Number of electric cars California needs to cut 2030 emissions unclear: 4 million or 7 million?


2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid charging at Crevier BMW, Santa Ana, California, Dec 2017

2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid charging at Crevier BMW, Santa Ana, California, Dec 2017

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One of California's largest electricity producers recently published a white paper that analyzed how the state will achieve its 2030 greenhouse-gas targets—and it called into question targets set forth by California regulators.

Specifically, Southern California Edison (SCE) said the targeted 4 million electric vehicles isn't nearly enough to achieve the states goals for 2030.

That number, it suggested, is closer to 7 million electric vehicles.

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SCE suggested

SCE suggested

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According to ChargedEVs, which reported Tuesday on the November 2017 whitepaper, SCE investigated three separate "pathways" for California to reach 2030 GHG targets: hydrogen, renewable natural gas, and clean power and electrification.

It should be no surprise SCE said the last option—clean power and electrification—is the way forward for California to have the best chance of hitting its targets.

Using that pathway, the grid needs to provide 80 percent carbon-free electricity, nearly one-third of residential and commercial space and their water heaters need to be electrified, and electric vehicles need to make up 24 percent of all vehicles on the road in California.

That means 7 million electric vehicles in California's overall passenger vehicle fleet.

"EVs charging from an increasingly clean electric grid can help reduce transportation sector GHG emissions from 169 to 111 MMT/year, one-third of the 2030 goal," the SCE whitepaper states.

"Reduced gasoline demand will also provide the benefit of reducing industrial emissions from refineries."

READ MORE: California bill to ban new fossil-fueled car sales by 2040 introduced

It bases this target on current emissions levels from transportation, which today contributes nearly 40 percent of the state's greenhouse gases and 80 percent of its nitrogen-oxides emissions.

Furthermore, SCE calls for the electrification of 15 percent of medium-duty and 6 percent of heavy-duty vehicles to achieve the 2030 goal.

The market on its own won't be able to support the rapid growth needed to hit the 7 million EV goal stipulated in SCE's whitepaper, it suggests.

Southern California Edison Charge Ready electric-car charging program

Southern California Edison Charge Ready electric-car charging program

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Instead, a combination of government incentives, cooperation among all stakeholders and a massive rollout of away-from-home charging stations—SCE estimates 1 million in all—will be needed to support the expansion.

California has led the way for 20 years when it comes to electric-vehicle adoption, and it's the first state to put forth a bill banning the sale of fossil-fuel vehicles in the state by 2040.

Roughly half the plug-in electric vehicles sold in the United States as of today are registered in California.

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