47 thoughts on “Charging

  1. The Old Boy

    Charging points don’t imply that the space is reserved for the exclusive use of such vehicles, do they? Besides, those old Range Rovers are serious pieces of kit- nearly anyone still running one has a bloody good reason to do so. I imagine its probably more environmentally friendly to run a Range Rover for 30 odd years than to buy an electric car every 4 or 5 anyway.

      1. Spartacus

        What would you say is the comparable environmental impact of buying a 10 year old well-maintained ICE car?

    1. Wilson-IRL

      As far as i remember, that’s a dual charging post which would mean that both the Range Rover and the car in front of it are in e-car parking spots.

      Doesn’t matter all that much though. There are still too few ev’s out on the roads to warrant designated parking spots.

  2. sqoid

    Doesn’t matter, it’s just a pay and display spot that happens to be beside a socket.

    FWIW the fuel used to run a vehicle over it’s lifetime has a far larger environmental imprint than the production recovery and disposal of the vehicle will; electric or otherwise.

    1. Spartacus

      Not only that, but electrically powered cars are nothing but greenwash in this country, given that most of our grid is powered by fossil fuels.

        1. Spartacus

          Not when transmission losses and battery life/disposal is taken into account. Ironically, the only way e-cars make environmental sense is when the power is from nuclear generation (unless you’re lucky enough to have hydro all year around, that is).

          1. Chamos

            Large scale gas turbines are extremely efficient, and have the added bonus that all waste generated is produced in a single location where it can be controlled. Millions of small, portable, inefficient engines venting to atmosphere can never match dedicated power plant. It’s also worth noting that fossil fuels have transmission losses too.

          2. Spartacus

            For balance, you should also tell us about the ageing power stations fuelled by coal, peat, and oil.

          3. Chamos

            All heat-based power plants, from peat up to nuclear and solar thermal, all operate by boiling water to drive a highly-efficient turbine. Nothing portable can reach anywhere near those efficiencies.

            Side note: Your phone is steam powered.

          4. Spartacus

            Side note for you, it isn’t.

            Tell us about the losses in the electricity grid. What efficiency factor can I expect at the socket in my house, regardless of the power station in use? I think you’re focusing on thermal efficiency (neatly ignoring consequent pollution) at the point of delivery rather than the point of use, a common greenwash propaganda technique.

          5. Chamos

            7% transmission loss in this country:
            Waste generation was the second point I mentioned in my first comment. You mention aging power plants (we have 34 active fossil fuel plants in this country), but ignore the ~2,500,000 individual internal combustion engines, of which one in five will have failed its NCT in a given year, not counting the vehicles which are illegally dodging the test all together. Power plants don’t have that luxury.

          6. Spartacus

            You know those losses don’t include “spinning reserve”, don’t you? One of the biggest criticisms of fossil fuelled internal combustion engines is their inefficiency when running idle (in heavy traffic) and on acceleration/deceleration. The same criticisms can be directed at many of our power stations, as they are spooled up from idle to meet variable network demands or (worse) the excess power is dumped as heat so as to maintain tolerable load on the generators.

            Fossil fuel powered spinning reserve requirements make a mockery of our current wind generation infrastructure.

          7. Spartacus

            Are you claiming that 500,000 cars fail their emissions test every year in this country? I understand the point you’re making, but please please stop making shit up.

          8. Chamos

            We’re nowhere near including all the losses. Mining, refining and transport losses spring to mind. Fuel quality being another. 53% of the crude oil you recover isn’t suitable for use in cars. The higher efficiency of power plants also allows the use of poor quality fuel sources such as coal and peat. Oil-fueled power stations are common, but coal powered cars are not.

            Spinning reserve trades peak efficiency for increased reliability of the power supply, to the great benefit of industrial, commercial and medical uses. Idling a car engine is a required drawback of ICE technology. Electric or hybrid engines remove this requirement. On top of this, car efficiency is highly dependent on the driver’s behaviour. It’s a skill that every new driver has to learn and maintain.

            The claim was that half a million cars are found to be running in an unregulated or unmaintained state. I don’t see any “making shit up” in that. There are more elements than emission levels that degrade with car age, most not even covered by the NCT. Tyres wear levels, engine oil quality, fuel and air filter quality all affect efficiency for example. Engines also become less efficient as they wear. The test numbers tell us there are around a million non-commercial cars aged four or more years old. Without a breakdown of what cars were failed for, the NCT can only get us into the ballpark of the standard to which cars are maintained.

            From an economic standpoint, if end-point power generation were efficient enough, we’d all choose to use petrol generators for our home electricity instead of connecting to the grid.

            Yes, wind power paired with hydroelectric generation would be a much better solution to all of the above.

          9. Spartacus

            Oh, where to start? Where to stop?

            Mining, refining and transport losses are embodied in the fuel supply chain for power generation *and* ICE road transport. What’s your point?

            The higher efficiency that you claim for power stations is only possible if the load can be optimised to match the power source (turbine etc.). The methodology used to measure this is not comparable to that used to measure the efficiency of an ICE vehicle. To suggest otherwise is dishonest.

            While electric hybrid cars *do* reduce momentary losses due to idling in stationery traffic, overall driver behaviour is a much greater variable and I do not accept that the case for hybrid efficiency has been proven.

            You have no data on the number of cars failing roadworthiness testing with issues related to energy efficiency, because such data are not published if in fact they are recorded in the first place. You made the claim that 500,000 cars failed their NCT every year, is that entirely incidental to your argument? If so, why did you bring it to the discussion? Did you know that a car will fail the NCT for having a blown bulb, a faulty number plate, an empty windscreen washer bottle?

            I made no claim that endpoint power generation was more efficient or more economical than central grid-connected power. Why do you introduce that strawman?

          10. Chamos

            65% of Irish power is generated from gas, 17% coal, 16% oil, 2% peat. Aside from being the cleanest fossil fuel, these natural gas powered plants are also the most efficient, running at close to 60% efficiency under the non-ideal conditions the real world throws at them. ICE engines have a theoretical maximum of 35%. It’s a world of a difference. I don’t understand where you’re coming from. Could you show your sources?

            As far as not accepting the ICE vs. hybrid result, would actual real-world results convince you?
            The Prius, 47 MPG:
            Ireland’s most popular car, the Ford Focus at 28 MPG:

          11. Spartacus

            Even better, I can use your sources:


            Power station output is measured “at the factory gate”, ignoring the generating losses and the measures taken to provide spinning reserve and network resilience. To make a meaningful comparison with ICE vehicle efficiency we would have to measure power at the driven wheels, ignoring inefficiencies in the power unit and transmission.

            The 1980s Citroen AX diesel was capable of returning 75+ MPG on a regular basis. Even your own source attributes it with 56+


            That’s 30 year old clockwork diesel technology (capable of running unmodified on straight vegetable oils) powering a viable mainstream 4-seat car. Tens of thousands of them still in everyday use in France, long gone here because they’re no longer a fashion statement. A Prius, on the other hand, is the badge of green.

          12. Chamos

            You asked for transmission losses, you got transmission losses. The 7% is the average line loss between the plant and the average household. The 40% is plant generation losses. If you want total losses, you’ll have to add the transmission loss to the generation loss yourself to get the total loss from pipeline to socket. For ICE we have a minimum of 65% loss from the engine itself, excluding every other factor we’ve discussed, which we have no figures for. You don’t seem to have figures for much actually.

            Did you note I picked the two most popular and representative cars from their classes, from the same generation? Cherry picking an outlier from three decades ago is not a valid comparison, mainly due to the safety requirements. Our modern cars are significantly less efficient than they could be due to being built for high-survivability for the occupants and pedestrians in a collision.

            These two are not equivalent:

          13. Spartacus

            By your own claim, the 40% generation losses are applicable to the *best case* modern gas generators. The older generating stations are far less efficient, the peat and coal fired stations and the older oil fired stations are particularly poor. Using your references, there’s an average loss of 7% from factory gate to point of use.

            You correctly point out that the common ICE is inefficient (it is, after all, just a hot air pump). For balance I must remind you that rechargeable battery technology is also inefficient, and there are losses in the drive motor(s) and controls to be considered.

            I see you drawing comparisons between apples and oranges where meaningful data simply do not exist.

            I fail to see how modern safety features have a material adverse impact on power consumption. The nominal weight penalties mandated by the addition of safety equipment have been more than offset by lighter modern materials, as a cursory glance at historical vehicle weights will show.

            The Citroen AX was chosen by way of illustration that despite claims of progress in fuel efficiency, we haven’t really improved matters as much as the marketing department at Toyota would like us to believe.

          14. Chamos

            More than three quarters of the gas power produced in Ireland is already produced by the best-case modern generator designs, surprisingly.

            Full system efficiency for the entirely electric Tesla Roadster is rated at 88%. Most of that is batery losses. Electric motors are shockingly efficient, which is why they’re the primary source of motion for the majority of industrial machinery.

            Progress in fuel efficiency has been ongoing, but the few hybrid vehicles there are so far are well ahead of the curve:

            The Citroen AX is a clear outlier. The mass of 640 kg (just over half of the 1,229 kg for the Focus) is likely the cause.

  3. sqoid

    The real environmental benefit from electric cars is the far cleaner air within cities. Localised atmospheric pollution has a huge negative impact on public, and the simple use of one raised chimney stack over the use of hundreds (thousands) of ground level exhausts makes for massive benefits to people’s health.
    But sure if you can’t instantly solve every single problem with one single stroke why bother making any steps in the right direction.

    1. Spartacus

      Colour me sceptical. On an island with low population density, half the population spread out in rural areas, and a power grid sourced almost exclusively by non-renewable sources, I don’t belive that the case for e-cars stands up.

      We could make a huge difference by encouraging e-bike and e-motorcycle technology instead of e-cars, however until traditional fossil-fuelled transport becomes unaffordable they’ll never gain traction. Yes, I see what I did there.

        1. Spartacus

          All right. A poor choice of words on my part. Approximately half of the population lives outside of Dublin, our capital city. That’s Dublin with DART, LUAS, and a comprehensive bus network. The rest of the country not so much.

  4. sqoid

    The batteries aren’t disposed of, they’re reconditioned and reused.

    Doesn’t matter if your’re powering the grid off the feelings of our own self worth; if the infrastructure isn’t put in place to get the fuel then nobody is going to use electric engines.

        1. Spartacus

          They don’t recycle, remanufacture, or refurbish batteries. The collect and sort them for further processing.

  5. Eric Cartman

    That normally lives around fitzwilliam square, its been fully restored and is fully kitted for serious offroading, the lad who drives it is fairly sound too, the sound out of the engine is lovely , If I remember correctly its the old dual carb’d V8

  6. sqoid

    Why would you expect a country with zero motor manufacturing to have a facilitiy to recondition car batteries years ahead of there being any demand for one.

    1. Spartacus

      I wouldn’t. You dismissed my point by claiming “The batteries aren’t disposed of, they’re reconditioned and reused.”. That’s glib and frankly it’s also insulting to the intelligence of the general population.

      Stop repeating the sound bites, use your critical analysis skills.

  7. sqoid

    Spartacus, I think we’ve gotten confused with me talking about environmental costs while you were discussing economic costs.

    “Stop repeating the sound bites, use your critical analysis skills.”
    Good general advice.

    Greenwashing is indeed a massive issue pertaining to a lot of things but overly skeptical critical thinking can leave people stuck in a quagmire of what a technology or initiative cant/wont achieve and leave them blinded to the benefits. Steps towards sustainability shouldn’t be judged on how far they leave us from sustainability but should be measured on how much closer they bring us towards sustainability.

    e-vehicles are not going to provide an island wide replacement to combustion engines for a long, long time, maybe they never will. But let’s suppose that in ten years time all the taxis in dublin are electric? It’d make a change to air quality within the city that may be comparable to the air quailty change in pubs due to the smoking ban.

    1. Spartacus

      The confusion continues, since I have the environmental cost foremost in mind, almost to the exclusion of the financial cost.

      I blame the Green Party for much of the BS around this subject – transport in the form of personal e-cars is doomed to fail. Taxis, shared vehicles (rent by the hour/km), 2 and 3 wheeled e-bikes/e-motorcycles, and radically overhauled *national* rail transport infrastructure are (in my view) the solutions we should be looking at.

      1. Kieran NYC


        This is one of those situations where only government has big enough clout to make a serious start. If public vehicles go electric first, private transportation will follow.

    1. Spartacus

      Interesting book M. Le Fermier

      Had heard of it but haven’t read it (apart from the preview of the first chapter which I’ve just read online). Will order a copy for myself. Merci.

  8. thecitizen

    I believe I actually learned something factual, useful and interesting in this comments section.

    Shame on you Broadsheet.

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