How much electricity would it take….

I saw this breakdown on Twitter and had to see if I could duplicate it for NY state using publicly available information. All of the numbers used in the following were found using a standard search engine for easily accessible public data, I don’t link to most of the sources, feel free to find your own set of numbers and run your own math:

There were 4,232,748 automobiles registered in NY state in 2020. Some percentage of those aren’t driven year round, or daily, but its the simplest number to work with. For the record there’s over 12 million licensed drivers in NY state. For the sake of the math I’m going to round down to 4 million cars.

Looking at a couple different sites, the average number of miles driven by the average person per day varies from 25-39 miles depending on who’s doing the figuring. For the sake of the math I’m going to go with the 25 number.

So that means that in NY state alone 25 x 4,000,000= 100,000,000 miles driven in the average day.

The average amount of energy used by an electric car, per mile, varies quite a bit. Google tells me anything from .24kWh to .87kWh. For the sake of the math I’m going to go with .5kWh.

So 100,000,000 x .5kWh = 50,000,000kWh = 50GWh (50,000MWh) PER DAY for NY state alone to switch all its cars over to electric. Thats a LOT of electricity.

Figuring out how much electricity currently produced in NY state took a bit more digging, but it was still publicly available data. In January 2022 NY produced a total of 11,198 MWh of electricity.

So. In order to power 4 million electric cars ONLY (nothing else, no household electricity, no hospital electricity, NOTHING), we’d need to generate 5 times as much electricity as we currently do. Since powering households isn’t optional, we’d need to produce 6 times as much electricity just to power the average household and business AND 4 million electric cars.**

But wait, NY is determined to switch off natural gas produced heat, which is going to increase the amount of electricity used in the state, by a LOT. I’m too lazy to see if I can figure out those numbers, but that alone is going to cause a huge jump in electricity required.

And they want to switch all small motors used around the house to battery too.

And…..

And thats just NY state.

Even if only half of those 4 million cars are actually driven on a daily basis, that’s still a HUGE jump in the amount of electricity required. And it doesn’t take into account the power lines needed to move that much electricity around the state. And the lithium and cobalt and other such minerals needed for the batteries.

**Edited to add: There’s a screw up in the above. I calculated the PER DAY electrical usage of these cars. And compared it directly to the PER MONTH electrical production. Ooops. So ACTUALLY, if we divide 11,198MWh by 31 days, thats 361.23MWh of electricity created PER DAY in NY state. For a DAILY estimated usage of 50,000MWh needed for the whole state to switch to electric cars. Now sure, we can (and do) get electricity from other states but what happens when EVERY state makes this switch?

6 thoughts on “How much electricity would it take….”

    • Oh I have a list of issues with the concept too. But I’ve also learned that if I don’t break it down to something concrete that list gets ignored.

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  1. Just because I like to play devil’s advocate, there are times that an EV will add up:
    When you produce your own electricity-solar, wind, water, whatever.
    When you don’t travel a large amount of miles or don’t have hard demands on the vehicle (not everyone needs a truck/SUV that will haul/pull 2.5 tons or more)
    When your vehicle sits a large portion of the time – hear me out, no oil to go sludgy (thus needing oil changes even if only driven 2k miles in 6 months), no gas to go bad (don’t get me started on e-gas), no rusted out gas tanks (been there), no exorbitant costs to chase down evap faults to pass inspection (been there – finally just traded it in for another vehicle),

    No, I don’t agree with any mandates to change over, nor do I think the electric grid could handle it. And I agree that there are other inherent issues. But, at the same time, for others it does make sense.

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    • There are absolutely times when it makes more sense in individual situations.

      On the third hand: I have a solar set up damn near able to run my whole house (but not an EV too), and while the various rebates and grants make it much more financially possible than many people think its still a large chunk of money, and it takes up a not small amount of space. Its simply not feasible for many households, at least until the technology improves quite a bit more.

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    • Right? And sure, it won’t all happen at once, but once they start restricting the sale of gas powered cars and equipement the numbers are going to start climbing very quickly, and to be very blunt about it, we do NOT have the capacity to handle it!

      Plus, get this, when I wrote that out, I took the expected PER DAY electrical usage of these cars, and compared it to the MONTHLY electricity produced. If you break that down to a per-day electricity creation (like I should have), its even worse.

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