What if electric cars could actually prevent blackouts?
The current electric grid is an aging industrial age monster that still relies upon coal, natural gas and nuclear generation; technology that has not changed much since the 1950’s. Most of your power generation is many miles from your home, requiring a massive infrastructure of wires, substations, capacitors and telephone poles to heat up your coffee in the morning.
When (non-solar) homeowners start to crank up their air conditioning during a heatwave it can cause cascading failures, resulting in blackouts and brownouts. The grid can also be taken down by hurricanes, drunk drivers careening into telephone poles, and even solar flares from outer space!
If you’ve never heard of the Carrington event check this out:
In my previous post I wrote about the next generation of batteries and future electric cars capable of driving 1,000 miles on a single charge. One might think that 100 million electric vehicles plugged into the grid would cause MORE demand and more blackouts, but the opposite is actually true.
As the driver of a plug-in electric car for the last 4 months I began to not only consider solar for my home, but I actually got into the solar business!
People who drive hybrid or full electric vehicles are more likely to install solar. Once 10% of the homes in an area install solar the rest of the community is soon to follow. There will always be holdouts, those Amish folks that don’t own a microwave oven or use the internet. There will also be communities that can’t afford the investment in solar, another conversation altogether.
Imagine for a moment a grid tied subdivision with a couple hundred electric cars, and a couple hundred homes with rooftop solar.
In a blackout, even at night, the grid could switch to drawing power from plugged in electric cars. As the owner of the car you would control the parameters of the draw, and at what rate. For instance, you might only allow the grid to draw 200 miles of charge from your car, at 8 cents per kilowatt hour or higher. The app on your phone would notify you as the power is being exchanged, maybe even send you a competitive price bid for the remaining electricity stored in your vehicle!
During the daytime the rooftop solar in that area could supply all the power for the community, even to the homes that don’t have panels. Non solar homes would pay a set rate for their electric, with part of those funds going to the solar homeowners who generate the most energy during the blackout.
All the computational technology is already in place, there is already an app to monitor the energy consumption in my Volt and the power output from my panels. We don’t have the electric cars with a 1,000 mile range… but that tech is coming soon enough.
Residential solar, electric cars and a high tech grid could work together to ensure clean power for everyone.
Blackouts will become a thing of the past. Any neighborhood with enough rooftop solar and electric cars would never miss a beat.
April . 2017