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Can the Electric grid handle EV adoption

More posts are now appearing on FB etc. stating the grid can't handle charging if we all adopt to EVs.
My 1st thoughts are charge at night in the wee wee hours, but I don't know if the demand difference at 4PM to 9PM and 4 AM to 6 AM is enough to handle the charging load. Does anyone know?
2nd thoughts are by the time we have adopted more to EVs the grid will be upgraded to handle the load. There will be more PV farms and wind turbines to handle the additional load. Tin addition there will be more individuals having solar roofs that will ease the grid.
3rd thought, Automobile fuel usage is such a small part of the total energy usage why are we even talking about it. I hate it that this administration is pushing EV adoptioin down our throats such that our fellow Americans are looking at us Tesla drivers as we are guilty of making their energy and gasoline prices go up as well as brownouts that will occur this summer's heat wave. (sorry for the rant)
4th thought is the grid is already in trouble and has been for some years now. Don't blame it on Tesla
 
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Big Earl

bnkwupt
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srs5694

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I'm afraid I haven't saved any references, but I've seen studies suggesting that the current electric grid in the US can handle, without any updates, about 50% EV adoption before it becomes seriously strained, IF charging is done at (current) off-peak times. As that 50% EV point is reached, this might require software coordination in which utilities communicate with cars or EVSEs to determine when charging is done on a car-by-car basis, and that might count as a grid upgrade, but it's a relatively minor one that doesn't involve actual production or transmission lines, just Internet communications.

Note that 50% EV adoption means 50% of all cars on the road are EVs. (I believe these studies were looking at personal transportation, not 18-wheelers, buses, etc.) Given that cars last something like 20 years on average, it'd take a decade or so to reach this point, even if we could magically switch to 100% EV sales tomorrow. In practice, it'll likely be 20 years or more before we hit that point. In that time, the electric grid can be updated, and if current trends continue, it'll be updated with an increasing mix of wind and solar power, as you say. A failure by utilities to do this would represent a monumental level of incompetence on their part. Although the possibility of incompetence causing problems should never be discarded out of hand, IMHO such an extreme level of incompetence is unlikely.

Thus, the posts you're seeing are spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD). They're based on the paradoxical assumptions (stated or not) that we can magically change automotive production, or perhaps even the installed base of automobiles, virtually instantaneously; but that we can't make adjustments to the electric grid, even over a time span measured in decades.
 
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I'm afraid I haven't saved any references, but I've seen studies suggesting that the current electric grid in the US can handle, without any updates, about 50% EV adoption before it becomes seriously strained, IF charging is done at (current) off-peak times. As that 50% EV point is reached, this might require software coordination in which utilities communicate with cars or EVSEs to determine when charging is done on a car-by-car basis, and that might count as a grid upgrade, but it's a relatively minor one that doesn't involve actual production or transmission lines, just Internet communications.

Note that 50% EV adoption means 50% of all cars on the road are EVs. (I believe these studies were looking at personal transportation, not 18-wheelers, buses, etc.) Given that cars last something like 20 years on average, it'd take a decade or so to reach this point, even if we could magically switch to 100% EV sales tomorrow. In practice, it'll likely be 20 years or more before we hit that point. In that time, the electric grid can be updated, and if current trends continue, it'll be updated with an increasing mix of wind and solar power, as you say. A failure by utilities to do this would represent a monumental level of incompetence on their part. Although the possibility of incompetence causing problems should never be discarded out of hand, IMHO such an extreme level of incompetence is unlikely.

Thus, the posts you're seeing are spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD). They're based on the paradoxical assumptions (stated or not) that we can magically change automotive production, or perhaps even the installed base of automobiles, virtually instantaneously; but that we can't make adjustments to the electric grid, even over a time span measured in decades.
No one asks if there were enough gas pumps to support the adoption of 100% ICE cars in 1900. Yet we made the change in @ 10 years. The implied assumption is that there will be no change in the grid. Build it and they will come.
 

RTPEV

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Ah yes, Facebook, that bastion of unmatched intellectual authority that we should all strive to base important decisions on.

Probably not even worth your time trying to educate the masses that are only interested in sharing their latest "find" that puts those damn EVs in a bad light. But if you are truly curious yourself, EVs will actually HELP the grid.

Why? Because EVs can (and will) be charged predominantly off-peak, which gives utilities a revenue stream for all those generating assets they have that sit idle and not earning revenue during off-peak times. This puts utilities in a much better financial position to invest in new generating assets that will be used to better handle peak loads, which are the real source of the rolling brown/blackouts that the detractors seem to think happen all over the place.

Not only that, but EVs (at least anything other than the original LEAF) are flexible loads, meaning they can easily be used for demand side management. If on-peak demand does become a real issue (highly unlikely, but let's play devil's advocate), between smart EVSEs and simple devices similar to what my utility put on my AC unit to switch it off for 15 minutes on "Energy Rush Hour" days, EV charging loads can be selectively intermittently turned off to manage demand (with financial incentive for the EV owner).

Throw V2G into the mix and the grid just became hundreds of times more robust.
 
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Ah yes, Facebook, that bastion of unmatched intellectual authority that we should all strive to base important decisions on.

Probably not even worth your time trying to educate the masses that are only interested in sharing their latest "find" that puts those damn EVs in a bad light. But if you are truly curious yourself, EVs will actually HELP the grid.

Why? Because EVs can (and will) be charged predominantly off-peak, which gives utilities a revenue stream for all those generating assets they have that sit idle and not earning revenue during off-peak times. This puts utilities in a much better financial position to invest in new generating assets that will be used to better handle peak loads, which are the real source of the rolling brown/blackouts that the detractors seem to think happen all over the place.

Not only that, but EVs (at least anything other than the original LEAF) are flexible loads, meaning they can easily be used for demand side management. If on-peak demand does become a real issue (highly unlikely, but let's play devil's advocate), between smart EVSEs and simple devices similar to what my utility put on my AC unit to switch it off for 15 minutes on "Energy Rush Hour" days, EV charging loads can be selectively intermittently turned off to manage demand (with financial incentive for the EV owner).

Throw V2G into the mix and the grid just became hundreds of times more robust.
Thank you for replying. It is not so much Facebook but my own friends that eat that stuff on FB up. Your third paragraph will be the easiest to respond with. I know electrical demand intimately. I had to install systems in my plant that would predict when a new 20 minute peak demand was going to be set so that loads could be shed. With out it the electrical rate would be increased, forever. For a large paper mill and the steel mill it was very important. Also I had to install large power factor capacitor banks to offset the inductive load from a lot, really a lot, of large inductive motor on the system. Not doing the power factor correction thing would cause electrical feeders in the plant having to be upgraded. I had just not put together that power companies could pay for their oversized lines and equipment by getting more usage during those off peak hours. Thank you for that.
 
I get so tired of seeing these pop up on Twitter, FB, etc. People act as though someone will sneeze and then we'll be at 100% EV adoption overnight. The other thing they ignore is the hundreds of billions of dollars that Americans spend on gas every year, which will be spent on KwH. The power companies will literally be flush with cash from people who are no longer purchasing gasoline, and can use that cash to buy power plants, grid upgrades, etc.

It's one of the best ways to "buy american"- instead of buying oil that is produced either domestically or foreign, you're buying US power (especially if nukes are used to add capacity). Then, US becomes a much, much heavier exporter of oil which would make our economy SO much stronger.
 
The system to charge EVs is already in place. If you give a discount for electricity use during the non peak hours, most all EVs will time charging for those less expensive hours. Even EVs on the road traveling will attempt to charge up at the less expensive times to save time and money.
Since most fossil fuel electric generation is most efficient if run at a constant speed, by charging at non-peak times the grid will easily handle more volume.
In the future EVs will be able to do bi-directional use on the grid. They will charge when there is excess capacity and discharge when needed to prevent brown-outs.
It could end up being that EVs will be the solution to the energy grid...not the problem.

It may be that Doom internet headlines are simply click bait...

Example is the video posted above. Poster starts out with the premis of crap math. Says 230 Million licensed drivers X average miles cars are driven per year. Right out of the gate he is wrong. It is not the number of licensed drivers, but the far lower number of vehicles, that average 13,500 driven per year. In addition, that number of miles driven per car is an old number. People drive far less currently due to work at home plus the very high price of gasoline/diesel.

He sounds intelligent, but his numbers are phony.

EV will slowly ramp up as gassers are aged off the road. Will be a slow process that the energy companies can adapt.
 
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nwdiver

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3rd thought, Automobile fuel usage is such a small part of the total energy usage why are we even talking about it.

But… it’s absolutely NOT a small part. Gasoline consumption is ~4,000 TWh/yr. Roughly equivalent to total electric consumption. Electrification could reduce that by ~70%. That’s not small.
 
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Hayseed_MS

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The system to charge EVs is already in place. If you give a discount for electricity use during the non peak hours, most all EVs will time charging for those less expensive hours. Even EVs on the road traveling will attempt to charge up at the less expensive times to save time and money.
Since most fossil fuel electric generation is most efficient if run at a constant speed, by charging at non-peak times the grid will easily handle more volume.
In the future EVs will be able to do bi-directional use on the grid. They will charge when there is excess capacity and discharge when needed to prevent brown-outs.
It could end up being that EVs will be the solution to the energy grid...not the problem.

It may be that Doom internet headlines are simply click bait...

Example is the video posted above. Poster starts out with the premis of crap math. Says 230 Million licensed drivers X average miles cars are driven per year. Right out of the gate he is wrong. It is not the number of licensed drivers, but the far lower number of vehicles, that average 13,500 driven per year. In addition, that number of miles driven per car is an old number. People drive far less currently due to work at home plus the very high price of gasoline/diesel.

He sounds intelligent, but his numbers are phony.

EV will slowly ramp up as gassers are aged off the road. Will be a slow process that the energy companies can adapt.

I do not think Eng Exp was doing it as a doom/clickbait - he is very pro EV and owns a Tesla.

I took from him and his numbers is he is showing worst case scenario and that even at its worst, there will not be an issue. The video is a year or so old so his numbers could be out of date but, again, if his numbers are high, it shows more of a worst case scenario that will not happen.

Either way he says that it is a nothingburger and we will be fine - with which I think we all agree. There has to be FUD to keep people from going EV and this is just one of those topics used.
 
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So it seems the answer is, it depends. It depends on how quickly EVs are adopted, depends on when and where people charge, depends on the rate of adoption of renewables, depends on the retirement rate of fossil power plants and it depends on the rate of which the changes to the transmission grid take place. I’m sure I missed something but I’d say the grid today cannot handle 100 % adoption today but that really isn’t a surprise. I also don’t think any of the challenges ahead are insurmountable and given the expected time frame for this conversion to take place (likely decades to fully realize) I don’t see an issue.
 
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Rocky_H

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Can the grid really not handle everyone running their electric stoves at night for a few hours?
Exactly this. There are a lot of people I observe where if they hear that the topic is EVs, where it somehow violates their political identity, the total rage filters come on. They get foaming at the mouth angry and insulting, and irrational and will make up (or repeat) insane, ridiculous statements of things being a disaster a hundred different ways. Whereas if you were to start off posing a hypothetical question about large portions of the population drying a couple of loads of clothes during the night or running their ovens, they wouldn't recognize it as the same thing because it wouldn't trigger their political anger, and their responses would probably be that it shouldn't be a big deal.
 

bradtem

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My article on this. EVs aren't a challenge for the grid, they are what saves it and allows it to go solar.
 

Rocky_H

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Feb 19, 2015
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My article on this. EVs aren't a challenge for the grid, they are what saves it and allows it to go solar.
Ah, very nice. That was an interesting technology you mentioned in there that I had not heard of--HVAC systems freezing tanks of water into ice blocks. When we replaced our air conditioner unit a few years ago, we did get a heat pump unit, since it goes so well with our solar panel system to get to shift most of the moderate heating and cooling throughout the year to electric. But I had not heard of the ice tank systems.
 

Big Earl

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Ah, very nice. That was an interesting technology you mentioned in there that I had not heard of--HVAC systems freezing tanks of water into ice blocks. When we replaced our air conditioner unit a few years ago, we did get a heat pump unit, since it goes so well with our solar panel system to get to shift most of the moderate heating and cooling throughout the year to electric. But I had not heard of the ice tank systems.

Ice storage is mostly a commercial thing and has been around for quite a while. I don’t think I’ve come across any residential installations. They’re more complicated and overall less efficient, as they require additional equipment, pumps and water treatment. That said, they might have a place in homes in the future.
 
Biggest psychological issue is that many object to being forced to buy EV, when they still have an affinity to their legacy gassers. Asking someone to do something is much better than telling them must do something.
Reality is that it will be the next generation that will be doing the final transformation. They will easily embrace electrification and indeed see using gasoline to power personal transportation as a huge ecological error.
 

Rocky_H

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Feb 19, 2015
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Boise, ID
Biggest psychological issue is that many object to being forced to buy EV, when they still have an affinity to their legacy gassers. Asking someone to do something is much better than telling them must do something.
Yeah, this is something that's frustrating me. Interest and demand was already taking off for EVs. And the price and value were moving in the right direction and getting reasonable-ish. I think this should have been left to market forces for a while as EVs were becoming the cost effective, sensible choice and would increase in sales. The auto makers can't increase their production fast enough anyway, right? But then it's a mistake from these states enacting fast and aggressive timelines banning the sale of gas cars really soon.

People who might have been open to considering it in the next few years instead become angry and resistant, because their choices are being taken away, and they are being forced to do something. Great. Now you just slowed people's willingness to move in a positive direction--good job. And it also has the compounding effect by people seeing that ban enacted now, while they see the current state of the (lack of) capability of electric pickup trucks. Towing range is pathetic and is not a realistic replacement right now, so this reinforces in truck users' minds that this whole thing is a disaster and a not thought out mistake.
 
it's a mistake from these states enacting fast and aggressive timelines banning the sale of gas cars really soon.

But it sure lights a fire under the collective hinies of legacy auto manufacturers.

Perhaps some drivers will feel disgruntled about being forced into an EV, at least at first, but once they drive one they'll change their minds real quick.

I believe *most* drivers fall in the camp of "do what everyone else does"... and so banning gas cars is the right thing to do.

In summary... ban gas cars. 10% of drivers will complain for 6 months. 90% of drivers will rejoice when they drive their first EV. 100% of drivers will have cleaner air and be less dependent on foreign oil. Win, win, win.
 

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