A California drought will increase the carbon footprint of the electricity used to charge electric vehicles, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The drought has cut the state’s hydroelectric capacity by nearly half compared to normal, forcing California to rely on more carbon-intensive resources for more of its grid mix, according to the EIA.

The report, which analyzed six California hydroelectric facilities that account for 22 percent of the state’s hydroelectric capacity, said hydropower typically generates 15 percent of California’s electricity during normal precipitation, but is estimated to decrease to 15 percent in dry years. 8%.

Electrify America Charging Station

The EIA noted that hydropower is typically California’s third-largest source of electricity. But its availability largely depends on the snow that forms in winter. Snowpack was 40 percent below normal as of April 1, according to the EIA.

The agency expects the reduction in hydropower to lead to an 8% increase in natural gas generation in California, a 6% increase in the state’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions and an average 5% increase in wholesale electricity prices. The west.

Any shift away from green energy could increase the carbon footprint of electric vehicles, whose cleanliness depends on the grid they are connected to. However, this momentary blunder should not obscure the fact that the national grid has become cleaner for over a decade. As a 2019 study pointed out, the Midwest stands to gain more than California from the transition to clean energy.

San Diego Gas and Electric Substation

San Diego Gas and Electric Substation

The state has come a long way in cleaning up its power grid. California reached a brief period in April when the state’s grid was powered entirely or almost entirely by renewable energy.

Still, some improvements could be made to the California grid to ensure electric vehicles can charge cleanly and reliably. Last year’s heatwave raised alarms about EV charging habits.

The state’s top utility also said the grid will need a massive upgrade to accommodate a complete end to the sale of gasoline vehicles by 2035.