Study shows hybrid effect on power distribution

Mar 12, 2008

A growing number of plug-in hybrid electric cars and trucks could require major new power generation resources or none at all— depending on when people recharge their automobiles.

A recent Oak Ridge National Laboratory study, featured in the current issue of the ORNL Review examined how an expected increase in ownership of hybrid electric cars and trucks will affect the power grid depending on what time of day or night the vehicles are charged.

Some assessments of the impact of electric vehicles assume owners will charge them only at night, said Stan Hadley of ORNL’s Cooling, Heating and Power Technologies Program.

“That assumption doesn’t necessarily take into account human nature,” said Hadley, 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.”

In an analysis of the potential impacts of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles projected for 2020 and 2030 in 13 regions of the United States, ORNL researchers explored their potential effect on electricity demand, supply, infrastructure, prices and associated emission levels. Electricity requirements for hybrids used a projection of 25 percent market penetration of hybrid vehicles by 2020 including a mixture of sedans and sport utility vehicles. Several scenarios were run for each region for the years 2020 and 2030 and the times of 5 p.m. or 10:00 p.m., in addition to other variables.

The report found that the need for added generation would be most critical by 2030, when hybrids have been on the market for some time and become a larger percentage of the automobiles Americans drive. In the worst-case scenario—if all hybrid owners charged their vehicles at 5 p.m., at six kilowatts of power—up to 160 large power plants would be needed nationwide to supply the extra electricity, and the demand would reduce the reserve power margins for a particular region’s system.

The best-case scenario occurs when vehicles are plugged in after 10 p.m., when the electric load on the system is at a minimum and the wholesale price for energy is least expensive. Depending on the power demand per household, charging vehicles after 10 p.m. would require, at lower demand levels, no additional power generation or, in higher-demand projections, just eight additional power plants nationwide.

Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Explore further: Gasoline use at lowest rate in three decades

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

China boosts fleet of electric, hybrid vehicles

Mar 19, 2015

Chinese authorities have announced plans to boost the number of electric, hybrid and other alternative fuel-powered vehicles used for public transportation, while sales of such cars for private use have spiked in recent months.

Understanding nickel catalysis

Mar 05, 2015

Catalysis is a chemical phenomenon that increases the rate of a chemical reaction by spending only a tiny amount of additional substance, called a catalyst. Around 90 percent of all commercially manufactured ...

Recommended for you

Blue Freedom uses power of flowing water to charge

12 hours ago

Good friends may decide to tell you something that is not true but nonetheless sustaining: Nothing is impossible. That was the case of Blue Freedom co-founder who asked his friend if it would be possible ...

Camry Hybrid: A family car winner

Mar 25, 2015

The roomy, fuel-sipping Toyota Camry Hybrid family sedan gets better for 2015 with more appealing exterior styling, upgraded interior, improved ride and handling and quieter passenger cabin.

Solar beam collectors, key to enhancing solar power

Mar 25, 2015

New technologies could soon bring more effective ways of harvesting solar power. That is the case with small size concentrated solar power, or CSP. It is a relatively new technology compared to the more mature photovoltaic ...

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mrlewish
3 / 5 (1) Mar 12, 2008
This is simple. Have a whole house UPS that can feed the plug in. charge that at the cheapest times. Good for short blackouts also
Soylent
4 / 5 (1) Mar 12, 2008
"...whole house UPS..."

That's expensive, wasteful and solves very little.

The battery in the car is already like a whole house UPS as long as the car is plugged into the charger.

With flexible pricing and some model for electricity price forcasting based on past trends you could build a car battery capable of figuring out roughly how best to recharge given when it will next be used.
MGraser
5 / 5 (1) Mar 13, 2008
What's interesting, too, is that if everyone is charging their vehicles at night, the price of electricity during that time will also go up. It still makes more sense than everyone trying to power up during peak hours and taxing our systems; but, I'm just pointing out that when demand for electricity for vehicles increases during off-peak hours, the price of electricity during that time will also go up since it will no longer be off-peak anymore.
DGBEACH
5 / 5 (1) Mar 13, 2008
The best scenario would be an interactive charging system which, a) Has GPS-assisted time-keeping abilities, b) Is capable of wirelessly receiving fare-tables from utility providers, c) is wirelessly tied into your house's smart system, so that it knows when it can turn on.

With this type of setup each house's consumption would be stabilized.
fooljoe
not rated yet Mar 19, 2008
it's brilliant how so much is being made of what might happen when everybody drives evs while no evs are anywhere near being made available for sale to the average american consumer. it's painfully obvious evs are the best solution for replacing our transportation fleet. let's stop debating what might happen in 2030 and start making them.

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.