Imagine millions of plug-in vehicle owners returning home from work on a hot summer day, plugging in their cars at the same time, and melting down an overtaxed, outdated, and otherwise atrophied electrical grid. But the geniuses at Google say averting a disaster scenario could be as simple as a few lines of code (well, a few more than just a few). Working with a test fleet of a plug-in vehicles, part of a project the company initiated two years ago, Google came up with new “smart charging” software that can manage the charging needs of EVs based on real-time signal data from a grid operator. For example, automatically turning off EV charging during times of peak grid demand.

The software is in its early stages, but since 2007, when the RechargeIT plug-in hybrid fleet program began at Google’s Mountain View, California headquarters the company has pursued a number of solutions, like plugging vehicles in when parked to give the grid a series of battery backups and reduce strain.

The company’s director of Climate Change and Energy Initiatives (yes, that’s a real title) says the possibility of a large number of plug-in vehicles hooked to the grid presents an opportunity to introduce a megawatt-scale storage technology in the grid for the first time.

[Reuters via Gizmag]