We are all ready for the wave of EV(electric vehicles) that hopefully will continue to grow in popularity and hopefully will one day be the primary vehicle for many families. But the batteries of these cars must be powered up often and of course unless every family has a solar PV array or wind turbine on their roof they will need to rely on the local utility for the power.
The Economist has a great article(Running out of juice-How we will recharge all the electric cars-1-29-10)about this dilemma and how it will perhaps be handled.
Here are some points:
-"With more than a dozen plug-in and pure-electric models arriving in showrooms over the next year or so, sales are expected to outstrip even those enjoyed by the Prius and other hybrids in their early days."
-"One thing the new plug-ins and pure electrics have in common is a beefy lithium-ion battery pack that needs a lot of heavy charging. At the very least, that involves installing 220-volt wiring in the home. Trying to recharge a modern electric car with a standard American 110-volt supply takes too long to be practical (up to 18 hours in the case of the Leaf)."
-"In theory, recharging electric vehicles during off-peak hours should help utilities “fill the valley”—the trough in electricity demand between midnight and six in the morning, and thereby get better utilisation from their coal- or gas-fired generating stations. But, again, things are not quite as they seem. No utility wants to run its network flat out. Scheduling maintenance becomes difficult, which can lead to more frequent failures. The net result is that additional capacity has to be installed at a cost that would not otherwise be justified."
-"A study done a few years ago by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, suggested there was enough idle generating capacity in America to recharge three quarters of the country’s 230m cars if they were plug-ins of one sort of another—provided they only connected to the grid during off-peak hours, and preferably in the coal-rich midwest. But the vast majority of new plug-ins will be located in a handful of urban centres on the east and west coasts, which, unlike the midwest, do not have huge reserves of cheap, coal-fired generating capacity. Nor can they import it easily from the middle of the country, given the fragile nature of the grid."
-"If plug-in electrics follow a similar demand curve to other disruptive technologies, there could be 25m of them humming quietly around by 2025, and ten times that number by 2040. Hopefully, by then, the utilities will have learned to cope with recharging them."
Here's a good blog reply to the article: