Western nations all over the globe are in a craze to ditch fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy sources in order to meet net zero emissions targets. In the United States, you see this manifesting in many forms politically. Biden has taken a hostile stance toward fossil fuels from the beginning of his campaign, where he made it clear he wanted to end fossil fuels. The Biden administration’s goal is to have net-zero emissions by 2050 here the in the US.
Part of this plan, involves shifting Americans away from the combustible engine to electric vehicles. However, in some states this looks more like coercion, where in New York and California they enacted legislation banning the sale of new fossil fuel vehicles by 2035. Similarly, Bloomberg forecasts that nearly half of all car sales will be electric by 2030. But, can our power grid handle this energy demand?
Our extremely complex power grid is both vulnerable and antiquated. Reuters analysis discovered that power outages have doubled over the past 6 years and a proper infrastructure upgrade would cost roughly $2 trillion. Recent events highlighting its fragility include include power outages from hurricanes in the Gulf Coast, West Coast wildfires, Texas freezes, heat waves in the Midwest, and more.
Reports indicate that a substantial increase in EV ownership would lead to a surge in electricity demand that could put a serious strain on this decrepit grid. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that EV adoption will lead to Americans consuming 40% more energy by 2050. There are roughly 2.5 million electric vehicles currently owned in America and 80 percent of these owners elect to charge their cars overnight. All of this charging at once is putting a strain on the power grid and this could pose even more of a problem if scaled up.
According to projections, there could be 20 million electric cars on the streets of America by 2025. This would require 5.4 gigawatts of energy just to charge electric vehicles, let alone power the rest of the world’s largest economy. For perspective a single nuclear power plant produces 1 gigawatt of energy, and we only have 55 power plants in the country.
Furthermore, there are nearly 300 million cars in the United States, so if all gas powered vehicles are to be phased out, we will need a lot more energy. Projections indicate that 90 percent of all cars in America need to be electric by 2050 if we are to meet net-zero climate goals.
Another issue with the power grid, is the Biden administration trying to phase out fossil fuels from the power grid and replace them with less reliable green energy sources like wind and solar. Currently, the U.S. receives 80 percent of its energy from fossil fuels and research indicates that renewables need to make up 60% of the energy mix to meet climate goals. However, unlike fossil fuels, wind and solar energy only work when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing, a problem known as “intermittency”. The inferior reliability of renewables also dictates that they can’t readily store energy for emergencies, like if there were to be blackouts. If a large portion of our energy mix comes from renewables, it could make the grid even less reliable at a time when electricity demand is very high.
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