Yale Climate Connections: Is the Grid Ready for Electric Vehicles?

Posted by Jan Ellen Spiegel on Mar 5, 2019

This Yale Climate Connections post looks at how the grid can best prepare to integrate electric vehicles (EVs)), with perspective by AEE's Matt Stanberry, See excerpts below and read the entire Yale Climate Connection story here, which includes an excellent summary of Con Edison's EV pilot programs.

Some Americans appear increasingly ready to give up their gas cars for electric vehicles. But are the country’s electric grids prepared for them?

The question is a critical one in the quest to address climate change, because transportation is now the single largest sector contributing to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. EVs are widely viewed as a key way to help change that.

“The broad answer is actually yes, the grid can handle the introduction of large amounts of EVs,” said Matt Stanberry, vice president of Advanced Energy Economy, a business association dedicated to development of clean and affordable global energy systems. “The capability is there,” Stanberry said. “The question is how do you get there.”

Stanberry, along with others looking at the issue, believes what’s needed is not more power, it’s more efficiently and strategically provided power…

Ideally, people would charge their cars when the grid isn’t jammed with activity or when there’s extra power available. That would be in the middle of day in the sunny West when solar power is peaking. In windy areas like Texas, it’s nighttime. In the Northeast, it’s overnight when there’s less power usage. Utilities think they can influence people’s charging behavior by making it more advantageous to charge during those times.

Even before EV use becomes widespread, there are a lot of factors utilities have to think about as they gauge future power needs. Most critically, neighborhood circuits and transmission lines will need substantial changes. For instance, gas stations and highway rest stops one day may be filled with charging stations. That would not only put pressure on the grid, but also do it in concentrations and locations that are different from those that exist now.

With the potential for EVs to become power sources for homes and for emergency back-up power after disasters, utilities will also have to start planning for power to be able to flow in two directions. And they may need figure out how to hook it all to rooftop solar and energy storage…

See the complete Yale Climate Connection story here.

Topics: AEE In The News