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Electric Avenue: Letter in the Times, 29 June 2016


Sir, Further to your leader “It’s Electrifying” (June 28), batteries may well replace the internal combustion engine sometime this century but not at the current stage of development. There are three points to consider. First, plug-in hybrids should not be confused with electric cars. Clever engineering produces cars that are significantly heavier and can run solely on battery power for maybe 30 miles. For urban driving, they are brilliant and reduce air pollution; for longer journeys they offer no advantage at all. Second, fully electric cars can also be excellent for short journeys but cannot replace conventional cars until charging or battery exchange points are as ubiquitous as petrol stations and are comparably quick and easy to use.

Third, all this is immaterial unless a much higher proportion of electricity is from nuclear or renewable resources. Until then — and bearing in mind that adding more wind and solar farms without an effective way of storing their output is simply ineffective — emissions are simply shifted from exhaust pipes to power stations. 

Martin Livermore

Scientific Alliance, Cambridge