(February 2007) Volt Charges Up the Crowd in Detroit
from Electronic Design, Feb 15 2007, p. 23
Another plug-in with a 1 Liter recharging IC engine for a 16 KW Lithium-ion battery pack promises 640 mile range with 50 mpg in stand alone mode. If the batteries are recharged for 6.5 hours from the 115 Volt ac grid each night, mileage can jump to 150 mpg. Battery life is anticipated to be 10 years. GM has associations with JC-Saft and others for battery development. (Ed note: Personal experiences with manufacturer stated mpg suggest that real world expectations can be toned down by about 20-25%. No data was presented as to the gasoline equivalent cost of the grid power.)
(February 2007) WHY PLUG-IN CARS WON’T JAM THE GRID
From Business Week, Jan. 15, 2007 p. 75
Plug in hybrids return home each night to recharge from house power. The perception is that with millions of these circuit sippers all topping off, the grid will be overloaded. However, a study from the Pacific Northwest National Labs indicates that because the power is tapped at night when the grid demand is low, the present supply of electricity could meet 84 % of the plug-in demand. The immediate reduction in pollution in major cities would be seen with the shift from petroleum burning to emission free electric propulsion. Still, the electricity comes from a grid which is heavily supplied with coal-fired energy having major global warming contributions. The hope is that as time goes on, the central coal-burning sources would capture and sequester CO2 from these single point sources. (Ed. note: An equally important advantage of the electrically powered plug-ins is that the coal comes from inside the U.S., softening our balance of payment problems while providing less ‘monetary fuel’ for terrorism.)
(January 2007) Probably the biggest challenge plug-in hybrids have is the cost and weight of the batteries. NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) is extensively researching thermal management, modeling, and systems solutions for energy storage technology. Even at today’s battery costs, however, plug-ins may be able to repay their costs within a few years. NREL scientists and engineers also research improved power electronics critical to hybrid efficiency and conduct sophisticated modeling and analysis essential to showing the economic viability of plug-ins while identifying key areas for improvement.
NREL researchers are also seeking to carry the plug-in hybrid concept a couple of steps further by making the plug-in reversible. Called a “vehicle-to-grid” or “V2G,” such a two-way plug allows the home and vehicle batteries to meet peak demand, provide grid support services or respond to power outages. In addition, utilities pay premium rates for peak and backup power and might pay commuters to plug their vehicles in while at work to ensure their employer has high quality power throughout the day. NREL transportation analysts are quantifying the potential value of such systems.
Another next step is for a plug-in based renewable community. Drive home and plug your car into a house that requires little or no electricity and gets most of what it does need from renewable sources. Such “zero-energy homes” are readily available today -- wouldn’t whole communities of them together with plug-in hybrids be the perfect model for the future? (All information is from NREL.) BD