Two current trends are the increasing reliance on renewable sources in the electric grid and the increasing use of electric vehicles. According to some projections, these trends could lead to the need for costly new power plants to meet peak loads in the evening when cars are plugged in to charge. Overproduction of power from solar farms during the daytime would require expanded energy storage capacity so as not to waste all that generating capacity.
A new study by MIT researchers has found that it is possible to mitigate or eliminate these problems without the need for advanced technological systems and complex infrastructure. The key elements of the strategy are the strategic placement of charging stations and the practice of delaying the onset of home charging.
Better availability of charging stations at workplaces could help to soak up peak power being produced at midday from solar power installations. In general, placing of charging stations in strategic ways, rather than letting them spring up just anywhere, could make a big difference.
Delaying home charging to times when there is less electricity demand could be accomplished with the use of a simple app that would estimate the time to begin the charging cycle so that it finishes charging just before the car is needed the next day. Since different people have different schedules and needs, by delaying the onset of charging appropriately, not everyone will be charging at the same time, and therefore the peak in demand would be smoothed out.
There are substantial government funds earmarked for charging infrastructure and creating that infrastructure in suitably strategic ways could make a big difference in supporting EV adoption and supporting the power grid.
Minimizing electric vehicles’ impact on the grid
Photo, posted July 2, 2020, courtesy of Ivan Radic via Flickr.
Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio