April 20th 2019

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Budget 2019: The dark side of 'back in the black': no vision

EUTHANASIA FYI: How to navigate the voluntary assisted 'dying' process

CANBERRA OBSERVED Take your tax cuts and be merry, for tomorrow ... is another day

FOREIGN AFFAIRS New Middle East alliance will challenge Saudis

LIFE ISSUES ALP abortion policy blithely tramples all our consciences

SOCIETY AND TECHNOLOGY Will Artificial Intelligence do the walking for you?

LIFE ISSUES Trump, Shorten and Morrison on abortion

GENDER POLITICS Women abused at Women's Day March

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Bill Shorten's bizarre electric car policy

FAMILY AND SOCIETY Revitalising marriage and family: an especially lay apostolate

ASIAN AFFAIRS Entire nations going out without a baby's whimper


MUSIC 1+1=Sublimity: Explanations are like the back side of a tapestry

CINEMA Shazam!: Ambitious teen finds out what's in a name

BOOK REVIEW What will be left us after the deluge?

BOOK REVIEW Author puts some great minds to work



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Bill Shorten's bizarre electric car policy

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, April 20, 2019

Do you believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden? If so, you’ll love Bill Shorten’s plan for 500,000 new electric vehicles (EVs) to be sold in Australia in 2030, compared with just 1,124 sold across the country in 2017 (the latest year for which there are figures).

In the run-up to the Federal Budget, Mr Shorten announced Labor’s environmental policy for the next election, saying it will take serious action on climate change, lower power prices, cut pollution, boost renewables and create more jobs. While the whole policy deserves careful examination, one striking aspect was his plan for EVs.

According to the new policy: “Labor will implement Australia’s first national electric vehicle policy, setting a national electric vehicle target of 50 per cent new car sales by 2030 and introducing vehicle emissions standards to reduce pollution and make the cost of driving a car cheaper for consumers.”

Mr Shorten’s target is staggeringly unrealistic.

According to website statistica.com, 1,124 EVs were sold in Australia in 2017, compared with about 1.2 million motor vehicles overall. Electric cars comprised about 0.1 per cent of new car sales.

The ALP target would require a gigantic investment in EV infrastructure, with thousands of charging stations across the country and more in people’s homes, putting immense pressure on an electricity grid that is already struggling to provide enough power for domestic and industrial users, particularly with the anticipated closure of more base-load power stations.

Car sales

According to the website, Green Car Congress, which promotes EVs, in 2018, there were 1.26 million battery-powered electric vehicles sold around the world, “about 1.5 per cent of total global sales”.

This includes the European Union, which has been vigorously promoting EV sales for years, China and the United States, home of the Tesla electric car.

Labor’s 50 per cent target is just not possible, even with lavish government incentives such as those that currently apply in Europe.

As EVs are overwhelmingly purchased by high-income earners, they constitute a subsidy for the rich paid by the poor. (See News Weekly, February 23, 2019, “Electric cars: taxpayers subsidise rich greenies”.)

The U.S., most countries of the EU, China and Japan all heavily subsidise electric vehicles to the extent of thousands of dollars per vehicle. Yet they remain substantially more expensive than petrol-engine cars.

The Liberals themselves are not averse to spruiking the benefits of electric cars. When Minister for the Environment in 2018, Josh Frydenberg wrote: “A global revolution in electric vehicles is under way and, with the right preparation, planning and policies, Australian consumers are set to be the big beneficiaries.” (Sydney Morning Herald, January 12, 2018)

Before politicians go troppo on the benefits of EVs, which are 50 per cent more expensive to buy than comparable petrol-driven cars but with only half the range, and take hours to charge up (not eight to 10 minutes!), keep in mind that the electricity in “electric vehicles” comes from the mains.

This means that the electricity predominantly comes from those coal-fired power stations that Mr Shorten wants to shut down, with a small proportion coming from renewables – solar, wind and hydro.

With the ALP renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030, a grid reliant on intermittent wind and solar energy would collapse when half a million or more EV users plugged their cars in each night, when no power is being generated from the sun.

Interestingly, Mr Shorten also proposes a new tax on “big polluters”, which include all the major power companies. The inevitable effect of his policy will be to increase electricity prices, including the price of charging the batteries on EVs.

Electric vehicles are touted as more efficient, as 95 per cent of their electric power is converted to mechanical energy, compared with 30–35 per cent for petrol engines, and 40–45 per cent for diesels. But this is not the whole story.

It is a well-established fact that the efficiency of coal-fired power stations, which power electric vehicles, reaches around 35–40 per cent. The electricity generated in a power station (or from a solar panel or a wind farm) must then be transmitted through the grid to the motor vehicle charging point. Electricity companies estimate that 5–10 per cent of generated power is lost in transmission and distribution.

Then there are losses as the mains power is converted into battery power. A Tesla online forum estimates that “losses due to battery storage are typically around 25 per cent”.

When all these factors are taken into account, the carbon-dioxide emissions to run EVs are far higher than those of petrol or diesel engines. Greenie claims that electric cars are “emission-free” are a moonbeam from the larger lunacy.

There are many more unanswered questions about Mr Shorten’s plan, inc­luding, what taxes will apply to EVs, to replace the fuel taxes used to maintain Australia’s road network?

Would you trust the future direction of the country to a party with such a policy?

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Last Modified:
April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm