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Can California's power grid handle a 15-fold increase in electric cars?

Original post made on Mar 3, 2023

As California rapidly boosts sales of electric cars and trucks over the next decade, the answer to a critical question remains uncertain: Will there be enough electricity to power them?

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 3, 2023, 1:58 PM

Comments (7)

Posted by PeaceLove
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 3, 2023 at 2:28 pm

PeaceLove is a registered user.

How much energy does the fossil fuel sector use in California? In his book "Electrify: An Optimist's Playbook for our Clean Energy Future" (2021), Saul Griffith estimates that *half* of all energy use goes to the production, transportation and storage of fossil fuels. How much electricity, for instance, do all our gas stations use?

The shift to electric transportation will theoretically save us vast amounts of resources, bringing efficiencies into all domains of the energy sector. It's inevitable and necessary that we upgrade our electric power generation. Nuclear power offers the cleanest and most efficient mode of energy production by far. The total savings will be enormous.

And, of course, as a side benefit cleaner energy will reduce deaths from fossil fuel pollution by *hundreds of thousands,* if not *millions,* of people every year. The future looks bright, if only we can get out of our own way and install some adults at the helm.

Posted by JustAWorkingStiff
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2023 at 3:01 pm

JustAWorkingStiff is a registered user.

The author actually did a pretty good job explaining what needs to be done, and the risks.
Most articles are full of fairy tales and short any of the hard realities of getting this done.
Net/Net: It is going to be harder and riskier than being portrayed, and will take a long time
One issue over-looked, however are the commodities needed to make batteries and motors.
We expect shortages of copper, nickel, lithium.
Ore grades are declining
And fossil fuels are needed to power the mining equipment
(There are no easy answer around this)
There is a major protest against opening a Lithium mine in Nevada by environmentalists
One of the world's largest mining company just reported negative earnings as expenses increased for extracting important minerals and metals.
Bad joke:
We all need EVs!!
No Mining!!
No Nuclear Power Plants!!
Meanwhile, renewables are deployed slower than needed
And Battery technology has not evolved to be able to store cost effectively the overnight
requirements of major population centers.
Enjoy the ride!

Posted by Seth Neumann
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 3, 2023 at 7:43 pm

Seth Neumann is a registered user.

Given the uncertainty and lack of a credible plan to move to a mostly electric future, and the 250,000 mile life of a nice Toyota or Subaru, the wise consumer might buy one electric and one gas powered car, that way they'd have a diverse portfolio of transportation well past the 2035 sunset of new gas vehicles.

Posted by Steven Goldstein
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 3, 2023 at 10:59 pm

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

Just an Observation,

From what I can tell, the PRIVATE electric grid is a disaster. I worked at PGE and got a glimpse of the lack of future planning.

As a CISSP I also attended Electric Grid Securitization training as well.

as a Critical Infrastructure Point, it was provided funding for hardening and fault tolerance from 2003 to 2009 but PGE refused to implement it, it was afraid it would force it to lower rates for customers. Because the Feds would pay for it.

So if anyone is to blame, you cannot blame the State or the Feds for this one.

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2023 at 2:34 am

LongResident is a registered user.

So many assumptions exist in criticisms like this that they end up determining the concern rather then valid reasoning. The whole idea of so many electric cars being produced may not come to pass. People may start to drive less. Driverless cars may change the way automobiles are used. People may at least stop buying new cars so very frequently. A whole lot of the reasoning changes if existing gasoline powered cars increase their used lifetimes and people delay switching to an EV. Instead of wondering if the "grid" can supply the charging, why not instead wonder where so many chargers can come from? It's not just a matter of when the cars are charged, bur rather where they can get access to a charger. Where do they park? Can they charge while they are parked for work during the day? Who moves the car away from the charter once it is full, or does every single parking spot need to have a charger? The cars themselves need to get cheaper than they are today, or people need to somehow share them so they only need a fraction of a car.

It matters that the growth only occurs if people see a workable system and then adapt to using charging. If the chargers are not available, people are surely not ging to buy the cars. It won't be a case of them all plugging into 20 million chargers at once and overpowering the grid as they charge at full blast. One thing that might well happen is that a metering of the rate of charge might occur so as to reduce the use at any one interval, rather than charging rapidly until full and then all shutting off, say at 11am.

There used to be big issues with TV watchers all flushing theor toilets at the same time. How much of a problem is that today?

Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Mar 4, 2023 at 9:01 am

SRB is a registered user.

The "How much does charging an EV cost?" chart makes a bit of an apples to oranges comparison. It compares electricity residential cost with at the commercial pump gas costs. Residential rate is not what the Chargepoint of the world will charge, not to mention various fees if plugged in for too long. Residential rate is also not what many renters are charged as many don't get their bill from PG&E but from a utilities management company like Con Serv (bill doesn't always correlate with personal usage and bill always contains additional service type fees).

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2023 at 1:29 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

The charger utilities are going to charge more if they can charge up fast. At some point there has to be some sort of a road tax such as is built into the gasoline gallon rates, which include taxes to the tune of 15-25%. Gasoline prices may well go up more if there is reduced usage of gasoline overall, because the distribution services and network are a fixed cost now spread over all the buyers. Similarly electric rates may be reduced by increase generation. Charge stations don't have to get all their energy from the grid all the time, because a fixed location like that is ideal to motivate a solar generation installation.

Yep, it's all about the assumptions made in trying to do this prognostication.

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