Can UK's Grid Support An All Electric Car Fleet?


Is the UK Grid Ready for Electric Vehicles?
Ecotricity's Dale Vince has already been busy wondering what the gas station of the future will look like, and is clearly a proponent of the electric car. Now he's been busy crunching the numbers as to whether the UK grid could take an all-electric car fleet, and the results are good. In the simplest sense, were the country to just add extra capacity to power all cars, it would need a 12% increase in power output — not insignificant, but certainly not impossible either. (Of course Vince is strongly advocating that that extra capacity come from wind turbines and other renewables!) But the story doesn't end there either — he also points out that much vehicle charging would take place at night, when the grid has spare capacity, and could actually help to cancel out the peaks and troughs of generation often cited as a downfall of renewables:
"It's worth bearing in mind that most car charging will probably be overnight, the time of lowest grid demand, and therefore we can probably deliver this extra 12% volume without a need to increase the actual capacity of the grid. And such a large overnight load could result in a considerable smoothing of the peaks and troughs of demand on the grid and in the process make the grid more efficient cost and CO2 wise.

And an electric car fleet for the UK could also help with the smoothing of intermittent renewables like wind energy, because for the most part car charging will be non-critical loads, non-time sensitive that is. 30 Million cars could act like vast distributed energy storage system, able to take power when the wind blows and able to manage without when it doesn't. It could even give power back to the grid at times of need."

Of course little of what Vince espouses is entirely new — we've already seen reports that the US grid can power 180 million electric cars and that plug-in hybrids could help stabilize the grid - but it's encouraging to see more evidence that alternatives are possible. And it should be noted that Dale's numbers should be taken in context — he makes money from building wind turbines and he is planning to build an electric car, so he is hardly an unbiased observer. But if his numbers are off, knowing Treehugger readers, I'm pretty sure someone will be quick to point it out

::Zerocarbonista::via site visit::

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Tags: Alternative Energy | Electric Cars | Electric Vehicles | Renewable Energy | United Kingdom | Wind Power

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