Transition: charging points madness

Amsterdam needs around 50,000 charging points for electric cars. 50,000? Really? Have we gone completely nuts or what? Doesn’t alarm bells start ringing: “What the hell are we doing?”

Where do all these raw materials come from, and the energy to supply those charging stations? The electricity grid has already become overloaded, a electricity infarct is imminent, as one study predicts. [1] And anyway Amsterdam hasn’t been able to handle the actual numbers of cars for years now. I can’t understand that people are concerned with the environment and climate change, and then they can just say, lets simply install 50,000 charging stations… Moreover, the technology does not stop developing, so before they all will be installed, they have long since been replaced by a more modern type. In 10-15 years it is probably about 100 or 150,000 charging points. While that’s how it works with all the technology nowadays, think of the number of computers that you have already discarded, or cell phones, or televisions.

Does it not come to someone’s mind, to simply abolish that car, and let a dense network of trolley buses do the job, for example? Or a bus system a la Curitiba, where buses run every 3 minutes ?? Which can also be electric.

That car is inherently bad for the environment, for health with its particulate matter and soot, for the noise, but also for the city structure, for raw materials stocks, horizon pollution, etc? Smoking is abolished for less, so why not the car? (even the e-cigarette is already banned here and there …!)

Instead of keeping up with that wet dream, now again with 50,000 charging points, in Amsterdam alone? Consider the advantages of abolishing cars: no more traffic jams, cycling on the streets and clean air, 1 or 2 years longer life, no more noise, no worries about costs or ‘range anxiety’, living where you work, or working where you live, so no travel time loss, no chance of power attacks, and so on.

And that is only Amsterdam. If Amsterdam already needs 50,000 charging stations, for a city with 750000 inhabitants, then 1 million are needed for the Netherlands … And then I don’t even count charging points on country roads. And globally, because why would the Dutch be privileged, everyone is entitled to his charging station, it will require almost half a billion charging stations. Let that sink in. And all require copper cables to be connected. Which already give problems, production cant keep up with demand, supply has run out of cables in the The Netherlands and delivery times are increasing delaying projects. [2]

This is only about charging stations, the number of new cars requires is s a multiple thereof, just like the batteries. And thats only cars. What about all new installations in homes and buildings? And the renewable energy generating equipment to provide all of that with electricity. Plus add all the gadgets that have to be renewed every two years: the phones, tablets, televisions.

What are we doing? Doesn’t anybody have any idea what that means for the raw materials (market)? The entire transition is a farce this way: there is enough energy, and the only thing that we (might) solve by abandoning fossil energy is climate change . But all other consequences of our consumption drive remain intact, and the stock of raw materials is even plundered at an accelerated pace. Moreover, the question is whether we are really solving the climate crises. Because for the time being that energy transition is mainly driven by fossil fuels to make all that junk. And as I wrote before: annual growth of for instance installed solar panels will only increase CO2 emissions in the next 20-30 years. [3] The moment we have a renewable energy supply to power all that new technology, we are already far past two degrees climate change.

Where the hell do we get the raw materials, and the energy to extract and process those raw materials? Are we building extra wind turbines for that? It is a road leading nowhere . When do we wake up and will not let ourselves be carried away by the craziness for energy and technology, and start to think soberly: there is only 1 earth and it can only supply a limited amount of resources. That is our biggest problem.

And I’m not even talking about data centers. Everything must be measured and analysed and the data must be managed and shared, requiring loads of extra energy. And paid by digital money: we want to continue without banks, but each bitcoin transaction currently costs around 600 kWh. [4] For those data centers and bitcoins, extra wind turbines have to be built again , renewable energy transition you know. Already all our energy from offshore wind farms in the Netherlands is completely absorbed by data centers !! (they buy all certificates) The estimate is that data centers currently need 4 billion kWh per year [5]. The output of offshore wind farms was 3.7 billion kWh (CBS [6]) in 2018. Offshore wind farms contribute not a single kWh to the reduction of our existing energy demand. And yes we are building new wind farms, but also new data centers. The question is not one of transition, but one of whom is building faster, the wind farms or the data centers …?!

Yes, we have a climate problem (-crises) Yes, we have to go towards renewable energy, but this is not the way. Transition is not a trading game, of who has the most charging stations. Transition is doing as much as possible with as little as possible. And perhaps doing as much as possible is less than we have done so far. Especially if we would globally allocate resources fairly [x] Just an example: if we were to distribute the remaining maximum CO2 emissions, to stay within the 2 (!) Degree scenario as calculated by to IPCC, fairly among the world population, then the Netherlands will have run out of the allowed emissions by 2027. And given the current policies, we are only going to emit more, and that date will probably be sooner, than shifted to the future.

Yes, I hear some say: this charge stations demand creates a profitable industry, and a lot of jobs. But we already have plenty of jobs, we are even short of workers in may sectors. And if we fall short on people, isn’t that a sign that we want too much? The real point is, we consume too much, that is the problem, more factories and more production means more material and energy . And if it is renewable energy we have to produce, the problem has shifted to materials depletion.

In addition, more factories that need more material cause international unrest. See the trade war between the US and China. That kind of trouble will only increase if we are all after the same resources , read to steal them. Or as a Dutch author suggests : If the transition is to succeed, then we may have to exploit the Congo for another 30 years before they also can profit. Yes, you read that right. And this has become a popular book in The Netherlands

What this book is doing ( and many others that optimistically promote technology) is fueling the madness of everything dissolved by technology, and making people believe it is possible, to live on like this but then supposedly ‘sustainable’. But what is considered sustainable on a individual level, either for a person or a product, is not the same as sustainable on a global level, when accumulated effects are considered.

With so-called ‘sustainable policy’ on a individual or local level , you as a city therefore end up with 50,000 charging stations. And soon a power break down…. The network operators are aware of this problem, but still happily participate in it, the market demands you know, and so they try to build capacity like crazy. But its just the same like with highways: We are constructing a new driving lane, and then have traffic jams on 3 lanes instead of on two lanes previously.

Enough is enough I would say. And if it is not possible to integrate things on the current grid and power capacity, too bad, then it should not go ahead, which I think is a healthier approach. We are at the max with energy, whether fossilized or renewable: the effect of increasing energy demand, increasing consumption, is the same, and that has more consequences than climate change alone. Back to the drawing board and think again, I would say*.


*(or read People vs Resources, available form September) [7])

PS. Someone pointed out to me that there are now charging points built in in the poles of street lights. ( )

As well as I fund the first serious attempt to retrofit old cars with an electric motor, in a professional way and for a fair price. Which are , of course better solutions.

However, they do not overcome the problem of the wrong system thinking behind the whole transition.



[1] het Parool:

[2] cobouw:

[3] blog pv :

[4] bitcoin :

[5] NRC:

[6] CBS:

[6] Jelmer Mommers, Hoe gaan we dit uitleggen,

[7] People vs Resources, Restoring a world out of balance. Published by Eburon, available from September,

Author: ronald rovers