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USA: Predicting an electric future

Experts at Northumbria University have developed a formula to predict the impact that electric cars will have on the nation’s power supplies.

Dr. Ghanim Putrus, Reader in Electrical Power Engineering in the School of Computing, Engineering and Information Sciences, led the project to create an easy-to-use tool to help policy makers prepare for an increase in electric vehicles and how the need to charge them will affect the national grid.

The ‘grid capacity calculator’ considers future electricity needs by taking a measurement of an area’s existing energy consumption and then calculating the likely future demand for, and impact of, having increasing numbers of electric cars plugged in for recharging.

The development of the new grid capacity calculator was a collaboration involving Northumbria University and Charge your Car project, a government programme which is currently installing electric vehicle charging points across North East England.

As the North East has been chosen as the UK’s first designated low carbon economic area (LCEA), there are plans to develop an infrastructure to support electric vehicles. Measures include the installation of 1,000 electric car charging points by 2013.

With the infrastructure in place it is expected that more people will switch from petrol or diesel cars to electric ones. These changes will mean that more people will be charging their cars and therefore creating an added pressure on the grid.

By allowing users to assess the impact of electric vehicles on an area’s grid in the presence of other low carbon technologies, the new tool will enable informed planning of the infrastructure for electric vehicles. The user-friendly tool is flexible and can be applied across all regions.
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