EVs will mean more profits, but possible power outages
The electric car is coming no matter what oil companies and consumers think. Several electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt are both going to start showing up in driveways very soon.
These cars will reduce the need for consumers to buy gasoline, but they will increase the load on the electric infrastructure in neighborhoods and cities. In some areas, this won’t be an issue. However, in places where the transformers serving homes are already taxed, adding EVs could spell trouble for America's aging electrical grid.
Electric companies are both excited and worried at the rush of EVs set to hit the infrastructure around the country. They are excited because if they can grab even a small portion of the $325 billion each year spent on gasoline it will be huge for them. The electric companies worry because adding one or two EVs in a neighborhood could result in power outages.
The Detroit News reports that the last time electric companies were faced with such a huge potential for increased demand in power consumption by consumers was in the 50's and 60's when air conditioning systems were widely installed around the country. The utility companies say that a single EV could draw more power than an average size home in some states.
When an EV is plugged into a 120V outlet, it draws 1500W. However, when an EV is hooked up to a fast charger, which most are, they can draw much more power. The first Leaf and Volt EVs to hit homes will slurp down 3,300W of power and there are plans to boost that consumption to 6,600W soon. That 6,600W of power is twice the 3,000W an average home without AC in the San Francisco Bay area consumes.
The problem is expected to be worse in some areas like more affluent cities in California and Texas. The bad news for people in areas where hardware has to be upgraded is that the costs of the upgrades could well be figured into the rates for all people in an area. An EV at a neighbor's home could cost all homeowners more each month on their electric bill.
A spokesperson from Duke Energy said, "It's like you're about to have a baby. You know it's going to be good, but you also know there's going to be some throw up and some dirty diapers, and you just hope that it's something you are prepared for."
Of course this is a big Joke. We have a lot of excess electricity generating capacity since the July 2008 crash.
We can also make as much as we need using any of the plentiful home-grown resources we have. Solar and wind work great with big batteries. It's a win-win there. Intermittent energy resources plus big batteries? Hummmm... Sounds good to me.
Also, just do a little research into all the work the U.S. is doing on new smart grid technology. Also, Better Place already has a fully functional system up and running (in test trials) where they communicate with the utilities to smooth out the power flows on the grid.
Get this, with the smart grid, a full stable of EVs and great network software we can have a far more stable grid that using huge percentages of our plentiful renewable energy resources.
Don't think small people! Think big. Will there be problems and bugs? Of course! That's how we learn and improve.
This appears to be a case of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) and I'm surprised that GM is buying in to it on video, especially with regard to the specter of residential neighborhood transformers blowing.
In homes, vehicles are going to be charged primarily off-peak, way off-peak makes the most sense. Even at 6.6 KW which is twice the Volt charger draw this represents less power than an electric range. People for the most part aren't going to be driving home and plugging in their cars to charge en masse on summer afternoons.
Even if employers offer EV charging it shouldn't be an issue for some time to come, and most large office and industrial buildings have relatively beefy electric infrastructure. As with air conditioning, the larger commercial power users will have load-shedding capability to disable EV chargers during peak demand hours.
It will be a long time before a substantial portion of the gasoline vehicles on the road today are replaced with EVs. By then the grid will have evolved as well.
For me personally, I'm adding 4KW of solar at the same time as buying a Volt (it looks like the solar will beat the volt delivery time) so I'll be *adding* to the available grid power in peak times, and charging off-peak.
Here's a real-time look at California demand vs. resources. Note that the weather is mild now so the peak is actually evening hours but charging beginning at midnight would give a full battery by 4:00 AM at way off-peak. And there is 10,000 megawatts (that's ten billion watts) of excess capacity just in California right now. That's enough capacity for level 2 charging of about 3 million Volts, just in California. GM is building 10,000 for the whole country within all of the next year. That's 0.3% of the excess capacity assuming all of them are in California, all of them are empty, and all of them are level-2 charging at the same time.
It's FUD, pure and simple FUD.
Last edited by Marty; 11-22-2010 at 08:01 PM.
It's effectively pure FUD.
The power utility has a web page about the recharging of 1 million electric vehicules:
The electricity consumed by 1 million electric vehicles would correspond to
•the output from a mid-sized hydroelectric generating station like Eastmain-1, or
•3 terawatthours, or
•less than 2% of electricity sales in Québec in 2009
Lets emphasize the last line:
The electricity consumed by 1 million electric vehicles would correspond to less than 2% of electricity sales in Québec in 2009
I hope this helps put things in their proper perspective.
Haha he's definitely pro-EV. I don't think he was slamming the EV or the technology and the yearning to use it. Speaking of, Bill I'll be visiting my brother in WI, I'll PM you but I'm looking to "bum a charge." haha!
Logged over 44,000 miles in my Volt, "B'Elanna" (Named after B'Elanna Torres of Star Trek Voyager.) Now powered in part by a 2.88kW Solar system!
Here's another angle on all this.
So, lets say, horror of all horrors, that EV's become really popular and sudenly all this money is being thrown into the electrical industry. Where do you think they will spend that added money? A large portion of it will go into R&D to develope larger, smarter, more efficient ellectrical grids and resources. That is money going directly into the American economy, supporting American technology and development and creating American jobs. Neccesity is the mother of invention and if there is a neccesity for a better American ellectrical grid I am happy to put my money into supporting those American companies, creating American jobs that will meet those needs. It's a win/win.
At my house, we installed CFL bulbs when the Volt arrived. As a consequence, we are actually using less electricity since getting the Volt.