Last year I bought an electric vehicle, or a BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) if we’re adopting the abbreviations that dominate the automotive electrification landscape.
Today, the consumer has the choice of a PHEV, HEV, MHEV, Hybrid…or for some brands, the somewhat controversial marketing descriptor a ‘self-charging’ car.
As we all know, the Government recently announced its intention to bring forward its plan to ban all petrol and diesel powertrains from 2040 to 2035. Greg Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, then inadvertently announced on BBC Radio 5 Live’s breakfast show that it could even be brought forward to 2032. God bless our politicians.
The headlines were made. The arguments raged. It is a consultation though, not a hard stop. Yet.
It raises many questions.
There’s the infrastructure conversation. And then there’s the technology question, the hybrid one, and the range one, the cobalt one, the well-to-wheel one, and the grid one. Can the National Grid cope with millions of cars charging up at night?
I say night, because I’m an EV owner, right? Because my ‘petrol station’ is on my drive. And the most convenient time to plug in, is at night when we’re not using it. It’s also when the grid is at its less stressed, and cheapest.
I’m not alone. And I won’t be in 2032 or 2035 and beyond.
But here’s the real crux for me. We need a fully renewable electricity grid by then too.
The first thing I did when I bought my car? I switched my energy supplier to a 100% renewable source – wind, wave and solar.
The good news is the UK is advancing at a decent rate. In 2019, renewable energy grew by 9% with 137 days delivering more of the ‘natural’ than the fossil fuelled flavour. In 1990, 75% of all our fuel came from coal. Today that is just 2.1%. That is to be applauded, but there’s still some way to go.
A staggering 46.5 BILLION litres of fuel was sold to power our mobility in the UK last year.
Therefore, for me, the adoption of electrification needs to run hand-in-hand with renewable or rather Natural Energy.
I once had the pleasure of working with the legendary David Nelson of Foster & Partners, when we created the Fuel Station of the Future for Nissan. One thing struck me hard during those many conversations – and I’m para-phrasing here – he said: ‘we have all the energy we need in the sky. If all our roof tops, windows could absorb the solar energy, we would need nothing else’.
And here’s a stat for you. The sun produces the equivalent of 38,460 septillion watts of energy per second. (That’s 1 followed by 42 zeros for those trying to work it out!)
So for me, if we are driving towards banning petrol and diesel cars…the real race should be towards 100% Natural Energy first.
As with everything, the Government can legislate it, businesses can push it, but the consumer must pull it. I just wonder how many BEV and PHEV buyers and how many businesses with charging points have their energy sourced from 100% renewable natural sources?