Electric vehicles haveexperienced a renaissance in the last 10 years, spurred by innovation and
battery technology, expansion and network charging infrastructure andmodernized marketing campaigns. Yet the question still remains whether countries and EVs themselves will be able to handle this explosive growth.
Making the transition to an electricity based economy will not be easy as long as oil and gas companies
retain their power. Having lost market share to EVs, the industry has increased their efforts to interfere with federal and state government's plans to enhance infrastructure.
Bloomberg financed projects that by 2040, EVs will account for 40 percent of all U.S. vehicles and 60 percent of all new vehicle sales. The oil industry's best efforts to hamper the infrastructure development will continue, but it seems increasingly likely that EVs will prevail and dominate the vehicle market within the next few decades. The demand for electricity will rapidly grow as more EV drivers charge their
vehicles. It's projected that for every percent of market share that shifts from fuel to EV, there will be a two percent increase in demand for grid capacity.
Each country distributes their energy to their constituency through their power grid, and the composition of each power grid varies greatly based on the natural resources available in that country as well as its geography. In the U.S., the power grid is broken up into three independent grids. The Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which are all
linked by just a few D.C. power lines. Each grid is powered by a various mixture of electricity sources.
Some fuel types take a long time to get running, such as nuclear and coal. So they're used as constant baseline forms of energy. Other sources, such as natural gas, are quick to fire and hence provide flexibility for peak time production. Renewables are variable as they are dependent on environmental factors such as wind speed, time of day and location. As we move into the future, the amount of renewable energy sources powering the grid will increase. But this in itself will not alleviate electric
grid demand problems.
Peak electricity demand and consumption in households’ doubles during the evening time. Combined with the fact that EVs are generally purchased by wealthy, environmentally conscious drivers, the distribution of EVs will be highly concentrated in urban wealthy areas, namely in cities that are across California, Washington, Oregon, in New York. With the infrastructure that is currently in place, the U.S. grid will not be able to handle this high increase in local electricity demand in unevenly distributed parts of the country.
There are a few solutions which can be implemented to fix these problems. However, time differentiated tariffs are taxes on electricity consumption during peak hours of demand. These tariffs have the ability to be signal to consumers’ way ahead of time or in real time, and drivers may choose to delay charging until a cheaper time of the day. This solution affords drivers the information necessary to make informed decisions about their electricity consumption, but does not provide them the insight into the status of their overall neighbourhood consumption, combined with the fact that EV drivers are wealthy.
This will be unlikely to have a strong impact on peak consumption, as those who are wealthy will not be affected as greatly by these tariffs. To truly balance electricity consumption, vehicles will need to be able to communicate with the grid leading to the centralized charging control solution. Here, utilities will be able to directly mitigate the effects of peak consumption by controlling remote charging of emissions, by
creating a two way communication link between the vehicle and the utility operator. EVs can be charged at different capacities over different durations.
But in order to do so, governments and utility companies will need to invest in the advancement of
their own grids for developing countries. This question becomes even more complicated, even though electric energy in itself is clean. It's important to acknowledge that most electricity is generated from non-renewable energy, such as oil, natural gas and coal. So although electricity generation is much
cleaner than the internal combustion engine, it will not simply reduce emissions to zero. The two largest countries in the world, India and China, generate 53.4% and 64.6% of their energy from coal alone respectively, which is the dirtiest source of energy.
As EVs increase their load on the power grids, the most likely means of meeting demand in the short term will be by investing in the quickest solution that is; using more coal. The transition of power grids to renewable forms of energy is slow and for countries that have been slowly increasing their renewable usage, it will still take them time for those renewables to take over for the EV electricity demand. In the meantime, greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector may increase in the short term.
At this point, it's all but inevitable that EVs will replace the internal combustion engine in both
personal and commercial vehicles worldwide, this revolution in global transportation will serve as a significant weapon in the fight against climate change, but it won't come without its challenges. Existing power grids will succumb to increased energy demands without significant upgrades
Despite these obstacles, the future is more EVs, it will cut short the days of internal combustion engines and this will have positive impacts on the global environment.