Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Electric cars not as bad for grid as some claim

Speaking of wind power, I read that provinces are capping the amount of wind power that can be depended on at roughly 10%. This is because unlike other sources of electricity, wind power stops as soon as the wind does. If too much power suddenly disappeared (when the wind stopped), the grid would de-stabilize - and that's bad.

I read another article that suggests when the day comes where we are plugging our cars into the grid to recharge them (hybrid or full electrics), this could create a kind of electrical buffer or storage system to help stabilize the grid. The idea is that with thousands of cars with huge battery storage capability plugged in, the cars get charged when power demand is low (overnight) and power can be drawn from them when demand is high (such as around dinner time). So the thing the grid has always been lacking - a buffer, could actually be solved by owners of electric cars with batteries.

Isn't that neat?


junebee said...

This is what I don't get about hybrid vehicles - they need to be plugged in at night! And don't most power plants burn fossil fuels, or emit pollution into the air! I don't see where hybrids are any more "green", with their batteries full of lead and chemicals and all.

Karl Plesz said...

Forgive my lecture, but 'hybrid' cars don't get plugged in - they have gas and electric motors. They're actually the best balance between full electric and full gas cars because they don't put any demand on the electrical system - they just use the gas most efficiently by storing left over energy in batteries until it's needed.

But you're right, if we used fully electric cars, instead of burning fuel in the car, we'd be burning fuel generating electricity to recharge our cars.

I've heard it said that we'd do better with neighbourhood mini power plants because (in Canada anyway) we waste a lot of power just getting the electricity to our towns. Of course, if we could harness sun and wind locally, we might get to charge our electric cars for almost nothing and sell the leftover power to the utility.