UTC: Gearing up for electric vehicles

UTC ( Utilities Telcom Council) has a new expensive report about the effect of a growing marketplace of electronic vehicles  on the power grid. The short story is that a careful dance of planning and preparation will have to take place to be ready for a meaningful roll out of electric vehicles.

From the press release:

Energy usage attributable to electric vehicles could rise 1,700% by 2020, according to a report authored by utility management consulting firm The Shpigler Group and released by the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC). Annual megawatt hour (MWh) usage from electric vehicles could grow from only 146,000 in 2010 to 2.6 million by 2020, the report notes, raising a host of technological and operational issues for the nation’s electric utilities, particularly when it comes to modernizing and upgrading utility communications and information technology.

The report, Gearing Up for Electric Vehicles: Tackling the EV Challenges to the Smart Grid, also notes that this surge in EV usage could foster a 61-fold annual reduction in CO2 emission reductions, with almost 2.6 million tons in emissions reductions that year. To accommodate this game-changing shift in electricity usage, a number of key issues must be addressed, including improved battery performance, continued exploration of vehicle-to-grid technology that can utilize EV batteries as grid storage devices and infrastructure innovations that support the peak load changes that EVs will introduce to the grid. Chief among the innovations are improvements in communications and IT technologies, which are need to better plan and operate the electric delivery system, particularly meter data and network management systems.”

UTC president and chief executive, William R. Moroney

“Ensuring grid reliability with hundreds of thousands of new electric vehicles plugging in every day will require a significant expansion of utilities existing communications and control networks,” noted UTC president and chief executive, William R. Moroney.

From Gigaom:

“Utilities are preparing for future EVs with a host of pilot projects, with the likes of gear providers GE, Siemens, Schneider Electric, and ABB. At the same time, automakers are partnering with these companies in order to build the charging networks they’ll need to sell more EVs in the next decade. Private car-charging networks, such as NRG Energy’s subscription-style EV charging network  in Texas, are also emerging.

Of course, all these issues depend upon how popular plug-in cars will become over the next decade. It’s hard to justify spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build the electric equivalent of a nationwide network of gas stations before you know how many EVs there will be on the road.”

In the long run, electric vehicles present a huge opportunity for cost savings, emission reduction and energy independence. “This chart provides an estimate of the cost of fuel in cents/mile for regular gasoline internal combustion engine vehicles (ICV), gasoline hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), and battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Each alternative vehicle cost per mile is plotted as a function of the fuel price:

Estimate of the cost of fuel in cents/mile

  • Gasoline-powered ICVs and HEVs are plotted vs. the cost of gasoline between $2/gallon & $5/gallon
  • Hydrogen-powered FCEVs are plotted as a function of the cost of natural gas between $4/MBTU & $10/MBTU, assuming that hydrogen is initially produced by reforming natural gas onsite with a capacity of 1,500 kg/day in production volumes of 500 units [1].
  • BEVs are plotted as a function of the cost of electricity between 2 cents/kWh & 10 cents/kWh

We conclude that:

  • BEVs will have the lowest cost per mile unless electricity costs more than 10 cents/kWh and natural gas costs less than $4/MBTU [2].
  • Hydrogen-powered FCEVs will have the second lowest cost per mile unless natural gas costs more than $8/MBTU and gasoline costs less than $2.50/gallon, in which case a gasoline HEV would have similar cost per mile.
  • Gasoline-powered HEVs will have third best fuel cost per mile, and
  • Conventional (non-hybrid) ICVs will always have the highest fuel cost per mile.”

About Daniel Davenport

Daniel is a digital media executive with internet and broadcast experience. Daniel is currently the executive strategy director at THINK Interactive.

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