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Add electric vehicles, not bulk transmission, for a low-cost, clean grid: UC Berkeley study

A 90% clean grid with a transition to EVs would achieve lower electricity costs than one without, the study shows. Transmission investments would mainly be spur lines to new renewable generation.

From pv magazine USA

Transitioning new vehicle sales to electric vehicles (EVs) would support greater deployment of low-cost solar and battery storage, reducing wholesale power costs below current levels, said a report from UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. Consumers would also save on vehicle purchase and operating costs.

To meet the increased electricity demand from an EV transition in the early 2030s, additions of solar capacity would double and storage additions would triple. Those additions were in comparison to a scenario without vehicle electrification, that a UC Berkeley-led team analyzed in a report last year.

Transmission investment needed in either scenario would mainly be short transmission spurs connecting new renewable generation to existing transmission “rather than new investments in bulk transmission,” said the study, which was based on computer modeling. The authors said that recent studies that account for low renewable energy and battery storage costs indicate similar findings.

Vehicle owners would also save with an EV transition, as purchase prices for electric vehicles were projected to dip below those for internal combustion vehicles in the early 2030s. That drop is due in part to expected battery pack cost declines to $61 per kWh capacity by 2030. EVs were projected to have lower operating costs as well.

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To power the electric vehicle scenario with clean energy would require adding an average of 73 GW of solar and 30 GW of wind capacity per year through 2035, plus 28 GW of battery storage per year.

The “ambitious target” for renewable and storage additions under the electric vehicle scenario would require policy support, the authors said. A companion report offered policy recommendations.

The electric vehicle scenario would reach 88% clean power by 2035, including existing hydropower and nuclear power. Existing gas units would provide the remaining power and help ensure power reliability at all times.

Modeling

The study used the same modeling tools and renewable energy cost assumptions as in last year’s “90% clean” analysis from UC Berkeley. The study’s co-lead authors, Amol Phadke and Nikit Abhyankar, of UC Berkeley, were joined by 12 co-authors from UC Berkeley, GridLab, Energy Innovation and UCLA. The study was funded by ClimateWorks Foundation, GridLab and others.

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Source: pv magazine