Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Electric vehicles, carbon taxes, supply and demand, virtue signals, and China

If you have not been paying attention, our government has decided that all electric vehicles are the solution to the climate problem. At least as long as they are made in the US with union labor and benefits. California has committed to banning the sale of anything else. In today's post, a few tidbits from my daily WSJ reading on the subject. 

From Holman Jenkins on electric cars:  

If the goal were to reduce emissions, the world would impose a carbon tax. Then what kind of EVs would we get? Not Teslas but hybrids like Toyota’s Prius. “A wheelbarrow full of rare earths and lithium can power either one [battery-powered car] or over 90 hybrids, but, uh, that fact seems to be lost on policymakers,” a California dealer recently emailed me.

[Note: that wheelbarrow of rare earths comes from multiple truckloads of actual rocks. Also see original for links.] 

...The same battery minerals in one Tesla can theoretically supply 37 times as much emissions reduction when distributed over a fleet of Priuses.

This is a shock only to those who weren’t paying attention. It certainly isn’t lost on government. Chris Atkinson, the Ohio State University sustainable transportation guru whose slogan I’ve cited before—“the best use of a battery is in a hybrid”—was a key official in the Obama Energy Department.

Our policies don’t exist to incentivize carbon reduction, they exist to lure affluent Americans to make space in their garages for oversized, luxurious EVs so Tesla can report a profit and so other automakers can rack up smaller losses on the “compliance” vehicles they create in obedience to government mandates.

Actually, I vote GMC's 9,000 lb, 1,000 hp. 0-60 in 3 seconds $110,000 electric Hummer the prize for most conspicuous mis-use of Chinese lithium and its associated carbon emissions.  Tesla's new "cyber truck" comes close. I can't wait to see those driving around Palo Alto. 

Mining the required minerals produces emissions. Keeping the battery charged produces emissions.

Jenkins is a pretty good economist. There is supply and demand:  

Only if a great deal of gasoline-based driving is displaced would there be net reduction in CO2. But who says any gasoline-based driving is being displaced? When government ladles out tax breaks for EVs, when wealthy consumers splurge on a car that burns electrons instead of gasoline, they simply leave more gasoline available for someone else to consume at a lower price.

Stop just a minute and digest this one, if you have not already. If you use less gas, someone else uses more. EV subsidies just shift who uses the gas. The same supply just goes somewhere else. One has to subsidize electrics so much that the price of gas goes down, permanently, so that it's not worth bringing out of the ground. And the price and demand are global. Lower prices encourage Indians and Africans to finally get cheap gas powered cars.  

This may be a secret to you, the public. It’s not to economists.

Well, some economists. Alas my beloved profession is as open to virtue signaling as everyone else so I don't see a loud "stop subsidizing battery only EVs and banning everything else" from economists. 

The problem here is the problem with any plan to subsidize our way to emissions reduction. Humans are perfectly capable of consuming both renewable and dirty energy in ever-growing quantities if the price is right. The emissions data prove as much.

...By incorporating carbon taxes into its tax systems, global society might at least slow the rate of CO2 emissions while simultaneously improving the efficiency of its tax codes. It still seemed unlikely, but it wasn’t clear why. After all, politicians enact plenty of taxes. Governments have been advised for decades to adopt consumption taxes as a way to fund their welfare states without destroying the possibility of growth. 

Cramming a lot into one delicious column, Jenkins wonders at human nature: 

How to explain, along the way, the coevolution of the climate empty gesture with climate rhetoric that increasingly shouts the unfounded claim that climate change threatens human survival? I explain it this way: When it became clear nobody was going to do anything about climate change, it became safe to engage in hysterical rhetoric about climate change....

As David Burge put it (thanks to an anonymous colleague for this delicious tidbit)

"To help poor children, I am going to launch flaming accordions into the Grand Canyon."

"That's stupid."


Climate change is real. Climate change matters. Addressing it is expensive. Other environmental problems clamor for resources too. Europe has stopped growing, and the US is headed the same way. We don't have trillions to waste. 

California as always leads the way on the beau geste: 

... in California, ... drayage trucks, which carry containerized cargo to and from ports and rail centers, face a looming deadline. The state will require any new drayage trucks added to fleets starting next year to run on electric batteries or hydrogen fuel cells. California also plans to phase out sales of new gasoline-powered passenger cars, pickup trucks and SUVs by 2035 and require all new medium- and heavy-duty truck sales be zero-emissions by 2036. 

... Trucks represent 6% of the vehicles on California’s roads, but a quarter of the state’s on-road greenhouse-gas emissions,.... California plans to spend $1.7 billion for medium- and heavy-duty infrastructure for zero-emission vehicles by 2026.

$1.7 billion, for state-provided "infrastructure," on top of the costs to industries... for a benefit of...?  

The central problem: How are they going to recharge those trucks? 

[Truck operators] They position trucks near highways, rail or ports, not available power. As fleets add trucks they may need to draw an additional 6 to 8 megawatts of power or more. 

“That’s about 1,000 homes,” said Steve Powell, chief executive of utility Southern California Edison. “We may need a new substation or something like that and a line to be built.” 

It has not been built, and the truck deadline is now. So what do operators do?  

A mobile charging system in California runs on natural gas. PHOTO: PROLOGIS MOBILITY, from Wall Street Journal

Southern California Edison has come across some fleets powering chargers using diesel that new EV trucks don’t sit unused. 

Another solution: more batteries. 

[Pacific Drayage Services President] Gillis is installing a system of chargers paired with battery storage. It can discharge power to trucks even during times of grid stress. The battery storage itself can recharge at a time of day when electricity prices are the cheapest.

There is an important point here on just how many batteries are needed for the "transition."  Don't just count the batteries in the trucks. Count the batteries in the charging stations too. And the utility. Even California knows that it does no good to electrify and then power the grid with coal and natural gas. The plan is for solar and wind electricity, but that needs utility scale battery backup. A week or more of power. The sources of my last post only added up the batteries needed for the cars. That's too low by many multiples.  

He is also hedging—Gillis tripled his usual order of new diesel trucks from 30 to 100, which will arrive by year-end, just beating the deadline before California phases them out.

I get the idea. Build it and they will come. Put the trucks in place now, so what if at huge cost, and so what if we burn coal to power them. Then when solar and wind and utility scale storage arrive, the users will be there. But trucks don't last that long. By 20 years when all that infrastructure finally has its permits, today's electric trucks will be long gone. 

Covering Kerry's trip to China, a reminder that climate is all about how China and India develop, not which car San Franciscans use to drive up to Tahoe. 

The Climate Action Tracker says that between 2015 and 2022 China’s greenhouse gas emissions increased nearly 12%, while U.S. emissions declined some 5%. China’s methane emissions rose about 3% from 2015 to 2021, the latest year with good data, while the U.S. cut them by 5%.

... China’s “coal production reached record levels in 2022 for the second year running,” and “coal is set to remain the backbone” of China’s energy system. No kidding: Between 2020 and 2022, China added some 113 gigawatts of new coal-fired power plants, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights. The entire world managed to retire some 187 gigawatts of coal plants between 2017 and 2022.

As of January China had some 306 coal-fired power stations proposed, permitted or under construction, according to Global Energy Monitor, a nonprofit that tracks worldwide coal-fired power projects of 30 megawatts or more. When finished those plants would generate some 366 gigawatts, or about 68% of the world’s total coal capacity under development.

As of April China also had 180 new coal mines or mine expansions proposed, permitted or under construction, the nonprofit reported.

In a lovely article  Aatish Taseer reminds us there are 1.3 billion people in India (as well as 1.4 billion in China). It's hot, just like it is in Texas. When they reach middle income, they will want air conditioning, just like in Texas. 

This doesn't make the virtue-signaling tour because there is no easy answer. If China and India don't think they can grow based on solar, wind, and nuclear, just what can we do about it? Send more diplomats? It does not help that the US is now deciding to "disengage" and fight some sort of battle for economic supremacy via industrial policy trade restrictions and tariffs. Even Taiwan on a silver platter isn't going to get China to change. Even if the US shuts down, de-growths, and goes back to subsistence farming, China will spew CO2. I guess the argument is go first to establish a moral example. But if that moral example is obviously self-defeating, pointless, and just money down ratholes to entrenched interests, I doubt it will shame China to much action. 

A carbon tax, and a Manhattan project to drive down the cost of nuclear would make a whole lot more sense.  (Half the Manhattan project is technical, the other half is to rewrite the regulatory rule book on a wartime schedule.) Think what you could do with the trillion or so dollars going to various subsidies and mandates. 


Read "Old Eagle Eye" excellent July 19 comment below. Boiling it all down to a nutshell, our policy path now is going to produce energy with a lot more materials -- rocks, steel, concrete, batteries, aluminum, carbon fibre -- and energy to produce those materials, relative to fossil fuels or nuclear. Producing those materials also produces more carbon now, with a hoped for savings later.  That the 1970s environmental movement ends up with a huge increase in making stuff from rocks, rather than a service-oriented economy with small impact power, first natural gas and then nuclear, and a light touch upon the earth, is a bit of a paradox.   

Also, in addition to spending our trillion dollars and industrial policy wonks on making nuclear cheap and abundant, if a warming climate really is an economic and environmental problem, and given the current policy path is both ineffective and hugely expensive, why should we not even speak or research geoengineering? It's not ideal, but nothing is ideal. 


  1. Great post full of insights. One quibble: The US is "now" deciding to "disengage" and fight some sort of battle for economic supremacy via industrial policy trade restrictions and tariffs. Now? You mean 2016-7? And now "continuing" to follow on the footsteps on this questionable strategy?

  2. There is an awful lot to dig into in this post, and it's a busy afternoon over here, so I'll just pick one:

    "Stop just a minute and digest this one, if you have not already. If you use less gas, someone else uses more. EV subsidies just shift who uses the gas. The same supply just goes somewhere else. One has to subsidize electrics so much that the price of gas goes down, permanently, so that it's not worth bringing out of the ground. And the price and demand are global. Lower prices encourage Indians and Africans to finally get cheap gas powered cars. "

    What happens to equilibrium quantities when demand curves shifts inward? The reply implicit above might suggest "nothing" - which is quite the special answer! I think it's more or less common knowledge that oil/gas supply and demand are both relatively inelastic especially in the short-run; that's definitely not the same thing as totally inelastic, and the long-run is what matters here. Of course, the details are important: Most US oil production is unprofitable below something vaguely around the ballpark of $50/barrel (WTI). Heck, we've both read the same articles over the last ten years about this! All this is to say, it's certainly not obvious from "supply and demand" that oil production won't fall from a shift toward EVs. I am not sure what a reader is supposed to take away from this argument unless one shows either that US oil/gas usage due to gasoline-powered light duty vehicles is a 'drop in the bucket' for total oil demand (I don't think this is true), or that the relevant elasticities are such that the reduction in the quantity of oil produced would be negligible (I don't think this is true either, but I'm perfectly happy to be wrong!).

    I am very open to criticism about the incidence of the US' EV subsidies, however. Most importantly, I worry that a lot of those who qualify for these subsidies are inframarginal, so these programs have the unintended consequence of providing a mechanical transfer of wealth to people who probably don't need it (read: yuppie class folks who would be purchasing EV's anyway; the good folks of Atherton; etc). This is Okun's bucket in action, of course.

    I am sure your logic is more nuanced than this. I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

    1. In the short-run price falls and quantity a little because of low elasticity. So doesn't have that much impact. But it also serves to transfer oil consumption to the future rather than the present. So, does it reduce total emissions over time at all is the question.

  3. Great post, of course. There is a more fundamental question, however: Where does all this garbage policy come from? It's anti-capitalism fueled by government money siphoned by interest groups, academic and commercial. Cut off the money.

  4. Further to your remarks above, see, for example, Mark P. Mills, "The Hard Math of Minerals", Jan. 27, 2022, published in Issues In Science and Technology. Excerpts below.
    "Today's plans to decarbonize global energy systems center on a massive expansion in the use of solar, wind, and battery technologies, with the goal of these becoming the dominant means to power society. But scaling up these energy sources entails a radically heavier materials footprint than is associated with fossil fuels, [...]. The unavoidable scale of materials demand will have significant impacts on commodities markets and prices, as well as on the environment. Most policy formulations fail to account for these implications. [...]

    "It has long been known that building solar and wind systems requires roughly a tenfold increase in the total tonnage of common materials--concrete, steel, glass, etc.--to deliver the same quantity of energy compared to building a natural gas or other hydrocarbon-fueled power plant."

    World Bank: "[...] technologies assumed to populate the clean energy shift ... are in fact significantly more material intensive in their composition than current traditional fossil-fueled-based energy supply systems." (quoted in Mark P. Mills, January 27, 2022, "The Hard Math of Minerals")

    "The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that an energy plan more ambitious than implied by the 2015 Paris Agreement, but one that remains far short of eliminating the use of fossil fuels, would increase demand for minerals such as lithium, graphite, nickel, and cobalt rare earths by 4,200% (42-fold), 2,500% (25-fold), 1,900% (19-fold), and 700% (7-fold), resp., by 2040."

    The Geological Survey of Finland calculated that the demand for minerals to support a full-transition to renewable sources of energy "... would exceed existing and planned global production capabilities" of mineral and material resources but would also exceed the "known global reserves of those resources."

    To replace the 2/3rds of new passenger car deliveries with EV-powered equivalents "... by 2030, dozens of new mines must be opened [...] --each mine the size of the world's biggest in each category today." Opening a new mine today takes 16 years, according to the IEA. And, so on.

    Hardly confidence-building in the transition from today's fossil-fuels to the ubiquitous solar- and wind-energy projected for the future.

    The discerning economist, engineer, and scientist, must be concerned about the misallocation of resources (manpower, material, environmental and fiscal) to bring the proposed transition to fruition. Is this the highest and best use of resources available to us? Is there another way forward that is less resource intensive and wasteful of manpower, material and treasure? The answer is "negative" from our current political leaders in the most populus states of the Union. But is that right? Is this preferred choice of theirs 'Pareto optimal'? Or, is just the latest in conventional uncritical thinking that masquerades as 'received wisdom' among the elite and their imitators?

    1. In addition to those increased costs shown above we can add 1) the cost to replace fossil fueled thermal electricity generators with wind and solar. and 2) the cost of the needed grid infrastructure builds. These numbers are available for any grid, but they are from actual conditions during the 2021Winter Storm Uri and ERCOT (Texas).
      Peak demand was ~70MW, Wind and solar fell to ~.7 or .8MW. (but ERCOT planned minimums were ~2MW). So (70/2=35) 35 fold times the 2021 installed wind and solar base is needed to come close, NOT FULLY REPLACE, 2021 thermal outputs.

      2) the grid expansions needed to support this 35+ fold increase is estimated to be 7 to 14 times the annual increase being approved and built today. But the demand for these expanded grid connections is so high that they are being tabled in many grids today. That means STOPPED.

      Few want to talk about these huge numbers required to meet their dream results, because to talk about them is to admit they are not achievable.

      I have yet to see a renewables zealot respond to these numbers.

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    3. How would a tax on carbon look like?

  5. Yes tax fossil fuels. And also tax pollution, imports and tax property.

  6. Great post John. But I don't support a carbon tax. I support free markets. That will ultimately produce the lowest cost energy - which, in some kind of half sensible world, would probably wind up being nuclear. But we don't live in a half sensible world, we live in a world with screaming activist nutcases.

    But from the Dem party standpoint, climate policy has very little to do with climate. It's primary objective is to undermine the predominantly-Republican-funding oil industry. It's second objective is to create a bureaucracy in which many Little Kings can rule their various fiefdoms with impunity, making whatever random and bizarre rules they want, regardless of any sense or benefit to the rules. These kingdoms can then be handed out for political patronage to the screaming activists. it's third objective is of course direct patronage to whatever business titans are willing to put themselves under the thumb of the Federal Politburo (offering union employment and TG bathrooms); and last but least, to do something about climate if all else fails.

    From the climate perspective we've long known that the only power source large enough to get us out of the climate mess is nuclear. But the left and it's screaming activists hate nuclear almost more than oil, so we can't use the actual solution to the problem.

  7. If we do succeed in decarbonizing the electric grids at scale, a plug-in hybrid saves about 3/4 of the carbon as an all-electric would save, for about 7-10% of the battery materials.


  8. So which GOP candidate is actually proposing a reasonable solution? I don't see any advocating for a carbon tax. The GOP control the house but I haven't seen the carbon tax bill that that the senate and/or Biden rejected out of hand because they prefer their subsidies.

    (This is half snark, half actual question. I rather assume the candidate/bills don't exist but living in Europe I also pay less attention than I used to so happy to be shown the assumption is wrong)

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    2. Because the CO2 supposedly creates a negative externality, a carbon tax will reduce deadweight losses, not increase them. With a tax, market will find where it"s cheapest to cut back on CO2 emissions. No need for an omniscient planner.

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    4. "It is likely that all of the GOP candidates are proposing "a reasonable solution."

      But no actual examples of a candidate and their policy? I will take your answer to be "none".

    5. " Experience suggests otherwise." and "... in order to come up with a $ amount for the carbon tax per metric ton of CO2-equiv. emission, then you risk harming the economy in the present, which will reduce the future value of the economy for later generations."

      My jaws tighten every time i see an economist talk about "social costs and externalities" (almost always listed as negative).

      These terms are part of the greater Cost/Benefits discussion in trying to monetize hidden/indirect factors while totally ignoring the DIRECT and well known benefits of longer lives, better life styles, and fewer deaths. Why are these and many other beneficial factors ignored?

      If and when they are considered the analyses would change dramatically to support DIRECT benefits over hidden costs.

      Or put another way, if we let the actual market drive investments the direction and amounts of these investments would also change direction .

      Just my pet peeve.

    6. It's abundantly clear from his comments that Old Eagle is NOT an economist, please don't refer to him as such.

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    9. Anon, you seem to think that being an economist over rides the zeal to categorize and monetize costs, while ignoring the benefits, monetized or not. Because you have been trained to think externalities are almost always NEGATIVE, you ignore the obvious other side of the Cost/Benefit equation.

      I spent a good part of my career doing Cost/Benefit studies in computer areas , and after several early office automation studies, required due to politics, regulations and/or practices, and after doing just a few recommended that the requirement be dropped. Those studies showed a payback/ROI in just a small fraction of their life cycles.

      These un-monetized social benefits are intuitive to the general populace and well exceed the monetized social costs/externalities economists fantasize about.

      Monetize longer, better, life, improved life style, and fewer deaths then let's have an actual discussion of the social and negative externalities costs. IOW, consider both sides of the equation instead of focusing on the side with the negatives.

  9. " . .they simply leave more gasoline available for someone else to consume at a lower price". This bothered me when I read it in WSJ yesterday. If the demand curve shift down because of "new technology", maybe the supply curve shifts down too--maybe leaving the price unchanged, or even higher. An analogy may be CD music. Sales peaked in the year 2000. Since then sales are down 95% due to "new technology" (streaming). But prices haven't dropped at all--still $12-15 like they were a fe decades ago. Why can't the same thing happen to fossil fuel?

  10. Thanks for the great post, John. Just as an addendum, I like to think of there as two "climate" problems with our vehicles - a) they're inefficient and b) we drive them too much vis a vis a carbon tax world. Subsidies for fuel efficiency help on problem a, but they tend to make problem b worse.

  11. "A carbon tax, and a Manhattan project to drive down the cost of nuclear would make a whole not more sense."

    Is there a typo in that sentence? I am having a hard time making sense of it.

  12. 120 years ago, transit was powered mostly by horses. Then motor vehicles entered the scene and started to replace horses.

    I would guess that the long-run supply curve of horses is fairly elastic; just breed them and feed them. Quality-adjusted, I would doubt that the real price of a horse is lower today than a century ago.

    The demand for horses fell. So that should make horses cheaper? And so others would buy more horses because they are cheaper?

    What happened if that the industrial demand for horses collapsed. (Recreational demand remains with us.) And there are a lot fewer horses.

    If EV's get a lot better, I could see the demand for gasoline cars following the path of demand for horses. Lower demand, lower quantity, even if the real price doesn't change much.

    None of this suggests that building infrastructure for EV's will be quick, easy, or cheap. It took a century to build out the infrastructure for gasoline cars: dealerships, repair shops, paved roads, interstate highways, filling stations, highway patrol, parking. It involved government support with fees and taxes.

    Also, is the long-run (a few decades, not centuries) supply curve of oil fairly elastic in real terms? If so, no one in India or China will get a lot cheaper oil because the USA converts to EV's. And anyway, isn't the real price of oil doomed to rise as the cheap-to-extract oil fields are exhausted?

  13. China is definitely slowing down on climate action. Here is our article:

  14. "CO2 is plant food."
    Patrick Moore, founder of Greenpeace. m

    Why is there a war on it except to pay off donors of Left Wing Political Parties and crush the middle class worldwide?

    The war is fought through fear of a "crisis" and the scientific ignorance of 3 generations of government indoctrination centers, AKA public schools.

    1. Shocked why no government promotes growing more trees to reduce CO2 level. Seems people tend to put high hope in fancy, complicated, new technologies rather than proven, easily executed approaches.

  15. "they simply leave more gasoline available for someone else to consume at a lower price". Maybe. But wouldn't high cost producers reduce output such that short term demand would remain inelastic? Supply curve shifts up to the left, followed by demand curve shifting down as fossil fuel drivers shift to EV's.

  16. Great post. The EV mandates are such a preposterous mismatch of costs and benefits, and so fundmenatally misaligned with consumer preferences (however obscene the subsidies) that I doubt it will be long before we start to see some serious backpedaling. At least, one can hope so.The question of gasoline supply and demand is an interesting one. Gasoline and diesel are jointly produced. The ratio can vary, and it depends on the type of crude being processed, but more diesel production usually involves more gasoline production. So as the massive increase in mining commensurately drives demand for diesel, a by-product of the supply response may be increased gasoline production. So where does that go, and what does it do to the price?

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  18. Incredible post. The EV orders are a particularly ridiculous bungle of expenses and advantages, thus fundmenatally skewed with buyer inclinations (but foul the sponsorships) that I question it will be some time before we begin to see some serious retreating. In any event, one can trust so.The question of gas organic market is a fascinating one. Fuel and diesel are mutually delivered. The proportion can shift, and it relies upon the kind of rough being handled, yet more diesel creation typically includes more gas creation. So as the gigantic expansion in digging comparably drives interest for diesel, a side-effect of the stockpile reaction might be expanded gas creation. So where does that go, and what does it do to the cost?

  19. The post raises an important issue, but in my view misses any reference to the idea of “directed technical change”, which implies that the discussed policies may be more beneficial than they appear at first glance. On climate change/environmental issues, it has for example been studied by the highly cited Acemoglu et al. (2012) AER paper.

    Regarding the specific policies discussed in the blog, they may seem pretty inefficient initially (lots of technical issues hindering the wide-spread adoption of EVs), but because they create a lot of demand for EVs, more companies will devote resources to research how to make them better, e.g., how the needed batteries can be made with less rare earths. Progress will be made and EVs cheaper and more practical to use after some time. But this may not happen without a big enough incentive to do that type of R&D.

    It doesn’t seem outlandish to believe that if related technologies eventually became good enough, other people would opt to use them even if not forced by the governments in the countries they live in: For example, I understand electric engines to be technically simpler than internal combustion ones, so eventually maintaining such cars could be cheaper. And so there might be a big impact on fossil fuel demand in the long run, which may in turn induce lower oil production etc. Similar arguments to this are also studied in the technical economics literature, e.g., by a 2016 JIE paper by Hémous.

    Of course, it is questionable whether the discussed EV policies will be able to “re-direct” technology efficiently. They may involve too high initial cost in terms of economic growth, or a carbon tax would simply be better.
    But in general, in a political environment in which carbon taxes are politically not feasible but sector-specific subsidies/regulations somehow are, one should not dismiss them without considering their potential impact on the direction of technological change.

    1. "It doesn’t seem outlandish to believe that if related technologies eventually became good enough,..." IOW if the technological MIRACLE happens, and it has been many, many decades under study and development. the we can expect: "...subsidies/regulations ..., one should not dismiss them without considering their potential impact on the direction of technological change."

      Yup! It is politics which is sweetening the investments in EVs and their support structure, while a Carbon Tax penalizes its carbon-based alternatives.

      All this to SAVE THE PLANET from ?Climate Change?, which when challenged actually means Global Warming. BTW, ?Climate Change? is another subject where its DIRECT benefits are ignored to focus on its models-based negatives.

    2. Electrical engine is simpler than ICE in concept. To get the sensible efficiency, power requires a complicated system. Thousand pounds of battery system is another expensive thing for maintenance. Billions of money are spent on battery R&D. Tons of breakthrough ideas/results are published every year but lithium battery is still irreplaceable. Tesla even went back to the old LFP cathode material for new EVs.

  20. Just as there is a shift in who uses/demands the gas in EV's, if the electricity used to charge batteries is coal based, well...

    Then the externalities from emissions via gas vehicles have just moved to coal, too. Unfortunately, it's not only energy that suffers from "hide the problem."

    The real problem from a technical standpoint is how energy is generated and used in the first place. Innovation will make more sense when better tech has increasing returns to scale in the production of energy and its more efficient use (like productivity gains). Increase supply, make it cheap, and without terrible externalities, everyone will fall in line except those who will cry crocodile tears about the economy and jobs because they have a vested interest in controlling supply. (OPEC anyone?)

    Nature has some amazing clues about energy generation and its use. While we're a part of Nature, we're still relatively - brutish, I suppose - in meeting demand via gifts of Nature.

  21. There's a lot to rebut here, but let me go with just one - the idea that we should make lots of hybrids rather than EVs, under the assumption that battery materials are limiting and will always be. To stop the planet form boiling we have to stop *all* fossil fuel use, and passenger cars are kind of low hanging fruit, relative to many industrial processes. In my county, 33% of new car sales were EVs last year, they are just the best option for many people (we don't have 33% of climate activists here), up from about 20% the year before and maybe 10% before that. Hybrids are a great transition vehicle, but they still burn gasoline, and it's time to go fully electric.

    All this is happening while lithium and cobalt mining is constrained, but there will be a lot more capacity coming onstream soon, and other battery technologies are now hitting commercial capacities, so I don't see mineral limitations being a need to ration battery production to hybrids.


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