Electric cars still await the next generation
Analysis:If we fail to see it then it cannot be for a lack of trying on the part of campaigners. The apparent effects of climate change are clear for all to see. Changes in weather patterns, more frequent outbursts of severe weather and the steady shrinking of global ice caps and glaciers.
If anyone still doubts the effects of anthropogenic climate change – the change caused by humans – then perhaps we should just heed the words of no less a figure than Stephen Hawking, who has compared the seriousness of the climate situation to that of nuclear weapons when it comes to securing our future on this planet.
Private car use is seen as Public Enemy No 1 by environmental campaigners and that’s why we’re all now paying Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and motor tax on the basis of the carbon emissions of our cars.
It’s also why there has been such a blaze of publicity (good and bad) about electric vehicles recently.
Clearly, the car maker that can crack the conundrum of making a usable, desirable car that emits no exhaust gases will make a sales killing.
“It’s not just something that we want to do: it’s something that we have to do,” says Dermot McArdle of ESB eCars.
“The macro factors are moving in one direction only. Fossil fuel prices are increasing on almost a daily basis. As a country we’ve also signed up to a lot of international agreements, which inform Government policy, and that policy is to move transport into a low-carbon environment.
“How do we do that? By making electric vehicles a realistic possibility for as many people as possible. Choice is a factor, and every major car manufacturer is currently working on bringing either a battery electric vehicle to the market or a plug-in hybrid, and a lot of that is being driven by EU directives on carbon emissions.
“What makes it realistic from a consumer point of view is an efficient network of recharging.”
The ESB is crucial to the development of electric cars in Ireland, and the company’s carbon emissions level will be one of the deciding factors in whether or not it’s worth making the switch from fossil fuels to electrons.
The ESB’s average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per kilowatt-hour (kWh) generated during 2011 (figures for 2012 are not yet available) was 452.3g/kWh. Based on an average electric vehicle (EV) battery capacity of 24kWh and potential range of 160-180km per charge, this equates to about 65g per kilometre driven.