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Vehicle-to-Grid Plug-In Hybrids, for Free
Alex Steffen, 19 Mar 08

This is interesting:

In an analysis of the potential impacts of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles projected for 2020 and 2030 in 13 regions of the United States, ORNL researchers explored their potential effect on electricity demand, supply, infrastructure, prices and associated emission levels. Electricity requirements for hybrids used a projection of 25 percent market penetration of hybrid vehicles by 2020 including a mixture of sedans and sport utility vehicles. Several scenarios were run for each region for the years 2020 and 2030 and the times of 5 p.m. or 10:00 p.m., in addition to other variables.

The report found that the need for added generation would be most critical by 2030, when hybrids have been on the market for some time and become a larger percentage of the automobiles Americans drive. In the worst-case scenario—if all hybrid owners charged their vehicles at 5 p.m., at six kilowatts of power—up to 160 large power plants would be needed nationwide to supply the extra electricity, and the demand would reduce the reserve power margins for a particular region's system.

The best-case scenario occurs when vehicles are plugged in after 10 p.m., when the electric load on the system is at a minimum and the wholesale price for energy is least expensive. Depending on the power demand per household, charging vehicles after 10 p.m. would require, at lower demand levels, no additional power generation or, in higher-demand projections, just eight additional power plants nationwide.

Of course, there's a mechanism for helping people plug their cars in at the right time: pricing energy in response to demand, through miracle smart grid technologies that will be available sometime in the very near future like, well, yesterday.

Of course, even the coolest of hybrids plugged into the smartest of grids won't save our bacon if we don't change the sources of our energy and the design of our communities.

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a) I want a PHEV like two years giddy up so I can buy one.

b) If by 2020 or 2030 I am still charging my PHEV on fossil fuel based power and not a renewable energy, then something is seriously messed up.


Posted by: Jason on 19 Mar 08

I would expect the uptake in PHEVs to be a strong driver for increased renewables development.

A large fleet of PHEVs coupled with V2G would provide a vast distributed storage system for electricity generated overnight, enabling a much larger proportion of renewables. This would be at no cost to the energy supppliers unless they subsidised PHEVs or set up battery leasing schemes (which would make a lot of sense). Moreover the vehicle owners could earn money through grid regulation services.

It's such a critically important technology and it's great to see the first implementation in Boulder.

Posted by: Scatter on 20 Mar 08

Btw there's a lot of useful V2G resources here:

Posted by: Scatter on 20 Mar 08

Seattle-based V2Green is emerging as a leader in the smart charging field. Its technology will direct charging to off-peak, and ultimately manage vehicle-to-grid networks where plug-ins feed power to the grid. They will be part of Xcel's smart grid city efforts, and are also doing pilots with other key utilities including Austin Energy and Seattle City Light.

Posted by: Patrick Mazza on 24 Mar 08

Unfortunately, the commute is an increasingly small proportion of total driving, less than a quarter. The idea that the car will charge up at night with enough juice to get to work and back and then plug into a timer is no longer realistic. People will still motor around in the evenings to get to the faraway shopping mall, and the time they will want to charge up and charge fast will be in the early evening, which is precisely when V2G will want to drain their battery, not charge it, because of electricity demand.

If we increase peak hour electricity demand and not base load to support the electric cars, the additional peak power is most likely to come from fossil fuels, unfortunately.

Posted by: Martin Laplante on 25 Mar 08

The scenario Martin describes is exactly what smart charging is meant to avoid. We absolutely do not want cars charging on peak. We want them charging in the wee hours when people are sleeping and power use is in a trough. Smart charging senses those valleys through communications with the grid and orders charging of cars then. There is substantial off-peak capacity available to charge large fleets of plug-ins, as studies from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have shown.

The use of vehicle-to-grid to meet peaks, such as the late afternoon/early evening, is not seen as the best use of the power, at least for now. Instead, V2G analysts point to grid stabilization services, a certain amount of power used to keep up a steady flow through the grid and balance against sudden dips and surges. This will most likely happen during the daytime parking, probably at the workplace.

The person who owns the car has selected a series of customer preferences in the smart charging/V2G system that tells how much power s/he is willing to feed back into the grid based on driving patterns. And the system will also get to know the owner, so a pattern of evening use will be taken into account. The owner might prefer to run all electric as much as possible, so that could reduce power available to the grid during the day. Or maybe the owner has found the grid services payments to their account attractive enough so that they are willing to deliver more day power and use the on-board engine for evening driving.

Central point - plug-ins require on-board intelligence and a smart grid to operate will full benefits to owner and the grid. The intelligence will optimize charge times and power exchanges.

Posted by: Patrick Mazza on 25 Mar 08



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