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Hybrid cars may affect power distribution

Mar 19, 2008 - UPI

U.S. government scientists have found the increasing use of plug-in hybrid electric cars and trucks might substantially affect power distribution.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers examined how an expected increase in ownership of hybrid electric cars and trucks will affect the nation's power grid depending on the time of day or night the vehicles are charged.

In an analysis of the potential impacts of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles projected for 2020 and 2030 in 13 U.S. regions, ORNL researchers ran several scenarios for each region for the times of 5 p.m. or 10:00 p.m., in addition to other variables.

The report found in the worst-case scenario -- if all hybrid owners charged their vehicles at 5 p.m. at six kilowatts of power -- 160 large power plants would be needed nationwide to supply the extra electricity, and the demand would reduce the reserve power margins for a particular region's system.

The research appears in the current issue of the journal ORNL Review.