NEI blog: Want a truly clean EV fleet? Think nuclear to meet load

Everywhere we turn some prognosticator is telling us that electric vehicles will fill the highways of the future.

A recent Accenture study predicted that EVs on the road may number 10 million in only a few years-four times the current number-and even outflank conventional cars by 2040. The potential electrified transportation fleet might be a $2 trillion opportunity for power utilities, although it’s a tremendous challenge in figuring how to handle that load and distribute the power needed to fuel it.

A redent blog by Jarrett Adams on the Nuclear Energy Institute’s website essentially asks, “Why not nuclear?” It’s carbon-free and offers a steady, high-level flow of power, perhaps the cleanest bridge fuel available if and when the world accelerates its transition to primarily renewable, intermittent resources such as the wind, sun and water.

“It’s not a race to renewables; it’s a race to lower carbon emissions,” said former Energy Department Assistant Secretary Charles McConnell said during a forum at ABB’s Customer World last month in Houston.

McConnell was talking about being careful not run away from traditional resources such as coal too quickly and threaten resiliency, but his point applies to nuclear, as well. Charging infrastructure and power supply are two impediments to EV adoption, and clean emitting power will be needed on cloudy and/or still days.

Several utilities which are strong in the nuclear component of their generation fleet are also making bets on EVs being a boon for their future. Adams’ NEI blog noted that “Duke Energy Corp., which operates 11 reactors, announced April 1 that it is investing $76 million in North Carolina’s electric vehicle infrastructure, the largest initiative of its kind in the southeast. Duke Energy plans to help fund nearly 2,500 new charging stations as well as electric school buses and electric public transportation in the state.

Automobiles release more than 300 million metric tons of carbon pollution into the air annually. And, despite the optimism around its ascendency, “and electric vehicle is only as clean as the electricity that powers it,” Adams writes.

Click here to read more of the NEI blog.



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