Electric vehicles will push big changes in the grid (NY and Cali are adapting already)

  • Published on September 2nd, 2017

With CEO Elon Musk forecasting could soon be selling 700,000 Model 3s a year, the streets may soon be flooded with electric vehicles. To put that in perspective, the popular BMW 3 Series only has an annual production rate of about 400,000 per year. However, having electric vehicles like Tesla’s Model 3 selling in these larger volumes could have some unintended side effects.

A modified Tesla Model S by Larte Design (Image: Car Revs Daily)
A modified Tesla Model S by Larte Design (Image: Car Revs Daily)

By Matt Pressman

EcoWatch reports on what could occur if we experience a sudden, large-scale surge in electric vehicle charging — impact on our electricity grid.

Rory Christian and Larissa Koehler report that, “Utilities must ensure their customers are well-positioned to take advantage of EV benefits by educating them about how their charging behavior can impact the grid and the integration of renewable energy.”

Above: Broad overview of potential impact of EVs on utilities and our electricity grid (Youtube: Rewired); Editor’s note: This useful, albeit older video has a few factoids not updated (i.e. EV penetration has now reached 2M units worldwide)

As noted in the video, energy storage solutions (i.e. the massive Tesla Powerwall installation in South Australia) can act as a key protective measure against fluctuations in the grid. In addition, EcoWatch highlights progressive policies underway here in two U.S. states — California and New York.

California

With more than 300,000 EVs and more than 12,000 charging stations, California leads the nation in clean car sales. Moreover, that number is poised to grow rapidly — California EV sales rose 91 percent in the first quarter of 2017 from the same time last year. And, this week it was reported that electric cars now represent 5% of California’s new car sales.

  • The California Air Resources Board has reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining stronger vehicle emissions standards.
  • Volkswagen updated its plan for investing $800 million to accelerate electrified transportation in California, with input from the California Air Resources Board.
  • Senate Bill 350 prioritizes widespread transportation electrification.
  • In Los Angeles, half of all municipal vehicle purchases will be electric starting this year, and that share will increase to 80 percent by 2025. The city is also moving forward with a pilot EV rideshare program to extend their benefits to communities with fewer car owners.

And, as part of Senate Bill 350, investor-owned utilities filed applications with the California Public Utilities Commission for investments in light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty sectors. The utility plans in particular represent an exciting new opportunity to accelerate electric transportation in all its forms. With planned projects from placing charging infrastructure for passenger EVs in single family homes, to providing car dealers with incentives and education to sell more EVs, to electrifying buses and ship ports — and everything in between — these plans are well-designed to clean the sector most responsible for harmful emissions.

Above: California accounts for the lion’s share of US EV sales (Source: CleanTechnica)

New York

Earlier this year, New York State committed to more than double its current fleet of government automobiles, by purchasing two thousand electric vehicles, by 2025, . New York is also doing its share to expand electrification to make it easier for customers to buy and use electric vehicles. The State’s Reforming the Energy Vision aims to align utility needs with marketplace innovations, and is doing the following:

  • Decentralizing the electric grid so customers can make and buy renewable energy.
  • Developing favorable electricity rates to encourage charging of electric vehicles at times when renewable energy is readily available and affordable. This way, EV adoption will benefit the grid and the environment.

Con Edison’s Smart Charge NY program, an early stage effort in New York City, is paving the way for mainstream EV use; the results will be an example for how other cities can adopt the policies and tools necessary to seamlessly integrate electric vehicles.

Above: Tesla Model X parked in New York City’s Time Square (Image: Top Gear)

Hopefully more states like California and New York will implement progressive programs to stay ahead of the curve. Meanwhile, “More and more automakers are shifting their focus to electric vehicles, a market that is expected to grow faster every year.”

One prime example: “Tesla invested $5 billion in its Nevada gigafactory—where they will make batteries for electric vehicles—and is grabbing headlines with the roll-out of its first mass-market EV, the Model 3… [and] it gives a hint of a clean energy future that can’t come fast enough.”

(Originally appeared at our sister-site, EV Annex.)

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