Watts Up With That? (Anthony Watts)
If the UK were to try and achieve COP21 ideas - hold on to your hats!
COP21 Paris climate conference urged that all home heating
should move away from gas to be all electric.
In the UK the Climate Change Act already assumes this scenario
will be put into practice.
Just how realistic is this for the UK?
There are around 16 million (16 × 106) households connected to the gas
grid network in the UK.
The average household boiler is rated at 60 kiloWatt
To replace that with electric home heating would still require about
the same electrical capacity. (Remember even a single electric shower
is 7 kW, and an oven approaching 10 kW).
Here's the math(s):
16 × 106 × 60 kW = 96 × 107 =~ 100 × 107 = 109 kW = 106 MegaW = 103 GigaW
or about 1 TeraW of extra power.
Drax, in Yorkshire England (which was the UK's biggest and most
efficient coal fired power station), generates about 4 GW, therefore to
generate this extra 1 TW
we would need to build about 250 Drax sized
or erect half a million 5 MW (in reality, 2 MW) wind
[for reference: current requirement in the UK is a mere 40 GW,
that is 0.04 TW].
Now let's go to COP21's second idea that all cars should be electric.
In the UK there are about 35 million cars (just over double the number
1 Horsepower is about 750 W
So an average 100 HP car engine = 75 kW (marginally more than the
average household boiler)
This means we need, not just 1 TW extra electric power to charge up
these vehicles, but more than 2 TW.
That is 500 Drax-sized power stations or one million wind turbines.
Issues about electric cars:
The Tesla's battery weighs 800kg - nearly a tonne.
That is the equivalent of about eight extra passengers present for a
Range, if you are lucky, 200 miles.
If it's cold then less, as the power available from the battery drops
by 50% for every ten degree drop in temperature.
A petrol (gasoline) car for the same range would use fuel that weighed
perhaps 16kg, diminishing, with no measurable change in available
power for a ten degree drop in temperature.
Now imagine you are out on a lonely road in a blizzard in a Tesla.
You have no heating; power diminishing due to the cold; you meet a
snow drift; the vehicle slowly grinds to a halt with no available power.
What can you do? Find a recharging point? Fat chance!
Stay in the vehicle and hope for rescue?
You'll probable freeze to death. Get out and walk? a similar fate.
In a gas vehicle, unless you run out of fuel, you have heating,
you are less likely to get stuck. Even if you do run out of fuel,
you'll probably have a spare can in the trunk: half a minute and
you running again.
Combining household heating with electric cars the UK would need an
extra 3 TW of generating power.
Although, arguably, the 3 TW are not always needed, they will be,
frequently so, around 5-6pm on a weekday.
People return home, plug their
cars, switch on their heating, and start cooking - all on electric.
So COP21 (and our very own Climate Change Act) is asking the UK
to build 750 more Drax sized power stations
or 1.5 million more wind turbines.
And, of course, we would need to completely rebuild the electricity Grid
to take this nearly 75 fold increase in load.
Also every street in the UK will need to be dug up to install much
higher capacity cabling.
I'm not sure the English language has a word strong enough to describe
It's beyond insanity. Perhaps, as Roger T. put it: "the British
like their understatement: 'problematic'?"