Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Electric Car Fantasy

The Recovery Act (the 862 billion dollar stimulus) was supposed to be a jobs bill. However, the stimulus was more of a platform to promote the progressive fantasy of having a green America. The stimulus provides 90 billion to upgrade our power grid, weatherize homes and businesses, and to improve both renewable energy costs and production. One such fantasy getting billions of dollars of stimulus funding is the electric car. The stimulus is also silently promoting other government power grabs such as their education program (A Race to the Top), making broadband available in rural areas, and digitizing medical records. Over the next few weeks, I will post a dozen blogs exposing the problems with stimulus projects including the high speed rail, the power grid, The Race to the Top, and renewable energy. Research and production of the electric car is getting billions of dollars from the stimulus. By 2012, there will be 30 manufacturers in the U.S. making batteries for electric cars. The U.S. market share for electric car batteries is expected to cut into China’s dominate monopoly – the goal is for it to go from 1 to 20%. The White House hopes to cut the cost of the electric car battery by 50% so the cost of the electric car can be priced competitively to similar gasoline powered vehicles. The electric battery is the key behind the success of the electric car. These batteries are large and expensive and the best rated batteries allow a vehicle to travel up to a maximum of 200 miles between charges. And what’s worse, a battery can lose up to half of its charge in cold weather. For this reason, the stimulus contains billions of dollars to open charging stations throughout the country. Electric batteries are also seen as being pivotal to store energy produced by solar and wind renewable energy sources. This is the only way to ensure renewable energy power plants can provide energy when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. Today, a multi-billion dollar battery the size of a football field is needed to supply power to a small town for a single day. This is obviously not acceptable. The most important problem with the electric car is the myth that it is cleaner than comparable gasoline powered cars. A study done by a MIT research unit claims that electric cars charged using energy produced by a coal or fossil fuel energy plant is in fact worse for the environment. The electric car can produce nearly 50% more in carbon emission pollutants than gasoline powered vehicles. This is the primary reason that the stimulus is trying to increase production of renewable energy sources. However, the current problem with renewable energy is it is 3 to 5 times more expensive than coal and fossil fuel energy sources. Another problem with renewable energy is that their power plants are located in remote areas - far away from the power grid. This is why billions of stimulus dollars are needed to connect remote wind and solar power plants to the power grid. The bottom line for the electric car to become a reality, the following needs to be accomplished: The battery needs to be made smaller, cheaper, while at same time increasing its mileage output by at least two fold; the power grid has to be expanded to accommodate remote renewable energy power plants; renewable energy costs must be reduced three fold; renewable energy production must be increased 10 fold; and finally, a minimum of a million charging stations need to be built throughout the United States. When this happens, maybe, just maybe, the electric car will be a cleaner and more practical option to replace the gasoline vehicle. Is it worth a 1 trillion dollar investment to make the electric viable? No, there are too many variables involved in making electric car a success. Thus, there are too many risks and unknowns in the electric car industry making it cost prohibited. There are wiser ways to spend money that will have a bigger impact on the environment with less risk and cost. Stay tuned for more practical solutions to carbon emissions. My Book: Is America Dying? (Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble)

1 comment:

  1. Two things, Patrick -- first, do you know the specific definition of a "Green America"? It's crapola from what I can tell b/c it is a political term at this point.

    Second, wouldn't the electric car already have been produced if it were possible? Remember the "wind power" dude (can't remember his name) who all of a sudden stopped touting this? I am sure it was b/c he figured out it was not something that could produce efficiency in the end and thus, no profit.