Electric cars are coming to Australia

Over the past month, electric car promoter Better Place has announced that it expects to start rolling out infrastructure to support electric cars in Australia late next year. As PCI reported in August ’09, Canberra has been earmarked as the first Australian city to receive the infrastructure, with a national rollout to follow in 2012.

The plan is to install recharging points in people’s garages, and other popular parking spots, like airports. These would be supported by a network of battery swapping stations for longer journeys.

There are currently 51 different models of electric car scheduled to be in production by 2012, and Better Place predicts that by 2020, 10-20% of Australia’s car fleet will be powered by electricity.

But what will the effects of these cars on the power grid? Green website TreeHugger published a report exploring what the effects of 1 million electric cars would be to the US power grid. Their key conclusion is that it’s all a matter of timing. If all of the vehicles were being recharged at the same time, the total usage would be 8,785 megawatts – the equivalent of about 3-4 big power plants. However, stagger this over a period of 12 hours and the additional demand on the power grid would only be an additional 546 megawatts – about the size of a medium-sized power plant’s output.

In support of this, a recent study published via TreeHugger claims that “plasma TVs consume about four times the electricity needed to recharge a plug-in hybrid. Yet utilities have managed to cope with the increased loads as thousands of new televisions came on line.”

Electric cars are coming! The infrastructure is planned, and the impact on our power grid is likely to be minimal. If you’re a car park owner or operator, time to start planning your recharging facilities!

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