Dealing With The Grid

Cheering for electric vehicles, EV and hybrids, HEV is one thing.  Having the infrastructure to handle their electric demands during peak time, is another.  Much work needs to be done so that the infrastructure can handle the load during peak time.

The gist, at the third TechKnow forum in Ann Arbor’s Power Center last Thursday, senior engineers and automotive strategists carried on discussions on how to tackle “recharging Michigan”, according to WWJ.

John DiCecco from  Environmental Defense Fund, EDF pointed out the thorny issue of cost related to plug-in hybrids, PHEV plugging into the grid.  Most speakers noted the main developments needed were, mostly on lowering cost but also, batteries that are still too large and heavy, long recharge times, and vehicle performance related to a battery’s state of charge.  All the usual culprit, all of which need to have a concerted effort in order to improve all aspect of EV and PHEV technology.

On an interesting note, most speakers agreed that the overall cost savings of driving a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle outweigh the initial cost for consumers, which is something that has been debated and use against by naysayers.  According to John J. Lauckner, vice president of global program management at GM, PHEV drivers could see cost savings of $1,200 to $1,700 per year because the cost per mile to drive a standard car is about 12 cents where driving a PHEV is about 2 cents per mile,”.  And if you live in states where the price of gas is higher than in Michigan, those numbers jump up even more.

As far as the grid and local utilities are concerned, the drain from EVs and PHEVs during off-peak hours would handle the increase in power usage without any upgrades.  However, much work needs to be done during peak hours we would need a substantial investment to be able to withstand the surge.

It seems an awareness campaign and smart recharge strategies are needed if we are to make EVs and PHEVs a more viable reality sooner.