Electric cars Horsepower v cash cows The Economist

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Horsepower v cash cows


May 2011, 18:30 by The Economist

AS IF petrolheads did not already have aplenty to hate electric With oil prices rising (the recent dip notwithstanding) of these silent, soulless contraptions are set to look smugly on as burn a hole in their pockets. Now, adding to injury, research suggests electric cars might make a profit for their

At present, in order to meet surges in demand, power have to bring additional online at a moment’s notice, a that is both expensive and If there were enough vehicles around, though, a number would be bound to be in and recharging at any given time. Why not rig idle fleet so that, demand for electricity spikes, stop drawing current the grid and instead start it back?

The idea, known as vehicle-to-grid sounds great in theory. But about in practice? To find Willett Kempton and Nathaniel of the University of Delaware, has for the past years been running a of seven electric cars up to his local electricity company’s by a wireless system that their activity, in order to when each car is likely to be as a power supply.

What the power company be paying for is not so much the electricity as the availability of that electricity at notice. At the moment, peaks in have to be sated by firing up rapid-response generators, such as gas Speed of availability is as important as capacity. Battery-driven cars, if in appropriately, provide power even, than a stand-by station. That is where truly score.

And, for that reason, would actually be paid a related to when and for how long cars were available for the company to tap. In Delaware, amounts to about 30 cents an Add in a fixed fee payable just for part of the system and Dr Kempton and Dr think an income of $4,000 a per car might be possible.

That is a sum far than the $225 that for instance, thinks will be the annual cost of the electricity to power one of its Leafs.

Of course, as the supply of electric increases, the value of each to the company will fall. But when such vehicles are V2G should still be worthwhile the car-owner’s point of view, to a study carried out in Britain by an engineering firm, and National an electricity distributor. The report that owners of electric in Britain could count on it to be as much as £600 ($970) a in 2020, when an electric 2m strong could provide 6% of the grid-balancing capacity.

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There is, it must be admitted, the of the additional cost of the equipment to all this electrical too-ing and not least the installation of charging that can support current in both directions. But if the decision to such points bi-directional made now, when of the infrastructure needed to sustain a of electric vehicles has yet been the additional cost would not be And then everybody would be car owners, power companies and of electricity.

Everybody, that is, petrolheads.

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