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World's First V2G Demo: Xcel/Hybrids Plus/V2Green/US Lab+Ford Escape Hybrids
Oct 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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This is a long-awaited next step on "Vehicle-To-Grid:" to actually get some V2G-capable cars on the road for testing. It's big news that a demonstration fleet of six Ford Escape Hybrids with the hardware and software to enable intelligent two-way energy exchanges between the cars and the power grid will be on the road this year!

Consortia around the country have been racing to make this happen: the first one will be in Colorado. It's a joint collaboration between Xcel Energy; Hybrids Plus Inc. in Boulder, Colo.; V2Green Inc. in Seattle, Wash.; and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.

Press release and multiple links below, but first a quick overview. Here's how we talk about V2G -- and how we don't want to overpromise:

"V2G demonstrations offer a peak at a very different future when two distinct industry sectors -- power generation and transportation -- begin to merge. This 'electrification of transportation' can improve the efficiency of utility plants, reducing their operating costs. And best of all, when utilities have what they've always lacked -- distributed storage -- they can turn intermittent renewable energy like night-time wind into reliable 24/7 energy sources."

More details: It can enable utilities to size their facilities efficiently through "valley-filling" (charging at night) and "peak-shaving" (sending power back to the grid on hot summer afternoons). It can give utilities new ways to provide "regulation services" (keeping voltage and frequency stable) and provide "spinning reserves" (meet sudden demands for power). Ultimately it can help make the grid more reliable (V2H-- vehicle-to-home leading to neighborhood/community uninterruptible power). And by enabling utilities to use their expensive facilities optimally, it could ultimately reduce energy costs for everyone!

CAUTIONS: It's important not to overpromise the benefits or the time-frames. For instance:

  • For a while, we talked about the idea of utilities operating secondary stationery storage battery banks from used PHEV batteries, which could reduce initial battery costs. We're hearing that at least some utilities do not expect ever to get in that business (though someone might).
  • While carmakers are very interested in this opportunity (e.g. Ford's exploratory partnership with Southern California Edison and Toyota's with Electricite de France -- see back postings at CalCars-News), so far it hasn't been easy for them to model benefits and take V2G into account in their business plans.
  • A few years ago, AC Propulsion (whose controllers, including those licensed to Tesla, are all V2G-capable) and Prof. Willett Kempton at the University of Delaware introduced the concept of car-owners being paid to "rent" their parked plug-in cars' batteries to utilities for V2G -- for potentially thousands of dollars a year. Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff dubbed PHEVs "cash-back hybrids" for this opportunity. Utilities and researchers are now focusing in on how realistic this is. Eventually we'll see projections that take into account how utilities actually operate.
  • What has to happen BEFORE V2G? Hundreds and then thousands of cars have to demonstrate benefits; V2G-capable cars have to be mass produced; software, hardware and interconnection standards have to be established. This will all require buy-in from automakers, utilities and government regulators.

Software Startup Targets Vehicle-to-Grid Management
Green Car Congress 5 October 2007 [about V2Green Company]­venture/­archives/­123044.asp#extended
Seattle Post-Intelligencer VC reporter John Cook
iinterviews V2Green's Dave Kaplan­2007/­09/­13/­three-thoughts-on-smart-charging-for-plug-in-vehicles/­ Three Thoughts on Smart Charging for Plug-In Vehicles clean-tech blog 13 September­news/­news_releases/­q3_2007/­070912.html PG&E and Tesla Motors Co-Pilot Vehicle-to-Grid Research September 12, 2007 PG&E Press release­2007/­09/­25/­technology/­green_power.biz2/­index.htm Green power: How California's PG&E is transforming itself into the very model of a modern utility company. Business 2.0 Magazine October 2007

ONE MORE LINK [after the press release]: in an amazing contrast, read how a consortium of 100 midwest utilities and the US Department of Energy has already committed $200M to a far-more expensive and much less efficient way of solving this problem!

Xcel Energy announces six-month test drive of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles

DENVER - Six plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) will be on the road by the end of 2007 as part of a demonstration test of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology by Xcel Energy. The goal is to determine how consumers can use the vehicles to significantly lower greenhouse gases, shore up electricity grid reliability and prove PHEVs are a viable alternative to today's carbon-emitting cars.

The project, which will convert six Ford Escape Hybrids to PHEVs equipped with V2G technology so each can charge and discharge power to and from the grid, is one of the nation's first real-world demonstrations of the emerging technology.

With operations in eight states, Xcel Energy will study how the vehicles perform in varied geographic regions and climates over a six-month period. Three company employees will serve as test drivers, using three of the PHEVs in typical home settings. The remaining three PHEVs will be used in the company's fleet.

"With every U.S. home connected to the electricity grid, vehicle-to-grid technology could be key to meeting our growing energy needs," said Michael Lamb, executive director of Xcel Energy Utility Innovations. "This project will allow us to explore how PHEVs can become an integrated part of a 'smart house' and our vision of the smart grid energy system of the future - one that allows customers and utilities to work together to balance the power grid, lower greenhouse gas emissions and improve our nation's energy security."

Xcel Energy's demonstration will build on its previous PHEV impact study (­docs/­fy07osti/­41410.pdf) by examining how drivers - and their vehicles - will react and perform in real-world settings. The project will explore the potential benefits of widespread PHEV use including: reducing petroleum-related emissions and greenhouse gases, enhancing energy security by reducing dependence on foreign oil, improving the reliability and cost-effectiveness of the electricity grid, exploring ways to make PHEVs more accessible and lowering vehicle fuel costs.

The project is a joint collaboration between Xcel Energy; Hybrids Plus Inc. in Boulder, Colo.; V2Green Inc. in Seattle, Wash.; and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.

To make the cars V2G capable, each will be equipped with a V2Green Connectivity Module that controls vehicle charging, collects data and communicates via a cellular modem; and an Inverger (a 6-kilowatt inverter and charger in a single unit) from Hybrids Plus. In addition, Hybrids Plus will replace the cars' nickel-metal hydride batteries with a lithium-ion phosphate battery pack. V2Green will also supply server software enabling remote control of smart charging and V2G functions.

By outfitting the vehicles with these components, Xcel Energy can remotely control the battery cycles in each vehicle by requesting that each postpones charging or begins discharging energy back to the electricity grid.

"We're committed to advancing new transportation technologies to bring the environmental and economic benefits of PHEVs to our customers," said Ray Gogel, Xcel Energy chief administrative officer. "We take our environmental commitments seriously, and V2G technology holds great promise in reducing greenhouse gases and helping our grid work smarter. We're excited to advance this innovative technology, which we believe holds significant promise for the future."

Xcel Energy is dedicated to improving the environment and providing the leadership to make a difference in the communities it serves. The company is listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the second consecutive year. Xcel Energy is the nation's No. 1 wind power provider. The company operates Windsource, the nation's largest voluntary wind energy program in terms of customers. Xcel Energy is a leader in emissions reduction programs and in developing new technologies and tools to help bring clean, renewable energy onto its system at an affordable cost for its customers. ______________________________________________

Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company with regulated operations in eight Western and Midwestern states. Xcel Energy provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.3 million electricity customers and 1.8 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies. Company headquarters are located in Minneapolis. More information is available at

Xcel Energy Media Relations
(303) 294-2300

[URLs of other partners:] Hybrids Plus V2Green­vehiclesandfuels/­hev/­plugins.html NREL

FINAL LINK: current "kludge" approaches to energy storage validate the model:­magazine/­content/­07_41/­b4053092.htm Business Week October 8, 2007: Catching The Wind In A Bottle A group of Midwest utilities is building a plant that will store excess wind power underground

The future is taking shape under the windswept corn and soybean fields outside Dallas Center, Iowa. At the Iowa Stored Energy Park, a coalition of local utilities is grappling with one of the thorniest challenges in the field of renewable power: how to store the excess energy windmills create when demand is low so it can be used later, when the need is greater.

The group is building a system that will steer surplus electricity generated by a nearby wind farm to a big air compressor (diagram). Connected to a deep well, the compressor pumps air into layers of sandstone. Some 3,000 feet down and sealed from above by dense shale, the porous sandstone acts like a giant balloon. Later, when demand for power rises, this flow is reversed. As the chamber empties, a whoosh of air flows back up the pipe into a natural-gas-fired turbine, boosting its efficiency by upwards of 60%.

This trick does more than capture wind that might otherwise be wasted. It also lets the utility sell the stored energy when demand is peaking and prices are highest, says Kent Holst, the park's development director. Backed by funding from the Energy Dept., more than 100 municipal utilities in Iowa, Minnesota, and the Dakotas are ponying up a total of $200 million to build the 268-megawatt system. Begun in 2003, the project is on track to go online in 2011.

Although Iowa's compressed air energy storage (CAES) project will be the first of its type to bank green energy, it may soon have company. In West Texas, TXU CORP. is working with Shell Wind­Energy to build a massive installation of windmills with 3,000 megawatts of capacity. The companies hope to connect the wind farm to a CAES system that will pump air into underground salt domes. Other potential CAES sites are being explored in New Mexico and the Gulf Coast. Nationally, the Electric Power Research Institute estimates that more than 85% of the U.S. has subterranean features that could support the technique.

For now, CAES is the lowest-cost way to store very large volumes of power, according to the Energy Dept.'s Sandia National Labs. While American Electric Power Co. (AEP ) and Siemens Wind Power (SI ) are testing truck-sized batteries with capacities of amegawatt or more, big batteries rely on costly, exotic chemicals. CAES, in contrast, combines less pricey industrial machinery with the earth's free storage capacity. And while battery life is measured in hours, the geology below the Iowa project can store about 20 weeks' worth of air supply.

Despite being unpredictable, wind is the nation's fastest-growing form of renewable energy. In the past five years output from wind farms has grown tenfold, to more than 12,000 megawatts, or about 1% of total U.S. supply. Its fans predict that someday wind could supply 10% or more of the nation's electricity. That's already the case in Spain and Denmark.

Perhaps subterranean storage techniques will help wind power reach its potential. "Near term, it has the best chance of being adapted by the utilities," says Sandia stored-energy expert Garth Corey.

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