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Consequential Change

© Roger La Salle 2011

Innovation needs to done holistically!

At the bottom of any of the Matrix Thinking diagrams is the prompt question asking you to explore the consequential effect of implementing an innovation.

One wonders if the proponents of the electric car have done their due diligence properly or just jumped on the electric car bandwagon as a panacea, with the throwaway line that renewable energy sources will provide all the electricity needs.  Have they done the sums?

The Electric Car maybe not a panacea

More and more we are being bombarded with the benefits of the electric car as the solution to motor vehicle driven global carbon dioxide pollution, but what are the facts.

Some Facts

A typical petrol car has an engine power of about 140kWatts. Assuming it is driven for just 4 hours per day at say just 60% of its capacity, the power used would be of the order of 336 kWatthours.

Let us assume the electric car has a power of just 80kWatts, and is used in a similar fashion. Let us further assume that the carbon lobby wins half the battle and just 50% of the population converts to electric cars. This is where the problem arises.  *In Australia in 2011 there were approximately 1.274 million registered passenger vehicles with Victoria accounting for some 25.6% of this number, or approximately 5 million.

Using the above assumptions reveals the following:

80kW x 0.6 (60% battery capacity used) x 50% (half convert to electric cars) x 5.0 million x 4 hours = 480,000 Megawatt hours of energy used every day for running electric cars.

Of course this assumes only half of the cars are electric and are only driven for a total of 4 hours per day at 60% of their capacity.

Presently the entire generating capacity in Victoria is some 7,790MegWatts**. If this capacity is fully exploited for recharging car batteries over say a 10 hour period, the power used would be 7,790 x 10 MegaWatt Hours = 77,900MegaWatt hours.

Thus the entire output of electricity provided by all the Victorian power systems would represent only 16.2% the power required.. And this is just to charge batteries. Of course this figure ignores all other power requirements for industry, lighting and domestic consumption presently pressing out existing generating capacity to its limits.

The Big Question? 

Just where are we supposed to get all this electricity from?  If you ask a champion of the electric vehicle industry they immediately respond with a single word – “Renewable.”

If our best generating capacity working 24x7 cannot even approach the requirement how can renewable sources possibly ever be expected to do so, especially any renewable that may rely on the sun.

Where to from here?

It would seem obvious that the use of electric vehicles en-mass is a pipe dream, a fantasy of those that have not looked closely at the facts. Further, if you are looking at the electric vehicle to reduce our carbon footprint, then perhaps we need to start by first looking at the amount of energy, that is electricity, required to make a single battery in the first place. But I suppose that too may come from renewable sources, who know?

Where to from here?

History will provide the answer, but one thing is for certain, any rapid uptake of electric vehicles will spell disaster for our power generators.

The bottom line is that when looking at implementing innovation, look closely at all the consequential effects.

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