Adjusting the US Electrical Grid for 100% Electric Cars

The DOE has information about adjusting the energy grid for mass EV adoption. The problem is the DOE assumes it will take until 2050 when mass EV adoption will occur 2025-2030. Natural gas electricity generation is relatively easily scaled to handle a sharp increase in demand. More solar and nuclear power can be added to decarbonize the surge in electric cars and trucks. A few average years of 12-25 GW of added power generation will handle even 100% US EV sales, this addition would be maintained as the 200-300 million fleet of used cars are replaced.

Despite relatively flat energy generation growth within the last decade, the U.S. electric power system added an average dispatchable generating capacity of 12 GW per year, with years that exceeded 25 GW when including intermittent resources. In an unmanaged charging scenario intentionally chosen as an illustrative worst case, 12 GW of dispatchable generating capacity is equivalent to the aggregate demand of nearly 6 million new EVs. This case does not account for managed charging (i.e., using smart communications technology to coordinate EV charging over the course of a day), which offers additional flexibility to reduce peak demand and which will play an important role in integration of EVs at Scale. Most EV users charge overnight from their garage at home, which makes it easier to add significant numbers of EVs.

Energy Generation for EVs at Scale

In the past 20 years, the annual growth in US energy generation (i.e. total electricity consumption, or load, and system losses) has averaged 30 TWh, and while the last decade has seen less than 5 TWh added each year, historically, there have been periods when the grid added nearly 100 TWh per year.

Written by Brian Wang,