Thinking Electric Cars Will Magically Solve Our Need for Oil is Absurd!
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 is the rest of my list of "inconvenient facts" about electric cars.
"The future of the auto industry is electric," says President Joe Biden. He assumes a vast improvement in batteries. Better batteries are crucial because both power plants and cars need to store lots of electric power.
But here's inconvenient fact 3: Batteries are lousy at storing large amounts of energy.
"Batteries leak, and they don't hold a lot," says physicist Mark Mills.
Mills thinks electric cars are great but explains that "oil begins with a huge advantage: 5,000% more energy in it per pound. Electric car batteries weigh 1,000 pounds. Those 1,000 pounds replace just 80 pounds of gasoline."
But future batteries will be better, I point out.
"Engineers are really good at making things better," Mills responds, "but they can't make them better than the laws of physics permit."
That's inconvenient fact 4. Miracle batteries powerful enough to replace fossil fuels are a fantasy.
"Because nature is not nice to humans," explains Mills, "we store energy for when it's cold or really hot. People who imagine an energy transition want to build windmills and solar panels and store all that energy in batteries. But if you do the arithmetic, you find you'd need to build about a hundred trillion dollars' worth of batteries to store the same amount of energy that Europe has in storage now for this winter. It would take the world's battery factories 400 years to manufacture that many batteries."
Politicians don't mention that when they promise every car will be electric. They also don't mention that the electric grid is limited.