Tom Evslin: Buying an EV in Europe now helps Putin and hurts the environment

This commentary is by Tom Evslin of Stowe, an entrepreneur, author and former Douglas administration official. It is republished from the Fractals of Change blog.

Russia is now throttling back the supply of natural gas to Europe. Because gas is mostly delivered by pipeline, it is more difficult for Europe to source elsewhere than either oil or coal. Europe uses natural gas for heat (not critical at this time of year), to run factories (some of which are shutting down), and to generate electricity.

Tom Evslin

A new electric vehicle on the road means new demand for electricity. New renewables come online in years, not days. Germany shouldn’t have shut down its nukes; but it did — and became even more dependent on Russian natural gas for generating electricity. Now Germany is planning to restart old coal plants — perhaps the most polluting energy source of all — to make up for the high price and short supply of gas for power generation.

For at least the next year, each new electric car —  or appliance or heating system — means more coal must be burned. Coal emits at least twice as much greenhouse gas as natural gas per kilowatt hour of electricity generated besides lots of other unhealthy stuff like sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxides. Running cars on gasoline or diesel is far less polluting than running them on electricity generated from coal.

Each new EV increases the demand for electricity and helps push the price of natural gas even higher. Higher prices for natural gas mean that Russia makes more and more by selling less natural gas. New EVs in Europe increase the money Putin has for war.

The only ways to decrease Russia’s revenue and leverage and make energy affordable again are to cut back on use (price is forcing that) and to increase energy supply. Money spent on electric cars is money not spent on new renewable energy sources, new nukes (yes, we need them), and drilling for more natural gas and oil in both the US and Europe. Europe made a terrible mistake outsourcing production of fossil fuels to Russia in order to appear greener. There’s plenty of good reason to add more carbon-free generating capacity as well as more relatively clean natural gas. There’s no reason to increase the demand for electricity by adding electric cars to the grid until coal is not the only short-term alternative for increasing electricity supply.

Image courtesy of Public domain
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2 thoughts on “Tom Evslin: Buying an EV in Europe now helps Putin and hurts the environment

  1. Interesting stuff coming from a Vermonter.. that shut down Vermont Yankee..
    That whole area has been wiped out economically, it’s now in decline and crime ridden, that energy source never replaced.
    All the people that made good money there and spent a whole lot of it locally, they all packed up and moved away.. Now look at Brattleboro– guess what, Brattleboro didn’t used to look that way folks!
    It was a thriving city in good shape when Vermont Yankee was up and running..

    So tell me again Tom about how Germany shouldn’t have done just what Vermont has done…

  2. Europe has lived in fairyland regarding abundant cheap energy from Russia for decades.
    Brussels bureaucrats made one onerous rule after another to aggravate Russia

    A most recent one, to stop signing long-term gas supply contracts with Russia, because it sent the wrong signal regarding “fighting global warming”

    That means, buying on the SPOT market greatly increased, and prices went up six-fold, compared to 2020.

    Russia continued to supply gas to long-term customers, per existing contracts.

    Russia did not supply to the SPOT market, as it had no contract to do so.

    Major panic in Brussels. Consumers and Industry pis..d off.

    Brussels bureaucrats naive, ridiculous policy had backfired
    Brussels bureaucrats, etc, blamed Putin anyway, in knee-jerk manner

    All this happened at least six to eight months before Ukraine.

    In 2021, well before Ukraine, Siemens gas compressors of Nordstream 1 had been sent for overhaul to Siemens, Canada, but Canada refuses to return them, because of sanctions.

    Remember, Brussels bureaucrats, et al., imposed the sanctions

    Canada would never make such a major move, without consulting with Washington.

    Russia decided to reduce gas flow through Nordstream 1, until after its compressors were returned in good working order.

    This caused a crisis in Germany, the Netherlands, and Austria, which had to restart coal power plants to avoid using gas power plants, and to begin rationing gas.

    The EU SPOT price increased 30%, and filling gas storage reservoirs for winter came to a grinding halt.

    Biden is urging US energy companies to export oil and gas to Europe, which they are eager to do, because the Europe prices are at least 3 times U.S. prices

    The net effect is higher inflation in the U.S.

    I am paying $5.5/gal of propane on my pre-buy contract,

    Gasoline prices are over $5/gallon and increasing

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