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The Charging Station Gods Must Be Crazy

This morning a reader sent me a link to an article in Planet Ark that talks about how PHEV and EV charging stations are going to be a fabulous business opportunity.

While reading the article, I couldn't help but think back to the consistent message of Storage Week 2009; that the electric grid is already stressed to the limit by demand growth from a combination of new construction and increased per capita electricity use and the only cost effective solution will be adding major new storage resources to shave the peaks and smooth the variability.

I can't even begin to imagine the fun a charging station developer will have walking into his local utility and saying "We want to build a 40 vehicle installation that will recharge 25 kWh of car batteries in a half hour and only put 2 MW of highly variable power load on your local substation."

I can almost see the utilities lining up for that business. A few years ago a client of mine had to pay almost $500,000 in utility fees and charges to connect a 5 MW peaking plant to the grid. With charges of that magnitude for installations that help solve the problem, I can't even imagine what the interconnect charges will be for 2 MW addition to the problem.

The charging station gods must be crazy, or at least ignorant of the very real transmission and distribution constraints faced by utilities. On balance I think charging station developers will probably need to buy several MW of batteries for each installation if they ever expect to get a grid interconnect.