A couple of interesting articles in the Daily Telegraph today (13/7/2017). Firstly there was a report on the comments on parking revenues from AA President Edmund King. He said that local authorities are reducing their expenditure on road maintenance and street lights while increasing parking charges that normally help to finance them. Specifically, he said “Far too often drivers are viewed by every level of government as wallets on wheels”. How true that is. The Greater London Authority made the largest reduction in expenditure at £59.5 million, way ahead of the next largest of £6.2 million in North Yorkshire.
Another article was on the potential demand for electric power if the number of electric vehicles grows as expected. Certainly in London the Mayor’s recent Transport Strategy document (see https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2017/07/07/mayors-transport-strategy-an-attack-on-private-transport-with-dubious-economics/ ) suggests that by 2050 most cars will be electric – at least they will be if the Mayor has his way. The Telegraph article suggested that this might add 30% to peak electric power demand, thus requiring the equivalent of five Hinkley Point C nuclear plants according to National Grid. See publication entitled “Future Energy Scenarios” issued by National Grid. Even if people only charge their electric cars in off-peak periods, the additional demand could be very substantial. As I plan to attend the National Grid Annual General Meeting later this month, I may ask some questions on how they plan to cover this.
But readers may be interested to know that I am planning ahead on this issue and recently had a test drive of a Tesla Model S. A very impressive vehicle altogether and obviously getting near the point where electric vehicles are practical for most car drivers. Somewhat expensive at present as it’s really aimed at the luxury car market, but Tesla announced the first production deliveries of the new Model 3 this week which will be substantially cheaper (not yet available in the UK). One can see that in two or three years time, all electric cars will be a viable proposition for most drivers, particularly if the costs come down as expected. Volvo announced this week that all their new models after 2019 will be electric or hybrid so you can see the way the wind is blowing.
But that still leaves the problem of generating all the extra electricity, particularly when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not out. To meet the demand in the timescale required might simply result in more cheap gas power stations, not nuclear. I am yet to be convinced that this migration to electric vehicles makes much environmental sense because of the inefficient energy conversion involved in comparison with a modern petrol engine. We might end up with more air pollution rather than less, although the Mayor of London will no doubt ensure its not on his patch.