x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Recharge your car as you sleep

With cars parked for most of their lives, charging them up during that period, especially overnight, would optimise efficiency, according to a process known as "valley filling".

TIANJIN// Electric vehicles are the darling of the renewables sector. All of the major car makers are now at work on developing these vehicles to feed the growing demand for sustainable transport. Silent, energy-efficient cars are seen as being a major factor in the way smart grids optimise energy networks. With cars parked for most of their lives, charging them up during that period, especially overnight, would optimise efficiency, according to a process known as "valley filling".

"The amount of electricity required by a vehicle over the course of the year is equal to the average amount of electricity taken by the average home," said Tom Casey, the chief executive of Current Group, a developer of smart grid technology. In April, General Electric (GE) and Nissan announced a link-up to research the effects of electric vehicles on the power grid and technology for smart charging.

GE has also introduced a car charger, the WattStation, which can decrease electric vehicle charging time by between 12 and 18 hours to between four and eight hours. Google has also developed smart-charging software, with algorithms monitoring electricity supply and controlling when cars get charged. "If you're an electric company and you suddenly have a lot of electric vehicles coming into your territory, it's like all of a sudden you have millions of new homes built but you don't have any new facilities, you don't have any new wires and you don't have any new transformers or new substations," said Mr Casey.

"If those cars plug in during the peak hour, where it's already stretched thin, that's a major problem and could threaten the stability of the grid. However if these cars plug in at night, when everyone's asleep and there are no electric devices working, then the power to serve them is almost free. This kind of management of how time is used becomes very important." The technology developments should also allow cars to send electricity stored in their batteries back into the grid when it is needed, transforming the family motor into a mini-power station.