As regular readers may know, I do tend to drone on about the failings of the established press. The endless and depressing regurgitation of press releases without any thought or editorial input is surely one of the scandals of our age.
Therefore, when I read something along the lines of the above title, I’m a little sceptical. Is this just a re-print of a press release from some interested party. Is there any grain of truth in it?
Well, just for once, in this particular case, I believe there might be. There does finally seem to be enough groundswell to actually launch this new and disruptive technology into our lives. The resistance to it hasn’t disappeared, far from it. I get an average of 50 tweets a day, this goes off the scale if I respond, with the accusation that electric cars are ‘dirtier’ than fossil burners because of where the power comes from.
This piece of information is again gleaned from a press release which has been published in a respectable newspaper without so much as a glance. Cut and paste baby. Of course the original press release will come from where? An oil company? Almost without doubt.
But this year there are a lot more electric cars coming onto the market, there are huge developments in the works.
One aspect of driving an electric vehicle which I didn’t expect is the slight change in world view that takes place. It made me keenly aware of where our energy comes from. As I was driving I couldn’t help thinking about electricity, something we take entirely for granted. The thing that normally runs my lights and computer is now pushing me along the road.
Naturally you become very aware about where the power is coming from. Is it really all coming from burning coal like many of my critics have told me ad nauseum.
I wanted to find out, I asked around, a lovely man sent me a link to an iPhone app called UK Energy which breaks down the generator load. At the time of writing we a re creating power as follows
Pumped storage 0.8%
French interconnector 3.1%
The last one is Nuclear from all the French nuclear power plants just across the channel, comes through a big fat wire in the Eurotunnel, I saw it when we filmed down there. When I say big fat wire, it’s a cable that’s a good meter across, chunky.
Sometimes the French interconnector figure is as high as 20%. I once checked and wind was 4.8% on a very windy day in November. Coal is normally around the low 30’s, but this is a peak period. Late at night the total mega watt hours is around 300,000. At the moment it’s 1,109,635. That’s a lot of kettles.
That said, the endless tirade against electric cars, saying they are as dirty as diesel is not only tired and boring, it is utterly untrue. All those power generating systems are far more efficient and cleaner than running millions of individual internal combustion engines.
We have to change it, I’m not being complacent, it is an obscenity that we don’t have more renewables now. Wind should be a minimum of 20% now and it could be done, it’s not some pie in the sky, sci-fi dream. It’s totally achievable and massively reliable.
However, I am not in a position, along with the rest of you, to steer national energy policy other than by writing a sternly worded letter to my MP, who without doubt is taking back handers from oil company lobby groups. My MP is a low level Tory back bencher, which in my book makes him about as honest and reliable as a second hand car salesman outside Droitwich.
But I am in a position to change aspects of my consuming behaviour. I can switch my electricity provider to one who is at least investing in renewable energy sources, and from this year on I can also drive an electric car.
The more of us who do so the more normal and accepted they will become. It’s going to take a while, something I find incredibly frustrating. However, to steal a phrase from Elon Musk, one of the fellows behind Tesla Motors, ‘we have to move on from a mine and burn hydrocarbon economy’ whether we want to or not.