Beware the green car 'big switch'

May 20, 2014 by Anne Rahilly

Charging up an electric car can put as much strain on the energy grid as a small family home. So how can we embrace this new technology while keeping an eye on sustainability?

Melbourne School of Engineering staff are undertaking cutting edge research into the design of electric vehicles and their likely impact on the .

"When you run your vehicle on electricity, it is only as green as the fuel that was used to generate the electricity," according to Dr Julian De Hoog from the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

"In Victoria, where our generation is predominantly brown coal, you have a situation where electric vehicles and petrol-powered vehicles are roughly on par in terms of environmental impact.

"However, the main advantage of electric vehicles is that you have flexibility regarding where your energy comes from." he said.

While petrol-based vehicles have dominated personal transport over recent years, the electric vehicle is making a comeback. in 2014, nearly every major automaker has an electric or hybrid vehicle on the market.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

"Initially, were quite expensive and had a short travel range. As battery technology improves, however, prices are coming down and travel range is increasing," said Dr Julian De Hoog from the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Effects on the grid can be mitigated by shifting EV charging from peak times such as 6.00pm, when everyone comes home, to off-peak times such as overnight.

"In Victoria, we have had a mandatory smart meter rollout. A network operator can send a signal to these , and the smart meters communicate with the vehicles and tell them, "start charging", or "stop charging". said Dr De Hoog.

"If you have a good model of the network then in theory you can find the best possible way of charging as many vehicles as possible."

Explore further: Predicting an electric future

Related Stories

Predicting an electric future

March 28, 2012

Experts at Northumbria University have developed a formula to predict the impact that electric cars will have on the nation’s power supplies. 

Energy to power tomorrow's electric vehicles

September 9, 2013

Sales of full electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have been rising steadily in many parts of the world, including Europe. These are motor vehicles, including personal cars, which can be recharged from an external ...

Silicon Valley sees shortage of EV charge stations

January 20, 2014

An increasing number of electric-vehicle driving employees at Silicon Valley companies are finding it hard to access car-charging stations at work, creating incidents of "charge rage" among drivers.

Study shows electric cars bring environmental benefits

May 14, 2014

(Phys.org) —If electric vehicles were widely available, New Zealanders would buy enough of them to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector by one-fifth over the next 18 years, new research from Victoria ...

Recommended for you

Team develops targeted drug delivery to lung

September 2, 2015

Researchers from Columbia Engineering and Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have developed a new method that can target delivery of very small volumes of drugs into the lung. Their approach, in which micro-liters ...

Not another new phone! But Nextbit's Robin is smarter

September 2, 2015

San Francisco-based Nextbit wants you to meet Robin, which they consider as the smarter smartphone. Their premise is that no one is making a smart smartphone; when you get so big it's hard to see the forest through the trees. ...

Team creates functional ultrathin solar cells

August 27, 2015

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with Johannes Kepler University Linz in Austria has developed an ultrathin solar cell for use in lightweight and flexible applications. In their paper published in the journal Nature Materials, ...

Magnetic fields provide a new way to communicate wirelessly

September 1, 2015

Electrical engineers at the University of California, San Diego demonstrated a new wireless communication technique that works by sending magnetic signals through the human body. The new technology could offer a lower power ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.