Electric Vehicles Drive Wind Energy Balance

Wind power is sometimes a fickle energy source. On particularly windy days, grid operators often have to  find a way to use or store excess energy. A new study from The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory suggests that the additional energy could be stored, and used, by electric vehicles.

That is if two things happen. An additional 2.1 million electric vehicles equipped with grid friendly charging technology would have to be added to the seven Pacific Northwest states. And, a small percentage of charging stations need to be provided during the day at workplaces or in the public. If those two conditions were met, the folks at the Department of Energy say 10 gigawatts (GW) of additional wind technology could be added to the on-again, off-again balancing requirements  in the region.

Via Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The report examined grid conditions in the Northwest Power Pool, which covers Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.  In particular, the report examined the implications of adding another 10 gigawatts of wind to the region’s grid by 2019, which regulations such as the Renewable Portfolio Standards require.

Rather than charging a vehicle at a constant rate, the grid friendly technology recognizes grid conditions and constantly varies the rate at which the battery is charged. In doing so, the fluctuations in electricity produced by wind farms could be absorbed by a fleet of vehicles starting or stopping their charging cycle, rather than requiring new power plants to provide that balancing service.

Kristy Hessman is a writer and native Oregonian who currently resides in California. Before starting her own company, she worked as a reporter covering business and politics for daily newspapers and The Associated Press.