The drive to distributed power

23 March 2001

Electric vehicles may one day supply electricity to the power grid, says the Electric Power Research Institute. They could serve as generators when they are not on the road (90 per cent of the time for most vehicles), helping alleviate electricity shortages and saving money for the consumer. If proven cost-effective, such vehicles could become widely used, and could even generate enough electricity to reduce the requirement for global central station generation capacity by up to 20 per cent by the year 2050, EPRI estimates.

The most likely car of the future is a fuel-cell powered hybrid using a hydrocarbon fuel such as gasoline as the primary source of electric power, EPRI believes. Such a vehicle would combine the high efficiency of the fuel cell with the ability to generate excess electricity. On arriving home in the evening, the consumer would plug the car into the house, power all the home appliances, and generate excess electricity to sell back to the grid. Specially designed two-way meters would run backwards to reduce the electric bill.

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