Durham Energy Institute looks at home generators for electric cars

THE prospect of homes producing their own power for household electric cars is being studied by North East experts.

Phil Ternent, a building surveyor and energy consultant from Gosforth, charging an electric car

THE prospect of homes producing their own power for household electric cars is being studied by North East experts.

Researchers from the Durham Energy Institute (DEI), one of Durham University’s eight research institutes, are looking for people who own or regularly use electric cars to be interviewed as part of the project.

The North East has a network of electric car charging points thanks to initiatives like Charge your Car. Newer, fast-charging vehicles which take around only 30 minutes to restore their batteries make electric cars an increasingly viable option for local journeys.

But should electric cars become more common in a future transport system, demand for electricity from the National Grid will increase.

The DEI’s Dr Charlotte Adams said: “To meet increased demands without burning more fossil fuels is challenging. However there are a range of currently available domestic-scale renewable energy systems that produce electricity such as solar photo-voltaic systems, roof-mounted wind turbines and combined heat and power systems similar to a conventional domestic gas boiler, but which produce electricity as well as heat.

“These micro-generators can be fitted to a house to help meet electricity demands and through its Feed-in-Tariff scheme, the Government offers financial benefits for people who use their homes as mini-power stations. Because the greatest benefits of micro-generation systems are realised when the electricity produced is used at the home, we’re investigating the relationship between electric vehicles and micro-generators and whether the demands from electric cars could be met by energy systems installed at the home.”

The project involves a collaboration between Durham’s departments of engineering and computing sciences and anthropology, which will investigate the technical issues surrounding where and when people choose to charge their electric vehicles, and which micro-generation systems fit best with the demand from electric cars.

Researchers will also talk to electric car owners and users about their experiences with the vehicles and whether they have changed their lifestyles.

In October, Sergio Roldan and Giannis Sarrigiannis, who are both studying renewable energy at DEI, made a successful round-trip in the DEI’s electric car, a Mitsubishi I-MiEV, to Cardiff to attend the Low Carbon Networks Fund Annual Conference there

DEI’s Dong Energy Professor of Renewable Energy Phil Taylor said: “That trip demonstrated the increasing viability of electric vehicles. It’s worth remembering, of course, that most car journeys are much shorter than a round trip to Cardiff.”

The Department of Transport has found that the average car journey is only six and a half miles, with an average daily use of around 22 miles.

Nearly 95% of all car journeys are under 25 miles, well within the range of the average electric car’s charge of around 80 miles.

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