Environment Forum

Electric cars to help solve riddle of storing power

March 19, 2009

Since the days of Thomas Edison, finding a way to effectively store electricity has been one of the “Holy Grails” for power companies.

While it won’t be an overnight revolution for electricity, eventually plug-in electric cars and trucks will be a step toward the elusive goal, said Ted Craver, chief executive officer of Edison International.

Edison International is the parent of Southern California Edison (SCE), which is the biggest utilty in the United States in terms of power delivered to customers.

 ”They are effectively storage units on wheels,” Craver said of electric cars and trucks.

Vehicles batteries charged during off-peak periods could feed power back to the grid during periods of peak demand, said Craver in a telephone interview on Thursday.

California like other states requires that power utilities have enough power plant generation to serve the highest demand day of the year. This means that more than half of the state’s power generation sits unused most of the time.

“Our electricity system is about 49-percent utilized,” said Craver. “If we had a reasonably modest introduction of electric vehicles into the system, we could change that 49 percent to 55 or 56 percent.”

So in addition to having the ability to propel cars without creating carbon dioxide emissions — outside of the power plants that must run to serve them — electric vehicles may one day help keep utilities from building as many power plants.

Craver’s interview came minutes after he hosted President Barack Obama’s visit to SCE’s electic Vehicle Technical Center in Pamona, California to promote green jobs are green technology.

Obama said that by 2015 there will be a million plug-in hybrid vehicles on U.S. roads.

Obama also announed $2.4 billion in grants for work on plug-in hybrid vehicles and batteries to run them, as well as a $7,500 tax credit for owners of plug-in vehicles.

SCE has more than 300 cars and trucks that run on electricity, the largest U.S. fleet of electric vehicles, Craver said.

Comments
3 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

if true, this will be a godsend for environment, the economy, and national security

Posted by jd | Report as abusive
 

What misplaced hope. I think this green stuff will be really green for those who can tap the Obama money. Rather than using an electric car that hauls heavy batteries around drive a regular car. Charge batteries during the night for the electricity you need for your house during the day. Going that route removes the weight limitations associated car batteries and currently available batteries can be used. TheCO2 isn’t reduced by a battery powered vehicle it’s just being moved upstream to the generating plant.

Posted by Werner Strasser | Report as abusive
 

The idea of using the installed power base to supply of-peak energy (especially for transportation) is one quickest ways to reduce emission and increase societal efficiencies known. A significant part of our energy comes from nuclear (20%) and hydroelectric(approx 10%) These sources cannot be turned down, and also produce energy carbon free. Because they cannot be turned down, we would in essence be charging up automobiles for free. The capital costs of installation are already made, with the baseline power output used for daytime peak loading. In principal wind energy could also be stored in mobile systems.

Posted by Donald Simon | Report as abusive
 

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