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FUD Article in the Times: EVs Will Need 20 New Nuclear Power Stations

Discussion in 'The UK and Ireland' started by dpeilow, Feb 13, 2017.

  1. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    The following article appeared in the Times over the weekend Electric cars mean UK could need 20 new nuclear plants

    It has since also turned up in the Mail and other right wing locations. '20 new nuclear power stations needed for electric cars' | Daily Mail Online


    Seems more than a little coincidental that this nonsense came out the same week that the results of the government's rapid charger survey were published, among other things requesting that large petrol stations and motorway services install PAYG rapid charging.


    Anyway I sent the following to the editor.


    Sir,

    Your 11th February article "Electric cars mean UK could need 20 new nuclear plants" by Graham Paton shows both a lack of understanding of charging patterns of electric vehicle drivers and a failing of basic arithmetic.

    Ninety per cent of all electric vehicle charging is done at home (source: OLEV) and of this the vast majority is done at night. Like many EV drivers, I programme mine to charge during the Economy 7 period to take advantage of cheap electricity rates of 8p per unit (kilowatt-hour). That charge is enough to cover my typical daily needs. Nationally, 73% of all vehicles are garaged or parked on private property overnight and even in urban areas the majority of cars are parked on private property (source: RAC Foundation), so there is scope for much of the fleet to be charged at off peak times today, even in cities.

    Your article states that "At the maximum level of uptake in the city green cars would demand between seven and eight gigawatt-hours per year" and "Experts said this was equivalent to the output of more than two nuclear power stations similar to that being built at Hinkley Point in Somerset". Hinkley C will have an output of 3.2 gigawatts, meaning that in one hour, two such power stations would produce 6.4 gigawatt-hours. Clearly 8 gigawatt-hours in a year is not going to trouble such a facility, but in fact your total is very wide of the mark.

    An electric vehicle like mine typically drives 4 miles with one kilowatt-hour. Therefore, taking average annual mileage of 7,900 miles per year (source: RAC Foundation), annual usage is just under 2,000 kWh or 2 megawatt-hours per car. Thus the 8 gigawatt-hours quoted in your article equates to only 4,000 cars' worth of electricity in a year. This is clearly incorrect, as London already has more electric vehicles on the road than that. Furthermore, it is 0.8% of the just over 1 Terawatt-hour (1,000 Gigawatt-hours) Transport for London states London Underground uses in one year (source: TfL).

    More importantly, the article also completely misses the point that demand on the National Grid is not constant, but during the winter period varies from approximately 30 gigawatts at night to 50 gigawatts in the daytime peak (source: National Grid Demand). It is even less during the summer. Average annual mileage is under 22 miles per day, equating to a demand of under 6 kilowatt-hours per car, per day. If everyone recharged 90% of their needs during the seven hour Economy 7 period, each car would require under 1 kilowatt (or about 4 amps, less than a single electric heater). So today, during the Economy 7 period, 20 million cars can recharge before electricity demand reaches the same as the daytime peak. If all 31 million cars in the UK were electric, peak overnight demand (including existing demand) would be approximately 62 gigawatts - which was the peak demand in 2007 before LED lights and A+ appliances were commonplace. The other 10% of "away from home" daytime charging, which the government's proposed new initiative is aiming to meet by rolling out new fast chargers, will also comfortably remain within this historical threshold.

    As the National Grid currently has a total generating capacity of 75 gigawatts and a further 3 gigawatts of foreign interconnectors (source: National Grid Winter Outlook Report 2016/17), it is therefore apparent that no new capacity is needed for a mass uptake of battery electric vehicles (note this is not true of electrolysed hydrogen, also mentioned in your article, which requires over three times as much electricity per mile to manufacture). In fact, a mass uptake of electric vehicles benefits the grid by allowing assets that would be idled overnight to continue to operate at full capacity. An electric vehicle fleet is complementary to existing National Grid domestic and industrial demand, not a burden to it.

    What is needed is demand management - the so-called "Smart Grid" - to ensure that 31 million drivers do not arrive home and immediately recharge during the evening peak. To an extent this is done today through tariffs like Economy 7, but overnight charging should be the default option rather than merely encouraged (of course, like with a heater, this would not preclude an immediate boost if essential). As many domestic charging stations already include remote management via cellular links, by comparison this is relatively easy to implement and certainly not comparable to the expense and complication of an unnecessary build of 20 new nuclear power stations.


    Yours faithfully,

    David Peilow



    OLEV: Drive an EV and you may never have to visit a petrol station again - Electric cars, low emission motoring - Go Ultra Low


    RAC Foundation: Mobility


    TfL: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/london-underground-carbon-footprint-2008.pdf


    National Grid Demand: G. B. National Grid status


    National Grid Winter Outlook Report: http://www2.nationalgrid.com/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=8589937050
     
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  2. TC56

    TC56 Member

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    Excellent. One thing missed off which is the power needed to refine oil into petrol or diesel which is far more that required to power the car. Having said that, these people wouldn't see that argument or that renewables periodically have to be taken off grid due to over production and there being no way to store the excess power (in this country at least).
     
  3. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    The whole power to refine oil thing is dodgy. Yes there is energy needed - the figure I recall is 17% loses - but it is not necessarily electricity.

    I didn't go there both for that reason and also to not throw too many arguments into it. Concentrate on the one and do it well I think.
     
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  4. tonyj01

    tonyj01 Member

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    Good letter.

    Sadly, they are bound to butcher/edit it to fit their space and the readers' attention spans.

    My long term heavy foot/short journeys/ four wheel drive means about 380Wh/mile, so each kWh takes me about 2.5 miles. Hey ho.

    Regards,

    Tony
     
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  5. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    I've plotted the argument in my letter on a graph.

    - The red area is demand on the UK grid over the past week.

    - The green areas is extra overnight demand if 20 million EVs were charging during Economy 7 to take average annual mileage.

    - The light blue is extra demand if a further 11 million EVs were charging during Economy 7, giving a total of 31 million or all cars in the UK.

    - The purple line is the peak demand reached in 2007

    - The orange line is the total generating capacity of all plants in the UK.


    As you can see, in the past week all cars could charge without breaching the historic level a decade ago when we had less energy saving lights and appliances etc.

    (By the way, I am aware that Economy 7 is slightly staggered around the country, but here I have used 23:00 to 06:00)



    upload_2017-2-13_16-52-28.png
     
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  6. brucet999

    brucet999 Active Member

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    Please don't choose blue text for your posts. Many of us on this forum use the dark gray background option to reduce glare and that makes your blue text practically unreadable.

    Thanks
     
  7. WannabeOwner

    WannabeOwner Active Member

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    Well done that man.

    Already mentioned, but my understanding is that the majority of the "power" required to refine Petrol / Diesel comes from using up the mucky stuff that is left over. So not much grid-electricity imported / used in the process.

    However, saving all that lot lowers imports, reduces balance of payments deficit (provided we don't burn that same oil to make electricity!) and, if we have to go to war to protect the supply, saves lives and mega-humongous-bundles-of-wonga!

    Yeah, I'm not a good average either. But my hope is that improvements in tech and smaller / lighter cars/batteries will drive that figure down. That said, I find it interesting that a Tesla PxxD driven "normally" is only using a few tens of percent more than the most frugal EV on the road. That differential is much much bigger in ICE cars - I'm guessing but 20 MPH plays 60 MPH would be a fair ICE comparison, which is 300%. So extrapolating my own though I'm not expecting to see massive reductions in EV energy-per-mile as the technology advances, but converting the whole fleet to EV should dramatically reduce the energy-per-mile overall
     
  8. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    Small apology tucked away in the letters page, without even stating the true number.

    IMG_0036.PNG
     
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  9. arg

    arg Supporting Member

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  10. NullException

    NullException Member

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    Top marks for getting them to post a correction of any kind, in my view
     
  11. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    The page about this story on Carbuyer is also now 404.

    Hopefully they will think twice in future about cut-n-pasting whatever anti-EV story they read.
     
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  12. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    Even the National Grid has lost patience with this now: http://fes.nationalgrid.com/media/1264/ev-myth-buster-v032.pdf

     
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