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RechargeIT Launch: V2G Demo by Proudfoot and Reicher
Jun 22, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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ALEC PROUDFOOT, The concept of the vehicle-to-grid system is where you can send energy back to the grid from the car or recharge the car from the grid. We have a data acquisition system in all our plug-in hybrid cars, and if you look at the website later, or we have a display of the website somewhere behind that sea of people, it shows the graphs of the cars we have. And we have an inverter that's actually going to send energy back from the battery.

This is showing the power curve during the course of the day. The blue line is showing the normal curve. What we're demonstrating here is called "peak shaving." So if we have tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of plug-in hybrid and full battery electric cars on the road that have vehicle-to-grid capability, during the night they can charge. But during the day instead of having to turn on "peaker" power plants, they can provide energy back to the grid, on the hottest five or ten days a year when it's the highest load

Now I'm going to ask, not sure who is going to do the honors,

SERGEY BRIN: I don't know what I'm doing but I can try.

DAN REICHER Director, Climate and Energy Initiatives, We also need our PG&E representative. Why don't you come up and you can push the button together [LAUGHTER].

ALEC PROUDFOOT: What we're simulating is that we're at this high point of the day, when everybody has their air conditioners on, and rather than turn another power plant on, we want to do our little bit of power from the car.

So here's the simulated signal from the power grid. Go ahead. [Pushed] It didn't work. [Pushed again]

Now, if you see, it's still crawling along a little bit, That's because there's still the power from the data acquisition system back to the car. And it takes about a minute for the inverter to sync up the frequency with the grid, and decide it's safe to put energy back into the grid.

So Dan's going to explain a little bit more about the different kinds of Vehicle-to-grid, and while we're doing that everybody keep an eye on that meter, and pretty soon you'll see it slows down.

DAN REICHER: Alec explained one of the more exciting applications of this, which is imagine a hot day in July: The grid is stressed. PG&E needs extra power. What they normally would do would be to call on what are called" peaker" power plants, which tend to be the dirtier plants, They can be expensive. The opportunity here is, these cars having been charged at night, PG&E can call on thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of batteries, in these vehicles, connected to the grid, and say to those cars, we need electricity to meet the demands on this very hot day. And these cars will respond through software protocols that have been developed prior to this. That's the opportunity here. And that's example number one.


ALEC PROUDFOOT: It did change. You saw the wheel stop and then it started going slowly and then fast in the opposite direction. So basically we're putting about as much energy or power back into the grid as we were drawing when we were charging. And then later the ISO [Independent Systems Operator] would give us the signal when it's late at night and it's time to charge the car back up, and would flip the meter back in the other direction. I'll let Dan talk more about vehicle-to-grid.

DAN REICHER: So understand what this means. We're now selling electricity back to the grid. We're running our electric meter backwards and taking money off our electric bill. This is a very exciting opportunity for a vehicle like this. And if you could amass thousands or tens of thousands of these and have this happening at the same time, this has huge, huge implications for how we manage the grid.

It also can provide other services. There's something called "spinning reserves," which is what utilities have to provide on an ongoing basis. They have to have a lot of things spinning and ready for very quick demand for power and be able to meet that demand. So these cars could also do that..

They could provide what's called "frequency control," another service.

A last thing that's kind of exciting is imagine wind turbines spinning here in California in the afternoon One of the issues has been where do you store that electricity if in fact you don't have a place to use it. Well, these become the new storage mechanisms at the time of the day when there isn't huge demand. And having put his electricity in the battery, that next day, when we hit a peak, the utility can call that power back And you can get paid for doing it. There's money to be made here, there's an awful lot of good for the environment to be done, as Sergey said, we can improve peoples' quality of life in so many ways. We're very very excited to be doing this demo today. And Alec is really excited that it's actually working. [APPLAUSE]

ALEC PROUDFOOT: So I think we're going to invite everybody to look at some of the vehicles that we have and we can show some of the vehicles tat have their trunks open and we can show you what the systems look like from the back.

DAN REICHER And we want ot invite Larry Brilliant and Sergey Brin to actually get in this vehicle -- and drive off? We can use the other vehicle. [They were joined by Larry Page as well.]

Alec Proudfoot's worked on the GM Impact, the precursor to the EV1 in the 1990s at Aerovironment. We met Alec on our first visit to talk about PHEVs at Google in October 2003.

Before arriving at Google, Daniel Reicher was President of New Energy Capital and has served as U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. He posted his commentson RehargeIT at the official Google Blog:­2007/­06/­clean-energy-update.html.

Some blogs this week have propagated a misconception: that V2G is flawed because it's about cars using gasoline to generate electricity that's returned to the grid. This technology is about cars storing and then returning power to the grid from increasingly renewable sources.

The "frequency control" mentioned by Dan Reicher is part of what is technically called "regulation services." These along with "spinning reserves" are all called "ancillary services." We encourage readers to learn more about V2G, starting with the links from the RechargeIT Resources page.

Some industry analysts this week have been skeptical of the economic potential of ancillary services, saying that they might at most involve only several million cars, and therefore could not provide the projected revenues. But initial stages provide only a hint of what is to come. For instance, once tens of millions of cars are grid-connected, with substation modifications, they can serve as uninterruptible power supplies for neighborhoods, towns, corporate parks, or entire regions. Every 24/7/365 company could ditch its back-up power system!

Current PHEVs lack two-way controllers. (AC Propulsion's E-Box and Tesla's Roadster are "V2G-ready," but they and 2-way PHEVs will require some additional control and communication systems under development.) One of CalCars' goals is to help ensure that when V2G demonstration projects are ready to start, V2G-capable cars will be available.

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