Texas’s power grid doesn’t exactly have the best reputation, especially in bad weather. Whether it’s a blizzard or an extreme heat wave, the Lone Star State’s isolated energy infrastructure seems to have a problem staying afloat when power demand increases. And now charging electric cars certainly does not help.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) announced last week that six of its power generation facilities have gone offline following high power demand during a heat wave. During the outage, the six stations would have produced enough electricity to power more than half a million households. Electric car maker Tesla, now headquartered in the state, has asked the owners of its vehicles not to charge their cars during peak times to avoid further increases in electricity demand.
“A heat wave is expected to affect the Texas power grid in the coming days,” reads a photo of a message posted to Tesla vehicles in Texas at reddit last week. “The grid operator recommends avoiding charging during peak times between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. if possible to help nationwide efforts manage demand.”
The National Weather Service says the average temperature in the Dallas area for the month of May is around 73 degrees. During the recent heat wave, average temperatures soared above 83 and peaked to 94 degrees. A week later, however, it does not cool much anymore. In fact, that’s true for nearly half of the country, as summer-like weather is expected to blanket the southeastern US with temperatures above 90 degrees this weekend†
For EV owners in Texas, saving electricity doesn’t just mean off-peak charging. It also means adjusting driving habits – perhaps driving less in general or not turning the air conditioning down that far. Since Texas is also the third highest number of electric cars Registered across the United States, it’s easy to see how reducing the number of EVs charging at the same time can reduce the stress on an already loaded network.
According to research conducted by AAA, in 95-degree weather, EVs can experience up to 17 percent less range with the air conditioning on. Tesla has previously disputed this figure, according to: The roadsidejust like owners. However, there is one clear way to reduce the time a vehicle spends plugging in: Avoid frequent, short trips that can cause the cab to heat up between trips. Maintaining a set temperature uses less energy than cooling a sun-heated cabin, so reducing the number of short trips can avoid the need to plug in so often at a time when the power is in high demand. power infrastructure.
Another possibility to alleviate network problems in the future could be a technology found in some EVs called bidirectional charging† By using the energy stored in an EV’s battery pack, a vehicle can supply power back to the home through the same connector it uses to charge. Currently, Tesla does not offer this capability in its vehicles. This can be extremely useful during a power outage, or simply to ease the grid load during peak hours. Once power is restored or off-peak hours are reached, the vehicle can resume charging. States like California even have started pilot programs to pay owners to use vehicle-to-grid charging capabilities to build resilience in their own troubled network — something Texas could also benefit from.
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