Vehicles Expected To Consume 13-26% Of Total Electricity Output By 2050


Revealed by a study done by a team from Boston University and the University of California, Berkeley

The study, revealed in Energy Policy, reveals how a team from Boston University and the University of California, Berkeley came to some interesting predictions for electricity production and usage by 2050. By utilizing an expanded Kaya identity framework, the team modeled vehicle stock, energy intensity, and vehicle miles traveled, progressively considering the effects of each of the three revolutions – electrification, autonomy, and sharing. The results project that electricity usage from light-duty vehicle (LDV) transport is likely to rise to the 570–1140 TWh range – 13–26%, respectively – of total electricity demand by the year 2050.

Research approach.

Research approach.

Furthermore, the researchers project that the decrease in LDV greenhouse gas emissions could go all the way up to 80% – depending on the pace at which the electric sector decarbonizes. Decarbonization means that newer, cleaner technologies are employed in the production of electricity – those that result in lowered emissions of greenhouse gases or a complete removal of those in the production process. In turn, a bigger an emphasis needs to be put on the renewable energy sector to improve the rates at which the decarbonization happens.

When a conventional Kaya identity is used when forecasting transport energy and emissions forecasting, it considers vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and the average energy density in kWh/mile to calculate the total energy usage.

This approach is useful when models predicting aggregate total travel are stable enough to perform well over long forecast periods and fleetwide average energy intensity can also be projected with confidence. Unfortunately, few of the conditions that make this aggregate approach useful hold today. Traditional forecasts of aggregate VMT began losing accuracy following the Great Recession of 2008, well before the sharing and autonomy disruptions had much of an effect. Autonomy is expected to greatly disrupt these forecasts, possibly along with new preferences for walkable urbanism, ridesharing, and other changes.

There is no silver bullet to address these difficulties, but we gain a little tractability with a conceptual framework based on an expanded identity of the following form.

Σi [vi,t * ĸi,t * ei,t] = Φl,t

where the stock in year t of EVs of a motorized vehicle type i is denoted by ĸi,t, vi,t is the average miles traveled by that vehicle type in year t, and ei,t is the average electricity use of the vehicle type i per mile traveled during year t, which we refer to as electric intensity (EI).

… The uncertainties and potential errors in this approach remain large, but at least they are disaggregated within a more flexible and transparent framework. For example, this framework allows us to treat electric non-autonomous and autonomous cars and light trucks all separately, adjusting use intensity for vehicle type as well as allowing the composition of the fleet to migrate from one type to another.

—Fox-Penner et al.

Even though the electric and autonomous passenger vehicles will represent a large and important new driver of electricity demand, the energy sector should be able to satisfy the increased demand – as based on the team’s modeling. Furthermore, the team suggests that the cornerstone of transport decarbonization policy in the near term should remain within the rapid and complete transport electrification throughout all sectors – both private and public.

The only caveat – according to the result of the modeling –  might be the increase in driving mileage, urban and suburban sprawl, alongside increased traffic congestion. This can be curbed by the long-term policy and incentivization of potential energy efficiency improvements through both better system management and the improvements set forth by the accident-free vehicle fleet.

Source: Green Car Congress

Resources: Peter Fox-Penner, Will Gorman, Jennifer Hatch (2018) “Long-term US transportation electricity use considering the effect of autonomous-vehicles: Estimates & policy observations,” Energy Policy Volume 122, Pages 203-213 doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2018.07.033.

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63 Comments on "Vehicles Expected To Consume 13-26% Of Total Electricity Output By 2050"

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China is building coal power plants like mad to make it happen.

China is the world’s leading country in electricity production from renewable energy sources, with over double the generation of the second-ranking country, the United States. But yes, coal use has doubled since 2008.

1600 coal plants planned or under construction — raising the world’s (NOT China, the World’s) coal fired capacity by 43%.

/sell it with greenwash, drain the competition with “carbon agreements” —— build it with coal.

Right and that’s why coal companies have been going bankrupt like nobodies business and coal is dirt cheap, and coal fired plants in U.S. are being retired. Planned, give me a break.
It’s not happening and it’s just BS.

Worldwide coal generation of electricity has been going up by about 2% per year for the past 2 or 3 years, it was going up faster until 2015 when the current pace of slower growth started. Coal isn’t going away, but it will grow more slowly than was planned just 4 or 5 years ago.

China’a gov lies a great.
Here is what is planned.

200 plants in china just over the next couple of years.

This does not include the fact that CHina will build 43% of the new coal plants around the globe and will export their coal to these new plants. So, oddly, they will build new coal plants in pakistan, and single pakistan does not have coal, they will export coal to them.
Instead of building coal plants, they COULD build new wind/solar, both of which would do great there.
But XI is all about exports and colonizing other nations.
Venzuela is one that borrowed heavily from CHina, and moved their national development to depend on selling oil to China. Then when oil price collapsed, China is now insisting on the terms of the contract, which says that venezuela will turn over ownership of the oil wells to China and STILL MUST PAY THEM.

““In China, you have lots of very competitive and politically influential companies — but all of a sudden there’s no demand,” Professor Gallagher said, referring to China’s slowing economic growth. “So China is helping these companies go overseas to help make the adjustment at home less painful.”

Much of China’s overseas push has come under a state initiative called “One Belt, One Road,” announced in 2013, which calls for up to $900 billion in infrastructure investments overseas, including high-speed railroads, ports, gas pipelines and power plants.

China’s two global policy banks, the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China, have already provided more than $43 billion in overseas coal financing since 2000, according to a separate database of Chinese energy investments published this year by Boston University.”


“Over all, 1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries, according to Urgewald’s tally, which uses data from the Global Coal Plant Tracker portal. The new plants would expand the world’s coal-fired power capacity by 43 percent.”

As Beijing Joins Climate Fight, Chinese Companies Build Coal Plants
The New York Times
July 1, 2017

Coal price over the past 9 years: got really depressed, China bought a lot of assets, now it’s surging back

“The country’s electricity demand increased significantly in early 2018, with 2.66 trillion kilowatt-hours consumed from January through May, an increase of 9.75% compared to the same period last year. Coal consumption at China’s six biggest power generators in the country’s southeast reached its second-highest level in history last month, when they burned through 724,000 tons a day. The six include China Guodian Corp. and Guangdong Yudean Group Co. Ltd., and are often used as a benchmark for the country’s coal industry.
The increased demand resulted in unusually high spot coal prices in May, leading the NDRC to make its first direct intervention in the market in two years. The agency ordered utilities to stop stockpiling thermal coal and told miners to increase production by 50%.”

Coal Import Restrictions Eased as Summer Electricity Demand Boosts Prices
June 19, 2018

Just chine building in CHina over the next 2-3 years is
close to 250 NEW stations, for a total of 200 GW.

That does not include the equal number that China is building in other nations.

what coal plants in CHina are going bankrupt?
You are speaking ONLY about America. The problem is that CHina is growing coal all over the globe.

YOU are a major source of the far left that is destroying mankind.
YOU are the ones allowing massive growth of coal. Not the idiot GOP.
Here, look at what YOU are encouraging to come.
It will not be ppl like Carcus or myself who are to blame for the coming 4C rise in temp (yes, 4C because of all the new coal plants that will run for the next 40-60 years).
It will be YOU that defends China’s massive expansion.

And yes, my family is NOT part of this. We have a 10 KW solar system, along with a Tesla car that does most of our driving. We have upgraded our windows and insulation and will be switching to geo-thermal, and adding a power pack to the house.
RIght now, we pollute less than the average Indian does. Shortly, we wll be even less.
I suspect that YOU drive some big old ICE vehicle, while screaming about other polluting.

I don’t see anyone here defending coal plants.

I defend them, particularly the large Coal plant down the street from me all my life, now closed for a few years. I particularly don’t like the huge increase in my property taxes.

The plant near me scrubbed 98% of the sulfur-dioxide and 90% of the mercury in the flue, and sold the remaining effluent as a clean DRY-Wall source (no formaldehyde filled stuff that ruined homes’ plumbing, wiring, and made people sick, like that Chinese junk Lowe’s used to sell).

Did you know that coal produces fine particulate matter even before being burnt, merely though transportation and storage?…

It does, but your at one time gov’t sanctioned “VW CLEAN DIESELS” gave youngsters in London and Paris lung troubles. The dust that falls out of the train delivering the coal doesn’t even register by comparison.

Windmills, unfortunately confuse birds and some die. But even though I am in favor of wind turbines does not mean I hate birds.

Actually, according to fairly recent research, it *does* register.

Sure, combustion cars are a bigger problem — but it doesn’t change the fact that living next to a coal plant isn’t healthy, even if you don’t care about climate change.

Nukes are going on, in China:

Carcus, would you be including the dirty closed coal plant, which are replaced by ones that scrub:

Few of the new coal plants turn on their pollution controls. That is why Chinese cities continue to look so horrible.
Pollution controls cost 10-25% of the energy.

Once again you bring up a totally debunked stat. There are no 1600 coal plants planned or under construction.

First off, China is ADDING (not replacing) 200 new coal plants in CHina, RIGHT THIS MOMENT. Secondly, ” Over all, 1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries, according to Urgewald’s tally, which uses data from the Global Coal Plant Tracker portal. The new plants would expand the world’s coal-fired power capacity by 43 percent. …. Over all, Chinese companies are behind 340,000 to 386,000 megawatts of planned coal power expansion worldwide, Urgewald estimated. A typical coal plant has a capacity of about 500 megawatts and burns 1.4 million tons of coal each year, enough to power almost 300,000 homes. … Much of China’s overseas push has come under a state initiative called “One Belt, One Road,” announced in 2013, which calls for up to $900 billion in infrastructure investments overseas, including high-speed railroads, ports, gas pipelines and power plants. ” Note that this ‘help’ from China does not come without strings. For example, Venezuela borrowed heavily from China over 10 years ago. China PROMISED to buy their oil, so Venezuela focused their economics on oil production. Of course, China never promised to continue buying it at high prices. Once Venezuela was dependent on China and… Read more »

Worst of all, we have the far right that scream that AGW is not real but then make 1 good argument that ALL nations should be doing the same thing.
Then we have the far left that scream that it is OK for a develop China to continue adding more new coal plants than the entire west has, and that will NOT be shut down for the next 40-60 years.

This is a certain recipe for destruction by AGW.
And I blame the far left mostly for it.

No coal plant will be running for the next 40-60 years. They are way too expensive for that. New coal power plants in India *already* have trouble selling their electricity, because cheaper solar electricity is available.

In terms of AE per capitia, China is WAY BEHIND. And yeah, china continues to add HUGE amounts of new coal. Just over the next couple of years, they are adding 200 GW to their current 1 TW of just coal. So, they will add around 200 new plants to over 1000 today. And that is just in China. They are pushing coal all over the planet esp. where they will export their coal to 3rd world nations. This is why America needs desperately to put an increasing tax on ALL CONSUMED GOODS, predicated on the worst part/service in terms of CO2. Use sats to measure (OCO3 is coming on and will give real numbers; china has been fighting this), and we should normalize based on emissions / $ GDP. It is not ppl that decide. It is businesses and gov that are choosing coal and lots of CO2 production. e.g. If you have an item sold to America, and it is 100% from say sweden, then no tax. Now, imagine the same item with a single part from say California. Then the tax might around 10% of the top tax. If a part comes from Mexico, then the… Read more »

Agree regarding CO2 tax on imports. (Along with an equivalent one on domestic emissions, of course…)

26% is rather low, in my opinion. It should be straightforward to absorb that demand. Locally, megawatt-level chargers will be problematic; that’s not easy on the grid.

26% is within calculation so it isn’t surprising at all. As for fast charging things like semis(megawatt), that is what batteries are for.

We have an oversupply of natural gas over the next decade or two, and we will need additional sources of electricity in the near future. What to do, what to do?
Seriously, more nukes is one of the better answers, as is building enough solar and wind to complement the base load sources like natural gas, nukes and dare I say it? Coal. Coal is going to decline as a percentage of our electricity generation. Close the dirtier, older coal plants sooner, but keep the newer coal plants for the next 5 or 10 years at least as we replace them with cleaner electricity sources. Then we can concentrate on exporting our cheap dirty coal to China and let them reap the “benefits” of burning it while we bank the profits and they pay for the external costs involved in coal use. 😉

There is no place for “base load” in a high-renewables grid.

You are right. However, a high-renewables grid will never happen. Not economically. And esp if just based on wind/solar.

A high-renewables grid, in the sense that it obsoletes the idea of base load, is already reality in a lot of places.

Also, a whole lot of research shows that a 100% or near 100% renewables grid based on mostly solar and wind is perfectly viable. The research question has moved on from whether it’s viable (that’s settled), to what composition exactly is most economical.

Too bad for the forseeable future you can’t keep the lights on in the evening… so, it’s nonsense, but please continue.

Yeah, of course, you know better than the actual researchers and engineers working in the field…

You still seem to thing there is a different planet behind your borders.

Here is a secret: tnat is not the case.

no, what ziv is saying is smart, except for the exporting of coal.
Oddly enough, that is what CHINA is doing.

The problem with nuclear is that it isn’t very cost competitive for new power generation vs renewable energy. As for “newer” coal plants, it’s all a matter of cost. Right now, new renewable energy is more expensive than coal plants that have already been built because capital costs of the coal plants have already been covered.

That said, this won’t last forever, actually, within 5-10 years, new renewable energy would be cheaper than already built coal plants pretty much almost everywhere in the world.

The problem with nuclear is that the left has been committing lawfare against it for decades. At first, with good reason. Now, much less so. The environmental movement is stigmatizing the one electricity source that is clean and could be relatively cheap but the constant law suits have ended the production of new nuclear plants that are much safer and cheaper than the earlier plants.

“Safe” and “Cheap” are words used when the nuclear lobby wants you to believe them and they hope you have no concept of their actual history.
BTW: you don’t need to be a Lefty to think that nuclear is just dumb and dangerous.

No, but you do have to be ignorant to think that nuclear is dumb or expensive.

Sure, nuclear can be dangerous. With the new upcoming fail-safe reactors, THOSE WILL NOT BE DANGEROUS. But transporting nuclear fuel IS dangerous. that is why it is done carefully.

The issue with new nuclear is, no matter how safe it’s claimed to be, there is simply no need for it any more. We have cleaner, cheaper energy sources now; any further investments in nuclear are just a waste of funds that could be used way more productively.

Actually, the new SMR nukes, such as NuScale, are not only safe, BUT CHEAP.
Now, will ie be as cheap as wind? Nope. Is it cheaper than solar? Yup. Today.
In another 5-10 years, I suspect that solar will be cheaper.
That is not the issue.
The issue is that we need base-load energy.
Hydro works. BUT, the theoretical max in America is 12% of our 2008 electricity (and electricity is about to DOUBLE).
However, we are still adding more today.

geo-thermal works, but again, we can develop it to a certain level then it is uneconomical. In addition, we have to be careful with it. Many of the ideal places on flat lands, close to cities, have major fault lines. The last thing you want to do is inject and pull water from around those fault lines, unless you are certain of the conditions.

That leaves nuclear power as being the cheapest base-load power that is still clean. And to go without baseload power is foolish, esp. when we Yellowstone. When that blows, we will lose almost ALL of our solar/wind. It will then be base-load which makes the difference.

Windbourne, considering your nom de plume, your views are nearly heretical. 😉

The funny thing is, that I have been in/out of AE since the 70s. I attended Colorado State University because at the time, it was one of the best for AE.
I am still a fan of AE, esp. geo-thermal. BUT we also need base-load power. That is a fact. Nuke is the only solution that will work where ever. And it can not be general nukes. Things like GE and Westinghouse are disasters in the making. Economically as well as from a nuke perspective.
Companies like NuScale are great. Any of the up and coming LFMS thorium are awesome as well. Safe and economical. Likewise, able to burn up most of the current nuke waste.

However, as to the name, that was the name of our sailboat ( a c-scow) that we raced. We won nearly every race except when Buddy Melges would race. His Father and the guy owns a number of golds spread over a number of olympics and different classes. When ever we beat buddy, it was party time. 🙂 One thing about racing sailors; lots of money and lots of booze back then. They were fun.

“We need baseload” is a propaganda talking point for coal and nuclear lobbyists. Nobody in the energy industry actually believes that. Like Rick Perry inventing a grid crisis and trying to force regulations to save baseload coal plants — and the grid operators telling him to f*** off with his nonsense.

CNG cars are actually cleaner than the Tesla lines of vehicles, but don’t even hint at that with these guys…

So far residential solar has grown faster that total electricity use for charging EVs.

yes, but that is changing as of this month.
And solar does not help with EVs. Nearly all charing of EVs comes from the grid i.e. in America, 60+% fossil fuel, 20% nuke, 7% hydro, 11% AE except for hydro.

Now look at the total system of Power Generation and the GRID. There is excess generation at night and even sometimes during the Peak Solar hours. The GRID loses 5-10% from losses in transformers over heating, shorts and over production at the wrong times.

Then look at studies by the UCS Union of Concerned Scientist. They see most cars charge at night Off Peak when there is excess. It’s a great match up. In FACTS V2G Vehicle to GRID can add storage for pennies.

Yes, smart charging helps to avoid undue load on the grid; and could potentially even help stabilise the grid.

V2G on the other hand is a very bad idea IMHO. Misusing a vehicle battery that way is effectively more expensive than installing dedicated storage batteries.

I wouldn’t include any assumptions of autonomous driving on public roads during this century.
Making a 90% autonomous vehicle is achievable relatively soon but only 100% autonomy would change behaviours. The last 10% is extremely difficult.

Why not, as people are already driving in auto pilot on public roads. Billions of miles so far, and it’s not 100% and behaviors have changed. In other words I think your comment is not all that well though out or considered.
Supporting an incorrect supposition with a know fact does not make the supposition correct.

Driving with Autopilot doesn’t affect observable usage patterns. Only full autonomy (level 5) has the potential to change how people use cars.

Waymo is already changing how 400 families use cars in Phoenix. The real test comes when they start charging money on a few months. I figure they’ll charge about half as much as Uber.

I’d sooner agree with your statement, than ” improvements set forth by the accident-free vehicle fleet.”, from the story.

People assuming we need more electric plants:
U.S. demand ~4,000TWh
1,000GW of US installed capacity, at 100% capacity factor = 8,760 TWh

Because electric cars charge at night, it could be ***a long time*** before we need new capacity (not considering environment).

Look back 82 years.
Makes your statement completely useless.

…and man will never fly in a heavier-than-air craft, right Nick? /s

If all of the oil was diverted from gasoline production to electricity generation for electric cars, buses and trucks most studies show we would be using less oil overall. The internal combustion engine is inefficient. Add the losses due to refining oil to gasoline and then transporting the gasoline to market and we could come out ahead by just burning the oil in a burner and making electricity because if the heat is captured and used the efficiency is above 80%. I think the internal combustion engine is 20% efficient.

By the way it was also reported today on the effect on our electrical supply of converting large portions of the US to electric heat. This should not be confused with the increase due to electric transportation.

It’s very difficult to predict the World in 2050, these are just bogus info.
No one predicted that there will be 3 million plugins in 2018 in the year 1986.

“Predictions are difficult. Especially about the future.”
Yogi Berra

That is like adding an extra fridge in the house.

I would guess that it will be more of the range of 20-40% of our electricity by 2050. In fact, I would expect an easy 10% by 2030.

By then, my roof’s solar panels should probably make twice as much electricity as they do now.