People without facts often accept the idea that electric vehicles will suddenly create massive demand growth. That’s a story spun in this province by people aiming to justify BC Hydro’s long-term spending spree, despite 15 years of flat demand.
No one doubts that in coming decades, demand will grow, partly fueled by electric vehicles. But that growth will be more modest than claimed by BC Hydro’s agents. It could be easily met by conservation and efficiency programs, upgrades to existing facilities and creation of clean, non-destructive renewable sources.
BloombergNEF is a leading provider of primary research on clean energy. It says this about the future impact of vehicle on electrical utilities:
EVs add electricity demand, but not as much as you might think. By 2040 passenger EVs consume 1,290TWh, commercial EVs consume 389TWh, e-buses consume 216TWh and electric two-wheelers consume 69TWh. Combined, these add just 5.2% to global electricity demand. In many advanced economies, EVs prevent overall electricity demand from falling. Overall, the power market can comfortably integrate the additional demand.
BC Hydro has been hiding its real financial results by accounting trickery, including excessive capitalization of expenses and cost deferrals using regulatory accounts. They treat the accumulated expense deferrals as assets. These are shown as positive items on the company’s balance sheet, but they have near-zero tangible value.
This is a game dictated by politicians but it cannot continue forever. The result will be substantial rate increases in the future.
In the 21st century, residential and business consumers facing rapidly rising electricity costs will seek alternatives. One will be solar power generated at home or business. Beam Solar is just one of many cleantech companies providing EV charging systems.
Site C proponents argued that power dispatchability was a critical factor that justified flooding more than 50 miles of the Peace River valley. But that, like other justifications put forward by dam builders, is a lie. In 2018 Europe, wind and solar met 42% of electrical needs.
Batteries for storing electricity are becoming more efficient and less costly. Forbes Magazine reports the price of batteries for a vehicle has fallen “from $2,500 a kilowatt-hour to $400 — and on its way to $100.”
I am reminded of being told in the mid 1970s that a one gigabyte computer hard drive would cost millions. Today, I can buy a tiny 256-gigabyte memory card priced at 20 cents for each GB. That sort of technological advance will affect energy markets because going forward, dealing with climate change must be humanity’s number one priority.
Unlike many commentators on energy, I don’t have a financial stake in the outcome. No one pays me to take a position. If the Horgan Government reverts to the promises they made prior to the 2017 election, I will gain what every other citizen of BC gains. Nothing more.