As electric cars hit American roadways, researchers look at future impact on national power grid

In a bid to understand how the growing use of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) will affect the U.S. power grid, a team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame have announced a study that will focus on both the short- and long-term ramifications of increased usage. In an official press release, the group, led by Notre Dame professor Vijay Gupta, expressed the hope that these results, when complete, will assist urban planners and government officials as they brace for a larger amount of energy consumption in the coming years.

The project specifically focuses on the development of mathematical algorithms. These calculation models will then be used to pinpoint exactly how much electricity will be utilized in a given area, based on the projected amount of PEVs in operation. As this type of electric vehicle is designed to use a household's energy supply to recharge, it's assumed that some of this power will be processed in domestic settings.

Speaking about the initiative, Gupta noted in the release that one of the primary challenges is determining the environmental impact of using residential-based charging stations as well as community-based commercial operations. At this time, it isn't known which system is more cost-effective, but the research group intends to explore either option as a viable method.

"Electrification of the transportation market offers revenue growth for utility companies and automobile manufacturers, lower operational costs for consumers and benefits to the environment," Gupta was quoted as saying. "By addressing problems that will arise as PEVs impose extra load on the grid, and by solving challenges that currently impede the use of PEVs as distributed storage resources, this research will directly impact society."

The research effort, which is expected to begin within the next few months, could provide crucial insights into some of the biggest challenges facing the United States in the 21st century.

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