Vehicle to Grid Technology

This year may be a major point for electric vehicle technology. In February, the Department of Defense “$20 million in the first year of a pilot program testing” vehicle to grid technology [1]. While electric and hybrid vehicles have been around for a few decades, this will be a major push in advancing and properly integrating electric vehicles into the electrical power grid.  Also just this month, the University of Delaware, while working with NRG Energy and PNJ interconnection, established the first major attempt at using electric vehicles as a storage devices for the power grid [2]. The project will include 15 “two passenger Mini E models,” and hopes to proves that the vehicle to grid technology is marketable [2]. The team at the University of Delaware believes that this can be achieved by “two way chargers,” which allows the grid operators to draw power from the electric vehicles when needed [2]. PNJ Operators have also lowered the minimum power requirement for participants to compete in the market [3]. By lowering the power requirement, electric vehicle batteries can be used as a source of electric power, and provide a way to promote vehicle to grid technology. Also by lowering the power requirement electric vehicle consumers have the ability to sell power back to the grid for profit.

The team at the University of Delaware predict that an electric vehicle owner can be paid between “$400 – $5000” annually [4]. If they can prove that the vehicle to grid technology can in fact be this profitable for consumers, than the use of electric vehicle may dramatically increase. In 2012, the amount of Nissan Leafs sold in America was only 10,000, and Chevy only sold 24,000 Volts [5]. This means that electric vehicles need more incentive to truly penetrate the automotive industry, and it is hoped that the vehicle to grid technology will provide that extra incentive. The grid operators can also possibly benefit from the integration of vehicle to grid technology into the power grid.

Vehicle to grid technology provides the ability to do load shaving and provide better frequency regulation [2]. Load shaving is the reduction of power needed by generators during peak hours. The IEA predicts that with 30% integration of vehicle to grid electric vehicles, the peak demand power can be reduced significantly [6]. This can reduce the need for idle power plants that are waiting for fluctuations in the demanded power and reduce the fuel cost for running these power plants at idle. With the integration of intermittent renewable energy sources, which cause frequency fluctuations, there is a need to find a way to reduce these fluctuations. The proponents of vehicle to grid technology believe that the technology can provide a solution to these fluctuations [2].

While the integration of vehicle to grid technology seems to have it’s benefits, there are some issues that the technology will have to surpass to prove that it is a beneficial technology. Major issues that the IEA predict are dealing with battery life lose due to frequency of charging, “guaranteed capacity from electric vehicles,” as well as proper market incentives [6].  With the project in Delaware and the one started by the DOD, this year will may show how beneficial vehicle to grid can be.

[1]http://www.eenews.net/public/Greenwire/2013/02/05/1

[2]http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/26/business/energy-environment/electric-vehicles-begin-to-earn-money-from-the-grid.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

[3]http://www.power-eng.com/news/2013/04/27/in-first-electric-vehicle-to-grid-technology-sells-power-to-pjm-power-grid.html

[4]http://www.udel.edu/V2G/QandA.html

[5]http://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2013/04/25/swerving-around-barriers-and-moving-electric-cars/

[6] http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/load_shifting.pdf

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