Electric cars and hybrids could represent as much as 15% of the new car market by 2020, depending on the price of oil. This means that in some places a lot of vehicles will be plugged simultaneously into the mains after the evening commute home, in order to recharge their batteries for the following day. The sudden demand for power this will entail, on top of the existing evening peak, could put the small electrical transformers that serve local grids under considerable strain—possibly to the extent of causing brownouts.
To dissuade the owners of electric cars from recharging their vehicles at peak times, and encourage them to do so in the wee, small hours of the morning instead, some electricity companies are introducing off-peak pricing for electric cars. Off-peak pricing is a common way of persuading people to run appliances such as washing machines at times of low demand. It is, though, a rigid arrangement that cannot respond to fluctuations in the requirement for power. Far better, reckon Alex Rogers and his colleagues at Southampton University, in England, for car owners to be represented in their interactions with the local power supplier by agents that can negotiate a deal on their behalf. These agents would bargain with one another, and with the power company, to charge the cars in an area in the most efficient way. The twist is that the agents Dr Rogers proposes to recruit for the task are not people, but computer programs. To read the entire article, click here.
Additionally, GVF recently had an intern assist with conducting research of eletric vehicle charging stations nationwide and in PA. With the exception of a few small projects statewide, it seems there are few projects being developed in PA. There is potential for GVF to enter into this field, which is why we had the intern conduct initial data collection. DEP recently awarded a grant to the PA Turnpike to install stations at rest areas, and there was some funding made available through the stimulus package to install stations. With the expected rate to increase on purchasing electric cars, there should be movement towards building charging stations in the PA area. GVF is currently working with its appropriate partners to see if this is an initiative they are focusing on and how can GVF be of assistance.