Politicians' obsession with electric cars is a waste of time - and costing British science and research dear. So says Richard Pike, head of the Royal Chemistry Society, in a hard-hitting contribution to Research Fortnight (pdf).
Pike says the £250m tax boondoggle designed to induce us to buy electric cars would save less than 0.01 per cent of UK carbon emissions - yet represents a third of the nation's annual budget of the science and engineering funding council.
"The myths of the electric car centre on its energy efficiency, reduced carbon emissions and low operating costs," writes Pike. "Unfortunately, none of these are true."
Bureaucratic claims that electric cars are three to four times more efficient (measured in kWh/km) are exaggerated, he explains, because they don't take into account inefficiencies in distribution. Only 36 per cent of energy available in the fuel in a power station is delivered as electricity - so the green "efficiency" advantage disappears.
But even if all the available energy was delivered, without loss, the carbon emission saving would be negligible. And it's only "cheaper" because petrol is so heavily taxed. Once we all run dinky electric cars, the government will lose so much revenue, it will want to tax electricity, too.
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