Sorry … No, Electric Cars Will Not Cripple the Electric Grid

by Chris on September 6, 2014

I spend a lot of time reading about Tesla, electric cars, etc. My wife things I’m obsessed with the topic. I think she’s right. Anyway, today I came acrsoss a typical bearish comment where a person wrote, “What I want know is where are the generating stations going to be built to supply the power for millions of electric cars. Does anybody have the answer to this question. The whole concept is nonsense.”

This is very typical of people who have not done any math to back up their argument. They usually just feel that the electric demand would be too enormous. The kinesthetic (feeling) representational system is not a very effective way to judge these things.

So let’s do the math.

According to Ontario Ministry of Energy the average 4-person home uses 800 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per month. If that same average family owned a Tesla Model S and drove the typical 20,000 km per year (1,667 km per month) this would require an additional 337 kWh. To calculate this I’m using my real-world experience where an 85 kWh battery takes me 420 km.

So here’s the bottom line. If every average home owned an electric car our society would consume¬†about 42% more electricity than we do today, and this considers only the residential demand. I’m totally ignoring whatever percent of total demand comes from commercial and industrial buildings, which has no correlation to electric car use. Almost all of this additional residential demand would happen at night while we’re sleeping and very little electricity is being used by other appliances.

Now consider that Tesla would have to increase their capacity by almost 30-fold just to control a single percent (yes, one percent) of the automobile market. If that were to happen, and BMW, Daimler, Ford and Nissan were all successful in competing at the same level as Tesla (measured by # of cars sold), our residential demand for electricity would rise a whopping 2%.

Is that enough math for you? Supply of electricity is not in any way, shape or form an issue.

Ryan P September 6, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Ontario also has a surplus of baseload generation. Having cars charge overnight would help use this energy instead of us exporting it to Michigan and New York at a loss so it could actually cause electricity rates to drop a bit.

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