Stanford researchers claim that EV charging at night destabilizes the grid and generates more carbon emissions than charging during the day.
EV owners know that one of the most significant benefits to owning an electric vehicle is that you can charge it at night and be fully charged the following day, hardly ever having to worry about finding a charging location or scheduling it into your day or week. However, as an article from Study Finds points out, Stanford researchers claim that this practice may be destabilizing for the grid as a whole and may result in increased carbon emissions.
Looking at the Stanford researcher’s report, one enormous caveat becomes immediately apparent. They are only studying EV charging within California. While this may sound like a reasonably negligible factor, considering the research is from a California-based school, this choice of research location has a cascading effect.
In essence, the researchers are pointing out that California’s reliance on solar and wind power, both being sources of energy that generally only work in the daytime, means that the State’s energy grid must turn on more fossil fuel sources to charge these vehicles at night. Hence, by charging during the day (at work, as the researchers suggest), a driver can prevent these fossil fuel sources from having to be turned on.
This massive caveat means that the research only applies in areas with substantial use of solar and wind generation and also points out the need for energy storage more generally to be paired with many renewable energy sources. This could come from lithium-ion battery packs or the most historically common energy storage system, “pump storage,” where water is pumped to a higher elevation during the day and then released during the night to generate power.
Perhaps most of all, this research ignores the possibility of more continuous renewable energy sources being used to combat the issue of night-time energy use. Nuclear energy, tidal energy, and hydroelectric energy have been proven sources of renewables that can run more continuously than other renewable options and have demonstrated success stories.
Overall, charging at night is hardly the death sentence that the research makes it out to be. And considering most Americans live in areas where this research wouldn’t apply, it should probably be taken with a large grain of salt.
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