California has set two ambitious targets aimed at achieving a high level of decarbonization in the coming decades, namely (i) to generate 60% and 100% of its electricity using renewable energy (RE) technologies, respectively, by 2030 and by 2045, and (ii) introducing at least 5 million zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2030, as a first step towards all new vehicles being ZEVs by 2035. In addition, in California, photovoltaics (PVs) coupled with lithium-ion battery (LIB) storage and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are, respectively, the most promising candidates for new RE installations and new ZEVs, respectively. However, concerns have been voiced about how meeting both targets at the same time could potentially negatively affect the electricity grid’s stability, and hence also its overall energy and carbon performance. This paper addresses those concerns by presenting a thorough life-cycle carbon emission and energy analysis based on an original grid balancing model that uses a combination of historical hourly dispatch and demand data and future projections of hourly demand for BEV charging. Five different scenarios are assessed, and the results unequivocally indicate that a future 80% RE grid mix in California is not only able to cope with the increased demand caused by BEVs, but it can do so with low carbon emissions (<110 g CO2-eq/kWh) and satisfactory net energy returns (EROIPE-eq = 12–16).
Raugei, MarcoPeluso, AlessioLeccisi, EnricaFthenakis, Vasilis
School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics
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