The Power Grid and Electric Vehicles: A Potential Strain

With more and more electric vehicles (EVs) on the road, the potential for a strain on the power grid during heatwaves is increasing. Today, EVs make up about 1% of all vehicles, but by 2035 that number is expected to rise significantly. This could[...]

Electrical transmission towers at a Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) electrical substation during a ... [+] heatwave in California. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg© 2022 Bloomberg Finance LP
It's clear that climate change is already having a major impact on our infrastructure. The heatwave in California is a perfect example of this. The electrical transmission towers at the Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) electrical substation were not designed to withstand such high temperatures, and as a result, they are at risk of failure. This could lead to a major blackout in the state, and the damage would be significant.

As a Californian, I'm feeling the conflicting government policies right now. I learned that the state will ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035 and that all new passenger cars and trucks sold in the state must be electric vehicles (EVs). I'm supportive of the move to EVs, but it's going to be a big adjustment for all of us. I hope that the state can provide the necessary infrastructure and support to make the transition as smooth as possible.

I find it ironic that residents in California, a state known for its progressive environmental policies, are being asked to not charge their electric vehicles (EVs) due to a heatwave. This just goes to show how vulnerable our current energy infrastructure is to extreme weather conditions. I hope that this situation spurs officials to invest in more renewable energy sources and make the grid more resilient to future heatwaves.

A recent Newsweek headline perfectly summarizes the apparent absurdity of it all: " Californians Told Not to Charge Electric Cars With Gas." With a proposed ban on gas-powered car sales in the state, it seems that electric cars are the future whether we like it or not. While there may be some kinks to work out (such as where all the charging stations will go), we should all be doing our part to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

In 2035, the number of electric vehicles on the road is expected to increase dramatically. This could put a strain on the electric grid, particularly during heatwaves. If climate change activists are correct and the temperature continues to tick up, the extra burden of having to charge millions of EVs could cripple an already-strained electric system.

This is a huge deal for California and the US as a whole. California is by far the most populous and wealthiest state in the US, and its economy is comparable to that of Germany. If it were its own country, it would be one of the largest countries in the world. This move to 100% EVs is a huge step forward for the fight against climate change and will sets an example for other states and countries to follow.

The state of California has some of the worst air quality in the nation, which has prompted aggressive action against emissions. In its 2022 State of the Air report, the American Lung Association (ALA) listed six California counties—San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, Kern, Tulare and Fresno—as having worse ozone pollution than any other U.S. counties. This is a major concern for public health and the environment, and California is taking steps to improve its air quality.

Looking at the auto market in California, it's clear that the shift to electric vehicles is happening and carmakers need to be prepared. With more states and countries planning to ban combustion engines, it's only a matter of time before the majority of vehicles on the road are electric. This transition will have a major impact on the economy and the environment, so it's crucial that we get it right.

Crossing the "chasm" of EV adoption: what it will take to get more people driving electric cars.

Looking at the chart above, it's clear that California drivers have been leading the charge when it comes to embracing electric vehicles (EVs). In February, EV sales in the state surpassed 1 million, and by summer they made up for more than 16% of all new vehicle sales. This is a trend that is likely to continue, as more and more drivers switch to EVs in an effort to be more environmentally-friendly.

The electric vehicle market has officially reached the "early majority" phase, according to the technology adoption curve. This means that EVs are now mainstream in California.

As California looks to transition to a fully electric fleet of cars and trucks, one of the main challenges will be to build up the state's charging infrastructure. With around 80,000 charging ports, California currently has more than any other state. However, this will not be enough to support the millions of EVs that are expected to be on the road in 2035. At the moment, California has one of the worst EV-to-charger port ratios in the nation, with more than 27 plug-in vehicles per charging port. This is well above the median U.S. ratio of 14 EVs per port.

This is a great opportunity for electric vehicle charging infrastructure companies. I see ChargePoint as a big winner in this market. With its strong market position and comprehensive offerings, I believe the company is well-positioned to take advantage of this opportunity.

Bidirectional Charging: The Answer to Your Energy Woes?

The electric grid is a vital infrastructure that will need to be able to support an increasing number of electric vehicles in the coming years. As more and more drivers switch to EVs, it's important to make sure that the grid can handle the additional demand. One estimate suggests that California would need to generate 50% more electricity if all cars were electric. This means that upgrades to the grid will be necessary to accommodate the growing number of EVs on the road. In addition, drivers may need to be advised not to charge their cars on days of extreme temperatures. This would help to prevent blackouts and other issues that could occur if the grid is overloaded. By taking these steps, we can ensure that the electric grid is able to support the increasing number of EVs on the road. This is vital to the success of the transition to electric vehicles.

As the world moves increasingly towards electric vehicles, it is important to consider how to best utilize this technology. One solution is to make sure that new EVs are equipped with bidirectional chargers. Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology allows for energy to be sent from the vehicle back into the grid or building as needed. Not only does this technology provide power to the grid during more expensive high-demand periods, but it could also help reduce the cost of ownership of the EV. This is just one example of how we can utilize new technology to create a more sustainable future.

As electric cars become increasingly popular, owners are able to take advantage of smart charging technology to schedule when their car should be fully charged. This not only saves them time and energy, but also helps to reduce strain on the grid.

The only available vehicle with bidirectional charging right now is the Nissan LEAF. Last week, Fermata Energy announced that Nissan approved its bidirectional charger for use in its newest LEAF model, which will not impact the battery’s warranty.

The hope is that, with this technology, grids will not only be able to support millions more EVs but will actually be strengthened by them. This would be a huge benefit for the environment and for the economy, as electric vehicles are much cheaper to operate than gasoline-powered vehicles.

Solar Deployment To Increase 40% Over Next Five Years: Report

There is no question that we need to find ways to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. But then, aren't we just transferring emissions from vehicles to coal- and gas-burning power plants? We need to find a way to break our dependence on these polluting energy sources.

The answer to whether we will still be relying on fossil fuels in 2035 is mostly yes. However, this may change due to the growth in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

California is leading the way in solar energy, with 37,086 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The state's next big solar project, Project Nexus, will see miles of solar panel "canopies" covering sections of the Turlock Irrigation District's irrigation canals. The project, which will break ground early next year and be completed in 2024, is expected to generate an incredible 13 gigawatts (GW) of power, which is equal to one sixth of the state's current electricity capacity. This is an incredible feat, and it sets a strong precedent for other states to follow suit in the fight against climate change.

The SEIA and Wood Mackenzie expect solar deployment to increase by as much as 40% over the next five years thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act. This growth will be constrained by supply until the end of 2023.

The chart below shows the SEIA and Wood Mackenzie's solar capacity installation forecast prior to the passage of the IRA, with the bars representing current forecasts. As you can see, the expected installation of solar capacity has increased significantly since the IRA was passed. This is a positive development for the solar industry, and shows that the industry is continuing to grow at a rapid pace.

This buildout is great news for solar panel manufacturers, as well as the companies that supply the metals and other materials used in production. First Solar's announcement of a new $1.2 billion manufacturing facility is a major vote of confidence in the industry, and is sure to lead to more growth and investment in the coming years.