Wednesday, June 18, 2008

GM's Plug-in Plugging Into the Grid

VoltObligatory hat tip to NEI Notes reader Scott for pointing us to this Seattle Times story about GM's plans for its plug-in hybrid vehicle, the Chevy Volt.

Scheduled to launch in 2010, the Volt will run up to 40 miles on a single charge. That 40 mile threshold is key, as, according to GM, 78% of U.S. commuters drive 40 miles or less daily.

How would a fleet of electric cars impact the pump and the grid? (Here's where it gets really interesting.)

Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), a prominent Boston consultancy, estimates that if the entire U.S. vehicle fleet suddenly became electric, gas consumption would drop 70 percent, and electric-power consumption would jump about 17 percent.

"It's not that big a hit for the electric-power industry," said CERA consultant Patricia DiOrio.

What electricity source could respond to that demand? General Motors vice chairman and head of product development, Robert Lutz, has an answer,
The only real option is nuclear energy.


Matthew B said...

There is a very good, albeit lengthy, article in this months The Atlantic about the Volt.

There also is an article on Forbes about the possible extra demand:

Anonymous said...

Now if only there was a way to reduce the cost of the Volt to something those 78% of people could afford. To its credit, however, it is a start in the right direction.

robert merkel said...

Mind you, if the Volt's recharging systems are well designed, and "smart metering" becomes ubiquitous, it could charge when supply outstripped other demand, and thus help the grid cope with a greater proportion of intermittent renewables than might otherwise be the case

Longer term, hybrid vehicles might be usable for energy storage. At the moment the effect on battery life is such that you wouldn't want your expensive battery wasted providing grid backup, but that may change in the future.

But then, the expected pattern - recharging at night - would also nicely dovetail with more baseload nukes in the grid as well.

Anonymous said...

Where did the Lutz comment come from? Source?