NEWS – Does the current energy crisis call into question the transition from individual mobility to all-electric? Here are some things to think about.
The car industry didn’t need that. The clouds gather on the road to the individual car, especially the battery-electric model. The question is no longer taboo: should we finally oblige the car to be completely electric in 2035, as the European Commission has decided? Ending recklessness would require, rather than multiplying the spells, opening up the debate. Without waiting. A little political courage wouldn’t hurt. The subject is too serious to skip it.
All over the world, blockages are increasing. In California, due to a heat wave episode, it was asked to avoid recharging its electric vehicle between 16.00 and 20.00. In the UK, the price of electricity will rise from 1 October. Charging some electric cars can cost more than refueling. We are talking about one euro per kilowatt hour. In Europe, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused an increase in the price of electricity, correlated with the price of gas. Over the course of a year, the megawatt hour has gone from 85 euros to just under 1,000 euros. In France, the price shield cushions the shock, but the price freeze does not last forever. The Minister of Finance has already announced that increases in bills are expected. Still in France, if we knew for a long time that we had no oil, we now know that we let bad decisions spread. Result: we discover that electricity can be expensive and that we can also run out of it. The current crisis is seen as the detonator for an even deeper crisis related to the abandonment of our energy autonomy.
According to the Fédération environnement durable association, with the closure of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant and the closure of 32 of the 58 reactors in the sector, France produces only 22,000 megawatts instead of 55,000 when the entire park was in operation. Still, according to the association, this energy shortage causes EDF to import up to 10,000 megawatts continuously, representing a quarter of France’s electricity needs. An energy that largely comes from German coal-fired power plants. Although the government assures that all French installations will be operational again by the end of the year, some no longer hesitate to raise the threat of electricity rationing in the event of a harsh winter. What honor is this new announcement to be given?
The car finds itself hostage to these new equations, with more unknowns. It is no longer out of the question that in the coming months the electric car will have to face energy rationing and an increase in the price of the kilowatt hour. Even without the current context, we know that the price of energy is likely to rise, mainly to offset the drop in tax revenue associated with a drop in oil consumption. Can society afford the luxury of seeing its mobility tarnished once again? In this context, it would not be absurd to postpone the transition to all-electricity planned for 2035 and to favor technological neutrality. The sobriety so often advocated in recent times requires a reduction in production. However, the ecological transition will have a significant impact on the conservation of natural resources and the environment. As such, the sanctions against Russia risk increasing the cost of electric technology. The nickel used to make the batteries comes largely from Russia.
Recent developments also tend to show the full relevance of the internal combustion engine. A study by IFP Énergies Nouvelles shows that a plug-in hybrid model running on Superethanol E85 does not emit more CO2 than an electric vehicle throughout its life cycle. The petrol electric car is even taking over the battery electric car in countries where the energy mix has a high CO2 footprint. Synthetic fuels also deserve full attention. The cost price of this oil-free fuel made from renewable energy is still high, but with aviation becoming its main market in a few years, prices should come down to an acceptable level. The advantage of eFuel is being able to drive the existing fleet forward without changes. The benefits are therefore immediately quantifiable. CO emissions2 of fossil origin would thus be reduced by almost 90%.
Hydrogen becomes credible
At the same time, voices are being raised to defend the hydrogen-electric car. A way not to put all eggs in one basket, while the scarcity of raw materials, the lack of charging infrastructure and the price of electricity are causing concern. Patrick Koller, head of the equipment manufacturer Forvia, as a result of the merger between Faurecia and Hella, believes that hydrogen represents a solution for the future to massively decarbonize mobility. This technology solves the problems associated with the use and economic model of electricity. Patrick Koller estimates that he will be able to offer a hydrogen powertrain for a 100 kilowatt-hour car for around 8,000 euros by 2030. Symbio, his joint venture founded with Michelin, is designing a very competitive platform. The future looks exciting.