By John McClaughry
A few weeks ago I devoted three WDEV radio scripts to the pros and cons of switching to an electric vehicle. This is a large topic to deal with in five minutes of air time, so I want to add two thoughts now.
After citing some advantages, I said “Their vulnerable point is the thousand-pound battery. Repeated discharging and recharging cycles degrade it, and operation in cold climates diminishes performance and battery life, reasonably estimated to be fifteen years.”
One of the EV experts I learn from emailed to tell me that my 15 year estimate for lifetime of a thousand pound EV battery was far too high in actual operation. He said eight years was a far better practical estimate. I was far too generous with the 15 years.
Another input was more interesting. It featured an article on this point by an old friend of mine, Amory Lovins, one of the really inventive minds of our time, who Sen. Shumlin brought in to address the legislature here in 2007.
To my charge that cobalt, mined by children in Africa under appalling conditions, is essential to battery composition, Amory writes that that is true now for one class of car-battery chemistries, but others use little cobalt or none at all. Standard-range Tesla car batteries use no cobalt.
What I said was true at this moment, but Amory believes that new technologies like iron-nitride and control software and power electronics made of silicon may soon conquer the cobalt problem.
John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.