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With Electric Cars, U.S. States Can Boost Energy Self-Reliance

| Written by John Farrell | 4 Comments | Updated on Oct 4, 2011 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/electric-cars-us-states-can-boost-energy-self-reliance/

The U.S. Northwest could get an additional 12 percent of its electricity from local wind power if 1 in 8 of the region’s cars used batteries. 

That’s the conclusion of a new study from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories investigating how electric vehicles can help smooth the introduction of more variable renewable energy into the grid system.

The study examines the Northwest Power Pool, an area  encompassing roughly seven states in the Northwest.  With around 2.1 million electrified vehicles, the grid could support an additional 10 gigawatts of wind power.  With electricity demand from those seven states of about 250 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, the additional 10 gigawatts of wind would provide 12 percent of the annual electricity demand (roughly 30 billion kilowatt-hours per year).

The results are no doubt applicable to other regions of the country.  In fact, at least 33 states have enough wind power to meet 10 percent or more of their electricity needs and if the same portion of vehicles (13%) were electrified in those 33 states, it would allow them to add a collective 100 gigawatts of wind power, meeting nearly 14% of their electricity needs. 

Northwest Power Pool

In the long-run, a fully electrified vehicle fleet would theoretically – just do the math! – provide enough balancing power for a 100% renewable electricity system.  And since the large majority of those vehicle trips would be made on batteries alone, it would be a significant dent in American reliance on foreign oil for transportation. 

Further reading: learn a bit more about electric vehicles helping wind power in Denmark, too.

Hat tip to Midwest Energy News for the original story.

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About John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Self-Reliant States and Communities program at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he focuses on energy policy developments that best expand the benefits of local ownership and dispersed generation of renewable energy. More

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  • http://buytiresonline.co/ Tires Online

    Early in the article I read “With around 2.1 million electrified vehicles, the grid could support an additional 10 gigawatts of wind power.”

    I’m missing something. How are the two related? Obviously I see how more electric vehicles helps with our reliance on foreign oil but where does wind power enter the equation?

  • John Farrell

    Wind power can be stored in electric vehicle batteries, allowing the grid to accept more wind power than it could by simply taking wind power when it is produced.