February 12, 2010

Assessing Vehicle Electricity Demand Impacts on California Electricity Supply


Dr. Ryan McCarthy, Science and Technology Fellow at California Council on Science and Technology


As we move toward alternative vehicles and fuels in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is necessary to understand well-to-wheels emissions associated with distinct vehicle and fuel platforms, including those using electricity. This analysis uses hourly electricity dispatch modeling to simulate and investigate operation of the current California grid and its response to added vehicle and fuel-related electricity demands in the near and long term. Importantly, the modeling identifies the “marginal electricity mix” likely to supply vehicle recharging and calculates greenhouse gas emissions from those plants. From this analysis, we can accurately identify greenhouse gas emissions from plug-in vehicles and conditions under which investments in these technologies provide the most benefit.

Biographical Sketch

Ryan McCarthy was a graduate researcher in the Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS) Program at the University of California, Davis from 2002-2009. His research focused on policy aspects of energy and the environment, reliability of energy systems, and integrating plug-in vehicles and renewable power on the electricity grid in California. Prior to that, he held undergraduate research positions at UC San Diego and Stanford, and worked with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). McCarthy received his Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from UC Davis in 2009. He received an M.S. in civil and environmental engineering from UC Davis and a B.S. in structural engineering from UC San Diego.  He has received numerous fellowships and awards, including an Undergraduate Research Fellowship at Stanford University through the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center and an Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) through the National Science Foundation.  He is currently a Young Member of the Transportation Research Board’s Committee on Transportation Energy. Ryan is currently a California Council on Science and Technology Fellow working in the California State Legislature for Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter.  Among others, he staffs Assembly Member Carter on issues relating to natural resources, transportation, utilities and commerce, and water.