There seems to be little understanding of the simple fact that electric vehicles (EV) are, in the main, pollution shifters – from tailpipe to power generation facility (Ban from 2040 on diesel and petrol car sales, 26 July). The electricity generation and transmission system is already tested to its limits during a harsh winter. Only if objections disappeared to the mass building of thousands of the largest wind turbines, plus similar numbers of hectares of photovoltaic solar generation, could the pollution shifters’ argument be refuted. Even then, there would still be need for conventional or nuclear generation for when the sun doesn’t shine and wind doesn’t blow – doubling the capital requirement.
Then there is the transmission system. Its capacity is based on “averaging”. It assumes that not everyone will be using the full load available to their house at the same time. Each EV charging station takes minimum 3.3kW for around 12 hours – or 7.2kW for fast charging. It would be the equivalent of every house having an electric shower in service for many hours, all at the same time. The distribution system is simply not designed to cope with these simultaneous loads. If the government is serious about no new hydrocarbon-fuelled cars after 2040, we would need to start a programme of upgrades or replacement to the entire electricity distribution system.
Backup power stations, particularly nuclear, need a long lead time. I’ve heard nothing which gives me confidence that the government has any understanding of the size of the electricity infrastructure task to support the 2040 target. Even if that understanding exists, is it really feasible that private capital could be sourced to support a project with returns somewhere in the distant future? The Hinkley debacle suggests not. Can we really believe National Grid and the power network companies would or could build a new high-voltage grid, complete with substations, local transformers and upgraded street cables? I’ll believe the government is serious when I hear a plan to build multiple power stations for completion in the 2040s and I see the digger, followed by a huge cable drum, coming down the street.
New Romney, Ken