Understanding the impact of electric cars on the grid

As more electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids hit the streets, one of the challenges will be managing the power grid requirements for these cars when they are having their batteries recharged at all hours.

To help further understand exactly what kind of impact this might have, researchers at the University of Notre Dame recently announced they are “attempting to develop mathematical algorithms to help guide the integration of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) into the power grid.”

As researchers look at what issues might occur as more of these types of vehicles plug in, they hope to be able to “anticipate and solve optimization problems critical to various parties, such as PEV owners, commercial charging station owners, aggregators and distribution companies, at the distribution and retail level of the emerging PEV system.”

To do this, they are addressing what they term some “software and hardware challenges” that must be smoothed out.

One example the team cited they are working on is issues “related to charging at both commercial charging stations and at residences, and scenarios when PEVs function only as consumers of power as well as those in which PEVs could conceivably serve as a sort of battery, reinjecting energy from the vehicle to the home (V2H) or from the vehicle to the grid (V2G).”

Working under funding from the National Science Foundation’s Cyber-Physical Systems Program, the Notre Dame research group will work in close collaboration with industrial partners and also other academics to “ground the research in real problems and to facilitate quick dissemination of results to the marketplace.”

“Electrification of the transportation market offers revenue growth for utility companies and automobile manufacturers, lower operational costs for consumers and benefits to the environment,” said researcher Vijay Gupta in a statement

“By addressing problems that will arise as PEVs impose extra load on the grid, and by solving challenges that currently impede the use of PEVs as distributed storage resources, this research will directly impact society.”

Nino Marchetti, EarthTechling