The decreasing amount of fossil fuels and an increasing demand for energy at the same time immediately suggest the improvement of energy efficiency. Existing technologies allow us to substantially reduce greenhouse gases in the U.S. by increasing energy efficiency, which leads to sustainable use of resources. Furthermore intelligent solutions can provide ecological benefits as well as economic advantages.
Did you know Thanksgiving is one of the most energy efficient holidays? Here's why: http://t.co/Hg72UwTpTe
— TIME (@TIME) November 28, 2013
Essential for the efficient use of energy is the development of electromobility as well as a smart grid and smart buildings. Sustainability and energy efficiency can be achieved by the interaction of renewable energy, electromobility, efficient power plants and households, which act as so called ‘prosumers’, meaning that households produce more energy, than they need, e.g. by the use of solar panels.
Electric cars on the other hand do not only consume electric power but can also provide mobile storage in times of high electricity generation from renewable sources, like high wind or sunshine. In times of high demand for energy the surplus stored in electric vehicles can be fed back into the smart grid.
But what exactly is a smart grid? The grid is the network which transports electricity from the plants where it is generated to the consumer’s households. This complex system includes wires, transformers and substations. The term ‘Smart grid’ generally refers to an intelligent technology which improves the efficiency on the power network and in the homes and businesses of energy users.
By renewable energy, with wind, solar and hydro technology, we can tap into unlimited natural energy sources to meet the world’s growing energy needs. However it is as well important to transport the energy to where it is needed with as little loss as possible. The transfer of power by a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system allows the efficient transport of power over large distances. HVDC minimizes power losses and line costs of overhead lines for distances longer than 600 kilometers.
What this all amounts to is that the system of energy and power is becoming more complex. While some decades ago power was only generated by a relatively small number of power plants and heat plants, in some years millions of households and electric vehicles will be part of the smart grid. By integrating electric vehicles into the smart grid, they become a part of the energy system instead of simply consuming energy. During peak power generation times – for example periods of strong wind or intense sunshine – electric vehicles store energy which is returned to the grid in times of high demand. The same will apply for households and businesses. Instead of simply consuming energy, they will be ‘prosumers’, meaning consumers and producers at the same time.