The importance of a strong power grid cannot be overemphasized. Often when a network fails, the results are terrifying. Of all the major power grids in the world, that of the United States is one of the most vulnerable to attack.
Hackers sponsored by states like Iran, Russia and, unsurprisingly, China pose a real threat to US power transmission lines. However, there is another (much less obvious) threat to the grid: electric vehicles (EVs).
Yes, you read that right.
The Biden administration is desperate to relegate the internal combustion engine to the dustbin of history. In this sea change to embrace a new zero-emissions world, Americans are being told to embrace electric vehicles. Such an embrace, however, requires a stellar power grid, something the United States lacks.
Just to be clear, the American electrical grid (or power grid) involves an extensive network of transmission lines, power plants, and distribution centers. The United States has three main networks: the Eastern Network, the Western Network, and the ERCOT Network, otherwise known as the Texas Network. Of the three, the eastern grid is the largest.
Although the three networks can operate independently, they are also connected. A failing grid means no electricity for tens of millions of citizens and long periods of darkness. Imagine a power outage like in Los Angeles or New York. Both cities are already riddled with crime; network outages would make things much worse.
Attacks since 2016
In 2018, the Department of Homeland Security announced that Russian hackers had hijacked the control rooms of various electric utilities. This allowed hackers to disrupt power flows and cause blackouts.
Rather alarmingly, the DHS has acknowledged that the attacks have been happening since 2016, the same year the Russians began attacking the Ukrainian network. Although the Russians have vigorously denied the attack, such denials seem to contradict reality.
As tensions between Russia and the United States escalate and tensions between another hacker-friendly country China escalate, expect more network disruptions.
However, as mentioned, Americans have to worry about more “benign” threats. A recent article, published in Applied Energy, discussed the threat of electric cars on the grid. Currently, there are 2.5 million electric vehicles in the United States; four out of five car owners choose to charge their car overnight. The move, researchers say, puts a strain on power grids.
By 2025, the United States will have more than 20 million electric vehicles on its roads. By 2030, according to Bloomberg, more than half of car sales will be electric. The pressure increases and the electrical networks are ill-equipped to support the load.
If Bloomberg’s projection turns out to be correct, then, as the researchers note, 5.4 gigawatts of energy storage will be needed to charge electric vehicles. To put 5.4 gigawatts into perspective, a nuclear power plant produces 1 gigawatt of energy. The United States currently has 55 power plants. To facilitate the new electric vehicle revolution, the United States needs many more. With California, the nation’s largest state, moving to ban the sale of gas-powered cars and other states considering introducing similar measures, the United States needs to move on. Time is very important.
What would happen if, say, the power grid failed in EV-crazed California? To answer this question, all you have to do is go back a few months. Last summer, plagued by scorching temperatures, the Golden State’s power grid nearly collapsed.
He survived, but barely.
The grid will be tested again. With California’s desire to push electric vehicle sales, the next test could prove to be an absolute disaster. Energy is a finite resource, a fact that seems to be lost on so many electric vehicle enthusiasts.
In truth, the country’s power grid is already stretched thin. It has been years. In a sobering article for Smithsonian Magazine, Dr. Massoud Amin, professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE) at the University of Minnesota, explained the many ways in which the nation’s “most complex” power grid never assembled, could fail. The network, he wrote, “supports our economy, our quality of life, our society.” Without this, society will be brutally paralyzed. Crime will increase. Lives will be lost. Chaos will reign supreme.
By 2025, according to the American Society for Civil Engineers, the United States’ inability to maintain its many power lines will cost the country dearly – $130 billion, to be exact. Electric vehicles, so often hailed as the best thing since sliced bread, come with a host of daunting problems.
In the United States, as author Ben Guess recently noted, there are currently 21 electric vehicles per public charging port. By 2030, to keep up with EV purchase trends, the US will need to install nearly 500 charging ports every day for the next 8 years.
Does that sound realistic to you?
Even if the US somehow manages to install enough ports, the network just isn’t powerful enough to meet battery demands. This is a point that needs to be emphasized, repeatedly and shamelessly. Yes, state-sponsored hackers are a threat, but state-sponsored EV initiatives aren’t exactly harmless. In the blind embrace of all that is green, we must not lose sight of the big picture, the objective realities staring us straight in the eye.
The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Epoch Times.
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