Putting renewables on the grid to green your electric car is complicated
In my Tesla review, I tossed out a line that raised some questions. The power utility here in Silicon Valley provides power only from renewable sources, in my case 80% wind and 20% solar. Does this mean that my electric car driving is zero emissions, and if so, how, since when I charge at night there is no solar and may or may not be enough wind.
So I set off to figure out what happens when I (and thousands of others) plug in cars to charge, and it turns out the answer is far from simple. So I wrote a two part series.
Part one tries to figure out what happens when you add renewables to the grid, either by putting solar panels on your house, or buying your energy from a renewable company. In the long term, it's good, but in the short term, sometimes it will cause some emissions to go up because it shifts the grid from efficient slow-response plants to higher emission fast-response plants.