US utility Edison: Only 1% of grid upgrade needed due to EVs

According to Southern California Edison’s recent “Charged up” report (key learnings about electric vehicles, customers and grid reliability); Only 1% of grid upgrade work was required due to additional demands EVs.

OK it’s just one report from one Utility and there are plenty of caveats, but it’s no surprise that the fears about the grids not being able to handle EVs has been, and continues to be over-stated.

“Since 2010, of all the nearly 400 upgrades we made to (or identified for) circuits that serve PEV customers, only 1 percent of that work was required due to additional power demands from PEVs. The rest of the work was required under our regular infrastructure upgrade and maintenance schedule.”

And their findings RE usage in the USA mirror those from a recent EU report on driving habits (download the EU report here), which support the view that “range anxiety” (consumer concern/objection that EVs are impractical due to a limited range), is less of an issue than it is given credit by many EV skeptics – current tech EVs have range enough for most people to use for the vast majority of their needs.

“Studies show that about 70 percent of PEV owners commute 40 miles or less daily. Most BEVs can travel at least 60-80 miles of all-electric range on a fullcharge and PHEVs will generally run 20-40 miles all-electric range on a full charge before going into hybrid mode. As a result, many PEV owners can fuel at night at home and fully recharge their battery during off-peak hours at Level 1. That means low impact on the grid, low installation costs and the lowest electricity costs if customers are on a time-of-use rate. This is why we urge our customers who drive PEVs to charge up every night at home.”.

TeslaBatterySwapThere is a great deal of talk about battery swapping and fast charge stations as the (short term) solution for longer journeys where range is a genuine problem – Tesla demonstrate that their batteries can be swapped in 90 seconds, and others see that as a solution too. But this still requires infrastructure investment, EV OEMs and component manufactures to agree all sorts of standardizations etc…

I have a far simpler solution: Car swapping.
Car rental companies provide an out-of-town parking space for your EV, with a charge point, plus a rental hybrid for you to use on your long journey. Voila, simple, and all well within the current infrastructure we already have.

As battery technology and fast charge solutions improve range over time, the demand for rental will naturally decline. No battery standardization will be needed, nor any specially equipped charge stations.

Some people will still want one-car for all, and will have to buy hybrids rather than EVs, but in the mean time the vast majority of us can have EVs to cover 99% of our needs, and hire something else for the rare longer journeys.

You know I think I might be on to something. All we need now are some EVs that are well priced and desirable enough to actually want – build something lovely enough and we’ll work out the other little niggles, as any ipad owner will tell you.

Read the Sun Edison report here: http://newsroom.edison.com/internal_redirect/cms.ipressroom.com.s3.amazonaws.com/166/files/20136/SCE-EVWhitePaper2013.pdf

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