Wind Power More Feasible with Adoption of Electric Vehicles

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A new report from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory shows that electric vehicles could aid in expanding renewable energy sources like wind in the Pacific Northwest. This region of the United States is increasingly looking at wind power to satisfy their growing energy demands. The report found that the Northwest power system could better utilize wind energy if about 13 percent, or 2.1 million vehicles, in the seven Northwest states were plug-in electrics, equipped with Grid FriendlyTM charging technology.

Grid Friendly charging differs from regular battery charging because it does not charge at a constant rate. The technology can recognize grid conditions, and vary the charging rate based on factors such as how much electricity is being generated at any given time. Fluctuations in wind energy production would be sensed and the charging rate will reflect that.

The seven Northwestern states examined for the study include Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, many home to abundant wind resources. The report also examined the implications of adding 10 Gigawatts of wind on top of current energy production. This addition is required by the Renewable Portfolio Standards by 2019.

Wind power is growing more popular, but unlike conventional power plants, it is unpredictable and uncontrollable. The energy it provides may not be there during the peak hours when people need it. Then on very windy days, too much energy is created with little place to store it.

If a vehicle could sense wind power’s fluctuations in the grid, it could act as a shock absorber, gobbling up the excess energy and sipping slowly when the grid is strained. The report determined that 2.1 million light-duty electric vehicles with Grid Friendly technology and with an average electric range of 33 miles would be necessary to provide balance for an additional 10 Gigawatts of wind power.

According to co-author, Michael Kintner-Meyer, “Electric vehicles, coupled with grid-friendly charging, offers a great opportunity, right now, to help electric companies integrate additional wind power into our electric system… We don’t need to wait for vehicle-to-grid, or V2G, services, which would require that the electricity would be released back into the grid. We could perform grid-friendly charging now that would provide valuable services to the grid for integrating wind energy.”

“By using electric vehicles to support additional wind power in the Northwest, and reducing the need to build new power plants to support it, we could potentially defray some of the cost for both electrifying our transportation system and integrating wind technology into the grid, driving down our regional dependence on imported oil, as well as vehicle emissions.”

Article by David A Gabel, appearing courtesy Environmental News Network.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.