Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Californiaâ€™s biggest utility, showcased the first-ever utility demonstration of Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology during an alternative energy solution summit in Silicon Valley.Â Austin Energy, the public utility for Austin, TX is also exploring V2G technology and applications.
V2G technology allows for the bi-directional sharing of electricity between Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Plug-in Electric Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs), and the electric power grid. The technology turns each vehicle into a power storage system, increasing power reliability and the amount of renewable energy available to the grid during peak power usage.
PG&E envisions a future in which vehicle owners will be able to set a price threshold at which they are willing to sell energy, and when electricity reaches that point, the utility would then automatically draw energy out of the vehicle’s battery. The energy used by the utility would earn customers credit on their monthly utility bill.
“At night, electricity is very cheap, very plentiful. You can’t turn down your nuclear reactors at night. A lot of the wind energy comes in at night, and utilities don’t know what to do with it,” Sass Somekh, President Emeritus of Novellus, told a group assembled for the V2G press event. “The utilities would then be able to borrow back during the day the electricity two-to-three times what you would pay at night.”
Like demand response technologies, V2G has the potential to reduce peak demand on the electrical grid. This is important for a number of reasons. (1) During peak demand, utilities have to buy power at extremely high rates (which are passed onto the ratepayer in one manner of another), and this power often comes from dirty, fossil-fuel powered ‘Peaking Plants.’ (2) The electrical grid is built to handle these periods of peak demand (which are a small percentage of the day) plus some additional capacity as a contingency. If peak demand can be reduced, then infrastructure investments in the grid are likely to be less costly, and consequently, there would be less costs to pass on to ratepayers. (3) V2G scenarios are a great starting point on the path to real-time pricing. At the moment, except for some large commercial and industrial customers, electric rates for most customers are flat. Real-time pricing would encourage customers to use electricity in a more efficient manner (from the grid’s perspective), for example, to run their dishwasher or charge their ipods at night, rather than in the middle of the day when demand is at its highest. Customers who intelligently use electricity would likely see a substantial reduction in electricity costs.
- â€œVehicle-to-grid power implementation: From stabilizing the grid to supporting large-scale renewable energyâ€; Willett Kempton, Jasna TomiÄ‡; Journal of Power Sources Volume 144, Issue 1, 1 June 2005, Pages 280-294
- â€œElectric and Hybrid Vehicles: New Load or New Resource?â€; Steven Letendre, Paul Denholm, and Peter Lilienthal; Public Utilities Fortnightly, pp 28-37
- An Evaluation of Utility System Impacts and Benefits of Optimally Dispatched Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (NREL/TP-620-40293)