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Erm, why?

Bardenfleth-Hansen also highlights the importance of reducing Europe’s reliance on lithium mines in China: “The necessity to move away from China, or basically anything that’s controlled outside of Europe, has obviously become very clear over the past couple of years.”

Not that there are many lithium mines in China – it’s the processors that are there. But given that your Heathen Chinee will happily hand over the lithium at the sight of folding stuff then why do European cars needs to be powered by something produced in Europe?

I don’t know enough about the chemistry here to know whether sodium would be a useful cell or not. But I know enough about markets to know that lithium is in oversupply right now and given the number of developments going on is likely to crash further in price. As I’ve pointed out, there’s 2,850 million, billion, tonnes of it out there and we need perhaps 20 million tonnes to provide batteries for 2 billion cars. It’s not in short supply.

18 thoughts on “Erm, why?”

  1. Sodium ion batteries are increasingly looking viable, and have the advantage that they don’t need cobalt in their electrodes, so nobody has to worry about mines in the Congo.

  2. Isn’t this very colonialist? The reason Brexit was so evil was that it demonstrated that the English ( obviously the PWs wanted to stay) were so wrapped up in their Imperial past that they wanted to cut links with furrinerrs yet here we have Europe wanting only to source European stuff.

  3. Of course if the entire electric car idea goes up in smoke because people won’t buy them it scarcely matters whether the batteries contain lithium, sodium or any other Tom Lehrer ingredients.

    Do any of you wise ones know if it’s easy to connect a genset to a domestic power supply and if so the kind of output required that will keep the lights on, the freezer working and the trusty internet connection going? (I don’t have a model train set or £100k speakers to drive).

  4. I think that it is fairly straightforward to have a switch installed upstream of your consumer unit so that you can switch between the mains and your own supply. I’m not knowledgeable enough to do that myself but I would expect that an electrician would know. Our gennie is only a little one so it wouldn’t be worthwhile doing it for us. A lovely big diesel gennie costs about a grand.

  5. @TMB relatively easy if you got the right genset for whatever setup your house has.

    Figuring out the exact power requirement, and thus the proper power of the genset for optimal fuel efficiency is trickier than actually installing it.
    And making it quiet enough so that the neighbours don’t complain is a Thing…

  6. I’m guessing that having some sort of early two-way separation route for 1) “light & crucial” (what TMB said above plus the gas boiler and pump (#)) and 2) “heavy” (electric ovens/kettles/whatever) might (in theory) be useful?

    Power goes out. Gen automatically kicks in serving circuit 1) above. Circuit 2) remains down. Bit of up front work needed but might then reduce the Gen capacity/noise (cooling heat pump surges being a key determinant?). Helps also if there’s a gas hob as that’s a back-up for kettle and similar.

    [ # – As some of you have said on here before, mains gas will never be cut (in the same way that leccy can), hence, it keeps the gas heating working.]

    Splitting circuits – I’m thinking mostly just understanding what goes through each fuse on the box (rather than messing too much with any internal wiring)? Heavy kitchen stuff is often on its own fuse.

  7. Xi looks like he’s betting the Chinese economy on supplying the West with batteries and windmills.

    But suppose the West looked at the numbers.
    Hmm, global temperatures are pretty stable really, CO2 doesn’t seem to have any real world effect.
    Plant growth is optimal around 1,000 ppm, and we’re only at 420 ppm.
    OK chaps, we’re going to ditch this green nonsense and go for reliable fossil fuels.

    Could the Chinese economy pivot fast enough?

  8. Any “normal” installation done in the last 20 years will have the kitchen on a seperate circuit, and the cooker has always been required to be on a seperate circuit, so other than any issue about where the fridge is plugged in, it’s a generally simple problem.
    The major problems are how you connect the two sources without one of them becoming live when you don’t want it to. The naive solution is a trailing plug that you plug into the genny – but that trailing plug becomes live when the mains is on! Do searches for “extension lead of death”.

  9. And making it quiet enough so that the neighbours don’t complain is a Thing…

    I don’t think there’d be many complaints about the noise when you’re the only one on your street able to boil a kettle or heat food.

  10. China has no oil or gas. Well not enough.

    That is why half the EVs are sold in China.

    They will keep on using them for non global warming reasons.

  11. TMB- Whole house changeover switch.
    Remember you’ll need an earth spike and cable as well.
    Internet search examples :

    I’ve done it to mine but only have a 3Kw hyundai genny ( Hondas are quieter but 3x the price), petrol originally but now fitted with propane conversion kit so a 20Kg gas bottle will suffice to run light loads for a week or so.
    Note this runs the whole house bar kettle oven, washing machines etc.
    I switch every circuit off at the House box in a power cut, start genny, flick over changeover switch then bring on lighting circuits & the central heating pump 13A one.
    Tend to keep the other 13 A ones off in case of spousal or descendent brainfarts.

  12. Bloke in North Dorset

    OT, but on the subject of batteries and electric cars the EU has just agreed the new Euro 7 standards and they include standards for battery life:

    The new rules also set minimum standards for the durability of batteries in electric and hybrid cars. For example, the battery life should still be 80 percent of the original value after five years or 100,000 kilometres and 72 percent after eight years or 160,000 kilometres. For small vans, the minimum limit with the same deadlines and mileages should be 75 and 67 per cent respectively, according to the resolution.

    Its going to keep lawyers busy for an eternity writing the details behind those. Number of recharges, using approved charges, usage in winter v summer months for example.


    Dream on. There’s too many well placed vested interests locked on to the taxpayers teat.

  13. @BiND
    I wonder if the battery manufacturers will be able to achieve the same trick as they do with lead/acids. They go phut the month after the warranty expires.
    (I’m suspicious they’re putting a chip in them now. The one in my VDub was almost to the day. And not a slow progressive failure, either. One day it was turning the motor over with a will. The next, as flat as a pancake.)

  14. jgh

    The major problems are how you connect the two sources without one of them becoming live when you don’t want it to.

    Your field not mind, so obviously just speculating?

    Mains > split in two: 1) light, and 2) heavy.

    Circuit 2) goes straight into fuse box 2 (and onto apps). Ignore that part.

    Circuit 1), at “A” just pass the split, takes a detour out and back – first into a UPS. UPS to Gen (or it’s an all-in-one, see below), Gen back to to A, and straight into fuse box 1.

    In my case (this is upstream next to routers and server), the UPS tells the server that the power is down so that it can properly power down with no instant loss of power to the server. Routers/VOIP continue, for a period (couple of hours or so, even on the one battery, because they really don’t draw too much, depending on the age/state of the battery). My UPS kicks in for the small spikes that take place every now and again (the server tells me), but the server has the basic software ability to only power down if it lasts more than “x” (ie, it’s a proper power cut).

    The UPS (for something like Circuit 1) would need sufficient capacity (1.5-3KW?) but little longevity (ie, no extra battery capacity volume), just sufficient for the Gen to kick into life, and if it’s a proper power cut and not just a spike? The UPS/Gen combo presumably stops any power going in the wrong direction? At which point – no action needed if there’s a power cut?

    Wouldn’t that kind of UPS/software (small volume but high enough capacity battery) already be an integral part of a back-up Gen?

    I’m (obviously) not an electrician. 🙂

  15. The penny drops…

    I suspect you’re talking about the possibilities around position “A” above. The obvious need to directly bypass the UPS/Gen when needed, and hence which plug/connection combinations don’t lead to “live” plugs….

  16. Bloke in North Dorset


    Lots of opportunities for the battery manufacturers to game the systems, no doubt in collusion with the car manufacturers.

  17. PF: I’ve got a similar arrangement. Server on one UPS and now I have VDSL modem, firewall, a switch and WiFi AP on another, so server shuts down after a few minutes, and the Internet/Wifi stays up for half an hour or so.

    Back in the 80s the power here was very flakey and I bought a diesel 4kVA genset. I just had a lead with a plug on each end so when the power failed, pull the main switch then plug the genny into a socket in the garage making sure the big loads were off. I don’t think that would work too well now as the house has been rewired to modern regulations with RCDs and stuff, so that may complicate things if I need to use it again.

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