Finnish Entrepreneur Doubts Social Benefit Of Electric Cars

Mika Anttonen is nobody’s fool. The Finn has made himself a billionaire by starting his own energy company, St1, which now operates 1500 gas stations in the Nordic region — about one fifth of the total. He claims to be a big fan of Tesla but questions whether the investments countries like Norway are making in electric cars are a good deal for taxpayers or even beneficial to society.

Mika Anttonen questions policies that promote  electric cars

Anttonen doesn’t have blinders on when it comes to fossil fuels. His company has made significant investments in biofuels and wind energy in the past decade. “I don’t understand why we should be increasing the amount of electric cars. At least we shouldn’t be using any tax money to support it,” he says. “:Tesla is a very cool car, but my guess is that the company will go bankrupt. It has simply promised too much,” Anttonen told Finnish magazine Aamulehti recently.

Anttonen believes most people believe the fuel saved by driving an electric car never gets put to other uses but they are wrong. “The petrol that is saved by using EV’s will be used somewhere else as long as crude oil demand grows,” he says. “Very, very few people truly understand this reality,” which is at the core of all global energy use.

“Let’s take a theoretical case, where tomorrow all the world’s fossil fuel cars are taken out of the road would be replaced by electric cars. The petrol would remain in the hands of the oil distillers…but how is it used? It’s 1000% certain that the fuel will be used somewhere else instead.”

“The growth is driven by growing demand for petrochemicals and jet fuel – the biggest single growth category, according to IEA. If those products grow, then the production of these other fuels will also grow. If the petrol is not being used in a car, it will for sure be used somewhere else. That car fuel would be put in an aggregator, and it would be used to make electricity. And the emissions wouldn’t go down at all!”

Cars that are replaced by electric cars don’t just disappear off the face of the earth, he says. “In Norway, with big EV subventions, the total amount of cars have increased, public transport use has gone down, the EV has been bought as the household’s second or third car. And you’ve gotten it for a cheap price, so it’s a good deal. But what happens to the replaced car? Does it just disappear? No – it could be re-used in another continent altogether.”

Anttonen also raises questions about the source of the electricity used to power electric cars. He thinks the key to renewable energy is storage. “We should focus on finding electricity storage, so that when it’s generated, it’s also stored. In the end game, we have solar, wind and water, but for it to work we need large-scale storage. And that’s completely missing today.”

Actually, it’s not “completely missing.” Tesla is pushing ahead aggressively with grid storage products that presage an emissions free future for electricity generation. Many other companies like Daimler and Sonnen are also deeply involved in energy storage solutions.

He says he is optimistic about the future of energy but thinks people should ask the right questions and focus on clear, concise answers when making business and government policies that affect millions.

“When things are said as they are, many things that are done now get a huge question mark. And that makes decision-makers uncomfortable. Why is this being done if it doesn’t really reduce emissions?” It’s hard to argue with that sort of skeptical and clear eyed inquiry.

Source: Nordic Business Insider

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.