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.