The advantage of owning an electric car is the ability to comfortably charge it at home overnight, when energy consumption is low and electricity prices are particularly cheap. But with the state pushing for a huge expansion of EV sales to curb carbon emissions, this kind of nighttime charging may not be as beneficial for long, and could further strain the power grid, according to a new Stanford University study.
IN studies published today in Energy of natureResearchers estimate that the impact of growing EV ownership in the western US could increase energy demand by as much as 25% by 2035, the year California bans sales of new gasoline-powered passenger cars. This means charging after 11pm will be more expensive and will force utility operators to increase power generation.
Instead, the study says, more EV charging should be done during the lunch hour – ideally at work or at public stations – when wind and solar are at their peak and sometimes produce more power than the grid can handle. State officials should “consider utility rates that encourage daily charging and encourage investment in charging infrastructure so drivers can move from home to work to charge,” said Ram Rajagopal, one of the study’s authors and an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford.
Switching American drivers to battery power from gasoline and diesel models is seen as one of the best options for slowing climate-damaging carbon emissions, but getting there won’t be easy or painless. EV costs, like Elon Musk’s Tesla made
they remain much higher than conventional cars, keeping them out of the reach of most mass-market consumers. Additionally, there is not enough public charging infrastructure to keep tens of millions of additional EVs powered. Also, find all lithium and more metals needed for their batteries can be a big challenge.
California, the largest EV market in the US, has more than a million battery-powered vehicles in operation, representing about 6% of all passenger vehicles on the road. The state wants to increase this to 5 million by 2030, bringing it closer to a 30% market share. At that point, the power grid will “experience significant stress” unless more capacity is added and charging behavior changes, Rajagopal said.
California and western U.S. states are likely to feel the impact sooner, given the popularity of EVs in that region, but the rest of the country will also need to make similar adjustments to accommodate the transition to EVs, the researchers said. The study was funded by the California Energy Commission, the National Science Foundation and the Bits & Watts Initiative, with financial support from Volkswagen.