EV Industry Joins Forces On Smart Grid

(3BL Media/Just Means) - The adoption of electric vehicles is growing. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 225,000 plug-in vehicles; of this total, 63,000 are Chevrolet Volts, which was launched in 2010. EVs represent a new challenge to utilities in how they manage this new demand on the grid.To meet those challenges, a team of eight global automakers and 15 electric utilities are working with the Electric Power Research Institute to develop and implement a standardized Smart Grid integration platform.

Initially, the companies will develop a standardized Demand Response solution, which is a signal a utility sends to an energy management company communicating the supply and demand needs to the electric grid. The management company then communicates with designated plug-in vehicles in the area to manage their energy consumption in accordance with the grid’s needs, making the whole process much more efficient and timely.

The overall goal of the project is to develop a cloud-based central server that would receive grid requests from a utility, such as Demand Response, and then translate and standardize that request so it could be relayed to all participating EVs in the designated area. For that to happen, automakers would need to enable their vehicles with technologies that work with smart grid communications.

Consumers could even get financial benefits if they opt to allow their vehicle charging to be managed. This would also allow utilities to reduce stress on the grid and reduce costs to all customers. All of this also translates into environmental gains with fewer emissions.

GM, one of the participating automakers, has been collaborating with companies like TimberRock Energy Solutions to develop ​Deamnd-Response type​solutions. “One thing that’s missing from most Smart Grid programs is a sense of collaboration,” says Tim Nixon, chief technology officer at GM’s Global Connected Consumer.

GM is bringing its OnStar-enabled Smart Grid solutions to the project. “Companies will showcase a meaningful solution, but without widespread acceptance in the industry, its usability is limited. That’s what makes this partnership unique,” he adds.

Among the participating auto companies are American Honda, BMW Group, Chrysler Group Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Toyota. The utilities involved are DTE Energy, Duke Energy, PJM Interconnection, CenterPoint Energy, Southern Company, Northeast Utilities, Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric, Commonwealth Edison, TVA, Manitoba Hydro, Austin Energy, ConEd and CPS Energy.

The smart grid concept is also attracting official support. ​Recently, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo distributed $3.3 million in funding for seven smart grid research projects that will help make regional grids more reliable and efficient.

Image credit: GM