Why e-Vehicles, Solar & Wind Will Not “Transition”

It basically comes down to “we can’t get it done”.

There’s not enough minerals to do it. We can’t mine them fast enough anyway even if there were enough. It takes as much coal / oil / gas energy to mine and refine them as it takes to run a gas / Diesel car for 100,000 mile life (or more). There isn’t any movement to find and create and operate the added mines needed even if we could find them. We are very under-investing in fossil fuel infrastructure, refining, and mining / pumping to have the fossil fuel needed to do all the mining and refining of minerals to make all the solar / wind / eCars so that’s not going to work either.

Essentially, the magnitude of increase in minerals & mining / refining needed is on the order of 7 time as much, while the ore quality decreases over time and the energy to mine and refine increases exponentially. So “going forward” it gets exponentially worse (and we can’t do it without hitting that exponential fairly soon).

There’s a LOT more detail in the video.

Note that this is posted in YouTube as “SKAGEN Fondene” creator when there is also a “SKAGENFondene” account without any content; so the space matters…

Presenter: Mark P. Mills. Senior Fellow Manhatten Institute For Policy Research. Faculty Fellow Northwestern University McCormick School of Engineering.

He starts off with an interesting comparison to Norway: who, it seems, are well on their way to the Green Dream with 80% of new cars e-Cars; but export $25k of oil & gas per person… They also have a huge hydroelectric production of cheap electricity per capita.

@3:29 16 x advantage in cost to produce energy vs solar / wind.

3:59 Each eCar represents 20 to 30 bbl of oil equiv being consumed “somewhere else” to make it.

4:43 World gets about 3% of energy from Wind & Solar, but 10% from wood… TES.

5:45 Transitions are slow, difficult and expensive. $5 Trillion so far (so another $10 Trillion to just match wood energy supply…). That much again in indirect spending. (Not including hidden costs of “mandates”).

7:28 EPRI conclusion it doesn’t look like it is structurally possible to make the transition in the way imagined. “Achieving [U.S.] net-zero energy… by 2050 would involve an energy transformation that is unprecedented in scope, scale, and timeframe.”
(Note that that’s almost 30 years, not the mythical 12 to Armageddon… E.M.S.)

7:55 Where do the materials come from? Mostly copper + “other metals”. That’s the big problem. There is no shortage of energy. Materials are limited and limiting. The underlying fact that’s important is the quantity of minerals needed per unit of power to build the machines.

10:26 To build a machine to replace a combustion turbine … you need between 1000 and 2000 percent more minerals to deliver the same unit of power. And you need some on the order of 400% more minerals and metals to deliver the same vehicle… If you adjust for energy delivered (due to wind not blowing all the time…and sunset -E.M.S.) the actual requirement to deliver the same unit of energy to society is a 2000 to 7000 percent increase… (so 20 to 70 times as much metals and minerals. -E.M.S.)

12:50 In heavy industries, a movement of 5 % – 10 % is “massive”… this is an increase in demand from 700 % to on the order of 4000 % in total supply of these metals… in 2 decades…

13:44 IF it were to be achievable, it is the largest single increase in demand or supply of metals in all of human history. It’s never happened.

15:24 What we’re proposing to do with the energy transition is to shift the majority of the world’s energy supply from liquids and gasses to solids. So measured in tons terms what that means is that you will increase the wedge that’s in gray (“oil gas coal” -E.M.S.) by 10 fold. Or put differently, the energy system in the future as imagined in transition will require the extraction and movement of a quantity of materials equal to or greater than the quantity of materials that humanity extracts, moves, and grows for all other purposes combined. (With what trucks, diggers, trains, ships, etc.? And they will run on what fuel? And who will build them? How fast? -E.M.S.) … It’s just not going to happen. The world’s not capable of doing that…

16:43 What we know now is that the world is not now mining enough materials, nor is it planning to mine enough materials. … The world will be short copper in a year or two. There will be physically less copper available in the world than the demands that the energy transition will place on it.

18:12 Copper is not as … it turns out it is one of the metals that does not have a substitute, it is not replaceable. (he does mention aluminum in high Voltage power lines. -E.M.S.).

18:35 16 year average to open a new mine (so not going to happen in 12 years. -E.M.S.) Will need hundreds of new mines…

20:00 Global Metals Mining CapEx: Actual & Needed (going down vs need big up. -E.M.S.) Not investing even 10% of what’s required.

20:43 (China is doing the bulk of all the refining. This matters. Most of the minerals to mine are not in The West. paraphrasing -E.M.S.) And today China enjoys a market share in global energy minerals refining that is more than double OPEC’s market share in oil markets.

22:38 IEA Graph of IMF prediction: “IEA Transition polices would cause metal prices to ‘reach historical peaks… for an unprecedented, sustained period of roughly a decade’ IMF”

25:00 Material imputs ~70% cost solar module, battery (and will rise a lot… -E.M.S.)

27:00 Input costs for an EV doubled from about $4k to $8k, a conventional vehicle is about 1/2 that. Paraphrase by E.M.S.

27:44 Crossover graph for “emissions” of “Carbon” showing EV crosses over to less than conventional vehicle at about 60,000 to 75,000 miles. VW Graph comparing eCar to Diesel. This VW EV uses about 1/2 the metals and materials as a Tesla. Paraphrased by E.M.S.

30:30 Changing battery chemistry doesn’t change this much. Paraphrased by E.M.S.

31:30 (The “magic battery” idea. E.M.S.) Future Battery Tech: Hyperbole vs Physics In the real world, the velocity of change in energy industrial systems takes decades not years.

32:15 The iron law of ore grades. (Ore quality / % target metal, decreases over time, energy required to refine it out increases exponentially. We’re already at the knee where the exponential goes near vertical. Paraphrase by E.M.S.) This is a non-trivial problem. It means that the future electric car, the future solar module, the future wind turbines’ carbon dioxide emissions and metal requirements are rising non-linear just to fabricate them. So never mind if they are available or what they cost, just to fabricate them will require the world to consume fuels and emit carbon dioxide at levels that are frankly unprecedented in mining history.

35:00 Energy transition is not about replacing hydrocarbons, it is about supplementing them. (Energy demand will continue to rise over time, new demands will be invented, and we can’t both increase supply and shut down hydrocarbon energy. Paraphrase by E.M.S.)

37:00 E.M.S.: At this point, he introduces Jevon’s Paradox, but does not name it. He just notes that increased efficiency drops costs so uses increase and total demand increases. A point I’ve tried to get people to recognize before. You can NOT reduce energy demand by increasing efficiency. People just find more uses. Case in point? We made eCars very efficient. Now we have a huge demand for charging eCars that never existed prior to that… So nice to see him note that, even if he didn’t mention Jevons by name.

37:21 E.M.S.: Nice graph of how aviation went from zero fuel in 1930 ish to 3 Billion BOE (Bbl of oil equiv.) in 2000; computing went from zero in about 1970 (per the graph, in reality it was more like 1930 / 1940 near zero but not quite zero) to 4 Billion BOE in 2020. Then asks how much drones will take (4 Billion BOE?) and “Cloud Computing” by 2050. While this does ignore “substitution” where a flying drone might replace both trips by car and plane, or Cloud Computing replaces private computers; it is a valid question / point. New inventions take more / new energy supply. Then wanders off to Robots, Siri, ChatGPT, etc. as examples of energy demand to come.

40:00 goes to a “challenge” that’s pretty wimpy by a “green” “ESG Specialist”… that I’m not going to reprise in text. Ends at 46:49.

In Conclusion

As long as the Gang Green are in charge of energy policy, figure investments in Energy production and minerals (along with mining and refining machinery) ought to pay off.

So I’m looking at timing entry into minerals & mining, along with heavy mining machinery makers. One big question for me is just WHO in the world will be making these things / opening these mines. Will it be China, or things that are investable? Will Europe be able to make heavy machinery at reasonable prices without Russian energy and minerals? Will the USA Kleptocrats so damage our economic position that the USA ends up toast? Will the GEBs “disposal” of Bolsonaro so damage Brazil that it’s not investable?

The fact that POLITICS and GEBs screwing around with countries will so completely dominate what can be done that actual Economics are irrelevant is a Royal PITA and makes investment decisions more crap shoot and less reasoning.

So roll those dice. Flip those coins. Heads, it’s Economic Growth in The West. Tails it’s Great Depression Redux as Russia and the BRICS+dozens take over global prosperity. If it lands on edge, well, “Thermonuclear War means never having to invest anyway”…

But one thing is quite clear: There will be NO Green Energy Transition. At most, physical reality of metals mining & refining will give a small Brave New World of about 10% to at most 20% “alternative” energy and e-Vehicles. And even that will be at eye watering costs both in money and in mining damage to the Earth. MAYBE 5% can be done by 2030 to 2040. So one wonders how long the Grift can be kept running as that reality bites?


About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Earth Sciences, Economics - Trading - and Money, Energy, Global Cooling, Global Warming General. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Why e-Vehicles, Solar & Wind Will Not “Transition”

  1. E says:

    the goal isn’t for everyone to have an electric car. their goal is for everyone to own NO car.

  2. David A says:

    I am astounded, our policy on energy has gotten so absolutely mind blindingly impossible, that our esteemed host and the number one proponent of “Their is no shortage of stuff”, has considered capitulating, and said , “There’s not enough minerals to do it.” Our sad world, N.R.O. of stupidity either are we?

  3. Keith Macdonald says:


    On the BBC Headline News today, Ford Cars (UK and Europe) is laying off thousands of people. So that it can “concentrate on electric vehicles“.

    Tim Slatter, chairman of Ford of Britain, says
    Ford of Europe is preparing for a major transformation of its business. By 2030, it expects all the cars it builds in the region to be fully electric. Two out of three commercial vehicles will be either electric or plug-in hybrids by the same date.

    Is there a Darwin Award for car makers?

  4. jim2 says:

    The EU is discussing banning new ICEVs by 2035.

  5. Simon Derricutt says:

    Like most analyses, this only works with what we currently know to be possible, and of course going down this way is obviously going to be practically impossible. Just can’t do all that extra mining, because we need a lot of fuel to do that using current technologies.

    However, I’m talking with people with crazy ideas that look to me that they will either obviously work or have a good chance of working. For example, US9080557 uses the experimentally-tested property of superconductors that you can “turn off” the superconductivity using a small laser of the right frequency. That in turn turns off the Meissner effect, and allows you to channel magnetic flux using that laser at a high switch-rate, and thus you can generate energy. Eddie is doing the final tests on this pretty shortly (it’s taken a while to get the other technology and kit sorted). This idea breaks the normal symmetry of Lenz’s law, and thus by Noether’s law the associated conservation law (conservation of energy) also doesn’t apply here. Net result should be that the core system to produce 20kW would be around the size of a coffee-cup, though with the cryogenics maybe around a shoe-box size. The way I see it is that the basic effect is experimentally verified, and the rest is engineering to understand the limits of what is possible and to balance up the compromises to get a reliable system. No doubt that it can be made to work, and the question is really how well we can make it work.

    The other crazy ideas are to do with “reactionless” propulsion (electrically powered, but not using reaction mass being ejected to get the thrust), and there too the basic effect is obviously experimentally there. The question is whether the theory is good enough (and so far the experimental results match theory) and how far we can thus push the practical devices. Experiments are ongoing, and using 4 different ideas that I know of, but I’m expecting at least one of them to produce enough thrust to lift a spacecraft (or flying car or hoverboard) off the ground fairly soon. Some of this was covered in the “tic-tac” thread here a while back. Fairly obviously, this technology can also be used to generate energy – just add the thrusters to the rotor of a generator. OK, it’s spinning and not solid-state, but it will generate power.

    There’s also my work in thermodynamics, where by recognising that kinetic energy has a vector nature (it must be carried by a particle that has a momentum vector), and that that momentum vector can be redirected using a field without needing energy input, we can do things that were thought impossible. That is progressing nicely and should have results this year. Basically, this allows us to direct already-available energy where we want it to go, rather than relying on random processes and diffusion.

    Thus I’m expecting the next few years to see a major change in both energy needs and how we produce energy. The “reactionless” drives will dramatically change how we get around, too. Yep, this all sounds like it’s impossible stuff, but given an experimentally-verified small violation of a law of physics we thought was totally inviolable, I figure that we can engineer things to make that violation larger and practically useful. Here I see things as binary – either that law is totally unbreakable or it can be broken, and if we know it can be broken then we need to figure out how to break it more effectively.

    Net result, though, is that e-vehicles should become not only viable, but also the best use of resources because the range will be effectively unlimited and the battery size required may be zero (a supercap should be adequate, and we can build them from Graphene). Thus you won’t need the chargers and the extra load on the grid, and in any case each house may have its own generator so there’s all the metal that’s currently in the grid that can be re-purposed.

    There’s of course going to be a lot of manufacturing needed to supply these new technologies, and the changeover won’t be instant. However, it’s going to be cheaper, and you won’t need to buy the fuel for them, so I’d expect it to proceed fairly quickly, say a decade or two. No government subsidies required, only that the government doesn’t get in the way.

    Of course there are stories of energy breakthroughs before, where the technology was suppressed. AFAIK they mostly didn’t actually work. A few did work, but would have been too costly, or the inventor kept stuff secret for some reason, but I can count those on one hand.

    Thus despite the obvious stupidity of expecting our civilisation to work using solar and wind power, I’m actually pretty optimistic that new technologies will provide a workable solution fairly soon.

  6. Josh from sedona says:

    So I did some quick Googling, and found out that I like single motor electric car takes about 180 lb of copper did more Googling get some back of the envelope kind of stuff, found out there’s like 290 million vehicles in the US. Long story short not counting that a lot of them are trucks and multi-electric motor EVS to replace all of them with economy EVS it would take about 7 and 1/2 trillion pounds of ore to be mined, and that estimate is way low if you take an account how much more commercial vehicles are going to use

  7. Ossqss says:

    A good investment might be in companies trying to figure out how to recycle the Green products.

    An example would be Lithium car batteries. The primary way to recycle those currently is to incinerate them (pyrometallurgy) to garner the precious metals in them. There are experiments in Hydrometallurgy also. None very efficient and energy intensive.

    From what I have read, some 95% go to the landfill just like solar panels and wind turbines…..

    LOL, how green is that?

    Do they count the pyrometallurgy in their carbon footprint calculations or is that exempt like the EU wood pellet energy production methodologies?

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @David A.:

    There’s a critical difference between my position that “There is no shortage of stuff” and the e-Car stupidity of “do more than you can in less time than you have”. That difference is “As long as Engineers get to decide how to make things and businesses decide how fast to operate”. That is, “As long as Political Idiocy is kept out of the decisions.”

    We have plenty of stuff to make cars. Even some amount of e-Cars. What we don’t have enough of specific things for, is making ALL new cars e-Cars inside a couple of decades.

    Just like we can feed everyone on the planet; but if you insist on feeding everyone on caviar, and by next year, ’cause your Uncle runs a caviar cannery; well that’s not going to happen.

    The Stupid (and the resource constraints) come in with size and schedule both made a bit crazy…


    Yes, in the long run all sorts of things may be possible. The problem is the 2030 “target” or “mandate” depending on your location. It would take that long to figure out how to make an efficient electric motor using aluminum wire (or longer….) or some kind of superconductors.

    Let the time scale stretch out to match the rate at which “breakthroughs” are figured out, and everything becomes “easy”…

    @Josh from Sedona:

    The present fantasy way around that (and moving the overburden too…) is to start mining “nodules” from the ocean bottom. Never mind that it risks destruction of ocean fisheries and has never been done before at industrial scale…


    There’s 2 points on that. Recycling can be done, but only once the costs to mine new exceed the cost to recycle. Right now it is just too cheap to make new.

    There isn’t a good substitute for coke in a lot of metal refining….

  9. YMMV says:

    David A says: “that our esteemed host” …

    That comment should be directed at the greens instead.
    Remember back to the Club of Rome and The Population Bomb, which were the foundation works for our current popular ideology, that and Silent Spring.

    Back then, the proto-greens were saying we were running out of everything, and “somebody do something”.

    Somebodies on the free enterprise side solved that problem. Ooops, that was not supposed to happen. So now the emphasis is on “we are ruining the Earth”, and they have conveniently forgotten their past claims.

    So now, we are not allowed to generate CO2, by any means (oil, gas, cows, cooking,…). Or coal. And no nuclear energy allowed. And no mining. And trees are sacred. “Animals are people”.

    And hurry up with the electric motors and batteries, because The End is Near.

    Add Woke politics into the mix. Yup, the end is near.

  10. Ossqss says:


    You can’t recycle, or make for that matter, this stuff without fossil fuels.

  11. Simon Derricutt says:

    EM – yep, mandating a time by which the Big Changeover happens is not ideal. As regards electric motors, there have been tests on using Graphene conductors rather than Copper, and we have a lot of carbon around so maybe by the time we need a Copper substitute we’ll have the technology. I’ve also been thinking about a variant of the homopolar motor, that has no stator and uses flat sheets of conductor rather than wires. People have also been looking into alternatives to those rare-earth magnets, and Nitrogen-doped Iron may work pretty well.

    Shortages or high material costs for the “standard” way of doing things leads to people figuring out an alternative that’s cheaper and “good enough”. Sometimes better as well as cheaper. If the standard way of doing things works OK, there’s no real imperative to find an alternative, though a better way may still turn up.

    With current design, BEVs just aren’t practical for universal use. Yep, there are some niche situations where they’d be OK. For most of the year, one would meet my needs if I used solar charging for it (my grid connection isn’t enough to charge a car and to run the house too), but a few times a year I’d need more range than is available so would need the ICE car anyway. I also can’t afford to buy an EV, and the battery cost over a maybe 8 year lifetime would far exceed the current fuel cost. Thus the EV would cost me maybe an order of magnitude more than the ICE car on a decadal basis. Can’t pay that much.

    Odd thing – remember the Sinclair C5? Pedal-assisted BEV (or battery-assisted pedal-power). Obviously that was an idea too far ahead of its time, and where the technology available at the time wasn’t really up to snuff. Might actually be popular now in inner cities where roads have been assigned to cycles and heavy traffic is diverted elsewhere.

  12. David A says:

    I think that is where my comment was intended to be directed.

    EM is correct as usual.
    The comment was to marvel that the yahoos in charge could actually make decisions that are impossible to enact, despite the global abundance of resources the earth is. Their ignorance exceeds centuries of resources.

  13. E.M.Smith says:


    Well…. a very minor quibble…

    Yes, you can recycle and make “this stuff” without fossil fuels. It will just cost way more than the product is worth and consume massive amounts of other resources. Way more than is worth while.

    (I presume that what you meant included the caveat of “economically viable”… even if unsaid, as otherwise you end up in “economically unviable” which is basically “can’t”; where I’m pointing out “technically possible even if very very stupid…)

    So, for example, we made iron / steel using wood instead of coal based coke for a very long time, historically. We could do that again. It is technically possible. But…

    Europe is denuded of the original forests due to the quantity of wood needed to make primitive iron at the start of the Iron Age. To try making the quantity of steel we now make without Coal based Coke would be devastating to the global forests. At which time we could convert to using other plants (like growing vast fields of some woody scrub instead of trees) but then you are displacing food farming…

    So “yes” it is “possible” to make or recycle “this stuff” without fossil fuels… but practically, no it isn’t. The scale and costs are all prohibitive for the other theoreticals.

    Then there’s the problem of all the existing stock of machines… I’ve seen film of an electrically powered giant Drag Line Shovel. They exist. But in very very low quantities. (Like, maybe, single digits…?) The problem being to manage the giant copper power cord and ship lots of power to remote sites. Diesel is just a lot easier.

    So to do the mining and moving without fuel would take creating a whole new fleet of such machines. Do we have the supply of stuff like copper needed for that? So you start to get into a “chicken and egg” problem. How to mine enough copper to make the e-Machines to mine more copper without fossil fuels? (The easier path would be to make non-fossil synthetic fuels, but the GEBs / TPTB don’t want to do that… )

    So again, yes, you are right for the present circumstances, and for the foreseeable future, but there is a theoretical alternative way (that is likely very impractical)

    Yeah, I know, way too much nuance for an informal comment…

    It all ends up in “logistics problems” and the domain of Engineers & Project Mangers – things that the Political Class does not understand, nor it seems, care about. Yet are absolutely critical to any major economic undertaking.

  14. E.M.Smith says:


    FWIW back in the late ’70s I was trying to make an Electric Motorcycle and was thinking about making an e-Car. By the early ’80s I was going to Maker Fairs and such looking at various home brew e-Cars and plotting to make my own. I even visited an IEEE presentation by the chief Engineer of Tesla where we got to see the first Roadster before it was being sold… and told how they worked and how they solved various interesting problems like heat management in the battery pack.

    So I’ve been hot on e-Tech for a while.

    (Though as a college kid I didn’t have enough money to fund the e-Motorcycle and ran out at the point where I’d bought the frame w/o engine… and then graduated and had to “let it go” and get a job… and then as a fresh graduate living in apartments, I had no place to work on an e-Car… and then was “married with kids”….)

    So it isn’t like I’m against e-Cars. I’m actually for them. HOWEVER…

    I’m very much against Stupid. And FORCING a too rapid conversion to 100% anything is astoundingly STUPID. The world is just not that way and diversity of designs is critical to a functioning market and technical advancement. (Why I now have “Lightbulb Mountain” in storage… enough incandescent and CFL bulbs for the rest of my likely life – because LED lights damage eyes, disrupt sleep, and are just annoying and uncomfortable to look at / live under… but I digress…)

    So I’d love to have a small e-Car. Something like a Nissan Leaf that I could charge at home. Heck, I’d even like to have a solar panel to charge it. I’d use it for all those “2 miles and back” trips to the grocery store, hardware store, post office, etc.

    But about once a week or 2, I’d need to use an ICE to make a 400 mile round trip or similar. Then a couple of times a quarter I’d need a big heavy hauler / truck. So we’re up to three different types of vehicle…

    Needless to say I’ve not got my e-Car yet. Still thinking of getting a Leaf or similar with a dying battery and doing a battery replacement… The urge to tinker doesn’t go away… BUT what I can’t do is justify $50,000 for an e-Car “toy”. My “few mile” drives can never cover that cost in displaced fuel buys.

    Maybe “someday” as more e-Cars reach the cheap used market and battery replacement doesn’t cost several $Thousands.

    That’s the economic reality of e-Cars. Without subsidy and force of law, they would be at most a niche market.

    (FWIW at the present rate of change in the e-Car market, I expect my first e-Car will be a Golf Cart when I can no longer pass the driver license vision test ;-)

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    @David A:

    I like that phrase “Their ignorance exceeds centuries of resources.”… reminds me of:

    “Intelligence is limited but stupidity knows no bounds. -E.M.S.” ;-)

    There’s an astounding ability for folks to dream up things that just do not work. Normally the interaction of Management Review / Funding Limits and Market Forces weeds out most of those.

    Even there, at Apple, we had a half dozen major Big Ideas that went down in flames for every major success. Most didn’t reach the market, but some did. Remember the Newton?

    The Big Problem is that Political Decisions remove the two major forces that restrain the stupidity. So as soon as I hear the word “Mandate”, I cringe. (“Subsidy” too, to a lesser degree). It is doomed to eventually fail; breaking its teeth on economic limits and technical restrictions. Unfortunately, it can take a decade or two of damage to reach that point… by which time the grift has paid off.

    So we get Political Mandates that result in disasters. Over and over again.

    Right now, one is unfolding in Ukraine. We are “in it” for “whatever it takes”; and so whole generations of Ukrainian Men are being slaughtered. Just because TPTB (the powers that be) can’t see that they are doomed to lose; and they were too full of themselves to realize Russia is NOT the USSR and that Russia (as a Christian Republic) was in the right while they (Ukrainian Money Laundry and all) were corrupt and wrong. “We” have a “mandate” to win!!! (and so the disaster unfolds… until they can’t avoid their error … then they will just walk away and look for a new place to shit.)

    The Jab is another example. MANDATE it for EVERYONE!!! even if untested, damaging, and completely wrong for a variety of folks with various medical conditions. Auto Immune disease among several. The result? Excess deaths in something like 30 countries running at about 15% to 30%. MILLIONS dying. Something that would not happen without Political Mandate.

    Their reach far far exceeds their grasp… in just about every field.

  16. The True Nolan says:

    @YMMV: “So now, we are not allowed to generate CO2, by any means (oil, gas, cows, cooking,…).”

    Private jets are OK. That CO2 doesn’t count.

    “And hurry up with the electric motors and batteries, because The End is Near.”

    You just hit a nerve. How many times have you seen some sci-fi movie where the Great Crisis is upon the band of heroes, and everyone looks to the nerdy adult/teen/child who suddenly says “this ought to work!”. Cut to a close up of busy hands, a few wires, some circuit board, and everyone yelling HURRY! Four minutes later, there it is! A free energy, telepathic, time altering, particle beam, leg shaver which guarantees world peace and free doughnuts for everyone. Forever.

    Non-science, non-engineering people have ZERO comprehension about the nature of creative processes and especially about the TIME which it takes.

    @EM: “The problem being to manage the giant copper power cord and ship lots of power to remote sites. ”

    How about an electric airplane? With a long cord! Crazy, perhaps, but not as crazy as it sounds at first.

    “whole generations of Ukrainian Men are being slaughtered. Just because TPTB (the powers that be) can’t see that they are doomed to lose”

    I think you are too kind. They MAY not see that they will lose. It is possible. I think it more likely that they see that win or lose, they can rake in billions of dollars in bribes, fraud, and influence for as long as the war lasts. They are traitors, not only to their nations, but to humanity. The Ukrainian (and Russian) troops are ants. Does the guy bulldozing a parking lot lose sleep over the ants?

  17. YMMV says:

    “How many times have you seen some sci-fi movie”

    Not just sci-fi movies. Or, all those movies which are thought to be thrillers are actually sci-fi. Or fantasy. Which is believing in things which are impossible or highly unlikely. Like comic books and super-powers.

    Maybe that’s the problem. We are so used to believing the impossible which we see on screen all the time, that we really do believe that “we” can do the impossible.
    That, and the miserable science education.

    Education has been giving gold stars for “effort” and “trying” for too long. To avoid hurting feelings, so that students don’t have enough experience in being wrong and going back to the drawing board.

    “Non-science, non-engineering people have ZERO comprehension about the nature of creative processes and especially about the TIME which it takes.”

    Correct, if you exclude certain non-tech “creative” processes.

  18. David A says:

    Re “BUT what I can’t do is justify $50,000 for an e-Car “toy”.

    Because of their rebates I actually finally did, well 47 k after tax. Here is how it worked out as reasonable. Funds ahead…
    $7,500 Fed rebate
    $1,500 Calif rebate
    $12,000 sale of existing car
    $14,000 estimated residual value of 21 Rav Prime versus 12 genesis after 6 years
    $12,000 est fuel saving of 200 month from plus MPG and reduced utility $ (1)
    $47,000 Total. Now in calif I will be paying more annual fees and higher insurance, yet the fuel savings should go well beyond 6 years.

    (1) is based on better mileage and reduced charging electric rate subsidy at .06 to .10 per KW, overnight rate, and reduced overall utility subsidy for the house. I now drive less than expected, but gas costs more than expected. The RAV Prime gets 48 miles pure EV per charge, plus 38 mpg in hybrid mode, and romps real good and has AWD.
    If you had your own solar this increases, yet the cost saving of all of course varies with how much you drive, your states rebates, etc…

    I hate the rebates, but I have been and still do pay lots of taxes.

    PS, thanks for the response to my comment and I liked how you linked the inevitable results of government bureaucratic blindness to a wide range of very serious harms.

  19. Simon Derricutt says:

    EM – I was also looking at the idea of getting an old Leaf or similar and replacing the battery, but it looks to me that the cost of the battery would be so much more than just buying a complete ICE-based car that my cost per mile would be excessive.

    With the ICE, it’s rare for failures to suddenly happen without warning. About the only sudden catastrophic failure would be the cam timing belt, but replacing it every 100k miles or so avoids that problem and isn’t a major job. Most other failures make expensive-sounding noises a long time before they actually totally fail. With electronics, though, a sudden failure to work is the most common fault. The only real option is then buying a replacement, and that tends to be expensive. With the ICE car, it’s often possible to patch around some failure enough to get you home, maybe slower than you’d like but still mobile. When the electronics fails, the electric car becomes a brick that needs towing away.

    Advantage of the EV is that far fewer parts are needed to be put together, if you treat the various electronics boxes as one part each. The only big downside is the power source (battery) where currently it needs a lot of materials (and weight) to provide a barely-sufficient energy store. If you can replace that with something else that provides that energy using some other (and cheaper, lighter, more compact) source then an EV would be practically useful. Though much has been said about needing rare-earth magnets in the motor, progress has been made on switched-reluctance motors (basically, stepper motors) that don’t need rare earths. That also makes Aluminium windings more practical – the rotor doesn’t need windings and is just a lump of Iron of ferrite, and there’s more space for windings on the stator.

    YMMV – thing is that some of the experimental evidence I’ve been seeing is stuff that I’ve have considered to be sci-fi some time back. Sometimes, things have been impossible because no-one thought that they were possible so didn’t explore the idea. Then someone noticed that there was an anomaly and tried to make that anomaly larger and controllable. Those experimental results are getting better. Not yet ready to lift a spacecraft off the ground or produce a stream of very cheap energy, but I think you can see that from here and it will become practically-useful. The people involved are often engineers who have been developing these things for a decade or three, since it takes a lot of time and money to realise new ideas. Of course, some of these people will still probably end up being wrong, and unable to get the thing to work as expected. The questions to ask are why that thing is possible, or why it’s impossible.

  20. Josh from sedona says:

    Speaking of nodules, wasn’t that the cover story for the Hughes Glomar Explorer that the CIA commissioned to recover the Russian sub?

  21. E.M.Smith says:

    @Another Ian:

    Well, just more oil for me and my fleet then! Thanks, EU, for assuring my fuel supply will last longer!

    /sarc; to some small extent…

  22. Eric says:

    Reblogged this on Calculus of Decay .

  23. Phil Salmon says:

    Good analysis and helpful digest/interpretation from E.M. Funny to see hopes of technological wunderwaffe riding over the hill still alive.

    I’ve always thought it makes much more sense to improve efficiency of internal combustion vehicles 🚗.

  24. Snowleopard says:

    I’m not sure their plan will not work. They are just not telling us all of it. Ukraine, COVID, and mRNA vaccines are clues. Having to chose between heating and eating is a feature not a bug. The mineral supply crunch goes away if they reduce the population sufficiently, and reducing CO2 helps by reducing food production. I’m almost sure there is more coming I don’t yet know about.

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