Ban Gas-Powered Cars? California Is Thinking About It

It isn’t enough for California to contemplate its own state-run single payer health care system that would require, at a minimum, tripling the state budget. Now a lawmaker wants to have the state ban gasoline-powered cars by the year 2040. I certainly hope California follows through and tries this. If nothing else, it will provide wonderful black market opportunities. Think of all the meth labs that will convert to mini-refineries, not to mention the smuggling. It is doubtful we can legally confiscate existing cars, so look for California’s rolling stock to become the equivalent of all those 57 Chevys and Buicks we see on the streets of Havana.

Such a scheme assumes widespread availability of electric cars.  Maybe this will happen in the fullness of time, but has anyone considered how to supply the massive amount of  electricity to charge 25 or 30 million vehicles in California? It’s not just the total amount of electricity, but also transmission and fast-charging capacity that will need to be built at our current filling stations. A Canadian engineer has walked through the math of the subject, and concludes that to match the energy equivalent of a typical gasoline filling station today, an electric filling station would have to have the 30 megawatts of capacity, equivalent to the electricity use of 20,000 homes.

The whole article is worth reading, but this excerpt gets to the heart of the matter:

Factoring in the aforementioned credit card transaction and washing of windshield that might extend gasoline refueling to five minutes, it would still require 600 of those 50kW chargers for a roadside station to service the 2,000 cars those gas pumps could service in a busy 12-hour period. Even that conservative estimate would require a $24-million investment just for the cheapest rechargers.

They’d also need about 30 megawatts of power. For those thinking that’s a sh%$-load of electricity, you’re right. Thirty megawatts, for perspective, is enough to power about 20,000 homes. In other words, powering these service stations of the future will require about the same amount of electricity as a city of 75,000. Oh, and by the way, all that electricity, unlike off-hour home recharging, happens during peak-usage daylight hours.

In other words, all that extra power, at least for intra-city travel, will have to come from new — not existing — sources. At the most optimistic prices posited for the future cost of solar panels — about a buck a watt — that’s another $30 million. If you want to go the windmill route, you’ll need 10 of them, each costing roughly $4 million. Just as further reminder, that’s for each and every roadside station.

Shot: Tesla misses production targets by a wide margin.

Chaser, from Holman Jenkins’s column yesterday in the Wall Street Journal:

Fiat admits to losing $20,000 on every electric vehicle it sells in Europe. General Motors loses $9,000 on every Chevy Bolt. Even Tesla is partly sustained by selling zero-emissions credits to conventional car companies that actually make money (unlike Tesla).

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