PACKAGING POLLUTION

Over the past three years Bohemianmojo has consistently argued the most prominent so-called sustainable solutions to the planet’s problems are not really sustainable at all. Rather, we believe, they are virtue signalling by big business, which has the resources and personnel to identify the next popular wave out in the set of trends and ride it.

Wind turbines…massively expensive with short shelf lives. Solar farms…constructions packed with pollutants, optimally desert located yet needing millions of gallons of water to wash off desert dust and keep them operating.

Similarly, we argued that batteries were storing up more problems than they are worth and now fresh evidence is emerging to show our assessment may have been prescient.

And so, in this piece I will explore some of the reviews discussing where batteries are at and in truth they are doing little more than…

Recently I was following the event of the Extinction protest in London which brought the City’s infrastructure to a grinding halt in targeted areas. I make no bones about it I do not believe it is the spontaneous youth protest portrayed as it has all the hallmarks of a well-planned, well financed disruptor.

Already there have been calls for clarity and accusations of funding from George Soros and the Clinton Foundation. If there is any truth to this then the long-suffering commuters of London should be told.

In any event my cynicism, well founded I believe, about the roots of this protest turned to derision when I saw news footage of these protesters supergluing themselves to Transport for London buses. How profoundly stupid I thought as it became blatantly obvious these Extininctionists had no idea they had halted all electric, zero emissions mass transport vehicles.

And what are they campaigning for? Zero emissions and mass transport, the death of the car and regular air travel. Ignorant, ill-informed people who’d cut the legs off their own arguments with the squeeze of a tube of glue. I still believe them to be the patsies of global interests who are simply leading them by the nose and neither do I agree with their basic premise that global warming is going to destroy us very soon, not at all. However, I do believe that the doom of our species does lie with other environmental factors, which we will address soon in a future article.

At Bohemianmojo the argument about the planet-saving virtues of zero emissions buses have always been those of the so-called Green lobby and never ours. We have always had grave reservations about batteries and their total reliance on heavy metals and expensive, super strong plastics.

Our watchword has always been ‘put research money into hydrogen as a fuel.’ Hydrogen, as plentiful as the air around us, and when combined with oxygen to combust it creates water as an exhaust by-product. The difficulties with hydrogen? Capturing it from the atmosphere and storage of which capture is by far the most difficult proposition.

Famous billionaire battery exponents like Elon Musk dismiss the possibilities of hydrogen almost out of hand. Well, he would, wouldn’t he after betting the GDP of a small country on the future of battery power.

Yet significant advances in hydrogen technology have been made and continue. On the Orkney Islands a micro hydrogen-economy experiment is showing the way. Some of the electricity generated by wave and wind power on the Islands has been diverted to hydrogen capture providing the fuel to heat schools and for local hydrogen cell buses and dockside cranes.

So my scepticism about the Exintionists and the motives of those in the shadows behind them is unabated but it was a couple of days after their protests had ended, at least for the time being, that I read about some shocking and in my view game-changing research from Germany.

Researchers from the University of Cologne compared the emissions quotient between diesel cars and electric cars. Perhaps inevitably as Tesla is the lead player in the field of electric vehicles the research team led by Christopher Buchal looked at a Tesla Model 3 and found its performance ‘particularly poor’ compared to diesel.

They found it emits 150 grams of CO2 for every kilometre it travels which is a whopping 28% more than a diesel over the lifetime of the battery. What they were measuring was not what comes out of the exhaust of an electric car because of course there isn’t one. It’s the amount of carbon energy used for the production of the battery. Basically, fusing together all the heavy metals and plastic and packaging it into a ‘battery’ is storing up a much higher emissions profile than a diesel vehicle.

This research, released by the Ifo Institute of Munich, was co-authored by two heavyweights of German sustainability studies, energy expert Hans-Dieter Karl and world-renowned economist Professor Hans-Werner Sinn of the Ifo Institute.

The bottom line of their study is that when the actual production of batteries is measured and accounted an e-car ‘burdens the climate by between 11 – 28% more than a diesel car.

The team also found that the energy entailed in mining the lithium, cobalt and manganese required for batteries takes up the equivalent emissions of 11- 15 tonnes of CO2 for just one Tesla Model 3 battery. Incredible.

Five years ago the EU declared war on diesel vehicles citing their unacceptable emissions profile. This has led to seismic changes in car production within the EU leading to giant diesel vehicle factories like the Honda plant in Swindon UK being closed putting thousands out of work. Similar closures are taking place in Germany and Spain because of draconian EU emissions targets aimed at diesels.

Ironic in the extreme then when research shows diesel cars are actually cleaner to produce and run than e-cars and the Cologne study criticises the EU assertion that E-cars are zero emission saying that falsehood gives the impression Electric Vehicles do not impact on the environment. Cleanest of all says the Ifo Institute are hydrogen cars or conventional combustion engines powered by ‘green’ methane at about a third lower emissions than a diesel car.

But that’s not the only sustainability issue facing E-cars as Tesla themselves admit a shortage of the heavy metals needed to construct batteries is looming. Tesla’s own global supply manager recently told a private conference that a shortage of metals would bite very soon.

When Reuters reported this Tesla corporates immediately put out a long statement qualifying that made at the conference and downplaying any future supply problems citing new mining efforts particularly in Australia.

However other industry experts have predicted a global mining of these battery-vital metals will peak out and become critical by 2050 if EV demand continues on its present trajectory.

Whichever way you look at it this is hardly the picture of sustainable transport production and definitely not the bright new world of zero emissions conjured by the Electric Vehicle industry.

So comes the realization that the ‘misguided’ who glued themselves to the familiar, bright red buses in London not realizing they were zero emissions may actually have been onto something…they just didn’t know what it was.