Essay by Eric Worrall
“At the moment our electricity grid is not coping at all”: According to Origin Energy, a major Aussie supplier, unless smart chargers are used to shift EV charging load away from peak times, the grid will struggle to cope with people plugging their vehicles in after work.
Electric vehicles could significantly increase demand on the power grid, trials underway to change energy use behaviour
By Kym Agius
Electric cars could increase demand on the power grid during the evening peak by at least 30 per cent unless households adopt smart charging, a new trial shows.
- A trial of 150 electric car users revealed their potential impact on the power grid’s evening peak
- Demand could rise between 30 and 100 per cent
- Work underway to understand what upgrades could be needed to the electricity network
Origin Energy has teamed up with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to understand ways to change the behaviour of electric car owners before their mass adoption in Australia.
With the threat of blackouts a reality amid higher prices and demand, Origin’s general manager of e-mobility Chau Le said the network would struggle once EVs became more popular.
“At the moment our electricity grid is not coping at all,” she said.
“If we were to add another 30 per cent of peak load to the grid during those periods of high prices and constraints on the network, this would require significant investment to increase capacity.”
It found that without intervention, 30 per cent of charging was done in the evening peak, between 3pm and 9pm.
What a mess – welcome to our energy rationed, energy impoverished future. If only our energy and climate minister wasn’t so anti-nuclear. A zero carbon nuclear powered grid, like they have in France, would have no problem charging an EV any time of day or night – no need for energy rationing if you have nuclear power.
Imagine the impact on EV owners.
If I owned an EV I would want to plug in as soon as I get home, so there is plenty of charge if I need to make an unexpected late night trip. And I’d like plenty of charge in the morning, for the commute to work. Then plug in at work, pick up a good charge during the solar peak, then back on the charger at home.
If any of these charging periods are removed or degraded, it will significantly inconvenience EV owners. If you can’t plug in as soon as you get home, and you live a few miles outside town, you will potentially suffer range anxiety if one of the kids suffers an unexpected night time medical issue, or if a friend invites you out, or you need to make an unexpected dash to the supermarket. Even worse if your vehicle doesn’t charge at all overnight, due to low wind and cold weather draining all available electricity from the grid.
EVs almost make sense, if you ignore the occasional need for a long distance trip, the high cost, and the distressing tendency of EVs to spontaneously combust. But only if you can charge the EV at your convenience. Otherwise EVs are even more of a joke than they are at present.