New Electric Car Could Feed Power Grid

It’s only a prototype, but a new electric vehicle could eventually help balance the electric grid.
It sounds far-fetched, but the so-called “V2G” vehicle has the capability of returning power to the grid once it has all the power it needs. Jack Williams reports.


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“This is a paradigm shift. I mean, you’re looking at a paradigm shift right there.”

What Paul Heitmann is referring to is a converted Scion, the product of a consortium lead by the University of Delaware, the company Heitmann works for, Comverge, and several other partners.

“This vehicle, first of all, is all electric, which is great. It’s not a hybrid. It doesn’t have gasoline power on there and the batteries are sized to have a very long range, 150 miles, and also have a good power-transfer capability. So, it can charge very quickly and it can also discharge at a pretty good rate if the grid calls upon it for services.” 

That’s the wrinkle here. This “V2G”, or “Vehicle to Grid” prototype, could actually help regional transmission operators keep the electric grid in balance, which isn’t easy. V2G owners could flip their vehicles into a power sharing mode. When the vehicle’s battery is charged, the vehicle could then send power back to the grid when it’s needed.  

“Organizations that coordinate all this are called ISO’s, Independent System Operators, or Regional Transmission Operators and their responsibility is to provide enough instantaneous support for that, called regulation services, so that when it gets slightly mismatched they can send a call out and restore the balance. These cars have the potential to be instantaneously available for that command and then put power in to maintain stability between supply and demand.” 

“Your mechanic will be surprised when they go to work on this because there is no engine. It’s where the engine used to be.”

Heitmann and Comverge want to help form large groups of V2G vehicles that together, could supply large amounts of power for the grid, and in turn, get paid for that power.

“Having a car that can be integrated with a smart grid and behave in a smart way, to charge at the right times and not take excessive power, to even give power back at the right commands, those are all intelligence aspects of this network that’s coming together of the cars and the grid together.”  

The vehicle itself goes 0-60 in about 7 seconds and uses lithium ion batteries. It’s expensive now, but could eventually sell for about $40,000.

image of V2G electric car

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