OnStar’s Smart Grid Gets Smarter with Solar Power

Aug 6, 2013 9:30 AM ET

OnStar provides roadside assistance, monitors your family, and gives turn-by-turn directions.

And now it can charge an electric vehicle.

By teaming up with TimberRock Energy Solutions Inc., OnStar will realize the first “real world” use of their Smart Grid system: using aggregation software and solar charging canopies with integrated storage to manage the flow of solar power to benefit the grid.

“The future of electric vehicle charging will be a marriage of renewable energy and battery storage as we look to address the intermittency of renewable solar and wind power,” said Rob Threlkeld, General Motors’ manager of renewable energy. “This project supports GM’s goal of using all factors of the charging equation: electric vehicles, solar power, and battery storage.”

The software will be provided by TimberRock, which will start, stop and modulate the amount of charge going to a particular Volt in the TimberRock fleet, in coordination with energy need.

The process begins by using solar charging canopies that trap the power of the sun to create energy, which is then stored in an integrated storage system managed by TimberRock.  It is monitored to determine how much energy is available to be sold back to the electric grid or used for charging their fleet of four Volts.  Charging the Volts allows the storage system to regulate energy flow – a method known as Market-Based Regulation. For the most efficient use of energy, TimberRock is able to implement the Onstar Demand Response program to strategically control how frequently the Volts are charged. The process uses only renewable energy and creates a possibility of financial benefits for consumers who allow a company like TimberRock to manage their EV’s charging.

A project like the OnStar TimberRock collaboration shows the direction in which electric charging is heading. We have stated our dedication to utilize solar energy for EV charging, and this collaboration builds upon that commitment. Smart Grid solar charging has the potential to provide a financially beneficial charging option for the consumer that is safe for the environment.

The doors are open for more efficient ways of charging electric vehicles, and this is one of the ways in which we intend to drive through.