February 10, 2022

Remember the One about Electric Vehicles Overloading the Electricity Grid?

At Viewpoint Vancouver we’ve been dismayed at the City of Vancouver legalizing the right of electric vehicles to have conduited cords over sidewalks making one more obstacle for the most vulnerable road users, pedestrians, to contend with.

Of course it would make sense to just build charging infrastructure  as part of street works and the overall grid of the city, and give sidewalks back to pedestrians.

But what about all those electric vehicles (EVs) and the fact that owners of EVs are going to have to be dissuaded from charging during peak times in British Columbia? While a surcharge is certainly in the future to sway people from using electricity at peak times, what is the impact of EVs on the grid?


The rollout of electric vehicles has been pretty steady and the grid has been updated as the system is tasked with more users.  Electric vehicles make up only 2.6 percent of global vehicular sales-until there are fifteen percent of vehicles on the road, there will be minimal impact on electricity, and even that level is not expected to be achieved until 2035.

There are 1.4 Billion cars in the world: of those, there are four million Plug in Hybrids (PHEV’s) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs)  to date. It won’t be until 80% of vehicles are electric that electricity consumption will be 10 to 15 percent of that generated.

There is a need for incremental upgrades in the grid system as EV ownership increases. In many ways Europe which has co-ordinated power grids and has also adopted electric heating will find the continual upgrades and adaptation to higher electricity demand easier to fulfill.

Electric vehicles consume 25 percent of the energy as compared to ICE vehicles , and “E trucks” use half of the energy that a conventional diesel truck would. Couple in reduced air pollution, quieter vehicles and continuing efficiency in model development, and EVs are five to six times as efficient as internal combustion (ICE) vehicles.

Some electric vehicles are also capable of bi-directional charging, returning electricity to the grid, as described in this CBC article by Science writer Emily Chung. Sending electricity from vehicle to a building is known as “V2B”.

Here’s a YouTube video on “Smart Cities” describing more of the incremental changes that Electrical Vehicles will bring. But there will be no “surge” of electricity need. That demand and the augmenting o of the electrical grid will gradually increase slowly over time.


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