You don’t want a cold shower
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!