– Mass adoption of electric vehicles, or EVs, has a dark side: when thousands of EV drivers come home from work and plug in their cars, demand on the electrical grid suddenly surges.
Thus, EVs represent a huge challenge for power companies, which must either provide more power or find a way to manage the loads.
Enter General Electric, this magazine’s sponsor, which is developing “demand response” technology to help utilities deal with the spikes that will come when significant numbers of EVs ply our roads, according to Jason Black, a systems engineer at GE Global Research.
So the idea behind demand response is to foster communication. Communication between customers and the smart grid. All about power availability and demand. Therefore utilities have been doing this for decades with “direct load control”.
That means and for example, you’re electric water heater shuts down if demand peaks.
A smarter, subtler grid
But the smart grid is much subtler. So no yo just shutting down appliances. Therefore m it can ask homes equipped with energy management systems, for a specific reduction based on a certain criteria.
So it’s for when drivers plug in their cars at the end of the day. Black said, “I tell the utility what time I need to be charged by. Then the utility can schedule that charge at any time in that window.”
That means that instead of charging a car at 7 p.m., when many people are using their microwaves and TVs, the utility can charge it after midnight, when demand drops considerably. If 1,000 people in a given network are drawing 6 kilowatts at a time, rescheduling the charges can shave 6 megawatts of demand at a critical time, Black said.
And since peak power is the most expensive – and, often, the dirtiest – to generate, all utility customers will benefit through demand management. It will also decrease the likelihood of blackouts.
For example, GE and Nissan Leaf went there. The Nissan/GE tech will demonstrate some of the most far-reaching technical capabilities yet of the future Smart Grid and home, including:
1. The EV communicating directly with the utility or with the home energy manager to help manage electricity consumption;
2. The EV acting as a back-up power source in the event of a power outage;
Time-of-Use demand response scenarios where devices in the home like the refrigerator, washer/dryer and EV charger react to changes in the prices of electricity based upon the time of day.