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Electric cars as power storage for grids – an entrepreneur goes ahead of the curve

Posted by evolvingwheel on December 5, 2007

This came as a very interesting idea to start with – electric and hybrid cars acting as storage facilities for extra power in an electrical grid. I will briefly state the background or the problem that seeks such an effort: Electric companies produce power that are drawn from the grid to different degrees at different times of the day. During the morning rush hour, the power draw is heavy. It slows down a bit during later periods before hitting another high during the evening hours. The draw also depends on demographics, usage, industrial density, and other attributes. However, it’s extremely difficult to store the power during off times. As stated, the storage capacity available is only for 1% of yield in the US.

Dr. Willet Kempton at the University of Delaware College of Marine and Earth Studies, has developed a system called V2G (vehicle-to-grid) that enables electric and hybrid cars to store this extra power and supply it back to the grid when idle. Gasoline driven cars are literally useless when idle. However, if connected to a grid node, electric cars can store the excess electricity and provide it back when not running. Rad the article [here] v2g.jpg

The concept is cool if there is a decent volume of participant cars. Nearly 100 vehicles available for two-thirds of the time could provide a megawatt of storage power. let’s now see the cost-benefit picture – The researchers estimate each car can provide $4,000 (£2,000) worth of storage to an energy company per year. It would cost roughly $600 (£300) to install the high-power connection system required. To encourage drivers to help out, power companies would need to pass on some of their savings, says Kempton.

Now certain areas that the true commercialization of this research hinges on are as follows:

  1. For every 1000 combustion-powered cars, how many electric/hybrid cars are there? In order to see a significant platform for implementation, what density of hybrid cars are required in cities and small towns? What is a possible timeline to reach that density?
  2. For density growth purpose – who will market for awareness? Will it be power companies, car companies, consumer advocacy groups, governments, or other third-party entities?
  3. What kind of infrastructure costs are associated with bringing the grid network to the individual consumer’s garage? How do you do that for cars that are parked on streets, office parking lots, and city paid garages?
  4. If volume is the question, how do you market the concept for its adoption within a favorable timeline? Is this just a very theoretical approach or does it have the possibility of mass acceptance? v2g_car.jpg
  5. How will this affect the car batteries in the long run? If the store-n-supply is hammering the battery, how will that contribute to the wear-and-tear of the power system of the hybrid? Are the researchers planning to work with car companies to make adjustments in the hybrid/electrical system? What is the incentive for the car companies to do that? Will the power companies reimburse them? What will be the cost-share and revenue structure around this?

Well, I have many questions. Thinking from the business implementation line kind off. Any inputs?


Posted in Energy, Environment, fuel, hybrid | 1 Comment »