EV debate shorts out

Crikey sums it up:

Taylor far from electrifying. There was considerable fun to be had on the weekend with the government’s and News Corp’s attempts to attack Labor’s electric car plan. Bill Shorten’s claim that electric cars could be charged in 10 minutes was seized on by News Corp to attack him, while Scott Morrison accused Shorten of wanting to shove electric cars down Australians’ throats. Problem is, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is an enthusiastic spruiker of electric cars and claimed last year they could be charged in less than 30 minutes. His colleague Paul Fletcher is also a fan — enough to earn a rebuke from Peta Credlin.

Indeed, so too is Angus Taylor himself. Last year he promised electric vehicles “will soon have access to an ultra-rapid charging network” that “will provide a range of up to 400 kilometres in just fifteen minutes.” Taylor got caught out on the weekend spreading a fake attack by the TV show Top Gear on electric vehicles. He deleted the tweet, but presumably can’t delete his media release from October. Meantime, Lucy Turnbull tweeted about an eight-minute charger. Today even the Oz, which had previously mocked Shorten, was reporting on Taylor’s humiliation and noting that Coalition supporter Trevor St Baker claimed to be manufacturing chargers that could do the job “within 10 minutes”.

Having lost the technical debate, the LNP has today swung to the old chestnut of Communism:

Self-styled “modern Liberals” joined the attack on Monday, with Liberal MP Jason Falinski warning that Labor’s electric car agenda would be “Pink Batts all over again” by compelling people to adopt a product the market was not actively seeking.

Liberal candidate for Wentworth Dave Sharma argued the policy had shades of communism.

At a Senate estimates hearing on Monday, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Labor’s electric car target was like the government forcing consumers to maintain a certain diet.

They can’t go too hard given climate change inaction is killing them politically already. Mr Atlassian joins in at the AFR:

Mr Cannon-Brookes, who drives one of Elon Musk’s Tesla electric vehicles, said he didn’t think Labor’s target of 50 per cent of new vehicles sales being electric by 2030 was ambitious at all.

“There’s a whole bunch of countries that have mandated 100 per cent by then, so the car manufacturers will be out in force.

“They’re all going to be there in the early 2020s and I honestly don’t think 50 per cent of vehicles sold by 2030 is ambitious at all,” he told The Australian Financial Review.

It’s reasonably ambitious, via New Daily:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison may be determined to paint Bill Shorten as the enemy of ute owners over his ambitious electric vehicle target, but the reality is that the global automotive industry is way ahead of him.

Auto manufacturers are facing a legislative world demanding lower – and eventually zero – emissions. So, they are building vehicles that respond to that.

The most significant action of them all is the government-driven commitment to turn the world’s biggest car market in China electric. No auto brand on earth that wants to stay relevant and profitable can ignore that.

Australia has pretty much stood outside this developing global trend toward electric vehicles or the last decade, debating what to do about future emissions and fuel standards.

Despite the government’s scare campaign over electric cars, the ALP’s 50 per cent EV sales target by 2030 still pales against the likes of Norway’s 100 per cent target by 2025.

Regardless, utes are not going away as we know them in Australia, nor vehicles with big towing capacities.

Heavy-duty diesel engines and petrol V8s have no end date on them either. But electric motors fed by batteries – and maybe hydrogen fuel stacks – are going to become more common.

And ensuring you can have weekend fun and still be green, electricity will power utes and accessories they will tow. If electricity can power buses and prime movers it can haul a Jayco caravan.

The trend toward electrification even touches on the two vehicles Mr Morrison used as examples as he sought to score points last Monday; the Toyota HiLux utility and Hyundai i30.

Toyota has already committed to electrifying its entire model line-up by 2025. That means, having at least one powertrain that is hybrid in every model range it sells. That presumably includes the HiLux, the number one vehicle sold in Australia today.

Basically, yes, it is unstoppable. All we are arguing over is how. Two policy debates have more importance in that regard. First, the grid:

As Prime Minister Scott Morrison sharpened his attack on Labor’s pledge to massively boost sales of electric vehicles, a new report led by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has warned that preparations must be made now to avoid grid instability in the future.

The report, obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, said action was needed to avoid problems once electric vehicle usage started to spike beyond 2025, but it was difficult to predict the uptake even without changes to government policy.

The ARENA report, produced in conjunction with the South Australian government and South Australia Power Networks, warns that electric vehicles could create higher than expected demand and that a flood of vehicles plugging in at the end of a hot summer weekday could overwhelm the grid. While the research was focused on South Australia, its stated intention was to inform policy around the country.

There will be many ways to address this spreading of the load. But at the macro level it again comes back to the gas cartel. Gas “peaker” power plants are pretty much the only effective demand spike redress mechanism for the grid while we are so short of power storage. They are cheap and easy to build too. To manage that we’ll need a lower gas price ensuring security of supply meaning domestic reservation is vital.

The second issue is raised at The Australian:

Labor faces a choice between ­failing to implement its proposed new vehicle emissions standards for at least eight years — putting its electric vehicle target in doubt — or threatening the viability of the four remaining fuel refineries.

Environment Minister Melissa Price moved quietly last week to postpone fuel standard improvements for Australian refiners until July 1, 2027, through a regulation that will stand unless Labor disallows it.

The move followed heavy lobbying by refineries, which had ­argued a more rapid introduction of new sulphur standards would force them out of business, slashing thousands of jobs and threatening the nation’s fuel security.

It’s claimed that it is a billion dollar investment to retrofit the refineries which does not seem overly onerous at $250m each. Especially so after so many decades of profiteering at the expense of the externality of free pollution that now threatens the species.

David Llewellyn-Smith
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  1. HadronCollision

    I hadn’t thought of one aspect of EV-ification with attendent work on grid etc etc

    Would it not make AU more resilient to oil shocks , I mean, what would we use oil for apart from chemicals?

    Also, would food costs decrease as over time sun is cheaper than oil?

    • Jumping jack flash

      Yes, yes, yes!!

      And then think about the possibilities if you weren’t even connected to the grid for electricity!

  2. We’d need to sort out a viable baseload supply as coal fired PS EOL fast approaching, so pumper hydro at as many dams as possible. Lots more renewables asap.

    Don’t forget that the US and the EU have lots of nuclear still, and we must be creaking as population explodes and climate change kicks in even further. It’s a perfect storm of policy FU’s headed out way. Also, the people spruking all the tech knowledge heven’t a clue. It’s one thing to read a marketing post and another one for reality. There is good news though as a Swiss company has a new tech battery supposedly to achieve 600km range, and it’s not LIon [ https://innolith.com/ ]. There is also flow batteries that will be better, but “rings a big bell” this all has to be field proven, so banking your future on marketing blurb is seriously flawed. There is the big issue of recycling and cost of a full elec system. No no one what to stick their head up on that one yet. All the pollies as always will bet the future on a policy brain fart. I just wish they’d fully investigate before they make wild claims. It is going to happen, but like any engineering project manage it properly. Boeing 737 Max 8 is a classic example of what not to do.

    • What an Engineering project undertaken by properly trained Engineers, F’it what would be the point of that?
      Everyone knows that all the profits in Engineering projects are in the variances, if the system was properly designed from day one than everyone involved would go broke implementing it.

      • fisho, it happens, but just not here. Mistakes are always made no matter where it is, but having pollies and bureaucrats running the show like here it’s a joke. A uni mate who works in Canberra on gov projects told me the engineers were told to butt out of his current one. I contribuied with the CSIRO for a bit, and while I wasn’t directly involved in the project, the amount of planning and advice to government which wasn’t been looked at shocked me and the people running the project. I don’t know what the answer is, but if you’ve got suggestions go for it.

      • I’m definitely not against getting things right first time but that’s not what our current system rewards, consequently it’s not what the systems tries to deliver.
        Wrt EV and the integration of these cars into our road / fuel infrastructure we’re always going to deliver something half a55ed before we decided to just buy a product that others have properly engineered. I love to change this but I’m absolutely certain that that can’t happen. (hence my comment that the system rewards variance even when the real solution was achievable cheaper than the F’up that’ll need to be replaced….but that’s just how it is.
        I’m not sure if politicians are to blame or engineers or our business community…maybe it’s just what we do.

    • Seems to me that if you are adding a whole lot of electric vehicles to the system, then you are also adding the capacity for a whole bunch of latent storage capacity when they aren’t being used.

      • Sounds like a plan, but if it’s like the feed in tariff the retail suppliers would be the winners.

    • Jumping jack flash

      What, more possibilities for gouging?

      I can see it now: you buy your brand new EV. Register it in your name, at your address.

      A letter arrives from the electricity retailer: congrats on purchasing your new EV. Yadda yadda greeen, yadda yadda planet, yadda yadda extra supply requirements, yadda yadda EV charging fee!!

  3. For a 50kWh battery pack full discharged, even a 30-minute charge is going to require 100kW ignoring the battery efficiency.

    A 10-minute charge will need around 300kW.

    How is this going to work with the existing power network?

    • Yeah but that’s all just a technology problem, we don’t need to have our imaginations stunted by engineering / material reality, where’s the creativity in that?
      Why would anyone need to know how to translate Battery KwH into Power Distribution KiloAmps? Seriously are the two even related? and won’t the next generation of mega batteries alleviate this problem (twice the Kwh charged in the same time shouldn’t have any effect on KAmps because the marketting blurb didn’t mention any such limits.
      What can one say : If Ignorance is bliss than Australian politicians must be the happiest people alive.

    • “How is this going to work with the existing power network?”

      The same way we flush toilets. The water grid does not have enough ‘power’ to flush a toilet, so we build ‘buffers’ of power (the cistern). There are lots of ways to buffer power – some people are trying to do this with flywheels!

      You do realise that we are doing this now? We have 15min fast chargers – they don’t fully charge the 40-50kWh batteries, but give it enough power to drive another 200kms. People only need fast charging for long trips – which is normally only a couple of times a year. Most people will fully charge the car on the weekend at home, for free, using their rooftop solar.

      (from twitter)
      Morrison Govt 2018: “Electric cars, how good are they?!”

      ALP 2019: “We should have more electric cars”

      Morrison Govt 2019: “The ALP want to make you marry an electric car and then let it kill you”

      • An energy buffer is far more complicated than just putting some water in a tank.

        Of course we are doing this now! But it is not going to work when 50% of the cars need to charge using the existing infrastructure.

        As usual people just simplify everything when it is far more complicated than people realise.

      • “An energy buffer is far more complicated than just putting some water in a tank.”
        Not really. What do you think pumped (or non-pumped) hydro is? But we also have capacitors and batteries.

        “But it is not going to work when 50% of the cars need to charge using the existing infrastructure.”
        That is not true. Only a very small % of charges will be ‘fast’. By 2030 rooftop PV and batteries will have (almost) halved in price twice (it is about every 5-7 years), so almost every EV will charge of PV during the day. PV will saturate the grids.

        Oh, and it is only 50% of ‘new’ cars by 2030, to 50% of the cars. Because of dropping battery prices this will happen without government policy or intervention.

        Just because something may be complicated, does not mean it cannot be done cheaply at scale – it is just engineering. Computers are a great example of that.

      • I get the feeling that you know full well the limits of your own proposals but for some reason refuse to acknowledge them.
        Maybe it’s an Upton Sinclare thing … It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

      • “”By 2030 rooftop PV and batteries will have (almost) halved in price twice (it is about every 5-7 years), so almost every EV will charge of PV during the day””

        BIG assumption. Batteries are large industrial products that absorb one hell of a lot of resources. It’s difficult to see how the price of some of these resources are not going to rocket with massive consumption.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        Why would we be 20 years down the track with the same infrastructure we have today ?

  4. Why can’t there be a system of switching over batteries like gas bottles? Hand over your flat battery and they hand you a charged battery.

    • Ah lets just call the problem battery weight.
      And a related problem called weight distribution
      than there’s the curly problem of battery wear (my 90% effective capacity battery swapped for you 70% and falling battery …now who wants to swap my 60% capacity battery back for a newish 90% capacity battery …I’ll throw in a full charge.

      • I was thinking batteries wouldn’t be owned by you. You would just be renting it and consuming the charge. The batteries could be owned by the manufacturer. Weight of the battery could be dealt with by specifically designed winch/stacker.

      • Check out battery placement in a Tesla
        BTW there’s more than one battery, For a 100Kwh car they’ve put the batteries anywhere that they can squeeze them….anywhere low down and towards the center that is.
        It wouldn’t be easy to change that to some sort of slot in battery drawer design.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        It seems to me that modular batteries and battery swaps shouldn’t be a technically difficult thing to achieve.

        I think the biggest problem would be who wears the risk of aging batteries.

        But the whole range and fast charging thing to me seem largely irrelevant. The vast, vast majority of drivers and usage patterns are comfortably serviced by even a 200km range and a few hours of charging, especially if public chargers become as common as parking meters.

    • scootytootyMEMBER

      There was a company called ‘better place’ from Israel that wanted to trial something like that in Australia but they went bankrupt in 2013. They had automated service stations that plucked the battery from under the car and put in a fresh one.

  5. truthisfashionable

    In a complete surprise of ‘good’ unintentional consequences, the new import laws will allow or encourage hybrids and EVs for private import.
    There was already the Toyota Vellfire/Alphard vans and Crown sedans on the road using Toyota’s hybrid systems.

    Now a few cool Nissan vehicles will be eligible; Serena van, (although no more ElGrand vans), the fuga is a fancy sedan, but the Note ePower seems like a brilliant little interim run about for people who get range anxiety.

    Essentially a 3cylinder petrol motor charges the battery that the electric motor draws from, no grid business, just unleaded fuel turned into electricity at the rate of around 3.6L/100km. If I needed a second small commuter car around Sydney, this would be too of my list.

    My info is from here:

  6. Do any of the articles mention the need to put in a land tax to replace the petrol tax?

    Shorten was asked, “what will replace the petrol tax” and Shorten failed to answer.

    2 tonne electric cars will actually wear out the roads more. The vast majority of the petrol cars sold today weigh less than 2000 kg. A lot of petrol cars weigh only 1 tonne.

    Power grid not ready for spike in electric vehicles

    But it is ready for mass immigration and all the air conditioners?

    Raise the import tax on petrol cars to 20%. Lower the LCT threshold for petrol cars to $50k.

    Still, a 50% target is way more sensible than the Greens’ complete ban on petrol cars by 2030. Australia is over 3000 km wide and mostly desert. Norway = 385,203 km². Australia = 7.692 million km².

    • Jumping jack flash

      “Power grid not ready for spike in electric vehicles”
      Not at all.

      Wait. Let me guess… User pays.

      Best combination is off grid and EV. Total energy independence.

      Yea it may require a few more panels and a few more batteries but EV = gouging opportunity for the electricity companies. I can see them slobbering from here.

  7. Billy Ray Valentine

    Australians send $50 million dollars a day every day of the year to Saudi Arabia paying for our oil imports, 90% of which is also refined overseas mostly in Singapore. We have a couple months of fuel reserves, if China wanted to attack Australia in the future it would simply blockade our imports. EV’s use 100% domestic energy, even the battery materials come from Aussie mines. Morrison, Angus Taylor, Peta Credlin, Craig Kelly and all the other LNF nuffies are trying to keep Australian money flowing to Saudi Arabia the biggest funder of terrorism in the world, and completely undermining Australia’s national defence. Very dangerous people.