Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 24, 2014

Getting Electric Vehicles to Talk with the Grid

Electric vehicles could provide smart grid services that have been handled by conventional power plants. Automakers and utility groups took a step forward last week in an effort to systematize the communication between a charging plug-in electric vehicle, or PEV, and grid operators.

“A key aspect of the platform’s benefits will be giving customers flexibility and choices,” said Dan Bowermaster, manager of electric transportation for the Electric Power Research Institute, which is coordinating the efforts.

Two-way real time communication between a charging vehicle and the grid would enable a vehicle to be more than just cost for a consumer and load for a utility, as EPRI puts it:

Researchers anticipate that grid operators in the future may call on electric vehicles to contribute to grid reliability by balancing solar and wind generation, mitigating demand charges and providing ancillary services such as frequency regulation and voltage support.

“We see this as the foundation for future developments to integrate PEVs with the grid,” Bowermaster said in a statement. “It can help the PEV customer determine the value of using their parked vehicle as a grid resource, and help the industry develop a convenient, user-friendly customer interface.”

  • stafford123

    As long as 67 percent of electricity in America is generated using fossil fuels (39% coal, 27% natural gas, 1% petroleum) I question the greenhouse gas savings touted by the electric car proponents. I personally favor alternative fuel cars, but want to be certain we are capturing all the costs when discussing. Otherwise, there could be a tremendous backlash when the benefits are not realized, especially given the limitations.
    I cannot use a Volt to commute because my commute is 45 miles each way with no opportunity to recharge while at work. The stated range is 38 miles before the gas-powered generator kicks in (my Prius, which cost half as much, gives me the flexibility to handle that commute). When consumers realize a $40K vehicle has a limited range they are likely to balk. The Tesla reports a range of over 200 miles, but costs $70K. There is also the problem that charging an electric car takes considerably more time than fueling up a conventional vehicle (or even a hybrid).
    This is the age-old problem: these vehicles will not be mainstream until there is an infrastructure (charging stations) to support them, and the prices become more reasonable. The infrastructure will not be built until there is sufficient demand, unless government steps in to support, and prices will not come down until there is sufficient demand to spread costs over more vehicles.
    And let’s not even get started on the politics of the whole thing.

  • emergy

    This technology is not likely to have much viability in many parts of the world. Much better/cheaper/more efficient alternatives are available. Take just one issue (of many) that is often completely forgotten: battery warranty. Who will warranty a battery that is being used so heavily. Who would give up their warranty to make a few bucks on the side?

    Proponents of this technology and their fans are drawn to this technology because it has attributes of being more ‘democratic’, ‘small scale’ ‘artisanal’, which is all the rage these days. A purely objective view of all the costs and benefits show this is dead in the water.

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