So What Happens to the Grid When Everyone Drives an Electric Vehicle?

Many Californians right now are no doubt feeling the whipsaws of conflicting government policies. Not a month ago, they learned that the state will ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035, mandating that all new passenger cars and trucks sold in the state must be electric vehicles (EVs).

Then, in a dizzying about-face, residents were asked not to charge their EVs to conserve energy as California’s electrical grid was pushed to the limit due to a punishing heatwave.

A recent Newsweek headline perfectly summarizes the apparent absurdity of it all:

Today, about 1% of our vehicles are electric. What will happen in 2035 when many more EVs need to be charged, potentially during another heatwave? If climate change activists are correct and the temperature continues to tick up, wouldn’t the extra burden of having to charge millions of EVs cripple an already-strained electric system?

Before continuing, I should point out how massive California’s decision is to move to 100% EVs 13 years from now. California is the most populous and wealthiest state in the U.S. If it were its own country, it would be about the size of Poland in terms of population, with an economy the size of Germany’s.

(California also continues to have the nation’s worst air quality, ostensibly a major reason for the aggressive action against emissions. In its 2022 State of the Air report, the American Lung Association (ALA) listed six California counties—San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, Kern, Tulare and Fresno—as having worse ozone pollution than any other U.S. counties.)

The sheer heft of the Golden State’s auto market means that carmakers will need to ramp up their gas-to-electric transition plans, especially if more states and countries follow California’s lead and implement their own combustion engine bans, which I believe is all but guaranteed.

Crossing the “Chasm” of EV Adoption