WSJ CO2 Battery Agenda

WSJ CO2 Battery Agenda

The Wall Street Journal continues its support for leftist ideas.

Its recent article on batteries, The Birth of the Super-Battery, extolls the virtues of batteries, while ignoring their deficiencies and limitations. 

It’s a continuation of WSJ articles in support of leftist energy proposals for eliminating fossil fuels.

The WSJ could benefit from hiring engineers to write these articles, rather than relying on reporters with non-technical degrees, such as degrees in history or political science.

The Birth of the Super-Battery article begins by describing the history of Li-ion batteries and their declining costs. 

I agree. It’s likely the initial cost of battery-powered vehicles (BEVs), not including trucks, i.e, eighteen wheelers, will become competitive with internal combustion engine powered vehicles (ICEs) sometime over the next several years. However, since ICE engines last 150,000 miles, while battery packs currently last only 100,000 miles, there is also the cost of replacing BEV batteries that is largely overlooked and that can tip the economic evaluation in favor of ICEs.

None of this is news. See, Economics of Battery-Powered Vehicles

The emphasis of the WSJ article then shifts to how batteries will reduce CO2 emissions, saying:  

“Shifting [from fossil fuels] to batteries in the auto and energy sectors would reduce emissions overall, boosting efforts to tackle climate change.”

But the article generally ignores many of the negative effects that batteries will have on the environment and the electric grid.

For example, it ignores the detrimental impact of mining the tons of material needed to extract the metals and rare earths, e.g., Cobalt, Nickel, Lithium, and Neodymium, for making batteries, wind turbines and solar panels.

Quoting from the Manhattan Institute’s report:

“No energy system, in short, is actually ‘renewable’, since all machines require the continual mining and processing of millions of tons of primary materials and the disposal of hardware that inevitably wears out. Compared with hydrocarbons, green machines entail, on average, a 10-fold increase in the quantities of materials extracted and processed to produce the same amount of energy. 

See, Clean Energy Facts

Batteries are a national security issue. 

U.S. car companies are having to rely on Asian companies for the technology and, presumably materials.

The Tesla battery factory in Nevada was built in conjunction with Panasonic, while the battery factory being built by GM, is in concert with LGChem, a South Korean Company. 

It’s not clear whether Tesla and GM are making or importing the cells, the basic components of battery modules. Or, if they are making the cells, whether the materials are being imported from Asia. And what about Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, and the other companies making cars in the United States?

Kiplinger estimates that the U.S. will need over 30 Li-ion battery factories.

If, as GM has announced, ICEs are abandoned for BEVs, and we aren’t manufacturing the cells and batteries in the United States, we will be completely dependent on Asia

China is the main source for the rare earths required to produce the batteries and electric motors needed to power BEVs. See, Rare Earth Elements and America’s Security

As noted in the WSJ article, we solved our dependency on foreign oil. 

But, by eliminating ICEs and shifting to BEVs, are we merely exchanging our dependency on Mideast oil, to a dependency on Asia for batteries and the materials to make them?

What about the electric grid?

What happens to the electric grid if all 250 million light vehicles in the United States were BEVs?

The WSJ article ignores that the capacity of the grid will have to increase by 100% according to NREL, a huge undertaking, and that billions of dollars must be spent replacing transformers with larger units. NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) estimates that generating capacity will have to double by 2050, based on its Medium Electrification scenario.

(The paper, How Do BEVs Affect the Electric Grid, is available, free, from

The WSJ article infers that batteries will make coal-fired and natural gas power plants obsolete by using batteries to store electricity.

It specifically points to natural gas “peaker” i.e., peaking, units being replaced by batteries to meet peaks in demand, but this is a distraction, a head fake in basketball terminology. 

The real issue is whether batteries can provide enough storage to keep the lights on when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine for long periods of time … Days, possibly weeks, not hours.

Here is a chart of solar output where solar panels were covered by snow for several days. This is only one example of why storage is needed for several days, if not weeks, for when solar and wind can’t provide electricity.

Chart from ISO-NE for winter 2018.
Solar provided nearly zero electricity for over a week, from December 25 to January 5.

Grid reliability is threatened by such projections. The Looming Energy Crisis, Are Blackouts Inevitable, discusses why batteries can’t replace traditional power plants.

Additionally, any effort to use batteries to store electricity will raise every American’s utility bill while also reducing the reliability of the electric grid. See, Distorting the Levelized Cost of Electricity 

Objective Reporting

Battery-powered vehicles provide some performance features that are superior to ICE vehicles, such as quieter operation, lower maintenance and fuel costs, and rapid acceleration.

But there are also negative consequences to relying solely on BEVs.

Similarly, batteries may be able to replace peaking units serving the electric grid, but reliability of the grid is degraded and the cost of electricity is increased if batteries are relied on to store huge quantities of electricity.

Simplistic articles, such as the one on batteries published by the WSJ, don’t provide Americans with the facts they need to make good decisions.

. . .

See Related Article: The Importance of Rare Earths


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8 Replies to “WSJ CO2 Battery Agenda”

  1. Great report. Also, “green energy” failed Texas last month. Fossil fuels have been very reliable ever since the Flintstones roamed the earth.

    • Thanks for your comments.
      Yes, wind and solar were failures, and cannot replace fossil fuels.
      I look froward to publishing a video that examines the futility of trying to replace fossil fuels with wind and solar.

  2. There is no logic to apply to these topics. It’s a wealth transfer system. Unfortunately there will need to be more disasters such as the Texas grid experienced to demonstrate this. There is no free market. Electric vehicles will need to be mandated not chosen by consumers. Look at the Board of Directors of Alternative Energy companies to see who will benefit.

    • Thanks for your comments.
      That’s a good observation. Look to see who benefits from the actions being taken by governments and companies.

      • Indeed, in Ontario the majority of “green” energy projects went to political cronies. Blatantly biased politics wrecked the historic powerhouse of Canadian economy.

  3. Q: Why batteries? A: To reduce CO2. Reality: Not a threat as proven by Dr Happer.