EVs and crypto mining seen as emerging risks for U.S. power reliability


NEW YORK, Dec 15 (Reuters) – The adoption of electric vehicles and the rise of cryptocurrency mining pose emerging challenges for US power reliability in the coming years, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation said on Thursday.

More electric vehicles, spurred by government policies like the US Inflation Reduction Act, and the energy-intensive mining of bitcoin will add demand on the nation’s fragile power grid, while plant closures outpace replacement of new capacity and severe weather intensifies, NERC said in its long-term reliability assessment.

“These new electrical uses can significantly alter the nature of how the system will be operated and what it must be able to provide,” said Mark Olson, manager of reliability assessments at NERC, which is responsible for the reliability of US power grids. ., he said in a webcast.

Citing estimates from the California Energy Commission, NERC said electric charging from plug-in electric vehicles by 2030 could generate an increase of 5,500 megawatts of demand at midnight and 4,600 megawatts of demand at 10 a.m. on a typical weekday, an increase of 25% and 20%, respectively, compared to current levels.

The potential growth of cryptocurrency miners, who use supercomputers to power their operations, may also “have a significant effect on demand and resource projections,” NERC said. Earlier this month, the Texas Electric Reliability Board announced a voluntary reduction program for customers, including bitcoin mining facilities, to reduce power during peak demand periods.

Non-EV energy transition measures, which rely heavily on electrification of businesses and residences, will also add pressures to the grid, NERC said. That increase comes as the shutdown of coal, nuclear and natural gas power plants outpaces the replacement of new power generation capacity.

More than 88 gigawatts of fossil fuel and nuclear generating capacity will be retired through 2027, with another 22 gigawatts possibly reduced, NERC said.

Switching power sources away from traditional power without rapid replacement of generation, including power from renewables like wind and solar, has left large swaths of the country vulnerable to outages, NERC said.

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s electricity reserve shortfall has grown in a year since NERC’s last report, and the Midwest now faces a capacity shortage of 1,300 megawatts for the summer, NERC said.

California and the Midwest are at high risk of power shortages between 2023 and 2027, NERC said, while the Southwest, Northwest, Texas and New England have enough power and capacity for normal times but face shortages in severe conditions.

Reporting by Laila Kearney in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis

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