Sunday, May 20, 2012

FEV2Gen to support V2G

To translate, corporate Fleet Electric Vehicles could add power To backup Generators and push Vehicle-To-Grid technologies along.

V2G involves drawing power from electric vehicle batteries to supplement the power grid, instead of connecting the EVs to the grid solely for the purpose of charging up the EV to drive around (great info at University of Delaware).  This could have a lot of economic value by timing when you charge and release power from the batteries, and go a long way to support renewable power by providing power storage.  A related idea would take old EV batteries when they're no longer reliable enough for vehicles, but still have significant storage capacity, and using them as power backup.

For decades, people in developing countries have used regular car batteries for power supply.  In recent years, hobbyists have modified hybrid cars to power homes, and EV carmakers are finally starting to make that option available to individual buyers.  V2G experiments are happening, but we've got miles to go.

The water district that I help direct is considering spending $700,000 to $1 million to buy/upgrade two generators (100kw and 650kw) for our buildings.  We have to have power 24/7, especially when the Big One hits or if a major storm takes out power at the same time that it causes a flood.  We have a significant vehicle fleet of our own, and 700 employees who mostly drive to work.

If much of our vehicle fleet were to be converted to EV and networked to add to the power we'd receive from our generators, then we could either use less-powerful generators or extend the time that we can operate without system power.  As an additional step, we would also have a financial incentive to work out deals with our employees, providing them with financial incentives if the EVs they drive to work could be used to supplement generator power while they're there.

This is a miniature version of the V2G solution for broader society, operating in a situation where having the power would be extremely important and otherwise hard to obtain.  Other government agencies could be in a similar situation - they own a substantial vehicle fleet and need generator power.  Other places like hospitals may not have much of a fleet but would have employees there 24/7.  I think using your own fleet may be simpler at first, but working with employees is the next logical step.

Another advantage this system might have would be for transitory blackouts.  Backup generators are inefficient and polluting, while most blackouts are short.  Maybe we could have enough EVs attached so that for an initial period of 30 minutes or so, they provide all the backup power, and only if the power is still off does the generator kick in to stop battery depletion from happening too fast.  With luck, the generators would never be used at all except for testing and maintenance, something that California's air quality regulators might appreciate.

Having these systems might be good practice for and help acceptance of larger scale V2G, as well as being an additional incentive to just get more EVs on the market.

Just an idea at this point though....