Will an increase in EV ownership overwhelm the electric grid?

Not in the foreseeable future. A recent National Renewable Energy Lab study concludes our current electric grid can meet the Level 1 charging demands of up to 25 percent of cars on the road becoming electric. Of the 250 million cars, SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks on the US roads today, fewer than 1% of them are currently electric. Therefore, there is still time for grid improvements to meet the needs of EV charging as more consumers drive EVs. We could also reduce the load on the electricity grid by improving the way EV owners charge their vehicles. For example:

  • Time-of-use pricing 
    • Did you know the cost of electricity is constantly changing? The more people using electricity at a given time, the higher the price is and vice versa. Time-of-use pricing sends price signals to EV owners to better manage demand on the grid. For more information, visit PG&E.
  • Smart grid technology 
    • Instead of using price signals to motivate EV owners, charging stations and utilities could coordinate the charging activity of multiple EV chargers and alleviate demand to the grid.
  • Bidirectional charging technology
    • Ways to convert your EV to a backup battery are currently being explored. Charge your car when demand is low (best done overnight) or when production is high (when solar panels produce excess) to store electricity in the car batter and use it to power your house when grid demand is high.

Keep in mind, the electrical grid can handle more EVs if not everyone is charging at once.

Show All Answers

1. Can I afford an electric vehicle?
2. Can an electric vehicle meet my driving and/or hauling needs?
3. I live in an apartment complex that does not have any EV chargers. If I buy an electric vehicle, how can I charge it?
4. The new electric vehicles are nice, but the selection seems limited to compact cars. Are there different types (SUV, trucks, luxury, vans, sports cars, etc.) of electric vehicles to serve my needs?
5. Will an increase in EV ownership overwhelm the electric grid?
6. How do greenhouse gas emissions compare between manufacturing gasoline vehicles and all-electric ones?