Jan 27, 2014

Electric vehicles could be cheaper

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Electric vehicles may offer a path to a more sustainable transportation future, but they also might drive up electricity prices if they are charged during times of peak electricity demand.

In a new study, Carnegie Mellon University researchers found that optimally varying the charging speed of plug-in electric vehicles can cut the electricity cost in half.

Engineering and Public Policy Department (EPP) graduate student Allison Weis and professors Paulina Jaramillo and Jeremy Michalek studied the effects of new vehicle charging loads on power plant operations in New York.

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"Although plug-in electric vehicles currently make up a small percentage of the vehicle fleet, federal and state subsidies are promoting electric vehicle sales, and they may become a significant portion of the fleet in the future," Weis said. "If owners regularly plug in these electric vehicles when they get home from work, this would add to greater demand, when the most expensive power plants are running."

But it doesn't have to be that way, CMU researchers said.

"Controlled charging can shift loads later in the night when cheaper power plants are again available," said Jaramillo, an assistant professor of EPP. "Controlled charging could also help to manage fluctuations from renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, which change their output as the wind changes and as clouds pass by."

"It is already cheaper to charge an electric vehicle than fill up a gasoline vehicle," said Michalek, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and EPP, and director of the Vehicle Electrification Group. "But allowing grid operators to control electric vehicle charging speed could reduce these costs further. We see additional savings up to $70 per vehicle each year or even higher for systems that expect new power plant construction and systems with a lot of wind power."

The study, funded by the CMU RenewElec project and the National Science Foundation, will appear in February's edition of the journal Applied Energy.

The researchers warn that more study is needed to understand all the implications of controlling electric vehicle charging.

"We need to keep in mind that fossil fuel plants are typically cheap to operate, so reducing cost can sometimes result in increased emissions," Weis said. "In our next study, we plan to quantify the health and environmental impacts of these changing emissions." 

Photo by Robert Hoetink / Shutterstock.com

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Apr 23, 2021

Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition

Drax
Biomass
Sustainability
BECCS
Dominic Ellis
2 min
Drax is advancing biomass following Pinnacle acquisition it reported in a trading update

Drax' recently completed acquisition of Pinnacle more than doubles its sustainable biomass production capacity and significantly reduces its cost of production, it reported in a trading update.

The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.

The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).

Drax CEO Will Gardiner said its Q1 performance had been "robust", supported by the sale of Drax Generation Enterprise, which holds four CCGT power stations, to VPI Generation.

This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.

In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.

The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.

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