Posting in Cities
Residents of a Texas town that is planned around a clean energy smart grid will receive incentives to buy electric cars so that researchers can determine the impact of increased household power consumption.
A small Texas town located on the site of an abandoned airport made headlines in the New York Times today. Mueller is a master-planned community located just outside of Austin, Texas. It is also very likely the only town in the U.S. that runs on a clean energy smart grid.
General Motors, in partnership with the Federal government, university researchers, and some NGOs is equipping 60 out of 600 homes with electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. The project is funded by a US$10.4 million Department of Energy grant, and is meant to measure the impact of an influx of electric cars on grid.
Utilities throughout the country are preparing for greater numbers of electric vehicles, and are guaranteed to be very keenly interested in the project's findings. Federal funds have already been distributed to New York's ConEdison to study how to support them; although, residents are contributing to the cost too.
There are likely to be critics who will criticize the pilot simply because it is associated with the Obama administration; others might see Mueller as a modern day Potemkin village. The Potemkin village is an historical myth about towns that were allegedly created to impress Russian monarch Empress Catherine II, which supposedly were no more real than a Hollywood movie set.
To them I note the small scale of this project in comparison to China's intention to build entirely eco-friendly cities. China has the political will and social willingness to make the effort amid globally significant events such as all of Greenland's surface ice melting away.
I think that the Mueller concept is a cool idea and look forward to learning how electric cars impact a home's energy profile. There was a time when bleeding edge science was cool and celebrated as a vision for a better tomorrow. Now, cynicism often rules the day. Let's try not to be cynical, and learn something.
(Image credit: Wikipedia Commons)
Related on SmartPlanet:
- Is renewable energy a priority for smart grid integration?
- Chattanooga powers smart grid with a gigabit network
- Smart grid management systems to hit $1.05bn by 2020
- Global smart grid spend to reach $45.4B
- Utility industry beta on smart grid by 2030, but concerns remain
- The morning briefing: smart grid security
- Smart grid data should be free
- Is the smart grid vulnerable to cyber warfare?
Jul 25, 2012
I am wondering why some car company has not come out with a car that is powered by a diesel generator similar to the type of generator used to power a portable parking lot light tower. It would be similar to the same system that diesel electric Locomotives have. I know that kind of generator will run for three days on fifteen gallons of fuel and they put out about fifteen thousand watts of power. I think if I could get a grant from the government I could build one myself. I think the car would run all the time on generator power and have a battery back up system for times when you might run out of fuel.
If these are real people living average life styles, verses a more structured or staged test, this will be a valuable experiment to see what the peak hours of power usage become when large numbers of people start recharging EVs on commuter schedules. One major grid concern is that residential areas already see a spike in power consumption that corresponds to people getting home from work. The unanswered question is how bad will EVs impact that spike in power usage? Other related questions are: Will local grids need to be beefed up to handle the added power draw of recharging large numbers of EVs at a peak usage time? What impact will EVs have on grid maintenance or power plant maintenace when people are being asked to charge their EVs at a time of night when local grids or power stations can go off line for seconds, minutes or even hours for routine and not so routine maintenance. There are already recognised problems with aging power grids in much of the country. This experiment should tell us what impact EVs could have on the plans to replace/upgrade those grids. This is one project I have no problem with as long as they are honest about it.