Michael Moore’s ‘new’ movie “The Planet of the Humans” certainly has stirred up some controversy with it’s old footage and ideas, not the least was the view it presented of electric vehicles. Interestingly I now own one of those vintage GM (Holden) Volt vehicles shown in the movie, that was released a decade ago. It was true, there was very little power being generated from renewable sources then.

Since that footage was taken a lot has happened. Much more of the power now supplying us all is renewable. 24% of Australia’s power last year was renewably sourced. The solar panels on our roof produce more than enough energy for our house and our 2 cars.

I could also mention that electric motors are more efficient at converting the energy from the source to the motive power you need, than internal combustion engines anyway. Even if you sourced the power from coal generators, you would would still produce less emissions overall with an EV. See UQ’s take on this https://gci.uq.edu.au/clean-green-machines-truth-about-electric-vehicle-emissions?

Unlike the scene depicted of EVs in the movie, our Holden Volt hasn’t changed much at all. It’s battery and motor are still working beautifully, range still as good as ever.

It’s funny how a movie like Planet of the Humans stirs up all sorts of other myths and misinformation. A letter from a solar installer in the Daily Tele last week suggested that recharging these cars would need the power of two houses to keep it on the road. He was right in that EVs do use quite a bit more power than most appliances. However his maths showed he was assuming you would refill a long range EV from empty to full every day.

But even if it took that amount of energy, it is surely better that we source it from renewables than from petrol or diesel, which not only waste most of the chemical energy as heat, but also pump masses of CO2 and other pollutants into our sky (the cost of which our children will bear).

EV’s don’t need that much power. Checking our records over the last year, our electric cars used about the same energy as our swimming pool pump!

Unfortunately the pool pump died last month. I replaced it with a new multi speed, low energy one. More expensive but it uses only about half the power than the old one did. Nice to think one simple improvement like that saves the equivalent of half of our car’s ‘fuel’.

Tom Hunt, 5 May 2020

Creating the political will for a liveable world