Can Biden Learn from the UK's Renewable Failures?
Britain recently announced that electric vehicles (EVs) sales will “jump to 30 million in the next 20 years.” London’s policies to control emissions have begun phasing out the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles. Bloomberg Quint believes that the goal is realistic since the British network operator National Grid Plc’s Electricity System Operator released a report titled, Future Energy Scenario July 2020.
Under current and future electrical grid technologies there is no achievable way this is possible. Additionally, the United Nations and Amnesty International have outlined the abstract horrors involved in mining and bringing to market the trillions of tons of rare earth minerals it would require too achieve British EV goals. Scorched earth strip mining and global environmental degradation would be the norm.
Would a Biden administration support these policies and environmental goals? Based on his official policies and statements from the far-left wing of the U.S. Democratic Party that wants to rid America and the world of fossil fuels and related infrastructure -- such as pipelines and liquid natural gas terminals -- it seems likely that Joe Biden would pursue these energy and transportation policies. But are they realistic? The costs of a new electrical grid, the energy density problem, and energy math indicate the answer is definitively no.
The British, like Biden, have zero understanding that electricity needs three parts for an uninterrupted, reliable electrical supply to occur that could support 30 million EVs: spinning reserve mode, peaking mode, and back-up mode. If any of these variables doesn’t function, the grid will suffer “brown-out,” or worse, a “blackout.”
London endured a total blackout in 2019, and the British grid is fragile from overreliance on chaotically intermittent, environmentally destructive wind turbines and solar panels. The Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Michael Moore released a film in the spring detailing the atrocities from renewables. Add 30 million EVs in the coming decades, and the British grid will implode. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is spending approximately £1.5 billion per year balancing their grid from shutting down.
The best cost estimates to build a modern grid in Britain or America came from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in a 2011 report titled, Estimating the Costs and Benefits of the Smart Grid: A Preliminary Estimate of the Investment Requirements and the Resultant Benefits of a Full Functioning Smart Grid.
The EPRI estimated the cost would be $338 billion to $476 billion. Utility companies would need to invest between $17-24 billion per year to build a smart grid system in the U.S. with all costs passed onto consumers. This estimate didn’t account for climbing electrical rates and costs of incorporating wind, sun, and EVs onto the grid. Because of this, current estimates have the cost of a new grid starting at $5 trillion and climbing, since planning, land-use issues, and construction would take decades.
Surely the cost is greater than the EPRI estimates, or even $5 trillion. Do the British or a Biden administration have answers for these cost estimates? Or Biden’s Climate Plan that will decimate economic growth during a worldwide pandemic?
The other looming storm for the British or a Biden administration to achieve 30 million EVs is the energy density problem. The energy stored per pound and potential energy contained in oil molecules and fossil fuels is typically 1,500% greater pound for pound than other energy sources.
The British National Grid study never took into account total electricity, and higher energy density needed by using more fossil fuels, nuclear, or renewables to achieve fast charging capacity; additional transmission lines would need to be immediately built at existing and future gasoline/EV-charging filling stations.
The current British, American, or any grid in the world does not have the threefold capacity to handle tens of millions of EVs charging at the same time. It’s the math that negates the British plan for 30 million EVs; or Joe Biden’s left-wing Democratic constituency’s dreams of a green future predicated on heavy EV penetration.
The electrical requirements for a typical gasoline filling station, transitioning to an all-electric station “would have to have 30 megawatts of capacity, equivalent to the electricity use of 20,000 homes.” This new all-electric station would then need “600 of those 50kW (kilowatt) chargers for a station to service 2,000 cars in a 12-hour time frame.”
This estimate “would require a (approximately) $24-million investment just for the cheapest rechargers.” If the station is busier, it could need enough electricity to power over 75,000 homes -- “and that’s another (approximately) $30 million. For wind turbines, ten are needed, each costing roughly $4 million.” Those 10 windmills/turbines are only for one charger/former gasoline pump.
British wind farm inefficiencies since “2010 have discarded 8.7 TWh of electricity, this quantity of energy would be sufficient to provide 90% of all Scottish households with electricity for a year.”
All this electrical usage and charging or discarding of unused renewable electricity would likely take place during peak-usage, daylight hours, and unless mandated by law, to charge 30 million EVs at night. Any such Biden administration program would move towards an unsustainable, and national security risk by eliminating fossil fuels.
British and American advocates for this electric future envision decarbonization in which electricity is produced only from renewables. Remember, renewable energy is only renewable electricity, and doesn’t consider the over 6,000 products that come from a barrel of crude oil. Britain and America are following unrealistic policies for electric vehicles and renewables. Neither has the grid -- particularly the British -- to accomplish their carbon-free, transportation goals.