As the electric vehicle market grows, developing charging infrastructure isn't the only challenge in preparing for the gradual transition. Grid operators will need to be prepared for the overload of electricity requirements from all those vehicles.
Tom Gage, who advanced plug-in vehicle technology at AC Propulsion (ACP), is working on that transition. To manage the complications between plug-in vehicles and grid operations, Gage will employ the concept of vehicle-to-grid (V2G), using vehicle batteries as a source of energy storage and vehicle operating systems as a means of managing that storage. Under his start-up, EV Grid, Gage hopes to streamline those interactions.
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For EV Grid, “the big commercialization opportunity,” Gage explained to Green Tech Media, is “vehicle-grid integration,” because “everybody knows if ten people on the block go out and buy a LEAF and they all plug it in at 6 p.m. when they get home, they’re going to have a problem.” Many see this as a liability, Gage said, “but if you manage it properly, it becomes an asset.”
According to Gage, there are three ways to use batteries as grid storage. A warehouse full of batteries can run under the total control of a utility provider, or when the batteries get older and are replaced, the remaining storage capacity they provide can be recycled and used for grid storage. The third alternative is vehicle-to-grid, in which two streams of the battery are being extracted concurrently—one when the car is being driven and the other when it is charging and the battery is on call to the grid.
For electric car owners, that would mean paying less for a battery while sharing it with a utility, essentially creating two revenue streams. Sometime in May, the company will demonstrate a pilot project with the University of Delaware and NRG Energy, including V2G trials and sample business models. If it works, Gage is confident that V2G will benefit the EV market, making the vehicles look more economical.