Cleantech Market Intelligence
EV Makers and Utilities Unite to Realize V2G Potential
The first major trial using electric vehicles (EVs) across the United States to strengthen the grid is about to begin. For the first time, multiple utilities and car companies are cooperating in a deployment of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies coordinated by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).
Announced at the Plug-In 2014 conference in San Jose, California, on July 29, the Open Grid Integration Platform will use grid standards for utilities to communicate with a newly created central server that will relay the information to vehicles in many states. Sumitomo Electric developed the platform, which enables automakers to relay information to vehicles using telematics systems or any communications pathway of their choosing, according to Sunil Chhaya, the innovator and technology leader for energy and transportation at EPRI. The pilot project relies on smart grid standards (OpenADR and SEP2) to push V2G to become viable nationally; previously, trials required custom hardware and software that was specific to a utility and EV charging station.
Smartphones + Cars + the Grid
V2G applications, including demand response, frequency regulation, and voltage regulation, modulate the power flowing to (and, in some cases, from) EVs to enable grid operators to match power supply and demand. Phase 1 of the project will test demand response; future phases will trial regulation services. According to Navigant Research’s report, Vehicle to Grid Technologies, by 2022, demand response programs will be able to control nearly 640 MW of load from EVs.
The project will include cars from eight automakers (Honda, BMW Group, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, and Toyota) and involves 15 utilities and grid operators, including major utilities like Duke Energy, Southern Company, Southern California Edison, and Pacific Gas and Electric.
If this technology is commercialized, automakers are expected to integrate grid communications into mobile phone applications so that EV drivers will know when their vehicles are participating in a grid service event.
No Fees, Yet
While there are many ways that information can be shared between the grid and EVs, Watson Collins, the manager of business development at Northeast Utilities, said in an interview at Plug-In that the extensive project will determine whether this method is “the best, lowest-cost way.”
Collins said the trial will not include payments to the participants who will primarily be utility employees, but a commercial program would provide incentives for participation. Each utility’s public utilities commission (PUC) would have to approve any V2G compensation system.
Automakers could charge fees for the use of their communications platforms in V2G services. This test platform does not require the participation of EV supply equipment or EV service companies, which, if implemented nationally, could cut them out from future V2G revenue streams.
Chhaya added that utilities will benefit, as they will be able to target potential stress on feeders or transformers caused by EV power consumption. Utilities will be able to see which houses the EVs are drawing power from to determine how much load is coming from the car versus the residence. This will enable utilities to “use a scalpel instead of a butcher knife” to detect and manage EV load in specific geographic locations.