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Oct 02, 2012 NEWSwire
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PHOTO CAPTION: e-Jeepney is electric-powered shuttle used in Manila.

Electric Vehicles and Philippine's Power Grid

Manila Standard's Dean Tony La Viña explores the potential of combining electric vehicles and the electric power grid, one that increasingly makes use of renewable sources.

Published: 02-Oct-2012

Advances in the technology of power management, the critical role of transportation as a resource of industry and commerce, and the internal combustion engine and its own fossil fuel needs mean that no renewable energy discussion can be complete without considering cars and other road-bound vehicles as part of the energy infrastructure. Electricity was in fact one of the earliest options to power cars when they were first invented, alongside steam and fossil fuels. The economic and convenience advantages of the internal combustion engine, bringing the best mileage per resource and expense spent, and the discovery of petroleum reserves around the world (especially in the Middle East), are what gave fossil fuels the advantage in being selected as the power source of choice for the automobile, with the resultant costs of air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and increased competition over a dwindling fuel source growing climactically and economically unbearable. Therefore we turn once more to electric vehicles to ameliorate, if not reverse, this state of transportation affairs.

Since these vehicles are usually charged right out of a household’s power connection to the grid, one of the possibilities being touted for electric car technology is to integrate the entire fleet, private and public, into a city-wide grid energy storage, to store any excess power generation during periods of low demand for future use by either the vehicle or the grid. Power otherwise wasted by constant baseload generation in low demand could then be sold at lower rates for storage or transport use. (The engineering problem, though, is that repeated charging/discharging wears said battery down, familiar to any cell phone and laptop owner.) Car charging can also be accomplished through renewable energy sources. The solar-powered car, by example, need not be as esoteric as those seen in the World Solar Challenge contests, but as prosaic as a privately-owned solar panel feeding a household or office microgrid, in turn charging vehicles.

Cost remains one of the obstacles for the wide adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles in the Philippines. Right now, the legislature is working on proposed incentives for electric vehicles, in order to attract customer attention. On the ground exist efforts to electrify elements of Metro Manila public transportation, particularly the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC)’s e-Jeepney initiative (the grand prize winner in the recent Inclusive Mobility Campaign), and a separate promotion, executed at the local government unit level, to swap tricycles for e-Trikes.

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