|Veridian CEO Angemeer with the Prius (solar module displayed) and smart meter.|
Hymotion, a developer of plug-in hybrid technology, announced the two-phased conversion of a Prius into a plug-in hybrid for Veridian Corporation, a large Ontario-based utility company.
Phase one was the basic conversion of the Prius using Hymotion’s battery pack. (Earlier post.) Hymotion is now using A123Systems lithium-ion cells in its pack. The second phase will involve adding solar panels to the roof of the vehicle and to the roof of Veridian headquarters for daytime charging.
Phase two, which begins next month, will be completed by a third Canadian company, Solera Sustainable Energies (a provider of utility-grid-connected solar power solutions in Canada) in partnership with St. Lawrence College and possibly other research institutions.
I think the public is starting to realize that the future of the automotive industry is moving more and more towards being powered by electricity. We want to help demonstrate that sustainable transportation is here today and is not just a thing of the future.—Ricardo Bazzarella, President of Hymotion
The solar panels have been custom manufactured to suit the available roof space of the Toyota Prius, with the goal of maximizing peak generating capacity and overall electrical energy yield. Three individual solar modules—based on Sunpower A-300 solar cells—will yield a total rated capacity of 240 watts.
The SunPower A-300 solar cell is a 125mm, 20% (minimum) efficiency, high-performance, single crystal silicon solar cell that offers up to 50% more power per square foot than conventional solar cells. The A-300 has the metal contacts needed to collect and conduct electricity on its back surface, thereby eliminating reflective metal contacts on the front of the solar cell and improving solar cell performance.
Michael Angemeer, Veridian’s President and CEO, took possession of the basic converted Prius in September. He drives the car on a daily basis, and reports that he can travel about 55 kilometers (34 miles) on a single battery charge, with just a little gasoline being used for acceleration.
As a leading electricity distributor in Ontario, Veridian and its shareholder communities are very interested in advancing the use of technologies that contribute to sustainable energy use. We believe that the plug-in hybrids have a lot of potential for cars and larger vehicles, and hope that our project will drive local interest and further research and investment in this technology. The vehicle will showcase overnight charging using less expensive off-peak electricity through smart meter technology and solar energy.—Michael Angemeer
Over the next year, Veridian will be installing smart metering for almost half of its 106,000 customers. This is part of a broader government initiative to install 800,000 smart meters in Ontario by the end of next year and more than 4 million by 2010.
The smart meters will support technologies such as PHEV in addition to demand-shifting technologies such as smart appliances and utility load control. The government anticipates that combining smart meters with utility-driven conservation will allow less investment in new generation sources.
The plug-in hybrid project is being supported in part by the LDC (Local Distribution Company) Tomorrow Fund, a utility industry fund established to finance research projects that advance innovation in Ontario’s electricity distribution sector.
Veridian has a number of hybrid vehicles from GM (Silverado pickup) and Ford (Escape Hybrid) in its fleet and is investigating retrofits of these vehicles as well as optimizing the use of ultra low-sulfur diesel in its truck fleet.