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Cheaper Batteries Spell Problems for Load Management

image credit: Photo 114394722 ©

Battery costs are falling dramatically. In theory, they still are too expensive to allow for true cost parity between electric vehicles and traditional internal combustion engine cars. I say ‘in theory’ because many EV’s coming out now actually are priced competitively with other cars in their class. The Tesla Model 3, for example, starts at just under $38,000 and features many luxury features found in cars above that price point. According to recent statements coming out of the Electric Power Research Institute, it’s possible that costs for battery packs will drop from about $120-200/kWh to $80kWh by 2030. If that happens, EVs may boast cheaper cost of ownership ratings than their fossil fueled counterparts. 

Assuming human behavior holds steady, a big transition to electric will send demand skyrocketing. Making matters worse, this will all be happening as we transition away from easily scaled fossil fuel sources to more finicky renewables. 

So how will we handle this apparent load imbalance? One option is to pull the brakes on renewables. This is already happening. The Colorado Air Quality Control Commision just halted a plan to close three coal plants ahead of schedule for feasibility reasons, for example. Beyond merely side-stepping carbon neutral alternatives, technological innovation—from better batteries to sophisticated energy efficiency programs—may make renewables in an electrified world possible. I’m hoping for the latter.

 

Discussions

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 21, 2020

The Colorado reversal is a really eye-opening case--

The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission made its unanimous decision Wednesday to reverse plans after lobbying from utility companies. Commissioner Jana Milford said the agency’s November decision had been made based on incomplete information.

I'm not seeing a ton of information on what exactly was the incomplete information-- I expect that this will be one we're going to be hearing from both sides a lot in the coming months. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Dec 21, 2020

"Beyond merely side-stepping carbon neutral alternatives, technological innovation—from better batteries to sophisticated energy efficiency programs—may make renewables in an electrified world possible. I’m hoping for the latter.

Renewables will always be possible in an electrified world. But if they forestall the inevitable shift to nuclear sources of electricity - the only carbon-free source capable of reliably powering an electrified world - they're more harm than help.

Henry Craver's picture

Thank Henry for the Post!

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