James Earl Jones, playing the evil snake cult leader Thulsa Doom, explains to Conan the Barbarian the meaning of the Riddle of Steel:
He beckons a disciple standing on a ledge, high above, to “come to him.” She does – and jumps to her death.
“That is power!” Doom exults. “What is steel, boy, compared with the power of the hand that wields it?”
Gasoline is like that.
The power it contains is so remarkable it has become taken for granted – like food in the ‘fridge.
A single gallon contains enough power to propel a typical car more than 30 miles, at a cost of around $1.50 (the actual cost of the fuel itself, before the extortionate and regressive taxes are added to the price).
It can be easily and quickly transferred from pump to tank – or jug – without need of special apparatus or expensive technology. It can be stored for long periods of time without depending on anything more involved than a physical container that can be kept air-tight.
The power of mobility. Of inexpensive mobility.
Gasoline – and the internal combustion engine – has made it possible for almost anyone to easily and cheaply travel Megallanic distances. To live in an area where houses are affordable – and drive to work in an area where they are not. To be able to visit friends and family in another state in just a few hours and then come back home the same day, if they like.
To drop everything you were doing and jump in the car right now – even if the tank is almost empty – and go get your daughter who just called for help because her car broke down two hours down the road.
To be 15-years-old and champing at the bit for that first taste of adult freedom, purchased for $2,000 with the money earned from cutting lawns and raking leaves the prior several years. To be a young adult, who got a job out of state – and get to it, easily, in the same $2,000 beater bought at 15.
Many of us have come to take all of this for granted – especially today’s kids, who can be excused to some extent because they have been heavily propagandized from birth and are too young to remember otherwise.
This is as dangerous as taking it for granted that the ‘fridge will always be full.
The enornous voltage necessary to move several thousand pounds of vehicle 30 miles cannot be easily or inexpensively “poured in.” It also cannot be stored for easy transfer into a vehicle. It must be transmitted as needed, which is the equivalent – in gasoline terms – of pumping fuel from a central storage depot say 50 miles away through a network of pipelines – with pumping substations along the way, to maintain the necessary volume/pressure.
Once it has arrived, the volts can’t be “pumped” into the electric car’s battery as you would gas into a tank. The electricity has to be metered at a rate that is comparable to operating a gasoline station pump at about 5 percent of its normal flow capacity.
It has to be at this slowed-down rate in order to avoid a fire – or damage to the battery. This is unavoidable as EV technology exists – as opposed to what has been promised.
There is no running down the street to grab a “gallon” of volts; you must bring the car to the plug – and then you must wait.
In the 15-30 minutes it takes to instill the gasoline equivalent of half a tank, the EV is back on the road – assuming there was no one else ahead of you. And there are only so many “pumps” – in part because of “pumping losses” that attend transmitting the volts.
Try to visualize how many pipes would be needed – and how big they’d need to be – in order to transfer gasoline from a central hub to a single gas station, 50 miles away. This of course is not necessary – with gasoline – because it can be trucked to the gas station, eliminating the need for cross-county (cross-state) gasoline pipelines and making it technically and economically viable to open a gas station practically anywhere.
It is also why electric “fast” charging stations will not be everywhere. It is neither technically or economically feasible to to run high-voltage cabling (along with substations, to maintain the “pressure”) over great distances to remote locations.
To multiple remote locations.
EV “fast” charging stations will necessarily be fewer and much farther in between. It is not for no reason that the ones that do exist are in or close to urban areas and near power sources, to reduce the transmission losses and to take advantage of already-in-place high voltage infrastructure.
Even if a whole new infrastructure could be materialized into existence, it would not do anything to address the “pumping losses” that attend continuously transmitting enormous voltage over distances. There is no gasoline analog. The gallon that is trucked by tanker 100 miles from the refinery to the gas station contains the same amount of energy it had when it was pumped into the truck at the refinery.
The electricity that arrives at the end of the plug is less than what was generated at the utility plant. It takes more power to transmit this form of power, increasing with distance. Which means more power – electricity – must be produced than is actually needed to power the EV. This will entail more cost – as well as more “emissions” – unless the electricity is to be produced entirely by solar or wind, which increases the inefficiency and the cost.
Teenagers and young adults will not own EVs, as lawn mowing and odd-job (and even first job) money isn’t going to pay the $32,000 minimum price of a new EV – or even an EV that costs a third as much, by which time, such an EV will be worth a third as much precisely because it is near the end of its functionally useful and economically viable life. The $2,000 that would have bought a 16-year-old a functionally viable gas-engined beater won’t pay half the price of a new battery for a tired EV.
So he’ll walk – or peddle. Or take the bus.
So will the young adult – who won’t be able to take that job in the city, without living in the city. Who may never be able to afford his own house on account of the cost of mobility away from the city.
Your daughter will have to wait.
And so will you.
Some inconvenient truths.
. . . .
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