Can the grid handle the coming electric vehicle load?
Dean Murphy, Marc Chupka, Onur Aydin and Judy Chang are economists with The Brattle Group.
As electric vehicles become commonplace, will the grid be able to handle the extra load? Too many cars plugging in at once might cause disruptions and necessitate costly infrastructure upgrades. Handling the vehicle load in a smart way, however, will ensure a smooth transition to the plug-in future.
Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs)—powered in part or fully by the electric grid—might offer an opportunity to shift much of the transport sector’s energy demands away from petroleum, reducing dependence on imported oil and improving the environment. If the electric grid can be decarbonized (still an open question), this shift will help to reduce overall carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as well. The potential has drawn much attention from a variety of quarters—including policymakers concerned about climate change and energy security, and vehicle manufacturers wanting to capitalize on a new market. Power system planners concerned about the possible effect of PEVs on the electric system also have begun exploring the issues.