July 9, 2008
Batteries Are Made of Pretty Nasty Stuff
By Richard Hammond
THE performance of electric cars has been dismal. They really are little more than milk floats.But more pressing is why they have sprung into existence in the first place - the emissions.
Not from the car but the means by which the electricity is produced. It has got to come from somewhere - and at the moment it comes from huge power stations which burn fossil fuels.
Rather than burning petrol in cars one by one, you are burning it in a massive central power station and sending it down wires, storing it in a battery, which in itself creates pollution, then trickling down the street at 2mph for two miles before having to plug it in again.
What extra drain will that put on our ability to produce electricity, even if we find all the wind and tidal farms to generate that extra power?
And what about the batteries, which are made of pretty nasty stuff which has to be disposed of?
Electric vehicles have been around for about 100 years - pretty much the same time they started developing petrol cars.
And back then they had the same problem - they couldn't store enough power to actually go anywhere. So they discounted it and, frankly, we haven't advanced very far since then.
Hydrogen fuel cells will be the answer. We know that and we shouldn't get distracted into pursuing hybrid cars or solely electric-powered cars. We should be concentrating on solving the problems of hydrogen fuel-celled cars.
The people who will be hurt the most are families who have maybe one holiday a year and a two or three-year-old family car.
They can't afford to run an electric or hydrogen car. It can't happen overnight, it has to happen gradually, when it makes sound economic sense to make the change.
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