I had the opportunity to speak to Oregon’s Alternative Fuel Vehicles Infrastructure Working Group last week. The purpose of my presentation was to identify Smart Charging considerations as Oregon is planning and deploying electric vehicle charging stations. How can Oregon prepare for mass adoption of EVs yet avoid unintended consequences such as local electrical grid congestion?
As part of the Governor’s climate change and sustainable transportation agenda, Governor Ted Kulongoski signed Executive Order 08-24 back on September 26, 2008. The Order creates the Governor’s Alternative Fuel Vehicle Infrastructure Working Group, charged with developing the policies and alternative fuel infrastructure for Oregon in preparation for the next generation of electric and alternative fuel vehicles.
To prepare companies and help Oregon citizens move to an alternative fuels transportation system, the executive order establishes a working group that will develop a plan to work with the private sector to build alternative fuel stations in Oregon by October 2010. The group will also provide a forum for Oregonians to make sure alternative fuels work for their communities, including establishing standards for residential charging infrastructure, and implementing a public awareness campaign to educate Oregonians about how to incorporate alternative fuel vehicles into their daily lives.
As a baseline scenario, an electric vehicle (EV) represents a load on the electrical grid just like a common appliance. Whenever an electric vehicle is plugged into the grid for charging, the car will charge the batteries until the batteries are full and then the battery charger will shut off. Individually it is not an issue for electric vehicles to charge in such a manner. Yet what happens if thousands of cars are all charged at the same time?
Experts find adequate Grid Capacity for EVs, with Environmental Benefits
Though concerns have been raised about having adequate electrical generating capacity to fuel large fleets of electric vehicles, a joint study by Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), has shown adequate generating capacity exists nationwide, and further there are positive environmental benefits even considering several electricity generation portfolios and vehicle adoption scenarios.
In general, emissions decline as electric and transportation sectors evolve, combined with overall improvements in air quality. The addition of large fleets of electric vehicles should not have an adverse capacity impact with night-time (off peak) charging regimes. Yet how can we ensure every charges at off-peak times?
Smart Charging facilitates off-peak EV charging
Smart charging involves the combination of EVs and the Smart Grid. There are several classifications or levels of sophistication with Smart Charging, all summarized my presentation. The solutions range from relatively straightforward ways to charge EVs with intelligence and control in the near term, to more sophisticated ways to utilize EV batteries to store energy and supply it back to the grid in the long term.
To avoid unintended consequences such as local distribution grid congestion and to encourage better integration with renewable energy resources, Oregon’s policy and strategy for EVs and EV charging infrastructure must provision for high penetration of electric vehicles. While Oregon is positioning itself for an early-mover leadership position in electric vehicles, thus reducing greenhouse gasses, improving air quality and reducing dependence on oil imports, there are additional benefits by taking a leadership position to integrate electric vehicles and the Smart Grid. More to follow in part 2…