Electric vehicles

Every 10,000 miles driven in an electric vehicle (EV) equates to the amount of power needed by one home in the USA for a year, said Donald Karner, President and CEO of electric vehicle (EV) vendor ECOtality North America, at this year’s PowerGen conference.

Delivering a keynote address, Karner touched upon some of the consumer benefits of this form of transportation, and stressed the power generation and consumption side. He said the EV charging load is highly dispatchable, and is an off-peak load as cars are typically charged late at night and left overnight.  "While EVs are left charging overnight, they take about 1.9 hours to charge so there is a huge opportunity here as the load can be spread and controlled across a 10 hour window."

But it's not all roses. Utility rates, he said, remain an impediment i.e. there are no rates available to validate this almost exclusively off-peak charging pattern. Another obstacle in the North American marketplace, he added, was the permitting process to erect chargers - a major bottleneck in Karner's view. He also stressed the importance of using the latest technologies for EV chargers rather than the cheapest available.

"It's not a good idea to install dumb, non-networked terminals that can't be managed on load and costs," said Karner. "Each utility in the USA should be assessing the EV market now."