Electrical engineering professor Claudio Cañizares is working on an answer.
He's developing a smart charger that will effectively "talk" to the grid. It's a project Cañizares has been working on for the past few years and he says he's encouraged by the progress.
"For the long term, it makes a lot of sense to electrify the transportation system. The smart charger helps make that happen," says Cañizares, a Hydro One Endowed Chair in Power Engineering and associate director of the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE).
Taking turns with your neighbours
The smart charger hardware, which is being created with Mehrdad Kazerani , a professor of electrical and computer engineering, in the power electronics lab, is a first step toward making electric cars a reality for ordinary drivers.
Rather than allowing people to plug in their cars and charge at any time, drivers set parameters. Maybe they require a fully charged vehicle for the next morning's commute, but not overnight. With this intelligence, the utility than decides when, between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. to charge the car. If other electric cars on the street are set for 1 a.m., it might make sense to start at 2:30 a.m.
Coordinating charge times could mean reducing the power load, increasing distribution efficiency and maintaining grid stability. In effect, the smart charger takes the human out of the equation. It knows better than we do, when it's the best time to give the car a charge.
Cañizares says he sees having a working model of the smart charger ready in a couple of years.