electric vehicle charging

California asks residents not to charge electric vehicles during heatwave

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Less than a week after the state of California announced a 2030 ban on petrol-powered cars, its residents have been told to avoid charging electric vehicles during peak times.

California is currently suffering a severe heatwave. The extremely high temperatures - which reached 44°C in Los Angeles - have created a huge demand in the state's already-stretched power grid, leading energy providers to ask residents not to charge their electric vehicles. 

The recommendations made by the state's Independent System Operator also include limiting the use of major appliances such as laundry machines, vacuum cleaners and dishwashers, and turning off unnecessary lights during peak times. 

"Consumers are urged to reduce energy use from 4 to 9pm when the system is most stressed because demand for electricity remains high and there is less solar energy available," said the American Public Power Association, a body that represents public utilities.

It said that the top three conservation actions are to set air-conditioning thermostats to 78°F (26°C) or higher, avoid using large appliances and charging electric vehicles, and turn off unnecessary lights.

California's power companies routinely call for households to limit their usage during the so-called "shoulder hours," when rooftop solar panels stop producing electricity but demand remains high because of still-elevated temperatures.

A typical electric vehicle charging on an at-home level 2 charger will normally draw about 7,200 watts or less, according to the United States Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. That would be less than what a typical electric heating system uses but more than an air conditioner. 

The call to limit electric vehicle charging comes only a week after the California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced a roadmap to ban the sale of petrol-powered vehicles in the state. The ban on petrol cars is expected to apply to 35 per cent of sales by 2026, 68 per cent by 2030 and finally reach 100 per cent in 2035. 

The announcement followed  California’s Governor Gavin Newsom's 2020 pledge to speed up the shift away from fossil fuels, and it has been considered one of the world’s most stringent pieces of regulation for transitioning to electric vehicles.

Internationally, the European Parliament and Canada have also backed a plan to effectively prohibit the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2035, with the UK expected to ban the sale of these types of vehicles by 2030. Earlier this month, Hainan island in the South China Sea stated its intention to become the first region in China to ban sales of petrol and diesel-powered cars. 

Currently, only around 1 per cent of California residents - 500,000 overall - own an electric vehicle, and the state has 80,000 public chargers.

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