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The Contradictions of Battery Operated Vehicles

July 7, 2022

By Paul Homewood


There’s often very thoughtful talks on TED. This one is from two years ago:




  1. July 7, 2022 10:04 am

    Paul (or anybody who might obviously be cleverer than me) – I don’t understand why he said that though horses CO2 is recycled the car’s are not. It was at the start of the talk – he showed that horses mile for mile produce the same CO2 as a Corvette – but then he showed a slide saying that the CO2 from the horse is in a cycle but the CO2 from the car’s isn’t. How come? It’s all CO2. I don’t get it. Could somebody please explain? Thanks.

    • magesox permalink
      July 7, 2022 10:12 am

      The horse’s CO2, and indeed CH4, comes from processed vegetation that would have given these gases off by rotting in the fullness of time (usually just months) anyway.
      The fossil fuels would, for eons, have remained stable in the Earth’s strata had we naughty people not dug them up and either burned them directly for energy, or created electricity for later use.
      Of course, the CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels is not stable in the environment so gets used for various life-enhancing processes by nature. So, the equation isn’t black and white and we are not quite so naughty as the warmists would have us believe.

      • July 7, 2022 11:28 am


      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        July 7, 2022 12:00 pm

        The fact that all life depends on CO2, plants need require a minimum of 150 ppm to survive, the level at the end of the last Ice Age was about 180 ppm. So what we’re doing is saving all life on Earth.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        July 7, 2022 1:26 pm

        The assumptions are extremely simplistic however. When we used horses we had far more horses so we grew far more fodder. It’s not clear that didn’t substantially increase CO2 and CH4 emissions over what would have happened otherwise.

    • 186no permalink
      July 7, 2022 1:25 pm

      Specious nonsense to state that “Corvette” exhausted CO2 is not a cycle; it damn well is: organic matter crushed at extremely high pressure decomposes over millenia, is “mined”, “refined” and burnt to produce amongst other things, …….CO2. Where does this idiot think the Corvette CO2 goes? It might have a very much longer cycle vs the Horse, but cycle there is.

      • July 7, 2022 3:58 pm

        The coal measures were laid down as dead trees piled up on one another to huge depths. They did not decay because fungi had yet to evolve enzymes that could digest wood. Trees that die in the present time are rotted away rather quickly except where it is either very dry or very wet. There will be no new coal measures.

    • Sean permalink
      July 7, 2022 1:59 pm

      Plants are magic — they can tell whether a molecule of CO2 came from the exhalation from a horse or from the operation of a motor vehicle, and will only absorb CO2 that came from non-mechanical sources. And if you believe that, I’ve got some land for you — guaranteed to have water on at least one side. The speaker is disingenuous in that he carefully avoids mentioning that “dirty cars” have to take in oxygen to burn their fuel; this oxygen comes from the respiration of plants, which take in the CO2 the cars produce in order to produce the oxygen they emit, which means that “dirty cars” have the same cycle that horses do.

      • July 7, 2022 5:22 pm

        Exactly my response. Good on you. There is truth in that we have added extra carbon to the carbon cycle by digging it up and liberating it in large quantities. I agree with the speaker that the future is “eclectic,” and that we should challenge the green halo around electric vehicles.

        Thanks, Paul for posting.

  2. Gordon Hughes permalink
    July 7, 2022 10:20 am

    The point is the same as for biomass fuels. To grow and survive a horse has to eat grass or oats or similar plant feed. These plants absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere as they grew. Hence, the cycle is: plants grow and absorb CO2 from the atmosphere -> horses eat plants and emit CO2 back to the atmosphere.

    In the long run everything balances out. Temporarily, growing more trees or plants reduces the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere (relatively to what it would have been) but this is transient not permanent. Similarly, burning wood now increases the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere but this is offset in the longer term by trees absorbing CO2 as they grow to replace the trees that have been cut down.

    The same is true, in fact, for fossil fuels. It is all photosynthesis, harnessing the power of the sun to convert carbon into stored energy. The problem in the case of fossil fuels is that the length of the cycle is millions of years rather than tens (for plants) or hundreds (for timber).

    • July 7, 2022 11:28 am


    • Phoenix44 permalink
      July 7, 2022 1:30 pm

      In the long run the Earth’s elements remain exactly as they were (excluding the radioactive ones). They just combine and recombine differently. We tend to “rescue” elements from their forced marriages for a bit, that’s all.

  3. July 7, 2022 10:21 am

    Very CO2-centric, which is an unproven hypothesis. One also needs to compare cost of building various means of generation, materials, lifetimes, efficiency, land use and disposal thereof. Make an interesting “Top Trumps” game!

  4. 2hmp permalink
    July 7, 2022 10:46 am

    Also the more CO2 in the atmosphere the less water needed by photosynthetic plants. More CO2 is all good.

  5. July 7, 2022 11:05 am

    There is such a focus on CO2 and the discussion of the hybrid really looks at efficiency. He talks solar and wind but hydroelectric and nuclear power don’t emit much CO2 or greenhouse gasses and that combined with biomass combustion are the biggest part of renewable energy generation.
    It’s painful to watch automotive companies focus development on electric, not to satisfy consumer but to satisfy their regulators. This creates imbalances, shortages price increases. Government these days is arrogant and thinks the private sector and consumers are incapable of making good decisions. Markets, competition and creative manufacturers are more likely to be able to offer good solutions that people can afford that will be applied appropriately. Instead, we have slogans like “NetZero” turned into local policy where successful implementation requires incomplete accounting and ignores the global picture.

  6. Adam Gallon permalink
    July 7, 2022 1:00 pm

    I note that Hornsea Project 3, is coming in at strike price of £37.35.
    Hmm about 30% of the price for Project 1.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 7, 2022 4:44 pm

      The price is meaningless. They won’t take up the CFD, same as they haven’t for Hornsea 2. Hornsea 1 is now paying £175.25/MWh, while Hornsea 2 is now averaging over £200/MWh on market prices.

  7. July 7, 2022 1:15 pm

    Here is a recent article with an extensive bibliography of supporting research on the demise of the megafauna due to the effects of low CO2 levels and not nasty man eating them to extinction. This study was done if Africa.

    23 Nov 2018
    Vol 362, Issue 6417
    pp. 938-941

    Megaherbivore extinctions in Africa
    Human ancestors have been proposed as drivers of extinctions of Africa’s diverse large mammal communities. Faith et al. challenge this view with an analysis of eastern African herbivore communities spanning the past ∼7 million years (see the Perspective by Bobe and Carvalho). Megaherbivores (for example, elephants, rhinos, and hippos) began to decline about 4.6 million years ago, preceding evidence for hominin consumption of animal tissues by more than 1 million years. Instead, megaherbivore decline may have been triggered by declining atmospheric carbon dioxide and expansion of grasslands.

  8. Jonathon Myers permalink
    July 7, 2022 2:21 pm

    I tried to post a moment ago, but I do not see my post yet … I said “Mark Meadows” and I meant “Mark Mills.” Sorry for the confusion …

    • Jonathon Myers permalink
      July 8, 2022 4:30 pm

      I see my first post did not go through … Mark Mills further illuminates the issue with “Green Energy” in this video:

  9. Richard Bell permalink
    July 7, 2022 3:04 pm

    Yes the guy is correct in what he says BUT ends by saying we need more renewable energy in the form of solar & wind which is WRONG !!! ……… We need more Fossil Fuels not crazy renewables……. PLEASE read Alex Epstein’s new book FOSSIL FUTURE

  10. jimlemaistre permalink
    July 7, 2022 4:18 pm

    Thank you Paul . . . that was a great Video !

    One cavate . . . He, as do most reviewers, left out Line Losses and Charging Losses.
    OHM’s Law . . .15% of the electricity produced is lost, as heat, between the power plant and the charger . . . Another 16% is lost, as heat, Charging the Battery . . . a whopping 31% !

    All thermo-dynamic machines average the same efficiencies including gas cars. Soo . . . from the get go, Electric cars cause 31% more fossil fuels to be burned . . .

    Oh, and those wind turbines and those solar panels . . . During their production they cause More fossil fuels to be burned than they will EVER replace during their productive lifetimes . . . We just have Never been Told . . .

    Propaganda is NOT Science . . .

  11. ULF WESTBERG permalink
    July 7, 2022 7:17 pm

    Well, he makes a big fuzz about the Electric vehicle having CO2 emissions during produktion, but the wind farms and solar panelsamtal just appeared through thin air – magically – or not. They emit on par or worse with nuclear power.

  12. chriskshaw permalink
    July 7, 2022 11:29 pm

    Interesting poll from C3

    Click to access C3-Action-Poll-1.pdf

  13. July 8, 2022 8:07 am


    with reference to your article you link to, regarding percentage of a generation source.
    From what I have seen this average is used by most calculations of attributing CO2 to that electricity consumed by electric vehicles.(And the same for heat pumps)

    However the grid does not work on averages, increase demand and in most grids this extra demand (Which is what evs and heat pumps will cause) is met by dispatchable generators (Gas in the U.K. and coal for many countries) and not by nuclear or renewable as for the vast majority of the time they are at maximum available output and therefore cannot react to the extra demand. Thus CO2 rises by the increase in demand proportional to that demand and practically means that they are met by 100% CO2 emitting generation, (excepting where there is large hydro generation).
    It seems that this is not a well known fact and thus the CO2 emitted by evs and heat pumps will be largely undersestinmted to a large degree by such calculations shown graphically on the video.
    On the other side of the equation is how the mix of generators evolves with time, as a large increase in non CO2 generating capacity will offset this figure but renewables are slower to build than they appear (As nameplate capacity quoted is far less than their actual ouput) and the requirement for more dispatchable capacity, and nuclear seems to be declining at present and for the next few years, and of course is slow to build anyway.

    It is complex but averages do not give an accurate figure.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      July 8, 2022 11:10 am

      a very good point, but to add to that assume that those building renewables are keen to maximise their profits, so the best sites for renewables would be taken first. That means that more renewable (nominal) capacity won’t result in an arithmetical increase in their actual capacity/output.
      Already in South Australia we are seeing wind farms selected to shut down when the wind blows strongly, when the excess output would be too much for the interstate connectors to transmit. The State average capacity factor for wind has dropped from 30.5 to 29.4%. This has lead to a lessening of interest in building wind farms over the last 3 years. The “solution” by the State politicians (both sides) is to build (with borrowed money) another interconnector to a different State. Fine if that State is as stupid, which fortunately (for SA) is the case with Mad Max being Kean on more and more renewables for NSW (he doesn’t know anything about electricity generation, but you’ve most likely realised that).

    • Mikehig permalink
      July 9, 2022 4:54 pm

      Iain R: you and I are on the same page on this point!
      It’s a bit disapppointing that it does not get more recognition but that is possibly deliberate on the part of the EV/renewables advocates.
      When I have raised the issue with such advocates, the usual counter is that they are on “100% renewable” tariffs. It then becomes even more of an uphill struggle, getting them to understand that tariffs are irrelevant – just paperwork.
      That said, the majority of EV fans buy their cars for financial reasons or personal preference: saving the planet doesn’t seem to be top priority!

  14. ecobunk permalink
    July 8, 2022 9:44 am

    From a rigorous engineering perspective, consider the overall energy budget. These “new” electricity users such as vehicles and heating are an elective transfer from the previous type of fossil fuel to the electricity system. In turn, the whole of their power demands must be provided by an increase in grid fossil fuel burn until such time as traditional uses have become completely provided for by renewables. Thus in the overall national energy budget, they will remain 100% fossil fuel users for many years to come.

    Further, they are an important reason coal generation is still required. An electric car is frequently a coal fuelled car!

  15. Brian Richards permalink
    July 10, 2022 6:24 pm

    Scaremongering from across the pond. all the best Brian

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