Recognizing the potential impact widespread adoption of electric vehicles could have on the electrical grid, Argonne National Laboratory opened a new center devoted to studying how to manage the charging of electrical vehicles in a way that will protect the integrity of the grid. The new initiative is called the Electric Vehicle – Smart Grid Interoperability Center. The goal of the Center is to determine the best way to coordinate the recharging of electric vehicles.
Recharging an electrical vehicle consumes a significant amount of electric power for a prolonged period. The load isn’t too big a deal if there are only one or two electric vehicles recharging on a particular neighborhood block. If, however, everybody has an electric vehicle, how to stagger the recharge periods for these vehicles becomes important. If they aren’t alternated somehow, too much power will be drawn from the feeder transformer, and an overload will result, likely cutting off power to the neighborhood. This is tantamount to blowing a fuse or circuit breaker in your house, except that the impact is more widespread.
So, Argonne’s researchers are studying how best to design and standardize the recharge stations in people’s homes so that they can cooperate in consuming the grid’s resources. This is important work. If it is successful, there goes another obstacle to the widespread acceptance of electric vehicles. If they can’t figure out these issues, electric vehicles will remain the rarity and curiosity they are today.
As the owner of an electric vehicle and a wannabe electric vehicle evangelist, I’m pulling for them to succeed splendidly.