Researchers at the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy have released a white paper that examines the potential benefits arising from the widespread adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in light of Alberta's growing interest in wind power.
PHEVs can be charged at night, which is when wind turbines generate more power in Alberta. The authors argue that if electrical grid operators in the province could divert more wind energy to the grid at night for use by PHEVs that are recharging, significant energy and emissions savings would result.
‘With a 'smart charging system,' when a vehicle is plugged in, the grid operator has control over its charging,’ says Hamid Zareipour, one of the author's of the paper. ‘In fact, the battery can even be discharged to provide power back to the grid.’
Given the dominance of thermal generators and the growing integration of wind-powered generators in the province, the study examines how electricity from wind can further improve PHEVs' environmental impact by lowering greenhouse gas emissions associated with power generation.
The energy required for charging PHEVs was calculated and compared to the expected growth in Alberta's wind power capacity between 2008 and 2025, which could exceed 11 GW.