It's a common question when projecting the impact of electric vehicles: can today's creaky power grid handle millions of juice-hungrybatteries?
The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on Thursday said it has developed a smart charger controller designed specifically for charging at off-peak times to get the lowest price and ease strain on the grid.
A raft of plug-in electricare scheduled to come out in 2011, which should deliver a jump in fuel efficiency. But if millions of drivers charged their electric during peak times, say, at 6 at night, utilities could strain to meet the demand.
The PNNL's Smart Charger Controller, like other smart-charging equipment, allows aowner to schedule charging at say, 2 a.m., and to restart charging in case of a glitch. In places where there is time-of-day electricity pricing, the charger uses Zigbee wireless networking to get price information and decide on the lowest price for charging.
Using smart charging, aowner could save $150 a year, said PNNL engineer Michael Kintner-Meyer, in a statement.
Researchers have projected that without smart-charging technology, utilities would need to buildto meet the spike in demand from electric vehicles. GM is preparing to be part of the Chevy Volt electric due in showrooms in late 2010.
The PNNL is seeking to license the smart charger with commercial companies, a representative said.