Preparing for the brave new world where the number of plug-in vehicles looking for a charge grows high enough to match to the current electricity supply, one study from China's Sichuan University is suggesting a novel concept. It's called the honor system, and it might one day be needed to prevent the plug-in vehicle version of a brown-out.

The study, found by Technology Review, says electricity systems will need to be programmed with algorithms to best serve all the plug-in vehicle drivers looking to charge up for their respective commutes. Currently, everything is first-come, first-served. The study suggests that when this solution stops working, utilities could move on to what's essentially a round-robin system where available juice gets rotated through all users but which would cause substantial delays for everyone involved.

The ultimate system, though, would involved the utility system being able to factor in each driver's expected commuting distance and scheduled departure time. That way, electricity can be sent to those who need it the most, with no superfluous power supplied until everyone is taken care of. Of course, that would require drivers to submit their driving requirements accurately and honestly. Which brings with it an entirely new set of EV hurdles.

For those keeping track, Navigant (formerly Pike) said last June that annual global plug-in vehicle totals would reach three million by the end of the decade and would account for about three percent of all light-duty vehicles by then.


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  • 32 Comments
      2 wheeled menace
      • 11 Months Ago
      Easy. Electricity production will scale up and displace gasoline production in order to meet demand. Just as horse feed production downscaled and gasoline production increased to displace it when people stopped using horses as a primary form of transportation. There will be power plants that fire up at the time that people generally get off of work, run all night, then shut down in the morning. These plants will be throttled according to demand. In the spots that refineries once occupied, there will be power plants instead. The idea that our electrical power supply is fixed and unchangeable which will lead to disaster is a huge fallacy that is so easy to debunk.
        Joeviocoe
        • 11 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Not to mention storage solutions that can handle demand spikes. V2G is one possible solution. Why not have some EV owners who only drive 5 - 10 miles per day (and keep 60 kwh in their packs at night) help out those EV drivers who consume a lot more each day. Selling electricity in this way could be given an incentive.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 11 Months Ago
      " Of course, that would require drivers to submit their driving requirements accurately and honestly. Which brings with it an entirely new set of EV hurdles." Good luck with that. Not that people will be intentionally dishonest (they will), but there's always going to be a group that simply doesn't know what their driving requirements are.
        Joeviocoe
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        It actually DOESN'T require the honor system. It requires standards to be developed by regulatory bodies. IEEE, SAE, already govern the standards for the EVSE connections, and could require smart charging protocols too.
          Joeviocoe
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          --"It does. You state if you need power now or because you won't be moving your car for a while can wait for later." It doesn't... because I am not advocating letting anyone "say" what they need. Can you request dedicated bandwidth without paying for it?
          Letstakeawalk
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          That's nice, because the honor system wouldn't work.
          Rotation
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          It does. You state if you need power now or because you won't be moving your car for a while can wait for later. Problem is virtually everyone will say now.
      raktmn
      • 11 Months Ago
      The only math problem is thinking that by the time there are enough EV's that this could be a problem, that we would all be driving the same 1st Gen EV's with short battery ranges that all need to be plugged in at home every night. Many Tesla 85kW owners report that they don't even bother plugging in every night anymore. The reality is that we are a long way from having to worry about this as a problem, and it won't be the same problem by then. The way punitive electric utility "grid connection fees" and "EV charging fees" are going in some states, off-grid solar systems with battery backup integrated into EV cars may very well be the future. Or maybe smart grids, and keeping your car plugged in all the time to help balance the grid will be the thing of the future. Whatever the future will be, I'll bet real money (at least 50 cents) that we WON'T be all driving around millions of first gen, plug in when you get home every night or die EV's.
      Smoking_dude
      • 11 Months Ago
      @2 wheeled menace yes renewables account now for almost 25% of germanys electricity. every socket has at least 230V and 16A amps for basic charging. If they wanted to do so germany could be an ev paradise. but then we are 10 years behind the netherlands with its thousands charge points. (even on the small islands)
      2 wheeled menace
      • 11 Months Ago
      Yup. V2G will buffer and equalize all those spikes, without the power company investing a dime in storage. With enough EVs on the road, the impact on your range and battery life will be so minimal. 100 24kw-hr EVs in the city = 2.4megawatt hours of battery. 1,000 = 24mw-hrs of storage. 10,000 = 240 megawatt-hours of storage. 100,000 = 2,400 megawatt-hours of storage. 1,000,000 = 24,000 megawatt-hours of storage. California's entire wind power output is about 900 megawatts. Not sure what the solar figure is, but it's not going to be much larger. 1 million EV drivers in California ( 2.6% of the total population ) could buffer the entire wind power output of the state.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 11 Months Ago
      Holy crap. I had no idea that Germany was that deep into the renewables game. That sounds like it is a massive chunk of the country's power.
      Spec
      • 11 Months Ago
      I just used a charger that had a weird tariff but it actually makes sense. It was $1/hour for the first 5 hours and $5/hour after that. Clearly it is designed to let people charge up but stop people from hogging a charger. Pretty clever billing system.
      SublimeKnight
      • 11 Months Ago
      When EVs hit enough market saturation for this to be a problem, it will be because batteries capacity has become unbelievably cheap. If batteries are unbelievably cheap they will be used for grid storage to buy electric plants seconds, if not minutes, to adjust to unexpected loads.
        Joeviocoe
        • 11 Months Ago
        @SublimeKnight
        As an EV advocate... I WISH we could have this problem. Just as only a few years ago... I WISHED EVs got so far as to have such problems as multiple DC charging standards.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 11 Months Ago
      Er, i meant to say the entire renewables output of the state. The solar output + wind output of the state is about 4000 megawatts. So, 24,000 megawatts of car-battery would most definitely help buffer that all out. If 40-50kw-hr batteries become standard, that figure looks even better ..
      vazzedup
      • 11 Months Ago
      Didn't Tesla just get a patent on very similar technology?
        Joeviocoe
        • 11 Months Ago
        @vazzedup
        No, they patented the hardware system. The concept of queue management is not really something to be patented. If it were, who ever invented TDMA would be rich.
      Smoking_dude
      • 11 Months Ago
      Every day millions of meals are cooked in the US and all over the world at the same time. I think this is really to be a problem. A decent oven draws some watts, so I really don't see the big problem here.
        raktmn
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Smoking_dude
        The biggest grid problem in many parts of the US is still A/C on hot days. A problem that is fixed with solar panels generating electricity at peak heat of the day. The same solar panels that EV buyers tend to buy at much higher rates than the general population around the same time they buy EV's. Solution: More those same type of EV/Solar buyers.
        skierpage
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Smoking_dude
        And on weekends all those clothes dryers! Electric utilities need some algorithm to figure out who has the most wettest clothes based on the weather and household cleanliness profiles, and delay drying for the sodden losers.
      Ray Boggs
      • 11 Months Ago
      "Charging millions of EVs at once? It's a math problem" Here's the solution,charge all those EVs with an EV solar charging system powered by high performance, U.S. made Stion solar modules from Solarhome .com. Stion Solar offers a better PTC to STC ratio "Real World" performance according to the California Energy Commission's performance rating listings than many of SunPower's solar panel models. Stion solar also offers a better -0.26%/degree C temperature coefficient rating for awesome performance in hot/warm climates and best of all Stion solar systems are priced thousands less and even tens of thousands less on larger systems than a SunPower solar system.
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