New Power Plants Needed to Cover Plug-in Demand ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: New Power Plants Needed to Cover Plug-in Demand

Thursday, March 13, 2008

New Power Plants Needed to Cover Plug-in Demand

A few months ago, NREL came out with a study saying if 84% of the country adopted plug-in electric vehicles, the electric grid could handle the extra load. Now there is a new study from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory saying it will depend on how smart people (or the equipment they use) are about when plugging their cars in.

If most people plug in their cars at 5 PM, it could overwhelm the system. After 10 PM would be much better, since the load on the electric grid is much lower by then.

Makes sense to me. But I'm with Stan Hadley of ORNL's Cooling, Heating and Power Technologies Program, who led the study.

"Consumers' inclination will be to plug in when convenient, rather than when utilities would prefer. Utilities will need to create incentives to encourage people to wait. There are also technologies such as 'smart' chargers that know the price of power, the demands on the system and the time when the car will be needed next to optimize charging for both the owner and the utility that can help too."

Perhaps a "smart charger" will become standard equipment when you buy the plug-in car? You would need to take into account that some people might come home from work, want to plug in for an hour or two, then head out for the evening. But a lot of people would want the charger to start charging later at night when the rates go down.

Worst case scenario says we would need 160 new power plants. Best case, according to the study, says only eight new power plants would be needed. Of course, this depends on consumers rapidly adopting plug-in technology. I mean, are plug-ins worth the money?

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is operated by UT-Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Source: Hybrid Cars May Require Hundreds Of New Power Plants To Be Built, If Owners Charge Up During Peak Hours

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