SIR – It is proposed that electric car owners could connect their cars to the National Grid and allow the energy in their batteries to take some of the load at peak times ( report, July 28) . But such use would seriously compromise battery life.
A typical lithium-ion battery has a life of about 1,000 cycles. For a car like a Tesla S, a 100kWh battery costs about £10,000. So each charge cycle costs £10 – or 10p per kWh – in battery wear and tear alone.
This sum of 10p per kWh is nearly twice the current wholesale price of electricity. Unless car owners are prepared to bear the extra wear on their batteries without compensation (and who would?) the price of electricity would have to increase very significantly.
Secondly, it is said that ministers are currently drawing up rules to make all public charge points have smart charging – in other words, they will only work in off-peak periods.
Does this mean that if I am driving from London to Manchester, and need to recharge at Birmingham, I will have to make an overnight stop?
SIR – Your timely report on the possibility of blackouts because of electric car charging quotes a suggestion that smart charging will solve the problem.
But smart charging currently is just a vision and does not accomplish the huge changes required to make an all-electric car future viable. Changes must be made to the generation and distribution of electric power, as well as to our expectations of driving.
Assuming that the 30 million or so vehicles on the road today were all electric and were all plugged in at 6pm for overnight charging, then, if they were using standard 3.7kW chargers, there would be an instantaneous demand on the grid of 111 gigawatts. That is just over the equivalent of 34 Hinkley Point Cs – or the total electricity generating capacity of the United Kingdom in 2019. What mechanism – apart from electricity blackouts – will stop this happening?
The National Grid's annual Future Energy Scenarios has for a few years talked about "demand management". The 2020 edition often mentions "societal changes".
Anyone who thinks that in a decade or so we'll all be carrying on as normal, driving around whenever we feel like it in nice, clean electric vehicles, is living in a fantasy world.
SIR – I see that the transport select committee has highlighted the disparity in pricing between home and public charging of electric vehicles.
Before castigating the charging providers, they should have a word with HM Revenue and Customs, which has just ruled that public chargers must apply VAT at the full rate of 20 per cent rather than the domestic rate of 5 per cent.
Sanctuary for refugees
SIR – We share Chris Philp's pride (Comment, July 28 ) in Britain's role in enshrining rights in the UN Refugee Convention, which marks its 70th anniversary this week.
However, the immigration minister fails to acknowledge a simple and troubling truth: the Government's new proposals, as laid out in its Nationality and Borders Bill, would seek to ride roughshod over the convention and to destroy its basic rationale, which emphasises human need above method of arrival.
British participation in the UN-led resettlement scheme, which has been valuable but is only available to few, has been dramatically reduced. Despite repeated urging, the Government has failed to provide commitments to increased numbers in the future. Other countries have done far more overall: France, Spain and Germany each had three times more asylum claims than Britain last year.
Nobody wants to see vulnerable people risking their lives at sea, but until the Government has a clear plan to offer alternative safe routes to people who cannot access the UN scheme, these dangerous journeys will continue.
More than 300 organisations have joined the Together With Refugees coalition calling for a more effective and humane approach. Polling shows that a majority of the British public supports that aim.
Conservative prime ministers since Churchill have given those seeking our protection a fair hearing on British soil, regardless of how they have arrived. This Government must do the same and uphold the convention in its 70th year.
Mike Adamson Tim Naor Hilton Sonya Sceats Enver Solomon Andrea Vukovic Sabir Zazai
The cleanest dishes
SIR – For anyone bringing up a young family, a dishwasher ( Letters, July 29 ) is an essential tool that helps prevent the spread of enteric bacterial and norovirus infections.
Washing-up by hand merely assists the spread of these pathogens.
Peter M Hills
Vaccines for under-18s
SIR – My daughter turns 18 in just over three weeks. Despite the Government's announcement that 17-year-olds within three months of their 18th birthday can be vaccinated, she is unable to find anywhere that will do so until she is 18. Why?
There are reports in the media of a low uptake of vaccinations among the young and of vaccines being thrown away as they are not being used. This is crazy. My daughter is planning on going to university in September and I want her to be as protected as possible.
Boris Johnson also says he is considering stopping students attending lectures unless they are fully vaccinated. It is a bit short-sighted for the Government not to realise that some students will have been unable to obtain their vaccinations by the time university starts.
R M Day
SIR – A study has found that shielders were eight times more likely than the general population to test positive for Covid ( report, July 28 ).
This is catastrophic news for those like my wife and me, and their families. Clinically extremely vulnerable people have endured 16 months of what amounts to voluntary house arrest, shunning all human contact and hardly ever leaving the premises. In the belief that we are minimising our risk, we have continued this non-lifestyle even as the rest of the population begins to return to normality,
However, the study seems to suggest that what we have had to endure has been a waste of effort. Can anyone offer me a crumb of reassurance?
A C J Young
Back to earth
SIR – You were correct to call the Marble Arch mound, which has closed after two days, ridiculous (Leading Article, July 29). But even more absurd are those foolish enough to have wasted £4.50 on the non-view.
SIR – Here in Devon we had mounds long before the Marble Arch obstruction was a gleam in somebody's wallet. They are called landfill.
SIR – It is indeed annoyin' listenin' to BBC commentators describin' watchin' competitors swimmin', runnin', cyclin' and boxin' in the Olympics ( Letters, July 28 ).
It is equally annoyin' to hear tha' our affletes are ge'in be'er and be'er and winnin' more medows.
Squadron Leader Jerry Riley
SIR – The story goes that the harpist Sidonie Goossens was tuning her instrument while waiting for a concert to begin.
Behind her were two young violinists also tuning up. One tapped her on the shoulder and said: "Hey, Gran, give me an A please."
His companion said: "You can't speak to the lady like that. Don't you know who she is?"
"Of course I know who she is – she's my grandmother."
You never know whom you can call grandmother these days and get away with it ( report, July 29 ). But I consider it a name to be proud of, being one myself.
Aggressive cattle can catch walkers unaware
SIR – Your report (July 23) on the rise in the number of walkers killed by cattle once again lays the blame for these deaths on the walkers behaving inappropriately around the cattle or failing to avoid them.
I live on Dartmoor, where cattle roam freely across swathes of the moor. Sometimes it is impossible to avoid them or even to know where they will be. The country footpaths often go through fields containing cattle or even farmyards in which they are penned up.
My dog does not bark at the animals and we try hard not to come between cows and their calves. Despite this, often when out walking, with or without a dog, I have been intimidated by cattle following or charging me.
There will be times when people and their dogs behave stupidly and provoke cattle, but this is not always the case. They are unpredictable and sometimes aggressive animals, and injuries are not always the fault of the walkers.
Dr Irving Wells
We need a dual carriageway past Stonehenge
SIR – I disagree with Tanya Gold ( Features, July 28 ) regarding the need for a road tunnel near Stonehenge.
It was a Conservative government that in 1959 promised there would be a dual carriageway from London to Land's End along the A303. It is time the Tories delivered on this promise.
Pending construction of the tunnel, Stonehenge should be hidden from the sight of those travelling on the road by a high fence to speed up the traffic.
The M4 and M5 are not viable alternatives to making the A303 a dual carriageway. It takes more than 30 minutes to get to the M5 and, far from being a free-running road, it is more of a car park, especially at weekends.
SIR – Tanya Gold claims the jams on the A303 at Stonehenge are caused by drivers wanting to look at the monuments. They are actually caused by the narrowing of the road as the dual carriageway from London becomes a single lane. A tunnel will sink the traffic below the Stonehenge sight line, speeding up the traffic and increasing safety as drivers will no longer be distracted by the stones.
In Britain, we have many examples of poor road design. If we are to travel overseas less often in future, these problems need addressing fast.
SIR – The vast majority of us use the A303 because it is the only viable route. It is not a luxury, but a necessity, and I am fed up of queuing for hours just to get past the bottleneck.
The tunnel is desperately needed and long overdue.
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