Ron's Rambles - October
Electric Car Charging Despite the enthusiasm for electric cars displayed by the government they still represent a tiny proportion of the number of cars on our roads. Undoubtedly the lack of enthusiasm on the part of buyers is partly due to the very high price. The cost of electricity to charge the cars is considerably cheaper than car fuel due to the tax on the fuel. I wonder if, when electric cars do become popular, the government will impose a tax on the electricity obtained from charging points in order to recover the income lost from fuel tax. At the moment it would be necessary to cover a fairly high mileage annually to save enough through reduced running costs to justify the high initial cost. There are other factors worrying prospective purchasers – one is the relatively few charging points currently available - although the situation is improving. Another is the uncertainty relating to the life of the batteries and their cost. Surprisingly, I understand from the internet, that not all charging points have the same plug and not all electric cars have the same sockets although adaptors are available to overcome this problem. I would have thought the Ministry would have recommended a particular standard from the outset. So far, I have read, there are four different types of connections in use. I have talked before about the problem I see with charging rates. An hour up the motorway would likely use about 40kWh, more if driven fast. Charging from a domestic supply might enable one to charge at 7kW, charging for 8h would give 56kWh of charge, about 1.25h up the motorway before you have a flat battery. Charging points capable of charging at this domestic rate are beginning to appear in streets, car parks and supermarkets. Clearly domestic charging rate is only practical for a car used for short journeys in urban traffic, which is the ideal use for electric cars currently. It seems charging points capable of charging at 22kW are available in a few dedicated petrol stations and motorway services – even at this rate 3h of charging would not be enough to get you very far on motorways, perhaps 150miles. Then you would need to wait another 3h for the return journey. There are some places with 43kW charging, the fastest rate available with the most popular connectors. At this rate a 3h charge might get you there and back. 50kW is the maximum available for any car except Teslas. A charging point with multiple connections at 50kW would need a substantial electricity supply. Teslas can be charged at 120kW, currently there are a little over 40 of these chargers around the country. Probably there will be many cars that could be charged at this rate – then we would be getting near the point where electric cars could be used for long journeys, even then it would be necessary to spend quite a long-time charging compared with the time taken to fill up with petrol/diesel. The logistics of providing a nationwide network of multi-connection charging points each capable of charging at 120kW is a challenging prospect to say the least. There are a number of charger ‘Providers’: ChargeMaster – Pod Point – Ecotricity – Charge Your Car – Shell Recharge and, of course, Tesla. Unit costs for electricity from their chargers vary from zero to 49p/kWh (far more than the domestic electricity rate but still a cheaper than fuel). Some providers seem to require a contract, others are pay-as-you-go. I would like to hear from any readers with experience of operating an electric car. It seems to me that the age of all electric cars for all purposes is still a long way off and that the hybrid car with an internal combustion engine as well as batteries must be the future for cars used for long journeys According to my very rough calculations, if you fill a car with petrol/diesel at the rate of 20litres/min then, allowing for the inefficiency of the engine, you are charging your car at the rate of 2300kW of useful energy (2.3MW), that Is 51 times faster than charging from an electric point at 45kW. I also estimated that at 130p/litre, the cost of useful energy is 60p/kWh.
Israel and Palestine Article 49 of the Geneva convention is quite specific “The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” The UN security council and general assembly agreed that Article 49 applied to Israeli -occupied territories. Any attempt by the UN to introduce measures to enforce this ruling have been vetoed by the USA even though US governments have repeatedly criticised the extension of settlements. In the light of these rulings, however, the land grab that has been effected by the Israelis building settlements in occupied territories, is illegal. It has been going on for so long that it seems as though the world just shrugs its shoulders every time a new settlement is announced. Protests by Palestinians at seeing their land, their farms and their homes stolen is severely squashed by the Israeli’s vastly superior military capability. Youthful anger on the part of Palestinians sometimes results in violent protest – this is described as terrorism by the Israelis – who is the terrorist here? This renewed ‘outburst’ by me has been prompted by the news that the Israeli government has just announced that it is advancing plans to build more than 1000 new homes in West Bank settlements, with construction commenced on the first 400. There are now over 600,000 Israelis living in occupied territory. In order to justify their actions the Israelis will find various excuses ranging from the claim that the land belonged to their ancestors 2000years ago to a means of punishing Palestinians for what the Israelis choose to regard as terrorism. All the time the Israeli government has been paying lip-service to the idea of a Palestinian state and a peace plan. Did any one watch the visit by British Jews to Israel and Palestine in the programme ‘We Are British Jews’ on BBC TV recently? It provided a fair and interesting view of the conflict, but in the end I believe it showed that the Israelis were the villains. I am not a Jeremy Corbin fan but I agree with him that to criticise the behaviour of the Israelis towards the Palestinians should not be misconstrued as anti-Semitism and there should not be any attempt to muzzle such criticism and I admire the way in which he stuck to his principles.
Global warming and cattle There has been much talk of the problem of CO2 and methane generated by cattle and the threat this poses to global warming. A recent report by a consultancy firm ‘Asia Research and Engagement Pte Ltd’ expressed concern over the increasing appetite for meat in Asian countries that has arisen as a consequence of increasing prosperity, claiming that as production increases to meet demand greenhouse gas emissions will increase dramatically. I am not sure how the split stands between proportions of CO2 and methane but I would not see the CO2 as a problem since this presumably comes from the vegetation eaten by the cattle – the argument is not different to that used to justify wood burning for domestic heating. It is true, however, that methane is more effective as a greenhouse gas than CO2.. Nevertheless, according to the press report, Asia Research claimed that CO2 emissions from cattle would rise from 2.9billion/year in 2017 to 5.4billion/year by 2050. This, they claim is equal to the lifetime emissions of 95million cars. But are CO2 emissions from cattle a matter for concern? I think not, I believe that the real worry is the amount of methane generated. Perhaps the press report was wrong?