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New Method of Charging Electric Cars Could Bring Savings

A new study by a team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University suggests that electric car owners can cut costs if they forfeit control over when to charge their vehicles.

The study found that allowing the power grid to control charging is more beneficial than charging the vehicles during peak electricity times.

“The idea is that if you just plug in an electric vehicle now when you get home from work, you’re asking the electricity grid to provide you with a maximum charging rate until that battery is full and then the vehicle just sits there until you’re ready to use it again,” said Jeremy Michalek, researcher and associate professor of mechanical engineering.

The most cost-effective way to do it, Michalek said, is to “smooth out the demand for charging overnight while you’re not using the vehicle.” That way, the grid operator will have the option to use less expensive power generation options.

This would require electric car owners to surrender some control over when they charge their vehicles. Michalek did acknowledge the risk of not having a charged vehicle in emergency situations, but said the risk is minimized with hybrid cars, which have a gasoline alternative.

“Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle owners may be more willing to give the grid operator a little bit of that flexibility,” Michalek said.
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