Electric transportation in Bermuda, and elsewhere.,

C Robb W. 429°

I test drove an EVT 4000e electric motorbike a few days ago. It handles and accelerates just like a fossil fuel powered bike but quietly without any exhaust. The lithium battery pack will go for nearly 100 miles and costs about $1 to charge. Clearly widespread adoption of electric vehicles in Bermuda would mean a significant reduction in emissions and a major improvement in quality of life due to noise abatement.

However, it would do very little to end Bermuda's dependence on fossil fuels as the grid is almost entirely powered with petrochemicals. it would merely shift the demand from thousands highly inefficient internal combustion engines, an ancient technology that must be phased out, to one centrally located polluting oil and diesel burning power plant.

Bermuda has abundant renewable resources in the sun, the wind and the ocean currents flowing past the island offshore. The problem is phasing them in with the existing sources, the power plant and an incinerator. As with any renewable generation, it quite often is generating when you don't need it. It needs to be stored. The obvious solution is to use thousands of vehicles to store it. It's called vehicle to grid technology. Each vehicle is capable of being used as a flexible power source by the grid when needed. This requires a smart grid and lots of electric vehicles. To encourage electric vehicles without a V2G system is to ignore the opportunity to establish energy independence away from fossil fuels. The only other responsible options are for every owner to have his/her own off grid renewably powered station at their home or for someone to set up PV or wind powered stations with spare batteries. Buildings with large employee base could do the same for their parking areas.

These ideas apply to wherever electric vehicles are to be rolled out in any great number, not just Bermuda. Bermuda is fortunate enough to be blessed with abundant resources, a small population and just one electricity provider to get on board. V2G makes so much sense here. In the states widespread adoption of electric vehicles would mean a large increase in demand on the grid that for the near future would mean more coal fired power plants. The planet can't afford that. We can no longer accept half measures. We need a smart grid, huge deployment of renewables, electric vehicles, and V2G. These are technologies already developed and tested. We do not need to wait any longer. Bermudians, Americans, the world should demand these changes.

Check out Project Get Ready for information about planning and implementing smart Grid and V2G technology.

Read more about Vehicle to Grid.

See Green House Bermuda for more information about the electric scooter.

1 reply

Charles M. 110°

There are a few challenges with mass adoption of EV. Most notably it drives up the use of electricity causing two major headaches:
1) Unless the generation is coming from somewhere clean and readily available, the generation itself is still polluting and you've only shifted the problem - not solved it.
2) Most power distribution systems in the world are struggling with current demand. Putting an EV in the driveway will double or triple domestic consumption in many areas and the power system will need a huge increase to handle demand. There is the option of using load management to charge vehicles at various times like electric hot water heating does (charge Joe's EV at 3am and John's at 6 am) but that does not make for very reliable charging.

The idea of using EV batteries for peak power storage is a bit broken. Not all batteries are designed alike. EV batteries need to be compact and light. They typically do not support very many charge/discharge cycles. When you amortise the cost of replacing a battery over the miles you travel, the cost goes up considerably (your $1 becomes maybe $3 or $4). I recently did the numbers for a car and diesel worked out cheaper than the batteries, but of course the numbers will be different here.

Using EV batteries as a mobile charge store for V2G kills the batteries quiicker.

Stationaary batteries (eg. used by RAPS) are typically designed with different criteria in mind and are designed to support more charge/discharge cycles.

In the long run it is far better to use stationary batteries for stationary applications and EV batteries for EV applications. In the long run this arrangement will provide a better lifetime and work out less expensive too.

Written in March 2009

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