Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism, Technology > Electric Cars and “Renewable Green Energy” as Virtue Signalling Scams

Electric Cars and “Renewable Green Energy” as Virtue Signalling Scams

As some of you might have heard, the autistic girl promoted by globalists aka Greta Thunberg is making news for taking an ultramodern yacht to cross the Atlantic and publicly demonstrate her commitment to a supposedly “zero carbon” lifestyle. Just do that you know, most of her handlers and promoters are flying to NYC. Any ya.. once her fake sanctimonious speeches in NYC are over, she too will quietly fly back to Sweden. While I could write a lot more about how this delusional and mentally-ill girl is being promoted as the face of environmental activism, it is best to leave that for another time. Instead I will talk about how electric cars and “renewable green energy” are nothing more than virtue signalling scams. Yes.. you heard that, they are scams.

Readers might remember that I have written a (still ongoing) series about how anthropogenic climate change is a form of secular apocalypticism. Some might also remember my thoughts on Tesla Motors being an image driven scam. This is not say that electric automobiles are somehow impossible. Indeed, electric vehicles with performance equivalent to their internal combustion powered equivalents have been technologically feasible since the late 1990s. My objection to the popular delusion that the future of automobiles being electric is based on factors other than technological feasibility. To put it very briefly, the electrochemistry which underlies rechargeable battery technology puts an upper limit on the amount of energy stored by this method.

Long story short, the amount of energy stored in carbon-carbon or carbon-hydrogen bonds (fossil fuels) will always be at least a magnitude greater than that possible with an battery utilizing the most optimal electrochemistry. But that, by itself, is not the Achilles heel of electric automobiles. As you know, it is easy to build electric vehicles with pretty decent performance using currently available battery technology. The far bigger and related problem is as follows: how do you get all that lithium, cobalt etc to build batteries on a large enough scale to displace internal combustion engine powered vehicles. This becomes tricky rather quickly, even if we assume better than 95% recycling of all metals used in such batteries. Then there is the issue of obtaining enough of those pesky lanthanides aka ‘rare earth elements’ for their electric motors.

But the electric car scam gets truly exposed once you consider how the electricity used to power and recharge it is generated. As things stand today and in near future, most of that electricity is going to come from coal/gas fueled power stations. Some will come from hydroelectric or nuclear powered stations. My point is that only a small minority of the power used to recharge those vehicles is going to come from “renewable energy sources”. In other words, using electric cars instead of normal ones merely shifts the location where carbon fuels are being burnt, not the amount. And it gets worse. Let me ask you another related question. How big is the “carbon footprint” of the industrial and transportation infrastructure necessary to build, install and maintain all those solar cells and windmills? Are you starting to see the problem?

And it just keeps on getting worse. Ever wondered why hydroelectric power has long been the dominant way to generate renewable energy? Well, think about it this way.. the amount of water which flow through a river, while varying from season to season, is reasonably constant over a period of several decades. Furthermore, it can be easily stored for future use, and over multiple years. To make another long story short, generating a constant and predicable amount of power is far easy if your source of renewable energy is water rather than wind or sunshine. The same is true for power plants using coal, oil, gas or nuclear fission. In contrast to this, the two most touted sources of “green energy”, namely wind flow and sunshine, are fickle and dependent on weather.

Do you think it is possible to run massive power grids based on the whims of weather? Some will say- why not build “green energy” power plants with.. say.. 10x the capacity you need? Well for starters, it starts becoming far more expensive and maintenance intensive than conventional power plants. But more importantly, building even 10x capacity doesn’t give you the same level of confidence in power grid stability as conventional power plants have been known to provide for many decades. Imagine running an electric grid which will fail on a massive scale at least a few times per year and during extreme weather events when such power is necessary. But couldn’t we store this energy?

Well.. sure, we can store energy from fickle sources and release it in a more gradual manner. But doing so introduces even more complications. Building huge rechargeable batteries of any known electrochemistry is expensive and they not as reliable as many want to believe. To make matter worse, if that is possible, their malfunctions can be far more catastrophic and harder to repair than is the case for conventional peak power plants. The other way to store excess energy or moderate its fluctuations involves the use of pumped storage. While this particular technology is very mature and routinely used in hydroelectric plants for providing extra juice for certain times of the day, constructing such an installation requires certain topographical features in addition to lots of water. In other words, you can’t set them up in most locations.

But what about a “smart” grid? Wouldn’t having a “smart and connected” grid solve the problem? Well.. not really. Leaving aside the part where you actually have to first possess enough energy to distribute it properly, there is the issue of whether these “smart” grids are robust enough to deliver power without massive and frequent failures. You don’t have to a genius to figure out that anything connected to a large network or the internet can and will be hacked. And even if does not get hacked, a “smart” grid is far more sensitive to cascading failures due to component malfunctions than your old-fashioned “dumb” grid. Of course, you can always use coal, gas, nuclear and hydropower plants for generating the base load and backup. But then, how much “renewable green energy” are you actually using and more importantly- WHY?

If your use of “green energy” is not sufficient to reduce your sins.. I mean carbon dioxide output.. by over 80%, what is the point of spending all that money on building and maintaining these white elephants? Did I mention the part where most countries in Asia and Africa do not go much further than giving lip service to the cause of “renewable green energy”. Yes.. you heard that right. For all the noise the leaders of some developing countries make about “green energy”, when push comes to shove they simply build more conventional power plants. For them, “green energy” is, at best, a way to provide some peak energy and keep a few more people employed.

Electric cars and “green energy” are solutions in search of a problem which does not exist. Sure, they have some good niche applications. For example, using electric cars in densely populated cities would certainly improve air quality. Similarly using solar panels to augment peak power usage for air-conditioning and refrigeration in warm countries with lots of sunshine makes sense. But let us not pretend that people are going to give up a comfortable life to perform penance.. I mean, pay much more and get far less.. to please the insatiable gods of environmentalism. Moreover, attempting to do so via rules and regulations is guaranteed to piss of the majority and result in the election of more right-wingers nutcases such as Trump.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. Another Commenter
    August 26, 2019 at 7:27 am

    I’m not so down on “virtue signalling” as some people, but I always wonder about Tesla cars, which are simultaneously telling others that you are doing something for the environment, and also that you have lots of money.

    Also, the first hybrid was a Honda Accord. It looked just like all other Honda Accords, so there was no signal, which may have contributed to its poor reception.

  2. MikeCA
    August 26, 2019 at 9:04 am

    Russia is a petrostate so naturally Russia is spreading anti-green energy propaganda.

    I wish.. lol

    I recently bought a newly constructed house with roof top solar. My electric bill is currently $10 a month because I’m generating more electricity than I’m using. In the winter this will probably not be true, especially on cloudy days. As long as I net generate more electricity over the whole year than I consume, I will just have to pay only $10 a month. In California if you do not have roof top solar, you are paying the highest electric rates in the country, in part because they are giving such a good deal to people who do have roof top solar.

    Ever been in WA or OR during fall or winter? Also, I specifically mentioned that solar panels are very workable for residential peak power if you live in sunnier parts of the world. But not everybody lives in areas with Arid or Mediterranean climate.

    Although temperatures have been in the 90s a lot and 100+ here several days, I have not turned on the air conditioning yet. This new house has much better insulation than any house I have lived in. On the day when it hit 106, it got up to about 76 inside. I could have turned on the air conditioning to keep it down to 74, but after the sun goes down it usually cools off quickly here and I just open the windows to cool the house down.

    Wonder how that works if you live in Houston or any part of the deep south including Florida. Alternatively, dry heat above 100F (any part of inland southwest in summer) are awful places to live in without AC.

    Green energy mean more than just electric cars and roof top solar. Reducing energy consumption is important too.

    And that is the real problem. Most people who talk about “green energy” avoid talking about reducing consumption.

    • MikeCA
      August 29, 2019 at 10:45 am

      “And that is the real problem. Most people who talk about “green energy” avoid talking about reducing consumption.”

      Most of the real green energy plans do talk about reduced consumption. They include things like upgrading insulation in old buildings. I’m sure the reason my new home has better insulation is not because the builder wanted to build more energy efficient homes. It is because building codes have been changed by the state or city to require new homes to have better insulation. Any green energy plan that does not include a lot of energy conservation is not a real plan.

  3. wmws
    August 26, 2019 at 6:47 pm

    Leaving aside the idiot talking about “russian propaganda”…

    This article is basically a series of half-truths:

    – Tesla and other companies are fully aware that electric cars are only as “green” as the energy infrastructure– they provide info on where the electricity comes from in different parts of the country if you walk into any Tesla store. Also a plurality of Tesla owners live in CA where there is an abundance of solar, hydro, and wind compared to most of the country. Although Teslas are still just a rich Silly Valley toy, *hopefully* (depending on how much you trust Elon Musk) they will develop more economical options. Model 3 is kinda close but still 2x normal car price.

    – Nuclear is considered “green energy” by most honest scientists/engineers – there is a disconnect between the public face of “green energy” and what the optimal low-carbon or carbon-free energy profile would look like across the country. Most “liberal”/”environmentalist” yet scientifically illiterate people don’t understand why nuclear is so valuable and so investment in nuclear is very subpar unfortunately.

    – The smart grid unfortunately isn’t very secure as it was developed in a rushed manner, but at least they are trying to improve that aspect. For instance half the people working on smart grid at NIST (at least that I saw during the brief period I was there) are cybersecurity experts rather than math/EE/controls. The concept of smart grid is sound but the implementation has been trash so far.

    The main point which I do agree with, is that measuring one’s “CO2 footprint” has become somewhat of a secular religion among rich people with nothing better to do, when in reality reduction of usage and reduction of waste, mostly by giant corporations and not by the average Joe, is the real path to avoiding the worst of global warming, not buying a fucking Tesla. But we’ve built an economy predicated on unbounded growth and constant deception… I mean “marketing” to drive people to consume more, so we’re fucked.

  4. P Ray
    August 26, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    Just a few points to add to what you’ve written:

    – I figure in much later life Greta Thunberg will have some sort of scandal then pass away (people driving an agenda and with a mental health condition somehow don’t stay alive for a normal human lifespan

    – the actual battery energy output for green vehicles may plateau or even drop as the need for cheap and common metals increase because “not-US-friendly” countries have a lot of the premium metals – which may not be worth their asking price in terms of efficiency over the cheap and common metals (I don’t think it’s 5x or some multiple … it’s probably fractionally better)

    – the smart grid is simply an excuse for companies to get grants off the government teat for the most part, companies have problems hiring people who can see both the pros and cons of an issue and prefer ideologues to professionals.

    – people will of course have no say, their governments will drag them kicking and screaming into this new scheme … because governments have a lot of people in them that are sensitive to peer pressure and want to virtue-signal.

  5. August 28, 2019 at 6:53 am

    Peak clown world in this area is achieved when actually existing and proven green technologies are thrown away in favour of vaporware unproven green technologies that came with more virtue signaling.

    For example, Wellington (New Zealand) got rid of trolleybuses (an actually existing electric bus technology) in exchange for the vague promise of battery-electric buses being peddled to them, if I recall correctly, by one of the Tesla guys.

    GO Transit (Toronto) wants to electrify their train system but in response to some lobbyists are now mumbling that electric wires (as used in 95% of electric commuter rail, the other 5% using a subway style third rail) are obsolete, the ‘green’ technology of the future is a hydrogen train (that doesn’t exist yet in the required size). Existing hydrogen trains are small experimental vehicles on little-used routes in countries like Germany and Japan whose railway infrastructure is so overdeveloped they don’t have anything better to spend the money on.

    Musk’s entire boring company.

    Somehow as with real estate bubbles it’s the anglosphere countries who take delusion in this area beyond mere delusion into a surreal art form.

  6. Someone
    August 28, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    I like to call electric vehicles Transfer Emission Vehicles. And another topic that is finally coming to light with all the electric nonsense and ‘green’ whatever is toxic waste pile of heavy metals that will result with solar panels, batteries, and other excreta of the ‘green’ revolution.

    The Tesla is really a rich man’s toy as well to virtue signal. I can’t imagine them being of any use in sub zero temperatures or extreme heat. In Southern Texas, heat and humidity are a daily part of life of most of the year. Unless it’s a golf cart, electric powered motion without an air conditioner is ludicrous.

    It’s too bad we can’t go all nuclear. The general public is totally clueless that the holy trinity of the life they enjoy is electricity, water, and petroleum. If any one of them is missing life will get very unpleasant very quickly.

    • ntiq
      August 29, 2019 at 4:20 pm

      “I can’t imagine them being of any use in sub zero temperatures or extreme heat. In Southern Texas, heat and humidity are a daily part of life of most of the year. Unless it’s a golf cart, electric powered motion without an air conditioner is ludicrous.”

      Are you a retard? Tesla is just a regular car, it operates fine in the same temperatures other cars operate in. What’s this shit about “without an air conditioner?”

      You are correct, Teslas are rich people toys but this is just ignorant.

    • P Ray
      August 29, 2019 at 7:06 pm

      Just think of a new emerging market from all the chemicals that may leach into the water table.

      Like the Zika children, the upcoming deformed babies from exposure to these toxic chemicals used in making these “green” sources of energy, these babies will need new fashion to hide their convex or concave shapes.

      Also there will need to be some new mythology about why they’re not attractive to other people, and maybe even SJW movies about this.

      After all, the SJWs have already begun on “big is beautiful” with Tess Holiday, Iskra Lawrence and Ashley Graham … so why not have “deformed head is beautiful” next?

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