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September 2022

Brutal heat wave in California stops EVs

Enrica Lazzarini

Temperatures soaring up to 46.7°C are placing the U.S. power grid under intense pressure. Consumers are urged to reduce energy consumption between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., and this includes charging electric vehicles
Are we really sure that electricity is the cure for all ills? This is what many in the U.S. may be wondering about since, due to a record-breaking heatwave, the CISO (California Independent System Operator), a non-profit corporation responsible for managing 80 percent of the state's power-grid has issued a warning asking citizens to limit the use of charging stations and air conditioners during peak times, between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., to avoid overloading the system.

In fact, in recent weeks, California was brought to its knees by extreme temperatures raging across the West Coast of the United States: more than 40 million people are on alert in seven different states, with temperatures as high as 44°C in Los Angeles and 46.7°C in Sacramento, placing the power distribution system, rather obsolete and subjected to increasingly pressing demands for energy, in a difficult situation. The statement recommended that large appliances (such as air conditioners) and EV charging stations be used as little as possible so as not to overload the grid.  

This last request sparked great irony on social media and reignited the domestic political debate given that, in the very same days, the State of California issued an official ban on the production of fossil fuelled cars by 2035: all petrol and diesel vehicles still on the road after that date may still be driven, but no longer manufactured or sold within the state's borders. This is a historic shift toward a green transition, considering that the United States is the world's second-largest car market, with as many as 14 million new models registered in 2020. As of today, about one million people in California own at least one electric car.

However, these intense heat waves are not only affecting the automotive sector, in fact, also the photovoltaic industry is feeling the “heat”: just a few days ago Amazon, following the outburst of several small fires in its warehouses across the United States, decided to shut down solar and photovoltaic systems and start immediate inspections.

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