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September 2, 2010

Electric cars, failing grid, soaring rates

CANADA/TECHNOLOGY - According to Toronto Hydro's CEO Anthony Haines the electricity grid in Toronto can't handle the load of 10% of drivers buying and charging electric cars. At least not right now.

“If you connect about 10 per cent of the homes on any given street with an electric car, the electricity system fails,” Haines said Wednesday. “It basically can’t handle that load.”

Cities in Canada suck up most of the electricity in Canada, but produce comparatively little despite lots of rooftop space for solar panels and windmills. The problem is that the electricity grid isn't setup or designed to be taking in that much energy from so many different sources, so having a network of solar and wind systems wouldn't work right now anyway because the electricity grid is too archaic.

Ontario estimates that by 2020 5% of automotives in the province will be electric. Haines believes it could be even higher, especially in cities where electric cars make more sense for short distances.

However charging a car battery will triple the amount of electricity a typical home uses. If you're buying an electric car expect your bill to go way up. Worse, most people plug in their cars right after they get home from work... which is when power demand hits its peak.

In other words we're going to have brownouts. The problem therefore is finding a way to syphon and store electricity (see Ionized Gas a Solution for Energy Woes) so that the electricity grid is under less pressure during peak times of the day.

One way would be to have batteries which electric car owners can swap when they get home and the car battery charges slowly over a 24 hour period while they are gone.

Another way is for homeowners to produce their own electricity (solar and wind) and put that directly into their cars, except such systems would require 3 times more power / efficiency than currently available. (It would cost about $90,000 to $100,000 to install enough renewable energy to run both your house and car off it.)

Rising Electricity Rates

A new report out concludes that electricity rates in Ontario are expected to rise 6.7 to 8% annually for the next five years (a rise of 40% by 2015).

So even if people don't get electric cars they can expect their electricity bills to skyrocket. And if they do get an electric car, the average household can expect their bill to rise 320%...

But wait, remember many families often have two cars. What if they get TWO electric cars in their garage? Then their bill would rise 600%, taking into account the increase for both cars and the rising price of electricity.

Mind you gasoline prices are expected to keep rising over the next 5 years anyway. China and India were barely budding in the past decade when it comes to car sales, in the next decade we can escape cars in Asia to blossom.

See Also
Green Cars in 2020
The Eco-Car Battleground
Converting Hybrids into Electrics

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