New cars in California must be zero-emissions by 2035. Can the power grid handle it? : NPR

Ethel Walsh

NPR’s Ailsa Chang speaks with CalMatters reporter Nadia Lopez about the difficulties California might encounter as it attempts to arrive at its weather aim of zero-emission cars in the state by 2035.



: [EDITOR’S NOTE: The statement in this story that “to power all those vehicles the state will need to triple the amount of electricity that’s currently produced” needs clarification. It mischaracterized what the California Energy Commission said in a 2021 report. That report stated that California will need to “roughly triple” it’s “electricity power capacity” in order to meet a key climate goal – 100 percent clean electricity by 2045. Capacity in this case is not the same as the amount of overall electricity produced. It’s just the ability to make electricity – as in, how much you could make all at once if you needed to.]

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

California has some of the most formidable climate ambitions in the region. And the state is pushing tough to eliminate as a lot of fuel-powered cars from its streets as promptly as achievable. 1 critical purpose – that all new cars and gentle vans marketed in the state be electric powered by 2035. Which is the mandate set out by the California Air Methods Board previous year, and it could signify 12 million much more EVs on California’s roads. Nadia Lopez is an natural environment reporter with CalMatters, a spouse in our California hub newsroom. She’s documented a short while ago on the troubles that the point out is dealing with as it tries to access its local climate plans and joins us now. Welcome.

NADIA LOPEZ: Hello. It truly is good to be in this article.

CHANG: Excellent to have you. Okay. So to start with, explain to us about the rule I just outlined, this mandate that all new automobiles and mild vans bought in the state by 2035 be electric powered. What is California actively doing to make that occur?

LOPEZ: As section of the 2035 electric auto mandate, automobile firms mainly need to have to steadily electrify their fleet of new automobiles. So commencing with 2026 products, that usually means 35% of all new motor vehicles offered have to be electric powered. That increases to 68% by 2030, until finally achieving 100% in 2035. So to get ready, the state is investing in a whole lot of clean energy assignments, a lot more general public charging stations and transmission line upgrades and that buildout. To set it in standpoint, California will require 1.2 million chargers to help this changeover.

CHANG: Wow.

LOPEZ: We have about 80,000.

CHANG: Oh. Ok. There is a extensive way to go. Very well, even if we do conclude up creating all those people new charging stations, I imply, you basically raised the one, huge issue even now is, the place will the electrical energy appear from for all of those charging stations, all of all those millions of new electric powered automobiles? Because I have to say, as a California resident, I’m honestly thinking that, too. I don’t forget, like, through very last summer’s heat waves, we were being all questioned to use seriously limited amounts of electricity during peak several hours to keep away from blackouts. So can the state’s electricity grid basically supply what will be desired?

LOPEZ: So to electrical power all these autos, the condition will have to have to triple the amount of electric power which is presently manufactured. That usually means deploying new thoroughly clean electricity assignments. That usually means upgrading and creating new transmission lines to deliver electric power. But also it indicates encouraging inhabitants to demand their vehicles all through moments of the day when electrical power need is the most affordable to prevent the possible strain on the grid.

CHANG: Ok. So we’re conversing about triple the volume of electrical power supply, ideal? Can you just, like, communicate much more about that? Like, what kind of clean up electricity projects will be necessary to help this full transition to tens of millions extra electric autos?

LOPEZ: So clean up electrical power initiatives include things like massive-scale photo voltaic tasks, new wind farms and also establishing a model-new market that at the moment doesn’t exist. It can be promising and could source tons of electricity within the future 12 to 20 several years, but offshore wind development is tremendous formidable, and so significantly, no jobs exist.

CHANG: So what takes place if California are not able to meet its targets in the many many years it desires to meet their plans?

LOPEZ: A lot is at stake when it will come to California assembly its clear electricity targets. Cleaning up its air pollution could also be a huge trouble. It could proceed to load a lot of minimal-revenue and disadvantaged communities. Aside from that, you know, ramping up clear energy, we’re going through the closure of our all-natural gasoline plants and our past nuclear ability plant, Diablo Canyon, which is intended to shut down in 2030. If we are not able to source plenty of of our electricity from renewables by that issue, then there’s also the threat that the point out will have to contemplate extending functions at all those amenities.

CHANG: That was ecosystem reporter Nadia Lopez with CalMatters, a partner of our California hub newsroom. Thank you so considerably, Nadia.

LOPEZ: Thank you.

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