At home, when you turn on the switch you expect the lights to go on. When you turn on the shower you expect hot water. We do not often get surprised because our electricity and gas utility has emergency responder crews to keep things running.
At utility giant PG&E, 190 electric trucks are now used to keep things running. If a neighborhood has a power outage, a troubled truck rolls in. A technician is lifted high in the air to look at a transformer on a pole. Auxiliaries can be run for hours powered by lithium batteries.
With traditional diesel trucks, the engine runs for hours acting as a generator to keep all these auxiliaries operating. Neighbors called to complain about the noise as vehicles can idle for up to 8 hours. If the job takes longer, legal noise restrictions stop work for the day, which was frustration if a job was one hour from completion.
But with electric trucks, there are no noise restrictions. These plug-in trucks can be used twice as many hours per day. By switching from diesel to electric, PG&E pays for the electric trucks in 2.5 years according to Dave Meisel, Director Transportation for Services for PG&E.
PG&E services 5.2 million customers that span 70,000 square miles; 13,000 vehicles are required to manage the vast territory. In 2011, PG&E bought over 10 million gallons of fuel as these fleet vehicles traveled 114,000,000 miles. The utility has 156 different types of vehicles to meet its wide-ranging needs. Different vehicles used different fuels including diesel, gasoline, natural gas, hydrogen, and electricity.
By the end of 2012, PG&E will be using over 400 electric vehicles and another 400 hybrid vehicles from a range of vehicle makers:
- Altec Class 6 Trucks
- Eaton/International Bucket Truck
- Smith Electric Flatbed Truck
- Via Pickup Truck
- Navistar eStar
- Ford F450 Conversions by EVI
- Chevrolet Volt
- Toyota Prius
PG&E is expanding its fleet of electric vehicles for several reasons: fuel savings, the future potential of the EV’s, and exportable power, and vehicle maintenance savings. Instead of depending on petroleum fuel from unstable parts of the world, American utilities are increasingly making their own fuel for their own fleets. Best of all, some applications have a fast return on investment.
There are downsides for a fleet manager when buying electric vehicles: higher upfront capital expenditure, financing, charging infrastructure, range and operational challenges. For vehicles where the daily range and use is unpredictable, plug-in hybrids are prioritized over all of electric vehicles.
Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) is Already Used by Utilities
Some of these electric trucks have up to 100 kW of electric batteries. The trucks have exportable power that can be used to run external equipment and power tools. This power can even be put onto the grid to get a neighborhood up and running faster, or during the planned replacement of a transformer.
Electric trucks already saving utilities millions in fuel, better labor utilization, and improved network reliability. In the future, these trucks will make the utilities added millions during peak hours by putting electricity on the grid rather than firing up dirty and expensive peak or plants.
Over 20 utilities and wholesalers, including SCE, Duke Energy and PJM, have already experimented with vehicle to grid (V2G). As utility fleets grow, more reserve vehicles will be part during peak hours making V2G a reality.
In the next decade V2G will expand from utility fleets to a growing part of our nations 12 million fleet vehicles. Toyota and Nissan are already providing passenger cars with vehicle to home (V2H) for emergency situations. If automakers utilities, and regulators with their warranty requirements all work together, then V2G can be widely available in the next decade.
PG&E already has thousands of customers with electric cars. For example, my wife and I can drive the Nissan leaf and charge it on PG&E after 10 PM. We would love to charge at night at a low rate and sell electricity to PG&E at a higher rate during peak hours. 10 years from now, there may be millions of American drivers with a similar preference.
Pike Research estimates that there are nearly 11 million households globally that are currently enrolled in DR programs. With a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.6%, that number of households is forecast to more than double, to over 23.5 million, by 2018. Pike Navigant Report Summary
When we have millions of electric vehicles, utilities will better match electric generation with demand. Vehicles will charge off-peak when the most efficient plants can continue running and win-win power is most available. Electricity can be exported from vehicles and even recycled lithium batteries during peak hours.
Research reports and PG&E’s electric fleet and other exciting electric fleet initiatives are freely available from the Electric Vehicle Coalition’s FleetAnswers.
California already has over 10,000 of the new electric vehicles on the road and 2,000 public charge points. Over 10,000 new electric charge points will be added to give EV drivers added range. The charge stations will be built by NRG with private money, not public funds.
This will be the world’s largest electric car charging network and include smart grid technological advancements to level grid load, and energy storage and vehicle-to-grid (V2G).
California needs electric cars. Compared to nations, only two countries use more petroleum than California – the United States and China. The Los Angeles Basin and Central Valley historically had such severe health problems that Governor Ronald Reagan established the California Air Resources Board, which continues to encourage cleaner cars and fuel-efficiency.
California Public Utilities Commission and NRG Energy
The California Public Utilities Commission and NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) have entered into an agreement where NRG will build a comprehensive electric vehicle (EV) charging network in California, investing approximately $100 million over the next four years.
This fee-based charging network will consist of at least 200 publicly available fast –charging stations—installed in the San Francisco Bay area, the San Joaquin Valley, the Los Angeles Basin and San Diego County—which can add 50 miles of range in less than 15 minutes of charging.
The DC-Fast Charging will especially be helpful for drivers of pure battery-electric cars like the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi I, many which were purchased with DC-Fast Charge Ports. Currently many of these electric car drivers are limited to ranges of 60 to 120 miles without access to fast charging.
Additionally, NRG’s EV infrastructure commitment will include the wiring for at least 10,000 individual charging stations located at homes, offices, multifamily communities, schools and hospitals located across the State. The charging locations will be easy for drivers to find with Google Maps, smartphone apps, and electric car navigation systems.
NRG California EV Charging includes Smart Grid and V2G
- A minimum of 200 direct current (DC) fast chargers to the state.
- A minimum of 10,000 parking spaces retrofitted with wiring necessary to charge EVs at multifamily buildings, large worksites and civic sites such as universities and hospitals.
- Training and jobs for the installation and maintenance of these charging stations in
- Smart grid and grid storage services that increase the speed and power of DC fast charging, store electricity to minimize peak-period demand, and enable EV drivers to support electrical grid reliability with needed energy services through vehicle to grid (V2G).
- Significant additional investment in California’s clean technology economy and hundreds of jobs in construction and EV infrastructure manufacturing, maintenance and management.
- Approximately $100 million in infrastructure investment over four years, and $20 million in cash to go to the California Public Utility Commission.
Dynegy and Enron were famously accused of manipulating California’s energy markets leading to a crisis 12 years ago. The agreement, pending approvals and finalization, resolves outstanding litigation arising out of a long-term electricity contract entered into over a decade ago by a subsidiary of Dynegy, then a co-owner with NRG of the portfolio of power generating plants currently owned by NRG in California. NRG assumed full responsibility for resolving this matter in 2006 when NRG acquired Dynegy’s 50% interest in the assets.
“California already leads the way in the development of an alternative energy transportation sector and, with the price of gasoline above $4 per gallon and rising, all Americans need to be giving serious consideration to the increasingly attractive electric vehicle alternative to what former President Bush called ‘our national addiction to foreign oil’,” stated NRG CEO Crane. “This network will be built with private funds on a sustainable business model that will allow NRG to maintain and grow the network as EV adoption grows.”
NRG has been making major investments in utility-scale solar and wind. AeroVironment has been one of its charge station suppliers in Texas.
Over 7 Million Charge Points by 2017
California is often the first point of sale for new electric cars, which are then offered in other states, then all 50 states. Other states gaining momentum in electric car sales and public charge points include Oregon, Washington, Florida, Michigan, and Texas where NRG is also developing a charge point network for subscribers.
Clean Fleet Report forecasts 60,000 to 100,000 electric car sales and leases in the United States in 2012 and 200,000 in 2013. Pike Research forecasts 7.7 million charge points installed globally by 2017.
By John Addison (11/4/11)
Millions lost power from Maine to New York to West Virginia as a rare October snowstorm felled trees on power lines and the electric grid failed. If electric utilities had a smarter grid with more advanced distribution technology, only thousands might have lost power not millions. Businesses and homes with vehicle-to-home (V2H) technology could have used emergency backup power from electric cars.
I recently attended the Networked EV Conference where Greentech Media assembled expert presenters about smart grid, power generation and transmission, and electric cars. Today, there is a concern that too many electric cars charging at the same time could damage transformers and cause power outages. In a few years, electric cars and the re-purposed use of their lithium batteries will make our future more energy secure.
Unlikely as it seems, Northeastern utilities may learn how to better handle snowstorm power outages from the Southwest. In the Northeast, the grid is designed to flow electricity in one direction, from large coal and nuclear plants to businesses and homes. In the Southwest, they are upgrading their electric grid to handle the electricity generation from solar power and other forms of distributed generation.
About 20 percent of San Diego County’s electricity comes from renewable energy. Solar panels cover everything from small homes to 7 MW of solar covering school district buildings. San Diego accommodates this distributed generation with a series of smart grid implementations including smart meters, solid-state transformers, smart distribution assets that help identify and isolate local faults before they take down communities or the entire system. Smart grid assets communicate and receive instructions over various wireless and wired networks. A geographical information system tracks all key assets and information. SDG&E Smart Grid Report.
Vehicle-to-Home and Vehicle-to-Grid
More advanced than San Diego’s initiatives are Japan’s. After the devastating earthquake and tsunami, thousands provided emergency power to their homes from their hybrid and electric cars. Most often, the homes had solar power and used the system’s inverter to convert electricity from the car batteries. In Japan, lives were saved from vehicle-to-home (V2H).
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
Over 20 U.S. utilities have tested V2H and the more advanced vehicle-to-grid (V2G) where the Eastern U.S. has taken the lead as the giant electricity wholesaler PJM plans the deployment of 100 V2G cars after years of simulating their impact with large-scale lithium energy storage. University of Delaware Report.
V2G and V2H will see gradual U.S. deployment in this decade. Electric car makers typically offer an 8-year / 100,000 mile warranty on their advanced lithium battery packs. Use your personal electric car for V2G or V2H and you void the warranty. However, U.S. commercial and government fleets have over 10 million vehicles. In these fleets, we will see successful tests of V2H and V2G, first by the hundreds, then by the thousands of vehicles.
Better Place with over $300 million invested provides a range of services including leasing lithium batteries to fleets and countries. In Better Place battery switch stations and hundreds of idle batteries, which will be used for V2G. Both V2H and V2G have the potential to stabilize the grid by providing power when most need, for regulatory services, during peak demands in hot summers, and during emergencies.
Short-term, V2H and V2G, is a pain for automakers and utilities that must implement new IT systems. In the longer-term it is a way for both to expand their businesses, add value, and make more money.
Smart Pricing, Stable Grids and Sustainable Energy
As the grid gets smarter and as utility regulators in our 50 states allow more dynamic pricing, the grid will be more stable and electricity customers will have more tools to control their monthly bills. My friend Walt runs an energy-intensive plastic injection molding company. His battle with Asian competitors is tougher than ever. One way that Walt saves thousands monthly to stay competitive is to run the most energy intensive operations when electricity is cheap. Commercial customers get time of use (TOU) pricing that makes electrons cheap off-peak and pricy during the hottest hours of the day when air conditioning runs.
Scott Lang, CEO Silver Spring Networks
Today, commercial customers take advantage of dynamic pricing to curtail services when prices are high and to provide generated and stored electricity to the grid when it makes money. Demand response (DR) is becoming a popular way to improve the bottom line by reducing HVAC demands, dim lighting, and shift the hours of some devices. In a new report, Pike Research states, “DR services sector still represents an evolving market, it is currently relatively small with an estimated worldwide spending of $1.3 billion in 2011. Thanks to a variety of positive market forces, especially the widespread installations of smart meters, this market is projected to experience a robust compound annual growth (CAGR) rate of 37% to become a multi-billion market by 2016. Of the three key segments, curtailment services are the largest with an expected global market of $748 million in 2011. The systems integration/consulting services and outsourcing markets also offer promising opportunities for demand response vendors with CAGRs of 32% and 31% respectively, on a worldwide basis.”
Selling distributed power, distributed stored energy, and DR is automatically managed in large enterprises with Energy Management Systems (EMS) that are thoughtfully described in Carol Brzozowsk’s article in Distributed Energy. Eventually these sophisticated systems of software, sensors, and controls will extend to the home with smart EV charging, smart appliances, and cloud IT services that allow homeowners to establish and meet their preferences.
Automating Energy Savings at Home
In the future, homes will have dynamic pricing. We will use a service, typically accessed through our internet browser, and set-up our preferences for doing things when electricity is cheap. Our preferences could include charging electric cars, making ice in the refrigerator, washing and drying clothes, and moderating HVAC. Our utility does not control what we do. It simply sends price signals over a smart grid and smarter cars and appliances implement our preferences. We can of course, override. For example, 95 percent of the time, I charge my Nissan LEAF off-peak, but occasionally override for immediate charging.
Honeywell with thermostats in 150 million homes and Opower will jointly develop energy management tools to help consumers cut their energy use and expenses. The companies will combine Honeywell’s expertise in residential automation and control systems with Opower’s industry-leading energy data analytics and customer engagement techniques to create technology that will provide energy savings in the home and across the entire electrical grid.
Honeywell and Opower will initially launch a platform that includes an internet connected programmable thermostat that can respond to price signals to help homeowners save money and utilities boost energy efficiency programs. The technology will measure, analyze and report homeowners’ electricity use, including detailed information from the thermostat, which controls heating and cooling systems — equipment that accounts for almost 50 percent of all residential energy consumption.
Utility customers will be able to access the data from a Web portal or mobile application to get a clear and comprehensive snapshot of their energy use and spending. The technology will also suggest and automatically implement cost-saving changes, and will present equivalent data from similar families in the same geography to provide a benchmark and additional context. The industry is rich with technology innovators and service providers to help us manage energy with intelligence, efficiency, and reliability.
Lithium Batteries – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
What will happen faster than V2H and V2G is the redeployment of lithium batteries from electric cars to buildings and homes. Automakers have seen the cost of lithium battery pack from $1,000/kW to $500/kW and may reach $250/kW by the end of the decade. We may even see breakthroughs in new battery chemistry. Five years from now automakers might offer to trade-out old packs for new ones with 50 to 100% more range.
Solar installers, electrical contractors, and energy service companies could installed the old packs in commercial buildings and homes to buy electricity from utilities when prices are cheap and use the stored electricity when utility rates are high. Such energy storage could now keep the lights on in cities shut down by power outages.
I was talking with Pete Rive, a Founder and COO of Solar City, a system integrator that has expanded from commercial and residential solar to also install solar electric car charging. Rabobank has 12 locations with 225kW of solar power and electric car chargers installed by Solar City. The network of brings EV drivers closer to the dream of driving from Northern to Southern California, charging along the way. In fact, Pete Rive can make the drive now since he owns a Tesla Roadster. Pete Rive would be willing to pay $200/kWh for repurposed lithium car batteries to be used in wall-mounted storage projects in homes and businesses.
In the future, we will have the tools to reduce massive power outages and use energy stored in homes and buildings for emergency backup power. With distributed generation and energy storage, the 24×7 demand for electricity will be more balanced. Dynamic pricing signals to smarter homes and buildings will be used by systems that match our preferences for heating, cooling, lighting, and charging electric cars.
Electric Vehicles 2011: Technology, Economics, and Market – GTM Research Report
By John Addison (11/24/09)
The Department of Energy awarded today $620 million for projects around the country to demonstrate Smart Grid technologies and integrated systems that will help build a smarter, more efficient, and more resilient electrical grid. Electric cars will be smart charged and lithium batteries reused in some grid demonstrations. Secretary Chu today announced the 32 projects which include large-scale energy storage which will enable wind and solar power to be delivered when needed.
The projects also include smart meters, distribution and transmission system monitoring devices, and a range of other smart technologies that facilitate deploying integrated Smart Grid systems on a broader scale. Smart Grids will allow electric vehicles to be charged at lower rates when energy demand is down; charging will match car owner preferences, independent of when they are connected for smart charging.
The funding awards are divided into two topic areas. In the first group, 16 awards totaling $435 million will support fully integrated, regional Smart Grid demonstrations in 21 states, representing over 50 utilities and electricity organizations with a combined customer base of almost 100 million consumers. The projects include streamlined communication technologies that will allow different parts of the grid to “talk” to each other in real time; sensing and control devices that help grid operators monitor and control the flow of electricity to avoid disruptions and outages; and on-site and renewable energy sources that can be integrated onto the electrical grid. For example:
- Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project – Spanning five states and affecting more than 60,000 consumers, demonstrate and validate new smart grid technologies; provide two-way communication between distributed generation, storage, and demand assets and the existing grid infrastructure; and advance interoperability standards and cyber security approaches.
- Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Smart Grid Regional Demonstration – deploy smart grid systems at partners’ university campus properties and technology transfer laboratories. The projects will also include gathering data on how consumers use energy in a variety of systems, testing on the next generation of cyber security technologies, and how to integrate a significant number of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles onto the grid.
- Irvine Smart Grid Demonstration – With Southern California Edison as the lead, this will demonstrate an integrated, scalable system that includes all of the interlocking pieces of an end-to-end Smart Grid – from the transmission and distribution systems to consumer applications like smart appliances and electric vehicles.
In the second group, an additional 16 awards for a total of $185 million will help fund utility-scale energy storage projects that will enhance the reliability and efficiency of the grid, while reducing the need for new electricity plants. Improved energy storage technologies will allow for expanded integration of renewable energy resources like wind and photovoltaic systems and will improve frequency regulation and peak energy management. The selected projects include advanced battery systems (including flow batteries), flywheels, and compressed air energy systems. For example:
- Detroit Edison’s Advanced Implementation of A123s Community Energy Storage Systems for Grid Support – Demonstrate the use and benefits of Community Energy Storage (CES) systems for utilities and test the ability to integrate secondary-use electric vehicle batteries as part of the CES demonstration. Success of this demonstration could extend the lifecycle use of electric car batteries, and lead to lower lease and purchase costs of plug-in vehicles. This project will install 20 CES units, 25kW/2hr each, into a system that includes a 1 MW storage device integrated into a solar system.
- Energy East Advanced CAES Demonstration Plant – New York State Electric & Gas Corporation will lead in using an Existing Salt Storage Cavern with lower cost 150 MW Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) technology plant using an existing salt cavern. The project will be designed with an innovative smart grid control system to improve grid reliability and enable the integration of wind and other intermittent renewable energy sources.
- Wind Firming EnergyFarm™- Deploy a 25 MW – 75 MWh EnergyFarm for the Modesto Irrigation District in California’s Central Valley, replacing a planned $78M / 50 MW fossil fuel plant to compensate for the variable nature of wind energy providing the District with the ability to shift on-peak energy use to off-peak periods.
This funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be leveraged with $1 billion in funds from the private sector to support more than $1.6 billion in total Smart Grid projects nationally.
Secretary Chu said, “This funding will be used to show how Smart Grid technologies can be applied to whole systems to promote energy savings for consumers, increase energy efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.”
Applicants say this investment will create thousands of new job opportunities that will include manufacturing workers, engineers, electricians, equipment installers, IT system designers, cyber security specialists, and business and power system analysts.
Description of all 32 Projects
Customers Control Smart Charging
By John Addison (11/11/09)
Smart Grid EV Charge
By 2020, 219,000 customers of PG&E may say goodbye to those trips to the gas station. No more spinning dials at the pump – $20.00, $40.00, $80.00, etc. Instead drivers will conveniently plug-in their electric cars at home or work. The fill-up will be electrons, not gasoline.
Across the country, electric utilities are preparing to offer smart charging boxes for the garage and charging stations for work and downtown locations. For a fraction of gasoline cost, you will be able to charge plug-in vehicles.
Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), for example, is a utility that is planning to service between 219,000 and 845,000 battery electric cars and plug-in hybrids by 2020, under three different planning scenarios presented at Greentech’s The Networked Grid Conference. PG&E currently provides electricity to 5 million customers, including a few thousand that currently drive electric cars. Currently, most of these electric cars are 25-mile per hour neighborhood vehicles that are popular in college and university towns. A few hundred can zoom past you on a freeway, such as the Tesla Roadster.
This year, Newsweek ranked PG&E as the greenest utility in the country due to its strong commitment to customer energy efficiency programs and renewable energy (RE) programs. PG&E serves 15 million people in northern and central California with 123,054 miles electric distribution lines needed to cover 70,000 square miles of its service area. Natural gas is 46 percent of PG&E’s source for electricity, nuclear 20 percent, hydro 16 percent, and out-of-state coal only 2 percent.
Renewable Energy > Coal + Natural Gas by 2020
Renewable energy is 14 percent of PG&E’s total delivered electricity today. It will miss its legal requirement to be at 20 percent by the end of 2010 due to NIMBY roadblocks to large solar thermal plants in the desert. PG&E needs approvals to install the high-voltage lines necessary to bring utility-scale RE to PG&E customers, thereby adding to its current 18,610 circuit miles of interconnected transmission lines.
Hal LaFlash, PG&E Director of Emerging Clean Technologies, outlined how the utility will have 34.8 TWh of RE in 2010 and 77.6TWh of RE in 2020, the year when California utilities must generate 33 percent of their electricity from RE. By 2020, renewable energy may be the utility’s #1 source of energy. The RE mix will be (1) solar thermal, (2) photovoltaics, (3) wind, (4) geothermal, with bioenergy and ocean adding to the total.
With terawatts of nighttime wind power, PG&E may have more electricity at night than it needs. One million electric vehicles could easily be supported provided that they charge off-peak, preferably at night. Smart charging allows customers to plug-in; yet not have charging begin until a preferred time, such as when excess electricity is available to the grid. PG&E hopes to secure regulatory approval for time-of-use pricing so that customers have an incentive to charge at night.
Utility executives worry that people will charge whenever they feel like it. Since charging an electric car is like powering an entire home, the concern is valid. People are still buying gas guzzlers as pump prices rise, so they many may ignore price incentives to charge at night. So far, early customers of plug-in vehicles have been environmentally concerned, and have shown a preference for charging with renewables including their own solar rooftops. Automakers, utilities, and regulators are working to make it easy for new electric car customers to select night time and even renewable energy charging through web browsers, smart phones, and even vehicle dash displays.
Smart Charging and Renewable Energy
Between the electric cars and renewable energy will be a smart grid. Every vehicle charging device will include a smart meter. PG&E is leading the nation with 1.6 million smart meters now installed. It is installing an average of 13,000 per day, and will have 10 million smart meters installed by 2012.
Andrew Tang, PG&E Senior Director of the Smart Energy Web, expects 35 different models of plug-in vehicles to be available within the next two years. PG&E actively meets with auto makers to make sure that smart charging networking is compatible and in place. Only some homes and communities are now ready with dedicated 240V/30A circuits for the 4-hour charging that electric car leaders, such as Nissan recommend.
Although smart charging provides for two-way communication, electricity will only be delivered one-way from the grid to the vehicle. Mr. Tang expressed skepticism about vehicle-to-grid (V2G) being cost-effective and acceptable to customers and automakers, even though PG&E has done V2G demonstrations within its own fleet, with Tesla, with Google, and elsewhere. PG&E is looking at MW grid storage alternatives such as pumped hydro and compressed air, such as the 300MW compressed air storage in Kern Country that PG&E has applied for a federal grant. Sulfur Sodium batteries that could scale to hundreds of MW were also presented at the conference.
Infrastructure issues may be greatest in communities that are now adopting hybrid cars at fast rates. For example, in Berkeley, 18 percent of new car sales are hybrids. As electric cars sell briskly in some communities, PG&E will likely need to upgrade substations to handle the increased distribution of electricity.
With the advanced planning outlined in PG&E’s presentations and with regulatory support for time-of-use pricing, renewable energy, and high-voltage lines, PG&E will be ready to power a new generation of vehicles for a fraction of the cost of gasoline. Increasingly, these electric cars will be powered by solar, wind, and other renewables.
Top 10 Electric Car Makers