What if Oprah gave all of us EVs?

Would the electric companies be able to supply the increased load?

Short answer: Nope.
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In a prior post, we ran some back-of-the-envelope numbers on EV ownership.

The conclusion: With  $5 per gallon gas and 14¢ per kWh electricity, a shiny new EV would practically pay for itself … albeit taking 20 years to break even.

Let’s assume that life expectancy (for you and for an EV) is longer than 20 years … and ask another question:

If there were a groundswell of EV demand, would electric companies be able to generate enough electricity to keep the EVs charged (and the rest of our electricity-based lives operating “normally’}?

Suppose that Oprah gave all of us an EV today.

How much electricity demand would be added on to the system?

Let’s run some more back-of-the-envelope numbers…

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  • According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (whatever the heck that is): In 2020, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,715 kilowatthours (kWh)

  • There are about 125 million households in the U.S.  We’ll assume that each household is a “residence”.
  • That makes total residential electrical consumption about 1.34 trillion kWh

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  • According to Federal Highway data reported by Metromile, in 2019, “there were almost 229 million Americans who have driving licenses, and they collectively drove over 3.2 trillion miles.”

Note: I’ve seen estimates that range all the way up to 7.5 trillion miles.  To give EVs every benefit of the doubt, we’ll use the low number

  • From what I can ascertain, a Tesla gets about 5 miles per kWh of stored charge. (e.g. a T3, 50 kwh battery gets 250 miles of range).
  • So, 3.2 trillion miles of driving requires 640 million kWh of additional electricity.

Note: The above assumes that “filling” a battery is like filling a gas tank  — i.e. a gallon “flowing in” is a gallon “stored for use”.

This assumption probably understates the amount of electricity that is required to recharge a battery … maybe by a lot!

Bottom line: A full “incredible (fast) transition” to EVs would require at least a 50% increase in electricity generation for consumer / residential use (640 kWh / 1.34 trillion kWh)

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And, where may I ask, will all of this additional electricity come from, given that power plants are fueled by coal, gas and nuclear power — all of which are deemed taboo by climate control zealots.

Solar panels and windmills sourced from China?

Sorry, but I’m betting the under on those.

So, how we gonna do it, Joe?

Looks like there may be some holes in the U.S. energy plan

There is a plan, right?

 

One Response to “What if Oprah gave all of us EVs?”

  1. Robert A Heflin Says:

    Ken
    Great articles on the EVs.
    You are right on! I think a lot of people believe that the cost of charging and EV is low. As you showed it is not! Currently what charging stations are available I believe are gratis but that will change. My California son-in -law told me that, at least in So-Cal a lot of charging stations are being installed. You would expect CA to lead the way. I don’t know what is happening with your area but here in Houston we don’t have Jack-shit being installed. A few here- a few there. I hope you are right that the country can get rid of this moron in the 24 election. I just hope we can recover from all of the damage he has caused and is going to cause.
    Da Cuz

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