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An Electric Vehicle Charger to Help Balance the Grid

March 15, 2013 | Northwest Public Radio
CONTRIBUTED BY:
Courtney Flatt


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  • Charging your electric vehicle could help balance the grid and save you money, says Michael Kinter-Meyer (foreground). Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has developed a smart charger, a part of which will be liscensed by a California company. credit: Flickr Creative Commons: PNNL - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Kintner-Meyer says 80,000 people in the United States drive electric vehicles. credit: Flickr Creative Commons: PNNL - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Charging your electric vehicle could help balance the grid and save you money, says Michael Kinter-Meyer (foreground). Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has developed a smart charger, a part of which will be liscensed by a California company. | credit: Flickr Creative Commons: PNNL - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | rollover image for more

RICHLAND, Wash. – Charging your electric vehicle could help balance the grid and save you money. Northwest researchers have developed a smart charger to do just that.

Right when you get home from work, you may cook dinner, turn on the TV, power up your computer. And if you have an electric vehicle, you may plug it in to charge for the next day. Multiple this by millions of households. All this activity at once creates a huge strain on the grid.

Michael Kintner-Meyer is with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. He said a new “grid-friendly” car charger that the lab has developed could reduce that strain.

“We can do it much more efficiently, with less resources and less emissions associated with it, using the electric grid-friendly charging technology,” Kintner-Meyer said.

The charger will be developed, in part, by California-based company AeroVironment, Inc.

The way it works, the charger communicates with the grid. Depending on grid activity, it may decide to charge your electric vehicle later at night when there’s less energy demand.

PNNL-graphic
A graphic of the Grid-Friendly Smart Charger.
Courtesy of PNNL.

Kintner-Meyer said people who use this technology could save $150 on their electricity bill each year. The catch? The utility infrastructure isn’t there yet to support the technology.

At a recent talk, Kinter-Meyer said the United States has 80,000 electric vehicle drivers, the most worldwide, thanks in part to new leasing programs. That still does little to reach President Obama’s 2011 goal of 1 million electric vehicle drivers by 2015.

To keep up growth, he said the U.S. needs to continue to develop infrastructure, with charging stations around the country.

“That is a big investment, and it can’t be done by industry alone. It can’t be done by government alone. There has to be some foresight into the infrastructure,” Kintner-Meyer said.

He estimated electric vehicles could reduce the national greenhouse gas output by 27 percent.

© 2013 Northwest Public Radio
grid environment Pacific Northwest National Laboratory EV smart charger electric vehicies
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