This PNNL study could help the U.S. power system keep ahead of the EV adoption curve.
Getting the world to work without oil will not be easy. Apart from increasing EV adoption, we have to make sure the world can cope with them. Think about it: would the power grid stand too many electric cars demanding a charge at the same time? PNNL – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory – answered that question with a study saying the current US power grid can handle 24 million EVs until 2028. If the demand increases, we’ll need improvements.
It may seem far-fetched considering the entire US now has 1.5 million EVs on the roads, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Demand for EVs tends to grow, especially when electric pickup trucks such as the Tesla Cybertruck and Rivian R1T are available.
It is important to stress that the 24 million units mentioned in the study refer solely to light-duty vehicles. If medium-duty (MDV) and heavy-duty vehicles (HDV) are included, the grid can deal with the 24 million LDV plus 200,000 MDV, and 150,000 HDV. Pickup trucks up to the Ford F-150 are considered as LDVs. The F-250 is an MDV.
Regardless of the classification, electric pickup trucks will have much larger battery packs. Apart from that, we have to remember Elon Musk said the new normal for EVs would be a range of about 300 mi, which will also push for more energy available. In other words, the PNNL numbers may have to be revised if such a trend is confirmed.
Apart from anticipating the need for more energy sources – such as new power plants, transmission lines, and solar generation in houses – the goal of the study was to find ways to increase that capacity solely by managing demand.
According to PNNL, the numbers above are for the worst-case scenario, in which EV owners charge as soon as they arrive home. If they perform scheduled charges for times in which electricity is cheaper, the US power grid could deal with 65 million EVs.
The 124-page study deserves the careful attention of everyone concerned about the future of transportation in the US, and it is an example that electric mobility needs a lot more planning than just getting an EV and plugging it to a power outlet. We still have to discuss a lot of other aspects to make it succeed. Smart grids, home storage, and home solar generation are among the main topics for future discussion.