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Does California Have Enough Electricity to Ban Gasoline Cars?

California officials said Aug. 24 that the state will ban the sale of passenger vehicles with internal combustion engines through 2035. The policy, which comes on top of new incentives for electric vehicle buyers in the Reducing Inflation Act, could dramatically reshape the entire U.S. fleet. California is the largest U.S. auto market, and more than a dozen states are replicating its emissions standards.

Today, electric vehicles make up less than 2 percent of vehicles on California roads, and because drivers tend to keep new cars for about a decade, completely replacing every gas in the state The car could still be decades away. Still, this prospect poses a challenge for the grid, which needs more energy to meet demand.

In a 2018 analysis, energy economists at the University of Texas found that if California drivers went all-electric overnight, the state would need more electricity than it consumes today 47% more electricity. All states that follow California’s emissions standards also face large gaps.

Grid can catch up to EVs

And Joshua Rhodes, one of UT economists, says there’s no reason to worry the grid won’t be up to the task this task. Electricity supply and demand play a role in reinforcing feedback loops: As demand grows, it incentivizes utilities and power companies to invest in new generation and transmission infrastructure. The grid is used to meet demand from new sources, from population growth to the spread of air conditioning to data centers and cryptocurrencies, Rhodes said.

“This is actually a shot in the arm for the entire power industry,” he said. “Electric vehicles are no different than any other load. So it’s not as big as some people say.”

Electric vehicles may be easier to accommodate than other electricity providers because They don’t need to be at peak demand times (eg, late afternoon on a hot weekday). Grid operators can incentivize drivers to charge overnight, and even use cars plugged in garages as a kind of distributed grid battery, capable of absorbing excess power from peak solar generation, for example, to smooth the grid and reduce the risk of blackouts.

Rhodes said the bigger bottleneck could be the introduction of charging stations (though sooner or later they will be easier to find than gas stations), and the development of a new bureaucracy to manage so many new distributed A system of electron flow between a source of supply (solar energy) and a source of demand (electric vehicles).

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