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Can the American power grid sustain EV adoption?

XHabjab

Helping to end the ICE Age
Feb 25, 2018
634
1,253
Georgetown TX
So even in 2021 email chain letters are still a thing apparently, (haven't seen a chain letter in like 12 years) and my boomer mom, of course forwarded it to me.

We all know the American grid is trash but is being worked on, and in some cases being neglected, or in the case of nuclear power in CA not being thought about in the future as many plants we have are scheduled to go offline in the next 10'ish years. However, EV adoption is a slow process and I'm pretty confident at the current rate of adoption the grid will be fine by the time there is a mass adoption.

Below is what was forwarded to me:
This is a very poorly researched and thought out "chain letter" and I have my doubts that it came from Toyota. There are plenty of factual errors and projections that I don't consider Toyota quality research. I call "BS" on the origin.

[Expanding on the point made by @Twiglett ] Besides that, there are several studies out that estimate the changes in energy consumption due to electrification of the transportation industry that all debunk this flawed notion. The quick answer: the choice of ICE or EV should make little or no change to macro electricity usage. Increases in electricity consumption will indeed be seen over time, but because of increasing population and not due to change in technology, and certainly not due to a change from ICE to EV.

==> An EV does not use more electricity than an ICE vehicle.

The longer answer...
Oil & Gas: The thing we in North America call "gas" is actually an abbreviation for "gasoline". Overseas it is called "petrol". Europeans put "petrol" in their cars. We in North America put "gas" in our cars. The "gas" in the phrase "Oil and Gas" refers to produced gases such as propane, butane, natural gas (and many others) that are separated and otherwise go largely unchanged into pipelines and end up being distributed to homes for burning in a stove or furnace to heat your house. The Oil and Gas industry provides crude oil to refineries where it is refined into fuels, chemicals, fertilizers etc. The main point here is that gasoline/petrol comes from crude oil. [Americans & Canadians are confused over this "gas" thing; the rest of the world gets it right.]

Oil refinery: An oil refinery inputs crude oil, water, electricity and through the magic of chemistry, outputs gasoline, diesel, kerosene, jet fuel, and various solvents, cleaners, and other chemicals (solid, liquid, gas), fertilizers (solid, liquid) and a few waste products that have to be either sold as is, changed to something else or disposed of. The bulk of the output is gasoline. Most of the processing that takes place involves distillation which requires a large amount of heating and cooling. The heat can come from either electricity or can be a parasitic process consuming some of the produced output. Most refineries generate the bulk of heat by electricity, which makes it an easier process to control. All versions of the refining process consume huge quantities of resources (electricity, water and otherwise) in producing the product. Refineries are usually seen near reliable supplies of electricity, water, pollution tolerance and political expediency.

[Lots of details omitted...]

End result: A person that sells an ICE vehicle and buys an EV and makes little or no changes to their driving needs (ie. distance, vehicle load, frequency of travel) will use about the same or perhaps less electricity from the grid as a result of the vehicle change.
An EV will also allow charging at arbitrary hours, which will allow grid stability and time based load balancing not seen with the ICE. And the EV will not consume the other resources that the refinery would use (notably, water). The air would contain less CO2 because the gasoline that would not need to be produced would also not be burned.
This also does not consider the costs ($ and otherwise) of distribution or transportation of the "fuel" to ICE vs EV vehicles, which are also favorable to the EV.
 
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mociaf9

Active Member
Oct 18, 2018
2,821
5,789
CA
This is a very poorly researched and thought out "chain letter" and I have my doubts that it came from Toyota. There are plenty of factual errors and projections that I don't consider Toyota quality research.

I don't think anyone believes, or is meant to believe, that Toyota is the actual origin of the letter. Toyota and their strategy/opinion is just being cited as support for the actual, unnamed writer's position.
 
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mociaf9

Active Member
Oct 18, 2018
2,821
5,789
CA
Sorry for the double comment. I would have included this response in my last one, but I wanted to check my gut reaction of disbelief and find reliably sourced figures before actually responding.

End result: A person that sells an ICE vehicle and buys an EV and makes little or no changes to their driving needs (ie. distance, vehicle load, frequency of travel) will use about the same or perhaps less electricity from the grid as a result of the vehicle change.
Unfortunately, this quoted bit and most of the bit in the "Oil Refining" section discussing how the electricity is used in refining is just not anywhere close to accurate. Actual End Result: In the US, an efficient EV will use ~3 times more electricity per mile driven (and possibly quite a bit more than that) compared to what an average ICEV uses based on electricity used to make gasoline at US oil refineries.

Since trying to break down what percentage of refining energy consumption actually went into producing gasoline as opposed to the myriad other products refineries produce seems like a nightmare that would be endlessly open to quibbling and debate, I'm just going to assume that all energy use was for making only finished gasoline. This assumption also excludes diesel fuel production since I didn't want to try and figure out what percentage of total diesel production was used by light duty vehicles. So, as long as I haven't massively screwed something up, the results of this analysis should be considered very, very conservative (i.e. strongly biased against ICEVs).

--In 2019, US refineries purchased 47,140,000,000 kWh of electricity. In addition to this purchased electricity, they also used electricity generated on-site (mostly from waste gases blended with natural gas) but this contribution is irrelevant to the argument that switching from ICEVs to EVs will result in an equivalent load on the electrical grid, and so is ignored.
--In 2019, US refineries produced 590,438,000 barrels of Finished Motor Gasoline.
--A barrel is defined as 42 US gallons.
--The average fuel efficiency of the US Light Duty vehicle fleet in 2019 was 22.2mi/gallon. Note, if you wanted to skew this in favor of ICEVs, you could claim that someone buying a car is deciding between an EV and a new light duty vehicle, and so the figure should be closer to 40 mi/gallon. Of course, if you wanted to skew the numbers more towards EVs you could claim that people will be getting rid of older, less efficient cars and so the figure should be closer to 12 mi/gallon. I just went with the average fleet efficiency.


Math: 47,140,000,000 kWh / 1 year * (1 year / 590,438,000 barrels) * (1 barrel / 42 gallons) * (1 gallon / 22.2 miles) = 0.085627... kWh/mi or 85.627... Wh/mi. for an average US gasoline car in the US. Multiplying this figure by 3 gives you about 257 Wh/mi, which is pretty close to the efficiency of a Model 3 on 18" wheels driving a mix of street and highway miles in decent weather conditions.

Conclusion: Swapping the US vehicle fleet to EVs IS going to require lots of new electricity generation. But some amount of that needed expansion will be offset by a reduction in electricity use by oil refineries as we stop producing gasoline (and other refined transport fuels).

BONUS--Electricity use in Oil Refining: The figures and proportions I found for this are likely a little out of date (they're from 2006), but according to this document from the US Department of Energy, ~85% of the electricity used by refineries is to run machine-driven equipment (pumps, fans, compressed air, materials handling, materials processing, etc). Refining process cooling uses ~6%. General facility energy use (including HVAC and lighting) uses ~6%. Refining process heating only accounts for ~3% of refinery electricity use. And when looking at all energy use for process heating, less than 2% of it is from electrical heating. It's almost all from steam. Note, however, that even if things haven't changed much since 2006, this data was for the entire sector, so there may have been individual refineries whose process was more geared toward electric heating.
 

XHabjab

Helping to end the ICE Age
Feb 25, 2018
634
1,253
Georgetown TX
Sorry for the double comment. I would have included this response in my last one, but I wanted to check my gut reaction of disbelief and find reliably sourced figures before actually responding.


Unfortunately, this quoted bit and most of the bit in the "Oil Refining" section discussing how the electricity is used in refining is just not anywhere close to accurate. Actual End Result: In the US, an efficient EV will use ~3 times more electricity per mile driven (and possibly quite a bit more than that) compared to what an average ICEV uses based on electricity used to make gasoline at US oil refineries.

Since trying to break down what percentage of refining energy consumption actually went into producing gasoline as opposed to the myriad other products refineries produce seems like a nightmare that would be endlessly open to quibbling and debate, I'm just going to assume that all energy use was for making only finished gasoline. This assumption also excludes diesel fuel production since I didn't want to try and figure out what percentage of total diesel production was used by light duty vehicles. So, as long as I haven't massively screwed something up, the results of this analysis should be considered very, very conservative (i.e. strongly biased against ICEVs).

--In 2019, US refineries purchased 47,140,000,000 kWh of electricity. In addition to this purchased electricity, they also used electricity generated on-site (mostly from waste gases blended with natural gas) but this contribution is irrelevant to the argument that switching from ICEVs to EVs will result in an equivalent load on the electrical grid, and so is ignored.
--In 2019, US refineries produced 590,438,000 barrels of Finished Motor Gasoline.
--A barrel is defined as 42 US gallons.
--The average fuel efficiency of the US Light Duty vehicle fleet in 2019 was 22.2mi/gallon. Note, if you wanted to skew this in favor of ICEVs, you could claim that someone buying a car is deciding between an EV and a new light duty vehicle, and so the figure should be closer to 40 mi/gallon. Of course, if you wanted to skew the numbers more towards EVs you could claim that people will be getting rid of older, less efficient cars and so the figure should be closer to 12 mi/gallon. I just went with the average fleet efficiency.


Math: 47,140,000,000 kWh / 1 year * (1 year / 590,438,000 barrels) * (1 barrel / 42 gallons) * (1 gallon / 22.2 miles) = 0.085627... kWh/mi or 85.627... Wh/mi. for an average US gasoline car in the US. Multiplying this figure by 3 gives you about 257 Wh/mi, which is pretty close to the efficiency of a Model 3 on 18" wheels driving a mix of street and highway miles in decent weather conditions.

Conclusion: Swapping the US vehicle fleet to EVs IS going to require lots of new electricity generation. But some amount of that needed expansion will be offset by a reduction in electricity use by oil refineries as we stop producing gasoline (and other refined transport fuels).

BONUS--Electricity use in Oil Refining: The figures and proportions I found for this are likely a little out of date (they're from 2006), but according to this document from the US Department of Energy, ~85% of the electricity used by refineries is to run machine-driven equipment (pumps, fans, compressed air, materials handling, materials processing, etc). Refining process cooling uses ~6%. General facility energy use (including HVAC and lighting) uses ~6%. Refining process heating only accounts for ~3% of refinery electricity use. And when looking at all energy use for process heating, less than 2% of it is from electrical heating. It's almost all from steam. Note, however, that even if things haven't changed much since 2006, this data was for the entire sector, so there may have been individual refineries whose process was more geared toward electric heating.
Nicely done.

Refineries around the country uses different techniques for running the cracking process. I could only find energy consumption details for California, which seems to be electricity-heavy.

I hope to add a more robust forum article with sources cited soon (but not here). I'll come back here and point to it.

And again, this doesn't consider the consumption equivalent of the transmission/distribution of the "fuel".
 

cpa

Active Member
May 17, 2014
3,211
4,264
Central Valley
I infer from the above analyses that we are only considering the refining process. For completeness:

How much electricity is used to pump the crude oil out of the ground?
How much electricity is used to transport products through pipelines to and from refineries?
How much electricity is used for the fuel self consumed in diesel/electric locomotives and other delivery vehicles?
How much electricity is used by fuel pumps?

Corollary to all the above is the fact that as more people charge at home, work, or while running errands, there will be less demand for refueling ICE vehicles at convenience stores. As demand for gasoline and diesel drops, convenience stores will close or have limited hours. I would presume that a business model in the future will have many fewer convenience stores offering a combination of petroleum fuels and DC fast charging. So, electricity consumption for these stores will drop as well.

I submit that these additional uses of electricity, while significantly lower than the refining processes, will not be trivial.
 

LCR1

Active Member
Oct 24, 2017
1,346
995
Houston
No, I think that an energy provider will increase prices to the point where a few hours at 30-50 cents a kwh will not hurt so bad. They'll do this either by increasing peak energy usage rates to 30-50cents(which will RAPIDLY cut that peak down), or by raising the average rates, or both. I'm not particularly happy about it, but we here in MA are paying around $0.25 per kwh(admittedly around half of that is transportation charges and half is the actual supplier charges).

Maybe ERCOT should consider interconnecting with neighboring states that might have extra capacity or different environmental conditions(leading to different excess capacity).

The way you are describing it, all EV sales in the state of Texas should be banned, and those that exist should be recalled. ERCOT cannot handle the load and has no clue on how to proceed. I'm being sarcastic, I'm sure that EV's won't be banned and I trust that ERCOT recognizes the problem and are working toward a solution. All the same, if I lived in Texas I'd be getting a natural gas powered backup generator and solar power installed.
Most of the state is deregulated and ESPs charge a flat contracted rate so while the power plants may charge $500/mw the ESP is still charging me 8cents. TOU and tiered plans are not a thing, you have to actively look for them so they’ll have to raise average rates. You really think people are going to go for that where they now have to pay 2-3x more to make up for 6-10x peaks?

ERCOT is not the problem, other grids with interconnection still have peak demand issues, places like California have had peak issues long before EVs were ever a thing.
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
10,783
5,697
Most of the state is deregulated and ESPs charge a flat contracted rate so while the power plants may charge $500/mw the ESP is still charging me 8cents. TOU and tiered plans are not a thing, you have to actively look for them so they’ll have to raise average rates. You really think people are going to go for that where they now have to pay 2-3x more to make up for 6-10x peaks?

ERCOT is not the problem, other grids with interconnection still have peak demand issues, places like California have had peak issues long before EVs were ever a thing.
I think the point is if peak demand becomes such a huge problem (and they aren't going to make infrastructure changes to address it), they would be forced to make changes to their pricing structure to address it. And this is commonly implemented.
One other method is to push a new EV rate schedule (sometimes mandatory) to address the new demand.
 

SmartElectric

Active Member
Jul 9, 2014
2,523
2,177
Toronto,Canada
When there is so much solar you can redirect it to EV charging. Problem is solved. Even in the least powerful solar energy market in the world , cloudy UK delivers

FYI that OpenEVSE has also been doing this for the DIY community for years.

EV charging is a BENEFIT to the grid, not the other way around.
 
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Gasaraki

Active Member
Oct 21, 2019
2,010
1,255
Syracuse, NY
So even in 2021 email chain letters are still a thing apparently, (haven't seen a chain letter in like 12 years) and my boomer mom, of course forwarded it to me.

We all know the American grid is trash but is being worked on, and in some cases being neglected, or in the case of nuclear power in CA not being thought about in the future as many plants we have are scheduled to go offline in the next 10'ish years. However, EV adoption is a slow process and I'm pretty confident at the current rate of adoption the grid will be fine by the time there is a mass adoption.

Below is what was forwarded to me:
 
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Sophias_dad

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Jul 29, 2018
1,459
1,489
Massachusetts
states like california don't seem to be ready for it yet. We need more renewable energy to make this viable
Um... why specifically does it need to be >renewable< energy? I mean, sure it would be nice if it were renewable, but even if its made by burning coal/oil/gas that energy would still improve the available energy supply, and it might even by easier on the grid since the distance between renewable sources and where that energy is used may well be larger than for nonrenewable sources... I.E. for solar you need lots of land, for wind you need a spot with lots of wind, for hydro you need a high river and a place to put a dam on it which won't flood lots of already-occupied land, and so on.

Those are typically far-ish from cities where the most energy usage is.
 
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nwdiver

Well-Known Member
Feb 17, 2013
8,266
10,901
United States
states like california don't seem to be ready for it yet. We need more renewable energy to make this viable

There's ~425,000 EVs in CA using ~170,000MWh/mo. ~Half the year CA is already throwing out more renewable energy because if has no place to go. If anything CA needs more EVs to make renewables 'viable'....

Screen Shot 2021-08-14 at 8.10.45 PM.png
 
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Big Earl

bnkwupt
Supporting Member
Jul 12, 2017
5,795
10,762
Springfield, VA
There's ~425,000 EVs in CA using ~170,000MWh/mo. ~Half the year CA is already throwing out more renewable energy because if has no place to go. If anything CA needs more EVs to make renewables 'viable'....

View attachment 696738

This is why we need L2 charging at places of work and education. If people charge during the day on would-be-curtailed solar energy instead of charging at night on likely-fossil energy, everybody wins.
 

linux-works

Active Member
Dec 23, 2019
2,163
3,732
mtn view, ca
actually, I'd like to see a law that forces landlords to install chargers (and they get 100% reimbursed by tax refunds or such, so its no cost to them) if the tenants request it, even if just one requests it.

I live in an apartment and I've asked the LL, and its basically like bambi in headlights; total stare back at me when I ask about getting chargers or even plugs installed. they couldn't care less. there is nothing to force them and if they have no 'vision' they wont put any time toward it.

right smack in the dead middle of silly valley; and my LL wont install chargers. there are teslas all over this complex, too. and when we still WENT to work, most of us did have l2 charging at work and life was good back in the old days... but for the last year and a half, few of us have been AT work and so we lose the benefit of at-work charging. I've had to use ONLY sc'ing and I hate doing that, but I have no other options.

the grid is fine. its people that are broken. (well, in texas, its both, but that's for another thread, lol)
 

Ostrichsak

Active Member
Sep 6, 2018
3,595
3,632
Colorado, USA
actually, I'd like to see a law that forces landlords to install chargers (and they get 100% reimbursed by tax refunds or such, so its no cost to them) if the tenants request it, even if just one requests it.

I live in an apartment and I've asked the LL, and its basically like bambi in headlights; total stare back at me when I ask about getting chargers or even plugs installed. they couldn't care less. there is nothing to force them and if they have no 'vision' they wont put any time toward it.

right smack in the dead middle of silly valley; and my LL wont install chargers. there are teslas all over this complex, too. and when we still WENT to work, most of us did have l2 charging at work and life was good back in the old days... but for the last year and a half, few of us have been AT work and so we lose the benefit of at-work charging. I've had to use ONLY sc'ing and I hate doing that, but I have no other options.

the grid is fine. its people that are broken. (well, in texas, its both, but that's for another thread, lol)
Of course somebody in California wants the government to force the big bad landlord to do something that's convenient for them. How about you just choose somewhere else to live that provides whatever features and resources you personally require?
 

linux-works

Active Member
Dec 23, 2019
2,163
3,732
mtn view, ca
Of course somebody in California wants the government to force the big bad landlord to do something that's convenient for them. How about you just choose somewhere else to live that provides whatever features and resources you personally require?
how about no? does 'no' work for you?

I stated very clear at the start, its NO COST TO THEM.

so what's your beef, pal? zero cost to them and it helps everyone. what's the down-side? or, is there a red-state thing going on, here ... ?
 

linux-works

Active Member
Dec 23, 2019
2,163
3,732
mtn view, ca
let me ask you this, as well; what if no one in the area offers secured overnight charging? they wont, typically, offer fast charging, so if you slow charge, you cant just leave your own charger dangling on a 120vac outlet. when its a shared parking lot, even if its covered, its not secured (more often than not).

you say I should just move. is that a fair power-base if all the local LL's refuse to support charging infra?

I really hope you are not suggesting that kind of attitude.
 

Ostrichsak

Active Member
Sep 6, 2018
3,595
3,632
Colorado, USA
how about no? does 'no' work for you?

I stated very clear at the start, its NO COST TO THEM.

so what's your beef, pal? zero cost to them and it helps everyone. what's the down-side? or, is there a red-state thing going on, here ... ?
So if it's no cost to them then who pays for it?
 
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DblOSmith

Member
Jun 29, 2021
86
39
Missouri
actually, I'd like to see a law that forces landlords to install chargers (and they get 100% reimbursed by tax refunds or such, so its no cost to them) if the tenants request it, even if just one requests it.

I live in an apartment and I've asked the LL, and its basically like bambi in headlights; total stare back at me when I ask about getting chargers or even plugs installed. they couldn't care less. there is nothing to force them and if they have no 'vision' they wont put any time toward it.

right smack in the dead middle of silly valley; and my LL wont install chargers. there are teslas all over this complex, too. and when we still WENT to work, most of us did have l2 charging at work and life was good back in the old days... but for the last year and a half, few of us have been AT work and so we lose the benefit of at-work charging. I've had to use ONLY sc'ing and I hate doing that, but I have no other options.

the grid is fine. its people that are broken. (well, in texas, its both, but that's for another thread, lol)
Same here. My last two places I've lived did the same thing: They had 120v outlets tucked away on side of buildings where no one else parks. I've asked if I could pay an extra $100/month for a reserved spot next to one of those so I can charge. I'll even pay for the "Reserved" or "EV parking" sign and of course they could advertise "with EV Charging available" for their property. They wouldn't do it. I would pay them to park in a spot that was empty 363 days out of the year, no go. So short sighted.
 
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