Change Debate Education Project said,
“There is almost no excess generating, distribution, or transmission capacity in the United States, or globally for that matter, so a lot of new, expensive power plants and power lines will be needed if EVs are ever to become popular. The EV grid simply does not exist.”
This means that, without the construction of vast new multi-billion-dollar electrical grids, Biden’s plan is simply a recipe for nationwide brownouts and blackouts and a lot of stranded motorists. No wonder one of the main worries car owners have with respect to EVs is ‘range anxiety.’ You need to plan any EV trip very carefully or you will be calling your friends who still own gasoline-powered cars to pick you up in the middle of nowhere.
Biden also seems to be ignoring the fact that it can take between 30 minutes and 8 hours to recharge a vehicle, depending on it being empty or just topping off. Charging stations will need lounge areas, holding areas for vehicles completed but waiting for owners to return from shopping or dining and so on. The scope of the plan is staggering.
As time goes by more owners will also come to understand the problems in charging and recharging EVs in very cold weather. All batteries use electrolytes which are liquids such as acids, bases and salts that conduct electricity by the movement of ions. Hence, battery performance worsens as it gets colder. A typical electrolyte conducts a fourth as much at minus 5 degrees C as it does at 55 C. Little by little EVs, in normal to cold climates, will experience this problem.
California plans to have over 25 million such vehicles in the not too distant future. In fact, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plans to ban sales of new, gas-powered passenger cars and trucks in California by 2035.
The utility companies have thus far had little to say about the alarming cost projections or the certain increased rates that will be required to charge their customers. It is not just the total amount of electricity required but the transmission lines and fast charging capacity that must be built at existing filling stations. Neither wind nor solar can support any of it, of course. Biden’s idea that they can is just another of his politically-correct illusions.
Also ignored is the direct cost to the consumer of buying EVs. A new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Energy Initiative concluded that it will probably be more than a decade before EVs will be price-competitive with fossil fuel-powered cars.
The main reason for this is the lithium-ion batteries used in EVs, which account for about one-third of the cost of the vehicle, according to the MIT study. Just do the math: lithium-ion battery packs used in EVs cost anywhere from $175 to $300 per kilowatt-hour (KWh). A midrange EV typically has a 60 KWh battery pack. So, taking, say, a battery at the average cost per KWh ($237.5 per KWh), that would cost $14,250 just for the car’s batteries.
The hope is to get the battery price down to $100 per KWh by 2025. But the MIT study explains that even meeting that price target by 2030 would require material costs to remain constant for the next 10 years while global demand for these batteries is expected to skyrocket. How likely is that, Joe?
And talk about heavy! Although the modern lithium-ion battery is four times better than the old lead-acid battery, gasoline holds 80 times the energy density. The lithium-ion battery in your cell phones weighs less than an ounce while the Tesla battery weighs 1,000 pounds.
Biden is apparently also unconcerned that China controls most of the lithium and cobalt needed to produce batteries and they are often produced with child labor and near-slave labor, and with practically no health, safety or environmental safeguards. But then, the Biden family has been heavily invested in China, so perhaps they have a financial stake in this too.
Joe tells us that he will work to develop a new fuel economy standard that goes beyond what the Obama/Biden administration put in place. But the fuel economy standards brought on by the Obama led to lighter weight and less safe vehicles. As we explained in our April 7th America Out Loud article, “Trump Administration Overturns Unsafe Obama Automobile Standards:”
“The Obama administration was effectively in partnership with overzealous environmental groups who never cared about public safety or economics. The long-term goal was simply to eliminate the use of fossil fuels at all costs.”
And Biden says he will go beyond the dangerous Obama-Biden standard.
And finally, Joe is either naïve or ignorant when it comes to electric vehicle tax credits. As we explained in our America Out Loud January 1, 2020 article, “A Rough Road Ahead For Electric Cars,”
“Up until now, the EV tax credit was granted on an honor system with no required affidavits to prove the credit was actually earned. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently reported that of 239,422 EV tax credits claimed between 2014 and 2018, it identified 16,510 as potentially erroneous. Some are outright frauds; others are to second owners who do not qualify or those leasing vehicles who also do not qualify. Worse yet a Congressional Research Service study showed that 80% of all EV tax credits go to households with incomes exceeding $100,000. Truly a wealth redistribution in the wrong direction that liberals should not like.”
Note: Dr. Lehr, the senior author of this article, discussed how Joe Biden’s energy and climate plan is “sheer insanity” on the Lars Larsen Show on October 23, 2020. You can listen to the 7-minute interview here.
Dr. Jay Lehr is a Senior Policy Analyst with the International Climate Science Coalition and former Science Director of The Heartland Institute. He is an internationally renowned scientist, author, and speaker who has testified before Congress on dozens of occasions on environmental issues and consulted with nearly every agency of the national government and many foreign countries. After graduating from Princeton University at the age of 20 with a degree in Geological Engineering, he received the nation’s first Ph.D. in Groundwater Hydrology from the University of Arizona. He later became executive director of the National Association of Groundwater Scientists and Engineers.
Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute. He has 40 years experience as a mechanical engineer/project manager, science and technology communications professional, technical trainer, and S&T advisor to a former Opposition Senior Environment Critic in Canada’s Parliament.