Electric cars plugged into suburban homes will put stress on the government’s power grid, enough to create a risk of blackouts by increasing peak demand, analysts predict.
In fact, the South Australian State Government predicts much of the same as hybrid cars are growing in demand and are being used on power grids as a form of electricity to recharge batteries.
The government is encouraging vehicle owners o charge the batteries at off-peak times to cause less stress on the system. South Australian Minister for Energy Tom Koutsantonis said the issue needed to be managed like any burden on the electricity grid, such as the uptake of air conditioners.
“Electric cars are a fantastic way to reduce carbon emissions but we need to make sure we manage the way people recharge them,” he said. “We don’t want the entire state to plug their cars in at times of peak demand, we want to manage this so that they are plugged in when demand is low.”
The Federal Government is currently investigating how an influx of vehicles – predicted to be 20 per cent of all car sales by 2020 and 44 per cent by 2030 – will impact on the electricity grid.
In a written submission to an Australian Energy Market Commission inquiry, the state Department of Manufacturing has warned: “Increased load caused by the charging of electric vehicles could potentially exacerbate peak demand issues currently experienced in South Australia during summer months.”
Electric car enthusiast, Adelaide Lord Mayor Steven Yarwood has studied the issue as part of the Adelaide City Council’s use of a fully electric Mitsubishi i-Miev car. Mr Yarwood said the cars were similar to the introduction of the internet when people were uncertain how it would operate.
“There are two ways of looking at it and that is in the short term there will be a challenge for the grid and how Governments deal with that but in the long term there is an enormous capacity for the cars to be charged at night time (after people drive home) without any impact on the grid at all,” he said.
UnitingCare Wesley electricity expert Mark Henley said he expected the cars to have a beneficial effect on the grid but was concerned that the State Government was predicting infrastructure upgrades would be needed to cope with the demand.