Question: 7.25.2006

Right now California may be nearing another stage 2 electrical alert where there is simply not enough electrical capacity to service people running their air conditioners in our current heat wave.

So what happens if millions of cars switch to being electric cars?

According to Wikipedia, an electric car takes approximately 0.3 to 0.5 kW/h per mile to recharge. Assume an average travel distance of 40 miles/day (1200 miles/month), this means a car is going to consume around 20 kW/h per car. Assume we all plug them in at night and they recharge in 8 hours, this means that we're going to have a continuous load at night of 2.5 kW per car. And in California, with a population of 33 million, if we just have one car per three people that's 10 million cars.

That's an additional load of 25 million kilowatts. 25,000 megawatts. According to CalISO, that's half of our current electrical capacity--and our need for electricity isn't going to drop during the conversion from gas to electric.

Once you start factoring in trucks, we're talking a lot more load than this on the currently overloaded electrical system. Conservatively if we simply increase this by 50% to deal with trucks, we're now in the 38,000 megawatt range--double our average daily load during this hot summer month.

So if our future is electric, when are we going to start building more power plants?

posted by William Woody at 12:21 PM

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