Sunday, February 05, 2023

'Alarming': Man Shows His Electric Car Lost 70% of Its Acceleration Ability in the Cold

Electric vehicles are not only unreliable, but can also be dangerously sluggish in winter temperatures. Is this really progress?

While renewable-energy zealots and climate change alarmists are singing the praises of battery-operated vehicles, the reality is that drivers may find themselves bracing for impact because of the technology’s limitations.

According to Tommy Mica on YouTube’s TFLEV channel, his 2022 Mini Cooper lost as much as 70 percent of its acceleration power during the recent Colorado cold snap.

Some owners have already figured out that they lose driving range when the temperatures plunge, but they could be left bracing for impact if they’re caught short on power during a merge or other situation where speed is critical.

“Hey everybody, so I want to talk about a fairly alarming issue I’m having in my fully electric car now that we’re deep into the Colorado winter,” Mica began in his video posted Tuesday.

“So most folks know this point that the range on EVs decrease when the temperatures go down, but performance also tends to decrease to varying degrees,” Mica argued.

He acknowledged that vehicles with traditional internal combustion engines also experience performance issues in the winter.

However, as the Department of Energy admitted, the cold’s effect, like increased viscosity of engine fluids and gasoline, isn’t as significant as it is for frozen batteries.

“Here’s the issue,” Mica later explained, showing the car’s dashboard indicators.

“Look at these bars go down, this is actually the acceleration meter on the Mini, and these little clicks mean how much acceleration you have available.”

“When it’s at 100, you get the full enchilada, you get all the beans,” Mica said.

“However, when the battery is very low, or if it’s very cold, you actually lose clicks as the car derates itself,” he added.

Mica then showed the indicator hover around 30 percent after sitting outside overnight in subzero temperatures.

The significance of this decrease became apparent when he took his Mini for a spin and attempted to merge onto a highway.

“Can we make it up the hill even?” Mica asked himself at one point.

The vehicle was slow to gain speed — one could almost hear the Little Mini That Could utter, “I think I can, I think I can” — but it got there eventually.

Any car that unexpectedly fails to accelerate is at risk for a rear-end collision or a failed merge, and this could indicate a problem across the board for electric vehicles.

Still, this technology is sold to the American people as the wave of the future even as they have demonstrably rolled back the progress automobiles made.

After more than a century of improvements and innovations, the internal combustion engine has become solidly reliable in all kinds of weather and conditions, every time.

Something like turning on the heat in the cabin for the comfort of passengers is effortless in a gasoline-powered vehicle. Not so for some electric vehicles that can’t spare the voltage.

Having a full tank of gas all but guarantees that the car will go the promised distance regardless of the temperature.

The same can’t be said of electric vehicles that lose battery life while parked in the cold, potentially leaving its drivers stranded on the side of a frigid road in a dead vehicle.

Electric vehicles are still so unreliable that the elites who push for them in every home garage in America still rely on gas-guzzling SUVs to ensure they get where they need to go no matter the distance or degrees.

There may come a time when electric vehicles actually become the modern miracle they’re touted as today.

Unfortunately, we’re not anywhere close, even as our betters try to sell us on the idea that these cars are our future.

The potential dangers, coupled with the fact that electric vehicles are more expensive to buy and maintain, make it a ludicrous proposition to foist them on us.

If progress means dangerous, unreliable, and sluggish electric vehicles, we’re better off in the past when only toy cars were battery-operated.


Murphy’s Law of Alternative Energy

One might think that these would be boom times in the wind power business, with governments and giant corporations around the world competing to offer ever more generous preferences and subsidies for the intermittent energy source. But somehow this primitive means of generating power is still just not quite ready to replace the modern ones.

Part of the challenge is that politicians are finally waking up to the fact that alternative energy carries environmental costs along with the alleged benefits. In December this column noted Jennifer Dlouhy’s Boomberg report uncovering an internal warning from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist to Interior Department officials about the threat to whales posed by offshore wind development.

Now Amanda Oglesby and Dan Radel report: for the Asbury Park Press:

A group of New Jersey mayors are calling for an “immediate moratorium” on offshore wind energy development until federal and state scientists can assure the public that ocean noise related to underwater seabed mapping, soil borings and other turbine construction activities poses no threat to whales.

The announcement followed news that another humpback whale died off of the coasts of New Jersey and New York and washed ashore in Lido Beach, New York, according to numerous reports. . . .

The Lido Beach whale marks the eighth whale to wash ashore on the beaches of New York and New Jersey in the past two months, the mayors said.

So far there doesn’t appear to be any evidence linking offshore wind development to the specific whale deaths. But it’s reasonable to demand a long overdue investigation of the true economic and environmental costs and benefits of an industry that taxpayers have been assisting for years.

Despite all the help in this country and around the world, the economics of the business remain challenging. Camilla Hodgson reports for the Financial Times:

The European wind industry has warned of continued difficulties in 2023 as high materials costs and slow approvals for new wind power projects drag back profitability, despite rising demand for renewable energy.

The latest poor outlook came from Danish wind turbine maker Vestas, which told investors on Friday that it would suffer a weaker year as the slow EU planning system and supply chain inflation depressed profits. . . .

The leading European offshore wind manufacturers “are under enormous pressure on the cost side and on the price side”, said Alessandro Boschi, head of the European Investment Bank’s renewable energy division, adding that he expected to see “further consolidation” in the sector.

Things are tough all over for windmill enthusiasts. Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Christoph Steitz recently reported for Reuters:

Denmark’s Orsted . . . the world’s No. 1 offshore wind farm developer... announced a writedown on a large U.S. offshore wind project and an earnings forecast for 2023 that fell short of analyst estimates.

Madrid-listed Siemens Gamesa . . . the world’s biggest offshore wind turbine maker, reported a 472 million euro ($510 million) hit to operating profit due to faulty turbine components that require higher warranty and maintenance provisions.

Here in the U.S., Reuters colleagues Rajesh Kumar Singh and Abhijith Ganapavaram reported last week from Chicago:

General Electric . . . on Tuesday exceeded expectations for quarterly earnings on robust demand for jet engines and power equipment, but gave a disappointing full-year outlook as problems persisted at its renewable energy business. . . . The unit reported a loss of $2.2 billion in 2022.

GE is reducing global headcount at the onshore wind unit by about 20% as part of a plan to restructure and resize the business.

Meanwhile in Massachusetts, Colin Young of the State House News Service reported recently in the Berkshire Eagle:

The developer behind the largest single offshore wind farm in the state’s pipeline . . . filed a formal notice of appeal to contest the Department of Public Utilities’ approval of contracts that the developer agreed to but says will no longer allow its project to be financed or built.
Why do bad things keep happening to this industry?

It’s almost as if wind energy companies are using a less advanced technology than competing power projects.


Go figure: European fracking bans spark US shale gas boom

Rising demand from Europe has added to a US natural gas investment boom even as the industry struggles to overcome opposition to pipeline construction.

Production of the fuel reached 3.1 trillion cubic feet for the month of October, according to the most recently available US data, an all-time high and up almost 50 percent from the level a decade ago.

The industry has been in growth mode since the summer of 2021 when Russia began trimming shipments to Europe, according to Steven Miles, a fellow at Rice University's Banker Institute in Houston.

That comes on the heels of the US shale revolution in the first decade of the 21st century that ultimately led to the United States becoming a net exporter of the fuel in 2017.

The progression has not been continuous, with plummeting natural gas prices crimping investment and leading to the bankruptcy of one of industry's biggest players, Chesapeake Energy, in June 2020.

But energy companies have become more confident in the long-term demand outlook for the fuel in light of shifting geopolitical dynamics.

Five years ago, the long-term demand "was not nearly as clear as it is today," said Eli Rubin of EBW AnalyticsGroup, a consultancy.

"Especially after Russia invaded Ukraine, we have a healthy new respect for natural gas' role in providing energy security, for its role in helping to tame consumer pricing."

Even before the invasion, there was heavy investment in facilities to transform gas into liquefied natural gas (LNG). In recent years, some 14 new liquefaction terminals have been approved, with the first set to begin operating in 2024.

"Over the next five years, we could potentially double US LNG exports," Rubin said.

The push comes as big energy companies enjoy rich cashflow courtesy of lofty commodity prices that have enabled the industry to invest aggressively even as they boost share buybacks and dividends.

Pipeline blockage

While the growth of LNG has globalized the natural gas market to a limited extent, the dynamics remain heavily localized.

Prices on the benchmark European TTF contract are currently more than six times the level of comparable Henry Hub contract in the United States.

That gap means that LNG exports are priced more closely to the US level, setting the stage for "middlemen" who can move the cargoes to Europe and "sell them at European prices," said Miles.

Much higher exports of US natural gas could lead to more price consistency across regions -- but probably not for many years.

"Maybe in the long run ... (the United States will) export so much gas to Europe that prices between Europe, Asia and North America become more aligned," said Ryan Kellogg, a professor at the University of Chicago specializing in energy.

"But I think we're pretty far away from that right now."

One lingering challenge facing the industry is the lack of pipeline capacity, particularly in the northeastern part of the United States.

The nation's biggest natural gas basin, the Marcellus Shale, which is mostly in Pennsylvania, faces constraints due to lack of infrastructure.

A venture called the Mountain Valley Pipeline stands as a potential solution, but the project has been suspended for the last five years amid resistance from land owners and environmentalists.

Opposition by climate activists and elected officials to industry-backed projects is "certainly much stronger than it was," said Rubin.

But the lack of infrastructure can exacerbate price volatility during periods of peak demand.

New England, which is in northeastern United States, relies on LNG for a fraction of its heating.

But the region, which normally sees some of the coldest weather in the country, is also known for resisting new pipeline capacity.

During a cold snap, "New England is competing with Europe for a spot LNG cargo," said Rubin. "For the cargo to go to New England, they have to pay higher prices than Europe."


German industry to pay 40% more for energy than pre-crisis - study says

German industry is set to pay about 40% more for energy in 2023 than in 2021, before the energy crisis triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a study by Allianz Trade said on Monday, citing contract expiries and delayed wholesale pricing effects.

"The large energy-price shock still lies ahead for European corporates," said Allianz Trade, the credit insurer that changed its name from Euler Hermes last year.

In 2022, higher corporate utility bills were contained as long pass-through times from wholesale markets and government interventions mitigated the immediate hit from surging prices as Russia curbed fuel exports to the West.

The price increases will hit corporate profits across Europe by 1-1.5% and lead to lower investment, which in Germany's case would amount to 25 billion euros ($27 billion), Allianz Trade estimated.

German companies' finances are robust, however, and a state-imposed gas price cap would help, it added.

Fears the crisis could lead to de-industrialisation and a loss of competitiveness against the United States were overdone, because labour costs and exchange rates have a bigger impact on manufacturing than energy prices, the study said.

Also, while exporters were losing market shares in areas such as agrifood, machinery, electrical equipment, metals and transport, the relative beneficiaries tended to be Asian, Middle Eastern and African, not American, it added.

The German government's one-off payment to help private households and small businesses with gas prices - the first stage of a package that will be complemented with retroactive price caps kicking in in March - has cost 4.3 billion euros so far, the economy ministry said on Saturday.

Berlin has earmarked 12 billion euros for the payment, but the ministry said 4.3 billion euros was not the final cost as many eligible firms had not yet applied for the aid. They have until the end of February.




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