More and more auto manufacturers are attuned to growing customer interest, as the widely held beliefs of range-anxiety, vehicle cost of ownership, and lack of charging infrastructure are being progressively dispersed in several locations around the U.S., including the San Francisco Bay Area. At the same time, electric vehicle technology is improving rapidly, as well as offerings of various charging operations and financial models.
But there is no doubt that mass adoption is dependent on a strong and accessible charging infrastructure. The big question lies in whether more EV adoption will drive the infrastructure development, or will the development of the public infrastructure will promote more EVs on U.S. Roads.
Another consideration is the impact on the electrical grid, when sudden surges due to EV ‘fueling’ will affect local, regional and national energy demand, requiring spurts of increased production to meet this growth. Peak demand of electricity is common and can result from ordinary daily lives, such as extensive air-conditioning to cool hot climate; having a large number of viewers watch sports games on TV on certain days; holiday gatherings, etc. Add to that overnight charging of thousands (maybe millions) of EVs and the demand-response challenges are tri-fold.
Smart grids and smarter demand management systems are technologically available; it’s a matter of investment, standardization and devising policy to enable the grid infrastructure to fully benefit from smart energy systems. Such smart eco-systems would allow balancing of loads, power network management, and a greater degree of reliability and resiliency.
Joint Venture Silicon Valley in San Jose, CA, has launched the Smart Energy Enterprise Development initiative earlier this year, called SEEDZ. The initiative aims to build the ‘smart energy’ network of the future by demonstrating and delivering leading power performance and sustainability benefits on a commercially based, community-wide scale. Working with Silicon Valley’s enterprises, solution providers, municipalities, institutions and utilities, the focus is on developing a smart energy network with the highest levels of power reliability, quality, affordability and sustainability.
A geographical zone in Silicon Valley, CA is set as the ‘lab’, which includes north Sunnyvale, north Mountain View and Moffett Field Business Park - which the initiative calls the Zone. SEEDZ encompasses a portfolio of eight essential smart energy elements that include practices, standards, and technologies for efficiency, renewable energy, grid performance and business model integration. The eight modules include:
• Grid infrastructure
• Distributed generation
• Demand programs
• Interoperability standards
• Energy storage
• Integrated building systems
• Electric transport
• Incentives and financing
For more information on each of the elements click here.
The EV Charging Stations Infrastructure project under SEEDZ has conducted a survey of charging programs implementations at Silicon Valley major corporate employers. Once analyzed, assessment will be developed to look at the technical, process, and overall program management challenges. Currently, there is limited visibility into employer-based current and future EV charging availability in the area, limiting the opportunities to share best practice and/or resources. Furthermore, the project will look at the impact on each company’s energy use, its electric grid, carbon footprint, employee satisfaction, over-arching environmental goals, and other considerations - which are not clearly understood today. The participating corporations acknowledged that the charging stations infrastructure at their sites has been employee-driven, indicating a growing number of EV drivers.
At a later phase, Best Practices will be developed and shared, identifying and addressing the top needs and opportunities related to EV energy use, integration, and building and/or site grid impacts.
The ultimate goal, of course, is to accelerate mass adoption of plug-in EVs and hybrid plug-in vehicles, resulting in significant reduction in our carbon footprint. The U.S. transportation sector is responsible for about a third of the nation’s climate-change emissions, where each gallon of gasoline creates 20 pounds of CO2. That's roughly 5 to 9 tons of CO2 each year for a typical vehicle.
1. Reduce Climate Change impacts: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/climate.shtml
2. EVs convert about 59–62% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels—conventional gasoline vehicles only convert about 17–21% of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels. Read more: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/evtech.shtml
3. Environmental Protection Agency - U.S. EPA: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/overview.html