The energy buzz reality

When we talk about energy, we fundamentally must adopt a holistic approach. One, where a diversity of competencies and capabilities, based on a common platform, can look at our current contextual placement and challenges from a 360 degrees perspective. I say contextual placement and not an energy crisis because we do not have an energy crisis but rather a leadership one.

You can’t keep making decisions based on the current marketing fashion and the latest buzzwords. Energy, being one of the most important fundamental building blocks of the development of society, requires a multidisciplinary approach to its complexity. It’s not only designing a product (electric vehicle for example) or reducing taxes on its consumption. It’s about understanding what all the implications are.

We keep forgetting that renewable energy is not necessarily a reliable energy. We ignore the fact that geographic locations play an enormous role in the usability of energy sources (wind, solar). Furthermore, we hide the total impact of energy on the touch-point (going back to electric vehicle, CO2 reduction must be calculated on the total energy harvesting and consumption – the supply-chain of the materials that makes but one EV is so damaging that we rather hide it and never talk about it)

Coal, Oil, Gas, they are natural as water, solar, wind. We have been miserable in harvesting, storing and converting energy into power, changing the energy source will not change our behaviors. We need to stop phasing out nuclear power and develop its next generation. We need to get our priorities right.

The perfect storm

There are types of storms that you can hear about on the news. There are types of storms that you can simply hear knocking on your window. And, there are types of storms that you can feel all around you—the perfect storms.

Perfect storms might be rare and require a perfect alignment of multiple elements from unrelated ecologies. Yet, once they hit, they emphasize the interconnectivity of these elements and the fragile lines that hold everything together. When a perfect storm arises, it can devastate the surrounding structures and collapse our societal wellbeing.

We are about to be struck by such a storm.

The consequences of COVID-19 are beginning to take a toll. I’m not here to judge the decisions that policymakers took when driving lockdowns, masks, distance working and learning, and more. Yet, the law of physics should have played a bigger role before taking these actions—every action has an equal opposite reaction. We have not even approached the full force of the aftermath winds, yet we can already now see a hint of what is coming our way.

The geopolitical climate is changing, and circus shows are only adding to an already burning situation. From a devastating blow to the promise of freedom in the digital domain to intensified supply chain struggles, fuel shortages, and food shortages. Add to that an uncontrolled inflation and the realization that nations around the world cannot sustain themselves, it is clear that the king is indeed naked.

One of my favorite quotes is by Vivian Greene, who said, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”  When faced with a perfect storm, we all learn that there is no place we can simply wait it out.

On climate and data

Unfortunately, science is not based on data anymore, but on people’s opinions. We don’t try to learn the data, and instead get caught up in the buzzwords. We confuse correlation with causation, forgetting that correlation is not causation!

The climate is a non-linear, chaotic system that lacks a core of implicit order. As such, it is beyond our ability to fully understand and accurately predict. Carbon dioxide is essential to live on our planet, and it can’t be the enemy. By driving narratives that are not anchored in data, we lose sight of the bigger picture. Fossil fuel is a reliable, environment-friendly, and cost-effective energy source, while wind and solar, for example, are not.


Before we rush to upgrade all of our transportation models to a so-called green technology, we should step up our efforts and ensure that we have a grid and an infrastructure that is capable of carrying us into the future.

Dispatchability is a major consideration in the way we currently power our world. If we are not willing to invest in smarter methods for harvesting and storing green energy, we will never be able to control the way we ramp up or down our grids in an efficient, sustainable, and reliable way. (we can’t control the wind or harvest sunlight during the night)

Fascism for our future

Net-zero and the green deal philosophies pose the greatest threat to our societal and physical infrastructures. Antagonistic towards human beings and science, and full of a fascist tone, these philosophies, if fully adopted and implemented, could bring about the doom and gloom they aim to prevent.

Sustainability is a balance between environmental, equity, and economic considerations. It dawned on me that the keyword is balance. The scare-driven narratives behind net-zero and the green deal are jeopardizing the already delicate balance we have in securing a sustainable future. They push us towards not just an unattainable future, but one that is unnecessary.

Driving into a wall—an automotive gold rush or a gold rash.

Not long ago, the automotive industry estimated that investment in electric cars would reach $600 billion until 2030. Yet now we can see that this number is doubling to a whopping $1.2 trillion. This will include an estimated 50 million new electric vehicles, as well as the batteries and raw materials needed to support their production.

Tesla is leading the pack with a promise of 20 million new electric vehicles, while Volkswagen has ambitions to build its electric car portfolio. Toyota has announced a $100 billion investment in new vehicles. Ford, Mercedes, BMW, and others are not far behind.

This new race present few questions. Until not long ago, companies such as Volvo refused to even benchmark Tesla as an automotive company. It’s interesting to think about the fact that Volvo already had a concept electric car in the late 80s. Today, Polestar is edging itself closer to being a Tesla 3 competitor, something that has put the idea of a premium brand into question. Volvo and Polestar are not alone; the entire industry is in marketing, communication, and positioning disarray.

The mixing of message techniques, confusing narratives, and false information about the benefits and impact of electrification are creating a scenario that could be one of the biggest pitfalls for an industry in the coming days.

It appears that the $1.2 trillion (almost high as google’s $1.3 trillion value) is base on fashion more than anything else.

I don’t deny that the goals look good on paper. Who wouldn’t want to live in a world without pollution, where everything is powered by a silent, electric engine? Where we can use our mobile devices to control our cars, similarly to how we would use a computer. But the Net Zero targets can’t hold water—in theory, we have enough global reserves of nickel and lithium to make enough batteries for electric cars—but only if we use these materials for batteries for electric cars. Cobalt is an entirely different question. That we absolutely do not have enough of. What would we do in a future where we harvested all the natural materials needed for electric vehicles? And that is just one of the issues with electric cars.

Another problem with electric cars is that they aren’t really an environmentally friendly choice. From the energy that we need to produce to power the vehicles to the process of production of the materials needed to build them and the batteries. The total energy cost is far higher than the energy cost of an old-fashioned combustion engine. Furthermore, considering the energy required for logistics behind it all and the relative short lifespan of a battery, and the total environmental cost of the electric vehicle industry is much higher than what we are told.

I have no doubt that in the future, new technologies will enable us to approach the level of perfection we achieve when we write on paper, like with the Green Deal. However, they will require a more holistic view of the challenges. Before we run blind into a wall, we must ask and tackle questions such as those related to infrastructure, how we harvest and process materials, and how we look at production logistics. We must also ask questions related to technologies such as nuclear power gen IV.

In the animal kingdom, it is known as natural evolution. A 96-year-old ‘national treasure’ has preached that we must pay any price to satisfy the new cult of the green god. More rational and cost-effective views are available.

The Future of eMobility – Is Electromobility inevitable? Is eMobility still inevitable, or do hurdles for electromobility remain?

The very nature of our world is one of continual change. This, for the most part, is a very positive thing. Occasionally, though, we get somewhat slightly ahead of ourselves and neglect to use our rearview mirror as we hurtle uncompromisingly into a pre-defined future.

Take the electric car as a prime example. The entire automotive industry has been pulled, pushed and cornered into accepting the inevitability of eMobility. Sure, studies have been performed, DOE, the EPA and the EU have issued directives calling for a shift away from internal combustion engined vehicles, and battery chemistry is advancing at pace. But when you zoom out and look at the bigger picture, it can be difficult to accept that all the due diligence has, in fact, been done.

Devil in the details

To get a better understanding of where we currently find ourselves, it is necessary to examine how we got here. Humanity’s quest for progress and profit have delivered us to the veritable crossroads that Robert Johnson sang about. For progress demands a price, much as the Devil does in Mr. Johnson’s song.

Around two years ago, TEMPUS.MOTU GROUP was charged with providing insights into the challenges that remain in the shift to electromobility and increased electrification. To say that, we identified a rather large pachyderm in the room would be something of an understatement. Policymakers, despite clear signals from the automotive industry, decided to bring the curtain down on internal combustion engines and ‘encourage’ automakers to begin the switch to electric propulsion systems. To be fair, there was mostly stick and very little carrot involved in the discussions that led to this dictate.

The real culprits

However, everyone agreed that the internal combustion engine had outlived its usefulness and was a key contributor to climate change, even though power generation, the air travel and shipping industries, along with construction, remain the biggest contributing culprits.

The task we had been given was to provide a group of companies with some insights and potential pathways forward, whilst highlighting the challenges that lay ahead on their pre-determined journey.

What emerged was fascinating. A complete disconnect between policymakers demands, access to the required natural resources, a lack of strategic planning and threat analysis, little or no public consultation on the question of electro mobility, and a decidedly poor international-level approach to what would ostensibly become one of the major technology shifts of our time.

As usual, policymakers made the simplistic choice to replace one technology (the combustion engine) with another (the electric motor and battery) without fully examining the potential for disruptive alternatives.

Horses’ asses

To paraphrase my business partner, Aric Dromi, we continue to design everything in our mobility and logistic systems around the width of two horses’ asses (based on the initial technology – the chariot – for which the Roman Empire built its first roads). For a wonderfully inventive and imaginative species, we seem to be very attached to our horses’ asses, as we continue to design everything around them…

Of course public consultations do not necessarily provide any measure of actionable direction, but they do offer a snapshot of peoples’ pain points in the current mobility paradigm, from which one might extrapolate and experiment with alternatives.

Similarly, we found that while governments were hell-bent on a technology shift towards electrification, they seemed less aware of the crumbling nature of the electrical grids in their charge and their marked inability to meet the coming demand for both generation and distribution of electricity (green or not) to power the cars of tomorrow. It is somewhat akin to having a baby in an empty bathtub.

The lack of foresight, planning, or even awareness to the potential challenges that lay ahead was nothing short of criminal. One must only look back around 20 years when diesel-engined cars were heralded, by the same cadre of policymakers, as being better for the environment than petrol-engined cars.

Of course hindsight is infrequently experienced with less than 20-20 vision, but to continue making such schoolboy errors is unforgivable, given the current state in which we find our planet.

Investment required

Our findings were relatively straightforward and actionable. We saw a clear need for massive levels of investment in national electricity grids and power generation facilities – the kind of investments that governments and nations alone might struggle to achieve without private investment – even in the short term. For without this and without the underlying charging infrastructure that electric cars demand, there will be a lot of immobile electric cars on our streets in the coming years.

We also understood the huge challenge that was dropped onto the laps of the automotive industry, forcing them to adapt combustion-engined platforms to electric propulsion, when in fact they would have benefited from another 8-10 years to develop a ‘skateboard’ platform that better met the needs of an electric car. We are getting there today, but it has been a costly process, during which time the Hydrogen Economy has emerged to fracture consensus.

A new way of thinking

One cannot help but think that once again we are traveling down that old Roman road, two asses wide, when we have an opportunity to re-imagine public transport and personal mobility, just as we have the potential to re-imagine the road haulage, construction, steel and shipping industries.

The potential for smart grids, metered by AI, a move to a form of Universal Basic Public Transport to reduce single-person journeys, a fresh approach to town planning that puts people, rather than traffic first, is not too much to ask for.

If we must cross The Rubicon, let us do so in full knowledge that things cannot remain as they once were. If the current gas, oil, and electricity shortages brought about by the conflict in Ukraine tells us anything, it is that we are still not prepared for tomorrow, or today, for that matter.

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