Plug-in Hybrids (PHEVs) have taken some undeserved heat lately, with the recent hullabaloo over their potential to drain U.S. water supplies. But as some readers pointed out, it all depends when you charge them.
This week’s report from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which evaluated the impact of a substantial increase in PHEV ownership, found that nighttime charging of PHEV’s would not increase electricity demand over baseline levels. In other words, no (or very few) new power plants would need to be constructed if plug-in owners only charged their vehicles at night.
While nighttime charging makes sense, since it can be incentivized by power companies and prices are cheapest after 10 p.m. anyway, there’s no guarantee that the average car owner will wait until then to charge up. The worst case scenario, in which all PHEV owners charged their vehicles at 5pm, could require the construction of up to 160 new power plants.
Obviously, vehicle charging will take place at different times during the day, but it may be important (even vital) that new plug-ins be charged during nighttime hours. Study authors estimated the impact on electricity generation would be greatest by 2030, when PHEVs have become well-established in the U.S. market.
See the press release here.
See the study here.