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University of Calgary Study Finds Large-Scale Adoption of PHEVs in Alberta Could Support Wind Power; PHEV GHG Benefits Range from 40-90% in Emissions Reduction

The environmental benefit of a large-scale deployment of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in the Canadian province of Alberta could vary significantly, ranging from a 40% to a 90% reduction in greenhouse gases, according to a study by electrical engineers at the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering. The study found the environmental impacts of PHEVs in Alberta would depend on factors such as vehicle battery size, charging time and wind production levels.

Power generation in Alberta is thermal-dominated. Of the installed capacity of just above 12,000 MW, approximately 49% (5,893 MW) is coal fired, 39% (4,686 MW) is gas-fired, 7% (869 MW) is hydro, and 4% (497 MW) is wind powered. However, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) has nearly 11 GW interest in wind power developments, and is facing an operational challenge given a thermal-dominated system with limited flexibility. The AESO has thus been actively looking at ways to mitigate the high volatility of wind.

Optimal use of clean energy is especially important in Alberta, the Canadian province with the highest amount of thermally generated power in Canada and also home to the majority of oil-sands production. More than 90% of electricity in Alberta is produced by methods that emit greenhouse gases: burning coal, oil or natural gas.

Considering the potential application of PHEVs as a distributed storage system, the researchers note, PHEVs could be further promoted by the regulator in the province as a tool to offset wind intermittency.

The research of professors Hamid Zareipour, Bill Rosehart and PhD candidate Mahdi Hajian will be presented next week at an international power engineering conference in Calgary, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Power & Energy Society General Meeting.

They say Alberta needs smart charging systems to make the most of the province’s wind resources. Infrastructure would include technology with communication links to allow system operators to distribute electricity to vehicles when wind power production is at its highest, usually at night.

Even in a thermal-dominated system like Alberta, we can still benefit significantly in terms of environmental impacts by using plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. If we plan to charge them in a smart way, we can reduce a significant amount of emissions in the transportation system.

—Hamid Zareipour

Smart charging systems would also help the power system handle the increased demand for electricity resulting from widespread adoption of hybrid cars. Cars would be charged outside of peak demand times to avoid overloading the grid.

The whole idea is to consume the wind power in the system as much as possible. Unfortunately, the wind is unreliable because it’s not always blowing when we need it. Smart charging systems would help us harness the wind so we can store it in the vehicles’ batteries for later use.

—Mahdi Hajian

The researchers used 2007 wind production levels and assumed 30% of Albertans were driving PHEVs when they considered four charging scenarios: battery charging at night, during the day, randomly through the night and randomly over a 24-hour period.

While wind energy production mostly happens at night, all four scenarios point to the need for smart charging systems. The results of the study are specific to Alberta but the conclusions could be applied elsewhere.

The researchers say other provinces should also have smart charging systems, but the need would depend on electrical load patterns and the availability of clean energy sources such as hydro.




It would be much easier and straightforward to connect the state's wind power grid to hydro in another state, and store wind energy as potential energy behind a dam.
Using car batteries as energy storage looks good, but it gives birth to other problems:
-it reduces battery lifetime, since it uses them (ok, maybe the effect wouoldn't be very big, but still...)
-it reduces flexibility for the car user: you come back home at 6pm and tell your car you will need it to be charged the next morning at 8am. Oops, you forgot to buy milk, you want to go and buy some at 9pm, but the battery is completely empty because of peak demand

What this study is saying is that not only does wind power have an initial installation cost, but you also need to have a very smart grid and millions of electric cars for it to be exploited properly, it's crazy!


In Alberta, they could use an enormous amount of H2 to upgrade the crude oils. They can install any reasonable amount of windpower for electricity production and use any surplus to produce H2. When you have multiple times more wind-energy than needed, even when it blows very little, you still have a sufficient baseload. When it blows normal to heavy, you have an excess of electricity to produce H2. At the actual price of wind energy, that would be relatively expensive H2 compared to steam-reformed-natural gas, but with continuously falling windpower-prices, it will soon be competitive. By the time there is large-scale PHEV, it will.
(if we don't need to upgrade crude, you can use the H2 to upgrade biomass)


Canada and USA already share NG and Oil with major complex pipelines. Electricity can also be shared with existing or upgraded smart e-power grids.

Wind is by nature a local phenomena. It is not steady at all times nor is it dead at all times across Canada and USA.

Areas with huge existing or potential hydro power such as Newfounland, Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia could supply peak demand power across Canada and cover for local low wind or low sun periods. Hydro reservoirs are the best and largest power storage facilities. Unused or unwanted power can easily be stored in the water reservoirs when not needed or when wind or sun power plants are in full production. In other words, you may have to make wind and sun power plants the base power sources and use easily adjustable sources such as hydro for peak demands or back-ups. Current Hydro engineers dont want their plants to play what they still think is a secondary role but common sense will eventually prevail.

Eventually, hydrogen could be produced and stored to complement hydro power. Huge batteries could also play a limited role.




interconnected wind farms-

Also, there's another way to increase the capacity factor of wind; increase altitude. In studies like this the capacity factor is always measured from a hub height of 80m because that's a common height for towers of standard design. But the variability of wind decreases at greater altitudes, that's why mountain ridges are a popular place to site wind turbines.

New wind turbine designs can get us higher: At 1000ft the capacity factor for wind is about 50%-
At 15,000ft the average capacity factor in North America is about 75%-
And if you can get up to 35,000ft the capacity factor is about 90%


An ABC News article showed a Chevron rig 160 miles out in the Gulf Of Mexico, they had to go down through 7000 feet of water and another 25,000 feet of rock to get the oil.

We are reaching a time when getting the oil will cost so much that alternatives start to look good. Sure we can get the oil from the middle east, it comes right out of the ground, but do we want to keep paying them billions of dollars?


I am looking forward to seeing the new wind turbine on Grouse Mountain above Vancouver.

In the not too distant future everyone in the southern US will be putting solar panels on their roofs because the efficiency will increase enough and costs will drop enough to make it economical. Already with government rebates it is economical in places like SoCal. Solar is probably more reliable than wind overall, so when you combine these with hydro power from Canada and existing nuclear power plants, it shouldn't be too difficult at all to supply all our power this way.


With the majority of the population located along the US/Can border, you would think that a cross country grid would be a no brainer but the interconnects between provinces seem to be quite poor. This is the case of the Ontario system, which seems to be more interested in connecting to the NY grid than Manitoba or Quebec.

As a side note, Bruce power, which recently shelved plans for 2 new nuclear reactors in Ontario is still interested in building twin ACR-1000's in Alberta. For how long, who knows?

If the 39% gas and 7% hydro can be varied or even better, the hydro converted to pumped storage, then higher levels of wind can be used. At a local level, given the underground storage facilities left over from gas extraction, they should start looking at CAES(compressed air energy storage) systems, which can be used to extend gas-electricity generation by storing excess wind energy as compressed air to greatly improve gas electricity generation efficiencies.

Some market methodolies like smartplace, change the market dynamics by the company owning the batteries, reducing initial car costs and allowing them to create deals to do V2G. An intelligent car design would tell you how far it could go on it's present charge level. A quick charge feature could easily give the car enough juice to make a quick run to the local store and back. Trying to create these highly artificial edge cases as absolute reasons for dismissal doesn't help create solutions.


"I am looking forward to seeing the new wind turbine on Grouse Mountain above Vancouver."

I saw them bring in the blades by helicopter :^)
The tower's not built yet but when it is I'm told there will be an elevator inside it to take ticketholders up to an observation deck, or at least that's the current plan [sounds too tricky to me].


"-it reduces flexibility for the car user: you come back home at 6pm and tell your car you will need it to be charged the next morning at 8am. Oops, you forgot to buy milk, you want to go and buy some at 9pm, but the battery is completely empty because of peak demand"

Any good system will be flexible enough that this doesn't happen. All you need is an override feature and a quick charge.


The children's $500 e-moped may do the trick for unplanned short runs.


Much as we'd love to see that 11GW of wind come online - how much more is needed to mitigate intermittentcy? I've read that some parts of Germany have to keep their fossil turbines online to compensate for wind loss. That's not really solving the problem. Wind combined with water pumping storage systems seem necessary to handle the baseload. Else it must remain a fairly small percentage of the power mix.

BTW, congrats on the text of this post (minimal GHG paff)


Wind intermittentcy isn't as big a problem as people make it out to be, it can be managed. In addition to the links I gave above I have another-

"Anyone opting for renewable energy does not have to worry about power failures. The feed-in of electricity produced from wind is predictable. Thanks to meteorological forecasts, the network operators can very precisely calculate the quantity of electricity as well as the time and location of when it is fed in.

If, e.g. East Friesland is windless, this power drop is balanced out regionally, nationally and Europe-wide via the existing electricity network. On the other hand, regional surpluses of electricity produced from wind are taken up by the electricity network and forwarded.

Renewables as reliable team players
Decentralised and widely scattered renewable energy systems can support and complement each other. If there is no wind or sun available, e.g. hydroelectric or biogas plants, wood-fired or geothermal power stations can reliably stand in and help out around the clock. This interaction requires no “shadow power stations" at all to stand in if there is a lull in the wind. Between 2000 and 2006, 16,000 Megawatt new wind energy output was erected in Germany alone. If the "shadow power stations" assertion were true, this development in capacity would have had to have been accompanied by a corresponding development of "shadow" power station capacities. In fact, 9,000 Megawatt output from nuclear and coal-fired power stations was shut down during this time."


We know that industry are looking at fast high power grid following devices which will be capable of the high power fluctuations envisioned.

Of course there are a suite of refinements and implementations required to see the benefits. The ten existing BEVs will need to e joined by many others but that is understood by proponents.

I wish I could be around in 30- 40 years when the electric machines - ex vehicle can be recycled into domestic generators. This would be as simple as fitting blades. It is amazing how many useful tasks can be catered for by reusable design.

Somewhere amongst all this there could be specific post life applications engineered into the elements. This maybe as simple as retrofitable components or the consideration of such eventuality.

I know how everyone hates taxes rules and regs but end of life disposal is becoming a requirement for consumer products this is also true of m vehicles recycling.

Some encouragement towards standardising has met some favour by some of the hybrid conversion (retro, commercial vehicles come to mind.)
This has enabled better matching and versatility with regs ice engines, generators and gearboxes.

Imagine the advantage of pressing more "junk " into asset.



Imagine what 100 +++ million BEV each equipped with 100+ Kwh lithium-air batteries and/or combined with equivalent ESStor's ESSUs could do to current power grid management, if used in a V2G configuration.

If affordable scalable AIST lithium-air batteries or power cells materialize, the relationship between BEVs and electrical power grids may never be the same. Many could do without being connected to the grid.

Future fully electrified societies with highly distributed e-power sources could have very different priorities.

Future e-energy generation and storage technology break through or leaps could change the way we look at power grids and large power generation plants.

The age of noisy polluting ICE vehicles, smeling gas stations and coal fired power plants would look very rudimentary.

Interesting decades ahead.



It's interesting to see how at the same time, we have talk of connecting "100 +++ million BEV" to the grid, and talk of "Many could do without being connected to the grid."

Of course, the ideal thing is to have a grid,and everyone connected to it, to enable flexibility, but with everyone that "could do without being connected", meaning they produce their own power locally from renewable sources. Then, among other advantages, you couldn't get any black-outs, because all the sources can't go down at the same time.



We could easily have both situations at the same time.

Isolated residences like lake cabins and farms houses could get all their e-energy from lithium-air cells or similar units without having to install very expensive power lines.

Town and city folks would be interconnected via a power grid. Their vehicle rechargeable 100+ Kwh power units could be an excellent back-up and be used to supply power to the grid on an as required basis (during peak demand hours). Power would flow both ways. Rates could be established accordingly. Something like $0.10/Kwh** from the grid and $0.30/Kwh from the vehicle could be reasonable. Two-way meters are not a real challenge to build.

** Energy price from the grid could vary (from $0.05/Kwh to $.30/Kwh) according to demand level. Of course, smart users would use low cost digital timers to recharge their vehicle unit at $0.05/Kwh. Both sides could be in win-win situation and benefit.

As many as 200 000 000 vehicles equipped with 100+ Kwh e-power storage units would have a very positive impact on energy security. The effect of grid failures and black outs would be minimized.

Interesting decades ahead for e-power distribution security.

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