Bioenergy, Grid Scale

Xcel/NREL Study: Add Smart Grid to the PHEV Formula

Xcel Energy announced the results of a six-month study related to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and how an increase in their popularity could reduce the overall expense of owning a vehicle and, with the help of smart-grid technologies, eliminate harmful vehicle emissions by up to 50 percent.

“Successfully managing a charging program will depend on a smart utility grid,” said Ray Gogel, chief administrative officer for Xcel Energy. “Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have the potential to help us better use renewable and other nontraditional energy sources while creating a grid that is more interconnected, balanced and reliable.” The study looked at how adding PHEVs to the road could affect the electric power grid depending on when and where the cars were charging. It also looked at the overall emission footprint of these vehicles, the decreased vehicle fuel costs and how PHEVs could impact the company’s production and capacity costs. Xcel Energy’s Utility Innovations group worked with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on the study. A cutting-edge computer-modeling program was used to measure the impact of a mass penetration of PHEVs and how much energy would be required to charge them. Future studies will include PHEV field tests and evaluate the ability to manage the charging process in conjunction with the availability of renewable energy sources. NREL’s program was able to simulate adding vehicles to the roads in large increments, under real driving conditions, simulating an increase in the market penetration of these vehicles. The study revealed that these cars, each equipped with a 9 kilowatt-hour battery, could reduce overall CO2 vehicles emissions by half. They could also save owners more than $450 in fuel costs each year compared to a traditional combustion engine vehicle.