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Letter: “Going electric“ may result in quadrupling of power demands of New Forest

About 35 years ago I was about to investigate the feasibility of designing a microchip to control an electric vehicle but the project was cancelled due to the excessive weight of the batteries.

Battery technology has advanced dramatically, but the battery is just a fuel tank – even if there is a major breakthrough tomorrow, generating and distributing the very large amounts of power needed will still remain the real problem.

We generate only a fraction of our electricity sustainably, so additional power needed for electric vehicles is currently generated by burning fossil fuel. “Going electric“ will result in a considerable increase, perhaps a quadrupling of demand.

Electric cars still powered by National Grid
Electric cars still powered by National Grid

There is a high probability that if a large number of vehicles, particularly heavy vehicles like buses, were put on charge together, the power surge could black out the local area. To avoid this, high power charging points need to be buffered by an accumulator which takes power from the grid at a steady rate. Unfortunately the accumulator will have a finite capacity and may run out at times of high demand.

Until we are able to generate our electricity sustainably, carbon capture the exhaust from any remaining fossil fuel generators and solve the distribution problems, we are simply transferring the carbon from the car to the power station chimney.

Electric cars have many good points, and if they meet your needs buy one, but if you charge it from the grid, don’t think you are helping reduce global warming.

CJ Aldhous

Dibden Purlieu

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I FEEL I must respond to the letter in the ‘A&T’ dated 24th Nov from John Walsh about battery electric vehicles (BEVs), aka electric cars. His seemingly pointless diatribe is misguided and mostly just plain incorrect.

There are a few specific points I would like to correct Mr Walsh on.

Electric cars start from £7,700 new (Citroen Ami) and there are many great second-hand models now becoming available e.g. Renault Zoe for about £3,000.

Battery cost is irrelevant, they will in the vast majority of cases outlast the car. There is a healthy industry built around repurposing car batteries from scrapped cars into battery storage in buildings.

Batteries are heavy but the electric motor is lighter than a combustion engine so BEVs are not massively heavier than ICE (internal combustion engine) cars. The myth about BEVs affecting car parks was made up by someone on a chat show once and has no basis in fact. The comment on potholes being made worse from BEVs is just ridiculous.

BEVs do not need “bigger tyres”.

There have been some overly reported cases of BEV batteries catching alight, just like batteries thrown into the domestic waste can do. This is extremely rare. ICE cars obviously never ever had fires due to them carrying around tanks of highly flammable liquid!

Range anxiety is becoming much less of a problem than it was. Ninety-nine percent of charging is done at the owner’s home, overnight on a cheaper electricity tariff, with no need for any special trips to the petrol station.

With nearly 300 miles range on my BEV I can drive from the New Forest to Brighton or Reading and back without needing to charge away from home. For longer journeys the charging network is getting much better with Gridserve especially installing large numbers of charges at services. All these new chargers just require a wave of a contactless credit card without an app.

The final inaccuracy I would like to correct is around servicing. A BEV has around 20 moving parts compared to an ICE car of c.2000 (evspeedy.com). There is so much less to go wrong, so are much cheaper to service and repair.

I don’t know the motives behind Mr Walsh’s letter, perhaps he just dislikes change.

But BEVs are the future and for many of us the present, and they provide many advantages over ICE cars. They are quieter, so much better to drive (immediate torque anyone?), cheaper to run and ultimately massively better for the environment. And before I hear cries of ‘coal powered power stations’ – I use a 100% renewable energy supplier.

If any of your readers are considering the switch to a BEV then I would wholeheartedly advise them to go for a test drive and take the plunge.

Frank Underhill

Address supplied

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