Monday, February 6, 2012

Electric cars and our crumbling infrastructure

The UK minister for transport was quoted last year as saying "if you don't like the rising price of gas, buy an electric cars". This comment was naïve at best and demonstrated a lack of understanding on two fronts. First, power infrastructures in the developed world are crumbling through neglect. Here in America, in England and in many parts of Europe, the power grids are one disaster away from complete failure. Right now they're supplying households and industries quite well but what happens when people start jumping on board and buying electric cars that get plugged in every night to recharge? Do we really think our power infrastructure can handle this? More to the point, until the manufacturers can agree on a common standard for the charging gear, drivers are faced with the prospect of changing their charging equipment as often as they change cars. Only Tesla have come even slightly close to solving this problem by beginning to install their own charging infrastructure around LA.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, making the comment that high fuel prices can be circumvented by buying electric is nonsense. I can guarantee with 100% certainty that when the power companies see enough people using electric cars, the prices will skyrocket, or you'll have to pay an additional "car charging" fee.
I'm sure electric is the way of things to come but it won't be cheap and it won't be plentiful or reliable for decades to come. And until we come up with an even half coherent energy policy, electric cars are essentially still burning fossil fuels, just all in one place (the power station).

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