Is the power grid the weak link in the EV highway?
The United States has had some bad weather this year. And it's played havoc with our electrical infrastructure. It makes me wonder if we are really ready for a complete switch to an all-electric vehicle fleet.
Everyone is aware of the fiasco in Texas. Regardless of who you blame the fact remains that millions were without electricity for at least a week. As outraged as we all were about Texas, power outages are the norm in many areas.
I grew up in rural Eastern Connecticut. Power outages were routine. We all had a stash of candles and wooden matches, or a few flashlights, or even some oil lamps. A power outage could happen anytime during the year. Rain, wind, snow, sub-freezing temperatures, could all trigger an outage.
I still have friends back east and this year there have been more than a few outages. They are a pain in the neck at any time but during the winter months they are especially dangerous for the elderly or infirm.
Every time I hear about a power outage I wonder about those with electric vehicles. How do you charge your car when there's no power? And if your car is dead and you need to get somewhere, what do you do? I guess you call a friend.
I've gotten a bit of a reputation as being anti-EV. I'm not. I like to think I'm a realist though. I have tried to make the point that the electric infrastructure just isn't up to the task of handing millions upon millions of electric vehicles.
I live in a city of about 100,000 people. In many if not most areas the power lines are underground. I've lived here for about 5 years and we have lost power a few times, usually just for a few hours at most. That is not catastrophic. But losing your power for days on end can be catastrophic particularly during bad weather events.
I realize that as EVs get better battery charge life and range is extended. I admit that all vehicle usage is hampered by bad weather. But consider this - After a week of no electricity, once roads are passable, you can hop into your gasoline powered vehicle, start it, and drive off. But if your EV's state of charge was low, and you weren't able to charge it for a week, you first would have to charge it up before you go anywhere.
I don't mean to damn EVs. I've driven a few and enjoyed them. I just don't think the infrastructure, our electric power grid, is ready or capable of handling millions upon millions of EVs in addition to all our other demands. There are approximately 280 million vehicles registered in the US. I have doubts that the current electric grids could handle even half that number of EVs.
We must upgrade our electric generation and distribution immediately not only to ensure there is power for the EVs but to stop the disruptions so many in our nation face every year.