Electric Cars & Infrastructure
The Nature Energy paper, “Impact of Uncoordinated Plug-in Electric Vehicles Charging on Residential Power Demand”, written by Matteo Muratori, points out the effects plug-in electric vehicles will have on electric power grids in the USA. The research relied on a computer simulation which explored the effects home charging electric powered vehicles would have on the grid, an aspect that previous research projects have not considered. Given the fact that more than 600,000 plug in electric vehicles were on the road by the end of 2016, it is necessary that the effect plug in vehicles would have on an electric power grid are not overlooked.
The simulation concluded that a plug-in electric car market share of up to 3%, or up to 7.5 million vehicles, would not significantly impact the aggregate residential power demand in the USA. With the release of popular, affordable plug-in electric and hybrid car models, such as the Chevrolet Volt or Tesla model 3, it is inevitable that these cars will eventually take up a significant market share on a global scale.
The pressing need, then, is an electric grid system that is going to be fit to deal with the increased power demands that will occur as a result. The paper highlights the impact that these vehicles will have on residential distribution transformers, and how the increased local demand could shorten their expected lifespans. Furthermore, it goes on to say that as more and more of these vehicles are added to a neighbourhood it may have such a drastic effect that, “the distribution infrastructure might no longer reliably support the local electricity demand”.
The necessary response, on behalf of the government, is preparing the nation’s electricity grid so that it is properly equipped to deal with the increased power demand that plug-in electric vehicles will present. This could potentially mean the installation of additional transformers throughout neighbourhoods where electric vehicles are going to be more prominent, so that they can adequately deal with the increased power demands. Additionally, the paper speculated that the whole electricity distribution infrastructure may need to be updated. The first hurdle of designing the electric car is out of the way, but now it is time for its necessary companion, the electric grid, to undergo the necessary changes to accommodate it.