17 December 2020

The Implications Of Better Electric Car Batteries

Sometime in the vicinity of the years 2024-2026, solid state batteries for electric cars will be widely available on a mass produced basis. This will dramatically improve the time required to charge the batteries, the lifetime of the batteries, their range, their energy density, and their safety. 

Electric cars already cost about half as much to maintain over the life of car and the electricity cost of charging them per mile traveled is far below the price of gasoline and diesel fuel. The maintenance cost will fall with solid state electric car batteries.

It is likely that this boost in performance and the increased scale of electric car production that results will bring down the total vehicle life cost of an electric cars to below that of a conventional internal combustion engine car, even on an unsubsidized basis. This critical tipping point will probably be reached sooner in Japan, Korea and Europe, where gasoline and diesel are about twice as expensive in the United States, before it is in the United States.

Once this tipping point is reached, in a decade or so, perhaps by 2035, internal combustion vehicles will become antiques and niche vehicles, with the vast majority of ground transportation vehicles powered by electricity, which will be increasingly green as coal fire power plants are replaced by wind, solar and tidal power, by natural gas, and perhaps by renewed growth in nuclear power generation capacity, the technology for which has been teed up for a while now.

Since internal combustion engines in vehicles are the predominant source of demand for petroleum, once this tipping point is reached, demand for petroleum will plummet, making high cost sources of petroleum, like fracking wells, much less economic than they are today.

Petroleum, since it is relatively easily transported over long distances in oil tankers, trades in a global market, and so the reduction in demand, even if initially limited to places like Europe and Japan and Korea, will impact the entire world.

Economies that rely significantly on oil production like Alaska, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Nigeria and Brunei will all be hard hit. Moreover, within those economies, the invariable conservative political interests that rely on oil wealth will see their power wane and the expense of the tech and commercial economies. Peak oil will become irrelevant, resulting not in extreme prices but in moderately low prices as demand falls dramatically, while supply falls less rapidly. 

The simultaneous continued deep decline in demand for coal which will be ongoing will result in continued economic malaise and depopulation in the two main states where coal production is significant, West Virginia and Wyoming, where the residual coal industry props up even more conservative political interests.

Phenomena like Islamic fundamentalism and monarchism, which are financed largely with oil wealth, despite the fact that it is ill adapted to a modern commercial economy, will lose the win in their sails, and will probably be replaced by some more practical iteration of Islam and by constitutional monarchies or republican revolutions in what short order transition from being affluent countries to struggling developing countries.

This transition away from coal and petroleum (although natural gas demand should remain healthy) will dramatically arrest new man made contributions to global warming and will greatly reduce air pollution. Even Los Angeles will have clean air.

Less strikingly, this will sink demand for mechanics and mechanical engineers, and increase demand for electricians and electrical engineers.

At the neighborhood business level, gas stations that fail to transition to electric charging stations (and it isn't clear that the new electric charging infrastructure will be a good fit for old gas stations anyway), will go out of business in droves. A few will linger with legacy gasoline and diesel demand and convenience store businesses, but many will not.


Dave Barnes said...

"electricity cost of charging them per mile traveled is far below the price of gasoline and diesel fuel"
A lot of this cost differential is the motor fuel taxes vs none on electrons.
This will change as states shift to mileage-based taxes.

Dave Barnes said...

"will lose the win in their sails"

Dave Barnes said...

gas stations
There are 111000 in the USA
It has been estimated that 5000 electrical charging stations will be enough.

Guy said...

Hi Dave, Yeah, because charging at the house is almost essential. Look's like it will be worthwhile to develop the applied technology (assuming that there are any efficiencies to be found in such a mature field) for wiring parking garages with charging stations. Because some folks live in cities. And the requirements for utility scale energy storage need to meet somehow. Cheers,