I recently came across two articles that I found staggering. The first asserted that France wants to quit selling gasoline and diesel fuel by 2040 (Britain made a similar announcement a few weeks later). The second detailed Volvo’s announcement that it will equip every car it sells with an electric motor starting in 2019.
Since California started using the concept of “technology-forcing legislation” in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, legislators think they can decree anything and it will come to pass. Well, fellows, science doesn’t work like that. Emotion doesn’t develop products—science and technology do.
Electric vehicles have their best chances in applications where range is not an issue. In and around urban areas they make great sense, because they replace ground-level emissions in concentrated areas, with high-level emissions spread out over a larger area. For electric motors to replace diesel and gasoline engines, batteries would have to be able to store at least four to five times as much energy as they are currently capable of storing. We desperately need a battery breakthrough in order for electric vehicles to gain more widespread usage. To put things into perspective, let’s look at the energy densities of some common fuels:
Do you see why I’m so positive about gaseous fuels and hydrogen?
I recently made the trip from Columbus, Ohio, to Nixa, Missouri, in 11 hours and 10 minutes with three stops for fuel and an additional stop when I got sleepy. If my vehicle was powered by an electric motor, I would either have had to stop at least twice more to recharge the batteries, or I could have carried an additional one to 2,000 lbs. of batteries on board. I fail to see the feasibility of electric power in these situations.
Saving emissions? I chafe when I hear people refer to electric vehicles as “zero emissions.” The electricity needed to recharge electric vehicle batteries is generated mostly by coal, which is far from “clean.”
In a few years, I think that natural gas will take over as the primary fuel source for electrical power generation, but it takes time to build new power plants and convert old ones.
It seems to me that the movement to make the U.S. energy-independent has morphed into a “get Big Oil at all costs” movement with an emotional and slanted approach. I’m beginning to wonder if these people really want to destroy Big Oil just to replace it with an even larger (and less effective) government agency.