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Software Startup Targets Vehicle-to-Grid Management

V2Green is a Seattle-based start-up that is developing a suite of software infrastructure products—the V2Green System—to manage the impact of plug-in hybrids on the grid and to generate vehicle-based power services.

The V2Green System establishes intelligent, two-way communication between plug-in vehicles and the grid. Once vehicles are “grid-aware”, utilities can implement real-time monitoring and charging control strategies, including Smart Charging and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) services to meet the needs of both drivers and utilities. V2Green will license the system to electric utilities.

The system has two components: the V2Green Server and the V2Green Connectivity Module (VCM). The V2Green Server is software that runs within the utility’s grid operations center; it communicates with plug-in vehicles, controls the scheduling, timing, and extent of plug-in vehicle charging and storage, and manages the information generated by these activities.

The VCM sits in the vehicle sending charging control signals to the car’s power electronics and logging and communicating performance data back to the V2Green Server. V2Green also offers a Technology Evaluation Kit (TEK) that combines access to the V2Green Server and Connectivity Module with associated support services, providing utilities with an early opportunity to conduct plug-in vehicle field tests.

Xcel Energy is already using the TEK for discovery and planning, according to V2Green.

V2Green was founded by David Kaplan, Seth Bridges and Seth Pollack. Both Kaplan and Pollack had worked at Microsoft. Kaplan helped to create Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, and Microsoft’s internet services software. Pollack focused on operating systems, search technology, and web servers, and designed and delivered Active Server Pages (ASP).

According to a profile of the company in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer,

One big challenge facing V2Green is that the software must reside both inside the vehicle and at the utility, a potential hang-up that could delay implementation, given the long sales cycles in those industries.

That’s one of the reasons Kaplan wanted to enter the market early, so the company could have a seat at the table as the utilities and the car manufacturers start to address power management issues.

Resources:

Comments

Mort

Now that, is a great idea!

gr

It is always fascinating to see the direction some people want to go when it comes to controlling widespread systems. Here is a startup that wants to focus power on the monolithic electric utilities - servers that command client vehicles to charge or not charge according to the monolith's needs. The philosophy is that the "grid" managers know best - analogous to claiming that the petroleum industry knows best. When are we going to get it through the cranial bone that handing power to monopolistic energy utilities has proven to be an enormous failure? Have we not learned anything from the oil debacle of the last hundred years?

V2G is the appropriate acronym. The vehicle polls the utility grid and sub-grid (e.g. community solar/wind) for low cost energy. Or low cost 100% renewable energy - based on the consumer's choices. It is then the vehicle computer that selects the vendor, pricing, charge level, cost per kwH etc.. This supports local energy production and encourages community electric production with small PV and wind installations.

These guys will have a hard time selling their idea to a utility industry that is already building their version of V2G into the expansion plans. They will have an equally hard time getting vehicle manufacturing to accept the added cost of the wireless links required by a V2G network. Not to say it won't arrive - probably not so soon.

Intelligent charging of BEVs is an important technology. It can help steer our electric energy future away from repeating the blunders of petroleum. It does that by enabling a diversification of renewable resources not owned by the utility grid. This assures energy stability by building independent energy producers, lowering security vulnerability and encouraging new renewable resources.

Harvey D

gr,

It would certainly be ideal if the PHEV/BEV on-board computer could select the energy supplier(s) based on factors programmed by the vehicle owner, about the same way as you can select your long distance telephone service suppliers.

The problem is that we are still a very long way from this ideal situation in most places. Power grids would have to be modified to supply specified energy on demand. Energy cost and providers data would have to be sent on the grid for proper automated selection. This will not happen without appropriate laws and regulations. It is not impossible to do. The technology is all there.

Do we have the will to put enough pressure on our politicians to make it happen? That is the question.

Mort

This system could work on a voluntary basis. If the utility has more than it needs it can sell to me, if I can take it, at industrial rates. If I want to pay market rates I can charge whenever I want.

Cervus

GR:

Instead we'll have an opportunity to make entirely new blunders.

AES

Okay, someone please clue me in as to how V2G is supposed to make sense to the consumer. Here is my understanding thus far:

1) I charge my car at night while electricity is cheap.
2) I drive to work, and plug my car in at the parking lot. The power company buys back my electricity at a more expensive rate, and I have a net profit.
3) When I return to my car, it's battery is drained, and I can't drive it.

Moreover, if V2G becomes widespread, it will completely erase the concept of "off-peak" hours, given how many people will be charging at night. Thus, I think it's a self-defeating and circular argument.

Additionally, any power that my car's genset creates using gas/ethanol/methanol/fairy dust, whatever, will certainly be less green than the power coming out of the power plant.

The only way I see V2G working AT ALL is if I have a $2000, 1.2kW/day solar panel on my car roof, and if I choose to allow it, the power company can take that and ONLY that power from my car during the day.

Patrick

AES,

Part of developing the software - I would hazard a guess - includes "intelligently" learning your routine to allow the proper amount of energy to remain in your vehicle for your trip home. So you fill up with 50 miles of energy but your typical roundtrip is 20 miles and the utility only pulls 25 miles of energy out of your battery.

I am more concerned with the wear and tear from additional cycles needed to sustain this scheme.

Not to mention inefficiency in transmission through the power ground will hit this energy twice. Once on initial transfer to your vehicle and once upon being extracted for use in the grid (do they step the voltage up at a transformer to transmit it long distance? Are you essentially providing power for your own place of work while the power company diverts some of the energy it would have sent to your company?).

juha k

Trying to answer AES,

I think that more important than V2G is to have good control of G2V. EV's will need to be charged and timing that charging to better meet the situation in the grid can be valuable. Naturally the owner of the car has to have control over when he has to get a full battery, but that should still leave nice amount of additional flexibility for the system. This flexibility will then help to incorporate variable sources of electricity.

It won't probably make sense to use EV batteries to shave peak load, since the cost of using those batteries plus the efficiency loss is bigger than the difference between peak and base prices.

However, there are couple of functions where it could make sense to have V2G (G2V can also do these).

There needs to be reserves to correct for mistakes in predictions at the spot market. At the actual moment of delivery these mistakes need to be corrected and this is done by using bids that have been made to the balance market. This is a market where it might be viable to bid in EV batteries, since price differences are higher. However, I think actual use of EV's in these markets would remain marginal, but they would provide liquidity in the market in case the prediction mistake happens to be big. This could happen more often once there's more renewables with variable production.

Second, and more important, function would be to have EV's there to secure the network against failures. If it happens that a big power plant suddenly trips, then EV's could back that until other power plants have time to startup. These events are rare, but there is a need to have that kind of fast capacity in the network or risk complete system failure. And it would be nicer to have batteries doing this job than idling power plants (although even currently lot of this comes from power plants that can be ramped up over their optimal point of operation where they usually produce).

marcus

One of the first applications of V2G is spinning reserves. This involves high frequency, low energy transfers meaning that it will not drain your battery. If you want to really know what its all about have a read of a few detailed papers here:

http://www.udel.edu/V2G/

In particular this article gives a nice overview, including the economics and viability including the consideration of battery wear and tear (pdf warning).

http://www.udel.edu/V2G/KempTom-V2G-Fundamentals05.PDF

marcus

Read "ancillary services" instead of "spinning reserves" above.

HealthyBreeze

Some day, when electric meters are ever so much smarter, vehicle owners will be able to set a "bid price" for electricity, and recharge up as much as they can at that price. They will be able to program their vehicle to say, "Well, it's 4:00 AM and I'm only at 50% charge, I guess I better up my bid price until 6:00 AM."

V2G is always going to involve conversion losses, prematurely degrade the batter, and as a vehicle owner I would only want that capability to power my home during a black out.

However, if we get to the point where ultracapcitors with unlimited recharge cycles could buy energy in the middle of the night for X and sell a predetermined and unneeded percentage back to the power company for a multiple of X (that was large enough to cover conversion losses and still make a profit) at peak hour...that kind of makes sense to me.

Scatter

I'm very glad to see companies out there developing the systems to enable V2G but I can't help thinking that the controls should be an open standard and not developed by a single commercial company. What if in another part of the country they install a different system? Will they not be able to communicate with vehicles operating the V2Green system? It seems to me that for V2G to work (and I have no doubt that it will), all vehicles need to be able to communicate with all grid control centres. Anyone know if there's a common standard being developed?

Aussie

Reading the specs on my computer's uninterruptible power supply I note the configuration is grid-->UPS-->application. That's on a 24/7 basis since it doesn't move anywhere. It switches to standby power only if voltage and frequency limits are broken eg brownouts. That is a major contrast to an EV sending smooth power back to the grid (V2G). If the grid doesn't have enough EVs plugged in does that mean at times households get a lousy electricity supply? Maybe buildings not cars should contain the power electronics and fresh battery packs slotted into vehicles as needed. The utilities could maybe lease and recondition the batteries.

Mark

V2G is simply a way to manage a variable-load mobile UPS system. Draw charge when the grid is replete; reduce this draw or even reverse it when your neighborhood or office park is sucking the grid dry around 3:00pm. It's like any QoS application on your computer that runs background processes when the opportunity arises. No need to trash it.

Hal

Aussie mentions uninterruptable power supplies (UPS); wouldn't it maybe make more sense to develop UPS 2 Grid? I read the other day that the Internet accounts for 9.4% of electricity use in the U.S. If much of that is on UPS in some form then for many years to come this resource will be greater than available from EVs. If V2G is such a good idea why not UPS2G?

Aussie

I'm thinking an always-on UPS with 2 multi-kwh batteries. The grid or rooftop solar panels (via inverter) send a variable power supply which is regulated onsite. Either of the batteries can be disconnected and placed into the EV. If the batteries are too large some kind of trolley may be required, or perhaps a quick charging capacitor system may be viable. Also a battery on a trolley can be recycled or refurbished, vehicle makers just have to agree on a standard format.

Ender

"Kaplan helped to create Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, and Microsoft’s internet services software. Pollack focused on operating systems, search technology, and web servers, and designed and delivered Active Server Pages (ASP)."

Uh-oh - this could be a problem. I do not want a car that has a blue screen of death :-)

Seriously though car and house power systems will merge in the future. I was thinking that if I had large batteries in my grid tie system I could charge them overnight at 6 cents per kWhr and then sell it at 12:00pm when the price is 21 cents. A Xantrex SW3024 or SW3048 grid tie/standalone inverter will do this for you with automatically.

Absolutely.

If you can get compact lithium batteries down from $1000/kWh to a price you can put in a series hybrid, then that battery technology also becomes viable for "whole-house" backup (skip the stinky, loud, generators)

>If V2G is such a good idea why not UPS2G?

Greenman3610

I'm not understanding the hostility toward V2G.
Rather than reinforcing the "monolithic" utilities, V2G is a component of the "smart grid" that will make the grid more dispersed, intelligent, and internet-like.
It will allow greater integration of wind, solar and other renewables, by helping with stabilization and back up. The same technology will allow for the integration of rooftop collectors, home fuel cell generators, wind, etc, as well as for increased integration of small to medium size generators at businesses, hospitals, or municipal systems.
In addition, there will be increased capability for "smart" appliances, like air conditioners and refrigerators that can be selectively turned on and off to
help maintain grid stability during peak times.
There will be no problem with having your battery drained, the cars will be smart enough not to do that.
BART technology director Eugene Nishinaga has a good description of how this would work without excessively draining car batteries, as integrated into the BART system for backup power.
http://www.evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=1131

Developing a market for stored EV power, as well as a rapidly evolving after market for used but still useful Lith-ion batteries changes the economics of
battery vehicles for the better, and will speed adoption of the technology.

Use of "off Peak" power will displace petroleum with currently wasted capacity,
and DOE studies indicate it will be a long time before EVs will even begin to strain
against the slack in the system. Giving Utilities the additional market for off peak power could help keep electricity rates low, or even reduce them for most customers.

Currently, at least 3 large utilities are intalling smart metering across their
customer base, Southern California Edison, AEP, and DTE in Michigan - I'm sure there are more. This step is critical toward freeing the market for small, decentralized power producers and making the system more resilient, more reliable, and friendlier to enterprising individuals and companies with good ideas for producing and saving power.

Joseph M.

Ok alread, ok already, when is someone going to make a plug-in hybrid I can buy today? Today, claims of moving forward, but at turtle speed is just a shame. Toyota built a great car when they made the Toyota Prius. I guess now they just got lazy and are sitting back taking a long break. boring. Toyota, Get To Work and build that damn Plug-In Hybrid with Vehicle to Grid capabilities to follow. Dammit!

gr

The point is to treat the "Grid" like a public access utility (much of the grid has been built with tax dollars)like the phone company. Though a single fiber brings telephone service into the home - we can choose who our service provider is - and change that provider for better pricing, service, package deals etc. This model creates competition that levels monopolistic entropy and provides support for home & community energy PV/wind farms with 100% renewable resources.

The current grid design is subject to failure due to single source centralized generating stations. With small local power entities providing even a small portion of non-utility produced energy - we mitigate the security risks, provide supplemental resources during outages, encourage new business and move away from non-renewable coal and diesel generators.

All this changes of course when zero-point matures. Hmmm.

sjc

I look at distributed generation as potentially extending the service life of the grid. Rather than replace the transformers before they blow out, they last longer with distributed generation.

Raul

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