Simultaneous Car Charging Means Extra Demands on Grid

The increase in electric cars may lead to extra demands -- and costs -- on power grids during the early evening hours. Researchers are looking for ways around this dilemma that won't hobble sustainability efforts.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What's the Latest Development?

Recent data collected from residents of Mueller, a sustainably-designed neighborhood in Austin, TX, shows that when people get home from work, they tend to turn everything on -- and that includes the charger for their electric cars. The study examined electricity use in 10 households over two months, and found that at each home the power demand went up significantly between 3:00 and 8:00 pm. The pattern continued even on weekends and despite the presence of charging stations installed around Mueller.

What's the Big Idea?

According to researchers, "The cars in Mueller draw about as much power as a home's central air-conditioning unit, and the two loads dwarf that from any other appliances." The resulting strain on the grid could mean higher costs for power suppliers, and if they have to pass those on to customers, it could hinder the spread of electric cars. Next steps for the research consortium Pecan Street, which is conducting the study, include quizzing residents on their energy habits and looking for ways in which utilities can adapt to customer needs. One possible solution comes from California, where San Diego Gas & Electric notes a correlation between electric car and rooftop solar panel usage.

Photo Credit:

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Saying no is hard. These communication tips make it easy.

You can say 'no' to things, and you should. Do it like this.

  • Give yourself permission to say "no" to things. Saying yes to everything is a fast way to burn out.
  • Learn to say no in a way that keeps the door of opportunity open: No should never be a one-word answer. Say "No, but I could do this instead," or, "No, but let me connect you to someone who can help."
  • If you really want to say yes but can't manage another commitment, try qualifiers like "yes, if," or "yes, after."
Keep reading Show less

Apparently even NASA is wrong about which planet is closest to Earth

Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.

Strange Maps
  • Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
  • Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
  • Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
Keep reading Show less

Why is 18 the age of adulthood if the brain can take 30 years to mature?

Neuroscience research suggests it might be time to rethink our ideas about when exactly a child becomes an adult.

Mind & Brain
  • Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
  • Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
  • The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
Keep reading Show less