EVs to balance the Falklands' grid

Sensemaking / EVs to balance the Falklands' grid

The Falkland Islands: a perfect testing ground for a clean energy grid powered by the wind and balanced by electric vehicles.

12 Aug 2011

The Falkland Islands: a perfect testing ground for a clean energy grid powered by the wind and balanced by electric vehicles.

Gale force winds blast the Falkland Islands so often that, while there are plenty of penguins on the Atlantic archipelago, there are no native trees. So it’s no surprise that a goal for 40% of the total electricity generated on the island to be wind power – displacing 40% of imported fuel – was met last year, with the construction of three new turbines near the capital, Port Stanley.

With only three tar roads on the islands, what might come as more of a surprise are proposals to develop wind power further using electric cars as a storage network. The Government has given the nod to an investigation into how EVs could help, by storing electricity during hours of excess supply, and releasing it back into the grid at times of peak demand [see Grid Solution, GF81].

The principle of using EVs as distributed storage is not new, but has not yet been put into effect on large grids where EV fleets remain small, and their current capacity to provide a useful service is negligible. At present, there are other, more cost-effective methods of matching supply to demand. But islands like the Falklands, where a small fleet of EVs could make a big difference to the grid, could offer the perfect testing ground.

Lancaster University’s Professor Roger Kemp, who sits on the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s Energy Policy Panel, confirms: “It does look like a quite sensible option for somewhere like the Falklands. It should be good for short-term loads, short-term fluctuations and very short-term wind drops.”

And in practice? Peak demand generally occurs in the early evening, Kemp explains, and so EVs would usually be called upon to release electricity just before the optimum charging period: overnight. The impact to drivers would be minimal.

Glenn Ross, Manager of the Sand Bay Wind Farm near Port Stanley, says: “At times of high wind we could dial a number and get people to switch on their chargers.” – Adam Oxford

Photo credit: Glenn Ross, Sand Bay Wind Farm

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