Having too many plug-in hybrid cars actually plugged in could blow up the grid — or at least knock out a few localized transformers.
That’s the message from one utility executive, anyway, speaking at the 2009 Plug In conference in California. But even if it’s true, Boulder’s transformation to the nation’s first smart-grid city will likely keep the local grid intact.
Here’s the story as reported in Scientific American:
“We have a lot of challenges before us to help make this market a reality,” said Ed Kjaer, director of Southern California Edison’s electric transportation advancement program.Chief among those challenges is how thousands of power-hungry vehicles would tax distribution transformers at the local level. Such transformers have historically handled electricity load for about 10 average-size homes each.
Adding a plug-in car to the grid is equal to about a third of a house, Kjaer said. And because early adopters are likely to spring up in geographic concentrations, that could mean overloaded transformers at the distribution level or plug-in cars potentially causing power outages.
“The worst imaginable situation you could have is your neighbor yelling at you because you blacked out the neighborhood,” Kjaer said.
Boulder, Colo., is a prime candidate to be a ”geographic concentration” full of early adopters (residents took to the non-plug-in Priuses like ducks to water). But even if every single Boulderite went out and bought the new Chevy Volt when it hits showrooms late next year, Boulder’s grid should not, theoretically, explode.
Read more about how Boulder’s grid will handle an influx of plug-ins after the jump, or read Scientific American’s story “Will Electric Cars Wreck the Grid?” here.
GM is saying that its new Chevy Volt — expected to hit showroom floors sometime late in 2010 — will get a gazillion miles per gallon. Well, not a gazillion… but far more than any other hybrid is claiming: 230 mpg.
This would make the Volt almost five times more fuel efficient than the Prius, which claims 48 mpg and is becoming more common in Boulder than even prairie dogs, Crocs and cruiser bikes. But there’s a catch. It’ll cost you nearly twice as much to buy a Volt than a Prius. Read more about the Volt here or after the jump.
In Boulder, residents — and increasingly the government — are looking to take the Priuses they already own to the next level, converting the cars to plug-ins that one day may be able to feed electricity back to the grid.
Boulder County, the city of Boulder and the University of Colorado are all collaborating with Xcel Energy on one of the first large-scale tests of vehicle-to-grid technology. Just recently, big yellow plugs have sprouted from the northwest end of the parking lot behind the county courthouse, and you can see a couple of converted Priuses plugged into the wall when they’re not being driven.
Read more about the local vehicle-to-grid tests on the Daily Camera’s Web site here and here. Or check out a story on Hybrids Plus, a Boulder-based company that converts standard hybrid cars to plug-ins, here.