Will Google Charge your Electric Cars?

Will Google Charge your Electric Cars?

By John Addison (2/22/09; updated 2/25/09)

Google Energy could be a Smart Charging and V2G Provider

Google finally won approval from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to be an electric utility. Now that they are making billions delivering web ads, do they want to make added billions selling electricity? Quite possibly. Google already offers a smart meter app that allows smart grid customers to manage their home electricity use. With their new approval to be a utility, Google could be a smart grid / smart charge service provider.

Auto makers and utilities have already agreed on smart charging standards that allow you to plug-in using a J1772 connection, but not have charging start immediately. A service provider is needed to look at your preferences, take action, and provide information. Your preference might be to not charge until 9 p.m. when rates fall to a fraction of peak electricity demand hours. You might want to receive a text message when your charging is complete. You might want Google Maps to show you the nearest public charging stations that are available and display their cost per kilowatt hour. It looks like a natural for companies like Google. They story gets better in the year’s ahead when cars are V2G enabled.

Electric car sales will get a boost when the utility meter spins backward and customers make money by plugging-in. University of Delaware, AutoPort, and partners are planning to put 100 electric cars on the road in the next 18 months that will plug-in and sell power back to the utility using vehicle-to-grid (v2G) technology. AutoPort plans to secure local fleets that fund conversion of their vehicles. The University of Delaware currently has six Scion eBoxs, converted by AC Propulsion, to be electric cars with V2G.

I just got to hear from the V2G experts while I attend the American Association for Advancing Science (AAAS) Conference. I am posting this report from the conference.

A solar home might have 3 to 5 kW of solar PV. An electric car might have 24 kWh stored in its lithium batteries. Vehicles can be charged at night when excess wind and other forms of electricity are generated. The electricity can be sold back at premium rates during peak hours.

By the end of the decade, some electric cars will be less expensive to purchase than gasoline powered cars; most will be much cheaper to fuel. Monthly electric utility bills will be small for some; others will get paid to plug-in. The concept is not new. Solar power grew rapidly whenever feed-in tariffs created an incentive by having utilities purchase power from homes and businesses.

V2G will initially be promoted by agile businesses that can make things happen much faster than cautious utilities or automakers. When V2G becomes a billion dollar business, look for hundreds of players including auto makers and utilities.

The V2G cars in Delaware will get Big Bucks to sell electricity back to the grid. Electric utilities are becoming desperate for stored energy. Utilities are willing to pay serious money for some contracted delivery of electricity. Dr. Jasna Tomic of CALSTART reports that utilities will pay $15 to 55 MWh for electricity supplied for frequency regulation, but the utility does not want to deal with 100,000 car drivers. The utility wants one aggregator in the middle to provide the power. This could eventually be a billion dollar opportuntity for a Google, GE, IBM, EnerNOC, Better Place, or a new start-up.

Spinning reserves is another major opportunity. If a GW coal or nuclear plant goes down, a utility needs to find a new GW of power online in ten minutes. If you are an energy aggregator who can guarantee that GW 24/7 year-round you can make money every day of the year, even if reserves are rarely needed. A utility might pay $20 MWh for spinning reserves.

Ken Huber, Manager Advanced Technology for PJM, an independent systems operator (ISO) PJM, told me that they had 30 incidents last year that required the use of spinning reserves. On average, the reserves were only needed for about ten minutes. PJM is an energy wholesaler with over 550 member companies that serve 51 million people services in 13 states. On a typical day they are providing 100 GW of electricity. They can handle a 144 GW peak load.

These premium ancillary services can cost-justify early adoption of V2G. A decade from now, less valuable peak and base-load delivery of electricity from electric car batteries may add to the economic value of V2G.

Utilities and their air quality regulators would like to get rid of dirty peaker plants that may only be fired up a few hundred hours per year, when temperatures soar and air conditioning blasts cold air. Dr. Tomic estimates a peak power value of 5 to 80 cents per kWh. For those afternoon peak hours, utilities might offer 2 to10 cents per kWh.

100 V2G cars in Delaware is only a beginning. Fleets will be early adopters of V2G. In the United States, fleets currently have over 20,000 light-electric vehicles in operation. These same fleets will be candidates for new freeway-speed electric vehicles with V2G. Early adopters will include other universities, corporate leaders, and government organizations. The U.S. Post Office, if it secures funding support, may convert part of its 220,000 fleet to electric delivery vehicles with V2G. Utilities with thousands of cars and heavy-duty trucks are perfect candidates for early adoption of V2G.

A New Breed of Energy Service Providers

Electric cars, smart grids, and needed grid available storage will attract a agile innovators, many with deep pockets. Ken Huber of PJM identified a number of potential aggregators that include energy storage providers such as CAES which currently provides PJM with one MW of lithium-ion battery storage; smart grid providers such as IBM, Microsoft, Google, and Cisco; vehicle service providers such as GM OnStar, Grid Point, and Better Place; and demand-response providers such as Comverge and EnerNOC

Some energy providers will fight to be first to market with smart charging and V2G services. Others will be fast followers. Most utilities will leave the investments of capital and creating new business models to others. Some innovative utilities may directly offer their own V2G services – Duke, Edison, Sempra, Austin Energy, and Xcel come to mind. Electric car customers will benefit from the convenience, smart charging cost savings, and ability to make money with V2G.

The Grid is Ready for Millions of Electric Cars

“Electricity is the new vehicle fuel,” explains Dr. Will Kempton, Director, Center for Carbon-free Power Integration, University of Delaware.

He is confident that the U.S. electric grid can support millions of electric cars that are likely to be added in the next decades. He observes that the U.S. total grid load is about 417 GW. If all U.S. cars will converted to V2G plug-ins with an average of 15 kWh per vehicle, they would provide 2,865 GW. A U.S. fleet of electric vehicles could provide 7X entire electricity needed in U.S.

The average U.S. car is parked 23 hours per day. If most charge off-peak and only 20 percent are available for V2G at any given time, V2G will be a major contributor in energy security and more affordable electricity. A brighter future will be created by early adopters of electric vehicles, utilities with renewable energy portfolios, and a new breed of smart grid and V2G service providers.

100 Vehicle-to-Grid Electric Cars

100 Vehicle-to-Grid Electric Cars

100 Electric Cars with V2G

David Weir, right, director of the University of Delaware's Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships (OEIP) shakes hands with Dick Johnson, director of business development at AutoPort

By Tracey Bryant (Original 1/19/10 Article at the University of Delaware  – reposted with permission – updated on 2/25/10)

100 Electric Cars are planned to use V2G in 2011 – advancing smart grid charging and storage.

The University of Delaware has signed the first license for its vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology with AutoPort, Inc., a major vehicle processing and modification facility in New Castle, Del. Under the terms of the licensing agreement, AutoPort has been granted non-exclusive rights in the area of commercial fleet vehicles.

The licensing agreement launches the first large-scale demonstration of the UD-developed V2G technology, which enables electric car owners to plug in their vehicles and send electricity back to electrical utilities. The system is designed to generate cash for the driver, while strengthening the nation’s power supply and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

The UD agreement with Autoport stands to benefit not only the owners of electric cars, but also the regional economy, and the University, which will get R&D experience as the technology goes into real-world use. If the initial test is successful, and V2G vehicles are subsequently manufactured, the University would receive a royalty for each vehicle sold with V2G equipment.

“This is an important step forward in the development of a potential new green industry,” said David Weir, director of the Office of Economic Innovation & Partnerships, which negotiated the licensing agreement. “We’ve formed a partnership to test this novel technology, which could generate significant future jobs and economic growth in Delaware and the region, in addition to yielding important environmental benefits.”

During the next year, AutoPort plans to retrofit the first 100 V2G cars as a proof-of-concept demonstration of the technology, which was developed by Willett Kempton, a professor in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, and UD research fellow Jasna Tomic.

“AutoPort is excited to be the first company in the world licensed to practice this V2G technology,” said Dick Johnson, the company’s director of business development. “We are looking forward to working closer with the University and AC Propulsion to demonstrate the first large-scale V2G project.”

AC Propulsion, based in San Dimas, Calif., makes the electric drive system and designed the eBox, an all-electric car. They have added V2G features as a result of working with UD researchers.

Johnson said that AutoPort will work with major companies in the area to demonstrate the V2G concept. A minimum of 60 vehicles is needed to produce one megawatt of power when the vehicles are plugged into the grid.

The company currently is completing four vehicles for the State of Delaware and expects to have the first 100 vehicles produced in the next 12 to 18 months, Johnson noted.

“We believe there is a great potential to increase the number of conversions from hundreds to thousands of vehicles, and this means a significant growth of jobs for Delaware,” Johnson said. “The estimate for additional jobs at a thousand conversions is approximately 250. So as the numbers increase, so do jobs for Delaware.”

Although the first vehicle conversions have been to Toyota Scions, Johnson said that other car models are being considered, and the company is approaching some of their large-fleet customers about converting their three- to five-year-old Chevrolet vans.

“This has great appeal to them because we are extending the useful life of a fully depreciated asset and making it into a maintenance-free revenue-producing vehicle on the grid,” Johnson said.

The 2009 study Betting on Science: Disruptive Technologies in Transport Fuels by Accenture, a global consulting group, acknowledges the potential of V2G, highlighting how demonstration projects to date “have proven that V2G has the potential to significantly disrupt supply and demand relationships-with end electricity consumers potentially becoming an essential grid storage resource-and to change the landscapes for electric power and transport fuels.”

In September 2009, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed Senate Bill 153, which rewards owners of V2G technology for plugging into the grid, compensating them for electricity sent back to the grid at the same rate they pay for electricity to charge their car battery.

A bill introduced in Congress in December 2009 would provide funding to the Department of Energy and U.S. Postal Service to convert existing mail trucks and manufacture new ones to use the UD-developed V2G technology.

“We’re at the cusp of a potential new industry,” said Bradley Yops, assistant director of the Intellectual Property Center in the Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships, and lead negotiator of the license agreement.

“AutoPort is an ideal partner for us and we’re excited about the possibilities,” Yops noted. “This is a first step toward what we hope will constitute a long-term, successful partnership.”

For additional V2G licensing opportunities, contact UD’s Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships at [oeip-info@udel.edu] or (302) 731-7140.