You don’t want a cold shower

Motor Equipment News - - CONTENT - ED SPEAK

How real is an elec­tric fu­ture in the short to medium term? The other evening over din­ner I was re­galed by a vet­eran journo who has just re­turned from a trip to Nor­way where he met up with the top brass in­volved with elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of mo­tor­ing.

Christina Bu, sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Nor­we­gian Elec­tric Ve­hi­cle As­so­ci­a­tion, con­vinced our man that New Zealand is much like Nor­way, with more than 80 per­cent of its elec­tric­ity com­ing from re­new­able sources, a sim­i­lar pop­u­la­tion to ours, and sim­i­lar de­mo­graph­ics.

And Nor­way is the sec­ond most-pop­u­lated EV coun­try in the world – next to China, so why can’t New Zealand fol­low suit?

The an­swer is sim­ple. One word. Oil. The GDP of Nor­way is ex­actly twice New Zealand’s; last year alone the Nor­we­gian Gov­ern­ment net­ted the equiv­a­lent of $NZ22 bil­lion in rev­enue from its slice of North Sea oil.

New Zealand, how­ever, doesn’t have huge in­comes from oil, or any­thing else ex­cept taxes, so we sim­ply can’t fund a mas­sive switch to EVs.

An­other point: can our elec­tric­ity net­work han­dle a sud­den surge in elec­tric­ity de­mand from the recharg­ing of elec­tric ve­hi­cles?

There’s only so much power that can be de­liv­ered from each sub-sta­tion, and it’s based on nor­mal house­hold use. If even half the peo­ple in your street were to plug in an elec­tric car, even to charge it “off-peak”, the sup­ply could slow to a trickle, and you could wake up to find you don’t have enough juice in the bat­tery – and pos­si­bly cold wa­ter for the shower!

Yes, it can be fixed, but at what cost? Al­ready I’m hear­ing of peo­ple ar­riv­ing at charg­ing sta­tions only to find that only one fast charger can be used be­cause the in­fra­struc­ture can’t bear the load of more!

So what to do? The cost of up­grad­ing the in­fra­struc­ture would have to get passed onto to the con­sumer, prob­a­bly in the form of more elec­tric­ity tar­iffs. And this could mean you’re go­ing to find elec­tric cars are not so cheap to run after all – and you won’t be able to AF­FORD to heat your hot wa­ter.

So, as I’ve said be­fore, don’t be too quick to jump on the EV band­wagon!

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