Will your Utility be ready for your Networked EV?

Will your Utility be ready for your Networked EV?

WattStation & Smart EDBy John Addison (11/30/10)

Yes, your electric utility will be ready to charge your new electric car if you live in the right city.  Your odds improve if you live in one of 18 cities, own a house that uses air conditioning, has a garage, and have new underground power lines. If you live in an apartment with no garage, especially in a non-priority city, then get ready to be a brave pioneer.

I recently invested a day listening, interviewing, and networking with forward thinking utility executives and some of the smartest people in the smart grid business at GTM Research and Greentech Media’s Networked EV conference.

Nissan has started shipping the LEAF. Chevrolet has handed car keys to early Volt customers. Forty thousand new electric vehicles will be on the U.S. highways by the end of 2011. Charging these vehicles could be the equivalent of powering another 40,000 houses. Since the sub-prime mortgage crisis has left that many houses empty, you would think that charging 40,000 cars should raise no concerns. Charging one million by 2015, however, is both a challenge and an opportunity.

Utility executives are raising concerns and conducting PR campaigns. They want to make sure that they are ready, that no neighborhood blackouts happen, and that they make money charging these electric cars. Early Prius sales were concentrated to certain communities; it will be the same story with electric cars. For example, universities and tech centers will have a concentration of EVs that will lead utilities to install smart meters, add smart grid software, and add $9,000 transformers. In many cases, public utility commissions must support these upgrades so that utilities make money charging EVs.

Even morning charging at work or public spots is fine with most utilities. Peak demand is often in the afternoon and early evening. It greatly helps that all electric cars, from LEAFs to Volts, use smart charging. Charging does not start when you plug-in. It starts based on your preferences, such as charging at lower night rates. With a couple of clicks on your smartphone app, night preferences can be overridden with your request to immediately charge.

Temporary TOU tiered pricing will be tested in cities such as San Diego to see if people are encouraged to charge off-peak. Some lucky test households will pay super off-peak rates that are only 1/6 of peak rates when charging their new plug-ins in San Diego. Money incentives and the simplicity of smart charging should lead to most charging being done off-peak.

Eighteen cities from San Diego to Seattle, from New York to Raleigh, have been preparing for the deliver of thousands of electric cars by installing 15,000 public charging stations as part of a DOE Ecotality project. Independently, thousands of home charging stations are being installed by EV drivers.

Greg Haddow with SDG&E in San Diego described how they have evaluated best locations for public charging considering geographies of early buyer interested as reported by their customers and automakers, employment centers, and strategic areas of public use. Starting this December, ten stations per week will be installed, with quantities increasing until 2,500 are installed.

Electric vehicle interest has been strong in areas of urban density, so SDG&E has engaged with many apartment and condo complexes. No two multi-unit dwellings have been the same in parking structures, renter/owner allocation of spaces, meters, panels, and power currently available to the complex. Some EV enthusiasts have been surprised to learn that their rental agreements prohibit EVs or use of parking power. Condo CCRs vary.

Electric utilities have already successfully handled bigger challenges than charging EVs.  They have added underground lines, new transformers, and distribution to handle new real estate development including hundreds of McMansions, each demanding more juice than even a Tesla. Utilities are upgrading grids and infrastructure to support megawatts of distributed solar. Electric utilities take on new industrial parks with hours of surges in demand for electricity.

PG&E with 5.1 million electricity customers was ranked the greenest utility in U.S. by Newsweek 2009 and 2010. It has developed three scenarios to support 220,000 to 850,000 plug-in vehicles by 2020 in its service area. Kevin Dasso, Senior Director of Smart Grid for PG&E, contrasted two neighborhoods where there is a concentration of those ordering Nissan LEAFs and Chevrolet Volts – Silicon Valley and Berkeley. New developments in Silicon Valley will be easier. The distribution infrastructure is already there to support larger air conditioned homes, newer underground wiring, and newer transformers.  A plug-in hybrid will not equal the demand of one large home. Berkeley homes are supported with older infrastructure, less likely to have air conditioning. One battery-electric car could create more demand than one home.

Yes, your electric utility will be ready for your new EV. If you live in an older neighborhood with energy-efficient homes, some planning and upgrading will be needed. The impact will be less than adding new developments, new industrial parks, and even high-growth of solar power. Most charging will be done off-peak, allowing utilities to run their most efficient power plants 24/7 and make better use of nighttime wind-power. The key to off-peak charging will be the incentives of TOU pricing and the fact that your networked EV is smart enough to charge when rates are lowest.

For a nation that is 95 percent dependent on petroleum for transportation, the chance to use home grown energy should be a blessing, especially in 70 percent efficient electric drive systems, instead of 15 percent efficient gasoline engine drive systems. Done right, your electric utility will make money. Most utility generation assets are underutilized at night when home charging is ideal; generation is underutilized in the morning when workplace charging ideally occurs.

Cleantech Growth for Energy Efficiency, Smart Grid, Distributed Solar

Cleantech Growth for Energy Efficiency, Smart Grid, Distributed Solar

Distributed SolarBy John Addison (11/5/10)

Energy Efficiency with Fast ROI Voted Most Likely to Succeed

Venture capitalists, cleantech executives, and technology experts gathered this week for GreenBeat 2010, hosted by SSE Labs of Stanford University and VentureBeat.

John Doerr, Partner KPCB, is optimistic about cleantech. He is one of the most successful venture capitalists of all time, backing Google, Amazon, and my alma mater Sun Microsystems. He has made six new cleantech investments this year. KPCB cleantech investments include Silver Springs Networks, Amyris, Mascoma, Ausra, Bloom Energy, and Fisker Automotive with ambitions to surpass Tesla.

Mr. Doerr is enthusiastic about cleantech in California, where voters this Tuesday defeated proposition 23, effectively showing that 60 percent of voters favor California’s climate cap-and-trade program. The oil industry proposition threatened hundreds of cleantech companies and ultimately hundreds of thousands of future jobs.

Nationally, however, the voters sent a clear message that they want fiscal responsibility and an economy that creates jobs.  Projects that need billions in federal funds or billions in loan guarantees are likely to go nowhere including nuclear, so-called clean coal, and utility-scale solar.

Distributed Solar and Energy Efficiency

Solar experts from SunRun, Sungevity, and SolarBridge observe that business is growing rapidly for distributed solar, confirming our solar energy report that distributed solar will grow over 40 percent annually. Commercial rooftops can support 100 kW to 20 MW solar projects located where power is consumed. Distribution investment is minimized. In contrast, utility-scale solar in the desert is more expensive to site, according to the industry panel, requires major high-voltage line and distribution investment, and can face years of NIMBY opposition. All this adds cost, risk, and project finance difficulty. These same factors can allow local solar, more expensive per kWh, to compete against remote coal and natural gas. A cap-trade fee for carbon emissions provides added distributed solar advantage over fossil fuel plants.

Negawatts are cheaper than megawatts. The biggest opportunities are in helping commercial customers and consumers reduce their electricity and heating bills. The Empire State Building will save over $4 million per year through energy saving initiatives such as installing 6,500 dual pane windows from Serious Materials whose CEO, Kevin Surace, reports that he already has 400 employees and is adding jobs.

Optimal energy savings occurs where energy technology converges with information technology to manage everything in buildings and homes from HVAC to lighting. Energy savings of 10 and 20 percent were reported without asking people to change behavior. Customers want these savings without capital expenditure (capex). Innovative companies that provide solutions as services win. Even better is when they implement demand response solutions that make the customer money.

Smart Grid to Grow to Billions of Nodes

Smart grid technology will ultimately be used to manage billions of points of energy generation and consumption. The first payoff of smart grids is allowing electric utilities to be more efficient and avoid payroll costs of manual meter readers and technicians that turn-on home power. So far, the utilities are saving and the ratepayers are footing the bill for smart meters. Consumers are starting to benefit as they get information about where they are losing energy money. Bill Weihl, Green Energy Czar for Google reports a large number of users, with hundreds commenting about saving money.

The “killer app” for the smart grid may be electric cars. By charging cars off-peak, utilities will find a home for electricity generated in power plants that like to run 24/7. Consumers, using smart charging and friendly charging apps and net tools, will save with low time-of-use rates for nighttime charging instead of expensive trips to the gas station.

Ten cleantech start-ups presented to a panel of venture capitalists at GreenBeat 2010. The winner was Redwood Systems, an intelligent lighting provider. Redwood is already saving money for giant customers like Flour. Redwood provides LED lighting networked with sensors and software for monitoring, control, and automated lighting. The VCs liked that Redwood addressed the need for energy efficiency with a high ROI, low barriers of entry in the built environment, and no big capex decision by the customer.

Intelligent Electric Vehicles and Smart Grids

Intelligent Electric Vehicles and Smart Grids

SEV connects to Smart Grid with J1772

SEV connects to Smart Grid with J1772

By John Addison (8/20/09).

The new freeway-speed electric cars will also be intelligent. They will be smart about using energy inside the vehicle so that it can go 100 miles between charges. The plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) will be smart about navigation options that consider your preference for getting somewhere fast or traveling with minimal energy use. PEVs will be full of electronics to entertain passengers, like kids in the back seat.

They will be smart about charging to meet driver preferences for saving money or charging more quickly. Smart electric vehicles ideally use a smart grid for charging. The electric utilities see the electric vehicle as part of the new smart grid which uses information technology to make the electric grid efficient, reliable, distributed, and interoperable. Years ago, mainframe computers with dumb terminals gave way to network computing. Similar improvements are now underway with the electric grid.

At the Plug-in 2009 Conference and Exposition in Long Beach, I joined thousands in seeing new electric vehicles, new smart charging stations, and joining presentations by leading auto makers, utilities, early fleet users, and sustainable city leaders from Southern California Edison, SDGE, AQMD, EPRI, and many others.

At the Plug-in Conference, the new Nissan Leaf got a lot of deserved attention. By the end of 2011, Nissan may deliver as many as 10,000 of these. Most will be delivered where utility and other partners have committed to complete programs to install garage, employer, and other public charging stations.

The new 2010 Nissan Leaf is a comfortable compact hatchback that seats five. Clean Fleet Report’s test drives of Nissan EV prototypes demonstrated plenty of acceleration. The Nissan Leaf is powered by 24kWh of lithium-ion batteries. The Leaf has a range of about 100 miles. In 8 hours you are good for another 100 miles with a Level 2 AC200V home-use charger; in 26 minutes you can be 80 percent charged with a Level 3 DC 50kW quick charger.

Transportation expert, Antonio Benecchi a Partner with Roland Berger forecasts that plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles will capture 10 to 20 percent of the auto market by 2030. The speed of adoption will depend on cost and early customer experience. If the lifetime cost of owning and operating an electric vehicle is less than a comparable gasoline powered one, 20 percent could be low by 2030.

When you get an iPhone, Nokia, or Blackberry, the cost of the smartphone depends on the type of subscription plan you have with the wireless carrier. Similarly, over the next few years, automakers and their partners may explore different business models such as:

·    Vehicle purchased with battery leased
·    Vehicle, battery, and energy for charging are all subscribed
·    EV and charging are part of carsharing plans
·    Integrated mobility offerings will include an EV

For example, the Nissan Leaf might be offered by a dealer for under $30,000 with battery and charging offered on a subscription plan by Better Place or various electric utilities.

If charging and subscription plans are kept simple, consumers will love it. If consumers must sign for different plans as they go to different cities, EVs will be a turn-off. Early cell phone users rebelled against complicated plans and big surprise “roaming” charges.

Standards are being put in place so that auto makers, charging station providers, and electric utilities will be compatible. A key standard is automotive SAE J1772, which standardizes the electrical connection, current flow, and some communication between smart vehicle and smart charger. This standard is compatible with important advanced metering smart home electric standards such as Smart Energy 2.0.

EV customers will be able to check on how much their EV batteries are charged through a web browser, their smart phone, or by looking at their vehicle dash. The networking and software is there, so that they could look at monthly vehicle use and charges.

Electric utility operators will be able to track, manage, and forecast EV electricity use thanks to smart charging stations with electric utility meter chips built in such as Coulomb ChargePoint Networked Charging Stations and ETEC, who has already installed over 5,500 charging stations. ETEC will be installing over 12,500 new charging stations thanks to a matching grant of almost $100 million from DOE.

I am on the wait list to buy the Nissan Leaf. When I get a new EV or PHEV, I would be glad to agree to a subscription plan that would save me $100 per month if I would agree to have my vehicle not charge during peak-demand hours. We’ll see if I am given that kind of option. Thanks to software services from GirdPoint and others, the technology is there to plug-in and having charging managed by user preferences and subscription agreements.

Utilities could shape demand to off-peak. Utilities could use EVs for spinning reserves and peak power using vehicle-to-grid (V2G). Dr. Jasna Tomic with CALSTART estimates that the national grid would only need 7 percent additional capacity to off-peak charge 100 million electric vehicles. Those same vehicles could provide 70 percent of the national grid’s needed peak power. Smart grid upgrades, customer price signals and subscription agreements could enable growing use of V2G in the coming decade.

Smart vehicles and smart grids create a trillion dollar opportunity for incumbents and innovators. The opportunity has attracted GM, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, and hundreds of other auto makers. It has attracted the world’s largest electric utilities and grid operators. This smart grid “Internet” for electricity now has devoted teams inside IBM, Google, Cisco, Microsoft, and other information technology giants.

Intelligent electric cars are symbiotic with the smart grid. The communication technology is here. It is the business models and customer experience that count. Get ready for the most comfortable and intelligent ride of your life.

Top 10 Electric Car Makers

What Makes a Smart Grid Smart?

What Makes a Smart Grid Smart?

AES installs Grid Storage

AES installs Grid Storage

By Tom Bartley. The answer is Intelligent Energy Transfer!  It is smart to not waste energy and not waste money in power generation capacity, but it takes some intelligent technology and control to make it happen.  Electricity energy storage is one of those key technologies to minimize transmission losses and enhance grid stability while adding more renewable wind and solar power.
The Storage Week conference July 13-16, 2009 at the San Diego Marriott La Jolla will address the technologies, business models, and supporting policies for a modern smart power grid. The Event Summary lists the key featured speaker as R. James Woolsey, the former CIA director who has lectured widely about how our payments for foreign oil help fund our terrorist enemies.
This conference focuses on the sometime overlooked fact that power generation always matches power demand at any time on any power distribution network.  Renewable wind and solar power sources do not follow the demand, but rather force the grid to follow the source for maximum renewable energy and compensate elsewhere.  Major generation assets do not respond quickly and require other devices for intermediate and short term smoothing.  One common form of storage currently used is to have on line water pumps and generators that use gravity for energy storage by moving water in and out of elevated storage reservoirs.
Modern forms of energy storage offer other candidate devices. For example, AES has built a 1 MWh battery pack with A123 Lithium ion batteries to test the viability of smoothing power spikes.
The media coverage of the somewhat rare “blackout” has instilled a public phobia of reaching grid capacity and losing power.  What is missing in the media coverage is the reduction in transmission efficiency and wasted power that occurs at the upper end of the grid capacity without exceeding the capacity.  The higher the power level of a given distribution grid and the greater the distance from the source to the load, the more that energy is wasted in parasitic heating losses.
Distributed grid energy storage would go a long way toward minimizing energy losses and reducing the need for excess capacity.

Tom Bartley

Solar, Wind and Biofuels Grew 53 Percent in 2008

Solar, Wind and Biofuels Grew 53 Percent in 2008

Utility scale solar continues high growth

Utility scale solar continues high growth

Despite growing economic uncertainty over the last year, three major clean-energy sectors — solar photovoltaics (PV), wind power, and biofuels — kept up a blistering growth rate, increasing 53 percent from $75.8 billion in 2007 to $115.9 billion in revenues in 2008, according to the Clean Energy Trends 2009 report released today by Clean Edge, Inc. By 2018, Clean Edge forecasts that these three sectors will have revenues of $325.1 billion.

During the conference call discussion of the report, Joel Makower, one of the report’s authors acknowledged that a 2009 shakeout will happen. He observed, “2009 will not be a happy year for start-ups.” A number of renewable energy and biofuel plants and projects have been delayed or cancelled due to lack of project financing. OptiSolar to First Solar for $400 million shows that major players are eager to acquire technology leaders faced with this credit crisis.

In spite of short-term challenges, Clean Edge forecasts strong growth over the mid- to long-term. Their past reports have forecasted growth and been correct.

Global production and wholesale pricing of biofuels reached $34.8 billion in 2008 and are projected to total $105.4 billion by 2018. Last year, the global biofuels market consisted of more than 19 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel production worldwide. In Brazil, ethanol from sugarcane surpassed petroleum use for the first time.

Wind power became the first clean-energy sector to surpass the $50 billion mark. Its $51.4 billion in worldwide revenue in 2008 is expected to grow to $139.1 billion in 2018. Last year’s global wind power installations reached a record 27,000 MW, including more than 8,000 MW in the U.S., pushing the U.S. ahead of Germany as the world’s leading generator of wind energy.

Solar PV (including modules, system components, and installation) totaled $29.6 billion last year and will reach $80.6 billion globally by 2018. Annual solar PV installations reached more than 4 GW worldwide in 2008, a fourfold increase from four years earlier, when the solar PV market reached the gigawatt milestone for the first time.

For the first time, the report examines the “green jobs dividend.” Solar PV and wind power provided more than 600,000 direct and indirect jobs globally in 2008 and are expected to generate 2.7 million jobs by 2018.

Clean Energy Trends 2009 also outlines five trends poised to make an impact on the markets in the coming year. It describes:

•      What happens when the smart grid goes online

•      How energy storage will become a key issue for utilities

•      Where new clean-energy markets are emerging around the world

•      Why grid transmission capacity will be making headlines in 2009

•      The unseen growth in “micropower” grids

Smart grids often include smart charging of electric vehicles. Some smart grid trails, such as Boulder, Colorado, include vehicle-to-grid (V2G) pilot projects. During the conference call, report co-author Clint Wilder answered a question by stating that active utility investment in smart charging was not predicted until there are many more electric vehicles on the road – there is about 40,000 EVs in use in the United States. Joel Makower observed that innovators such as Coulomb Technologies and Better Place are active in the build-out of a charging infrastructure. Gridpoint’s acquisition of V2Green was also identified as boost for smart grid and smart charging. Gridpoint has raised over $220 million to date.

“The clean-energy sector, like the broader economy, faces many challenges,” said Clean Edge co-founder and managing director Ron Pernick. “But while 2009 will be a difficult year, we believe that clean energy will play a central role in any global economic recovery.”

Free download is available for the  Clean Energy Trends report (20+ pages).