In a statement of the bleedin’ obvious a Telegraph report today points out that if we, as a nation, want a greater number of ‘greener’ electric cars on the road, then we will need to build more power stations to provide the juice.
The piece is based on a report by the Royal Academy of Engineering. This report assumes an eventual total fleet of electric cars of 30 million. This would increase the demand for electricity by approximately 16%, which is roughly 10 gigawatts (ten billion watts) of extra power on top of the current 70 GW. The report then goes on to quantify that need at a requirement of six new nuclear power stations or 2,000 wind turbines.
Should the extra power be found using fossil fuel power stations then the carbon foot-print reduction would be negligible as any saving at the vehicle exhaust pipe is compensated for by the increased output at the power station chimney.
The way forward the report says is to eventually replace the petrol engine power source with a nuclear, wind or water driven power source. But the changes needed to the national grid to transmit the extra power to where it would be needed would be substantial as we are already running at near full capacity. In the interim we could witness a gradual move towards hybrid vehicles until the full infrastructure was in place.
One point the report omits is that of tax. Much of the HMRC revenue is derived from the fuel that runs our transport system. A move to greener transport would defeat the justification for the tax but not the government’s funding requirements. There are several ways this could go. Firstly a rise in the tax on electricity, but that would hurt domestic and business non transport usage as well. Road pricing using in-car smart technology, possibly based on the EU Galileo satellite project. Increases in vehicle licensing costs. A further move toward ‘congestion charging’, so driving can still be viewed as ‘bad’. Or maybe a combination of all these.
Be in no doubt that even in a carbon free future we still need to raise the tax.