Australia Must Generate 46% More Electricity to Eliminate All Petrol and Diesel Vehicles from Its Roads and Streets

Many countries worldwide offer incentives to car manufacturers to create electric vehicles and incentives to people to buy electric vehicles. This effort is meant to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere and help stop global warming.

Of course, it will take every country to contribute to this effort in reducing carbon emissions in their respective countries. Most developed countries are actively implementing plans to reduce net carbon emissions within the next 10 to 30 years. Unfortunately, Australia is still behind in this effort.

There are 20+ million petrol cars and trucks operating throughout Australia. Nearly two million of these vehicles are heavy trucks requiring extensive power to move and function. If there were to be a real effort in electrifying all the motor vehicles in Australia, it would require about 46% more electricity to be generated on the grid nationwide.

Many sceptics doubt that Australia could generate that much more electricity quickly. For one thing, only about 2% to 3% of all car sales in Australia are for electric vehicles. Perhaps if more people were to purchase electric cars, the higher demand for electricity supply would prompt the Australian Government to take more action to make that happen.

Some studies suggest that if the yearly sales of electric vehicles were to increase by 50% of what they were in 2023, then 100% of all new car sales would be for electric vehicles by 2040. But achieving this growth will require more effort by the government and the public to invest in electric vehicle technology.

Increasing the National Electricity Supply 

Increasing the national electricity supply will not be as difficult as some think. Here is why you should be optimistic about this effort:

  • Energy efficiency technology is improving all the time and reducing the consumption of electricity per capita. Solar power is one of those technologies helping to boost energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.
  • Australia has already made successful efforts to boost its national electricity supply. So if people were to transition to electric vehicles, the rate of electricity generation would quickly exceed the electric vehicle demand.
  • When you think about how much time it would take to transition entirely to electric vehicles throughout Australia, the electricity supply will be ready to match the demand when that time comes.

Therefore, Australia can undoubtedly increase its electricity supply by 46% over the next 30 years. That means you can expect all road transportation to be 100% electric by the year 2057.

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Electricity Generation for Light Trucks and Passenger Cars

Australia has over 18 million light commercial trucks and private passenger cars on its roads and streets. Each vehicle travels about 13,800 kilometres on average annually.

Consider the Tesla Model 3, Australia’s most popular electric vehicle. The Tesla Model 3 can travel approximately 6.8 kilometres for every kilowatt-hour of electricity it receives on a charge from the electrical grid. That isn’t too bad since the Tesla Model 3 is a medium-sized car.

As a result, the typical electric vehicle in the future will require a similar amount of electricity from the grid to travel 6.8 kilometres. So if you can imagine 18 million electric cars that each require one kilowatt-hour for every 6.8 kilometres travelled, it’ll take 37,000 gigawatt-hours of grid electricity annually.

Australia currently consumes around 224,000 gigawatt-hours of grid electricity annually, which includes all electric use. If the grid is going to supply enough electricity for 18 million electric vehicles, the country will need to generate at least 17% more electricity to sustain the increased electric demand. 

Factors Influencing Electricity Consumption in Electric Vehicles

Energy efficiency technology is prevalent in many industries, not just the auto industry. This is because consumers are always looking for ways to save money on electricity without giving up their need for electricity consumption.

How will electric vehicles impact the demand on the electricity grid? Fortunately, there are new energy efficiency technologies in the works to help reduce the burden on the electricity grid from electric vehicles.

However, some circumstances could drive up electricity consumption in electric vehicles. Here are some factors which will influence the electricity consumption in electric vehicles:

  • Electric light trucks are heavier than electric passenger cars and will require more energy to move them. The weight increases even more when they haul tools, boxes, and other cargo or inventory items.
  • Bigger cars will be manufactured if the country switches to electric vehicles because electricity per kilometre is cheaper than petrol or diesel per kilometre. As a result, there will not be any need to manufacture smaller vehicles anymore.
  • Most people will drive their electric vehicles around their towns or cities. But for people who need to drive on highways, the newest electric cars will offer a better range because of energy-efficient motor technology and regenerative braking.
  • The outside weather conditions have a lot to do with the power demand in an electric vehicle. Living in an environment with fair weather conditions will sustain the 6.8 kilometres per kilowatt-hour calculation mentioned above. If you live in an environment with extreme weather conditions and severe hot or cold temperatures, you will consume up to 10% more electricity than you would under usual driving conditions.

In addition, electric car manufacturers are also experimenting with solar technology integration. If they can build solar cells into electric vehicles, it will increase their energy efficiency and reduce the demand placed on the grid.

Electricity Generation for Heavy Trucks

Heavy trucks are predominately petrol or diesel-powered because they are much heavier and require much more power to operate. Therefore, transforming Australia’s two million heavy trucks into electric ones will be a grave challenge.

Some countries deal with this problem by relying more on trains and ships to transport heavy cargo. However, road transportation is still needed because the cargo items must be transported from train stations and docks to individual businesses and factories on land. That is why road freight continues to exist in Australia.

Statistics show approximately 1.592 billion litres of petrol fuel and 12.479 billion litres of diesel fuel were consumed in Australia in 2020 alone. It might seem impossible to satisfy these energy demands with electric trucking technology, but it is easier than you might think.

Energy Efficiency Technology

The Tesla Model 3 uses 16% of the energy per kilometre as a standard petrol-based light truck or passenger vehicle. Heavy electric trucks can also be built with energy-efficient batteries and electric motors to reduce energy consumption. While heavy electric trucks may not experience the same level of energy reduction as a Tesla Model 3, they still consume less energy per kilometre than diesel-powered heavy trucks.

Most heavy trucks are built with diesel engines because diesel fuel is more energy efficient for heavier vehicles than petrol vehicles. That is why switching diesel-powered heavy trucks to electric won’t make as much of a difference in energy consumption as converting petrol-powered heavy trucks to electric. Diesel fuel is about 33% more energy efficient than petrol fuel.

Current electric vehicles on the market are made for short-distance driving. They don’t have the power capability to sustain long-distance driving the same way diesel-powered heavy trucks can. So even if you incorporate regenerative braking and idling into a heavy electric truck, energy-efficient technologies would have less benefit than they would in a standard electric vehicle.

Does that mean we should not convert diesel-powered heavy trucks into heavy electric trucks? The answer is no because the existing Australian heavy truck fleets can still maintain an average of 35% energy efficiency if converted into electric fleets. And as energy-efficient technology improves, future heavy truck fleets may be able to have up to 80% energy efficiency.

As a result, future heavy electric trucks will only require 44% of the power used per kilometre by modern heavy trucks. But if Australia’s current heavy truck fleet were turned electric, the grid would have to supply 29% more electricity. Add that to the 17% more electricity needed for light trucks and passenger cars, and the total comes to 46% more electricity required from the power grid.

The Process of Transitioning to Electric Vehicles

How fast can Australia produce 46% more electricity to convert the nation’s entire road transport to electric power? Since heavy trucks won’t need to transport oil and petrol fuel in this scenario, it will reduce the demand for heavy truck use in the energy industry.

However, there will still be a high demand for natural gas and coal because these are the two primary sources of generating electricity for the power grid. So if no one uses oil and gas to power their vehicles, more coal and natural gas are needed to replace them.

How will this help reduce carbon emissions? The answer is renewable energy. If we can find a way to use renewable energy sources like solar power to generate energy for electric vehicles, then we won’t need coal and natural gas anymore. That is the ultimate goal to electrify road transport in Australia as well as in other countries around the world.

By eliminating the world’s dependency on oil and gas, nations won’t need to extract, refine, transport, import, and export oil and gas anymore. Australia alone could reduce 1 litre of oil consumption use overseas for every 8 litres reduced in our own country.

Australia has done a great job producing renewable energy technology and enough electricity to satisfy the nation’s demands. The grid offers more electricity yearly because of its increased annual supply added. So if the country were to convert all its gas-powered vehicles to electric, there would be enough electricity supply available on the grid by the time the entire transition is complete.


Time Predictions

Most Australian light trucks and passenger cars have a life expectancy of about 20 to 30 years. So even if every Australian began buying only electric vehicles from this point forward, the country would still have gas-powered cars on its roads for the next 20 to 30 years.

Heavy trucks have a much shorter life expectancy of about ten years or less because they are usually driven more often at longer distances. Sometimes they don’t even make it past five years old because they are driven so much. This is actually good news because it means the transition to heavy electric trucks may be faster than the transition to electric light trucks and passenger cars.

People will continue to drive their current petrol and diesel-powered cars and trucks until their internal combustion engines no longer function. Once the owners face expensive fuel and repair bills, they will have no choice but to convert to electric vehicles. But perhaps the nation can speed up this process by introducing more affordable electric vehicles to the second-hand auto market sooner rather than later.

Gas-powered vehicle owners need to be incentivized to switch to electric-powered vehicles. For instance, if no repair or maintenance services are available for gas-powered vehicles because the entire country has gone electric, owners may find it more economically responsible to switch to electric cars.

Australia can achieve 100% electric vehicle sales by the year 2035. But it will require a significant reduction in the price of electric vehicles in the lower market so that ordinary working-class people can afford them. Once electric cars cost the same as gas-powered ones, it will create a strong incentive for more people to convert to electric.

And why wouldn’t more people want to switch to electric vehicles if the purchase prices are the same? There are so many added benefits to driving electric vehicles in the first place, such as better driving performance, more advanced technology, reduced fuel prices, reduced maintenance costs, reduced carbon emissions, and increased environmental friendliness.

There is Already Less Electricity Consumption Per Capita

Australia has experienced a reduction in electricity consumption per capita over the last two decades.

In 2008, the on-grid electricity consumption was 222,347 gigawatt-hours. In 2021, the on-grid electricity consumption was 224,053 gigawatt-hours. That is only a 0.77% increase in electricity consumption over 13 years. But since the Australian population has increased over those years, the electricity consumption per capita has gone down.

Australia had a population of 21.32 million people in 2008. Approximately 13 years later, the national population was 25.75 million in 2021. That is a 21% increase in the Australian population over 13 years or a 1.45% increase annually. Since there was only a 0.77% increase in annual electricity consumption, the annual per capita electricity consumption saw a 1.4% reduction.

There are many reasons for the decrease in electricity consumption per capita. Some of these reasons include the following:

  • Better building insulation technology
  • More energy-efficient appliances installed in homes and buildings
  • More energy-efficient industrial machines installed in factories
  • More energy-efficient improvements made to existing homes and buildings

Unfortunately, energy-efficient technology alone won’t be enough to sustain the energy demands of transitioning to 100% electric vehicles. We’ll also need to transition to renewable energy sources to power our homes and appliances as well. Solar and wind energy would be at the top of this list.

Solar Power to Reduce On-Grid Electricity Costs

Charging electric vehicle batteries requires more power supply from the electricity grid. Rather than produce more electricity for the grid, why not free up electricity on the grid to create more electricity supply for electric vehicles?

For instance, if more homes and businesses were to install solar power systems to energize their buildings, it would reduce the demand and increase the supply of on-grid electricity. Then people with electric vehicles would have more on-grid electricity available to charge their batteries. The best part is that it doesn’t increase the need for coal or natural gas.

Solar power is the most affordable energy option in Australia. You could literally pay about 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour if you operate a solar farm on your property. But even if you install solar panels on your roof, you could still enjoy far more energy cost savings while sustaining your power needs for charging your electric vehicle.

Of course, this is only the beginning. Imagine the day when you can use solar power to power everything, including your electric vehicle batteries. Then you won’t even need to rely on the electricity grid any longer. Once this kind of solar technology exists, you can expect the transition to 100% electric vehicle sales to happen immediately.