Electric vehicles are undoubtedly a cleaner form of transportation when comparing them to their fossil fuel combustion counterparts. Although EVs physically do not release any emissions, their batteries are often charged by electricity from power plants, which is generated from polluting substances such as coal and fossil fuels. Therefore, by the transitive property, EVs are potentially still adding a bit of pollution to the air, yet still significantly less than gas-powered cars. Yet as electrical technology develops, the introduction of renewable energy generated microgrids to EV charging could pave a path towards clean energy for the future.
Microgrids are small-scale versions of centralized electricity systems and are designed for specific consumer needs and goals such as carbon emissions reduction and other green initiatives. Microgrids have the potential to generate their energy from renewable sources such as solar, hydro, and wind power on both a residential and large commercial field, thus minimizing the overall carbon footprint of these establishments.
The Fraunhofer Institute Center in Stuttgart, Germany recently constructed a smart microgrid garage to power up to 30 EVs at once. The microgrid is powered exclusively by a photovoltaic unit as well as a 30-meter wind turbine on the top of the lot, which delivers up to 10 kilowatts when rotating. When all 30 spaces are occupied, a total of 340 kilowatts of electricity are consumed per hour, thus the microgrid requires an immense amount of strategic planning to avoid issues such as short circuits and maximized operational efficiency. The grid can either run completely independent of the locally operated Stuttgart grid, or it has the option to tap into the local grid if the batteries are low or empty.
As EVs and other electric-powered utilities become more prevalent in the world of transportation, microgrids will be essential to generating the additional required electricity. With this demand comes increased grid-instability. Therefore, decentralized power generation through microgrids adds a level of security that preexisting power grids currently do not have. These microgrids divide up the power sources to lessen the power demand on larger grids and more specifically produce the amount of electric needed for that specific location.
Check out this video to learn more about how renewable energy microgrids work on a local scale: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhkdYqNU-ac