EVs will not disrupt the grid

As vehicles move from internal combustion engines to electric, people presume this will cause massive new demands for electricity. Utilities and vested interests enriched by massive spending to build unneeded capacity encourage that assumption.

Of course, the global oil industry has its own reasons for promoting the idea that electrification of transportation will be disruptive. So do automotive retailers that are financially reliant on servicing internal combustion engines.

Writing at CleanTechnica, Jennifer Sensiba deconstructed the fallacy:

  • EVs only use ¼ to ⅓ the energy of a comparable gas-powered vehicle because most of the energy of fossil fuels ends up as heat. About ¾ of a gas car’s fuel and ⅔ of a diesel car’s fuel ends up as waste heat that the car needs to shed somehow. Around 90% of an EV’s energy gets used to move the vehicle instead of getting turned into heat. Far less overall energy is needed.
  • The grid has tons of spare capacity most of the time. In the middle of the night when power is needed the least, grids are often only transmitting half of the power they are capable of sending, or less. Fortunately, EVs can charge during off-peak times when there’s extra power capacity. 
  • It’s worth noting that EVs are getting more efficient. They were already far more efficient than gas-powered vehicles to begin with, but today’s EVs tend to use even less power than the EVs made ten years ago. Improved drivetrains, better aerodynamic efficiency, better battery technology, and even the use of on-board solar panels reduce the power needs of EVs.

At The Driven, Evan Beaver notes:

  • Smart Charging can solve almost all capacity problems in EV charging.
  • Smart charging relies on the fact that capacity problems are typically very short lived, so if you can defer a load for a little while, chances are you can avoid the congestion.
  • There are some technical challenges with adding EVs to the grid, but they are surmountable problems that can be solved with existing technology and systems. EV chargers are just another load, being added to a system designed from scratch to add new loads.

If 80% of all passenger cars become electric, this would lead to a total increase of 10-15% in electricity consumption. The market entry of EVs has been very predictable and the electric grid is constantly being developed in parallel. Current EV market trends show low to moderate energy uptake rates. Another moderating factor is that the vehicle fleets will not continue to grow as it has in the past.

McKinsey, the global consulting firm states that capacity to meet modest demand growth will involve renewables, including wind and solar power.

Analysis suggests the projected growth in e-mobility will not drive substantial increases in total electrical-grid power demand in the near to midterm, thus limiting the need for new electricity-generation capacity during that period.

California’s Del Sol Energy explains that electric vehicles can promote energy democracy, a prospect that worries utilities:

Solar power is another source that many EV car owners are turning to.  Although solar does not mean there is no impact on the electrical grid, solar panels do facilitate less expensive charging of an electric vehicle.  EV are also recognized as being an effective way to store energy produced by solar panels.  Additionally, your electric vehicles allows driver’s to further commit to dependence on clean, renewable energy sources.

Categories: Energy

5 replies »

  1. As a side note I am wondering when the playing field will be levelled in In relation to the provincial fuel road tax and EV vehicles in BC. The people who can afford an EV seem to be riding on the shoulders of a substantial portion of the population who can’t afford an EV.

    Are they literally getting a free ride when you take a look at page 5 of the following link? Perhaps I am wrong.

    Click to access mft-ct-005-tax-rates-fuels.pdf


  2. Hey Tim. I think there’s an easy fix to have a road tax for EV’s. When one goes to renew their auto insurance for their EV’s, it is taken down how many kilometers that vehicle has driven in the previous year and a road tax is then applied.


  3. A couple of years ago I took a Solar/EV course thru our local Elder College. One piece of information that stuck was the efficiency in comparing the 2 sources of energy. Gasoline/diesel from source to wheel has an efficiency of 18 to 20%. Electricity from source to wheel has an efficiency between 58 to 61%. Think of all the tank farms around the world that won’t be needed anymore. Think of the Very Large Crude Carriers and Ultra Large Crude Carriers fleets that won’t be needed. Right now, 15 of the biggest container/crude carriers/ bulk cargo ships put more sulfur in the air than all the cars in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wouldn’t the additional financial burden of a road tax on EVs make them that much more expensive? To my understanding we’re trying to incentivize the transition to EVs in BC; they’re an important part of our necessary commitment to drastically cut carbon emissions.

    If we’re concerned about collecting provincial road taxes in a fair and equitable manner, why not redirect some of the counterproductive $1,300 million (= $1.3 billion) our BC Government gave away in fossil fuel subsidies in 2020-21, and invest some of that in road taxes (and paying down some of our colossal provincial debt)? Perversely, the BC NDP Government appears to be on track to surpass $1.8 billion in annual fossil fuel subsidies by 2023-24 — three times more than what the BC Liberals spent in both 2016–17 and 2017-2018.

    Click to access bc-ff-subsidies-report-final-rev.pdf

    Where are the incentives to replace fossil fuels with safer, cleaner, zero-carbon energy? You cannot have it both ways.

    BTW with close to 42,000 km on our Hyundai Kona EV in the past 2 ½ years, we’ve noticed no increase in our electrical consumption, despite doing 99% of our EV charging at home. Admittedly, we’ve transitioned to 100% LED lighting during the same time period.

    Liked by 1 person

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