More Electric Cars Mean More Coal And Natural Gas
Electric cars are a rapidly growing market. In 2017, sales in the U.S. were up nearly 30%, to about 200,000 units. This surge is even more impressive given that the very low gasoline prices we have seen obviously incentivize sticking with the traditional oil-based, internal-combustion-engine purchase.
There are now numerous initiatives globally to ban the sale of oil cars, mostly to clear the skies of smoggy cities. China, India, Norway, the UK, France and the Netherlands, for instance, have said they want to phase out gas and diesel vehicles within the next few decades. Government incentives influence car buyers’ attitudes, and the model for more could be Norway, where electric cars now account for 33% of all sales.
The World Economic Forum documents the countries announcing bans on sales of oil cars. Ultimately, to put them on par, the success of electric cars will depend on continued price declines, especially for batteries, and installing an adequate range where far distances can be traveled on a single charge. Bloomberg New Energy Finance confirms the future is bright:
By 2040, 54% of new car sales and 33% of the global car fleet will be electric. Falling battery prices will bring price-competitive electric vehicles to all major light-duty vehicle segments before 2030.
But there’s much more to the electric car story than what you might be hearing. The anti-fossil-fuel business tends to forget and/or ignore the fact that electric cars are, obviously, just that … powered by electricity, a secondary energy source that is mostly generated by the combustion of coal and natural gas both here in the U.S. and around the world.
Electric cars often need an entire night to recharge at home, and they can “increase a house’s power consumption by 50% or more,” The New York Times reported in 2013. A fellow FORBES contributor notes, “Adding an electric car on the grid is equivalent in some cases to adding three houses.”
There are measures to moderate new power needs when adding more electric cars to the grid, such as demand response, but the takeaway is undeniable: Both in the U.S. and around the world, for every 10 times an electric car goes to “power up,” it will be depending on coal and natural gas almost 6.5 of those times.
Electrification of the U.S. vehicle fleet is going to increase electricity demand. This is a reminder as we continue to debate the future of existing base-load power. While the U.S. Department of Energy’s proposal to reward coal and nuclear plants didn’t pass a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission review, the need for caution over losing existing capacity remains. Once these vital plants are retired, there’s no putting the genie back into the bottle.
We just saw this again during this month’s deep freeze. Testifying at a recent Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing regarding the extremely cold weather, Assistant Energy Secretary Bruce Walker pointed to the importance of base-load: “What was apparent during this weather event was the continued reliance on base-load generation.”
Globally, more electric cars are just a part of the massive increase in electricity consumption that will continue on for as far as our current models predict. Global electricity demand is expected to increase 1-3% per year, and you need just one statistic from one emerging country to see why: Although India has four times as many people, for instance, its total electricity usage is just a third of the U.S.’s.
See the article here.
- On January 29, 2018