When There’s Not Enough Electricity for Electric Vehicles | National Review

When There’s Not Enough Electricity for Electric Vehicles | National Review

A Tesla charging station in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., in 2018. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

The more I look at the energy “transition,” the “race to net zero,” call it what you will, the more it strikes me that it hasn’t been — how to put this — very well thought through. This is not particularly surprising; exercises in central planning rarely are. The only real question is how bad the consequences will be.


California’s demand for electricity could nearly double by 2045 as the state phases out gasoline-guzzling automobiles and weans buildings off natural gas.

Load on the state’s grid could rise 60% to 90% as a flood of electric vehicles hits roads and people swap out gas-burning stoves and hot water heaters for electric ones,  according to a study prepared for California regulators by the consulting firm Energy and Environmental Economics Inc.

Well, good luck with that.

Writing on Capital Matters yesterday about the math of renewables, Jonathan Lesser looked at a few, uncomfortable facts. His data relate to the nation as a whole, rather than just California, but it’s easy enough to work out that there will be, uh, logistical issues in the Golden State too.


Here are some numbers to consider. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2019, the U.S. consumed about 63 Quads of end-use energy. (A Quad is 1,000 trillion British thermal units, a common measure of energy consumption.) “End-use energy” means the energy used by cars and trucks, furnaces, manufacturing, and so forth.

In 2020, wind and solar power facilities, including rooftop solar, generated about 460 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity.  That’s about 1.5 Quads, which is a slight overestimate because it doesn’t account for the lost energy from transmitting and distributing electricity to end users.

To generate 63 Quads of energy, which is what environmentalists’ program of replacing all fossil fuels with renewable electricity would require, wind and solar would need to generate 42 times more electricity than they generated in 2020. Put differently, they’d need to produce 2 million MWh of electricity per hour to meet all U.S. energy needs. And wind and solar tend to be least available when electricity demand peaks in the early-morning and early-evening hours.

All of that wind and solar power would require backup with battery storage. How much battery storage? One Tesla Powerwall stores just under 14 kWh of electricity. That means that storing just one hour’s worth of average U.S. electricity use when everything is electrified would require over 180 million Powerwalls. Even if Tesla increased production of Powerwalls by tenfold to 1 million per year, that would still require 180 years of Powerwall production…

Okay then.


The group, which presented its findings Tuesday, prepared the study for the California Air Resources Board, which is creating a roadmap for the state to meet its goal of being carbon neutral by 2045. Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has also asked the board to study whether the state can reach that goal ten years early, in 2035.

“Dizzy with Success,” as someone once said.

To be fair, however, the Bloomberg report did include this small detail:

California’s switch to a greener grid has not always been smooth.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.