5 Steps for Europe and the World to Get Rid of Russian Oil

A Big Step for Mankind

The EU Commission has decided to make the EU independent of Russian oil. They have also decided to make the union fossil-free by 2045, meaning that no petrol or diesel cars, buses, or lorries will remain on the roads by that year. This may sound reasonable and straight-forward but making the EU fossil-free will involve very large investment and change efforts. The change will be much larger than the President of the EU-Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and other high-level politicians within the EU and in national governments have realised.

To run the EU’s 240 million cars and several million transport vehicles on electricity there will be a large need for power. One nuclear reactor can cover the need of 4.4 million cars, which means that there will be a need for the power equivalent of the production of 50 nuclear reactors. About half as much will be needed to power transportation by bus and truck, some 25 additional reactors. The total need will be higher than 75 nuclear reactors, because electric cars need more power in the winter than in the summer to drive a certain distance. (It takes about 3,000 wind turbines to produce the same amount of electricity as a nuclear reactor, so to cover the need using wind it would take more than 225,000 turbines.) This may not sound like a lot, but it is! The number of wind turbines in Europe in 2020 amounted to almost 179,000.

Some of this power is already available, especially at night, when power production exceeds demand, but even to make use of this large investment will be needed. Overall, investment will be needed in a large number of areas – the topic of this article.

For the EU and the world at large to get rid of Russian Oil large-scale activities will be needed in a number of areas. All-in-all, 4 large industries will have to change from the ground up, which indicates the scale of the activities needed. Vehicle production will change to electric vehicles only, the transport industry will use only electric vehicles, oil companies will have to stop selling oil as a fuel, and utilities will have to expand production and distribution and dramatically modernise grids.  Components for the production of vehicles, power infrastructure, charging installations will be needed and in many areas present production of components will have to change to electric or expand, or a combination of both.

Millions of people across Europe and the world will have to be trained for new tasks in electric vehicle sectors and trained professionals will be needed in transportation, utilities, and industries that supply products and services to these industries. Millions is not an exaggeration. Each of these industries employs millions of people and many people outside of these industries will have to engage with the transformation to e-mobility as well. People at municipalities, real estate companies, operators of charging infrastructure, and many other areas will have to become involved in projects and decision making.

When Ursula van der Leyen says that the EU will get independent of Russian oil, she at the same time admits that the above activities will have to take place, because other suppliers of oil cannot increase their supply to Europe so that Russian imports can be eliminated in that way. However, few experts and decision makers have realised that this will be needed and nobody, except yours truly, has published books about topics like how this transformation needs to be organized, financed, and driven forward on a large scale.

To change, governments need to take the following steps:

 

Step 1: Map the Need for Chargers and Expansion of Power Infrastructure

To come to grips with the level of investment that will be needed to build charging infrastructure and expand power production and grids municipalities and utilities will need to map the need for charging in different parts of their grids. This is relatively straight-forward, because we already know how many cars there are in different areas of a city or town at different times during the day. Based on this knowledge we can estimate how many vehicles will need to be charged at different times in different areas and how much power and distribution capacity that will be needed in different parts of local grids, and how demand will create a need for expansion of regional and national grids, and power production.

In principle, this information exists, but it has to be collected and the information needs to be analysed. At night in a particular parking garage there may be 25 to 30 cars. We can make assumptions about the number that will need to be charged each night and how many will need to be charged during the day and how many chargers will be needed and the amount of power that will be required. The same can be done for all parking garages, outdoor parking lots in neighbourhoods and across cities and towns. We can also map traffic flows and estimate how many cars, buses, and trucks that will have to be charged along different roads at different times during weeks, months, and years.

Power infrastructures are designed based on the rule that capacity must always cover instances of peak demand. Peak demand is in many places likely to arise in the winter, perhaps around Christmas or during holiday periods when many people drive longer distances than usual to do sports, visit friends and family, or go on vacation. Or peak demand may arise during the coldest weekdays when large amounts of electricity is needed for heating and people still need their cars to go to work or go shopping, but on cold winter days in the North and in Central Europe vehicles need twice as much power per kilometre compared to the need in the summer. The need for charging of trucks and buses needs to be mapped in a similar manner.

All these aspects need to be covered and all areas in cities and towns need to be mapped.

 

Step 2: Train People for Electromobility Projects

To build charging infrastructure on a large scale so that a large share of vehicles can be charged on a daily basis, many people need to be involved. Most of them do not know about the need or their role in projects. They need to be trained in the basics of e-mobility and power grids to understand where expansion will be needed, what will be possible, and what will not.

 

Step 3: Calculate Budgets and Create a Financing Structure Using Different Principles for Different Purposes

The transformation will require financing on a large scale. Different aspects of the program will need to be financed in different ways. Some aspects can be financed by market-based activities and others will need significant subsidies and guarantees. Governments need to take the lead to develop the financing solutions and the principles that will be used for each type of activity.

 

Step 4: Start a Series of Transformation Programmes and Projects on Different Levels

All aspects of the transformation need to be taken care of. Vehicles will be needed, battery production will need to expand, as will charging infrastructure, power production, and grids. New services for identifying and booking chargers, payments, and route planning, will have to be developed and implemented on a large scale. Production resources for products, components, and services will have to be expanded to keep pace with the transformation.

A structure for the development activities needs to be developed in a way similar to how NASA organized and held together the different aspects of the Apollo Program. All things that had to get ready did get ready in time for the different steps in the program to be completed in a timely and secure fashion.

 

5. Manage the Program

Governments and the EU have set the goals and they need to manage the program, making sure that all activities are taken care of.

 

All the above activities are routinely performed in any other project that is started, but for some reason they have been overlooked for the transformation to e-mobility. This may be because the transformation has seemed very abstract, and it has probably been difficult for politicians and sustainability experts to envision how the programme could be structured. Based on the rhetoric it seems as if many believe that the transformation will not need to be structured, financed, or managed. Instead, it seems as if many have thought that the change will take care of itself.

No change takes care of itself. The change to electromobility will be more demanding than many other developments of the past because there are already highly efficient vehicles, transport systems, and power grids in place and the change to e-mobility will require investment and increase cost in many areas over the short or longer term.

The message to Ursula von der Leyen and other politicians, exoerts, and business leaders is that development and transformation programmes will need to be started and that sufficient budget will need to be set aside for activities. Only by doing this can the conversion to electromobility become successful.