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.
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.