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Will Plug-In Hybrids Tax Our Power Grid?

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It’s hard to keep a plug-in hybrid going without a source of power -- but if everyone plugs in at night or during the day, what happens to the nation's power grid?

Ford Motor Company and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) are trying to find out. The automaker and the Institute have linked up in a three-year partnership that will develop and evaluate ways to incorporate plug-in hybrids into the electric grid system.

Ford is in the process of producing 20 plug-in Escape Hybrids for testing around Los Angeles, but this partnership in New Jersey will allow them to expand their tests to a much larger scale. The partnership with the “EPRI brings [Ford's] collaborative efforts related to the potential of plug-in electric vehicle technologies to a new level,” according to Nancy Gioia, director of Sustainable Mobility Technologies at Ford.

The new partnership, Ford says, will ideally lead to solutions to many of the problems with current plug-in hybrids such as battery costs and charging strategies.

Once the impact of plug-in hybrids on the electric grid system is assessed, Ford says it will work out ways to make the ideal widespread use of plug-in hybrids a reality. At the same time, the study could lead to a more efficient use of the national electric grid system.
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Comments (19)
  1. No Doubt about it, Electric Cars and Plug in Hybrids will screw up the National Electrical Power Grid!!!
     
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  2. Not sure. you need (1) enough milage to survive your round trip on that day, and then (2) have a timer on the recharge that works during the night, when the demand is low.

    2 should be easy. 1 might be more difficult.
     
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  3. Even with nighttime only recharging, in the summer the grid will be overloaded unless more generation capacity added.

    And don't forget the real appeal of plug-in hybrids to Californians -- it transfers their vehicle based pollution to Nevada and other fly over states by way of the grid!
     
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  4. WHat a SILLY article!!!!!

    OF COURSE theFEW plug ins will do NOTHING to the power grid, as they will be rechjarged OVERNIGHT, and in addition they will recharge at the lowest electricity rates possible.

    Even if they sold a MILLION of them they would cause LITTTLE or no problems, but nobody even dreams they will sell a million of them. More like a 1,000, and that's OPTIMISTIC... LOL.

    The MODERN DIESEL will arrive IN FORCE in the US in the next 1-3 years and will make all these overpriced, unprofitable and silly contraptions look even sillier and redundant.

    And look at diesel prices: While gas are going to new records, diesel are FALLING, and last year this time they were lower than even MIDGRADE fuel, let alone premium:

    Regular Mid Premium Diesel
    Current Avg. $3.275 $3.477 $3.603 $4.018
    Yesterday Avg. $3.267 $3.468 $3.594 $4.022
    Month Ago Avg. $3.152 $3.347 $3.469 $3.611
    Year Ago Avg. $2.620 $2.781 $2.882 $2.775

    The above are EXCELLENT Ans ACCURATE data for YESTERDAY based on AAA's 100,000s CC receipts! See fuelgauge.com
     
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  5. The real problem is how to recharge quickly when on a trip (i.e. the battery is depleted and you have another 200 miles to go - as well as how to recharge when away from home (run an extension cord out the motel window?).
     
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  6. I started out on this site by just reading the articles, but then I started scrolling down to check out the first few comments... Now I find myself skimming through all of the comments on every article I read, just to see what kind of juvenile dribble Thor will post (and he/she seems to do just that on nearly every article I read!!) It may well be as entertaining as the articles themselves, and mildly addictive.

    Now if I could just learn TO USE MY caps lock key JUST a bit MORE... ;)

    Sorry Thor, I realize I don't know you (that I'm aware of?) and I'm sure you're a very nice person when speaking to people face to face.
     
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  7. Thor is right about overnight charging not taxing the grid. Various studies have been done to show that with a gradual rampup of PHEV use, there's enough off-peak capacity to charge tens of millions of vehicles without adding new generating stations.

    This will, however, require expansion of "smart grid" capabilities like those now being implemented in CA that can ID a charging vehicle and switch the charging on and off at the most off-peak hours.

    Thor *may* be right about penetration of diesels in the US market, but it's far less clear than he makes it out to be. It's really THE big unanswered question over the next few years.

    As for Gary Owen's concern about charging after 200 miles, err, Gary, it's a plug-in HYBRID. It still has an engine, whether to run a generator that charges the batteries only (Volt serial hybrid) or to power the wheels directly (Prius power-split hybrid). You simply run on the gasoline in your tank until IT runs out. End of story.
     
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  8. TheOtherGuy Says GARBAGE personal attacks on myh posts.

    I dare you, stupid and uninformed CLOWN, to find ONE thing in my posts that is not 100% CORRECT.

    and if you can't, shut the hell up and leave. Your Village is missing you.
     
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  9. Thank you again Thor, you continue to make my day.

    Arguing on a blog is like competing in the special olympics... Even if you win, you're still retarded. But please don't stop your mindless persistence on my account. Others probably find it equally entertaining as well.
     
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  10. Diesel is a great alternative but that comes with an *asterisk* in that only "clean" diesels should ever be considered. Diesel vehicles are currently the worst polluters on the road so while going out and buying a used VW Jetta TDI may give you great mileage it will actually pollute more than many gasoline vehicles. The worst polluting new passenger vehicle on the market today is the VW Tourag diesel. In fact, the manufacturers who have the worst polluting vehicles worldwide are all European. That's right... Mercedes, BMW and VW sit at the top of the list. This is due to the fact that the current diesels on the road (currently over half the vehicles in Europe) are older, non-clean diesels. I don't necessarily agree with Califorina's stupid insistance to regulate emissions at the state level but at least it would require that all new diesels must use "clean" technology. The federal government needs to get on the ball in this respect. The insurance industry is an example of state-level regulation that makes a whole line of common products more expensive for all of us. I look for clean diesels to become more prominent and that is a good thing but diesel still isn't a perfect alternative to gasoline. Like hybrids, diesel has its shortcomings. First and foremost, diesel is still a petroleum product so our dependence on foreign oil (which is overlooked by many IMO) is still perpetuated by its use. Biodiesel, while an improvement has its own problems much like ethanol. It still takes energy to convert from one form to another. How that compares to petroleum still needs to be answered. I don't see diesel going away because it does have some terrific qualities but with that said, it isn't perfect.
    Hybrids currently are overpriced and underdeveloped. That will improve with time. The real problem today is the time it takes for the technology to pay for itself. There is an environmental upside but nothing else! That is why the only hybrid that currently sells well is the Prius; it has become the status vehicle for tree huggers that want to make a statement. Plug-in hybrids on the other hand provide the benefit of much lower fuel costs which means the premium paid for the technology up front will be recouped much sooner than todays hybrids. The upside is great but like diesel, hybrids aren't perfect either. Energy grid problems are the naysayers favorite argument and I personally feel it is overstated in that context. No one questioned the impact of the computer you are working on in regards to the power grid and yet the energy industry has met the demand. Obviously if we went out and replaced every vehicle on the road today with a plug-in the grid would get hit hard and demand would be too high. However, the reality is these vehicles will come online gradually and the power industry will have time to ramp up just as they have in the past as electronic products have proliferated our daily lives. That may be a tough task but how tough will have to be determined by the experts and not someone ranting on a web site. Keep an open mind and let hybrids mature... Then the free market will will determine their fate.
    In the end I think we will have many choices as consumers. Hybrid vehicles will compete with clean diesels and with the advances in motor and battery technology in just the last three years alone I expect full electrics to become more prevalent in the long-term. If I have a personal preference I think any technology that allows us to avoid foreign oil should have the highest preference but I am realistic enough to admit that diesel will have its place as the technology is still improving and it could very well end up being the best choice for larger vehicles. Only time will tell.
     
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  11. A plug in hybrid would be an excellent application for a HCCI (Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition) engine. One of the major drawbacks of HCCI engines is that they have trouble trying to run outside of a narrow rpm range which a plug-in hybrid solves. This technology might tak some of the pressure off diesel.
     
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  12. Really enjoyed reading what this fella Flyerbry had to say, sounds like he has his head screwed on right. To me the answer is quite simple just check with the people who produce the electricity. If they can't answer that problem then we do have a problem. Like it was said this isn't going to happen just over night, first the people of this country have to understand exactly what hybrids, electric cars, and plug in's are. There are far to many crazy rummors running around bad mouthing the use of these vehicles. One day probably when fuel reaches the price they now are paying over seas (and that shouldn't be long) a lot of interest is going to be developing and our car magazines will stop talking about producing 550hp engines and start promoting small electric motors that will blow the doors off the gas guzzlers.....
     
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  13. The whole notion of plug in vehicles is NONSENSE when:

    1. 70% of our power is made by coal plants due to having scaled back on nuclear energy which is clean and lasts 30 years before you have some small amount of radioactive waste that needs to be protected and stored properly.

    Even clean coal is a joke although better than nothing. What do they do? They pump it underground so it can outgas over time!

    So we plug vehicles in to charge and power them, tax the grid and pollute more through coal fired power? that doesn't make any sense.

    2. I still have yet to understand "why" we have things such as alternators and generators that produce energy as they are turned, and we wouldn't harness the turning of the wheels through gears vehicle to turn an efficient generator, creating a charge to help offset the amount of power required.

    In fact, ALL hybrids should use this rather than mainly using brakes to regenerate power. If you did this properly, you could practically keep the vehicle charged all the time on it's own with very limited need to plugin, or gas usage for hybrids.

    The reason I would say is because if you make a 60-75% self sufficient vehicle (self sufficient in harnessing energy through efficient generators that are turned by the wheels through gearing to make them turn faster), there wouldn't be nearly as much dependence on big energy.
     
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  14. Instead of doing another study, why don't you look at the effect of the prius on the grid in the past few years??? It seems to me that the data is already there.
     
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  15. Brian,
    Your #2 describes perpetual motion.
     
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  16. Thor says:

    And look at diesel prices: While gas are going to new records, diesel are FALLING, and last year this time they were lower than even MIDGRADE fuel, let alone premium:

    Diesel
    Current Avg. $4.018
    Month Ago Avg. $3.611
    Year Ago Avg. $2.775

    I dare you, stupid and uninformed CLOWN, to find ONE thing in my posts that is not 100% CORRECT.

    IF, by FALLING, you mean that prices are going up, then I guess you are 100% correct!
     
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  17. According to Zap, their plug-in hybrid will recharge in less than an hour. I doubt that the little amount of electricity that will be needed for this will affect the grid. Also, please note that, in NJ, diesel prices are now almost $1 more than gas.
     
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  18. Interesting how some (Thor!) make claims with no experience or data!

    Diesels are certainly appealing from a thermodynamic perspective, as the Diesel cycle converts ~30% of the energy in the fuel to work, while the Otto cycle (gasoline) converts only ~25%. In addition, diesel fuel contains more BTUs of energy per gallon than gasoline. This advantage is reduced by the additional cost of diesel fuel. More significantly, Euro diesels are not saleable in the U.S. because of stricter tailpipe emissions regulations here. The huge costs, and inconvenience (on-board urea storage & replenishment) of the systems necessary to meet these regulations are likely to relegate diesel engines to very high end cars (i.e. Mercedes), large trucks and SUV's.
    btw- Thor's own data seems to refute his assertion that diesel prices are coming down, other than a very small one day variation!

    Plug-in hybrids, while still expensive, will offer the attraction of very, very infrequent fuel stops for many. They essentially eliminate tailpipe emissions impact in urban locations where the problem is the most severe. They do, in fact, move the emissions to stationary source powerplants, but we should not assume there will be no technological advancements in the control of those emissions as well.

    All should understand there is no such thing as a free lunch. For example, Brian, alternators and generators do not creat energy! They merely convert kinetic energy to electrical energy. That is the essence of the hybrid. The generator places a load on the drivetrain to help decelerate the vehicle and convert the kinetic energy to electrical energy to re-charge the batteries in the process.
     
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  19. Where does Thor live that diesel is cheaper than premium? Here in Calif. diesel is well over $4 a gallon where gas is in the $3.50 to $3.80 price range, but I fear it is headed to $4 & up soon. I still favor diesel due to its fuel efficiency.
    However, I feel the plug in hybrid is the best solution until hydrogen fueled fuel cell technology becomes economically feasable, which I fear won't happen in my lifetime, as I am almost 75 years old. Why do I feel a plug in hybrid is the best near term solution? Because 80% of the people drive less than 40 miles a day, 80% of the time. A plug in hybrid is susposed to have a range of 40 miles before the engine kicks in. The one thing that killed the electric car is insufficent range. Having a backup engine, preferably a diesel engine, solves the range issue.
    I don't see a large plug in hybrid population as overtaxing the electric grid. Most would recharge their cars at night when power demand is less. Should this become a problem, financial incentatives to cover roofs, especially residential roofs with solar voltiac cells wherever practical, would solve our potential electric grid problems. This could also eliminate our need to import foreign oil. The money saved by pulling out of Iraq & the Middle East could easily pay for a program to install solar cells, expand electric power from other renewal sources such as wind, & expand nucular power plants.
     
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