Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Electric cars are more expensive but do lower runing costs make up for that?

Only if you drive a lot and if that is because you drive long distances an electric car may have range problems

An electric vehicle can be powered with virtually free solar energy, and has much lower maintenance costs than an ICE vehicle.

Because of that, you might be willing to buy an electric vehicle even if it costs more, so long as you save money within a few years. So how long does it take to recoup the extra cost of an EV?

Well, there's no simple answer. It will depend on a range of factors including:

the EV you are considering, and the alternative ICE vehicle you are comparing it to

how much you drive, and how far each time

whether you have excess solar generation at your home, to use for charging.

These factors will determine whether you save money within a few years of buying an EV, or whether you break even at all.

One of the cheapest battery-powered electric vehicles available in Australia is an SUV coming in at about $44,000.

Now, let's say you were tossing up whether to buy that car or a similar SUV made by the same manufacturer — one that runs on petrol and costs about $28,000.

You're paying $16,000 more for the EV. So, over a few years, could you save that $16,000 in fuel and maintenance?

Yes — but you'd have to be a big driver, clocking up about twice the national average of 12,000 kilometres per year.

If you had an EV, and could use your home solar panels to charge your car, you might spend just $2,500 charging your EV and another $3,000 on maintenance over the five years.

If that all works out, you'll be about $500 better off after five years with the EV, compared to the ICE vehicle.

Other EVs on the market start at about $50,000 and go up from there. Making enough savings from fuel and maintenance with those vehicles is going to be harder, depending on what ICE vehicle you're comparing it to.

And the less you drive, the fewer the opportunities for savings. If you drive the car rarely, it's very hard to realise any of the savings from an EV.

This is all based on prices today, but prices are projected to continue their sharp decline. As they do, the equation becomes more and more favourable for EVs.

And when EVs cost the same as ICE vehicles, buying one will for most be a no-brainer.

In Norway, government policies have made EVs already roughly the same cost as ICE vehicles, and as a result, nearly 80 per cent of new car sales are battery electric.


Revive fracking to tackle rising energy bills

Fracking must be supported in the UK to tackle rapidly rising energy bills, a group of Tory MPs including Yorkshire’s Philip Davies have suggested.

In a letter to the Sunday Telegraph organised by Craig Mackinlay MP, the chairman of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group of Conservative MPs, the group call for the removal of VAT and environmental levies on domestic energy and to end the Climate Change Levy on business energy use.

It comes among rising fears that average household energy bills could double by April following record gas prices and the collapse of multiple smaller energy suppliers.

The 20 signatories, who include Shipley MP Philip Davies and his wife former Cabinet minister Esther McVey, along with influential Brexiteer Steve Baker, argue there should also be “a new approach to our energy security” including a return to shale gas extraction, otherwise known as fracking.

The letter states that fracking in America has helped keep energy bills for US consumers at a lower level.

It says: “On the net-zero strategy, gas and oil will continue to play a big part in our energy needs for a generation. We are seeing the effects of high gas demand and limited supply in the international markets, pushing wholesale energy prices to historic highs. We hardly need to point out the risks of relying on other countries for our energy needs, especially those hostile to us.

"This is an appeal for a new approach to our energy security. This leads to the inescapable conclusion of the need to expand North Sea exploration and for shale gas extraction to be supported.

“It is no accident that American consumers pay a mere tenth of what we do for gas.

“There seems little sense, on any environmental assessment, in importing gas and thereby reducing energy security, increasing risks of price volatility, adversely affecting our balance of payments and exporting jobs.”

Fracking was supported by previous Prime Minister Theresa May who insisted such work would be both safe and financially beneficial to residents living close to planned sites in Yorkshire which had been the subject of mass opposition.

Seven companies had Government licences to explore large parts of Yorkshire to see if fracking was feasible. The technique has not been used in the UK since 2011 after it was deemed to have been the cause of earth tremors in Lancashire.

In November 2019 ahead of the General Election that took place the following month, Boris Johnson placed a moratorium on fracking going ahead in England following a report by the Oil and Gas Authority which found it was not currently possible to accurately predict the probability or magnitude of earthquakes linked to fracking operations.

The Government's announcement of the pause came with the caveat that it would remain in place "unless and until further evidence is provided that it can be carried out safely here".In November 2021, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng highlighted those findings when asked about the possibility of fracking as a way of tackling rising energy bills.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said there is “enough gas under the ground in the UK to have us totally supplied for the whole country for 150 years”.

He asked: “Why is the Government not prepared to exploit the resources which we have to deal with fuel poverty, to deal with fuel security and to help the levelling-up agenda in poorer parts of England?”

Mr Kwarteng replied: “We looked at fracking, there were issues with respect to effects on the Richter Scale, earthquakes, that sort of thing, people objected to that and we imposed a moratorium on it.”

Many people will soon be pushed into ‘fuel poverty’ by rising energy bills when the energy price cap changes, the MPs’ letter has suggested.

It states: “We have almost uniquely caused our energy prices, through taxation and environmental levies, to increase faster than those of any other competitive country.

“High energy prices are felt most painfully by the lowest paid.

“Once the current domestic energy price cap is reassessed for implementation in April 2022, the likelihood is that domestic tariffs will increase hugely, feeding directly into a cost-of-living crisis for many and pushing them into what is bluntly called ‘fuel poverty’.”


Why Toyota says buyers should think twice about electric cars

Toyota’s Australian boss wants drivers to think carefully before buying a new electric car with a massive battery, as it might not be what they really need.

Matthew Callachor, president of Toyota Australia, told reporters on Thursday that drivers who use their cars for short trips may be overcapitalising on electric cars with enormous battery packs responsible for significant carbon emissions throughout their life cycle.

That view was backed by Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Tony Weber, who warned legislators not to push battery electric technology to the detriment of other vehicle types.

Speaking with reporters during an annual presentation of the best-selling new cars, Callachor said the popularity of hybrid cars reflected their relevance in Australia. Hybrids were more affordable than battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and would reduce “more emissions, sooner, than BEVs alone”.

Toyota has sold more than 240,000 hybrid vehicles since the original Prius arrived in 2001.

“According to our calculations, those 240,000 hybrids have had the same impact on reducing CO2 as approximately 72,000 BEVs,” Callachor said.

“Yet the volume of batteries we’ve used to produce these hybrid-electric vehicles is the same as we’d need for just 3500 BEVs.

“In other words, we can say that the batteries needed for 3500 BEVs have been used to achieve the CO2 emissions reduction effect of 72,000 BEVs.

“It means that HEVs are an extremely effective way of reducing carbon emissions today – and doing so at a comparatively affordable price.”

Many green customers are attracted to Tesla-like electric cars with big batteries capable of longer distance driving, as opposed to EVs such as Mazda’s MX-30 and the electric Mini Cooper with limited range.

But Callachor said some buyers who insisted on big batteries were missing a key point of electric vehicles – reducing carbon emissions.

“If you’re recharging a 400km BEV every night for an average round-trip commute of around 40 kilometres, then you’re not getting any carbon-reduction benefit from 90 per cent of the battery cells,” Mr Callachor said.

“If we put those unused batteries to use in other electrified vehicles, we could prevent far more carbon from entering the atmosphere.

“We cannot assume that ‘one size fits all’. Even if the best choice for the average person someday becomes a BEV, it will not be the best way for every person to reduce carbon emissions.

“Distributing every battery cell so that we get the maximum benefit means putting them into appropriate electrified vehicles including HEV (hybrid), PHEV (plug-in hybrid) and FCEV (hydrogen fuel cell) vehicles … not just into a smaller number of BEVs.”

Famously slow to adopt pure electric power, Toyota shocked the motoring world with more than a dozen battery-powered concept cars late last year, bowling up everything from cut-price hatchbacks to a rugged ute and Ferrari-fighting supercar.

The brand’s first dedicated BEV, the Toyota bZ4X, will reach Australia this year. When it does, Toyota will join Hyundai as the only brands offering electric, hydrogen, hybrid and conventional combustion cars in 2022.

“In a country as diverse as Australia, we need to offer diverse options that – for example – account for different energy sources as well as large differences in customer usage and needs,” he said.

The FCAI’s Tony Weber said although “there is no doubt EVs are the future”, governments should set carbon emissions targets rather than incentivising battery electric vehicles to the detriment of other options. The UK has banned the sale of petrol, diesel and even hybrid vehicles from 2030, an approach the local car industry hopes to avoid.

“Good intentions are not always the right pathway to good outcomes,” he said.

“We must not lose sight of the overall policy objective here, and that is to release CO2 emissions. “Set the targets and let the market deliver the technology mix.”


Colorado’s Marshall Fire: Have Funding Needs Corrupted Climate Science?

I was totally shocked to hear the claims by a fire scientist I had once admired and often quoted in my blog posts about wildfire.

In a National Public Radio interview Jennifer Balch said, “Climate change has lengthened the state's fire season”. Then she said “"Climate change is essentially keeping our fuels drier longer. These grasses that were burning, they've been baked all fall and all winter.”

Having studied fire ecology for 30 years and knowing her published science, I could only believe she had been corrupted by the need to attract large amounts of funding, and these days that comes to those who blame the climate crisis. And here’s why I now hold that opinion so strongly.

Colorado’s Marshall Fire was a grassfire that happened with temperatures hovering around freezing. All
fire experts and fire managers know grasses are 1-hour lag fuels. That means in dry conditions grasses can become flammable within hours. Attempting to link CO2 global warming, she and other alarmists were now blaming the Boulder area’s grass flammability on the warm dry conditions from July through November. But dry conditions in the past months are totally irrelevant. Those months could have also been cold and wet, but just one day of dry conditions is all that is needed for grasses to burn.

To minimize recklessly set fire that often occur as people burn away unwanted dead vegetation, the Nova Scotia government felt the need to counter

the Myth that “It's safe to burn grass as long as there is still some snow on the ground.”

The Fact is: “Within hours of snow melting, dead grass becomes flammable, especially if there have been drying winds. Grass fires burn hot and fast and spread quickly around, and even over, patches of snow.”

That’s a fact that Balch and every other fire expert should know! Apparently, Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California Los Angeles and the Nature Conservancy and acolyte of climate alarmist Michael Mann and Noah Diffenbaugh, also failed to understand grasses are 1-hour fuel. He stated in an interview for NBC’s article How climate change primed Colorado for a rare December wildfire that “Climate change is clearly making the pre-conditions for wildfires worse a cross most fire-prone regions of the world,”

But dry grasses are not the pre-condition to be worried about. The pre-conditions that neither Swain nor Balch shared with the public is well known: Boulder County’s invasive grasses increase fire danger. The “main offender is cheatgrass, which was likely introduced to the area alongside agriculture and ranching” and “is increasing fire danger by 29%”

In fact, in 2013 Balch published, Introduced annual grass increases regional fire activity across the arid western USA (1980–2009), writing “Cheatgrass was disproportionately represented in the largest fires, comprising 24% of the land area of the 50 largest fires” and that “multi-date fires that burned across multiple vegetation types were significantly more likely to have started in cheatgrass.”

It was also very disingenuous for Balch to say ““Climate change has lengthened the state's fire season”. It is the very same meme that every climate alarmist regurgitates that climate change has made “a year-long fire season the new normal”. But in 2017 Balch published in Human-started wildfires expand the fire niche across the United States that human ignitions “have vastly expanded the spatial and seasonal “fire niche” in the coterminous United States, accounting for 84% of all wildfires”. Balch’s published graph clearly shows that human ignitions have extended fire season all year long. Based on her own research, a more relevant comment would have mentioned that Louisville, Colorado’s population had jumped 10-fold; from 2,000 in 1950 to about 20,000 today. Does a 10-fold increase in population create a 10-fold increase in fire probability. The Marshall Fire was not naturally started by Lightning.

In 2015, Balch created the Earth Lab program at Colorado University. In 2017 it became part of CIRES, a partnership of NOAA and CU Boulder. Earth Lab, got increasing attention from mass media that’s always seeking click-bait. As Earth Lab’s team began blaming more fires on climate change, it got more attention and Balch got more interviews.

Earth Lab hired Natasha Stavros as Earth Lab’s Analytics Hub Director. In videos posted by the Washington Post, she claimed climate change causes “longer, hotter, and drier fire seasons” reflecting Balch’s conversion to a climate crisis narrative. To get around Balch’s earlier scientific research Stavros deflected, “We are not talking about the ignition source” or the “availability of fuels”, “what we are talking about are the conditions of those fuels”. But in the case of the Marshall Fire, 1-hour grass fuels have nothing to do with climate change. It only takes a few hours to be in highly flammable conditions. That’s weather, not climate!

Although lacking in scientific integrity, pivoting to a climate crisis narrative worked in Balch’s favor. The U.S. Geological Survey has selected the University of Colorado Boulder to host the North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center (NCCASC) for the next five years. Balch, as director of CIRES’ Earth Lab, and now NCCASC Director had attracted $4.5 million in funding. Universities around the country similarly create such centers to attract such major funding. Certainly, blaming fires on a climate crisis attracts more funding than if its director sounded like a “denier” blaming invasive grasses and human ignitions.

The politics of funding research requires a major level of group think. Daniel Shechtman won the Nobel Prize for discovering quasi-crystals that are now used in surgical instruments. But when he first announced his observations, he was kicked out of his lab by his colleagues. They saw him as a threat to the lab’s prestige and funding because observing quasi-crystals contradicted the consensus that was enforced by Linus Pauling that quasi-crystal did NOT exist.

Similarly, esteemed atmospheric scientist Dr Cliff Mass was criticized by Washington University administrator’s for detailing how an episode of problematic acidic waters that had been pumped into the state’s oyster’s hatcheries, was due to natural upwelling events, not climate change. But contradicting the climate crisis angle threatened funding to WU’s Ocean Acidification Center. Up until then Mass had been the Seattle Times go-to person for all weather events, but that stopped when his one analysis didn’t support climate crisis groupthink. Dr Peter Ridd was fired for presenting evidence showing his colleague's claims of coral reef destruction were exaggerated. So, all savvy university professors know you can’t contradict the meme if you want funding, or worse, keep your job.

Climate crisis groupthink, also ignores natural climate change, as did Balch and Swain. But one meteorologist confidently blamed the lack of snow and dryness on a natural La Nina. The science is well established that depending on how colder Pacific surface waters set up during a La Nina, atmospheric currents can carry higher or lower amounts of moisture to different regions. California had record snowfall this December while Colorado snowfall was very low. And if the Marshall Fire had been ignited just 2 days later, there would have been a snowfall to suppress the fire.

However too often, alarmists scientists cherry-pick one-year events. They weaponized this year’s low snowfall while ignoring that last year’s Colorado snowfall was far above normal. In November last year, Fort Collins received more than 15 inches of snow on its way to 80 inches, which is 25 inches more than normal. Again, such variations in snowfall are weather, not climate.

Alarmists also weaponized the dry conditions as solely due to global warming drought. They ignored the drying and warming effects of the Chinook winds that are very common in Colorado. Chinooks are known as “snow eaters” because as the winds pass over the mountains of the western USA they are forced upward and precipitate all their moisture. When those winds descend from the Rockies down to Boulder, temperatures rise adiabatically (due to pressure not added heat) and the warm dry air quickly removes moisture or snow from the surface. Southern California’s Santa Anna winds are similar and drive large fires.

Sometimes Boulder’s winds reach speeds of 100+ mile per hour. NOAA reported The Chinook Wind Events Winter of 1982 during which peak wind gusts more than 100 mph damaged areas around Boulder. Weatherwise journal reported 100+MPH winds over Boulder on January 7, 1969, which snapped power poles and toppled planes as seen in the photographs below. In November 2021 the weather service gave a red flag warming due to the high winds from a Chinook event. But without a coinciding human ignition, there was no rapidly spreading fire.




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