Yet another EV gotcha! reports on another looming headache for the electrical grid planners as the uptake of Electric Vehicles (EV) gains momentum.

An influx of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) charging without coordination could prove challenging to the nation’s electric grid, according to research conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Matteo Muratori, a transportation and energy systems engineer at NREL and author of the new Nature Energy paper, “Impact of Uncoordinated Plug-in Electric Vehicle Charging on Residential Power Demand,” created a computer simulation to explore the effects of in-home charging on the grid.


“Realizing the full benefits of vehicle electrification will necessitate a systems-level approach that treats vehicles, buildings, and the grid as an integrated network,” said Johney Green Jr., NREL’s associate lab director for Mechanical and Thermal Engineering Sciences.

“Previous research into the amount of energy required by homes hasn’t taken into account plug-in electric vehicles,” said Muratori, who holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. “Given that more people are choosing to drive these types of vehicles and charging them at home, this additional demand should not be overlooked.”[…]

[…] Muratori also looked at the impact PEV charging might have on a residential distribution transformer. In this case, a problem arises when motorists gathered in a geographic area began buying these vehicles and plugging them in to recharge upon returning home—a practice known as uncoordinated charging. Even without large numbers of PEVs on the road, this clustering effect “will significantly increase the peak demand seen by distribution transformers and might require upgrades to the electricity distribution infrastructure,” according to Muratori’s paper.

Back in the days when we all watched one TV channel, I remember hearing stories about the surge in power demand when everybody boiled water for a cuppa in the first ad break in Coronation Street.  Imagine all the virtue signalling EV drivers arriving home from work at the same time.  The chances that those with enough disposable cash to splurge on an EV will spread evenly across a city like Auckland are slim to none.  The clusters of drivers will be in the “well-to-do” areas, not spread across South Auckland.

The research also looked at whether the household used the less-powerful Level 1 charging option or the more-powerful—and therefore faster—Level 2 charging option. Muratori found that as more PEVs are added to a neighborhood, and a higher charging power is adopted, “the distribution infrastructure might no longer reliably support the local electricity demand.” He also noted the higher demand could shorten the expected life of a transformer. […]

I would get very grumpy if I lost power because my “environmentally aware” neighbours blew the local fuse or transformer due to all using hi-charge while my dinner was cooking!

[…] Earlier studies on how PEVs might affect the grid assumed utilities would have some control over when charging occurs, referred to as coordinated charging, which will greatly facilitate PEV integration. Muratori noted that might be true in the future, but not necessarily. […]

Yes, I would love to be told when and where I could refuel my vehicle with petrol.  I believe it worked well during rationing after the war!

It is another central planner’s dream, to control when and where we drive, how fast, what we do while in the vehicle and when we can recharge.


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