A new electric vehicle (EV) battery factory in Kansas, funded by Panasonic with a $4 billion investment, is causing the state to delay the retirement of a coal-fired power plant due to its high energy demands. The factory, which aligns with the Biden administration’s push for EV adoption, is expected to require between 200 and 250 megawatts of electricity, equivalent to what a small city would consume.
Evergy, the utility serving the factory, expressed concerns about resource adequacy to the Kansas City Corporation Commission. To meet the energy needs of the factory, the utility intends to continue using the coal plant near Lawrence, Kansas, and postpone plans to transition some units to natural gas. This decision has drawn criticism from environmentalists.
A coal power plant will be used to power an EV battery factory, which drew criticism from environmentalists.
A Lesser-known Fact About EVs
The situation highlights a lesser-known fact about EVs: their production necessitates substantial energy consumption. For instance, a 15-pound lithium-ion battery requires as much energy as a pound of oil, involving extensive mining and processing of minerals.
On average, an EV battery weighs around 1,000 pounds, and the emissions generated during the mining and production process often exceed those of a gas-powered vehicle. As a result, EVs must be driven for a considerable distance, around 50,000 to 60,000 miles, before their net carbon dioxide emissions reduction is realized.
With the increasing number of factories supplying EV manufacturers in the U.S., the demand on the power grid is expected to rise significantly. Recognizing the need for coal to provide baseload power, there is growing awareness among lawmakers and energy experts that prematurely shutting down coal-fired power plants could pose energy supply challenges.
While renewable energy sources like solar and wind are important for supplemental power, they may not provide the consistent, baseload needed for a reliable energy supply. This reality underscores the complex energy demands associated with the transition to electric vehicles and the need for a balanced approach to ensure energy sustainability.