Could our power grid handle it if everybody drove an electric car?



  1. 0 Votes

    No!  This is a big problem for the whole industry, in fact, because the technology is getting there and the grid has not yet caught up.  Google and GE formed a partnership in September, 2008 to work on the smart grid, which upgrades the current grid system by allowing communication between energy sources, providers and consumers.  The smart grid could have 60% efficiency as opposed to our 30% efficiency, as reported by the International Energy Agency in its Key World Statistics.

    Most car owners would plug their cars in at night, when they return from work or school and their errands of the day.  It all depends on the time that the owners plug in the cars because of energy pricing at peak hours and also because there is a risk of overloading the grid and having power outages if everyone plugs in at the same time.  Smart grids will help owners see when electricity costs them the most (higher when demand is higher), which could help spread out the use.  An Oak Ridge National Laboratory report found that, if hybrids make up 25% of cars by 2020, and if all the electric car owners plug their cars in at 5 pm at a rate of 6 kw/hr, 160 power plants will be needed to produce the electric power required.

    In a recent article by Scientific American, the director of Southern California Edison’s electric transportation advancement program, Ed Kjaer, said that plugging in a hybrid car is like adding another third of your house’s energy to the grid.  Distribution transformers may not be up to the task.

    The fact that Google and GE are on the smart grid is good news for its development, and I’m guessing that by the time we have enough electric cars on the road to make a difference, the technology will be developed.  Let’s just hope that the electricity powering up the cars is clean and not provided by fossil fuel-burning power plants.

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