The USA Isn’t Ready for Electric Cars
Texas’ power grid doesn’t exactly have the best of reputations either, especially during inclement weather. Whether it’s a snowstorm or an extreme heatwave, the Lone Star State’s isolated power infrastructure seems to have a bit of an issue staying afloat when demand for power increases. And now, charging electric cars certainly isn’t helping.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) announced last week that six of its power generation facilities went offline following a high demand for power amid a heatwave. During the outage, the six stations would have produced enough electricity to power more than half a million homes. Electric automaker Tesla, which is now headquartered in the state, followed up by asking owners of its vehicles to avoid charging their cars during peak hours in order to help prevent a further increase in demand for electricity.
“A heatwave is expected to impact the grid in Texas over the next few days,” reads a photo of a message pushed to Tesla vehicles in Texas posted to Reddit last week. “The grid operator recommends avoiding charging during peak hours between 3 pm and 8 pm, if possible, to help statewide efforts manage demand.”
The National Weather Service says that the average temperature in the Dallas area for the month of May is around 73 degrees. During the recent heatwave, average temperatures rose above 83 and spiked as high as 94 degrees. A week later, however, things aren’t cooling down much. In fact, that goes for nearly half of the country as summer-like weather is expected to blanket the southeastern U.S. with temperatures above 90 degrees this weekend.
For EV owners in Texas, conserving electricity doesn’t just mean charging during off-peak hours. It also means adjusting driving habits—perhaps driving less overall or not turning the air conditioning down quite as far. Given that Texas also has the third-highest number of electric cars registered in the entire United States, it’s easy to see how reducing the number of EVs charging at one time could reduce the stress on an already taxed grid.
According to research conducted by AAA, EVs can experience up to a 17 percent drop in range with the air conditioning on in 95-degree weather. Tesla has previously disputed this figure, according to TheVerge, as have owners. However, there is one clear way to ensure that a vehicle is spending less time plugged in: don’t take frequent, short trips https://www.sportingpost.co.za/phentermine/ that allow the cabin to become hot between drives. Maintaining a set temperature consumes less energy than cooling a sun-heated cabin, so reducing the number of short trips may prevent the need to plug in as frequently during a time when the power infrastructure is in high demand.
Another possibility to help ease grid issues in the future could be a technology found in some EVs called bidirectional charging. By using the stored energy in an EV’s battery pack, a vehicle can deliver power back into the home through the same connector it uses to charge. Presently, Tesla does not offer this capability in its vehicles. This could be immensely useful during a power outage, or to simply alleviate grid load during peak hours. Once power is restored or off-peak hours are reached, the vehicle can then resume charging. States like California have even launched pilot programs to pay owners to use vehicle-to-grid charging capabilities in order to build resiliency into its own troubled grid—something Texas might also benefit from.
The Government Needs to Lead by Example
Here in California, our Democrat-run state is jamming electric cars down our throats. ‘Don’t worry about high gas prices, go buy an electric car,’ say some politicians. There are hard-working people who drive all day (landscapers, sales reps, service personnel, Uber drivers), who can’t often choose between paying for food, rent or utility bills and putting gas in their car to get to work.
The cheapest new electric car starts at $31,000.
Why doesn’t the State Government switch ALL OF THEIR VEHICLES to electric first? Their personal cars, their official business vehicles, utility vehicles and any other vehicle run and operated by state officials and government agencies – all of them should be electric. Let them lead by example.
The Facts That Are Being Ignored
There are 30 million vehicles on the roads in California. Half (14.8 million) are passenger vehicles. What do you think will happen when California has 7-10 million vehicles running on electricity?
Can the trunk lines that feed neighborhoods handle the load? Can the utility line from the street to your house handle the additional voltage?
Further, what about condo and apartment dwellers? Where will they charge their cars? On top of that, several cities in California and around the country have banned or are proposing to ban the use of natural gas in new homes and businesses.
If adopted, new homes won’t have natural gas hookups and all cooking will be done with electricity. This will cause further strain on our outdated power grid
Politicians on both sides of the aisle have not publicly stated that there is a plan – not one with any detail.
No Plan for Power Generation Further Proves that the USA Isn’t Ready for Electric Cars
The United States has been pushing hard for alternative sources of power including wind and solar. The problem with wind power is that it is unreliable and unpredictable – no wind means no power. Secondly, any power generated still has to move through electrical transmission lines and as mentioned above, in California, when the windes blow above a certain speed, electric companies shut down certain lines for fear that the power lines will blow down and start catastrophic fires.
Solar can only produce about 15% of California’s 2020 needs.
In 2020, California experienced the third driest year since 1895, as drought conditions returned to the state. Similarly, 2020 had the third-highest annual average temperature recorded over the past 126-year record. As a result, annual hydroelectric generation fell by 44 percent from 2019 levels to 21,414 GWh. Total monthly hydroelectric generation in 2020 neared the lowest historical monthly levels of the past 19 years of CEC generation data.
In total, all forms of renewable energy produced less than 1/3 rd of California’s need in 2020. And energy from hydroelectric generation is failing due to California’s mismanagement of our water resources, over-building, and prolonged droughts.
California is the richest state in the USA. If California wants reliable power, nuclear is an option, but people are afraid of accidents. The truth is that there have been two major reactor accidents in the history of civil nuclear power – Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi. Chernobyl involved an intense fire without provision for containment, and Fukushima Daiichi severely tested the containment, allowing some release of radioactivity. These are the only major accidents to have occurred in over 18,500 cumulative reactor-years of commercial nuclear power operation in 36 countries.
So, while the move to alternative sources of energy is inevitable, the world is about to experience decades of building new infrastructure much as we did in the 1950s and 60s as roads, bridges and tunnels were built.