By John Kondos, Clean Energy NH Monadnock Region Energy Circuit Rider
Originally Published in The Monadnock Shopper News, Green Monadnock column, March, 2023
In the early days of a technology revolution new players and products emerge quickly, think PCs in the 1980’s or cell phone apps in the 2000’s and it can be challenging to figure out what’s what. For electric vehicles, watch the 2020’s. By the roaring 1920’s when automobiles replaced horses, the internal combustion engine defeated battery power, so cars have been burning fossil fuels ever since. In this century, cell phones and laptops have created a strong foundation for the battery industry to expand into automobiles and power storage.
Most folks don’t realize that EVs are better tech, like cell phones are better than landlines. Unlike cars that just deteriorate as they age, EV software updates improve the features and benefits with over the air software updates. My new EV has had the efficiency improved, added a snow mode, along with several other features since last December. EVs are quieter, quicker, smoother, safer and cost much less to own.
Most batteries retired from EVs still have about 70% of their capacity remaining, according to San Diego-based startup Smartville, noting that this makes them an ideal candidate for second-life use. By repurposing EV batteries as grid-scale energy storage to store renewable energy they continue to provide value before they are finally recycled and the materials are reused.
EVs are not only an exciting part of a technology revolution, they are a key to the much-needed energy revolution.
We’re looking for alternatives as we slowly realize that burning fossil fuels is clogging our atmosphere w/ greenhouse gasses, messing with our weather and costing more & more money and lives. Global EV sales have accelerated from 55,000 in 2011 to 16 million in 2021, according to the International Energy Agency. Tesla accounted for a big part of this but now old and new auto manufacturers are racing to introduce electric models and build new factories.
Tesla has had a big lead in part by taking an ‘Apple ecosystem strategy’ and building a robust charging network. Tesla owners can travel anywhere on US interstates and be confident of charging quickly along their way. The essential EV charging infrastructure got a boost from the recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.
EVs are cheaper to own even if they cost more initially. A study of electric police cars found communities saved over $5,000 per car, per year with Tesla’s vs their conventional Fords or Dodges. The Chevy Bolt EV starts under $30,000 and after Federal incentives costs about $20,000. The Bolt EV features 259 miles of combined range and 120 MPGe (MPG equivalent). I’ve enjoyed my Bolt since 2018 and spent less than $200 on maintenance and it is quick, quiet, smooth, and has good handling, even in the snow. Relying mostly on a 240-volt, Level 2, charger in my garage, the only thing I miss about going to gas stations is cleaning the windshield.
The Monadnock Sustainability Hub’s EV team and the Co-op are gathering local dealers and EV owners to share their EVs on April 22nd in Keene. To see a variety of EVs (including at least one pickup truck), talk to owners and possibly get a test drive don’t miss the next local Drive Electric event at the Keene Earth Day Celebration at the Co-op on April 22 from 12-4 PM. There will be short, informal talks on the Co-op’s planned public charging station, E police cars, home charging, taking long trips in an EV at the tent between the Co-op and the Whitney Brothers parking lot. For fleet managers, another opportunity to see a bigger variety of EVs (buses & trucks) is the Green Your Fleet Expo at the Speedway in Loudon, NH on June 9th.
What are you waiting for? Get your key the electrifying 20’s, and may the torque be with you.
John Kondos has been harvesting solar energy for decades and since 2006 has been working on solutions to the climate crisis with Home-Efficiency Resources, the Monadnock Sustainability Hub, Citizens Climate Lobby and Clean Energy NH.