back to article Full shift to electric vans would melt Royal Mail's London hub, MPs told

Royal Mail considered shifting its fleet of small vans in London to electric vehicles but concluded that doing so would lead to a power meltdown at its central hub in the capital. Speaking at a Parliamentary hearing about electric vehicles, Andrew Benfield, group director of transport at the non-profit Energy Saving Trust, …

  1. Bob Wheeler
    Trollface

    So, not just a question of...

    .. putting another 50p in the meter then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, not just a question of...

      BT did that anyway with their line rental, added 50p back in 2010, and we still don't have a minimum of 2Mbps, let alone 10Mbps.

      Looks like we're heading for the same regards Electric vehicles, a BT style "sit on hands approach", force the taxpayer to pay for any network upgrades BDUK/Superfast Cymru etc (because we {the UK} have to them to stay competitive), while these companies then take the praise/profits.

    2. low_resolution_foxxes

      Re: So, not just a question of...

      The power grid meltdown statement is a bit misleading, as things currently stand the central London Northy bit around Clerkenwell the power grid is pretty much at capacity. It's possible to get additional power - but it's a tough challenge and I believe you essentially have to bury under the Thames to get additional power from South London, where there is some spare capacity.

      So there is power available, if you spend a ridiculous amount of money on tunnels under the Thames, dig up half the local community and bribe a few dozen local councillors and communities for the delays and chaos caused.

      Or you could charge them somewhere else, introducing a painful inefficiency. I guess they can trial things for now, London needs a super-route of ultra-high-capacity underground power tunnels, which I believe is what projects like this are intended to do with all the new offshore wind turbines being built (I think the general public are little aware of the sheer scale of the offshore wind turbine developments that are being planned, tens of projects are lined up measured in 400+km² areas now...

      https://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/investment-and-innovation/new-essential-infrastructure/london-power-tunnels

    3. Mips
      Childcatcher

      Re: So, not just a question of...

      Well here is the answer and we are all going to need a bit more than 50p.

      Whilst there is the option to go hybrid, if these are plug is it will only provide a marginal reduction to the increased electrical demand. And hybrid vehicles are not fuel efficient as has been proven they use about as much petrol as the equivalent straight direct drive. At this moment sales of petrol cars are increasing and diesel is declining with the possibility that manufacturers will be fined for increasing CO2 emission.

      The Post Office are saying they have a problem and fortunately this news has entered into the political arena because this is where the problem originates. They say ignorance is bliss and there is none more blissful than a politician, The decision to go electric is ill founded. Here are the consequences.

      The power supply to most dwellings is based on average consumption, whilst you might be able to call on 14kW in your house on average the supply might only be able to provide as little as 750W and as much as 3kW depending where you are and when the property was built, commonly it is 2kW. Vehicle demands are about 3kW for a range of 100 miles and 7kW for 200 miles. This means that your house will now be taking as much as 9kW from the supply, more than 4 times what it was designed to provide. It is ok if a small number of electric vehicles are connected, the system has some flexibility, but if penetration is more than 10% problems will arise as the system will be overloaded and voltage drop will exceed statutory limits. Beyond this point, to make electric vehicles work the network will have to be replaced. To provide power to all electric vehicles using the existing approach would require 4 times the number of substations and all distribution mains will need to be replaced. The resulting disruption would be huge.

      The cost would also be huge.

      KPMG have reported on recent research into how we can deal with the reducing availability of gas. They estimate the cost of replacing the electrical network at between £150bn to £250bn. Yes, 250 BEEEELION POUNDS! As it happens this is the figure I came up with AND we have to add in the cost of three nuclear power stations at about £35bn each.

      Conservationist will say we can use photovoltaic and wind sources, but we need more power not just energy and these will not cut it. Anyone who does not understand the difference between power and energy should not comment. Sadly this group includes most journalist, politicians and ecowarriors. Yes we have to go nuclear; convention power generation will be inadequate after all we are running out of gas.

      It is amazing that the government has committed so much expenditure with a short statement and with no opposition. The cost will be more than Falklands, Afghanistan, Iraq, HS1 & 2, Crossrail and all the windfarms put together, How can this be allowed to happen?

      You might think that the bright sparks in the executive have an answer, but clearly there is not one single technical mind present. They think it is all about batteries and drivelines. It is not.

      If we don't do anything I can see that we might have civil disruption, "charger point rage" incidents, generators in the back of the garage, or the Clarkson view: a generator on the back seat. At the very least planning law should include that all new developments have the capacity to charge vehicles.

      There is a solution; we have not looked at alternatives. We need to invest in exhaust scrubbers; this should prolong the life of diesel. We need to invest in fuel cells. OK hydrogen is difficult to produce and store, but we could also use ammonia.

      It is a difficult question but there is no doubt that the policy came as a knee jerk reaction. It is not adequate, not fit for purpose and like the poll tax will cause no end of problems.

      Time to start protesting.

  2. LucreLout Silver badge

    Hmmm

    I'm slightly skeptical that they're making this problem bigger than it needs to be.

    Yes, I'll agree up front that powering all those vehicles from one location will melt the local power grid.

    However..... Could they not shift some of the? Could they not install solar panels on the roof and some powerwall size batteries?

    I wonder, given Must has cracked solar roof tiles, if some variant of them would not be strong enough to sustain some light vans parked upon it, allowing the car park to become a large solar panel. Also, do the vehicles have to be charged where they operate? RM is not short of land, so could disperse some of the vehicles for charging in other nearby locations.

    If we wait for a magic bullet to come along that solves all known issues before doing anything, then we'll always do nothing. Change what can be changed and live with the rest.

    I love V8s.... but I could love a Tesla too.

    1. Timmy B Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      @LucreLout

      I have to agree. They say some things that are a bit off. Like there not being a second hand market. That's generally because pretty much all EVs are under 3 years old and nobody is selling them yet. There are a few - ours will be one of them soon.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm

      I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

      1. ChrisC

        Re: Hmmm

        "I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive."

        I'd love a Tesla model S (or indeed *any* of their lineup) with the electric drivetrain married to a cabin interior designed by someone who doesn't subscribe to the "less is more, so much more" philosophy which seems to have infected Tesla. If I can't instinctively reach out and find all the important and/or oft-used controls just by a combination of muscle memory and touch alone, then I don't want to know.

        So I applaud Tesla for helping to bring high performance long range EVs into the minds of the general public, but when the time comes for me to eventually make the switch away from ICE to electric, I suspect it'll be to one of the more established manufacturers who seem to have a far better understanding about how to design a car around the driver, rather than around the technology...

      2. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        Other factors included the expense – Tesla's entry-level Model 3 vehicle is $35,000 (£28,500) and there's no second-hand market

        Rhetorical question: But they are not seriously considering buying 49,000 Tesla Model 3 cars though are they?

        Answer: It's taxpayers money - of course they are.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          "Other factors included the expense – Tesla's entry-level Model 3 vehicle is $35,000 (£28,500) and there's no second-hand market"

          To date, there is no £28,500 Model 3. They start at £33,600 with a two year wait.

    3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      Nope, it's a huge problem that will result in even higher electricity bills.

      Musk hasn't cracked solar roof tiles. He's sort of trying to sell them, but they're very expensive and not likely to produce much power. AFAIK there aren't any in the wild yet to produce real-world stats. Problem is..

      Solar gives you maybe 1kW/m^2 of potential energy, ie solar irradiance at surface. An EV may have a 100kWh battery, so depending on charge rates (10-120kW), you'd need 10-120m^2 or more per vehicle to charge it. But solar panels aren't 100% efficient, so you'd need more. And you can't rely on a constant 1kW/m^2 because that changes as the Sun's angle changes, or seasons change, or it's cloudy, or pigeons/London grime covers the panels.

      And of course at night, solar's usefulness drops to zero. Then Powerwalls or other displacement activities add cost. So if you're using solar to charge a Powerwall during the day, you can't be using that energy to charge a vehicle. Or do any other useful work. Assuming the Powerwall's fully charged, you might then try charging a vehicle from it. But a Powerwall has a capacity of 13.5kWh, and the Model S wants 100kWh.. And the cost per kWh for a Powerwall is around $400

      Which is around 10x more than current wholesale electricity prices, and a lot more than diesel.

      Then there's the challenge with power density, ie trying to charge a lot of vehicles at the same time, so say 100 @ 120kW for 'fast charging', which would mean a substation and hefty DC conversion facility installed in your car park. Fleet owners won't want to be paying those sorts of costs any time soon.

      But this is nothing new. After all, the first EV's were around a hundred years ago, and the problems are well understood.. By engineers, if not politicians.

      1. julian_n

        Re: Hmmm

        Maybe all postal deliveries should be done after dark - so the EVs have all day in the sun to charge?

        1. AMBxx Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          By the time they work out the details, we'll no longer need a daily delivery of mail, so the problem will no longer exist.

        2. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          Or employ more posties and deliver by foot, or pony and cart, or cycle.

          1. terrythetech

            Re: Hmmm

            Funny you should mention that. Local posties here in semi rural West Sussex now use vans to get posties to the area and then feet and a push trolley thingy for the post - they got rid of all the bikes a couple of years ago. I never saw any vans before that, electric or otherwise. I don't actually think they have any less posties than before - I'd assumed it was a time thing - get them to their rounds ASAP.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Hmmm

              "they got rid of all the bikes a couple of years ago. "

              Yes, because posties are carrying more packets and small parcels than ever before and they don't fit on bikes anymore. Vans are the only practical logistical way to get the goods to the rounds.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmm

          Maybe all postal deliveries should be done after dark - so the EVs have all day in the sun to charge?

          All day? In winter? In the UK? I take it you've never lived here.

          In a UK winter a PV panel has an average capacity factor of around 5%, and may dip below 1% for days on end if there's no direct sunlight (and zero if there's snow on the panels). Even for one day's power for a delivery van, the required area of panels would be immense if it was to be reliable.

          1. Chloe Cresswell

            Re: Hmmm

            The other day, my mum's 12 panel (2.5kw) system broke 2kWh over the entire day for the first time since October, and I thought winter was coming to an end.. ;)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Hmmm

              mum's 12 panel (2.5kw) system broke 2kWh over the entire day

              So that's a capacity factor of 3.3%. Lucky the rest of us are subsidising those panels, eh?

            2. inmypjs Silver badge

              Re: Hmmm

              " broke 2kWh"

              In other words it would take 12+ weeks (see below) to fully charge an 85kWh Tesla.

              In other words the panels have earned less than 30p a day since October.

              (Tesla model S claims 1% battery drain per day standby so 850Wh for the 85kWh one, people say they lose more than 1% per day and I wouldn't be surprised if it is significantly more if it needs to keep its battery warm in very cold conditions).

        4. Timbo

          Re: Hmmm

          "Maybe all postal deliveries should be done after dark - so the EVs have all day in the sun to charge?"

          That makes so much sense...as then most working people would be at home to receive "Signed For" deliveries and we wouldn't need to take a piece of card to our local delivery depot a day or two later to collect such items.

          Perhaps ALL delivery companies should follow this route? Far more efficient and no need to leave "I called but you were out" cards.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Hmmm

            Timbo

            Night deliveries!

            Err, at 3:00 AM I might be in, but I don't want to be awake waiting for a delivery, let alone the endless flow that seems to come to my house.

            1. jb99

              Re: Hmmm

              We had a delivery wake us up at 4:50 AM a few weeks ago "because it's the only time I can find people home". I was not impressed.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Hmmm

            "That makes so much sense...as then most working people would be at home to receive "Signed For" deliveries and we wouldn't need to take a piece of card to our local delivery depot a day or two later to collect such items."

            If the bulk of the mail that didn't need a signature was delivered at night, the balance could be delivered during the day by fewer postmen. It would also mean that there would be fewer postal vehicles on the road during the day/ faster completion of routes at night.

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        But this is nothing new. After all, the first EV's were around a hundred years ago, and the problems are well understood.. By engineers, if not politicians.

        Either we solve the problem as a country or we cancel the ban on new ICE from 2040. Hydrogen won't have the time to build an infrastructure, and if people are forced to drive hybrids, then they will be plugging them in overnight.

        I'll happily have a V8 instead of a 'Leccy, but not if the government persist with taxing the arse out of one and subsidising uptake of the other. That would seem stupid. Which brings us back to the problem - we can't subsidise leccy if we can't cope with demand, but without subsidy, take up will be limited or nonexistant.

        Subsidy, for the above purposes, can be taken as the tax on petrol that is not applied for electric cars. Either we move to a pay per mile scheme for all vehicles - in which case how does that get retrofit to older cars and what of the privacy concerns - or we'd have to remove tax on petrol, which will make the green lobby explode in a fit of champagne socialist rage and leave the chancellor needing to cut 1/8th of his spending.

        So, what do we do? Going nuclear and upgrading leccy infrastructure seems like thhe only viable alternative, and that means starting today with a lot more generative capacity, putting an end to windmill and solar panel development - if you've paid squillions for umpteen new nuke plants, you are going to run them to end of life. I'm not sure that's a sellable idea of the future either. So what is?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          "Either we solve the problem as a country or we cancel the ban on new ICE from 2040."

          Imposing some demand on the future is something that's becoming an increasingly popular thing with politicians. It appears that they're Doing Something but as they won't be the ones doing it (providing they set an explicit date far enough into the future) they're effectively saying it has to be someone else who does it.

          In the real world we can only solve our immediate problems. We can look at what we might need further into the future. We can look at possible solutions. Until those possible solutions have been tested and we've found out which are practical and which aren't, and in what time-frame they can be made practical then we can't redesign the future.

          Stuff only becomes the norm when it's technically and economically viable. The only things that legislation can practically do are clear obstacles and avoid being an obstacle itself.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

            Why? It wouldn't accelerate anything like as quickly. Watched one of the sporty teslas pull away from the lights last year, was like watching a speeded up film.

            I guess it'd be funny to watch you pootle around in it.....

            1. Blank Reg

              Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

              And in the real world teslas seems to be among the slowest cars on the road. I usually notice them as they are often getting in the way because they are driving so slowly. I guess they are concerned about using up too much battery.

              1. LucreLout Silver badge

                Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

                And in the real world teslas seems to be among the slowest cars on the road.

                My usual trips are well within the battery range of a Tesla, any of them. How often do you drive more than 250 miles without stopping? Unless you're under 40 years old, and don't have small kids, it won't be often :)

                My daily driver is quick enough to blow most others I meet into the weeds, thus I avoid a lot of accidents at roundabout exits by having entered and exited before the typical driver gets half way around and uses the wrong lane for the wrong exit. Any Tesla equivalent electric car will blast past my car so fast I won't be able to blink - at least until we get to the top half of the speedo, which would be almost never on British roads. The new roadster should do 0-60 in less than 2 seconds - faster than super car territory - you're into hypercar performance.

                A model 3 should do 0-60 in sub 5 seconds. To beat that with a petrol engine you'd usually need about 350-400 BHP at a guess. That's a power output well beyond the average ICE road car. Yes, you can buy a faster car for the money a model 3 will cost, but keeping it fuelled will likely be rather expensive by comparisson.

                Twin electric motors allow 4 wheel drive to put the power down without incurring normal transmission losses. Battery distribution allows you to position the weight to deliver optimal handling, rather than having a heavy lump of metal at one end adversely affecting handling at speed.

                There's no reason for an electric car to be going slowly - a hybrid maybe if they're ekeing out the battery charge, but full electric has all the torque available immediately - a feat even a supercharged engine cannot come close to matching.

                In case its not clear, Tesla can/will be substitutable for a.n.other leccy motor. Whatever the pros and cons of electric cars, performance isn't a problem anymore.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

                  "Whatever the pros and cons of electric cars, performance isn't a problem anymore."

                  Acceleration may not be, but other parameters are.

                  In cold weather the range deteriorates markedly, and drops even more when you are running heaters, fans, defrosters, and wipers to deal with the road salt/brine freezing on the windshield and trying to keep the cabin temperature sufficiently above zero (freezing) to keep ice from accumulating, which can require a 30 degree differential from the air flowing over the vehicle at 80 kph. Your chance of reaching a destination only 400 kilometers away without recharging once and probably twice are getting very slim. When there is enough traffic to keep 16 or 20 gasoline pumps busy at the service plaza, you are probably in for a wait for one of the 300 or so charging stations you would need to replace them. My gasoline powered car can make the round trip on one tank if I don't drive much in the destination city.

                2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

                  Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

                  The new roadster should do 0-60 in less than 2 seconds - faster than super car territory - you're into hypercar performance.

                  You're into "faster than anything that's come before but we're going to need new tyre technology to do it" territory there.

                  1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                    Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

                    You're into "faster than anything that's come before but we're going to need new tyre technology to do it" territory there.

                    Tyres are already an issue for EVs. Top of the line Tesla S weights 2,250kg vs a BMW 5 series 1,885kg. ICE cars have become lighter, EV's heavier on account of battery and motor weight. Which translates into increased tyre & road wear, which means increased PM2.5 particulates and general dust. Currently that's being blamed on diesels.

                    And the UK potentially highlights another challenge for EVs at the moment, namely how to deal with thousands of EVs stuck in the snow and sub-zero temperatures. That's both a safety of life challenge, ie rescuing motorists who's cars can't provide any heat, and clearing stranded vehicles.

                3. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

                  "In case its not clear, Tesla can/will be substitutable for a.n.other leccy motor. Whatever the pros and cons of electric cars, performance isn't a problem anymore."

                  I argue that there is TOO MUCH performance. It's very easy to get in a lot of trouble with a car that accelerates as fast as a Tesla. Some EV's limit acceleration to keep drivers from using up the battery quickly, keeping electrical currents within reason and preserving customers lives so they can buy another one. I had a friend that put a 5L Ford engine in an Austin Healy Bugeye Sprite. Completely mad off of the line and he finally lost it on a motorway slip road when it got away from him and he rubbed it against the guard rail.

            2. inmypjs Silver badge

              Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

              "It wouldn't accelerate anything like as quickly"

              Maybe because he could fill it up and drive 50 miles while the Tesla is waiting for a supercharger slot to become free (and another 50 while it is charging).

              Frankly it is ridiculous that Tesla sized the electronics motors and transmission so it can do its 500kW blow away everything from the lights 'ludicrous' mode party piece that has no practical application other than bragging rights for Tesla and tosspots.

              I watched Clarkson's recent model X review. He loved the stupid gimmicks. I would be embarrassed to own a Tesla. Try showing the bird that you can make it look like a James Bond submarine Lotus on the console display and see how much of a fanny magnet it is.

            3. smudge Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

              There's often a car parked at the gym I go to, with what is clearly a personalised number plate from an earlier car.

              The number is "V8 XYZ" (not really "XYZ" of course).

              The car is, as you guessed, a Tesla :)

        2. rtfazeberdee

          Re: Hmmm

          give it time, electricity will be taxed as petrol revenues go down, they will need to make up the shortfall somehow.

          As solar appears on more and more roofs with their own battery storage there will be less and less call on the major grid power generators (and also more turbines). the problem with nuclear is the time it takes to safely build one and the time and horrendous cost to decommission it at end of its life (and would you live on the land of a decommissioned nuclear power station?)

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Hmmm

            As solar appears on more and more roofs with their own battery storage there will be less and less call on the major grid power generators (and also more turbines).

            If you mean gas turbines, then you're right. Because solar's very expensive and unreliable, we need to spend even more money on backup power generators that can cut in when it's dark, or the wind's wrong. Like at the moment where we have very cold weather and not much wind.

            the problem with nuclear is the time it takes to safely build one and the time and horrendous cost to decommission it at end of its life (and would you live on the land of a decommissioned nuclear power station?)

            The problem with nuclear is we've had decades of loony Greens and ecofreaks telling us they're a very bad thing. So we must cover the UK with wind turbines and solar panels instead. But living with nuclear power is pretty safe. So the only new reactors that have gone operational in the UK are inside 100x11m tubes with 100 people living in and around them, ie our Astute submarines and their RR PWR-2s

            And because there's so much fear of nuclear power, that translates into regulatory costs and delays whilst they object. And the renewables lobby don't want nuclear either, because modular 1GW reactors provide low carbon power 24x7x365 at a relatively predictable cost.. Which is much lower than the cost of wind, solar and especially if you factor in the need for stand-by generation, grid upgrades, storage etc etc.

            The renewables lobby will of course promise solutions to the problems they've created, but all they do is add more cost, which all UK energy users will end up paying.

            1. Isitari

              Re: Hmmm

              http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/ < says otherwise about the generation of Electricity from Wind at the moment.

              Though all your other points are valid.

              P.S. Looks like they're avoiding using gas as its very expensive atm. Has the link been restored yet that was damaged around christmas from the rigs?

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Hmmm

              "would you live on the land of a decommissioned nuclear power station"

              Yes. Quite happily so.

              The total "high level waste" from a current technology nuclear power station is such a mind boggingly huge amount - almost enough to fill an olympic size swimming pool over the 60 year lifespan of a 800MWe plant - that it accounts for less that 0.1% of the footprint of the site - and radioactive materials have the advantage that you can detect them at a distance, unlike all the nasty toxic and cancer-inducing chemicals in a multi-square-mile coal ash slurry pond.

              Also: "high level" radioactive emitters are also shortlived ones. You should be more worried about all that depleted uranium dust (a very toxic heavy metal) scattered all over warzones in the world as it's a much bigger health risk.

              Decades of "greens" holding back development of safer nuclear power (molten salt based systems) are coming home to roost. We could have had waterless(*) nuclear power stations by now which would have been somewhere between 10,000 and 1 million times safer than current nuclear power - which is

              "only" 300,000 times safer than coal fired electricity.

              Statistics is your friend. There are no statistical anomolies in population health downwind of any nuclear power station, vs plenty of them downwind of fossil fuel plants. Noone died at Fukushima (although 1500 people died in the evacuation panic thanks to nuclear misinformation). 76 people died at Chernobyl and the _actual_ rate of cancers resulting from that is so low as to be almost indistiinguishable from background noise(**). Ditto at Hiroshima and Nagasaki - and as for the claim of "centuries" to cleanup after a meltdown, Three Mile Island's cleanup process is proceeding quite well, thankyouverymuch.

              (*) Molten salt systems take away the "radioactive steam bomb" risk and when you dig, you'll find water interactions or steam explosions at the core of every civilian (and most military) nuclear accidents so far. Prompt criticality causing instantaneous boiling and a steam explosion is a common theme.

              (**) "What about all those thyroid problems?" you ask. They were found because they were looked for. Korea had a similar screening process a few years back and found similar rates of abnormalities with no nuclear incidents in sight - and the appalling health problems of the Chernobyl response teams is mostly a result of being treated as pariahs by ignorant medics refusing to treat them because they are afraid of radioactivity being contagious than any actual radiological problems.

              1. Isitari

                Re: Hmmm

                The WHO don't exactly agree with you.

                http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Hmmm

                  "http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/"

                  Not exactly news, is it.

                  Anyone who has been paying attention to the data has known for a long time that the greatest damage in accidents such as Three Mile Island, Fukushima, and Chernobyl is inflicted by media fueled psychological stress, economic dislocation from excessive 'caution' on the part of the governments, and loss of power generation capacity.

                  Probably the greatest of these is the long term effects of baseless fears stoked by headline seeking media, political opportunists, and ignorant anti-nuclear activists.

                  1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                    Re: Hmmm

                    " ignorant anti-nuclear activists."

                    The kind of people who equate "nuclear bombs = bad, therefore nuclear power = bad."

                    It's about as credible as saying "molotov cocktails = bad therefore cars = bad" - because they both use petrol.

                    There are plenty of objections to current PWR/BWR nuclear technology, but Alvin Weinberg (who invented the bloody technology!) addressed those in the 1950s and 1950s by developing molten salt systems and eliminating the water. He was deeply concerned about his small _proof of concept_ design being scaled up to insane sizes with massive pressures for commercial use. Richard Nixon killed the R&D and put everything back around 60 years.

                2. LucreLout Silver badge

                  Re: Hmmm

                  The WHO don't exactly agree with you.

                  From your link:

                  "5 SEPTEMBER 2005 | GENEVA - A total of up to 4000 people could eventually die of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) accident nearly 20 years ago, an international team of more than 100 scientists has concluded."

                  I have concluded I COULD eventually die from sexual exhaustion occasioned by a three way with Taylor Swift and Kylie Minogue. That doesn't mean it WILL happen.

                  Their own numbers put the death toll at fewer than 50 people to date - you can expect most of those to be the poor first responders. How many decades ago was Chernobyl now? Peanut allergies have probably killed more Belarussions, AIDS too, and suicide certainly.

                  The fact is that the risk to the general populace from nuclear power is extremely low. More people have probably died due to premature respiratory illness in Xian in China (home of the terracota warriors) than will have died due to nuclear power globally in the history of nuclear power. Coal fired power being the main cause of pollution in Xian; the locals all come out when it rains at night as its the only way to see the stars.

                3. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: Hmmm

                  "http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/"

                  if you look more deeply into that you'll see that they lump a lot of things together, with more problems and deaths being caused by relocation trauma amongst the elderly (which also happens after large earthquakes and suchlike) and the generally atrocious state of medical care in former soviet countries.

                  The actual number of deaths caused by radiation exposure is quite low and if someone dies at age 82 instead of 83 due to exposure, how are you going to differentiate that from decades of drinking bad vodka or smoking?

                  Aircrew get far higher radiation exposures than any other occupation on the planet and the rate of excess deaths or cancers attributable to high energy proton/gamma radiation exposure is essentially zero. (Smokers get higher doses still, but what kills them is almost invariably chemically triggered even if the triggers are polonium breakdown products in the lungs, such as lead and bismuth)

                  For years, WHO was telling us that single men didn't live as long as single women based on japanese studies and missed the factor that the essential difference which hadn't been factored in was _diet_ - and once that was added into calculations, everything equallled out.

                  The facts of the matter is that the _only_ way that carbon emissions can be capped, let alone reduced is by moving wholesale to nuclear power and it's better to use a system that was proven safer 50 years ago before being shut down for primarily military/political reasons. Greenwashing by trying to count burning old growth forests as "renewables" is one of the more heinous environmental frauds.

              2. Adam 52 Silver badge

                Re: Hmmm

                The reason Chernobyl has low deaths might be because 400,000 people were displaced.

                As for there only being a few deaths and injuries from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, well I think you might need to re-read your history books.

                You've also selectively picked some incidents and ignored others. Statistics are only your friends if you use them honestly.

                1. imanidiot Silver badge

                  Re: Hmmm

                  @Adam52,

                  So give us examples of nuclear incidents with higher death tolls. According to that WHO report a large portion of those 400,000 didn't have to be displaced. A portion of the deaths among them were DUE TO the displacement and NOT the radiation.

                2. Daniel 18

                  Re: Hmmm

                  "As for there only being a few deaths and injuries from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, well I think you might need to re-read your history books.

                  You've also selectively picked some incidents and ignored others. Statistics are only your friends if you use them honestly."

                  --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  I didn't mention Hiroshima and Nagasaki because they weren't nuclear power plants. They were weapons explosions. Surprise! A big expensive weapon can kill quite a few people.

                  Nuclear power plants, however, have never produced a nuclear explosion, and in fact cannot do so. The more modern the reactor design, the harder it is to get them to hurt someone. Chernobyl was a cheap primitive reactor design dating back to the early 1950s, with a lack of safety features that would not be tolerated in any moderately up to date reactor. The operators managed to achieve a total worst case failure, but even then the casualties were pretty insignificant compared to failures we've seen associated with other power technologies, such as hydroelectric power.

                  Trying to evaluate nuclear power safety based on Chernobyl is like trying to assess the safety of air travel based on the accident records of 1916 biplanes... it is irrelevant to current designs.

                  Statistics are your friend if you use them properly.

              3. EBG

                Hmmm indead

                I would happily live on a decommissioned NPP site. After the spent fuel has been shipped off to Sellafield. And after the 130 year decay time for the activated infrastructure to go to de-minimus.

                You have 2 hazards. The radiation dose, which, as you say, is dominated by short lived isotopes. Also, fission product contamination which is all together a different thing. Think Pu - that's highly radio-toxic, and no - you can't easily detect it - it's alpha. Fission products BTW are vastly worse than DU.

                The LOCA hazard is not just the steam explosion, although that has killed people. It's the fact that a lot of designs ( PWR being the obvious one ) then have a core meltdown in the absence of active safety measures being taken.

                You can't just wave away the death toll at Chernobyl. Yes - the statistical deaths are over-stated. But many of those present in the response took a fuck of a dose, and it's bollocks to say they'd have survived with western medical treatment.

                Molten salt systems were well examined decades ago. They don't work reliably. Other than the Soviet alpha class boats (which aside from acoustic noise, kept having solidification problems ) , no-one has built a second unit of any design. Just waving your hands about saying thorium / pebble bed / molten salt/ or whatever without saying why it'll work now when it didn't work then is no different from saying we'll all drive EV and just waving your hands about when asked about generation and transmission.

                1. SkippyBing Silver badge

                  Re: Hmmm indead

                  Having lived in Cornwall I'd more than happily live on a decommissioned nuclear site as the radiation levels would probably be lower. In fact I've read somewhere that it'd be almost impossible to decommission a nuclear plant built in Cornwall as the background radiation level is higher than that you have to restore the sight to. Hence no one's built on there. I mean that and NIMBY second home owners.

                  1. EBG

                    Re: Hmmm indead

                    Probably an illustration of the (as near as matters) zero radiological risk when everything is operating to the regs. In practice, you could resolve what was radon and what was from the plant operations.

                2. HypG

                  Re: Hmmm indead

                  Actually MSR's do indeed work and work well, go do some homework into the research done by Oak-Ridge, where they had an MSR running for several years, had one incident where a fast breeder would have melted down and the MSR peaked power output then shut itself down if i remember correctly.

                  The main reason we have the Fast Breeder legacy still in place today is lobbying, nothing to do with operational capability or safety. Think of all the large multi-billion companies with massive investments in fast breeder reactors, then think ford Pinta and the its cheaper to pay the legal costs than do a recall. Then if you still think its due to capacity or safety i have a very nice bridge you may be interested in!

                  1. EBG

                    Re: Hmmm indead

                    What FBR legacy in place ? The programmes have all be shut down. What multi-bn companies ? They were all run by government research bodies.

                    You think running an MSR for "several years" in a research lab demonstrates operational viability ? It doesn't.

                    All with the patronising " do your homework". Sheesh !

                  2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                    Re: Hmmm indead

                    Oak Ridge was a very good proof of concept.

                    Amongst other things, they used to shut the MSR system down on Friday afternoon and fire it up on Monday morning because noone wanted to have to stick around over the weekends to keep it running.

                    You simply CAN'T do that with a PWR/BWR fuel rod design.

                    The oft quoted "corrosion problem" is FUD too - what was found was almost no corrosion, significantly less than existig PWR/BWR systems and it was believed with further research they could eliminate even that - which was supposed to be the focus of the next research round that Nixon killed off.

                    Never mind, the chinese are going full speed on MSR research, as are the Dutch and Danish. Whoever gets low cost Modular power systems deployed to developing countries first will dominate the world's economy for the next 2 centuries.

              4. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Hmmm

                There's one other part about molten salt systems which bears thinking about: There's enough thorium to be had in those coal ash slurry ponds to make processing them for fuel an economic proposition. Whilst there is a lot more thorium kicking around in rare earth mine tailings, it may pay the cleanup costs of those older sites and avert environmental problems. The _two_ largest environmental disasters in the USA so far this century have been coal ash slurry dam breaks.

          2. Solviva

            Re: Hmmm

            "As solar appears on more and more roofs with their own battery storage there will be less and less call on the major grid power generators (and also more turbines). the problem with nuclear is the time it takes to safely build one and the time and horrendous cost to decommission it at end of its life (and would you live on the land of a decommissioned nuclear power station?)"

            I would quite happily live on the land of a decommissioned nuke generator. What's the issue?

          3. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Hmmm

            "As solar appears on more and more roofs with their own battery storage there will be less and less call on the major grid power generators"

            Unless the building is listed. Unless the slope of the roof faces the wrong way. Unless the roof has too many other fittings poking through………………..

            Commercial users often need more power than a roof full of panels could provide. A charging station for full sized lorries will need solar panels installations over 150km square each, on average.

            While there is more sunlight energy falling on the surface of the Earth than humans use for electricity, there are the other uses such as for plants and evaporation to maintain an active hydrosphere. Displacing the use of fossil fuels is a good start, but lowering the number of oxygen thieves and using energy ever more efficiently are important for the long term.

        3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          "Either we solve the problem as a country or we cancel the ban on new ICE from 2040"

          That's what, 4 UK General Elections away? Does anyone think May will actually get elected to a second term?

          What's your real end goal here?

          De-couple car use from the pollution generation of the power station?

          Go carbon neutral for climate change?

          Build more nuclear reactors?

          Going electric means building a shed load of power generation and distribution infrastructure that simply does not exist, along with the standards to support them.

          IMHO any replacement has to be as easy to refuel and as energy dense as gasoline. My instinct says this is a liquid fuel driving a fuel cell using the existing supply chain. It's grown from something, so the processing is as as simple as possible IE it has minimal additional energy inputs. My candidate is sugar beet. It grows in the UK, conversion is well understood and it can be grown organically, so no additional inputs. Unfortunately sugar based fuel cell development is behind other kinds despite the fact that sugar solutions are room temperature storable and non inflammable.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: "Either we solve the problem as a country or we cancel the ban on new ICE from 2040"

            "It's grown from something, so the processing is as as simple as possible IE"

            That means it's competing food production for agricultural land.

          2. EBG

            Re: "Either we solve the problem as a country or we cancel the ban on new ICE from 2040"

            The real end goal for some in policy circles is to stop the plebs from being able to move about freely of their own accord.

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: "Either we solve the problem as a country or we cancel the ban on new ICE from 2040"

            "Going electric means building a shed load of power generation and distribution infrastructure that simply does not exist, along with the standards to support them."

            But, but, but, Da Guv has announced £400m for charging points and infrastructure. It must be real because it's been announced at least twice, possibly three times to imply it's 2 or 3 times more than it really is. I wonder how many new nuclear power stations we'll get for that?

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: "Either we solve the problem as a country or we cancel the ban on new ICE from 2040"

              "Da Guv has announced £400m for charging points and infrastructure."

              Bearing in mind that Heathrow T5 cost something in excess of £5 billion, how much does £400 million get you?

        4. Trikkitt

          Re: Hmmm

          A would disagree that EVs are subsidised because while petrol is taxed, the environmental impact is not factored in. If the total impact to the planet, peoples health, etc, then EVs have a far lighter impact.

          The rest is genuinely tough to work out. More forms of renewable generation are needed. Tidal, bigger wind (higher up means more consistent speeds), etc. More storage so we can store up our excess generation. Etc

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hmmm

            " If the total impact to the planet, peoples health, etc, then EVs have a far lighter impact."

            It is the other way round, in fact.

            The carbon footprint of manufacturing a battery pack for a Tesla is about equivalent to driving a similar sized car for 8 years on an internal combustion engine. I believe I have seen estimates that the battery pack will last about 5-7 years before replacement is needed.

            Then you have to look at the carbon footprint of the electricity source... which varies wildly. If the source is distributes solar or wind farms, you have considerable overheads for building the collection / distribution network. This is where nuclear shines - not only low carbon, but the power can be delivered into a well chosen location in the power grid, rather than stringing cables and roads all over the countryside. Of course, solar and wind need gas or oil backups for when they are not producing, which adds to both construction and operating carbon footprint.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Hmmm

            "A would disagree that EVs are subsidised because while petrol is taxed, the environmental impact is not factored in."

            Governments tax to obtain money. Some of that is even spent on building and maintaining roads, not that that's always immediately obvious. Governments could claim green credentials by exemptions for EVs but only because the fleet was small enough for the tax not taken to be counted as small change in relation to the rest of road taxation. As soon as the loss of taxation becomes significant then it has to be made up somehow, either by taxing something else or by bringing taxation on EVs into line with other vehicles.

            Couldn't happen? It happened to diesel a few years ago; there are still people complaining that they were suckered into buying a diesel car because the fuel was less heavily taxed and now they're paying more.

        5. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          'Either we move to a pay per mile scheme for all vehicles - in which case how does that get retrofit to older cars '

          On older cars it's pretty much handled by fuel duty. You drive further, you pay more. Sure some cars are more efficient than others but then they're just being penalised less for being less environmentally harmful.

          1. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: Hmmm

            'Either we move to a pay per mile scheme for all vehicles - in which case how does that get retrofit to older cars '

            On older cars it's pretty much handled by fuel duty. You drive further, you pay more. Sure some cars are more efficient than others but then they're just being penalised less for being less environmentally harmful.

            Yes, but if only new cars are fitted with the satellite tracking and old cars are assumed to remain petrol based, thus excused from tracking, then people will logically modify their hybrids to have larger battery packs and thus avoid the private transportation tax, be it fuel tax or pay per mile.

            Mixing whatever the schemes are will produce unexpected and undesirable results.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Hmmm

              "Mixing whatever the schemes are will produce unexpected and undesirable results."

              That puts you ahead of just about every government that ever existed because they never believe that their legislation can have unexpected results let alone undesirable ones.

      3. rtfazeberdee

        Re: Hmmm

        Musk has only just started selling the tiles and you might need to do some more research on their "capability". You charge at night when its cheap and low demand, you don't need a supercharger at home except in very rare circumstances. All chargers can be inter-connected via microgrids and managed by software so the power is given out evenly and/or stopped if necessary. And those EV batteries can also be part of the grid supplying power back to it in emergencies. Powerwalls etc are a one off cost which will pay for itself whereas buying and burning coal, diesel, petrol is a continual cost. Plus its still early days in the move the renewables so any challenges will be mitigated.

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          "You charge at night when its cheap and low demand,"

          Sorry but where I live the sun doesn't come out at night.

        2. Joe Montana

          Re: Hmmm

          "Or stopped if necessary"...

          So you leave your car to charge overnight, and it may or may not do so... When you wake up for work in the morning the car might not move, that's not really usable.

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        "Solar gives you maybe 1kW/m^2 of potential energy, ie solar irradiance at surface. "

        When the sun is directly overhead.

        At any other solar angle you need to multiply by the cosine of that angle (or the sine if you regard straight up as 90 degrees instead of 0 for this purpose) and even THAT doesn't fully take into account extra atmospheric attentuation at higher latitudes. This applies even if you face your panel directly at the sun.

        Solar outside the tropics is pretty much greenwashing and there are major pollution problems associated with solar PV production that make coal ash ponds look relatively minor - just because it's not happening in _your_ backyard doesn't mean it's not happening.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmm

        @Jellied Eel You are criticising the prophet, Elon, peace be upon him! You ought to be ashamed, and must make a public acknowledgement that Elon is your Lord and Saviour!

        Don't confuse the faithful with facts, especially numbers and simple accounting. It might harm their beliefs.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          @Jellied Eel You are criticising the prophet, Elon, peace be upon him! You ought to be ashamed, and must make a public acknowledgement that Elon is your Lord and Saviour!

          Luckily I'm not an investor, so I shouldn't be needing prayers for relief. I do feel sorry for investors who've either invested, or unsuccessfully shorted Tesla. The share price seems very much in the realms of irrational numbers. But Q1 due in a few weeks, and as they've announced cars, trucks, utes.. what next? A Tesla power boat? Salt water corrosion + large lithium batteries may take more of his followers to the promised land.

          I think there was also a hint of revenues in Q4 though, namely revenues from his charging network. Especially given the huge overrage premiums if you leave a car charging when it's full.

      6. Haurong Knubie

        Re: Hmmm

        Like my washing machine the vans could charge up during the early morning when there is excess capacity on the grid.. Look at the total KW required and compare it with the diifference between peak and trough demand: it will be insignificant.

        MPs have great qualities yet are not qualified to have technical opinions. Arts/humanitiea graduates all (nearly), easily swayed by interested technospivs.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          "the vans could charge up during the early morning when there is excess capacity on the grid."

          Go look at the power demand curves on Gridwatch. Now realise that if 1/4 of the cars in the UK were EVs and charging overnight, peak demand would be during the early morning hours.

          And for London in particular, metling down substations/exploding pavements would start being the norm. The UK isn't that far removed from the events of Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" (where the terrorists never existed, the entire infrastructure was simply falling apart and blaming terrorists was an easy way of pretending it wasn't the government's fault)

      7. Haurong Knubie

        Re: Hmmm

        Detachable batteries charging all day ready for next days round?

      8. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        The Tesla Powerwall is a toy and they were late to the market with it. There are more robust and cost effective battery back up systems from real companies such as Bosch, Siemens, LG, BYD, etc. They're not as pretty, but….

        Solar insolation is about 1kW/m2 at the top of the atmosphere, but lower at ground level. Solar panels are right around 20% efficient so it takes a fair roof full to power a car. Tesla's solar shingles are packed far less densely on a roof than the garden variety panels which means even less generation on a given roof with solar shingles

        The upside of turning Postman Pat's car to electric is that like many people's cars, it's going to be sitting all night so it doesn't need a dc fast charger. A level 2 charger should be just fine. Mail cars don't travel long distances, so they don't need massive batteries. While London may have an electrical capacity issue durning the day, past business closing times, there may be plenty available for car charging. Using a few postal vehicles might be a great setting to test out some smart charging regimes where cars talk to the grid and modify their charging times/rates according to power availability.

        There is no universal law that states the Post has to convert every delivery car everywhere in the country to electric all at once or even that they all have to be electric. They can ease into it and start with areas where it makes the most sense. The constant start/stop driving pattern of a mail car is a good fit for an EV and a poor fit for ICE.

      9. ravenviz

        Re: Hmmm

        1kW/m^2

        That’s at best i.e. at the equator at midday!

    4. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      "given Must has cracked solar roof tiles,"

      No no no no no NO NO NO NO! He hasn't cracked solar roof tiles! They're the same as solar road ways, a load of bullshit.

      Have a look for EEVBlog's maths on the subject.

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        "Have a look for EEVBlog's maths on the subject."

        You mean the bloke who once made a 10 minute video demonstrating that an Arduino makes a very poor multistable vibrator. I think I'll pass.

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          "You mean the bloke who once made a 10 minute video demonstrating that an Arduino makes a very poor multistable vibrator. I think I'll pass."

          Your loss. There's nearly 90 minutes of maths calculations and other real world examples showing they're all bullshit.

          But if you're upset he didn't make a vibrator for you, well I feel bad for you son.

        2. Chemical Bob
          Trollface

          Re: Hmmm

          "an Arduino makes a very poor multistable vibrator"

          A multistable vibrator? I believe those are called dildos...

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm

      Still the prognosis "not anytime soon" seems alright. Here in the Netherlands it turns out that:

      1) while 69% of homes are paying for green electricity, only about 5% of the juice we get is actually green

      2) when paying for green juice, we must pay 350% taxes and tarriffs (I do too)

      3) we are importing ancient American forests with boats on "stookolie" (tar oil) and they are burnt to produce "green energy"

      We too, are a long way from anything sane. I personally hope for increased efforts in clean nuclear like Thorium reactors and synthetic fuels. If we produce CxHy compounds, we could fuel our aviation and motor sectors with clean fuels.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        3) we are importing ancient American forests with boats on "stookolie" (tar oil) and they are burnt to produce "green energy"

        The UK does that as well. The Drax power station converted from burning coal to burning subsidies.. I mean trees. So £729m in taxpayer funded subsidies for 2017-

        https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/drax-biomass-subsidies-rise-to-729m-in-2017/

        But that's biomass, and Green!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Lambrosius

        "Here in the Netherlands it turns out that:

        Leuk, to see a fellow Dutchie here :)

        But this problem goes much deeper than that: it's not just the Netherlands, but Europe as a whole which has decided that burning wood is a "clean" form of energy despite all the negative effects it has.

    6. Prosthetic Conscience
      Joke

      Re: Hmmm

      solar panels on the roof

      ... in London, UK? Its not exactly an open spaced Andalusian landscape is it

    7. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      Wow I am not understanding the downvotes!

      Solar and wind on the roof with batteries. It may not power a whole fleet of 49,000, but then it doesn't have to right away.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        "Solar and wind on the roof with batteries. It may not power a whole fleet of 49,000, but then it doesn't have to right away."

        You'll be lucky if it charges _one_ - in a month.

    8. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      > Could they not install solar panels on the roof and some powerwall size batteries?

      Nope, the sort of batteries you need are more like "Dinorwig Power Station" Find a large mountain. Bore out the centre and when you've got excess power pump water up to the top. When you need to charge all those delivery vehicles start letting the water pour back down the hill.

      Pity the article doesn't give any details of the power draw needed. Telsa's site says you'll need 16.5kW for 2 hours to go 100miles. They've got 49,000 vehicles, assuming 2 hours each per day that's going to be a lot of power. Telsa's speal about powerwall talks about an installation in Hawaii which is 13MW and requires 55,000 solar panels. RM would need at least 5 of these just to power their fleet and we don't get anything like the sun that they get in Hawaii.

    9. Stuart Castle

      Re: Hmmm

      Re: "I wonder, given Must has cracked solar roof tiles, if some variant of them would not be strong enough to sustain some light vans parked upon it, allowing the car park to become a large solar panel. Also, do the vehicles have to be charged where they operate? RM is not short of land, so could disperse some of the vehicles for charging in other nearby locations."

      This is, theoretically a good idea. However, I felt the same about Solar Roadways until I actually tried to research them

      There are a couple of problems.

      First, they need a substantial amount of clear weather. Solar panels don't need the weather to be hot, but they do need sunny days, and work better the more sunlight they are exposed to. This is why standard panels in solar farms can move. I know that standard domestic solar panels are fixed, but the average house doesn't, relatively speaking, need a lot of electricity. It sounds like the Post Office need as much power as possible, so ideally the panels would need to move.

      Second is maintenance. The cells in the panels need to be relatively clean. Easy to achieve if the panel is stuck on a roof, but a lot more difficult on a surface cars drive on, and people walk on, which is likely to end up scuffed and covered in mud, skid marks and all sorts.

      Third is the cars. The idea of a car park requires it is going to have cars parked on it. If they are parked on it in daylight hours (as is likely with the post office, who tend to do most of their inter area deliveries overnight) , they are going to be blocking the light from the panels..

      I know you came up with the idea of using unused car parks for these panels, but, tbh, I doubt the post office has many unused car parks in the London area, and even if they do, they are probably looking at selling the land for development, or using it to expand their offices.

  3. SW

    Nice ROE

    ""Other factors included the expense – Tesla's entry-level Model 3 vehicle is $35,000 (£28,50) and there's no second-hand market.""

    Damn, at that price (ROE) I'm putting in my order now :) :) :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice ROE

      Time for a TV Series called 'The Only Way is NOT Tesla'.

      It is amazing how many EV fans out there totally dismiss any Electric Powered Vehicle that isn't made by Tesla. These,( dare I say it) are clearly worse than Apple Fanbois. To the Tesla Crowd, Elon Musk does walk on water on a daily basis and is in their opinion, the new Messiah.

      As for the Royal Mail, don't they realise that they don't need to charge every van from zero to full every day.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nice ROE

        As for the Royal Mail, don't they realise that they don't need to charge every van from zero to full every day.

        Maybe their engineers, the engineers of the electricity distributor, the EV suppliers, technical advisers, and the Energy Saving Trust are all so stupid that this never crossed their mind, lucky that they read the Reg comments and can realise the error of their ways?

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Nice ROE

        To the Tesla Crowd, Elon Musk does walk on water on a daily basis and is in their opinion, the new Messiah.

        No, I'm quite sure he's a massive bellend and I'm not even sure he can swim. But he does make the fastest electric production cars. He's closer to doing so at a scale where I'll be able to afford one that could actually replace my current & next planned vehicle at a price I could afford to pay.

        If the battery fade is as low as my colleague with a Tesla S assures me it is, then I could see myself in the market for a second hand Model 3 at about 15-20k. It might take a few years before it happens, but if you'd asked me 3 years ago about going electric I'd have thought you were insane.

        Yes, there are problems with electric generation and distribution. And yes I'd personally like to see us go nuclear rather than continue waiting for renewables to deliver a workable alternative when we already have a replacement for coal & gas. But we're at the beginning of the end of the oil age, and its nothing to do with settling for less - when the time comes, I won't have an electric car because I'll be forced to, or because the oil ran out; I'll have one because I'll want one. And I never thought I'd say that!

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Nice ROE

          "But we're at the beginning of the end of the oil age, and its nothing to do with settling for less - when the time comes, I won't have an electric car because I'll be forced to, or because the oil ran out; I'll have one because I'll want one. And I never thought I'd say that!"

          I'm reminded of the old (*) quote about the stone age not ending for want of stones. (* Googling, https://quoteinvestigator.com/2018/01/07/stone-age/, it seems to be unclear just how old this quote is. Although the web seems to be struggling to find terribly old sources, I suspect that is just because the records prior to the mid-90s are harder to search electronically. I'm almost certain that my father cited the sentiment to me when I was a child in the 1970s, so it must have been a bit of a truism even then.)

    2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Nice ROE

      ""Other factors included the expense – Tesla's entry-level Model 3 vehicle is $35,000 (£28,50) and there's no second-hand market.""

      Damn, at that price (ROE) I'm putting in my order now :) :) :)

      Save your money. They have only managed to make them in tiny numbers and those they have managed to make have dreadful quality and reliability problems. The big German manufacturers are rapidly heading electric, and when they do they'll eat Tesla alive.

      Oh yes, and the entry level Model 3 comes with a titchy battery. If you want to do more than pootle to the shops and back you'll need to pay another £10 - 20k.

  4. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    Fag packet calculation time...

    Attended a talk recently where someone did the figures of what it would take if everyone moved to Electric vehicles by 2040 in the UK (as is currently planned. )

    Assuming about 25 million vehicles, and the fact most if not all will be plugged in to recharge during the evening, we would need about 5 more new nuclear power stations, or cover Cornwall with wall to wall solar cells, or Scotland with wind turbines.

    of course this makes a lot of assumptions (it doesn't consider rapid charging [worse], or new technologies

    such as mass storage), but considering the present UK governments track record on long term planning (i.e more than a week) and the difficulties of any large infrastructure project getting of the ground (Swansea tidal lagoon), I don't think we will be all swanning around in electric vehicles anytime soon.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fag packet calculation time...

      Yep, those talks ignore one big thing and that is that more and more people are charging at home using energy they have produced themselves.

      My 2018 Leaf is currently being charged using the power generated by the PV system on my roof. It will take a big fat zero watts from the grid (provided the sun stays out for 3-4 hours).

      Then there is the advent of cost effective (in 3 years at most) of home battery storage. I'll have one (34KW) by the end of the year.

      It all goes to show that the calculations are far too complicated for the back of an envelope.

      1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

        Re: Fag packet calculation time...

        Again there are lots of assumptions to take in.

        Is your roof South facing, do you live in a flat, do you own your house, is there off road parking? What latitude do you live at?

        I like the idea of Electric cars, but replacing the whole infrastructure when we can't even legislate for new builds to have PV as standard seems far fetched.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Fag packet calculation time...

          " we can't even legislate for new builds to have PV as standard "

          We can't even legislate for new builds to comply with european requirements for minimum living space and insulation, let alone anything else.

          One of the more amusing wheezes of the 2007 crash was when apartment builders tried to sell unsold product to councils - who found that the lovely £750k high end products being flogged off didn't meet minimum requirements for social housing (size, insulation, windows, noise isolation, etc), so wouldn't touch them.

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Fag packet calculation time...

        My 2018 Leaf is currently being charged using the power generated by the PV system on my roof. It will take a big fat zero watts from the grid (provided the sun stays out for 3-4 hours).

        To fully charge a Nissan Leaf takes 7.5 hours from a 7kW charger (Nissan's figures). To do it in 3-4 hours will obviously require about 15kW, which is ~ 80m² of solar panels in the UK, at a cost of around £40K. That assumes, of course, that you have 80m² of south-facing roof available. You may have, most people won't.

        It all goes to show that the calculations are far too complicated for the back of an envelope.

        Not to get a basic idea of feasibility, or lack of it, they're not.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fag packet calculation time...

          I didn't say that it was being fully charged OR that it was charging from zero capacity.

          It will get enough charge today for the next 4-5 days of use.

          Just like you don't (well you shouldn't) wait until you have just one drop of petrol left in your tank before going to the petrol station to fill it right up.

          1. Clarecats

            Re: Fag packet calculation time...

            Cars should come with solar panel outer surfaces. Run out? Sit there long enough and it will trickle charge. The trickle charge wll happen when the car is parked or driving, provided it's in daylight.

            1. LucreLout Silver badge

              Re: Fag packet calculation time...

              Cars should come with solar panel outer surfaces.

              That'll be great until some local scrote decides to key it or old Mrs Miggins wallops it while parking. Might be rather expensive to replace the panelling.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Fag packet calculation time...

                >> Cars should come with solar panel outer surfaces.

                > That'll be great until some local scrote decides to key it

                Given that the area of a car rooftop is going to give you around 100W _at best_, a day's charging from that panel is only going to get you 100 yards down the road anyway.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Fag packet calculation time...

          "To fully charge a Nissan Leaf takes 7.5 hours from a 7kW charger (Nissan's figures). To do it in 3-4 hours will obviously require about 15kW, which is ~ 80m² of solar panels in the UK, at a cost of around £40K. That assumes, of course, that you have 80m² of south-facing roof available. You may have, most people won't."

          You are assuming that the OP is waiting until his vehicle battery is completely flat before plugging in. If you aren't driving 200-300 miles each day and closer to 40-50 miles, It doesn't take very long to top up an EV. There is no law that you have to charge to 100% each time you plug in either. Many people may get by just find by plugging into a bog standard 13A socket each day when they get home. If there is no easy access, owning an EV might be difficult. I know some people that live in large city centres that can't afford to own a car as parking would be as much as the rent on their flat.

      3. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: Fag packet calculation time...

        That Leaf has a 40kWh battery. To charge that from solar panels in 3-4 hours means you have... what? 10KW of solar panels on your roof? Let's say on average it requires a half-charge, that's 5KW of panels at full whack for 4 hours, using 35+ square metres of solar panel.

        Truth is, you're topping up the battery at best. Serious usage of the vehicle (150 mile range? That's a single 75-mile back and forth) would drain your proposed house battery and the entire daily solar output with less than one full charge. And you're doing that using a set of solar panels costing as much as the car (not including fitting and legal agreements on who owns the roof if you sell the house, etc.). And you're doing that on a roof which isn't available to most people.

        Sure, you can do this. But stating it as if everyone can just do it, or would do it, is slightly dishonest. In actual fact any two-car families wouldn't have the roof-space. Anyone renting wouldn't be allowed to. Anyone in a flat wouldn't be able to. Anyone whose car is parked away from their house (even out-front in private parking) wouldn't be able to.

        And each car requires 30-something square metres of solar to make it happen, at best, so local solar for those use cases - even if supplied by a town council, etc. as a solar-powered charging point - is actually sucking up land quicker than houses themselves are being built.

        Fact is, if you want to have electric cars, you need investment in the electric network. YOU have invested £10k+ in your electric setup, which benefits just you, and supports one vehicle. To scale that up to millions of cars means the OP is right... lots of new nuke stations or entire counties full of panels, or forget it.

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Fag packet calculation time...

        "(provided the sun stays out for 3-4 hours)"

        ROFLMAO

      5. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Fag packet calculation time...

        more and more people are charging at home using energy they have produced themselves.

        That may be true but it's still only a small minority. I'm not against solar power but I live in an old house which doesn't have the roof timbers to support solar panels without a lot of expense, and if fitted would face the wrong way.

        I don't have a driveway or garage so can't get a cable to a vehicle. I'm not even guaranteed a parking space outside my house. Many people live in flats, apartments, tower blocks, often with no close parking, so have it even worse than I do.

        And when the inevitable happens, one forgets to charge or thought there was more charge than there is, it's not simply a case of getting a lift to the nearest petrol station, filling the can, and being on your way ten minutes later.

        As far as I can see it's just not practical for the majority of people in the UK even if they love the idea.

      6. old duffer

        Re: Fag packet calculation time...

        I must be missing something , the average cars petrol storage capacity is about 400kw hours worth of energy and a standard photo voltaic array will give 4kw in bright sun so assuming 10 hours sun- that is 40kw hours-ie we need 10 days of bright sun for 1 charge or if charged from the mains with a 60a supply ,we would need 28 hours -?????????

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: Fag packet calculation time...

          I must be missing something , the average cars petrol storage capacity is about 400kw hours worth of energy and a standard photo voltaic array will give 4kw in bright sun so assuming 10 hours sun- that is 40kw hours-ie we need 10 days of bright sun for 1 charge

          ICE ends up generating lots of noise, heat etc that isn't useful as motion, as well as incurring lots of transmission losses; The engine power output at the fly wheel and power output measured at the road wheel are always significantly different. Its not uncommon for a 4wd transmission to shed 30% of power between flywheel and roadwheel.

          Leccy cars have much lower transmission losses, generating fewer by products in smaller volumes. Its the conversion of energy in storage into motion that makes the gap you think you're emissing IMHO.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Fag packet calculation time...

            "ICE ends up generating lots of noise, heat etc that isn't useful as motion"

            Until you are driving through the dark, in the snow, at -20 degrees, and you have to divert a large part of your battery charge to heating inside and outside the car, while running wipers, washers, lights... all of a sudden a one charge trip can become a three charge trip...

      7. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Fag packet calculation time...

        "My 2018 Leaf is currently being charged using the power generated by the PV system on my roof. It will take a big fat zero watts from the grid (provided the sun stays out for 3-4 hours)."

        And yet your fellow commentard (above) reports that her roof delivered only 2kWh a few days ago and that was the best day for several months. That's about 30p of leccy and if you could "fill the tank" on your Leaf for just 30p then I think we'd have heard about it.

    2. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Fag packet calculation time...

      Instead of covering Scotland with wind turbines...

      Add more hydro - there is lots of small scale hydro (essentially just making use of fast flowing rivers (plenty of those in hilly areas), not mega scale huge dam solutions but usually more than meeting needs of the small communities they serve) - Scotland is doing well on using water based renewable power and has potential for a lot more if required

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fag packet calculation time...

        Add more hydro - there is lots of small scale hydro (essentially just making use of fast flowing rivers

        Power output of hydro is proportional to the head and flow. Run-of-river turbines can only produce token amounts of electricity mostly because the head is a couple of metres at best, and the flows in most UK rivers are not large enough to be worth capturing. You can certainly do "powering the church hall" stuff using old mill races or modern equivalents, but at a national scale, rivers aren't a significant energy resource. Things don't get any better with large rivers - there were some experiments in Europe carried out by a company I worked for to try and capture energy from the Rhine using turbines attached to bridge piers - a dismal and ineffective failure.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fag packet calculation time...

          "but at a national scale, rivers aren't a significant energy resource"

          True, unless nature has been very good to you, and there are not really that many sites what fit that description, and even fewer where you want the power.

          If you are really lucky, you live near the Niagara River, which has a head in the 50m range, and a natural reservoir about as big as the UK.

          Elsewhere, the river can be most helpful as a source of water for topping up the reactors' cooling towers.

        2. ddeasy

          Re: Fag packet calculation time...

          "Add more hydro - there is lots of small scale hydro, essentially just making use of fast flowing rivers"

          Quite like Turbulant Hydro's vortex turbine as a solution to the low head on rivers. Rivers still have the potential to become a significant energy resource with lots of small scale local power generation.

      2. Clarecats

        Re: Fag packet calculation time...

        Scotland has the most managed freshwater in the world, with 95% of their freshwater controlled for HEP and other uses (reservoirs etc). Scotland is also working up offshore tidal and wave power as well as floating wind turbines.

        HEP from watermill is being restored by estate houses through UK to run their estate needs. Some food processors also use clean power, such as Mackie's Ice-Cream. But it's unlikely to produce enough for large towns.

      3. Spanners Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Fag packet calculation time...

        Instead of covering Scotland with wind turbines...

        Why not?

        Last year, I was in Orkney and took a lot of pictures. Later, when I was back south (near Coventry), I was showing some of them to a colleague. I got a comment to the effect that at least the place hadn't been blighted by wind turbines everywhere. After some zooming, I demonstrated that they were on a whole row of hill tops visible right across the islands, in every farm and large rural house. Oh, yes, they passed the point of generating 100% of their electricity years ago and are still increasing. They just convert more things to electrical - cars, shipping.

        They are proud of this. The only people who moan about wind turbines are outsiders who think they have gone there to help. If the research into tidal generation is allowed to proceed, there, it would produce more energy than many nuclear power stations and be totally predictable (we know when the tides will happen).

        Yes, lets have more wind turbines everywhere.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Fag packet calculation time...

          "Yes, lets have more wind turbines everywhere."

          The wind turbine which sits on my horizon and has had a number of outages in the past hasn't been turning for several weeks. Apparently the owners have gone bust. The various outages of the past seem to have been typical of the design so the fleet has cost more to run than it could make. So we now have what is, in effect, a derelict wind turbine, one of several. Who's going to be responsible for removing them? Or are they just going to sit there rotting until they collapse?

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Fag packet calculation time...

            "Apparently the owners have gone bust. "

            That's hardly surprising. The only thing being farmed at most windfarms is subsidies and the rate they eat gearboxes means the best way to make money is to keep them stationary and be paid to NOT connect them to the national grid (36k/month per turbine apparently)

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Fag packet calculation time...

        "Add more hydro"

        The easy pickings are gone, the upfront costs of small scale hydro are high compared with the returns and the direct environmental damage of hydro is surprisingly high without even factoring in methane emissions from dams in the larger ones.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Fag packet calculation time...

      "and the difficulties of any large infrastructure project getting of the ground (Swansea tidal lagoon)"

      Add in the adverse natural environmental impact of large infrastructure projects, even those for so-called green purposes.

      1. Nick Kew Silver badge

        @ Doctor Syntax

        In the case of the Swansea Lagoon, the environmental effects have been studied probably more extensively than any other proposed project, and found to be extremely benign compared to other human things. Like houses or cars, let alone power stations.

        One of the followup projects planned by the Swansea folks - building on the Swansea experience - is a bigger lagoon at Bridgewater, that'll not only generate power, but also help protect against flooding. If you believe the Somerset Levels are land - and value peoples houses, businesses, farms, and some of our best cheeses - that sounds like a positive benefit.

        London's postal vans want a depot somewhere out Essex way, with some local tidal capacity. It won't be as much as in the Bristol Channel, but those Thames Estuary and North Sea tidal flows are still strong enough to be clearly visible from space.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fag packet calculation time...

      "...where someone did the figures of what it would take if everyone moved to Electric vehicles by 2040..."

      Someone did the calculation but got it totally wrong?

      Average UK Mileage = 7,900 miles per year.

      Assume by 2040 that an electric car can do 300miles per charge. So a vehicle only needs a full charge on average for a total of 26 days in the year - That's once every two weeks.

      Each car needing to charge once every two weeks at night when electric usage is low (much lower than the late afternoon, early evening in winter.

      Therefore with an intelligent charging system that could time the charging based upon current demand you could probably get away with charging most electric vehicles with very little extra network capacity.

      Add in a mass storage system to pick up the excess from wind and solar in their peak times, as well as some more interconnects and it would be about there.

      Consider somewhere like Thailand and other hot developing countries which saw a mass increase in Air Con units (sometimes multiple per house, or in each room in even lower end hotels) and how their creaking infrastructure was still able to cope.

      The UK does not utilise air conditioning to any great extent and the power requirements of an EV would be less and more manageable than if the UK regularly saw heat waves for months in the summer and switched to having air con units as standard.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fag packet calculation time...

        Someone did the calculation but got it totally wrong?

        Nope, they got it spot on, because they considered the whole picture.

        Assume by 2040 that an electric car can do 300miles per charge.

        Fine, now work out how much energy that represents, multiply it by 25million, and you'll find that you need a large increase in grid supply.

        when electric usage is low (much lower than the late afternoon, early evening in winter.

        Only true when electric charging is a niche market, once 25 million cars are charging that will become the new peak.

        you could probably get away with charging most electric vehicles with very little extra network capacity

        "Probably", based on some half-thought-out assumptions, doesn't cut it. Do the math, and you'll see that you can't, not by a long way.

        power requirements of an EV would be less and more manageable than if the UK regularly saw heat waves for months in the summer

        Do the math. EVs draw from 5x to 10x the power of an A/C unit. Even one A/C unit on every one of the UKs 18m houses would be a drop in the ocean compared to charging needs for 25m EVs

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fag packet calculation time...

          "Assume by 2040 that an electric car can do 300miles per charge.

          Fine, now work out how much energy that represents, multiply it by 25million, and you'll find that you need a large increase in grid supply."

          That does not make any senses there is no calculation that can multiply 25 million by x to show the increase in grid supply needed based upon range for a full charge.

          How often it is charged an dby how much could start providing figures. If your assumption is a full charge by 25million at the same time then that is why the calculation is completely wrong - see post regarding mileage per year.

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: Fag packet calculation time...

            by 25million at the same time

            Nobody mentioned "at the same time", that would be completely impossible to sustain. The calculation is straightforward:

            Work out how much energy the UK car fleet consumes per year, when it burns petrol/diesel. For 2016 it was around 140TWh petrol, 130TWh diesel (with another 150TWh for haulage), calculated as Tonnes of Oil Equivalent (TOE). UK annual electricity consumption is 360TWh, so to recharge all those vehicles from the grid would require more than doubling electricty production. UK generating capacity is around 100GW and there are 8760 hours in a year, so all the existing power stations would have to run flat out, 24/7, to meet that demand. That's assuming the load is spread out evenly across the year, not "all at once" which would be even more impossible. Even if we assume an electric car is 50% more efficient than petrol the numbers still don't add up.

            Of course, if we can't replace haulage with electric, which seems likely given the range & charging issues despite Tesla's electric truck (and the long replacement cycle for commercial vehicles) we'll still have to maintain a parallel diesel infrastructure to refuel lorries, so many car drivers will simply rely on that, thus potentially increasing the number of dirty vehicles on the road.

            Electric cars for everyone just won't work.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Fag packet calculation time...

              "Work out how much energy the UK car fleet consumes per year, when it burns petrol/diesel. For 2016 it was around 140TWh petrol, 130TWh diesel (with another 150TWh for haulage), calculated as Tonnes of Oil Equivalent (TOE). UK annual electricity consumption is 360TWh, so to recharge all those vehicles from the grid would require more than doubling electricity production."

              Completely nonsensical. You are talking about one form or fuel, engine, technology and doing a direct conversion to another?

              As well as different efficiencies you also have to look at the electricity required for refining petrol/diesel as well as the energy require in the logistics of delivery, extraction etc.

              It is pointless starting with ICE and converting when electric cars already exist and their capacity, charge capabilities and efficiencies are already known. Anyone who starts with that calculation is not going to come out with a reasonable answer.

              1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

                Re: Fag packet calculation time...

                Completely nonsensical. You are talking about one form or fuel, engine, technology and doing a direct conversion to another?

                No, I'm talking about the amount of energy consumed by a vehicle over the course of a year. Energy is energy, the source doesn't matter. If a vehicle requires 20kWh to complete a certain journey, it will take require that whether it comes from a battery or a tank of petrol. Basic thermodynamics.

                As well as different efficiencies you also have to look at the electricity required for refining petrol/diesel as well as the energy require in the logistics of delivery, extraction etc.

                Indeed so, but even allowing for electric motors being more efficient than petrol engines, so requiring less stored energy, the difference is only a factor of 2 at most, it still doesn't add up. There are energy costs related to distribution and extraction for all types of energy. Grid+battery isn't some magic 10x more efficient, which it would need to be for this to work.

                It is pointless starting with ICE and converting when electric cars already exist and their capacity, charge capabilities and efficiencies are already known.

                That's a nonsensical statement, and unrelated to the issue at hand. Take the average distance travelled by a vehicle in a year, across the whole UK fleet, work out how much energy you need to cover that distance (which will be the same irrespective of the engine type in the vehicle) and work out where you can get that energy from. The total cannot be met by grid-supplied energy with the current system.

                Anyone who starts with that calculation is not going to come out with a reasonable answer.

                Sorry, but it's basic physics, start with the same numbers & you'll get the same answer.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Fag packet calculation time...

                  "No, I'm talking about the amount of energy consumed by a vehicle over the course of a year. Energy is energy, the source doesn't matter. If a vehicle requires 20kWh to complete a certain journey, it will take require that whether it comes from a battery or a tank of petrol. Basic thermodynamics."

                  &

                  "...work out how much energy you need to cover that distance (which will be the same irrespective of the engine type in the vehicle)"

                  vs

                  "... allowing for electric motors being more efficient than petrol engines, so requiring less stored energy, the difference is only a factor of 2 at most"

                  You're arguing against yourself!

                  BTW. If a vehicle requires 20kWh to complete a certain journey, then a *completely* different vehicle with completely different efficiencies and energy losses requires a completely different amount of energy. You are not going to place electricity as the fuel source in a ICE vehicle!

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Fag packet calculation time...

                  "There are energy costs related to distribution and extraction for all types of energy. "

                  There is not necessarily electrical energy required to distribute and extract all types of energy. There may be energy losses and there may be electrical energy required for the initial manufacture. For sure, the calculation you quoted does not and would not have placed them into a a formula to come out at the end result.

                  Hence the initial calculation is bogus. It is possible to do a very detailed calculation to work out the requirements but the initial calculation 'from someone' does not have anything like the required thought to be accurate. You would also need to take into account differences in energy use from vehicle production and lifetime of the vehicles and components.

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Fag packet calculation time...

              " so to recharge all those vehicles from the grid would require more than doubling electricty production. "

              Now factor in replacing all the gas/oil boilers with electric heating

              Now factor in replacing as much industrial processing which consumes carbon with electric or other heating

              You need to do a lot more than double it.

              _IF_ you carpet the UK in windmills and put solar PV on every single rooftop, you can just about match the existing electrical production capacity. I'd like to see the greenies and renewables fiends explain where the rest is going to come from.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fag packet calculation time...

        "Average UK Mileage = 7,900 miles per year."

        Ok, the average UK driver doesn't drive much.

        You have a problematic assumption here. Distribution matters. You can't estimate the peak charging requirements by averaging across all vehicles, any more than you can estimate the speed of driving to work and back by dividing the trip distance by 24hours, particularly when you average in the driving distance of those who do not commute.

        You have to provide distribution paths for each vehicle station that will handle the peak requirement for that vehicle. That's a lot of copper that will be tempting metal thieves.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fag packet calculation time...

        "The UK does not utilise air conditioning to any great extent and the power requirements of an EV would be less and more manageable than if the UK regularly saw heat waves for months in the summer and switched to having air con units as standard."

        Here you are conflating technologies here. The more modest temperature differentials that seem likely in the UK should be compatible with heat pump systems rather than gas cycle refrigeration - much more energy efficient.

    5. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Fag packet calculation time...

      iScotland might though since we have an excess of renewable energy now with more and more being built or in the pipeline. The development of floating turbines has changed things in terms of where they can be installed. Off the West Coast with the Atlantic is much windier than the North Sea which is shallow enough for the turbines to sit on the seafloor. But floating turbines can be installed in deeper water.

      There are tidal turbines in the Pentland Firth between the mainland and Orkney. We have more tidal races here than we can count. Extra pumped storage capacity is being installed in hydro stations to store excess wind etc power when it is warm, sunny and windy. Tidal turbines could operate as baseload, the tide time is different everywhere so when it is ebbing in one place it is still flowing elsewhere.

      Studies of seals and dolphins show they avoid the area during turbine installation (noisy) but come back when it ends and they don't get chewed up by the turbines, they know they are there and to avoid them. They are cowled so there are no free spinning blade ends.

    6. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Fag packet calculation time...

      "Assuming about 25 million vehicles, and the fact most if not all will be plugged in to recharge during the evening, we would need about 5 more new nuclear power stations, or cover Cornwall with wall to wall solar cells, or Scotland with wind turbines."

      You also have to assume that all of the power used to refine crude oil doesn't change at all. That's about 7.5kWh/US gallon or around 32miles worth of leccy in a Chevy Bolt.

  5. Philip Storry

    So go hybrid

    So go hybrid then. Have a nice little Atkinson cycle engine that keeps things topped up when necessary.

    That way they don't need to charge everything all the time, they still use less fuel, and they pollute less. In town and city centres, it's a nice little win.

    Ask the government to subsidise the costs. Put an RFP out for a suitable vehicle. We know that they'll get high usage, so maybe DEFRA can be convinced to chip in for an easy PR win.

    As for the resale market - when I was growing up I couldn't walk three streets without seeing a Transit van that had plainly just had the BT logo ripped off it. To be quite frank, I think you're telling porkies...

    1. Blotto Bronze badge

      Re: So go hybrid

      "Ask the government to subsidise the costs"

      you do realise that when the government subsidises its actually us citizens that are doing the subsidising. its not free money or coming out of the governments pockets, its coming out of OUR pocket as tax payers.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: So go hybrid

        @Blottoits actually us citizens that are doing the subsidising

        True, but....

        What is the purpose of government? It is (in theory) a mechanism for us to work together for the common good. Once a project for the benefit of all is identified, the government routes the money from us as individuals to that project. Our present government has identified that it will benefit us all to have WMDs capable of killing hundreds of millions of foreign men, women and children. We can't each afford to buy our own WMD, so we will do it jointly, and will happily contribute £200 billion to this worthwhile cause.

        Power infrastructure is no different, fundamentally. If we as a society believe that getting rid of ICE vehicles and replacing them by a clean alternative, EVs or hydrogen or whatever, then there will be a cost to providing the infrastructure. Unlike WMDs some of us may be able to generate some or all of our own leccy, reducing the infrastructure demand, and clearly a wide use of a mix of decentralised renewables (hydro, wind, solar, tidal) will also reduce the infrastructure impact, but not eliminate it entirely. We will need to spend money on infrastructure one way or the other, and that means we work together through a system of taxation. It's not a 'subsidy', it's working for the common good - and will probably be cheaper than the WMDs. I know which I'd prefer.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So go hybrid

          some of us may be able to generate some or all of our own leccy, reducing the infrastructure demand,

          Unless those people are genuinely "off grid", or they can guarantee to be taking no power at all during all winter peak periods then they don't reduce the infrastructure demand one tiny bit.

          Infrastructure costs are driven by the peak generation, transmission and distribution capacities, and the additional system capabilities to give high resilience. So anybody who has PV and battery, is self reliant all summer long and even in daylight hours over winter, and has a wind turbine doing some infill, if they use grid power on a single cold, dark, still winter evening peak, they impose the same infrastructure costs as a customer who has no renewable generation and uses grid power all year round.

          Currently, domestic customers only see a small standing charge, and a variable unit rate for most of their costs - in reality, the underlying system costs would mean that variable costs should be far smaller (comprising mostly fossil fuel costs) and the standing charge should be huge. But that would produce politically unwelcome distributional effects (like low energy users having much higher average electricity costs), and that's why it is done the way it is. It is notable that the more renewable or nuclear energy in the system, the greater the fixed cost element, and the lower the truly variable cost, so the greener the overall system, the more important it becomes that self generators pay for the grid capacity they require as standby or peak loads. Ofgem are currently looking at this, but I am confident they will fudge the issue for political reasons, rather than follow the logic..

          1. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: So go hybrid

            But that would produce politically unwelcome distributional effects (like low energy users having much higher average electricity costs), and that's why it is done the way it is.

            True, but I wonder what would be politically undesireable about clean (as in non-carbon) energy being unmetred - everyone gets the same standing charge and you just use as much or as little as you like. Sort of how water used to be before the drive for meters?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: So go hybrid

              True, but I wonder what would be politically undesireable about clean (as in non-carbon) energy being unmetred - everyone gets the same standing charge and you just use as much or as little as you like. Sort of how water used to be before the drive for meters?

              If energy was free, use would go up - particularly heating and lighting use. Lights because its more convenient to leave them on in a lot of situations, and heating because its easier to open a window. More people would heat their properties 24/7, and there would be no incentive to buy economical appliances. A unit rate is hugely important in constraining demand, and since we aren't going to have a surplus of renewable power year round any time in the next couple of decades, it won't be going away. One of the intentions of consumer smart meters is to enable more complicated pricing structures to be "offered" to the public, with the intention of forcing down demand, and a big part of that is around increasing the unit rate at times of high system utilisation.

              And politically speaking, you'd find problems charging the same flat rate standing charge to a little old lady who lives alone, and a large, wealthy family who use ten times as much power. How would you scale that standing charge if they lived in similar houses?

        2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Re: So go hybrid

          Urgh.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So go hybrid

          " It's not a 'subsidy', it's working for the common good - and will probably be cheaper than the WMDs. I know which I'd prefer."

          That's because, like a lot of people, you haven't done the analysis correctly.

          Governments have a spotty record on identifying and promoting the public good with policies that actually work as intended rather than having detrimental side effects, or the opposite effect to that intended.

          Nuclear weapons, however, are a very sound investment in the public good... just about the best thing governments have done.

          Not only to they have unique characteristics (they threaten political decision makers as well as front line soldiers) that have deterred a central war (think world war as an approximation to the technical term) for 79 years (start to start), but they are about an order of magnitude less expensive than vaguely similar benefits through building up 'conventional' forces.

      2. Philip Storry

        Re: So go hybrid

        "you do realise that when the government subsidises its actually us citizens that are doing the subsidising. its not free money or coming out of the governments pockets, its coming out of OUR pocket as tax payers."

        Yes, I do realise that.

        So if we're talking about air quality, what will be the most effective way to spend money? The government can't ban transportation as such. (Small pedestrianised zones may help, but you can't do that everywhere!)

        Larger cities can afford some kind of congestion charging, but smaller cities and towns can't.

        You can increase road taxes on vehicles that pollute.

        You can give tax breaks for newer, less polluting vehicles. That's effectively a per-vehicle subsidy.

        You could also give loans for fleet replacements - the government can borrow money at a very low rate, so backing those loans isn't difficult.

        You could even give grants for those replacements, which require no repayment.

        So that's one tax, and three possible methods of subsidy, each trying to use financial levers to reach the goal of cleaner air.

        Is taxation the best method? That may have an effect. But it may be an unintended effect - companies may reduce the services as they try to do the same job with a smaller fleet. Taxes can work well for individual decisions, but they affect organisations in a very different manner.

        Are the subsidies better? Well, how much will we spend on healthcare for children whose respiratory development is affected by air quality? Are there other costs associated with the air quality?

        A subsidy is not the automatic answer, nor is it necessarily the best answer. But it could well be.

        Other answers are available, such as restricting deliveries to certain times - these also have their own costs and benefits.

        Your mistake is to look at it as one pot. Government is huge, and the "one pot" analysis frequently fails.

        There's a great example that's being repeated a lot recently - DWP assessments removing the lease of a Motobility adapted car, on the grounds that the person "isn't sick enough." But then approving a taxi to and from work - because the local council pays for that. It gets it off their budget and onto someone else's. You can find multiple stories in the news about this, and it usually costs at least £10,000 more for the taxis than for the Motobility leased car.

        However, based on your behaviour here, we have to assume that you'd simply be raging that the Motobility car is coming out of OUR taxes, and is therefore bad value for money.

        As a society, we have to ask ourselves what the goals are and then take a look at how we can achieve them. Sometimes, the answers are counter-intuitive and require explanation. That should not prevent us from pursuing them.

  6. Jon 37

    Can't they upgrade it?

    This sounds like an excuse.

    If you need more electric capacity, you pay the local electricity distribution network to install bigger wires to your property, and as part of that they'll upgrade substations and interconnect wires as needed - and you pay for all this work.

    Of course, this may be _very_ expensive, but it's doable.

    But "it's impossible because it would melt the substation" is a MUCH better excuse than "we don't want to pay for a bigger electrical connection".

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Can't they upgrade it?

      Or make use of the London Underground's generating plants which aren't running most of the night. Mount Pleasant must be quite well located for tapping that source, though I'm not that familiar with the location of the power cables etc.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Can't they upgrade it?

        Or make use of the London Underground's generating plants

        They shut Lots Road down 15 years ago, I think LU buys all its power from the grid these days.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Can't they upgrade it?

          They just installed 6 gas turbine generators at Greenwich, and there's a reciprocating gas powered generator at Smithfield market. Both also supply district heating systems. Still, it's just gaining a few percent on the efficiency scale from the ICE fleet really. Helps with the pollution, mind.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Can't they upgrade it?

            The generator at Smithfield is the old Port of London Authority site, now privately owned and operated primarily for a medium sized heat network, and the electricity is exported to the local grid. It is profitable for the company concerned, but only because they didn't incur the costs of constructing the heat network.

            As far as I'm aware, the Greenwich power station plan is still on hold. Realistically it isn't large enough to be cost effective, and with falling wholesale prices and concerns about London air quality I'd be surprised if they can make a good case for it. Then again GLA are a bunch of muppets who actually want to run their own power company, this may be forced through to meet that desire, after all, its only other people's money they will be spending.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Can't they upgrade it?

              Oh yes. Greenwich upgrade is all on-hold now. I was sure it was done already. Part of Mayor Khan's project review. It still has around 1GW of generation from oil though I think. It's a backup to the grid supply.

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Can't they upgrade it?

              "The generator at Smithfield is the old Port of London Authority site, now privately owned and operated primarily for a medium sized heat network,"

              it's also been broken for much of the last part of 2017, with a bunch of media stories and complaints from residents about the problem.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Can't they upgrade it?

      "but it's doable."

      As I read it it was the capacity of the sub-station itself that was the limiting factor. If so "doable" includes being able to build a higher capacity substation on the ground that's available to the substation including getting planning permission for what might be a bigger structure and upgrading the grid connection to the sub-station.

    3. James O'Shea Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Can't they upgrade it?

      "If you need more electric capacity, you pay the local electricity distribution network to install bigger wires to your property, and as part of that they'll upgrade substations and interconnect wires as needed - and you pay for all this work."

      I used to work for an electricity utility. It's not that simple.

      A substation is sized for the local load. You need to have primary transmission lines inbound from the rest of the grid. You need to have a primary busbar and at least one secondary busbar. You need to have transformers (plural) to move the electricity from the transmission side to the distribution side. You need to have primary distribution lines outbound to your local load.

      Problem 1: the transmission lines. Transmission lines run at very high voltage, thanks to Ohm's Law, in an effort to reduce the line losses. Typical voltages, depending on the requirements of the local grid, range from 69 kV (69,000 volts) to 750 kV (750,000 volts). The higher voltage levels are usually used in rural transmission lines, because some people get nervous about 750 kV overhead. And others get nervous about induction effects. Typically primary transmission lines might run at currents of 100 to 300 amps. (P=VI. 100 amps at 69 kV is 6.9 MW. 300 amps at 750 kV is 225 MW.) If you have to push more power through a line then your line losses go up. This typically shows up as heat. Enough line losses and your lines start to glow red. A bit more than that and they will, quite literally, melt. Or burn. Or both. If you are going to upgrade the substation for more power, first you must _replace every single transmission line feeding it._ Zambia and other copper-producing countries will love you. And if you think that I'm exaggerating about the care you must take with transmission lines, the reason why I was hired at the power company was that they'd just got a new SCADA system and they needed to get it up and running. One of my tasks was to set up and implement the database containing the line characteristics of every single transmission and primary distribution line and busbar the company owned. (And very boring it was, too) This was necessary so that the system wouldn't allow too much power to run over certain lines, or there'd be problems. The older lines were replaced over several years, because it was bloody expensive to buy a few miles of line capable of running 138 kV at 100 to 250 amps. The company had tried aluminum instead of copper, aluminum was a lot cheaper. It also burns much faster, so they didn't do that after one spectacular accident. (Before my time there, but those who had been there at the time still spoke of it in awe years later.) In the meantime, the guys at System Control had to be careful how they switched the power around.

      Problem 2: the primary busbar. This is rated for specific voltages and currents. Run too high a voltage, the busbar has problems, not least being that some stuff may be close enough that the spark gap isn't big enough. The power utility I worked for once had a major blackout caused when a vulture (yes, I blame El Reg's mascot) sunned itself on top of a transformer next to the primary busbar in a very important substation and its wings were enough to bridge the spark gap. Result: 138 kV at 220 amps blew through the vulture, the busbar, and the transformer. It took several hours to clean up the mess and rebuild the fried parts. (We think it was a vulture. Parts of black feathers were recovered, and the only local bird with black feathers big enough to bridge the spark gap was a vulture. The rest of the vulture was vaporized by 138 kV at 220 amps.) You will have to replace the busbar.

      Problem 2: the secondary busbar(s). Each secondary busbar feeds the distribution lines. You might have to either up the primary distribution lines to 24 or even 36 kV, or to add more distribution circuits, or both. You'll need a lot of space in your substation to increase the size and loading of the primary busbar, and more to do the same with the secondary busbar(s).

      Problem 3: the transformers. They step down the voltage (and up the current) from the transmission side to the distribution side. They are sized for the load on the substation, plus a reserve. Increase the load, and once you're past the reserve (and this project will be blowing past that so fast there'll be a sonic boom) you must replace the transformers. All of the transformers in the substation. Do you know how much transformers of that size cost and how long it takes to get delivery on new ones? Have a look at, for example, https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/Large%20Power%20Transformer%20Study%20-%20June%202012_0.pdf and you might have an idea of what's involved. Not to mention that there may not be enough space in the substation to hold the new equipment, so you'll need a new substation. The utility I worked for had to put in a new substation, a substantial distance away from its load, when the station feeding that load proved to be too small to handle the required new equipment, and the cost of acquiring land in the area was prohibitive. I suspect that acquiring land for a new or expanded substation in the City of London might be... expensive.

      Problem 4: the distribution lines. Primary distribution tends to be 36 kV or less, with 24 kV and 12 kV being common. Again, you want to have high voltages to cut line losses. Again, if you run the voltages too high you'll have problems with your lines, plus if the voltages get about 50 kV or so you're in transmission line territory. Power company linesmen will hotstick distribution lines, that is will work with distribution lines _without turning the power off_ so as to avoid power cuts. (Yes, they'll hotstick 24 kV lines, and with less enthusiasm, 36 kV lines.) There isn't enough money in the world to pay a linesman who knows what he's doing to hotstick transmission lines, and linesmen who don't know what they're doing and who play with 50 kV or higher lines will be dead or missing various body parts Real Soon Now. One of the linesmen at the power utility I worked for had both arms burned off by an accident involving a 13.8 kV distribution line. Another one was killed by a 24 kV line. You don't fuck with primary distribution lines, or they will fuck you up. Permanently. Transmission lines are worse. In any case, you're replacing all the primary distribution lines as well.

      Problem 5: you're outside the substation, but your problems are just beginning. You must step down your primary distribution voltage (and step up the current) from 12/13.8/24/whatever kV to around 400/440 volts, three phase. You do that with local transformers. If you've resized your distribution busbars and distribution lines to have higher voltages, you will have to replace each and every local transformer. All of them. The local transformers are a lot cheaper than the big transformers at the substation, but there are a _lot_ of them.

      Problem 6: grid safety equipment. Your current safety systems, including switches, breakers, and reclosers, (no, reclosers are _not_ breakers) are all sized for the voltages and currents on your gird. You've just increased both the voltages and the current. You'll need to strip out each and every breaker, switch, and recloser in the local load area and the substation. All of them. You'll have to strip out the isolators as well. And everything else that comes near the local load.

      It's not a matter of they'd pay for the work, it's a matter of they'd have to pay for replacing the local grid. All of it. And that would be very expensive and would take a very long time to do. And, note, I haven't said word one about where and how you're going to get the power to run over your nice new power lines and nice new substation. That's a whole different, and even more expensive, problem.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can't they upgrade it?

        @ James O'Shea

        That deserves one hundred times my one miserable upvote.

        There is of course the additional problem that many urban substations are both supplied to and distribute through buried cables. In many cases without good documentation, and that in some instances I know have subsequently had entire commercial building built over the top of them. I know of substations where the distribution network operator cannot upgrade them because it cannot get to the power lines. When the cables eventually fail there will initially be a series of very expensive emergency bodges to restore power, but the permanent fix is going to be a cost of several tens of millions for a single large substation, and that before they have to buy city centre development land or an existing building and demolish it.

        This is something government (and the public) don't get. The assume that because navvies build much of it, infrastructure simple. In reality it is a thousand times more complicated than people commonly believe. And ten thousand times more complicated when in an urban setting.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Can't they upgrade it?

        @ James O'Shea

        Thanks for all of the detail. It's very informative.

        It also sheds light on why it could be a problem for companies that have reserved Tesla semi trucks. The trucks might be the cheapest line item after the costs for adding sufficient additional capacity to charge them is put on the BOM. It may become necessary for big electric trucks to be based adjacent to where big power is available to charge them. This could mean many extra miles of travel to move the trucks from their marshaling yard to pick up loads from a factory or distribution center and then return at the end of shift to be charged again overnight.

        It may be a slow process to transition big trucks from diesel to electricity. The best time to add the electrical capability is when a new local grid is being designed and built. Trying to add to a system in a built up area where substations need expansion and lines need to be replaced while at the same time not incurring any (much) downtime is a huge challenge.

  7. boltar Silver badge

    If they'd kept Mail Rail running...

    ... under the streets of london instead of decommisioning it for cost savings with a deliberate policy to shift everything to vans then this issue would be moot.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: If they'd kept Mail Rail running...

      'Moot' in the sense of 'open for discussion'.

      The Mail Rail was a great thing, but its capacity for delivery to 12th floor flats was a tad limited, so couldn't completely replace all those vans.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If they'd kept Mail Rail running...

        And when closed it only linked Paddington station with two sorting offices. So really a token curiosity rather than some clever means of moving post.

      2. boltar Silver badge

        Re: If they'd kept Mail Rail running...

        "The Mail Rail was a great thing, but its capacity for delivery to 12th floor flats was a tad limited, so couldn't completely replace all those vans."

        i'd be interested in seeing the van that could drive up to the 12th floor too.

  8. Terry 6 Silver badge

    sounded logical but.....

    I don't somehow think there are 49000 or so vans etc all parked up at Mt. Pleasant. And of course there aren't, despite the headline they are talking about the Mt. Pleasant share of the vehicles.

    Most of the vehicles would be in lots of other locations. Can Mt. Pleasant switch a proportion? Of course it could. And my local sorting office charge a few? Of course they could and so on. It sort of annoys me when the 100% rule is used to avoid a change. Sometimes that might be fair enough ( no country is going to switch to driving on the right a bit at a time). But usually "letting perfection be the enemy of good" is an excuse for inaction.

    .

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: sounded logical but.....

      I came on to say the same thing; the article could and should have been a bit more carefully written.

      If it were the case then the Mount Pleasant car park would be truly impressive sight.

      However the problem is real; there is neither the generating capacity nor the infrastructure cabling right down the users' premises (including substations) to cope with a widespread migration to electric - only vehicles, and the longer HMG ignores this fact the less likely it will be that any sort of target for electric vehicles will be met. As another commentard said the "optimum" solution would seem to be hybrid vehicles, resulting in a major reduction in the demands placed on the electricity supply system.

      And why would anyone ask Royal Mail when their car park would be able to support all - electric vehicle charging? That's a bit like asking UK Power Networks why the post arrived late yesterday.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: sounded logical but.....

        "However the problem is real; there is neither the generating capacity nor the infrastructure cabling right down the users' premises (including substations) to cope with a widespread migration to electric "

        In most places, there is the capability. Just not during mid-day but rather in the middle of the night when usage is low. Since the mail isn't being delivered at night, the vans are just sitting around.

        A postal van is going to be a purpose built vehicle and isn't going to have 27 cups holders, widgets and gizmos all over the place and a double insulated chassis for perfect silence. It will be built light and get much better "mileage" than a consumer EV with vibromatic deluxe seats all around. It's also not likely to come with a battery that gives it hundreds of miles of range. Optimizing the battery capacity to a few range brackets will add to the efficiency since a van that only goes 50 miles on a charge will be carrying around far less battery weight than a Tesla that may go 400 miles before needing a charge. A rural van may have a bigger battery to make a longer daily run or there might be a charging station along the route so a van can recharge while the postman has lunch. Chances are that there will be a power substation that can be easily fitted with chargers for power company vehicles and available by agreement to other government agencies.

  9. Symon Silver badge
    Coat

    FFS.

    The requisite technology has been around since the 1960s. I want my mail delivered by zero carbon emission SPV. They are a little on the large side, but the hydrogenic power unit can also be used as a jet pack for difficult to access properties. Also, I want Captain Blue as my postman; Captain Scarlet crashes far too often and drives like a 'kin maniac. (Thinking about it, just like my current postman)

    https://youtu.be/sc2pCb2N8CM

    p.s. c.f. Monkey Butlers, Flying cars, etc.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: FFS.

      Captain Green already runs the telephone exchange, but I want my mail delivered by Melody Angel, in a kind of reverse, perverse stereotype of the postman's knock-up.

  10. rh587 Bronze badge

    This all seems a bit suspect. Okay, so you don't have a connection for full EV conversion. That doesn't preclude partial transitioning. I don't know if Royal Mail have to pay the Congestion Charge but a Renault Kangoo EE is not that much more expensive than the petrol version these days and the monthly battery hire is easily covered by avoiding the CC for London Operators, as well as the reduced servicing costs.

    Likewise my local Sorting Office is on the edge of town, right next to an electrified main line. There's no shortage of power infrastructure in the area one way or another, and there is space for extra sub-station capacity if needs be. Given that we're a mid-sized county town, it seems a reasonable proposition that in the short term you could be introducing EVs to urban routes and retaining petrol/hybrid for rural routes.

    I notice they're trialling a UK startup's 4-tonners. That's well and good for that mid-range segment between local delivery and HGV classes, it doesn't explain the lack of Kangoo-class vehicles coming in to replace the older vehicles in the Transit-Connect fleet. Had they lasted a bit longer they could have bought out Modec in the same way that Deutsche Post bought StreetScooter, or at least become a long-term partner - Modec only ever made about 400 vehicles. An RM order for ~20,000 over 5-10 years would have allowed them to scale production, cut costs and carve out a market for themselves, especially now Li-Ion battery costs are tumbling.

    If the UK can't go full-electric because of grid-capacity concerns, it seems like the most obvious priorities for conversion are taxis, local delivery vehicles and buses - urban-centric, short journeys with high idle-times and start-stop cycles in traffic and at junctions.

    IC Engines are at their most efficient when hot, doing a steady speed (i.e. motorways), so we don't care about the long-haul motorway warriors. There is no reason why the likes of Royal Mail should be fouling up urban air quality with slow moving start-stop cycles that clock less than 50-70miles/day.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Jemma Silver badge

    Case study

    Where I live there's 24 flats, all with 230v mains. Of those only 2 that I know of have rcd capable modern electric distribution cabs (one fitted after the electrics blew the female tenant across the room) , the rest were wired up when Allegros roamed the earth.

    22 flats have cars associated of which most are scrappage fodder.. So most will be chopped in and chopped up despite the fact they're perfectly usable - to get some form of Muskkretinwagon.

    Then you'll need outside charging points (some chance with the "management company") at three times retail because of the "mc" above.

    THEN unless you want a fireball of epic proportions you'll need to redo all the backhaul wiring so it can cope and fit modern control boxes to 18 flats..

    And if you manage to do all that, and don't manage to electrocute the first toddler who sees a charger (because we *will* get cheap ass crap chargers, or more likely a flip top unsecured always on mains sockets). There isn't enough electrical power to go around if any reasonable amount of people do it and alot of the generation is dubious environmentally to be extremely tactful about it.

    Whats worse everyone else will be tooling around in TFSI audi which are more polluting and dangerous to human life (microparticulates) than the average clapped out BX Diesel - that they got when the smug gits went electric.

    The best bit is the politicians bash diesels - co2 goes up - politicians decide to fit catalytic converters - co2 actually goes up as did health problems from car exhaust (more benzenes and other nasties in exhaust).

    It has been proven that we can take pollutants from the atmosphere and using solar reactors make a petrol/diesel analogue that can be formulated cleaner. We already have an entire infrastructure designed for these liquid fuels and vehicles to use them.. All we need do is upscale the solar reactor tech which actually makes the atmosphere cleaner as it works. Are we doing it? No.

    We're letting the idiots run the asylum. In order to use electric cars we have to scrap or convert (to make a hollow laughing) the older vehicles, we have to upgrade almost every single wiring system in the country, upgrade and build out generation capacity (which will take years, and you can bet won't be clean Thorium generation), make the chargers idiot proof (which is a decades long project in itself.. Hmm fast charger, torrential rain, wet hands and a hangover, what could possibly go wrong...)

    Then you've got the crappy range, the fall out on crime and driver safety (especially women) - on top of that the prices of replacement batteries and how the vehicle will react in a crash.. As they get older I predict they'll get worse (they all do).

    And on top of all that you've got various idiots tooling around trying to make them autonomous and deranged mothers trying to reduce every speed limit to 5mph because their mindless teen went vis-a-vis with a Leyland Optare while engrossed in Assbook and lost (and the gene pool thanks you profusely my dear). Despite the fact that 55-60mph is peak efficiency generally and we have far too many people alive as it is..

    There is absolutely nothing that warrants using an electric vehicle over all the other possible options - but oddly enough the people selling them haven't told you that have they?

    PS My next car would be a DKW two stroke if I could afford it. And even with that I consider myself green in comparison with the teslidiots.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Case study

      "Despite the fact that 55-60mph is peak efficiency generally and we have far too many people alive as it is.."

      *You* might want to live next to a road where the cars are doing 55 to 60 mph, but there are some of us who are quite happy to put up with much lower speed limits in the area they live in. If the traffic were doing 55 to 60mph on the school run, I'd have to drive my kids to school instead of walking them there.

      1. Jemma Silver badge

        Re: Case study

        I walked to school alone from the age of 7 to 12 along just such a road when crumple zones were tiny gleams in BL engineers eyes. I never got hit by a car, never got jumped by a Jimmy-Saville-alike and I ACTUALLY KNOW HOW TO CROSS A ROAD.

        These days the speed limit is 30mph and you can't move for mommy cretins doing le mans starts in Porsche Cayennes & X5s driven by people who think lane discipline is a boy band and double declutching is something to do with a handbag.

        I'd love to know the percentage of parents who survived serious road accidents 20/30 years ago whose spaddy little brats are the ones who walk out 2 feet in front of me when it's my right of way, or expect me to stop from 60mph in 3ft (and that includes some of the adults, would you believe)...

        I've never hit anyone, nor would I ever want to, but I'd have a damn sight less sympathy for them if they've just wombled out into the road without a care or braincell in the world.

        I did suggest that cars be retrofitted with MK108 autocannons, badly driven 4x4 for the removal of, but the idea didn't get much traction (much like the badly driven 4x4s).

        If people don't know how to cross a road or judge a cars road speed they shouldn't be out on their own. Kids should be trained - we were - and I don't know any of my generation who'd be more interested in their smartphone than the Audi that's about to turn their brains into a jackson pollack.

        1. Clarecats

          Re: Case study

          I was struck twice as a child - once on a zebra crossing in a shopping centre (female driver) and once crossing the road in front of the school while the lollipop man had stopped the traffic (male driver). Don't see why it should be any safer today.

        2. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: Case study

          you can't move for mommy cretins doing le mans starts in Porsche Cayennes & X5s driven by people who think lane discipline is a boy band and double declutching is something to do with a handbag.

          Le Mans is a 24 hour race. If you want an analogy with fast starts, you're better off thinking about Santa Pod.

          Double declutching is all but irrelevant now thanks to synchro gearboxes and twin plate clutches. Point of fact, in most modern cars it'll just slow you down.

          If people don't know how to cross a road or judge a cars road speed they shouldn't be out on their own. Kids should be trained - we were - and I don't know any of my generation who'd be more interested in their smartphone than the Audi that's about to turn their brains into a jackson pollack.

          I quite agree.

          However, I don't think that their parents failure and stupidity in not teaching small children how to cross a road reasonably result in a death sentence for the child. The parent, sure, have at it.

          The average driver is, frankly, of an shockingly low level of capability, and that's when they're paying attention. I can't change that, but I am at least trying to teach my kids basic road safety. I do wish they'd bring back the Stop Look Listen infomercials on CBBC/CBeebies etc.... It's not like the next episode of Peppa Pig is of earth shattering importance.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Case study

            Le Mans is a 24 hour race. If you want an analogy with fast starts, you're better off thinking about Santa Pod.

            That's a useful analogy for EVs. ICE do well at Le Mans, Tesla's at Santa Pod. Or 1/4mile. Over 1/2mile, the ICE advantages become more apparent. I think it'll be a long time before an EV completes a 24hr race though. One example of EV's lack of endurance is from the Cannonball Run. Current record is 28hr50mins for 2,800 miles. A Tesla factory team did NY-LA in only 76hrs. Ok, so Team Tesla did have to take a longer route due to lack of charging points. And drive slower to conserve battery. And spend 16hrs charging.

            On the plus side, I guess the lack of EV stamina could reduce the duration of car chases. Assuming the police are allowed to keep in ICE cars.

          2. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: Case study - Le Mans start

            "Le Mans is a 24 hour race. If you want an analogy with fast starts, you're better off thinking about Santa Pod."

            Am I the only one here who is old enough to have had a Le Mans Start on his Scalextric set?

            You know, where all the cars were parked in the pits and the drivers had to run to the cars, jump in and start them before zooming out of the pits and onto the race track?

            Can't remember when they stopped doing this. Probably when they ditched batteries and starter motors and the like for F1 cars so you couldn't just flip the switch if you stalled.

            Tell that to the kids of today.....

    2. Roger Greenwood

      Re: Case study

      Candidate for rant of the week - lovely.

      "24 flats, all with 230v mains" - I put money on these flats being fed from a 3ph supply so getting the feed from more than one crossed would be interesting.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Case study

      It has been proven that we can take pollutants from the atmosphere and using solar reactors make a petrol/diesel analogue that can be formulated cleaner.

      The conversion efficiency is dismal, whether using some of the experimental catalysts or membranes, or using wind power to dissociate water. Invariably with all approaches there's a gas handling element where compression and decompression energy losses are significant, plus processing losses. And at the end of all that it wouldn't be any cleaner at point of use - you'd still get as much NOx and particulates as you would from a refined fossil fuel, since those aren't caused by fuel impurities.

    4. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Case study

      Then you've got the crappy range, the fall out on crime and driver safety (especially women) -

      Sorry, I'm genuinely not following why women would face more driver safety issues. Please could you expand on this?

      There is absolutely nothing that warrants using an electric vehicle over all the other possible options - but oddly enough the people selling them haven't told you that have they?

      My daily driver is professionally modified to increase power output (and insured on that basis, thanks) such that I can mostly be sure to out accelerate anyone near me when the lights change or I exit a bend. I find it helpful in avoiding the mistakes of the average driver.

      Cars that can out accelerate a modern electric car up to the speed limit are usually quite a bit more expensive to buy and in all cases currently (politics) more expensive to fuel.

      Those that have read my posts know I don't believe in MMGW (sorry folks) and I'm not exactly terrified when the price of petrol rises, but electric cars are a viable petrolhead alternative today. They're not a panacea, and widespread adoption does require several challenges to be understood, solved, and delivered. But lets not pretend there's "...nothing warrants using an electric vehicle..." because enjoyment of driving fast makes them worth consideration for some people.

      Right now I'm wondering how fast I could make a Robinhood go if I converted that with a bunch of washing machine motors.... Might be fun on a track day.

      1. philebbeer
        Coat

        Re: Case study

        >>>>Then you've got the crappy range, the fall out on crime and driver safety (especially women) -

        >>Sorry, I'm genuinely not following why women would face more driver safety issues. Please could you expand on this?

        Scenario 1. Come out of house, leap into ICE car, drive away

        Scenario 2. Come out of house, detach EV from charging cable, stow cable, drive away

        Sc2 gives the bad boys more time to get up to mischief before you are safely locked in your car

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Case study

      'when Allegros roamed the earth.'

      Allegros??

      1. imanidiot Silver badge
  12. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Who remembers....

    ...Tesla's entry-level Model 3 vehicle is $35,000 (£28,500) and there's no second-hand market. All these issues mean the electric car won't become "a thing" for sometime....

    the Sinclair C5? Sounds like we're about to repeat history....

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Who remembers....

      Seems odd that 40-50 years ago we had electric vehicles suitable for door-door milk delivery but the Royal mail needs Teslas for door-door mail delivery.

      I suppose that's why I can't get a newspaper delivered - the delivery boy is waiting for his flying car

  13. Scroticus Canis

    Modular reactors are the only real answer.

    Wind and solar alone are never going to cut it, even for just the current supply. Until we crack fusion the only answer is to use current nuclear technology to supply needs and replace fossil fuels.

    Current big reactor designs and deployment are not really desirable and still have distribution problems. Modular reactors similar to those used by the nuclear subs and warships could a viable option. Placed close to where the power is needed, at end of life the whole unit is removed and sent for decommissioning and a new unit dropped into place. Benefit of many small units is they can back each other up via the grid more effectively than just a few big ones.

    Waste will still be a problem but we may have no option but to store it safely until technology catches up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Modular reactors are the only real answer.

      Small modular reactors currently look to be even more costly than Hinkley Point C in cost per MWh.

      https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/small-modular-reactors-techno-economic-assessment

      Of course, that makes assumptions about the cost at out-tun of Hinkley Point, which are probably going to be wrong.

      If SMR were available off the shelf they'd be easier to connect to the grid due to their modularity, but as none are yet even ready for the certification process to start, it would be at least 2030 before we had production units in series manufacture. With the planned decommisson of coal by 2025, and the closure of half the AGR nuclear fleet by 2024 and remainder by 2030, we're going to need some new form of electricity production before SMRs can offer a solution - and that;s without the government's desire to see electric cars and the elimination of gas heating. The only realistic option will be a new fleet of subsidised CCGTs, and they will then undermine the case for SMR unless SMR also get subsidies.

      1. Chemist

        Re: Modular reactors are the only real answer.

        "The only realistic option will be a new fleet of subsidised CCGTs, and they will then undermine the case for SMR unless SMR also get subsidies."

        Agree entirely. Just a glance at the current load on the grid is quite scary. (OK it's very cold but luckily it's windy). The coal/nuclear contribution is ~40%

        http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Modular reactors are the only real answer.

          OK it's very cold but luckily it's windy

          True at the moment, and probably an absolutely optimal national wind output.

          But look at last Wednesday on Gridwatch - stuff all wind power right through the peak periods. A trawl through the data download shows a low of 369 MW of wind output in the afternoon whilst grid demand was above 50 GW. Lucky we've still got a few coal power plants that the government remain intent on closing.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Modular reactors are the only real answer.

          Now fast forward into the future when carbon emissions laws mean that gas- and oil-fired boilers are outlawed and think about how big that demand spike will be.

          And that's on top of electric cars, etc etc etc

  14. Hairy Spod
    Angel

    No second hand market

    Who says there is no 2nd hand market for EVs

    This morning my 65 plate second hand leaf which costs me £38 a week on a 2 year PCP deal (with only a £200 deposit) defrosted itsself and preheated the cabin to a lovely 23C

    the future is now!

    1. Jemma Silver badge

      Re: No second hand market

      Notwithstanding the fact that an ICE vehicle from 1967 with a remote start kit fitted and thermostatic air con can do that, my old Humber Sceptre from 63 could do it with the right upgrades... Although probably not as accurately..

      And there is also the fact that technically what your car just did might have invalidated your insurance (on the basis you are not allowed to leave a running vehicle unattended, granted electric is a grey area in this case) it certainly would if a remote start facility caused an accident.. A start while in gear for example.. Or someone getting into the car as shouldn't.

      1. Jonathon Green
        Coat

        Re: No second hand market

        “technically what your car just did might have invalidated your insurance (on the basis you are not allowed to leave a running vehicle unattended, granted electric is a grey area in this case) it certainly would if a remote start facility caused an accident.. A start while in gear for example.. Or someone getting into the car as shouldn't.”

        Errr... No.

        Not even nearly.

        Running the climate control from the 12V “housekeeping” battery with the traction battery isolated from the drive system, the transmission remaining locked in Park, the immobiliser and steering lock remaining engaged, and everything else switched off (which is what happens when you use a Leaf’s remote app or timer to activate the climate control for pre-heating or pre-cooling) isn’t remotely analogous to leaving a running vehicle unattended and pretending otherwise is either silly or mischievous. It’s about as dangerous as leaving a conventional car with the ignition switched off, the keys removed, the doors locked, but the parking lights on, i.e. not at all...

        1. Jemma Silver badge

          Re: No second hand market

          You of course didn't read the part where I mentioned this might not apply to electrics. In the case you quote it doesn't. In conversions/retrofits it probably does.

          It is *certainly* illegal to retrofit an ICE engine or ICE hybrid with remote start and the legality/insurance is dubious even if it's a manufacturer fitted item. Some insurers wouldn't bat an eyelid if it was related to an accident - some would, to quote Dan Halen, "bend you over, and rape the money out of you".

          If the engine is running someone has to be attending the vehicle unless it's on private land such as a farm. Carparks, driveways pretty much anywhere if the motor is running you need to be sitting in it in easy reach of the controls.

          1. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: No second hand market - pre-heating a vehicle

            "It is *certainly* illegal to retrofit an ICE engine or ICE hybrid with remote start"

            Careful there, straw men can be inflammable.

            Many diesel vehicles (especially those designed for colder winters than you usually get in the UK) are fitted with auxiliary heaters.

            Usually under one wheel arch, these can be turned on via remote control to burn diesel and heat up the engine by circulating the coolant using an auxiliary pump.

            VW Sharan and Ford Galaxy are two prime examples.

            So you don't need an electric or hybrid car to pre-heat the engine and cabin. You don't need to start the engine either, and leave it running unattended. All available for ICE vehicles as standard.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: No second hand market

        Remote starting is not the same thing as remote/timed heaters.

        Look up Webastos for one example of this tech in ICE vehicles.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: No second hand market

        "And there is also the fact that technically what your car just did might have invalidated your insurance (on the basis you are not allowed to leave a running vehicle unattended, granted electric is a grey area in this case)"

        I don't know if you've noticed but the guy said a Nissan Leaf. Your Humber Sceptre would have to run its engine to warm up. An electric car doesn't.

        1. Jemma Silver badge

          Re: No second hand market

          Can you read?... I think not, I think not..

          Thanks to the cat.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No second hand market

      Don't worry the Petrolheads/luddites will be along shortly to put you in your place.

      any post promoting EV's and using real life examples is shot down in flames in pretty quick order.

      I can't wait for my Tesla Model S to be delivered. It is due next month. No more buying petrol/diesel.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No second hand market

        any post promoting EV's and using real life examples is shot down in flames in pretty quick order.

        That's because we're engineers, not innumerate idealists.

        1. rh587 Bronze badge

          Re: No second hand market

          That's because we're engineers, not innumerate idealists.

          And as engineers we all know that there are rarely one-size-fits-all solutions.

          For instance, any engineer would be hard-pressed to conclude that there is any powertrain more appropriate for ultra-urban stop-start work (such as delivering the mail) than battery-electric. The only consideration therefore is whether it is disproportionately expensive compared to conventional equivalents.

          Once you reach reasonable cost parity (which as it happens is rapidly approaching), the reduction in noise pollution, street-level particulate emissions (public health) and improved driving characteristics are a total no-brainer.

          Quiet, enormous torque away from the line, not burning energy when sat idling at the lights.

          Conversely for other duty cycles ICE or Extended Range-Hybrid are/may be more appropriate.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: No second hand market

        "I can't wait for my Tesla Model S to be delivered. It is due next month. No more buying petrol/diesel."

        So you can afford a Tesla and many can't. The affordability is, of course, improved by subsidy from the rest of us including those who can't afford a subsidy. You'll find that the subsidies get phased out over the next few years; as the numbers of EVs increase the shortfall on taxation from VED and fuel duties will see to that.

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: No second hand market

          You'll find that the subsidies get phased out over the next few years; as the numbers of EVs increase the shortfall on taxation from VED and fuel duties will see to that.

          How do you see that being implemented? I'm not disagreeing, but in one of my heavily downvoted posts I queried this very idea. Absent pay per mile satellite tracking, which is expensive to retrofit to existing vehicles and has privacy issues, or maybe road tolling, I'm not clear how this could work?

          I have serious doubts any government would charge the price per unit required to equate an electric car charging with a petrol car being drive on the household supply. People wanting to read at night, or with electric heating might be expected to balk at the cost.

          I've considered options ranging from road tolls, through tracking, to increasing electricity prices etc and I can't figure out a workable solution to the problem.... even taxing the vehicle at first purchase won't work, because nobody would buy one and existing EVs would become near priceless.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No second hand market

            How do you see that being implemented? I'm not disagreeing, but in one of my heavily downvoted posts I queried this very idea. Absent pay per mile satellite tracking, which is expensive to retrofit to existing vehicles and has privacy issues, or maybe road tolling

            Looking at the government's carte blanche for GCHQ to bulk data snatch, and the "right" of every piss-pot public sector body to snoop on your data, why do you think that the costs or the privacy implications matter to them at all? DfT have already used your money on plenty of research on the topic of road pricing, and despite the claims of "no mission creep on e-call", I wouldn't be at all surprised if they could use that for new cars. For the other cars, retrofit of a black box is easy - many young drivers have to have this for insurance purposes, either as professionally installed devices or self-install via a 12V socket.

            Using a black box also has the important additional benefits for bureaucrats of enabling road pricing according to time of day, road type and capacity, being able to automatically penalise you for every minor infraction of motoring law, and all that lovely movement data to be kept hoarded forever, and made available to police, taxman, your local council, the Welsh Ambulance service and the rest. By making the M25, M42, M60 et al cost far more at peak hours they'll price motorway users off, and thus not need to address the capacity issues that would otherwise cost hundreds of millions of pounds of government spending. Also, even if the running costs are immense, that doesn't matter - they will get added to the transport user's bills.

            Galileo is promising 1m public accuracy, and far better for encrypted use, so the accuracy would be enough to persuade governments that it will work. Like Penalty Charge Notices, the registered keeper would have to pay (if they aren't the user, they need to sort that out, not government's problem, eh?). Crapita would undoubtedly be given billions to build a vehicle registration database, and administer the payments systems. You and I can see why it will struggle to work, put yourself in the shoes of idiot politicians and their incompetent civil service lackeys, and it all seems so feasible.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: No second hand market

              "Using a black box also has the important additional benefits for bureaucrats of enabling road pricing according to time of day, road type and capacity,"

              Time of day road pricing is not without merit. Is there really a reason why every job has to start at 8am and finish at 5pm? A factory could easily have shifts begin earlier or later without affecting anything. If there were time of day road pricing, employees would be penalized for having jobs that begin and end at current times leading to companies either having to pay them more or find it more difficult to recruit people.

              I won't put up with Big Brother tracking my every move. I don't leave my phone's GPS or data on when I'm not using it (I use an old fashioned SatNav in the car that doesn't connect to anything but the power port). This makes time of day pricing difficult. Not every car would be equipped and what would happen if the black box mysteriously stopped working?

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: No second hand market

            "How do you see that being implemented?"

            Your car has its meter read periodically - yearly as part of the MoT or maybe monthly. You're charged per mile.

            1. LucreLout Silver badge

              Re: No second hand market

              Your car has its meter read periodically - yearly as part of the MoT or maybe monthly. You're charged per mile.

              That is actually a very plausible way for them to try.

              Obviously I could just disconnect the required cables or overwrite the specific data, but it'd catch most people most of the time... especially if there were spot reads at the roadside every few months.

              It miss the real cheese though, which as another poster mentioned will be a time & location component to the charge, but they could phase that in over time as the older cars head for the scrapper.

      3. Jemma Silver badge

        Re: No second hand market

        Umm that wasn't promoting ev - that was promoting a feature US premium cars have had since I was in nappies and at least one eastern Europe car manufacturer has been doing since 1959 and probably earlier (Tatra) - not to mention their 603 had a cd of something like .35 when western manufacturers were still arguing about whether OHV was a step too far, and starting handles ruled the world (not that those were a bad thing). You know (or probably don't actually) the days when the car was more aerodynamic in reverse and two speeds were "good enough for grandpa so they're good enough for you"

        I'm glad you're looking forward to your new Muskkretinwagon - I would however suggest you look into the mix of generation in your area and hope fervently you're not like the guy (Hong-Kong I think) who got hit for pollution charges IN COURT because all the electric came from coal generation and therefore was about as eco friendly as a 350,000 mile Ford Orion CVH running on supermarket petrol with half 20w50 and half sawdust "keeping all the magic smoke in".

        The right tool for the right job. There's no use case that I can think of that a Tesla fits - other than to be owned by a pretentious wazzock..

        Oh wait

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: No second hand market

          "That was promoting a feature US premium cars have had since I was in nappies and at least one eastern Europe car manufacturer has been doing since 1959 and probably earlier"

          Something that's been built into Rover 75s, landrovers and range rovers for a long time too.

          Northern European carmakers/owners tend to use electric block and cabin heaters rather than webasto heaters though - one big advantage being that there's a ready-built source of chargepoints already installed across northern climes as a result.

    3. Daniel 18

      Re: No second hand market

      "This morning my 65 plate second hand leaf which costs me £38 a week on a 2 year PCP deal (with only a £200 deposit) defrosted itsself and preheated the cabin to a lovely 23C"

      This reminds me of the tale of the wonderful tornado warning app that let you customize the UI colour any way you liked, but would not warn you of a tornado.

  15. Cuddles Silver badge

    Not exactly a surprise

    This comes up every time electric cars are discussed, but it never seems to be taken seriously by their more hardcore proponents. And sure, the problem is solvable. But that rather misses the point - yes, it's solvable, but it has not yet been solved. It may just be a case of building more generation capacity, beefing up substations, and so on, but until those things are actually done, the infrastructure we have right here and now simply cannot handle a large number of electric cars.

    Some of the comments here are particularly silly, complaining that the Royal Mail could simply spread their vans around a bit to avoid overloading their central charging point. But how would that actually help? If electric cars were popular, all the other places they could charge would also be overloaded. As long as electric cars are a tiny niche, it's possible to shuffle things around to hide some of the problems. But if you want electric cars to actually become mainstream, you have to actually solve those problems, not just hide them under the rug while arguing with anyone who dares point them out.

    1. rh587 Bronze badge

      Re: Not exactly a surprise

      But that rather misses the point - yes, it's solvable, but it has not yet been solved. It may just be a case of building more generation capacity, beefing up substations, and so on, but until those things are actually done, the infrastructure we have right here and now simply cannot handle a large number of electric cars.

      But that is where you miss the point.

      Yes, that will happen. Eventually. In the mean time, why are Royal Mail complaining that EV is impractical because they can't transition their entire fleet?

      Why is it not reasonable that they might move to 30-50% EV over the next 5 years (depending on how they manage their fleet renewal). Many, many sorting centres could accommodate 30% of their fleet going to EV, especially if they're the small vans that don't do many miles (i.e. not needing a full charge every night) from the least efficient routes (i.e. ultra-urban, heavy start-stop, terrible for ICE, perfect for battery-electric).

  16. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Where I live is a row of terrace houses with no off road parking so charging an EV in the evening while parked on the road is not a option. I would consider getting a hybrid car though that doesn't require direct charging and instead tops up the batteries using a small petrol engine. All my previous cars have been second hand as I cannot afford to buy brand new cars. But since there is no real second hand market yet for EVs, I am worried that running costs of a used EVs is going to be a lot more than a similar aged petrol car especially when they require the batteries replacing.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "Where I live is a row of terrace houses with no off road parking so charging an EV in the evening while parked on the road is not a option"

      There is a company that has come up with a retrofit LED lighting package for street lights that also includes a plug to allow EV charging. The customer cord kit contains the comm package for access and billing. The switch to LED lighting can leave enough capacity for basic Level 1 charging. It's not massive, but could add up to 5 miles for every hour of charge or around 50 miles each night. That's likely enough for most living and working in the city. Other may have to augment their charging from time to time at a fast charger which companies like Shell are adding to their forecourts.

  17. Jamie Jones Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Snappy soundbites

    "– they [worked out it] would melt the substation at Mount Pleasant in London where they are based"

    ... That sounds so much better than "trip a breaker" or even "blow a fuse"!

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Snappy soundbites

      Perhaps they could charge some of them up elsewhere. I'm sure the parking in Mt Pleasant could be sold for a premium and somewhere cheaper used for parking and charging.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2nd Hand Market

    Most of the current electric fleet is fairly new, and as time goes on we'll see more of them coming up for sale as used vehicles. I don't think I'll be buying one though.

    Most cars run just fine for 10 years or more with relatively little maintenance costs other than yearly servicing. Sure, you may get unlucky and buy something that needs a major repair e.g. new engine soon afterwards, but this is rare. In any case, for an older car you can often save money by using reconditioned parts from a similar car that has been scrapped.

    Electric car batteries are probably not going to last for 10 years, certainly not if they're heavily used. A £10K battery replacement cost may not seem totally unreasonable on a brand new vehicle retailing at £30-50K, but it looks like a very expensive liability on a second hand one that's selling for £10-15K. And it probably wont' be sensible to find a cheap reconditioned part instead, as the batteries from scrapped vehicles may well be near the end of their working lifetime too.

    Really these batteries should be considered consumables, and the cost of the eventual replacement factored into the running costs listed in the advertising. However, as things stand, the (rich) first owner of the car probably won't need to worry about that cost as the problem just gets handed down to the (poorer) second and third owners, so the claimed running costs just cover the bare cost of the electricity.

    It'll be interesting to see what this does to the resale value of these vehicles when the second hand market for them reaches commodity status rather than the novelty it is now. I fear that Elon Musk has actually just invented the disposable car.

    I note that some other manufacturers effectively lease the battery with the car, meaning they can be replaced without financial worry as long as you've paid the subscription costs. At least that way the running costs are kept honest.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2nd Hand Market

      It'll be interesting to see what this does to the resale value of these vehicles when the second hand market for them reaches commodity status rather than the novelty it is now.

      You don't need to wait. Search Nissan Leaf resale values

      Not only is the battery fade a worry, higher insurance & accident repair costs cause concern, and the current model always has higher (new) performance than previous year's models. But for those who want an EV, can live with the compromises of a part used battery and low range, and afford insurance group 20, a second hand Nissan Leaf can be a real bargain. If its only done 15,000 miles and you get it for half the new price, why would you want to buy a new one?

    2. rh587 Bronze badge

      Re: 2nd Hand Market

      Really these batteries should be considered consumables, and the cost of the eventual replacement factored into the running costs listed in the advertising.

      They are. Right below the bit where they tell you how much the car costs, they include a table with the monthly rental cost for the battery, or the price to purchase outright.

      As far as London delivery companies go, you're balancing a purchase premium and monthly battery rental against Congestion Charge exemption and massively reduced "fuel" costs (CC may also start to apply in central areas of Birmingham, Manchester, etc if certain forces get their way, which would hasten the economic case if EVs remain exempted).

      That said, with the number of cars that are leased these days and never driven by the actual owner, it is perhaps a moot point. Have it for 3 years, and by the time the cells start to degrade you give it back and get a new one.

      1. Pedigree-Pete
        Happy

        Expiring batteries.

        We've had loads of Prius Mk2s/3s and Lexus. Certainly 40 odd. (I've had 3 since 2006). I asked our FD if we'd ever needed to replace a battery. Apparently, only 1 and that was warranty work.

        My current Prius is 94,000mls and absolutely fine. PP

  19. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Urban delivery is a niche market and one that's been partially tackled by EVs in the past: the electric milk float. It doesn't, however, mean that the EV is an effective drop-in replacement for the overall UK vehicle fleet.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Milk float. Mail float?

      Good point about milk floats. They seemed to have worked for milk deliveries, wonder why they didn't catch on for mail?

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Milk float. Mail float?

        Speed. Milk float type vehicles work in calm uncluttered suburbia or 1960s roads where maybe one in ten households had a car. Nowadays a vehicle that can do max 15 miles/hour is a danger on the road.

  20. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    I don't want anything delivered by Royal Mail. It's just bills and debt collectors.

  21. JohnMurray

    All very interesting.

    Now, about the road outside.

    Terraced houses, with around 1.5 cars per house. No off-road parking. I'm sure the picture is familiar.

    Try charging your car with a footpath in-between the house and car. Try charging it from the on-road charger, which won't get installed anytime soon, because the local substation cannot handle the extra load. Never mind balancing the load...

  22. dochego

    Meanwhile in Germany...

    Deutsche Post is building their own electric vehicles, becoming the largest electric light utility vehicle manufacturer in Europe. http://www.dpdhl.com/en/media_relations/specials/e-mobility.html

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meanwhile in Germany...

      Deutsche Post is building their own electric vehicles, becoming the largest electric light utility vehicle manufacturer in Europe.

      Maybe they should have stuck to sorting out the systems to deliver KFC's chicken, instead of dicking around making their own vehicles, particularly given that Germany has an embarrassment of vehicle makers?

  23. codejunky Silver badge

    Ha

    So electricity prices are increasing more and more as we are forced into 'green' energy that doesnt work nor competitive in price. This is against oil which thanks to technological breakthroughs has brought OPEC down a few pegs by tanking the price. Granted the politicos are insisting on adding more and more tax to petrol/diesel and yet the contest is not there.

    Our reserve power supply is low, if we are not willing to produce what we need then trying to increase the use of electricity when we have better options is just crazy.

  24. Paul Nothard

    And I thought this site was inhabited by engineering types who relished solving complicated problems... but no, it seems that we like to bitch and moan as much as your typical Daily Hate reader.

    Go stand in the corner and have a long hard think about yourselves.

    Then come back and help solve these problems about power and suchlike.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Then come back and help solve these problems about power and suchlike.

      The right way to solve them is by choosing the right technology, not pressing ahead with the wrong one. We have an excellent existing infrastructure for distributing liquid fuel, and which could be used with alcohol or similar. That could be made from renewable sources + waste, and is easily taxed for road use (unlike electricity). That's what governments should be spending their R&D money on. Plug-in rechargeable is a niche market for 2nd or 3rd cars, and will remain so, at least until it's taxed the same as other fuels when it will vanish (again) due to the impracticalities.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "Plug-in rechargeable is a niche market for 2nd or 3rd cars, and will remain so,"

        Ahhhh.

        So it's a policy designed to make life easier for the Au Pairs of Conservative MP's and their party backers?

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Then come back and help solve these problems about power and suchlike.

      I did.

      Got 3 down votes for my trouble.

    3. Jemma Silver badge

      The solutions to these problems are easy, most of them have already been listed. That isn't the point.

      The point is there is NO sensible reason why we need to build a WHOLE infrastructure basically from scratch across practically every single country on the planet - at massive cost in both greenhouse gasses and money (what you think charging stations made of concrete are green - wake up and smell the co2 (concrete produces it as it sets and for YEARS later)) when we already have a system in place and all we have to do swap in a new production system (solar reactors) to a fully installed and operational distribution system to vehicles that are capable of using it with better performance variables across every possible field - including (when someone takes those TFSI petrols out the back and shoots them) pollution.

      Make a standard for a transmission/engine interface plate system so I can go get a nice modern diesel and pop it into an Austin 1800 when the E series finally pops its clogs. Or better the 2200 110hp replaced by a 1600 HDI no waste, less pollution, better economy. Tatra did it for at least 40 years and may still be doing it - they'd upgrade cars that came for repairs by pulling old parts, popping them on the line and replacing the bits as if it was a new build - voila T2-603 from a T603 in about 20 components - instead of a whole car.

      Make internals easily replaceable and then you can make bodyshells that last alot longer - because unlike the Trabant you can upgrade internals so much easier you can keep a bodyshell for 40 years that (for example) started with an 65hp 4 spd A-Series lump and now is happily running a 6 speed & Ecoboost with twice the power (or even a little Hyundai 3 banger diesel) , and still looks good.

      Adjust body manufacture so like the old Triumph Herald the panels are bolt on and off - easier repairs and replacements for wear or for new styling updates. Include/exclude lighting units so upgrading from halogen to LED is easier or harder depending on skill. Give certain panels smart capabilities - bonnet edge sensors for ice, a Bluetooth transceiver for locating the vehicle, biometric locks (hell, a friend put a pin lock on his own car as a college project 20 years ago)

      But no, it all has to be "electric and green and new"

      I've some news

      Batteries predate even the earliest ICE and actually set the first speed records. Not new.

      RWD has been around since year dot (Tesla 3) and is less efficient and more dangerous than FWD. Not new.

      Putting the displays out of the line of sight (Tesla) is so far beyond stupid even US car companies stopped that before the 1920s. Not new (but really dangerous)

      Electric motors - again with predating ICE engines. Not new.

      Getting electric from NG/lignite/Coal - CVN plants - not green. Not new either.

      In short we have two options in the context of this discussion. Artificially manufactured petrol/diesel: or electric.

      In one we have to make ONE single change in order for it to work. And it'll get its raw materials from the pollution already present.

      In the other we have to basically build the whole lot out from scratch, retrofit existing systems and arguably retrain people. Causing more pollution, wasted resources, time and usually half assed solutions.

      I'm going with ICE with hopefully some of the tech I've listed above, even my 93 year old grandmother could figure the sensible answer.

      What part of this confuses you, I'd honestly like to know.

  25. FlossyThePig

    Points to ponder

    How much electricity does it take to produce a litre of petrol?

    Do you always have to charge an EV from empty to full, rather than just top it up?

    When will there be a unified means of public charging (you don't need an app to buy petrol)?

    Why do people consider EVs in the same way as an ICE vehicle?

    ...

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Points to ponder

      How much electricity does it take to produce a litre of petrol?

      Hard to say. It takes around 1 - 1.5 kWh of energy to refine a litre of petrol, but much of that comes from the raw crude. How much energy do you need to use to charge a battery to get the 10kWh equivalent to 1 litre of petrol?

      Do you always have to charge an EV from empty to full, rather than just top it up?

      Makes no difference, the average energy use over a year is all that matters. With 25m vehicles it averages out no matter of you do a full charge once a week, or a top-up every night. Your neighbours will have different patterns, the average will end up the same.

      When will there be a unified means of public charging (you don't need an app to buy petrol)?

      If/When there is enough demand.

      Why do people consider EVs in the same way as an ICE vehicle

      Because they want to use them in the same way? Seriously, though, there's no standard way to use an ICE vehicl.. I do 50km/day commute, with 300km once or twice a month, and 4000km once or twice a year. That's not something that would work for an EV, but isn't necessarily a "standard" pattern.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Points to ponder

        "I do 50km/day commute, with 300km once or twice a month, and 4000km once or twice a year. That's not something that would work for an EV, but isn't necessarily a "standard" pattern."

        300km "occasionall"y is a good argument for easier vehicle hire when you need to do that (or a drop in range extender on an EV)

        Having a specific vehicle as a daily driver _just_ so you can do a 4000km trip a couple of times a year comes under several shades of silly.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Points to ponder

          300km "occasionall"y is a good argument for easier vehicle hire when you need to do that (or a drop in range extender on an EV)

          But who is going to make or hire them if 90% of the fleet is electric? It's an argument that only works as long as EVs are a niche market, and it still requires a parallel distibution system for liquid fuel for the long-distance vehicles.

          Having a specific vehicle as a daily driver _just_ so you can do a 4000km trip a couple of times a year comes under several shades of silly.

          Yes, I'd love to have a stable of cars at my disposal so I could choose the right one each day, but I can't afford that, nor do I have space to keep them, so I need one that is a compromise for al my needs.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Points to ponder

        "Hard to say. It takes around 1 - 1.5 kWh of energy to refine a litre of petrol, but much of that comes from the raw crude. "

        What do you mean by "much of that comes from the raw crude"? A study in the US by the Argonne National Laboratory measured 7.46kWh of electricity needed to refine a US gallon of gasoline. That amount of electricity would push a Chevy Bolt around 34 miles, give or take. A gallon of gasoline embodies about another 32 kWh(t) of energy (100% efficiency) of which an ICE uses about 17% (5.44kWh). That pushes the Bolt another 25 miles for a total of 59 miles. Yes, those numbers are optimistic, but it gives an idea of how efficient a petrol engine would have to be to approach the energy efficiency of an EV. A 300km trip is not a problem in a longer range EV. A 4000km trip is a coast to coast drive across the US. I would expect that you will want to visit the loo a few times a day and gobble down a few meals as well, so charging along the way may not be an issue depending on the route. Choose a hotel with charging and the car will be topped up each morning. It's entirely doable given a few assumptions and should get easier as time goes by and more/bigger DC fast chargers are installed.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Points to ponder

      "When will there be a unified means of public charging (you don't need an app to buy petrol)?"

      I'd much rather pay with cash or a pre-paid card, not an "app".

      I saw that Shell is adding DC fast charging to their forecourts in Britain and Europe in general, but I didn't hear it mentioned that it can be paid for in the junk food shop. I would think that given the markup on items purchased at a petrol station store, they would want to encourage everybody to go inside and make a couple of impulse purchases rather than being able to complete their entire transaction at the charger/pump.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well I'm shocked....

    ....I thought electric vehicles were polution free magic that ran on electricity produced by fairies and the dreams of small children, don't tell me it isn't so.

  27. pci

    No second hand market? Where did I get my 2yo Renault Zoe for £6k then?

    1. Jemma Silver badge

      Arthur Daleys EV Emporium?

      I've tested one of those - I don't know what creature it was designed for ergonomically but it wasn't humans.

      It's the weirdest driving position I've ever seen - I'm 5"11 and I was peering through the steering wheel - I sat in an Alfa Romeo concept car from the 1950s once and that was safe and comfortable by comparison. When someone says that you know there's issues.

      Unless it's someone trying to cull down the electric car types by having them stove their face in every time they do an emergency stop..

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      There is BARELY a second hand market. Sure individual second hand EVs are out there, but not in the sort of quantities the Royal Mail would be working with

  28. Dwarf Silver badge

    Upselling with language

    Royal Mail contemplated switching all its petrol guzzlers to an available electric alternative.

    Amazing how a bit of glossing over things makes all the difference.

    The vehicles will still consume their fuel, however they are powered, so they will guzzle electricity in a similar manner to any other fuel and of course petrol and diesel is "Available" too, so you could easily write

    "Royal Mail contemplated switching all its electricity guzzlers to an available alternative.", where Petrol or Diesel is clearly available at any forecourt.

    Its nice to see that the cost of generating the fuel and getting it to its destination is missed off.

    I don't expect electric cars to be accessible to the vast majority until little things like how they will be used for those who live in communal areas will be resolved. How for example would you go about getting an electric station outside your house / flat etc and not stop someone else parking there - given that parking space is already a premium in the majority of housing developments. Imagine the new set of interesting arguments between neighbours that it could create when someone else buys an electric car and there is more contention for their use overnight

    How will street after street of cars be powered without having cables all over the pavements and into the roads causing a bunch of different problems. Given the issues around battery safety, then how many cars will have problems with their battery packs and burn up - taking an endless succession of similarly fuelled cars along the street with them ??

    What creative methods will the local yoof come up with to stop cars charging or making them spark.

    Given that people drive away with filling station pipes still connected and they only fill up infrequently, how many more cars will be driving around with wires hanging off of them and what will that do to the charge point or the car in terms of short circuits or similar ??

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Upselling with language

      If you are living in a flat without off-street parking, you may be screwed. There are chargers being fitted to lamp posts that will help some people. Shopping at centres with EV charging might be a priority and getting your place of work to fit some basic chargers (not fast chargers) might work. As a last resort, hooking up to a DC fast charger once a week for a half hour or so might be what it takes.

      I don't think I've seen instances of non-wrecked EV bursting into flames while charging. Cheap Chinese "hoover boards", yes, but not EVs.

      You don't see dangling power cords trailing alongside EVs due to their being an interlock that doesn't allow the car to be driven if it's plugged in. If you shut the power to the socket off and didn't disconnect the cord you could drive off, but a new version of stupid comes out faster than ways to prevent it. Kinda like the flu and flu shots.

  29. SarkyGit

    The solution is clear

    The service station infrastructure is in place, they already stock what we need.

    So you'll be driving along in your electric motor and the wee light will flash saying "Low Battery".

    Easy, roll into your nearest friendly local service station "Two Thousand triple A's and a rank sandwich please mate"

    Sorted, surely this would be the most realistic situation, not triple A's of course, a standard sized battery.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: The solution is clear

      It's called battery swap and it's being rolled, albeit, slowly.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: The solution is clear

      Easy, roll into your nearest friendly local service station "Two Thousand triple A's and a rank sandwich please mate"

      Sorted, surely this would be the most realistic situation, not triple A's of course, a standard sized battery.

      Until you calculate the grid connection such a service station would need in order to keep that stock of batteries on hand, and charged. Then it become smuch less feasible, especially in urban areas.

      A flow battery might work, where you just pump in/out some new electrolyte.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: The solution is clear

        "A flow battery might work, where you just pump in/out some new electrolyte."

        Flow batteries need a big breakthrough. The current power density is far too low to compete with Li batteries. If it does get really good it will be a perfect replacement for petroleum fuels.

  30. Alan Brown Silver badge

    London power meltdown

    The EV problem isn't just Royal Mail in London. Lots of stuff has had to be moved outside the M25 due to lack of power availability.

    The overload problem in London is severe and ongoing, as is the lack of maintenance - those exploding footpaths that happen every so often are power cables letting go due to sustained overload.

    As for vehicles: Forget Tesla. There are a few (very few) electric vans (Nissan have the NV2000, PSA have a couple, etc etc) and there's no secondhand market for those because their owners are hanging onto them for grim death due to the low operating costs.

    Any comments about dearth of range of vehicle types misses the point that outfits like RoyalMail tend to run tens of thousands of identical types and given the type of use these vehicles get, there's likely to be a lot of potential for pollution reduction in an EV with a very small 1-2kW "range extender" hybrid engine (or even something like a 1-5MW local generator their EVs can plug into at the depot instead of relying on National Grid.

    All the hoopla is on passenger vehicles - precisely because they're a low demand environment - but the real gains to be had are in vans and light commercials.

    Comments about fuel tax are germane: The UK government currently gets more than £65billion from excise duty and various taxes from road fuel and spends less than 1/4 of it back on roads. It won't give up that income without a fight. You can expect homecharging to stay exempt under the excise equivalent exemption of "2000 litres of road fuel per year per premises" for non-commercial production but expect to start seeing excise costs on roadside charging stations soon.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: London power meltdown

      You can expect homecharging to stay exempt under the excise equivalent exemption of "2000 litres of road fuel per year per premises" for non-commercial production but expect to start seeing excise costs on roadside charging stations soon.

      Nope. DfT are in love with the idea of road pricing. There will be no new "fuel duty" on charging, when they can make more money by road charging, and done properly (for them) they can ramp the costs up for congested roads and avoid investing in capacity. Just like the congestion charge in London cleared the roads of the poor, for the relative benefit of wealthy middle class and rich drivers, road charging will be the same. Vauxhall(e) drivers will be cleansed from the M25 to make it clear for BMW X5e drivers.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: London power meltdown

        "DfT are in love with the idea of road pricing."

        There are two issues at play there

        - firstly that it's been done before in the UK and didn't work (turnpikes)

        - secondly, anything which discourages road use by light vehicles is going to expose just how heavily subsidised HGVs really are.

        The average 40 ton HGV does around 50-100,000 times the road damage in one pass as a single car but only pays about 10-50 times the usage fee.

        This is catching local authorities out worldwide when they encourage use of busses over cars, but then find out the hard way that a bus carrying 40 people does 5-10,000 times the road damage of 40 individual cars. A heavy push into public transit using busses frequently goes hand in hand with a sharp increase in roading maintenance requirements despite reduced traffic levels.

  31. DCFusor Silver badge

    I charge with solar

    I could have wished for a Tesla, but I own a more-practical Chevy Volt, and I charge it off my solar system, which has no trouble doing that here in SW Virginia. If I don't have enough electricity, I can use the gasoline engine and that gets right on 40 mpg, while still being pretty sporty (though not a Tesla or a Camaro, it's fine). Now, I don't have a long commute - my driving is largely just errands. But my lifetime mileage since getting this car in 2011 - is 242 mpg. It's never been charged from the grid since I bought it.

    Now, this likely wouldn't work for a huge outfit that drives them flat every day - my solar array is pretty big, nearly 500 sq feet (Jellied Eel is wrong about irradiance - it's a kw/sq meter in orbit, on the surface it's half that, roughly, on a clear day). For a big outfit like mail, the sq feet of panels would be prohibitive. But for a private user - not so bad, and I can use the car as additional battery capacity for my main home/campus system - we solarites have a big issue with "famine or flood" - we often get far more energy than we can store, but then there's also February. Having added an AC inverter in the Volt to let it charge my house lets me also use it as a generator that can take itself to the gas station....or just get over minor humps in supply and demand that all off-grid setups have.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I charge with solar

      I own a more-practical Chevy Volt, and I charge it off my solar system, which has no trouble doing that here in SW Virginia.

      Very helpful. You're at 36.5 degrees north, this story (and website) are mainly about 51.5 degrees north.

      The sun shines here as frequently as a US president utters a truthful word.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting & relevant Reg lecture about vehicle battery tech which hasn't had many views...

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/01/18/what_will_drive_our_cars_when_the_combustion_engine_dies/

    https://youtu.be/J-eWVMgGi2A

  33. Wells

    A strong case can be made that plug-in hybrids have more potential to reduce overall fuel/energy consumption than all-battery EVs like the Nissan Leaf or the Tesla. The greater problem with automobiles is their shear numbers and traffic congestion, the impacts car-dependency has on other modes of travel - walking, mass transit and bicycling, and upon the sort of economic development that does not rely on excessive long-distance travel and transport. The Tesla battery pack has 15x the capacity of the Prius plug-in hybrid. When all EVs are matched to household electricity and rooftop PV solar arrays become commonplace, PHEVs more readily complement regional utility grids, reduce the cost of rooftop solar, and offer households the means to more closely monitor all electricity consumption with the choice for household uses or for driving, whereby more driving trips shorten and become possible without having to drive. Some years back, the LA Times published an article titled "The 500 mpg Solution" to infer that plug-in hybrids have more potential than all-battery EVs.

  34. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Mount Pleasant

    That's a good place to have an electric vehicle hub, because most of the roads leading from there are downhill. No need for power, just give each van a push to send it on its way in the morning.

    Getting them back at the end of the day? Er, I guess that could be a problem. Just don't be the last drop of the day where your parcels are delivered along with a polite "Do you mind if I charge my van here?"

    Thinking about it though, decentralising the charging operation could be a way to solve the meltdown problem. Have each vehicle charge at the far extremity of its run.

    (168 Comments TL;DR: apologies if someone has already mentioned this idea).

    1. rh587 Bronze badge

      Re: Mount Pleasant

      That's a good place to have an electric vehicle hub, because most of the roads leading from there are downhill. No need for power, just give each van a push to send it on its way in the morning.

      Getting them back at the end of the day? Er, I guess that could be a problem. Just don't be the last drop of the day where your parcels are delivered along with a polite "Do you mind if I charge my van here?"

      Not at all. They'll weigh more when heavily laden, and generate more power than they need to haul themselves back up empty, just like this mining truck which generates a 200kwh surplus each day.

      Yes, I'm being a bit facetious. That's a quirk of a very specific location where the quarry is uphill from where they need the material. But still, it perhaps flags up the importance of route-planning and if you can go flat/downhill whilst heavy, and go uphill at the end of a route then that's going to offer efficiency savings (all else being equal).

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Gimp

    Chickens coming home to roost

    Guess it's liquid bio-fuels then.

    People never considered the logistics of things before trumpeting and marching.

    It's use it or lose it for dynamic energy. We have centuries of snail mail to go so we should exploit dynamic over fossil energy where we can.

    So what is a Letter's energy foot print be then ? Snail-Mail versus eMail ?

    don't forget the land area for solar panels or bio-fuel.

    Your Christmas postcard could be killing us, unless we all used it.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      People never considered the logistics of things before trumpeting and marching.

      True.

      And they don't like the answers when someone does and disagrees with them.

      The UK has a very well developed infrastructure for distributing liquid fuels. They are easy and quick to load.

      Seems like a pretty f**king big hint to me that something along those lines (that's easy to make, or better yet, extract) would be the way to go.

      Apparently not judging by the down votes I've had.

  36. Martijn Otto

    Suitable alternatives

    Suitable alternatives are already available. One such alternative is ammonia. Ammonia can be used as an easy and safe fuel by using a catalyst that splits up the ammonia into water and hydrogen (which can then be burned).

    What makes ammonia such a good alternative you might say? There are a few reasons.

    1. It can be easily manufactured, it only takes water and energy to create it.

    2. Emissions from an ammonia car are only water vapor and nitrogen.

    3. Energy density is good (half that of gasoline).

    4. Conversion kits are available for about $1000

    5. Cars can be easily made dual-fuel, so one could still burn gasoline when in necessary

    Ammonia cars don't produce dangerous emissions (you could run it in your living room without any problems), they have good mileage given the high energy density, allow fast refueling and still allow you to take the car to places where you don't have ammonia available - so it doesn't limit you in any way. It's cheap to convert a car - so it's viable to people besides Elon Musk.

    In addition, if ammonia cars are taken up, we could use the fuel manufacturing for buffering renewable energy. Say the wind is blowing very hard or the sun is shining brightly we could up the manufacture to absorb this energy instead of offloading it for sometimes negative amounts.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Suitable alternatives

      1. It can be easily manufactured, it only takes water and energy to create it.

      Lots of energy, like, lots and lots and lots of energy. It's not exactly an efficient process. If at all possible storing the energy directly as electricity in a bettery and using it to drive an electric motor is much more efficient.

      2. Emissions from an ammonia car are only water vapor and nitrogen.

      Unless ammonia gets spilled. Then things can get nasty. Ammonia is fairly mild as irritants go but i'd still like to have to encounter 40 liters of spilled ammonia after a crash. Spilled gas stinks a bit, spilled ammonia will quickly stop you breathing.

      3. Energy density is good (half that of gasoline).

      In other words Energy density isn't that great.

      Like many of the proposed alternatives to gas, ammonia has a few rather big drawbacks and risks attached to it. I see it as having more potential than hydrogen, but that's not saying much.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Suitable alternatives

      Ammonia is a great swap on a farm. It can be used as a fuel for tractors, dryers and other machinery and it's used a lot as a fertilizer. I saw a study that showed it was financially more attractive to use a large wind turbine in conjunction with a Haber-Bosch process plant (in a shipping container) to generate Ammonia rather than putting the power from the turbine on the grid. If the Ammonia tank were to fill up, the excess power could be exported, but getting a bigger tank might have a better return.

      In the US, the middle of the country has a big Ammonia pipeline and a significant portion of generated power is used in making Ammonia. Installing a large wind turbine and a plant where the ammonia can be injected into the system could be a great business venture.

  37. Long John Baldrick

    Not an EE - be kind

    I have thought for a while that a serial electric minivan with a small battery pack(enought for 10km) would be good compromise for mail/package deliveries. Is this possible to do or is it just so incredibly un-sexy that it wouldn't sell?

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Not an EE - be kind

      A Nissan eNV200 van might be a close fit. The 2019 model is supposed to be fitted with a 60kWhish battery pack, but a special Post version with the older 24kWh pack might be a good fit. The current model has a 40kWh pack in some countries. That would give 3 options to choose from to fit the route(s) the van is being purchased for. Save a little money and get better mileage by not having too large of a battery pack. A 60kWh van could also be fitted with a V2V system to rescue vans that were driven over their range.

  38. John Robson Silver badge

    When did...

    “We can’t do it all at once so we’ll do nothing” become a sane argument?

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: When did...

      When hasn't it?

      (I agree it's not sane at all, but is has been a common problem since men rode dinosaurs. :)

  39. herman Silver badge

    Electric milk float comeback

    Until 40 years ago, electric milk floats were very common in the UK.

    "...doing things we used to do - they think are new..."

    --- Sir Micky

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Electric milk float comeback

      They even used to deliver stuff to lots of houses on a street... wonder why they never managed to combine operations with Royal Mail?

  40. ecofeco Silver badge

    I see the anti-electric brigade have shown up

    You anti-electric folk either need to try and keep up with the times or admit you have no clue how Google works.

    Solar has mostly reached cost parity with all other forms of electric generation. It depends on the country you live in. Electric vehicles DO NOT suffer performance issues under normal, load, i.e. no matter how cold it gets or how much accessories you use. (polar conditions are irrelevant. ALL equip struggles under polar conditions) If you have owned one and it did, then you need to take it back to the dealer and have it fixed, like any other new car that doesn't run right from the factory. That's NOT an engineering issue, it's a factory QC issue.

    Electric vehicles pollute less than ICE vehicle. Period. Under any contrived scenario. Stating that old canard about power plants and materials or subsidies makes you look stupid and was debunked years ago.

    The two best ideas already posted where to put solar and wind on the roof and try to get as much of the fleet converted as possible. It does not have to be all 49,000 nor does it have to be all at once.

    I am continually amazed that some usually very bright people here are thick as bricks when it comes to solar, wind and electric cars.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: I see the anti-electric brigade have shown up

      I am continually amazed that some usually very bright people here are thick as bricks when it comes to solar, wind and electric cars.

      And I'm continually amazed how may people think that they can rewrite the laws of physics just by waving their hands around. It's perpetual motion all over again, and it still doesn't work.

    2. AdiDaddi80

      Re: I see the anti-electric brigade have shown up

      I created TheReg account purely to say: Finally, thank you ecofeco, I couldn't have worded this better myself!

      I have to say, I am really disappointed by the extremely poor knowledge among this community...you guys are supposed to be technical experts, geeks and pros...I will give you a useful tip: Daily papers are not a good source material.

    3. Jemma Silver badge

      Re: I see the anti-electric brigade have shown up

      Solar has mostly reached cost parity with all other forms of electric generation. It depends on the country you live in.

      No it hasn't - the only parity it's reached is the amount of subsidies it's taken even to get to this point. (my parents have highly subsidised solar, and I have a small system)

      Electric vehicles DO NOT suffer performance issues under normal, load, i.e. no matter how cold it gets or how much accessories you use. (polar conditions are irrelevant.

      Bollocks. They don't suffer from cold performance issues because when it gets cold the batteries automatically transfer some of the power to a battery heating system - mainly so sub average cretins like you don't notice an issue. Every battery chemistry hates the cold (especially nimh & li-ion under 0c). The old milk floats used to use something like 30% more power in the cold cos of motor & lubricant drag and cold miserable batteries, lead acid like to be a toasty 35-60c

      ALL equip struggles under polar conditions) If you have owned one and it did, then you need to take it back to the dealer and have it fixed, like any other new car that doesn't run right from the factory. That's NOT an engineering issue, it's a factory QC issue.

      Electric vehicles pollute less than ICE vehicle. Period. Under any contrived scenario. Stating that old canard about power plants and materials or subsidies makes you look stupid and was debunked years ago.

      If I run a skyactiv motor on petrol I pollute depending on what the engine does with that petrol.

      If I have a Muskkretinwagon and I run it off solar then all the pollution comes from the build of the solar panels system in its entirety & that's it.

      However if I have a Muskkretinwagon and I'm charging from mains electric generated by a bunch of lignite fuelled generating stations (ie Germany until fairly recently) I'm polluting from the lignite, from the production and transportation of my new Muskkretinwagon, and in your case from being a brainless waste of air who is producing much more co2 than is worthwhile for any use you might be to the human race in general.

      You feed a car dirty generation you have a dirtier vehicle than a conventional ICE car. That's fact.

      The two best ideas already posted where to put solar and wind on the roof and try to get as much of the fleet converted as possible. It does not have to be all 49,000 nor does it have to be all at once.

      And you made my point - if slathering the planet in solar panels and wasting limited resources scrapping every single vehicle was the best way then yes, go ahead. It's not.

      There are factories in Indonesia still using steam engines for power that were built in the 1870s (one was actually sold new to a relative of mine) and they're in perfect condition, better than factory - running on high quality smokeless coal (when available). The point you are missing is pollution over the lifetime of a product. If a steam engine has run almost continuously for 147 years how many replacements has it out lived. If a Wolseley 18/85 has been going since 1970 and the average ownership of a new car is 3 years, that's 15 and a bit cars that weren't built because someone was using that instead of buying some euro box that'd be terminally ill by age 11. Everything has an ecological cost (even solar panels) - the longer you use it and the more you upgrade and modify it as the years pass, the more the cost is amortised.

      I am continually amazed that some usually very bright people here are thick as bricks when it comes to solar, wind and electric cars.

      Yeah me too. If'n you want a great example, go look in a mirror.

  41. Terry 6 Silver badge

    STEM question

    Not coming from a STEM background I don't see any of the commentards who are, so far, answering what to me are the key questions;

    1.) Is the energy efficiency of generating, transmitting and using electricity to power vehicles greater or less than that of transporting, carrying then combusting petroleum in a car cylinder? Maybe also factoring in the energy costs of battery weight versus (median?) weight of fuel in the tank and battery production/disposal if that makes a significant difference.

    2.) Is the environmental effect of generating electricity <> the effect of transporting and burning petrol, factoring in the relative fuel efficiency etc in point 1.

    3.) Are there local environmental effects of ICE that add weight to the value of using electrical vehicles in some locations sufficient to justify changing, even if the net result may not be significantly advantageous.

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: STEM question

      IMHO the conversion of energy into electricity is a universal common denominator, not necessarily the most efficient way to do things, but arguably the most pervasive. The reason is that it is easier to handle than many other types of fuel. The method of transmitting electricity from one place to another can be made more cost-effective by converting from one form of electricity to another. AC electricity has advantages in some cases, DC has advantages in others. Similarly high voltage is preferable in some applications, low voltages in others. A typical application where both DC and AC is used is for rail transport systems. Here is a link discussing this:-

      http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/rolling-stock/traction-choices-overhead-ac-vs-third-rail-dc.html

      As consumers it is important that our household appliances do not need to be changed every time the generating company switches from one fuel to another. Who remembers the upheaval when British Gas moved from coal gas to north sea gas? See Changeover to natural gas in this link:-

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_gas

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: STEM question

      "1.) Is the energy efficiency of generating, transmitting and using electricity to power vehicles greater or less than that of transporting, carrying then combusting petroleum in a car cylinder?"

      Generally, yes. An internal combustion engine is limited to below 50% efficiency by the laws of thermodynamics, and you can only get anywhere near the limit under very favourable conditions; in practice the average car is lucky to manage 20%. On the other hand, there are real, operating thermal power stations with efficiency over 60%. Even once you take into account transmission and storage losses, it's more efficient to have a big power station that can take advantage of favourable thermodynamics than to burn petrol in lots of small ones.

      More importantly, efficiency isn't actually all that relevant, because it's almost impossible to compare like with like. A coal power station is much less thermally efficient than a gas one, but you can't burn coal in either a gas power station or your car. If coal is a good source of energy, then it doesn't matter how efficient you are at extracting it because your only choices are to burn it or not use it at all. At the other end, renewables like hydro and solar power can have close to infinite efficiency since the only major cost is the energy used in construction which a long enough lifespan can make negligible. As an extreme example, if we discovered some magic sci-fi source of unlimited free energy (imagine the usual vacuum energy or other dimensions or whatever), then even if we could only extract it with incredibly poor, <1% efficiency, it would still likely be better than all our current options. Merely looking at efficiency doesn't necessarily tell you all that much.

      "2.) Is the environmental effect of generating electricity <> the effect of transporting and burning petrol"

      It depends entirely on how you generate that electricity and what environmental factors you look at (or care about). Coal is generally pretty terrible environmentally, but at least it allows you to have a few centralised pollution sources that can be positioned away from population centres and potentially be dealt with locally (things like filtering and carbon capture, for example). Cars, on the other hand, necessarily produce their pollution in the exact places where people are breathing, and it's much harder to do anything useful to millions of small exhausts than a few big ones. And that's just when the types of pollution of relatively similar. How do you even go about comparing the effects of NOx production in cities to the effects a hydroelectric dam has on aquatic ecosystems, or potential issues millennia in the future from nuclear power?

      Cars powered by ICEs will always be worse than just about anything else in certain specific ways, simply due to where they are. But comparing the overall environmental impact is very difficult because different methods of generating power cause all kinds of different problems - even burning coal, gas and petrol produce different pollutants.

      "3.) Are there local environmental effects of ICE that add weight to the value of using electrical vehicles in some locations sufficient to justify changing, even if the net result may not be significantly advantageous."

      Yes, very much so, as noted above. The current issues with diesel cars, including potentially banning them from city centres, is entirely down to nitrogen oxides, which are not nice to be inhaling in high concentrations but which disperse fairly quickly in the atmosphere. Smog in general is often a result of cars (both petrol and diesel) hanging about in urban areas - there would be a huge health benefit from removing all those engines, even if you produced much more pollution somewhere else instead.

      But, again as above, it still depends on what you care about more. The local effects of cars tend to be more a problem for immediate human health - breathing in crap isn't particularly good for us. But the major environmental effects of many forms of power generation are much more wide-ranging and less immediately obvious. Global warming is an obvious one that many people still don't believe exists, but things like acid rain and ozone holes are just a couple of the better known and more easily and objectively measurable issues that we've caused recently. Would preventing some people from developing lung problems by using electric cars be worth it if we accidentally messed up some other part of environment in the process? That sort of direct local effect certainly needs considering in thinking about electric cars, but it doesn't really simplify the issue.

      So basically, the answer to your key questions is that it's all extremely complicated, and anyone claiming to actually have an answer is either lying or simply doesn't understand the issue at all. That said, probably the biggest advantage of electric cars is that it doesn't matter where the electricity comes from - once we switch to electric, we're free to work on improving how we generate it all without having to worry about any further disruption. So it's not just a comparison of current cars with current power stations you need, but how they compare to how we might be generating power 10 or 20 years down the line. Of course, guessing how the future might pan out doesn't really help reduced the complication.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: STEM question

        On efficiency.. Like cuddles says, it's complicated. And it's an area where there's a lot of dis or misinformation. IMHO, a true comparison should be like for like, ie the complete cycle. So fuel/energy production, distribution and the vehicles themselves, ie production, servicing and disposal.

        For ICE, it's possibly simpler. Suck oil out of the ground, transport it, refine it, deliver it to pumps. That's relatively effficient as we've found uses for pretty much every fraction of oil, and can use some of the product in the production process, ie refineries generating their own power/heat or a tanker full of diesel running on diesel. Distribution networks exist for ICE, but large-scale distribution networks don't really exist for EVs. So to create a replacement, or equivalent requires massive investments into power generation and distribution. That's part of a cost-of-change argument balancing the cost of going EV vs any benefits from getting rid of ICE.

        Part of the distribution challenge is understanding the electrical version of 'well to pump' flow. There are rough benchmarks for the cost per GW of electricity generation by type.. But they can be a bit disingeneous, ie levelised costs that exclude high cost items. So 1GW of nuclear's a convenient drop-in if it's built at an existing nuclear site. 1GW of wind or solar costs a lot more as it's distributed, and intermittent. So a like-for-like comparison should include <=1GW of CCGT as backup for the renewables. That's often glossed over because people may ask why, if CCGT's much cheaper and dependable, we're wasting money on renewables.

        Then because renewables are unreliable, promoters come up with solutions. Like batteries. So take £120MWh+ renewable energy and store it in £300MWh+ batteries.. And there'll be transmission losses as well as conversion losses for storage. Then people may ask 'Why are we doing this?' when CCGT's £30-40MWh or nuclear at around £90MWh. And it gets even more expensive if you localise it, ie PowerWalls, or trying to use EVs as grid storage.

        And then there's the vehicles themselves. So an ICE might be more complicated, but costs are well understood and there's a healthy service industry flogging everything from spark plugs to LS-swaps. And once the ICE's given up the ghost, it can be melted down to make EV parts. With EV's, that's not so easy, especially the batteries as there's currently no economic way to recycle those.

        So a lot of issues, including trying to quantify any benefits. EV's will reduce NOx emissions, and some particulates, but potentially increase particulates due to EV's weight. And if the argument's based around health, then any benefits from going EV vs costs, especially increased energy poverty.

    3. Mr Blondie

      Re: STEM question

      Hi - I work in STEM and am a researcher in a different field, one of my team was a researcher in this field though.

      1) Yes electric is significantly more energy efficient over the life cycle than petrol. This article covers it in a good easy to read way:

      https://www.autoblog.com/2011/10/14/how-gas-cars-use-more-electricity-to-go-100-miles-than-evs-do/

      2) Yes - It has much lower C02 release and other greenhouse gas, and the mineral extraction 'damage' for the current lithium batteries is within the normal range for mineral extraction (e.g. similar to iron or copper mining, both of which are used in petrol cars). Link to point 1 & point 2 here:

      https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/life-cycle-ev-emissions#.WnWsoqi6-Uk

      https://cleantechnica.com/2016/05/12/lithium-mining-vs-oil-sands-meme-thorough-response/

      3) Yes, ICE cars have been linked to poisoning in traffic, as well as quite major health effects in cities.

      https://wonder.cdc.gov/wonder/prevguid/m0039929/m0039929.asp

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: STEM question

        2) Yes - It has much lower C02 release and other greenhouse gas, and the mineral extraction 'damage' for the current lithium batteries is within the normal range for mineral extraction

        It's an 'O', not a zero. And for lithium batteries, it's one of those out of sight, out of mind. You may get a few celebs including James Hanson protesting mountain top removal for coal mining in the US, but you won't get them outside the US unless a sponsor is paying them. Lithium and rare earth mining is by no means environmentally friendly. If you shift your first world problems to the third world it's all good.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: STEM question

          "Lithium and rare earth mining is by no means environmentally friendly"

          That's fairly fallacious.

          Lithium is extracted from seawater or brine lakes (potash) in the same process that's used to make fertilizers and is fairly clean.

          Rare earth mining is also clean. There's ONE problematic byproduct that's very slightly radioactive - Thorium - and that shouldn't actually BE a problem if you look up what thorium is and what it can be used for (Hint, if it was used correctly, they would be Thorium mines producing rare earths as a byproduct)

          Lithium-ion batteries are 100% recyclable, so there's no excuse for throwing them away.

          There are definitely issues associated with cobalt, but different chemistries don't need it and it can also be extracted from seawater at a slightly higher cost than current methods.

  42. rdhood

    The internal combustion engine is not going anywhere

    The world simply does not have the infrastructure to replace even a small percentage of the world's ICE's, and wont for a very long time.

  43. Sam_B.

    Of course they do have over 11,000 m^2 of roof, so possibly as much as 1.5MW of solar capacity.

  44. HelpfulJohn

    Battery depots. Charging stations with a few score batteries each, so the load is spread across substations. Make the battery packs easily swappable and interchangeable so a vehicle can see it is low, go to a depot and swap out a depleted pack for a charged one.

    Super-fast recharging, spreading the load and the cheapness of mass-production, standardisation and economies of scale.

    It's a pity hot-swap battery packs will never catch on.

  45. Mr Blondie

    Lots of FUD, not many facts or evidence. Here is my 10 cents with evidence.

    Seems to be some fairly low level of knowledge of electric vehicle tech here.. I've given links to info so feel free to challenge the evidence, but if you please do provide evidence as well not just "I heard it and its true" which doesn't really deserve responding to.

    Overall, petrol and diesel use a lot of electricity to produce - 8 KwH per litre, a petrol car uses more electricity overall to go a mile than an electric vehicle (EV).

    https://www.autoblog.com/2011/10/14/how-gas-cars-use-more-electricity-to-go-100-miles-than-evs-do/

    Over the full life of an EV, even if it is charged using electricity made with coal power stations it will create only 50% the CO2 of an internal combustion engine (ICE) car.

    https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/life-cycle-ev-emissions#.WnWsoqi6-Uk

    Electric vehicles can time their charging to be off peak, and when plugged in can actually sell electric to the grid to balance peak demand from 5pm to 6pm as people return home.

    http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2018/02/moixa-and-national-grid-in-landmark-electric-vehicle-study.html

    Electric vehicles are already cheaper to own across the full life cycle than ICE and increasingly so.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/01/electric-cars-already-cheaper-to-own-and-run-than-petrol-or-diesel-study

    Overall, the only problem here is that our grid isn't well designed, it puts lots of power to refineries which will close soon anyway as oil runs out, and not enough to residential and office space areas. It's a one off cost and one that will need doing unless more innovative solutions are created.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Lots of FUD, not many facts or evidence. Here is my 10 cents with evidence.

      "Overall, petrol and diesel use a lot of electricity to produce - 8 KwH per litre, a petrol car uses more electricity overall to go a mile than an electric vehicle (EV)."

      Whoops, the figure (Argonne National Laboratory study) is 7.46kWh per US GALLON, not one liter.

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