‘If all cars are electric only 24% of energy of today’s ICE fleet is needed’
If the total Dutch fleet of 9 million cars would be electric in 20 years, it would only need 24% of the energy the current fleet with combustion engines (ICE) consumes today. Dutch scientist and professor at TU Eindhoven, Maarten Steinbuch (59), made a simple, remarkable calculation in his column in newspaper FD.
Steinbuch is considered an authority in the Netherlands in the field of automotive technology (connected cars and alternative energy), but also fields like high tech robotics for surgery or nuclear fusion. He is a known advocate of the electric vehicle.
121 billion kilometers
He starts calculating with the figures of the total number of kilometers the Dutch drove last year: 121 billion. Divided over some 9 million cars in the Netherlands, that means an average of 13.000 km per car. Assuming these cars consume, on average, 1:12 or 8,3 l/100 km, this means the Dutch consumed some 10 billion liters of gasoline or diesel in 2018.
One liter of gasoline is suitable for 10 kWh of energy. So the Dutch car fleet merely equipped with ICE engines on fossil fuels needs 100 billion kWh per year to get moving, Steinbach says. Considering that when driving electric, you will consume some 200 Wh/km, including losses while charging; this means an electric Dutch car fleet would need 24 billion kWh/year. That’s 76% less than today.
Only 20% more energy needed
“This energy can be produced sustainably, but is it realistic?” Steinbuch asks. “In the Netherlands, we are consuming, on average, 120 billion kWh of electric energy for some years now. If we’re all going to drive electric in the future, we’ll need 20% more electric energy than today.”
“That turns out better than expected,” Steinbuch writes. “It will probably be peanuts compared to the rise of demand for energy for the total electrification of our society with heat pumps at home, huge energy-consuming data centers, energy requirements of the industry, and heavy transport, among others.”
80 million solar panels
On top of that, these electric cars can be charged during the day while at work or at home at night when only a small part of the electrical grid is used, the scientist completes his reasoning.
Bearing in mind that a modern solar panel produces 300 kWh per year, you need 80 million of those panels to get to this 24 billion kWh for the electric fleet. Together they make up some 120 million square kilometers. “Estimating that in the Netherlands, there are some 1,2 square kilometers of rooftops, you only need to cover 10% of it with solar panels to drive on solar energy.”