To get to Net Zero is expensive, complex and difficult.
You need – at an affordable price – a secure energy supply able to cope with peak demand on still, cold, damp, overcast English days, the kind of weather for which our country is famous. Capacity, reliability and affordability are essential and cannot be compromised. How will that be delivered? What are the sources of power?
It may be that there are civil servants who think they know but frankly I am absolutely certain that if there were, the Government would be shouting it from the rooftops. So, much more likely is that all established politicians, our entire political class are flying by the seat of their pants and hoping that the electorate won’t notice that this is a massive threat to their household budgets, their standard of living and their quality of life. And anyone like me and other libertarians who have the temerity to ask the difficult questions is shouted down as an uncaring climate denier, intent on destroying the planet. That response is irrational, abusive, messianic zeal worthy of Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition or Putin and the FSB.
Yet this not yet achievable level of load has to be delivered concurrently with ever rising demand for electricity arising from the many Net Zero measures.
Look at transport. The plan involves virtually the entire national fleet of every kind of vehicle becoming an EV. First, there are the vehicles themselves. Vehicle production has to be switched from technology where Europe and Japan have been massively successful world-beaters to one where the US and China are the pioneers. We are scrapping an entire area of competitive success to replace it with one in which, so far at least, we are an ‘also-ran’. And long-distance lorries are even more of a problem with a usage attern totally incompatible with current battery range and charging times? We all learn as toddlers – or should do – that wanting something is not the same as having it, however extreme the trantrum of rage that it is not so?
All these EVs have to be charged. How much infrastructure is required? How much will it cost? Who will pay, already hard-pressed taxpayers? The average new car in the USA sold for $49,507 at the end of last year, but the average electric car sold for $61,448. As of last year, there were about 46,000 charging stations in the country, compared to about 150,000 petrol stations. Second hand EV values do not compare with those of petrol vehicles. Battery scrappage is a big problem as are perfectly good vehicles with a dead battery which is too expensive to replace by comparison with the value of the vehicle. In short there is no proper second hand market, there are massive obstacles to its creation and scrappage is a huge issue both in terms of doing it and sunk value lost.
A recent study by EY/Eurelectric asks whether we can build all the infrastructure essential for all the fully electric cars we are being instructed to buy – (remember the Government telling us to buy diesels!) EY estimates that by 2040 Europe will have 239 million electric vehicles, requiring 140 million chargers. In Britain, we’ll need some 20 million chargers, with 88 per cent of them in homes. With delightful understatement, EY’s Maria Bengtsson, says: “The infrastructure challenges facing the UK’s EV transition are significant.”: challenging indeed!
The opportunity cost is vast. So is the premature scrappage of perfectly serviceable vehicles and infrastructure which in other circumstances would still have many years of useful life. It is difficult to see how this is being forced upon the public in the name of the environment.
Tony Brown – Libertarian Party London Mayoral Candidate