Electric cars and carbon emissions


Sir, – Before we rush into a national programme for electric cars to dominate our roads, and the consequent demise of our beloved petrol and diesel cars, it is surely important to realise that some 80 or more per cent of the electric energy for these cars is currently produced by the combustion of fossil fuels, so that nothing will be achieved in carbon emission reduction by such a strategy unless the generation of electricity is tackled first.

Therefore, step one in any national programme to reduce carbon emissions to our atmosphere, and most certainly before setting target dates for the achievement of 100 per cent electric vehicles on our roads, must be to decide on, and most importantly, to fully cost, the technological strategies which would be required to have a national carbon-free electricity generation system.

The costs of such a major technological overhaul of our electricity generation systems will be enormous and must involve the inclusion of nuclear power generation, and certainly not a reliance on a major development of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, which at most contribute less than 10 per cent of our national electrical energy requirements. These renewable energy sources are indeed important and must be included in any such national strategy, but there is no possibility that they could meet in any substantial way, our continually expanding national energy demands – and I will be delighted if I can be proved wrong in that statement. – Yours, etc,

Professor Emeritus


UCD, Dublin 4.