The electricity grid is so overloaded in the Netherlands that people are receiving threatening letters from the operators for recharging their electric cars

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The electricity grid is so overloaded in the Netherlands that people are receiving threatening letters from the operators for recharging their electric cars

today | Peter Miller

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Photo: Škoda Auto

This event sheds the right light on the absurdity of claims that it will soon be possible to charge electric cars in a few minutes. Even if one day the batteries and architecture of the car allow it, there is still network capacity and enough electricity.

Only an ignorance of the basics of physics and an inability to see the connections can cause someone to believe the claims about how soon it will be possible to charge electric cars in a few minutes in the way we refuel combustion cars today. It is theoretically possible, of course, but we are so far away from a similar practice on a large scale that its arrival in the lifetime of anyone who legally drives a car today cannot be imagined even in their wildest dreams.

We’ve said it many times, but because many people still don’t get it right, we’ll say it again – gasoline, diesel or their equivalents are fascinating fuel sources due to their energy density, stability under normal pressures and temperatures, and easy portability, which in today’s batteries and distribution options electric energy has no equal even in a thousand hons.

If we use the many times mentioned approximate conversion of “the tank of an internal combustion car to the battery of an electric car” and vice versa, we have in an ordinary 55-liter tank of a diesel car a weight of about 50 kg (46.8 kg will be the weight of the filling, a 3.2-kilogram tank will be something, but let’s say) the equivalent of at least around 215 kWh stored in the battery, which weighs over 1.3 tons with today’s options for similar accumulators. That in itself is an absurd (dis)proportion, but we don’t want to talk about that today.

You can fill such a tank with diesel at a gas station in about 2 minutes. And if 8 cars fill up at her place at the same time, they will still all leave in 2 minutes. And if a thousand cars suddenly fill up all over the country, they will still all leave in 2 minutes. Let’s convert this to the required electrical power. In order to charge a 215kWh battery in 2 minutes, you need an electric power of at least around 7.2 MW, if the recharging takes place with (hard to ever achieve at such a speed, but let’s be generous) 90% efficiency.

If you charge 8 cars in this way at one station, you need almost 60 MW. And if you charge 1,000 cars across the country, you need 7.2 GW. According to the CZSO, the installed capacity of all power plants in the Czech Republic is around 21 GW. Do you understand? A mere 1,000 cars charged at once “just” at the speed of adding ordinary diesel into the tank would “eat up” more than a third of all the technically available power of all power plants in the Czech Republic – for the entire country, for all companies, for all households, for all hospitals, shops, offices , fitness centers, simply for everything. And where would the network come from that will distribute such power to any “hole”? It is a complete utopia in the lens of any foreseeable future, and whoever talks about the above described as actually possible soon, in a word, is lying, despite the fact that even very professional people have repeatedly said so. For a few cars in a few places in the country? Maybe. For the ordinary life of all of us anywhere in the Czech Republic? Even by mistake.

What the reality of current practice is, in the end, is best shown by the continuous struggles of the Netherlands, my kind of second home, precisely with electricity. We have repeatedly written about how today the local electrical network is overloaded at a time when electric cars make up about 4.5 percent of all cars in the local fleet of around 10 million cars and they can only be recharged very slowly with outputs usually around 50, at most around 350 kW when the large battery has a capacity of around 100 kWh. So we are in every respect far removed from anything that could be called high penetration of electric cars that can be serviced comparably to internal combustion ones, not by mistake, not even a little bit. Nevertheless, the problems with the network are so great that even new houses and company headquarters cannot be connected. The latest manifestation of the same is literally tragic.

As the Financieel Dagblad reports, more and more electricity consumers in the Netherlands are receiving threatening letters from network operators, which are fines for each higher than agreed electricity consumption. Suppliers should be happy in such circumstances, they will receive more money for a larger amount of electricity sold, but if it is not enough and the capacity of the network is not sufficient for its distribution, any fluctuation is undesirable. Business customers are thus explicitly warned that if high consumption is repeated and causes an overload of the electricity network, they will be responsible for it with all the financial consequences.

One such letter was shown to colleagues from Financieel Dagblad by businessman Eduard van Antwerpen. And its nature is already tragicomic – if the operator (here the state Stedin) was dealing with some long-term non-standard consumption, we would understand, but Stedin calls it a problem that van Antwerpen’s company consumed 97 kWh of electricity from 8:45 to 11:45 on January 17 , which was 9 kWh more than the maximum contracted consumption. Try not to laugh…

Why did this even happen? Van Antwerpen’s company manufactures water treatment plants, and production was at full capacity at the time. That would not be a problem, but at that moment 2 (two) electric cars were being charged at the charging stations installed in the company parking lot. And only you took care of the described exceeding of the agreed consumption, even with slow charging. Now count with us – 97 kWh in three hours means an average consumption of 32.3 kW of electricity, which can be assumed to be mostly used for production. We don’t know the exact number, but let’s say it was 20 kW. In that case, 12.3 kW would fall on the electric cars, which would be recharged using 6.15 kW on each of them with that 100 kWh battery and 90% charging efficiency over 18 hours each.

This is what the network is laying down, is this the problem? We are talking about two cars that cannot be recharged even in two normal shifts. And 50 people work in the company. Perhaps we don’t need to elaborate further on how many other worlds we have here before us, but we can add van Antwerpen’s sigh: The tax structure of the state forces him to purchase electric cars for the company. And if he starts charging two of them there, which is the only way to keep them usable for company purposes, will the network operator threaten him with far-reaching consequences precisely because of their charging, which, even with the current limits of these cars, can easily take care of the above-standard consumption of electricity? So what should he do?

But the final consequence is not that letter, of course van Antwerpen is afraid that the network will really be overloaded and his company will cause widespread outages, which can lead to bankruptcy. So they are thinking about how to expand further, when the current electricity consumption is already so easily over the limit. Given the current limitations of the electricity grid, it is not realistic to continue using standard routes, so van Antwerpen is considering three alternatives: move the Dutch production to the USA, where the company already operates, buy a giant battery and balance consumption through it, or buy a diesel or gas generator. The first is complicated and personally undesirable for him, the second is expensive and unsustainable, so…

Welcome to the age of green solutions. It’s just that over time, under the pressure of completely obvious, long-known circumstances, they begin to smell somewhat like burnt diesel or gas.

The electricity grid is so overloaded in the Netherlands that people are receiving threatening letters from operators for recharging electric cars - 2 - Skoda Enyaq SportLine UK spec 2023 test CT 02The electricity grid is so overloaded in the Netherlands that people are receiving threatening letters from operators for recharging electric cars - 3 - Skoda Enyaq SportLine UK spec 2023 test CT 03The electricity grid is overloaded in the Netherlands so much that people are receiving threatening letters from the operators for recharging their electric cars - 4 - Skoda Enyaq SportLine UK spec 2023 test CT 04The electricity grid is so overloaded in the Netherlands that people are receiving threatening letters from operators for recharging electric cars - 5 - Skoda Enyaq SportLine UK spec 2023 test CT 05The electricity grid is so overloaded in the Netherlands that people are receiving threatening letters from operators for recharging electric cars - 6 - Skoda Enyaq SportLine UK spec 2023 test CT 06
The idea of ​​cars like this taking over Europe in a usable form any time soon is completely unfeasible. It is already clearly visible from current Dutch practice. Photo: Škoda Auto

Sources: As reported by Financieel Dagblad, CZSO

Peter Miller

All articles on Autoforum.cz are comments expressing the editor’s or author’s opinion. Except for articles marked as advertising, the content is not sponsored or similarly influenced by third parties.


The article is in Czech

Tags: electricity grid overloaded Netherlands people receiving threatening letters operators recharging electric cars

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