While the increasing number of electric cars carries is expected to reduce the fuel demand, there is some concern about how the widespread use of electric vehicles would affect the stability of the electrical grid. What would be the best way to integrate plug-in vehicles with the electrical grid? Now, with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation the University of Central Florida will help to answer this question.
The Electric Vehicle Transportation Center operated by UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa is a newly funded, four-year, $9 million research effort to help develop the nation’s electric-vehicle transportation network. Research conducted by the center will help transportation planners prepare our nation’s highways for the influx of plug-in electric vehicles (PEV), while developing “smart grid” applications that will strengthen the ability of our electric system to accommodate the power demands of electric vehicles.
PEVs need a reliable, predictable network of charging stations to allow them to travel long distances without the fear of “running out of fuel.” Workplace charging, community charging, and highway fast-charging systems are in development. A new PEV transportation network designed in conjunction with the modernization of our electric grid system will result in a sustainable highway and energy network.
“Today, electric vehicles—using Florida utility power—operate at an equivalent gasoline price of 99 cents a gallon,” said FSEC director James Fenton. “With fuel costs that low, it’s no surprise projections indicate that Florida will have as many as 500,000 electric vehicles on its roads within 10 years, placing an unprecedented demand on today’s utility grid.”
Plug-in electric vehicle sales in the U.S., led by the Volt, Leaf and plug-in Prius, were 50,000 in 2012. The upward trend in sales is expected to continue during the next several years as automakers introduce up to 40 different plug-in models.
Transformation of the U.S transportation system into one that uses electricity and its integration into a dynamic electrical grid will occur over many years and require extensive research and development.
The new Electric Vehicle Transportation Center will leverage the resources of the University of Central Florida and its partner universities—the University of Hawaii and Tuskegee University—to conduct the research and development, and to train and support the scientists, engineers and technicians of the future.