By on June 11, 2008

862549446_dc20417a0f.jpg Having just watched New York City barely make it through a four-day heat wave, and being aware that Con Ed is only by the skin of its teeth able to keep up with air-conditioner/escalator/elevator/refrigerator demands during the summer–and sometimes can't–you have to wonder what will happen when first 5k, then 50k and then who knows how many plug-in hybrids add their loads to this precarious system. I have yet to read any power-industry statement, "No problem, we're ramping up powerplant construction by 80 percent in anticipation of this demand." Instead, all I hear is emergency-this and backup-that, plans to borrow power from Canada and whines that NIMBYs won't allow the construction of nuclear plants. Everybody seems to assume that the world will recharge its hybrids at night "when demand is low." Fact is, that's exactly when a lot of blackouts have occurred: 95-degree day, everybody gets home at six when it's still sweltering and turns on the a/c, the TV, the stereo, the lights… Blackout. How much more likely is that to happen when thousands of hybrids also get plugged in at six? And what about all the hybrid owners who deplete their batteries simply getting  to work and then, simultaneously, plugging them in at nine in the morning?

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53 Comments on “Wilkinson: A Question That Should Be Asked About EVs...”


  • avatar

    And here in Canada they tell us that they will ‘borrow’ power from the Northeastern United States when faced with blackouts. Hmm….

  • avatar
    KixStart

    First, electric demand peaks between 4 and 9pm or so and the nasty peaks are mostly in the summer. Charging outside of prime time, say 10PM to 6AM (which is still “at night” if I understand the concept of “night” properly) solves that problem. Making off-peak rates available to consumers, making chargers part of a load-shedding program or providing other incentives, resolves this quickly and conveniently. And the increased sales of electricity makes money available to utilities to resolve their other problems.

    Second, this is hardly an urgent problem because of the advent of the EV. The US auto fleet is on ther order of 200 gazillion vehicles. The Volt will ship in negligible quantities in 2011 (if GM lasts that long) and the standard non-plug Prius will likely remain the least expensive of the hybrids. By the end of 2011, about .0000001% of the nation’s vehicle fleet will have a plug (I made that number up but the real number is still going to be tiny). We’re looking at perhaps 100K vehicles by the end of 2011, each wanting at most 8KWH and almost certainly at a convenient time.

    We should take steps to improve the grid but the rise of the EV is not reason. As you say, the grid is ALREADY overtaxed at times… that’s the problem.

  • avatar

    There’s only one solution, then: back to the horse and buggy!
    :-)
    At least you’ll then get a decent energy ratio out of growing the horse’s biofuel.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    Situation is a lot different between about 22:00-5:00 when everyone is sleeping. That’s when the consumption decreases.

    The utilities must have their daily consumption statistics.

    But you can bet that “how to cover the demand?” question has been seriously asked…

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    It’s nice to think that people will wait till 10 pm to plug in their EVs, but I don’t think that’s any more realistic than assuming people will turn their a/cs up to 75 so there’s enough electricity for their neighbors. You’ll come home, plug in the car, grab a beer, strip to your skivvies and be done with it; you’re not going back out to deal with the car four hours later, in the middle of the Mets game.

    Also, I have never seen any of these fabled “off-peak rates.” We don’t have ‘em where I live (New York) and never have.

  • avatar
    mdf

    Stephan Wilkinson: “It’s nice to think that people will wait till 10 pm to plug in their EVs, […] “

    You plug in the car when you get home.

    At 23:00 it wakes up and begins charging. Better: it picks a random time between 22:00 and 05:00 and begins charging.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    In any case, people will mostly be charging their cars between 6 or 7 PM to 6 or 7 AM on weekdays. There is plenty of power, using current power plants, during those hours (there might be a minor problem during the first couple hours, but simple solutions such as timers to delay the charging until 9 PM could fix that). Plus, the number of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids will be very small to begin with and will ramp up gradually. This is not a significant real-world problem.

  • avatar
    SaturnV

    It’s an interesting point. Since not everyone needs to drive at the same time, simply defining a window for charging won’t work (what if, for example, you need to be at work at 4:00 am one day?). I think it’ll have to be coupled with electricity prices set by demand, so you can decide when your EV charges. I agree that we’ll also need additional generation to meet increased demand. How that’ll square with a desire to reduce CO2 output will be interesting to see. I think, in the end, nukes are about the only way to get there from here…

    -S5

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    We must look to the example set by the cheese-eating surrender monkeys: more nukes.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Electric grid smelectric grid. I don’t see a problem here. You can drive a 750lb wing shaped car at speeds up to 35mph almost indefinitely on perfectly flat surfaces on any cloudless day you want, powered only by the sun.

  • avatar
    dhanson865

    mdf, nice idea but now you are talking about making sure the clock on my Car is correct, time zone aware, and daylight savings time aware.

    No I think we pretty much have to assume the car will be plugged in and charging before people are done with their evening routine.

    At best I see the car having a charge delay timer. Preset it to trickle charge for the first 30 minutes (default 30 with a user modifiable preference in the cars computer to shorten or lengthen the delay) then go into full charge mode for the next however many hours it takes to get to an 80% charge then go back to trickle charge. You don’t want batteries overheating during charge and it’s hard to tell where 100% is when a large charge current is applied. It’s easier on the batteries to switch to a lower current near the end of the charging cycle.

    At least that way you can keep the worst of it from hitting as soon as you plug it in and hopefully get the load back down before the morning load from the waking humans joins the fray.

    I don’t trust my neighbor to set his clock correctly nor do I expect a car to be able to autoset it’s own clock.

    For that matter if I drive two time zones away from home and plug it in how does it know what time zone it is in?

    Just keep it simple. A delay before charging starts is about as complex as I’d trust it to be.

  • avatar
    ande5000

    Ah, yes. The law of unintended consequences is alive and well in the new age of aquarius. Not that anybody in congress or elsewhere would actually stop to think all of this through up front and enact policies that facilitate adding sufficient generating capacity to support the anticipate increased demand on the national power grid. As with all things in life, ye shall reap what ye have sown.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    Last year, I was working for a company in the electricity-management business. All over the world, power companies are investing heavily in systems used to manage customer load. Here in NYC, we have had a system (known as demand-response) whereby commercial customers agree to drop load during high-demand events.

    Energy-management will be accomplished through smart meters, load management, hourly pricing and more complex agreements between suppliers and consumers. In essence, the grid is getting smarter. While this is not a complete solution, it is an essential part of the future of the grid. There are huge savings to be had. Here’s an example: anticipating periods of expected demand, power producers bring more production on-line. If demand does not meet expectations, that excess power is consumed by condensers which produce nothing of value. Being able to more accurately anticipate need and control consumption will have very large benefits.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Jonny,

    The cheese-eating surrender monkeys regulate their nuclear industry heavily, which is evil. We can’t have someone trampling on our freedom to contract out to the lowest bidder, or our freedom to be unaccountable for accidents. Why, we fought wars about that sort of thing, didn’t we?

    A well-regulated power market? That’s crazy talk. You may as well say you hate Mom, Jesus, baseball and apple pie. Only commun…, err, terrorists regulate anything, because they hate our freedom.

    Sorry, got carried away, there.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    What kind of fantasy world world do electric car fanatics live-in?

    Every time I read this sort of article I want to cry. Ward and June Cleaver have been dead for years. Assumptions about life styles, communting, and employment paterns seem to be grounded in some fantasy of the 1950s. Not 21st century realities.

    Oh yeah and when is your employer going to stump-up for an unmetered charger box next to your parking place at work?

    Stephan is correct. If there were a mass explosion of electric vehicles, we in the US do not have the grid capacity to handle it. Further given the hold that NYMBISM has on our legal and legislative systems. It won’t change.

    It will be the ultimate irony if electric cars make the grid so unstable that millions of folks buy gasoline powered generators to keep the lights on.

  • avatar
    marc

    I dont think ConEd in NYC needs to worry. Such a high percentage of urban dwelers live in apartments, that very few plug-in hybrids will get sold there.

    Yes, thats the dirty little secret about PHEVs. Toyota has mentioned this on a few occasions. A PHEV is not practical for a vast number of hybrid drivers. NY, SF, parts of LA. Big city urbanites that love their efficient transportation snap up hybrids by the boatload. But many residents in these cities will not be able to take advantage of plug-in capabilities. How many apartment owners are going to allow cars to be plugged in in their garages. I doubt you will be seeing a bunch of extension cords hanging out of 3 story walk-up windows either. Nope, these urban dwellers will be buying the conventional hybrids. Toyota knows that the real market for hybrids is truly not for plug-ins. That will be just a niche.

  • avatar

    Seems like a fair concern, Stephan. Thanks for raising it.

    Part of the solution needs to be:

  • avatar
    mdf

    Robert Schwartz: “If there were a mass explosion of electric vehicles, we in the US do not have the grid capacity to handle it.”

    http://www.its.berkeley.edu/sustainabilitycenter/PlugInHybridvehicles.html

    “If most PHEVs are charged after the workday, and thus after the time of peak electricity demand, our forecasts suggest that several million PHEVs could be deployed in California without requiring new generation capacity, and we also find that the state’s PHEV fleet is unlikely to reach into the millions within the current electricity sector planning cycle.”

  • avatar
    mdf

    dhanson865: For that matter if I drive two time zones away from home and plug it in how does it know what time zone it is in?

    Time and location, free of charge:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Positioning_System

    I completely expect charging systems will be quite smart all on their own. If the process is any more complicated than setting a thermostat in your house — mine has a weekly schedule — then, yes, maybe an argument can be made that humanity doesn’t deserve to survive. ;-/

  • avatar
    paoleary

    In some parts of the south–I know Florida Power & Light does this; it’s called “On Call”–you can elect to allow the power company to turn off appliances remotely during peak demands in exchange for a discount. Since plug-in hybrids and electrics will probably need a separate breaker anyways, this seems like a straightforward partial solution to the time zone, time sync, and other problems. You might have to specify that so many hours of guaranteed charging are available between certain hours (say, if you leave at 0400, to ensure you’re charged by then), so it wouldn’t be exactly the same, but the technology is already there.

  • avatar
    afuller

    dhanson865,

    Even my cell phone is smart enough to keep the correct time and is able to switch between time zones when I cross the line, with all the technological challenges present with these cars I would think that trying to make the car schedule charging time is the least of the worries.

    I wonder where the author of the article works that he will be allowed to plug his car in when he gets there. I know that my company wouldn’t be very pleased with me using their utilities just so I don’t have to let my plug-in hybrid charge itself up using the gas engine. Of course I live in AZ where I expect eventually there would be public solar charging stations, at the very least there would be one at my house if this kind of car made it into my garage.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “If most PHEVs are charged after the workday,”

    If they are driven by Ward Cleaver.

    Make enough unrealistic assumptions, and you can prove anything you want.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    The real truth is we don’t know what the problems will be because no one has yet invented the marketable and legal Plug in.

    Perhaps they will be exactly the problem described here, or they could actually be part of the solution.

    Without a doubt though, the real problem will be the people involved screwing it up. Not the cars themselves. We have a way of letting the government get in the way of anything.

  • avatar
    Kevin

    Some good points above-

    KixStart is correct in that any roll out of EVs or PHEVs will be very very slow and gradual. Can’t be stressed enough. No single city will suddenly face any surge in electricity usage. Assuming brilliant PHEvs actually do come out by early 2011, it will be 2020 before they represent 1% of vehicles on the road. A decade into Hybrids, and hybrids are maybe 0.5% of the fleet.

    Recently we’ve almost certainly lived through a VASTLY greater surge in electricity use just from the sales of large new HDTVs.

    Now all that said,
    – though there’s been some experimentation, I don’t see much evidence that most plug-in cars or in-home receptacles will have any kind of smart metering to shut off recharges during peak use in as soon as a few years. Certainly not the case where I live.

    – The vast majority of Americans do NOT have meters that account for lower cost off-peak hours. Look at your meter. It doesn’t know when you burned up that 1000 Kilowatt hours. Someday maybe, but how long will it take to install next-generation meters for 120 million households?

    – Yes we do need more electricity generation. Not for cars but for everything. And there are lots of people who’d like to give it to you. And there ARE new systems coming online to be fair. If not more, blame government regulators and activists who get in the way of the market and try to stop every new plant project, be it nuke, coal, gas, or unsightly Kennedy-disheartening bird-killing windmills.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    First, the national grid has the capacity to handle 85 million EV’s during off-peak hours. That’s been researched and established. The rest becomes a management issue that’s also being addressed currently. There is a large scale test with Whirlpool and other appliance makers to make high demand appliances (hot water heaters, dryers)shut down for ten minutes when the grid sends a signal to them over the wires. The test has shown this to work well. When this type of “smart grid” technology becomes more wide-spread, it wil allow a continous adjustment of grid demand to meet supply. There are technological ways of dealing with the problem, but it will take some time to impliment. As stated above, EV’s will be slow to come on line, due to battery suppl;u constraints.

  • avatar
    John B

    Several good points have been raised. The adoption of EV’s will be gradual allowing time for the grid to adapt. At present, there is ample transmission and generating capacity at off peak hours.

    Ontario is presently rolling out smart meters capable of differential pricing reflecting market demand and Toronto Hydro currently also has demand management policies in place. I expect a substantial price drop during off peak hours (or a price penalty during peak demand) will prompt most people to put their Ev’s on a charge timer.

    Stringray:

    “The utilities must have their daily consumption statistics.”

    Ontario’s are available here:

    http://www.theimo.com/imoweb/marketdata/marketToday.asp

  • avatar
    Drew

    The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory did a study on this very question. PNNL is part of the US Department of Energy.

    Here’s a link to the (free) study:

    http://www.pnl.gov/energy/eed/etd/pdfs/phev_feasibility_analysis_combined.pdf

    Here’s a relevant section of the abstract:
    “For the United States as a whole, up to 84% of U.S. cars, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) could be supported by the existing infrastructure, although the local percentages vary by region. Using the LDV fleet classification, which includes cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, and vans, the technical potential is 73%. This has an estimated gasoline displacement potential of 6.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, or approximately 52% of the nation’s oil imports.”

    As for starting charge based on time and location – I know that Tesla is already doing that so I don’t see why it wouldn’t be a standard feature on all PHEVs or EVs.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    What I’m hoping is to hear from somebody who is actually in the electric-power industry. Lots of interesting input from the car-plug side of the extension cord, but what about the other end of the wire? Anybody out there who really knows what they’re talkin’ about powerplant/grid-wise?

  • avatar
    serpico

    Borrow from Canada? Ya I heard that before. Not like we have an abundance of energy up here. We’re being told the same thing and then taxed upon taxes. Give me a break, borrow…gee

  • avatar

    >>>and whines that NIMBYs won’t allow construction of nuclear plants

    Among the low carbon electricity sources, wind is growing worldwide about four times as fast as nuclear. The reason is simple. Nuclear plants are probably the most expensive low carbon source of electricity. They take a decade to get on line, unlike wind, solar, and ocean (http://www.ehponline.org/docs/2007/115-12/innovations-abs.html). Costs are dropping steadily and the solar storage problem is fast becoming a red herring.

    If incentives are not technology specific, nuclear is not likely to amount to much. If it is good enough to amount to much under technology neutral incentives, or no incentives, and with the terrorism and waste problems dealt with, fine, let the market bring it on.

    I get really tired of hearing nuclear invoked as if it were some magic bullet that would save us if the greens would only come to their senses or disappear. There have been far more incentives for nuclear (since Ike inaugurated Atoms for Peace in the ’50s!) and it never went very far. Blame the market, not the greens.

    But I for one expect to have PVs on my roof 5-10 years from now, providing most of my power, if not all, the remainder going into the grid. And if I have to have an electric car (I love internal combustion, and just don’t get off on copper windings) I will probably power the thing largely from my roof.

    The grid does need to be beefed up something fierce and switched to DC so that power can be shipped around the country without huge losses.

  • avatar

    Regarding SW’s contention that people won’t wait until offpeak to plug in the car, the market will determine that. A year ago people would have said people won’t give up their stupid ugly vehicles but the market changed that.

  • avatar
    mdf

    John B: [Ontario current power consumption]

    Thank you for this link!

    Eyeballing the graph for today, I see about (26-18)*24/3 = 64GWh of spare capacity per day. According to

    http://www40.statcan.ca/l01/cst01/trade14b.htm

    there are 7 million cars (“under 4500kg”) in the province. Call the travel distance per car per day D, and assume they are all PHEV’s tomorrow, and further assume will get the Google rate

    http://www.google.org/recharge/

    of ~60 watt-hours per kilometer, then

    64 GWh = 7e6*60*D -> D = 150 kilometres

    !

    Of course, this is only obtained if recharging fits perfectly into the below-peak section of the demand curve, and that the whole system could run at peak capacity indefinitely (doubtful). More likely about 1/3 to 1/2, and not all 7 million cars will be online.

    As far as I am concerned, if the all-electric range of D=50km is attained, I’m happy.

    Kevin: Assuming brilliant PHEvs actually do come out by early 2011, it will be 2020 before they represent 1% of vehicles on the road.

    I can’t agree with this. Initially there will be few, but up-take will be very fast. Right to the limit of production.

    Somewhere, deep within the Earth, there are barrels of oil weeping.

  • avatar
    scicarb

    The real problem I have with EVs transcends the same consuption displacement issues rehased ad-nauseum in various blog. I want to how to avoid having to call a cab/ambulance when I arrive home with a dead EV battery and my family has a crisis. How do I explain to a pregnant woman, “Honey the baby has to wait..” The pure EV as a reliable mode of transport has to overcome the emergency need scenarios.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    Now all that said,
    – though there’s been some experimentation, I don’t see much evidence that most plug-in cars or in-home receptacles will have any kind of smart metering to shut off recharges during peak use in as soon as a few years. Certainly not the case where I live.

    I disagree. There are huge incentives for power companies to go to smart metering. First, smart meters aren’t expensive. Single-unit pricing for a smart meter with an ethernet interface is under $100 in quantity. Second, more accurate usage statistics has the potential to radically reduce the up-front costs involved in building new plants. Further, there’s a free market in power suppliers. Smart meters allow consumers to play in that space. Using existing power-line modems and smart outlets, many energy-consuming devices can be monitored and controlled without expensive retrofits.

    I was involved in responding to a number of RFPs from some very well-known utility companies for smart metering at the residential level. There’s a lot of interest in this in the market. It’s going to really explode over the next few years. Dumb meters are simply too expensive, the costs are too high.

    - The vast majority of Americans do NOT have meters that account for lower cost off-peak hours. Look at your meter. It doesn’t know when you burned up that 1000 Kilowatt hours. Someday maybe, but how long will it take to install next-generation meters for 120 million households?

    Not that long at all. First, using existing braodband internet connections and even phone lines, two-way communication between meters and the power company are a reality. And if you need an even better reason for replacing existing meters consider this: a smart meter doesn’t need some guy in a van to come around each month to read it. Eliniating that cost is a huge incentive.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    … Pros and Cons of Nukes and so forth …

    $10Billion in nukes gets you your first watt of power in about 10 years and you’ve got interest charges mounting up long before that happens.

    Whatever you choose to spend on solar or wind gets you your first watt of power within in a few months and the first watt might beat the arrival of the bill for much of the product and installation. Wind, in particular, has actually become fairly cost-effective.

    At the present time, a considerable amount of electric generation is done with natural gas. Wind and solar can’t entirely replace reliably dispatchable natural gas generation but they can supplant it when conditions are favorable, which would help hold the line on natural gas prices.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Holzman,

    Sorry, but your argument pegged my BS meter.

    There have never been enough incentives to overcome the problems that you admit in your own post.

    NIMBY’s and greens threaten to delay and destroy any nuclear project using every means possible with a high reliance on legal roadblocks that take time (money), and lawyers (money) to overcome.

    The financial risks are really high, the liability risks are really high, and most importantly, the political risks are astronomical.

    Anything that can’t be built within a single political cycle in this country is going to be very risky. So risky, that it’s amazing anyone invests anything long term.

    Perhaps you have never been stupid enough to get fooled by a government incentive, but I have, twice. It won’t happen again. The more money they dangle at me, the more I will bet the other way. They will ALWAYS renig, or change the rules in such a way as to ruin your investment.

    The reason that nuclear won’t work is not technological, it’s political. The fact that some of the reasons it’s attractive are also political (incentives and disincentives on competitive sources) doesn’t change that.

  • avatar

    Landcrusher,

    NIMBYs aren’t particular to nukes. Cape Wind has been significantly delayed because of them. But other sources are a lot quicker to come online than nukes–see KixStart directly above you.

    The people in the various solar industries would agree with you about the problems of gov’t incentives. I suspect that with Dems in charge the incentives will become more reliable, but I’m not going to tell anyone to bet on that.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    Perkins :
    June 11th, 2008 at 10:22 am

    And here in Canada they tell us that they will ‘borrow’ power from the Northeastern United States when faced with blackouts. Hmm

    I understand when sealing with electicity should u have maxed it, u get the same big NO as your bank account has reached the overdrawn limit.

  • avatar
    dhanson865

    @mdf

    GPS signals don’t penetrate a garage and if you go by the last GPS signal then you have clock drift which shouldn’t be significant most of the time but it still doesn’t address Time Zones or DST. You’d have to have a very sophisticated database to track all the locations that don’t observe DST, you’d have to update the database every time some law changes the DST/STD start/stop dates. Just knowing what time it is on the satellite is not a sure fire way to know what time it is on the ground.

    @afuller

    Your cell phone gets time/data data from the cell phone network. No cell tower, then your phones time will drift, badly in some cases (don’t even think about letting the battery completely drain when you have no service or your phone might just think it is 12:00). You do realize that cars go places where cell coverage doesn’t exist and that people live in areas with no cell service? If you lived here http://www.pbs.org/kcet/wiredscience/story/105-the_quiet_zone.html how would your car behave? You have to design consumer products to work in any environment not just in the biggest city.

    No you’d be better off going with GPS as your time source in most cases.

    There is a big difference between noticing that a device can deal with date/time data and knowing how it works enough to design a system to handle every possibility from coast to coast. I meant it when I said I don’t trust it to be accurate in all cases. If you work in any sort of technical field or do support for more than just you and your family you have already seen enough issues with what should be simple systems to make you wary about how easy it is to properly implement a feature in a system in a fail proof reliable manner.

    http://news.cnet.com/Cell-phones-could-keep-atomic-time/2100-1008_3-5330743.html shows an atomic clock might be small enough to put in the car but you still have to set it and that doesn’t solve the DST or Time Zone issue just by putting an accurate clock in the car.

    Now if you want to put the control on the outlet instead of in the car how do you handle people wanting to plug in anywhere they are? If the plug is truly bog standard 3 prong plug then you can’t assume someone will plug it in on a controlled outlet. If the plug isn’t bog standard then you can’t get an emergency charge easily no matter where you are.

    Plug in hybrid OK, Plug in pure electric we are a long way from that. Until we get there we’ll have plenty of time to think about these issues…

  • avatar
    bomber991

    Well, I think everyone here doesn’t understand how a plug-in hybrid works. The idea with them, is that it’s a standard electrical cord, now a fancy one like for a washer/dryer, not a fancy connection like for an air conditioner.

    So what that means is, if it’s a standard plug, then they probably wont use more than 1200Kw/hr.

  • avatar
    mdf

    dhanson865: “You’d have to have a very sophisticated database to track all the locations that don’t observe DST, you’d have to update the database every time some law changes the DST/STD start/stop dates.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoneinfo

    Should that even be used? Simply centering the expected charge interval at 02:00 local solar time would achieve the goal “charge during off peak hours” at almost any location on Earth.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I would say the situation is completely hopeless. The discussion is dominated by those who believe. I am not about to argue about technology with the believers.

    I will limit myself to saying that 1. there will never be a cost effective plug-in hybrid, 2. there will never be an electric powered automobile that will be purchased by more than a handful of people, 3. the energy crisis will end when the last lawyer is strangled with the intestines of the last lawyer, 4. the electric grid will deteriorate into uselessness and unreliability within a generation, 5. the electric grid will be replaced by generators powered by gasoline and diesel.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Any transition to plug-in cars will happen gradually, so no sudden demand shocks are in store.

    As long as the cars are charged at primarily at night, the utilities and grid should be able to handle it with minimal extra investment. Power plants are often idled way down at night, but have to be ready for the high demands of mid-day. Time of day based metering is slowly rolling out and is ideally suited to the needs of plug-in users.

    “What I’m hoping is to hear from somebody who is actually in the electric-power industry. Lots of interesting input from the car-plug side of the extension cord, but what about the other end of the wire? Anybody out there who really knows what they’re talkin’ about powerplant/grid-wise?”

    Hmmm, does my Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering count for anything here? I’m not in the electric power industry, but I know quite a lot about it.

    “The vast majority of Americans do NOT have meters that account for lower cost off-peak hours.”

    Ten years ago the vast majority of Americans didn’t have an Internet connection, let alone broadband. Switching over the electric meter infrastructure is actually an easier problem than rolling out cable-modems was.

  • avatar
    Kevin

    Bunkie — in the real world there is a huge gulf between something being technologically feasible — which smart metering is now — and it being implemented as standard equipment by thousands of utilities in 120 million households across a continent — having to gain regulatory approvals from a myriad of regulators every step of the way. No matter the potential incentive.

    This very market has ALREADY proved to be rolling out much more slowly than anticipated a few years ago. Even people involved in this work (especially them) get caught up in what’s occurring in a trial here or there, and the potential benefits. In the real world, as with electric cars, these things will take LOTS of time.

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    I can’t quite understand why people have such an aversion to nuclear power. I know there’s the supposed risks (ie Chernobyl) but that was an entirely different beast from the nuclear power plants in North America. Right now, nuclear power is the cleanest source of sufficient energy we have. Sure, solar and wind are cleaner, but they produce a fraction of what a nuke does. If the tree huggers really loved the air, they’d demand nukes be built so the coal and oil plants would shut down.

    But no, they’d rather waste fossil fuels and pollute the air than admit they’re a bunch of dumbass morons.

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    You don’t need GPS to get the time for a smart reader. They can have a built in cell phone that will get the time, and transmit usage data to the power company. This phone only needs to power itself up for a few seconds a day.

    If the meter can’t get cell reception, then they can run a simple wire to an external antenna. If they still can’t do it, then they can have it use the land line, or house Internet connection (wired or WiFi), just like DVRs do.

    If none of those work, then during the monthly visit by the meter reader, his reader can sync to meter’s time.

  • avatar

    lprocter1982: Right now, nuclear power is the cleanest source of sufficient energy we have. Sure, solar and wind are cleaner, but they produce a fraction of what a nuke does. If the tree huggers really loved the air, they’d demand nukes be built so the coal and oil plants would shut down.

    What makes you say it’s the cleanest source of sufficient energy? If that were true, why is wind growing four times as fast in absolute terms, worldwide, as nuclear? You seem to be making the same ignorant assumption about nuclear, that just because it has a masculine-sounding name, it’s got to be a bigger producer than solar/wind.

    Or is it the fact taht nuclear plants come in 1000 Mw? You need to compare the cost per unit capacity of nuclear with solar and wind. Then you wouldn’t be so impressed.

    Don’t forget that nuclear has to be mined–very hazardous for miners in terms of long-term cancer risk, and the waste transported across the country if we ever get a national waste disposal site (lots of vulnerability for mishaps along the way), and the plants and their waste pools make very interesting terrorist targets.

  • avatar
    DrBrian

    David what happens when the wind doesn’t blow?

    What makes you say it’s the cleanest source of sufficient energy? If that were true, why is wind growing four times as fast in absolute terms, worldwide, as nuclear? You seem to be making the same ignorant assumption about nuclear, that just because it has a masculine-sounding name, it’s got to be a bigger producer than solar/wind.

    Subsidies

    there was an excellent thread on pistonheads a while ago that contained some data on wind power in europe and how you need to build 1Mw of conventional power for every 1Mw of wind. why don’t we just use the conventional plant and start building the nuclear one?

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    I love these arguments over “off peak power levels”. Do any of you honestly expect that there will be an “off peak” if there’s enough demand? It’ll be a staedy draw at all times and not a discount in sight!

    As for timers and such, it all depends on the batteries. If it, realistically, takes 10 – 12 hours to fully charge a drained EV then no timer in the world will help. Given the brownout conditions that abound during the heavy draw days at 6 pm that isn’t an unrealistic time to charge and we’re gonna crash the system with only a few percentage points increase in EV ownership.

  • avatar
    Wolven

    No one has mentioned the most obvious answer to this question…

    The electrical companies aren’t saying or doing anything to prepare for the “huge” demand created by plugin EV’s because, unlike all the EV suckers believers, they KNOW THERE ISN’T GOING TO BE ANY BIG FLEET OF plugin EV’s… ever.

  • avatar
    rtz

    Every time I’ve been in Hoover Dam, I’ve never seen all the turbines running at once.

    Bringing more capacity online isn’t that big of a deal.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    David Holzman,

    I am not convinced about NIMBY’s. Sure they hold up other projects, but they seem to be even more rabid about nukes. Also, the long time needed to build a nuke site, combined with the many times greater regulatory hurdles allows that much more opportunity for the NIMBY’s to throw a wrench in it.

    We really need some sort of NIMBY tax in this country.

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    Out in Alberta, where it’s one of the windiest places in Canada, there are huge wind farms. If I remember correctly, the largest makes enough power to supply a small city. That’s good, but in the same amount of land, two or more nuclear power plants could be built, which would be enough power for the entire province.

    And in Ontario, likely one of the highest consuming provices in Canada (we need all the A/C to cool down the House of Commons from the politicians hot air,) we’ve got 5 nuclear power plants which makes about 50% of the provinces electricity, which, according to the Ontario MOE, makes at maximum 14,000 MW.

    By the way, Ontario is currently beginning planning to build more nukes. So all you nor’easterners can breathe easy in 10 years when they come on line.


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