On the face of it, California, eliminating sales of gas-powered automobiles by 2035 seems positive. But is it really? There are five main issues that need to be addressed and answered not by evasive politicians stating, they don’t have all the answers, but actually answered, before we determine whether or not this will be a good thing for California, and the country. As we are witnessing repeatedly, policies are being made without any real proof of whether they will be successful. For example, there’s a reason that California leads the nation in homelessness. The liberal legislature was so determined to “protect” the rights of the poor, and mentally challenged, that they failed to understand the ramifications of their policies. The end of enforcement of quality-of-life crimes in New York City, has been a main factor for the enormous increase in crime. This is simply one more example of not understanding the ramifications of a “feel good” policy decision.
First, issue is the power grid. California has a difficult time generating enough power to keep up with demand presently, as wind and hydro power generation are not producing enough to allow all of the air conditioners to run at the same time, as summers are getting hotter. Add to that, millions of people charging their cars daily (without significant changes to the power grid), and it will be next to impossible to keep the lights on. According to an article in the May issue of Scientific American, “available electricity supplies might not be able to keep up with demand if heat waves and droughts make hydropower less available, or wildfires reduce electricity transmission. That according to staff of the California Energy Commission (CEC) and California Public Utilities Commission. You don’t need a degree in physics to understand the enormous drain on the power grid if millions of EVs are charging simultaneously.
Second, even if California is able to provide enough power to charge the batteries of all the EVs, people will need to install level 2 chargers in order to be able to charge their cars at home. According to Tesla, a Level 2 charger (240V), will fully charge the batteries in their cars, in 8-12 hours. Installing Level 3 chargers or (480V) would charge the battery in 15-25 minutes, but would be prohibitively expensive, and not recommended due to the enormous amount of direct current. It would significantly reduce battery life if used regularly. The “superchargers” are necessary when taking a trip and the driver doesn’t have 8 hours to charge the battery. The filing stations of the future. It’s one main reason that EVs are still imperfect. Will that change in the future? One must assume so, as technology is constantly changing and improving. By 2035? Nobody knows!
Third, while California has the greatest number of charging stations in the country (greater than 73,000), it’s still woefully insufficient to support the millions of EVs that will be sold from now until 2035 and beyond. The rest of the country is lagging, still further. It will be near impossible for all of the states to have enough stations to comfortably allow cross country trips for example. Until there is a serious federal effort to improve the network, EVs will be very impractical. While most people aren’t driving across the country, that isn’t the point. If we are one nation, we must all have the same infrastructure, based on population and need of course.
Fourth, Lithium is a finite mineral. Currently, most of that is sourced from China. According to Gavekal’s researchers, “China refines 60% of the world’s lithium, controls 77% of global cell capacity and 80% of the world’s battery component manufacturing.” Those numbers are problematic at best and of grave concern, at worst. How are we going to reduce our dependency on China in order to keep our cars moving? China is like the new middle east, when the US was completely dependent on OPEC for our oil and gas. This cannot be allowed to continue as the number of EVs grows significantly. It needs to be brought to the forefront of the conversation, today! People are so concerned about greening the planet that the details are being forgotten. If we are to convert our gas-powered automobiles to battery power, we, meaning the US and allies like Canada, are going to need to be lithium independent! We cannot allow such a large and important portion of our energy to be controlled by potentially hostile suppliers!!
Fifth, Lithium-ion batteries will eventually die after a certain number of cycles, possibly ten years. Therefore, there must be a complete and detailed plan to recycle those batteries. Otherwise, they will cause terrible harm to the environment. They are not “green” batteries simply melting back into the earth when their usefulness ceases. I have not read about a single, comprehensive plan, to recycle the millions of batteries that will become toxic if not dealt with properly. If you believe that Republicans are in bed with the fossil fuel companies, it’s safe to assume that Democrats are in bed with the green industries. Although one might argue that it’s a better for our country and the world, it’s still unacceptable. It might explain why they’re pushing so hard while providing few details of how to make all of these things happen.
I’m a huge proponent of EVs. We owned one and loved it. It got us through the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, not having to wait on a single gas line. I was able to drive the 40-mile (64km) round trip to Manhattan, without having to charge my vehicle. They are also extremely fast and quiet, so no complaints in terms of the cars themselves. But we are going to need answers if we are to completely convert our gas-powered vehicles to lithium-ion battery powered vehicles. As is so often the case, politicians attempt change, without providing the long-term answers. We must demand those answers before making such a drastic change in the way we live our lives. The solution cannot be as detrimental as the problem we’re trying to solve.