Can we really do this without adding fossil fuel plants?
The short answer is definitely. But before we take a look at our entire energy plan, let's step back and look at the challenges we faced.
Electric Cars Need Energy.
And, of course, that energy comes from the grid.
A Few Electric Cars Are No Problem.
Just plug them in. But a few electric cars won't end our dependence on oil.
But What About A Million? Or 500 Million?
Clearly, that puts too much demand on the grid. If everyone plugged in when they got home from work, we'd have blackouts and nationwide energy deficiencies.
One Solution is More Fossil Fuel Plants. No Thank You.
Sure, they're reliable, but more fossil fuel plants are exactly what we don't want.
We Needed A Better Way. Technology Is That Way.
Renewable energy combined with smart grid technology that's all managed by supercomputers. Now there's an idea that works. Have a look.
Next up: See how it all works.
The Perfect Answer
This is Totally Doable. We Know Because We're Totally Doing It.
The entire Better Place network — Charge Spots, Battery Switch Stations, Oscar, everything — is connected to a supercomputer at our Operation Center. In turn, our Operation Center is constantly communicating with the grid's computer to predict and balance the flow of energy (and help make sure there's always enough energy for everyone). Simply put, it works.
Energy is created and supplied to the grid.
The grid is managed by the utility's computer.
When lots of electric cars plug into the grid in an unmanaged way, energy spikes could threaten our energy infrastructure.
The supercomputer in our Operation Center oversees everything in the Better Place network and communicates with the utility's computer to help balance the flow of energy.
With energy flowing in during off-peak hours and charging oversight from our supercomputer, the Better Place network can charge millions of electric cars without overwhelming the grid — and without the need for more fossil fuel plants to produce extra electricity.
Sorry Fossil Fuel Plants.
But with a truly smart grid, we can do this without burning more coal and natural gas. We even have independent studies to prove it (see the next section). Of course, in our quest to replace the gasoline car with clean, 100% electric vehicles, a few more renewable energy plants wouldn't hurt. Keep reading to see how the Better Place network actually encourages green energy to come online.
Renewable Energy. Another Problem Solved.
The main challenges with renewable energy are that it's not very predictable (sometimes clouds cover the sun and the wind stops blowing), sometimes it's generated the most when it's demanded the least, and it requires batteries for storage if the grid can't absorb the electricity supply immediately. In order to gain prominence, renewable energy needs a huge battery to store energy as it becomes available. Well, how about millions of batteries in electric cars and in our Battery Switch Stations? It turns out that's perfect. Our enormous network of batteries will make it easier to bring more green energy plants online. Because now they have a place to put the intermittent energy — your car.
Next up: Check out more advantages of Smart Energy Management.
technology vs. fossil fuels.
(The term “fossil” isn't exactly helping their case.)
You've already seen how the supercomputer in our Operation Center can communicate with the grid to help balance the flow of energy. But how, exactly, are we making sure we don't overwhelm the grid? Read on.
Advantages of our Operation Center
We use energy during off-peak times.
Existing fossil fuel plants can't change their rate of energy production very well. They're either on or off. When they're on, their turbines turn, producing a relatively constant amount of energy. That's fine during the day, when everyone's using it. But at night when energy demand drops, the turbines are still turning, cranking out that same high level of energy that's not put to use. It's called "underutilized energy." So we take advantage of that. Better Place draws most of its power for charging at night. It's less expensive and it's putting wasted energy to work.
Through Managed Charging, we control our demand for energy.
Because our Battery Switch Stations and Charge Spots are all connected to our Operation Center, we can control when they charge most ... and charge least.
When strain on the grid is high, we can reduce our intake. When the demand for energy is low, we can increase the incoming energy for charging. It all happens behind the scenes and won't affect daily charging or battery switching.
We make it easier to bring renewable energy online.
As we mentioned previously, all of the batteries in our Battery Switch Stations — and all of the batteries in electric cars in our network — can act as "renewable energy sponges." When wind kicks up and wind turbines are cranking, or when the clouds part and solar farms kick in, we can absorb that energy. Currently, there's no way to accommodate more renewable energy plants because the battery storage just isn't there. But acting as one big battery, we can assure that energy will go to good use. And suddenly, renewable energy plants look a lot more attractive to governments and investors.
We can return energy to the grid.
At Better Place, energy is a two-way street. With all of the energy stored in our Battery Switch Stations, we can help the utilities on days when demand pushes their limits. When the grid needs help, we can simply send some electricity over the line to prevent a shortage. And since it's all managed by our Operation Center, we know exactly when and how much energy we can supply without affecting our drivers.
We did our homework.
Theory is nice. But we prefer reality. And two independent feasibility tests by a major national utility and a U.S. government agency have confirmed our conclusions about smart energy management.
The Israeli Electric Company (Israel's national utility) commissioned a study to examine the impact of two million electric cars on the grid. They concluded that with our Managed Charging system, they would require no additional power plants.
Download the study report
In the United States, the Pacific Northwest National Lab determined that if the nation's entire light-duty vehicle fleet were to suddenly switch to plug-in hybrid power, 70% of that fleet could be powered by off-peak, Managed Charging.
Read the study report