The MIT senior calculates how renewables and EVs impact the grid.

MIT senior Elaine Siyu Liu doesn’t own an electric car, or any car. But she sees the impact of electric vehicles (EVs) and renewables on the grid as two pieces of an energy puzzle she wants to solve.

The U.S. Department of Energy reports that the number of public and private EV charging ports nearly doubled in the past three years, and many more are in the works. Users expect to plug in at their convenience, charge up, and drive away. But what if the grid can’t handle it?

Electricity demand, long stagnant in the United States, has spiked due to EVs, data centers that drive artificial intelligence, and industry. Grid planners forecast an increase of 2.6 percent to 4.7 percent in electricity demand over the next five years, according to data reported to federal regulators. Everyone from EV charging-station operators to utility-system operators needs help navigating a system in flux.

 

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