Electric vehicles futile as a solution to 'climate crisis'

The Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory recently released a study titled "Assessment of Light-Duty Plug-in Electric Vehicles in the United States, 2010–2021," which shows that in 2021, privately owned plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs) "saved about 690 million gallons of gasoline."

However, that is a huge exaggeration because fossil fuels provide 61 percent of the electricity in the United States.  This means we have to include the inefficiency of burning coal or natural gas to make electricity (around 45 percent), transmission losses (about 5 percent), and losses in the inverter to charge the battery (another 5 percent).

Considering those losses, less than 33 percent of that apparent savings is a real reduction in fossil fuel use, the equivalent of roughly 230 million gallons of gasoline.

The Argonne study also says that from 2010 to 2021, E.V.s saved 2.1 billion gallons of gas.  So, using the guideline of 61 percent from above, let's be generous and say that over 11 years, E.V.s have saved about a third of that, the equivalent of about 750 million gallons of gasoline.

Although 750 million gallons of gasoline sounds like a huge amount, when you put it into perspective of the larger picture of gasoline use, that savings is actually a drop in the bucket.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), "[i]n 2021, about 134.83 billion gallons (or about 3.21 billion barrels) of finished motor gasoline were consumed in the United States, an average of about 369 million gallons per day (or about 8.80 million barrels per day)."

Using simple arithmetic, dividing those 750 million gallons of gasoline saved from 2010 to 2021, according to the Argonne Lab study, by the daily U.S. consumption of gasoline, we get: 750/369 = 2.03 days.

Let that sink in.  Just two days of U.S gasoline consumption can be attributed to E.V.s over 11 years.

Direct taxpayer subsidies for E.V.s have cost $10 billion to date.  The U.S. government also just approved spending an additional $7.5 billion on E.V. charging stations.

The subsidy math shows: $10 billion + $7.5 billion = $17.5 billion.  Divide that into the 750 million gallons (0.750 billion gallons — BG) reportedly saved based on the Argonne Lab study, and we get 0.750 BG/$17.5 billion = $23.3 per gallon.

The verdict: Thanks to government E.V. subsidies, we're spending $23 for each gallon of gasoline saved.

Who knew government could finagle such a great deal?

Better yet, who is benefiting from this massive waste of taxpayer money?

According to research from the University of California at Berkeley, 90 percent of the tax credits for E.V.s go to America's top income-earners.  A May 2019 Congressional Research Service study found that 78 percent of the tax credit's recipients had an annual adjusted gross income of $100,000 or more.

Yet there's a much larger problem with E.V.s.  We're rapidly running out of both the generation capacity and the electric grid capacity to recharge them.  California can't even keep the lights on some days.  In fact, during the Golden State's last major heat wave, the California Independent System Operator, the agency charged with managing the state's electric grid, sent out a tweet suggesting that electric car owners refrain from charging their electric vehicles during a Flex Alert (4 P.M. to 9 P.M.).

California governor Gavin Newsom's response is to forbid selling gasoline-powered cars after 2035 while hoping there is enough electricity and delivery infrastructure to keep E.V.s on the road.

The Argonne National Laboratory study shows that the growth of electricity consumption for personal electric vehicles (PEV) in the United States over the past decade has grown exponentially.  Today, it is six times higher than in 2011.

According to the EIA, while electricity demand for charging PEVs is increasing by leaps and bounds, electric generation from all sources has remained flat.

This isn't just an American problem.  Due to a lack of electricity, Switzerland recently banned E.V.s from the roads in a bid to reduce energy consumption.

In reality, transitioning to a "net-zero" all-electric economy by 2050 is economically, physically, and politically impossible, as noted in "Bright Green Impossibilities."

The problem with electric vehicles is that they are an extremely expensive solution to a nonexistent problem.  There is plenty of evidence to support that there is no "existential climate crisis."

Unless we stop this irrational war on fossil fuels, energy prices will continue to skyrocket, leaving low-income people shivering in the winter and denying poor countries the resources they need to alleviate poverty.

Anthony Watts (awatts@heartland.org) is a senior fellow for environment and climate at The Heartland Institute.  His research associate, Willis Eshenbach, contributed to this study.

Image: Noya Fields.

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