Reality Checkpoint 2021
News from previous year

We all know that cars break down. Traditional cars are almost always still able to roll; the bare, absolute minimum you can expect from a car, and as such can be pushed out of harm’s way. This isn’t the case with electric cars, though, and this is a problem. There was a recent scary incident with a Tesla on the motorway.

The Tesla owner was driving his Model S P85D, when the car began to beep and warn that he needed to pull over immediately because of a power problem. Immediately after the warning, all controls locked up, and the car came to a halt in the middle of a multi-lane motorway, leaving him no time to steer the car onto the hard shoulder. The car would not budge from this point; it wouldn't go into neutral, the parking brake wouldn’t release. It was no longer a vehicle; just an immobile bit of sculpture blinking its hazard lights in the middle of the road.

The driver managed to escape off the road, and some local Caltrans workers got the car coned off to help direct traffic around it, which was lucky. About 45 minutes later, a tow truck finally arrived. Teslas (and nearly all other EVs) require a flat bed-type tow truck; any old tow truck will not do. The tow driver didn’t get the car rolling; he just pulled it up, with the rear wheels still locked, onto the bed.

It should be a priority for the designers of electric cars to ensure that in the event of a breakdown, the vehicle can be pushed away easily from the danger zone.

28 Dec 21

A recent report by Patricia Adams describes the CCP’s manipulation of international climate agreements and comes to the conclusion that China is using climate policy as a way to strengthen its economy and to weaken that of other countries. For example, at the recent climate summit in Glasgow, an agreement to phase out the use of coal-burning power plants was changed to “phase down”, allowing China unimpeded use of coal. This change allowed COP26 to claim that their new climate deal included China, without requiring that country to sacrifice any of its dependence on the fossil fuels powering its economy.

14 Dec 21

In about a month, Germany will close 3 of its newest nuclear power plants and approximately 4 GW of electricital capacity will disappear from northern Europe’s power grid. 4GW is equivalent to the average electricity consumption of all of Denmark.

It will put German energy security under more pressure, especially doing it in the middle of winter. This is the price of having the scienctifically illiterate in government.

The nuclear power reduction will increase CO2 emissions, but will also increase real pollution from the burning of biomass and fossil fuels. Next winter, Germany will close its last 3 nuclear power plants; another 4 GW.

Anyone who has followed the energy and climate debate over the last 10-20 years can see that Germany, Denmark and other countries following the route of green extremism are doing it against the advice of engineers, physicists and chemists.

12 Dec 21

According to Bloombergs, the EU is thinking about allowing some natural-gas and nuclear energy projects to be classified as 'green', temporarily, in a move to get closer to Net Zero. The EC is wondering whether to call investment in gas plants replacing coal (and emitting no more than 270 grams of CO2/kWh equivalent) 'sustainable'. The intention is to make sure that nuclear and gas get political support. If they don't Europe, will be jeopardising its energy security.

2 Dec 21

If you live in the ULEZ I have been told that if you have a Euro 5 or earlier car you have to pay £25 a day. Not checked it - anyone know? (ND)

...We have an old car and went to London for three days. Cost of return train for two of us from Devon would have been £280, plus taxi from station to hotel and back, probably £20-30. For our car journey, Congestion and ULEZ charges for 3 days £80, parking £40, petrol £50, total £170. (NR)

I don't fancy electric cars yet; models don't have the range or recharge time to meet my needs. I will change my town car for electric when it finally wears out and when I have a charging point. Building a new car is a load of carbon; more than a few miles in an old car, but there's no electric 4x4 that will do the job of my "trips" car and they are very expensive. (MG-R)

..."Guy on AA telling the story of driving his Nissan Leaf to Glasgow from Haslemere. Didn’t make me want to trade in my pushbike for an electric car; very convoluted journey". (MC)

7 Nov 21

Renewable energy activists seem to have scored an own goal with their support for Net Zero carbon dioxide emissions. Nuclear power stations are the only ones capable of delivering electricity on every day of the year without releasing CO2. The recent low windspeeds across Europe have focused attention on the dangers of making energy systems dependent on having the right sort of weather.

The push for pointless decarbonization leads directly to nuclear power. The UK is about to sign deals for 16 small nuclear reactors.

5 Nov 21

The chief executive of BP has said that if the government supports a premature ban on oil and gas drilling in the North Sea it will lead to even higher energy prices. for consumers.

Ministers will increase Britain's reliance on imports if they give way to activists and block all new fossil fuel projects, with no impact on carbon dioxide emissions. Bernard Looney said that if you take away supply but demand does not change, the only thing that happens is prices go up. We therefore need to be careful about prematurely reducing supply.

Energy prices are becoming an increasingly difficult problem for the government as a consequence of its supporting Net Zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. I suspect people think that their energy prices have already gone up enough in recent months and that the vast sums of money to be used in implementing Net Zero could be better spent elsewhere. An unusual lull in wind speeds across Europe recently made Britain even more reliant on fossil fuels, which has raised questions about the UK's energy security.

31 Oct 21

Hydrogen is often suggested as a way of storing wind and solar energy. In appropriate situations this makes sense. However in rural locations the situation is less clear.

Because of its low molecular size, hydrogen is very prone to leakage. The density of hydrogen is also extremely low (sg is about 0.07 compared to water 1.00) which means (approximately) that fuel tanks would need to be 100/7 (=14) times bigger than conventional fuel. This is often not appreciated by those designing energy systems.

I worked on a greenhouse heating system once, based on hydrogen, and we had to abandon it because of the size of the required tanks - they would have had to be solid steel to withstand the immense pressure needed to liquefy the gas and would have occupied about half of the available greenhouse space.

31 Oct 21

It's odd organizing a summit like this when Europe has a looming fuel crisis, President Biden is asking for more oil from OPEC and China continues to build new coal-fired power stations. China built 41GW of coal power in 2020; enough to power the whole of the UK.

The summit’s two main priorities are a pledge to reach “net zero” greenhouse-gas emissions by some future date, and to convince developed countries to pay poor countries to sign up for more CO2 reductions.

PM Boris Johnson will probably make a big emissions pledge. Mr. Biden will say the U.S. is also committed to net zero, but his climate agenda was gutted as it moved through Congress.All that's left are subsidies for green energy. Mr. Xi promised in 2020 to reduce emissions but only after 2030 and he is not attending the summit. China is building more coal-powered plants because growing the economy their top priority. The Kremlin meanwhile waits in the background ready to sell more oil and gas.

Leaders of other big CO2 emitters, such as India, will be in Glasgow but might as well not be. Delhi’s environment minister suggests that his government won’t sign up for net zero. With several hundred million Indians still living in poverty, India needs more energy from fossil fuels. So does Africa.

The climate summit could still do harm with a new focus on private business. There is an intention to force banks and other financial institutions to impose a green agenda when making their lending and investment decisions. The activist conference will devote a day to this subject, and the world’s central banks are already moving to make climate part of their monetary and regulatory decisions. This may affect affect pension fund investments by reducing growth and payouts.

The summit illustrates the disconnect between the unscientific rhetoric over climate and what ordinary people are willing to do. The public are rightly suspicious of additional policies designed to deprive them of more of their money. The activists would do everyone a favor if they stopped pretending they can alter the climate and thought more about adaptation and energy innovation.

27 Oct 21

Most of my trips are about 5-10 miles. Fairly short but when I need to go on a long trip I need to be able to get there unimpeded at a time of my choosing. I am not going to sacrifice that freedom to “save the planet” from a mythical threat.

The internal combustion engine has never been more efficient or clean and there is no sane reason to abandon it. Furthermore, the impractical “clean, green” EVs to come will no doubt be self driving and networked.

These two “advancements” have to be rejected. Why? Because the self-drive aspect will further dumb down and deskill the population; eventually they will no longer be able to drive. If networked it will give the government control of your mobility.

If this occurs, expect “stationary days” where your smart car will not start because it has been commanded by officials to stay put. The possibilities are endless.

14 Oct 21

What deters me from buying an EV: not necessarily in this order;

Price much more than an equivalent diesel or petrol vehicle
Lack of recharging services off main highways
Fast charge 30-60 minutes for only 80% charge
Fast charge reduces battery life
Full charge several hours
Real range far less than published values.
Deduct 50% from real range for travelling fast
Resale value loss on petrol or diesel vehicle if traded in on an EV
Majority of gtid electricity is fossil fuel powered
Nil resale value of EV after about 8 years when it needs a new battery

14 Oct 21

Electricity is one of the least efficient ways to power cars yet these vehicles are being forced onto an unwilling public, as pointed out by a friend in Canada:

If you really intend to adopt electric vehicles, you have to face certain realities. For example, a home charging system for a Tesla needs a 75 amp service*. The average house is equipped with a 100-amp service. On our small street (approximately 25 homes), the electrical infrastructure would be unable to carry more than three houses each with a single Tesla. For even half the homes to have electric vehicles, the system would be completely overloaded.

This is the elephant in the room with electric vehicles. The residential infrastructure cannot bear the load. So as our elected officials promote this nonsense, not only are we being urged to buy these things and replace our reliable, cheap generating systems with expensive, new windmills and solar cells, but we will also have to renovate and pay for our entire delivery system. This latter "investment" will not be revealed until we're so far down this dead end road that it will be impossible to get out of it.

(*note- Canada uses 110V mains. In England the equivalent current is 75 x 110/250 = 33 Amps)

17 Sep 21

General Motors is recalling all Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles to fix a fire risk in its lithium-ion batteries. Ford, BMW and Hyundai have also recalled batteries recently.

Some of the batteries have manufacturing defects which can cause fires. The company will replace all batteries; the recall will cost about $1 billion.

GM said owners should limit charging to 90% of battery capacity. The Bolts should be parked outdoors, not in the garage, until the modules are replaced. Fire risk.

26 Aug 21

If you compare the utility rates of green California (19.93c per unit) to less-green Arizona (11.70 c per unit), it's easy to see that wind and solar are much more expensive than gas and nuclear. The problem is the backup and switching cost, not the raw production cost. Very cheap batteries would help solve the problem for unreliable wind and solar, but currently we are not close. The figures shown are for Jan 2021.

And an update .... California has been aggressively closing down fossil and nuclear plants (and is scheduled to close down the 2GW Diablo nuclear plant in 2024) in the drive for 'clean' energy, whilst forgetting that when reliable power stations cease generating, the Grid capacity falls. Power cuts are now looming, so it is now having to install five 30MW gas-fired plants in an effort to keep the lights on. The Governor declared a state of emergency recently on concerns about power shortages on summer evenings when the sun goes down and solar energy drops. Air quality rules have been temporarily loosened to accommodate the new capacity.

25 Aug 21

For well over a year, there has been hardly any international air traffic. Do we know what effect this had has on global carbon dioxide levels, before we start imposing 'climate levies' on future air travel?

20 Aug 21

The government's climate change adviser, Allegra Stratton, has said that she prefers her VW Golf diesel to an electric vehicle. Her grandchildren live 200-250 miles away, and her present car can do the journey in one step, without any problem. Not so with EVs, which would need one (or more than one) recharging stop.

It's good to hear a person being truthful about the inadequacy of electric vehicles for long trips. Better than finding out after you've bought one.

The British government has set a target of 68% reduction of emissions by 2030 and 78% by 2035. Its goal is for net-zero emissions by 2050. It has announced that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2030, to force motorists into electric vehicles. This is a foolish move; it assumes that carbon dioxide emissions are responsible for driving climate change, a hypothesis for which there is no evidence.

6 Aug 21

    In winter, the Honda E would need about four recharging stops. See earlier post (21 Jan) for details on range..... -Ed

The government is to invest £860 million in flood defence schemes this year, to protect households, businesses and infrastructure from floods. The announcement is being conflated with climate change, presumably to qualify for funding, but the truth is that this is long overdue, as the inhabitants of a number of English towns will testify. It is a step in the right direction.

There will be increased restrictions on building on land prone to flooding. This has been prompted by the unwise granting of planning permission for 866 homes during 2019-20 despite Environment Agency warnings about flood risk.

Last year, the government said it would increase the funding for coastal and flood defences from £2.6 billion to £5.2 billion. The scheme will run until 2027. This year's amount, as stated above, is £860 million. Money will be spent on strengthening river walls and embankments, creating new wetland areas, peatlands and woods, and reducing upstream rainwater flow into rivers at risk of flooding. Towns in Greater Manchester will benefit, along with Hebden Bridge and Weardale (Durham). There will also be funding for sea defences in Lincolnshire.

30 Jul 21

The car industry has spent the last two decades improving beyond expectation (and hitting every government target for cleanliness) diesel and petrol engine technology - 60mpg; virtually zero pollution; great fuel economy. The best private cars we have ever seen. Now those manufacturers are being told that diesel and petrol cars will be phased out beginning in 2030.

This would be the end of the British car industry.

I was pleased to see in this morning's paper a statement by the owner of Vauxhall pointing this out - and saying that introduction of this unnecessary (and inferior, and more expensive) technology is likely to price the ordinary middle-class car driver off the roads. Do we want private mobility to be only for the wealthy?

It seems that this is a foolish scheme devised by an urban mindset; completely inappropriate for those living in rural locations.

13 May 21

The prospect of a new coal mine in Cumbria is opposed by many on environmental grounds. However, it seems to me that those who hold this point of view need to explain why they think so.

In what ways is it more environmentally friendly to import coal for steel production than it is to use coal mined here?

If steel is not made here, it would need to be imported for such things as the constructiion of wind turbines - would that be more environmentally friendly? If coal and steel are thought, by definition, to be environmentally damaging, then if we think wind turbines are necessary, are we not exporting the problems to other lands?

Howard Curnow, Devon.
Methodist Recorder, 26 Feb 21; reproduced by permission.

A friend of mine recently bought an electric car - a Honda E. He reports after driving it for several months that the range in summer was 100 miles; in winter about 50 miles.

Last week he went to Kettering and back, a round journey of 58 miles. The batteries were fully charged (90%; wouldn't go any higher) when he started out. He cruised at about 60mph; it was cold so he put on enough heat to keep warm. On reaching Kettering, the battery was at 37%.

After 12 miles of the return journey it was clear he wasn't going to get home (battery now 14%) without a recharge. He refuelled with a 15m boost at the Motorway Services, for which he paid £10.

He is now selling the car and getting a vehicle with a decent range.

29 Jan 21

Ian Botham has said (13 Jan) that people from the countryside are tired of the Corporation's virtue-signalling presenters. Botham said that the Corporation was doing particularly badly in the countryside; many country people write to him. They dislike how the Corporation increasingly uses its programmes to promote the narrow 'woke' views of its senior staff. In Botham's words: "They say it abuses its power to push these 'urban progressive' ideas as if they were mainstream".

Lord Botham referred to a recent YouGov poll, which found that only 4% of the British public thought that the BBC had improved in terms of representing their values during 2020. 33% had said that the Corporation had become worse. "This is an organization in big trouble. Any business facing numbers like those would take drastic action".

The BBC has faced mounting criticism over its broadcasting approach, particularly its reporting of Brexit in recent weeks.

Botham went on to say that the nation was fed with Brexit threats by the broadcasters - for example, massive congestion of traffic in Kent and Calais. Those threats were about as serious as the millenium bug 20 years ago; all the freight is operating perfectly smoothly.

Botham directed his criticism at the BBC's new boss, Tim Davie. He said that there is a small army of BBC presenters who use their profiles to push their political and social views. "Mr. Davie pledged to put an end to this abuse, but it hasn't totally stopped. Country people have long been tired of this...yet the BBC just mouths empty platitudes... It appears too big to reform".

The reason I've included this: The BBC has had a similar approach to energy policy over recent years. It refuses to give a balanced picture; electric vehicles and wind turbines are good, it seems, irrespective of cost or effectiveness, and climate change mitigation, if such a thing is possible, is more important than maintaining a stable electricity supply. - ...Ed.

16 Jan 21

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