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Xcel Energy Announces Six-Month Test of V2G and Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Six plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) will be on the road by the end of 2007 as part of a demonstration test of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology by Xcel Energy. The project, which will convert six Ford Escape Hybrids to PHEVs equipped with V2G technology so each can charge and discharge power to and from the grid, is one of the nation’s first real-world demonstrations of the V2G technology.

With operations in eight states, Xcel Energy will study how the vehicles perform in varied geographic regions and climates over a six-month period. Three company employees will serve as test drivers, using three of the PHEVs in typical home settings. The remaining three PHEVs will be used in the company’s fleet.

With every US home connected to the electricity grid, vehicle-to-grid technology could be key to meeting our growing energy needs. This project will allow us to explore how PHEVs can become an integrated part of a ‘smart house’ and our vision of the smart grid energy system of the future—one that allows customers and utilities to work together to balance the power grid, lower greenhouse gas emissions and improve our nation’s energy security.

—Michael Lamb, executive director of Xcel Energy Utility Innovations

Xcel Energy’s demonstration will build on its previous PHEV impact study by examining how drivers—and their vehicles—will react and perform in real-world settings. The project will explore the potential benefits of widespread PHEV use including: reducing petroleum-related emissions and greenhouse gases, enhancing energy security by reducing dependence on foreign oil, improving the reliability and cost-effectiveness of the electricity grid, exploring ways to make PHEVs more accessible and lowering vehicle fuel costs.

The project is a joint collaboration between Xcel Energy; Hybrids Plus Inc. in Boulder, Colo.; V2Green Inc. in Seattle, Wash.; and the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.

Hybrids Plus (earlier post) will replace the cars’ nickel-metal hydride batteries with a 12 kWh lithium-ion phosphate battery pack using 26650 cells from A123Systems for the base conversion to a plug-in hybrid.

To make the cars V2G capable, each will be equipped with a V2Green Connectivity Module that controls vehicle charging, collects data and communicates via a cellular modem (earlier post); and an Inverger (a 6-kilowatt inverter and charger in a single unit) from Hybrids Plus. V2Green will also supply server software enabling remote control of smart charging and V2G functions.

By outfitting the vehicles with these components, Xcel Energy can remotely control the battery cycles in each vehicle by requesting that each postpones charging or begins discharging energy back to the electricity grid.




@ DoggyDogWorld:

I don't think anyone through this thread has been questioning that aspect of PHEV's. What you're refering to is just the Plug-in nature of a hybrid. I think its great to have that capability.

The question is the merit of doing short-term Grid Regulation by means of Vehicle-to-Grid.

***Does it ever make economic or environmental sense to used stored energy in the batteries of the PHEV as a means of helping the Grid when the frequency or voltage lags???***

Many people who have previously posted have made points for both sides of the arguement. It is a lot of reading to catch up fully but it may be worth the read.


jack; suffice to say I think you are wildly overoptimistic in several of your assumptions. First, if HEV's which (at least in the case of the Prius) are cost competitive with comparable non-HEV's haven't penetrated more than low single digits of the market after 9 years, then I think it highly unlikely that PHEV's, which will have a huge cost differetial, will generate the market penetration to make V2G remotely economic in "7-10 years." I'll be surprised if PHEV's have achieved a greater market penetration in 7-10 years than the low single digit pentration HEV's have achieved in their first 7-10 years.

Second, providing the infrastructure to support V2G, is far more than the simple provision of a "reversible outlet." As you said, most people are at work during the peak energy usage periods when V2G could help with peak shaving. I have yet to see a parking lot equipped with outlets serving each space, allowing for a simple retrofit of a reversible outlet as your post seems to imply. The cost of installing the miles of conduit, cabling, and hundreds of outlets to supply a large parking lot would be significant. Copper electrical cable is so costly these days, it is routinely stolen for sale to scrap dealers. I could easily see this costing over $100K for a large lot.

Third, wouldn't some percentage of PHEV owners want to or need to charge during the peak hours, thus ADDING to the peak demand? Assuming that the maximum amount of battery capacity that could be used for V2G is 10%, and assuming that PHEV's are never discharged by more than 50% of capacity, 1 PHEV charging during peak hours would offset 5 that are discharging. If only 5% of PHEV's charge during peak hours, then another 25% must be discharging just to break even on peak energy usage.

I could go on, but as you said, its not worth getting into a froth over.

Roger Pham

Greener posted: "I argue that neither of these scenarios is likely. The argument against the first scenario is that nobody is going to want to allow the electric utility to run their vehicle's ICE remotely for any period of time, let alone for thousands of hours. Would you stand for the utility starting your ICE, running it for hours, depleting your fuel supply, wearing out your engine? Would you want to be anywhere near a parking lot on a hot summer day with hundreds of ICE's belching out pollutants? Would you want to work near such a V2G lot?"

Economic 101, Greener: People would do it if it would make them thousands to tens of dollars in profit over the useful life span of their vehicle, AND to get to park in reserved, VIP-standard parking spot, which is covered and right next to the building. No more walking in the rain, snow, or scorching hot summer sun to your car. Less risk of getting run-over or mugged in the parking lot.

You see, Greener, ICE's are so durable these days that they can run as genset for tens of thousands of hours before needing overhaul. For a careful and gentle driver, the engine is still fully usable after 300,000 miles, but, because the car's interior, body and electrical system is so deteriorated with age that the car has to be junked. What a waste! The permanent magnet generator will also last indefinitely because it has no brushing to wear out. Perhaps only the bearing needs changing after 10,000 hrs.

AS for the pollution part, HEV engines are the least polluting power plants these days, with far less NOx than an utility power plant. An engine running on NG (natural gas) puts out even less pollutants than a gasoline engine, and that's why many major cities are mandating buses to run on NG instead of diesel. You are not gonna get any cleaner air when the utility power plants are running to produce peak electrical power. Many of these are coal-fired plants which belch out toxic NOx in large quantity and mercury and particulate matters.

Roger Pham

Correction to above: "Economic 101, Greener: People would do it if it would make them thousands to tens of thousands of dollars in profit over the useful life span of their vehicle..."

Indeed, being able to run your HEV on NG (natural gas) alone would cut your fuel bill to less than half. Being able to fill it up at home means that you can simple plug it in when you get home and unplug it the next morning before going to work.
The engine is programmed to stop running BEFORE the fuel reserve drops down to a certain level, leaving you with much more than enough fuel to get home.


I didn't read all the posts in this comment thread, but there seems to be a trend about using V2G to offset peak demand on the grid. I think this is not really the right concept for using PHEV battery packs to "balance" the grid. IMHO the better idea is to use your PHEV battery as a sort of energy TIVO for time-shifting electricity demand on a very small scale (one home/business etc). If the battery charges at night when grid load is low, it could then be used to supplement electricity during peak load of the grid. The only incentive necessary is dynamic KWh pricing from the utility as the grid load changes. Every home could have a "grid load gauge" so that energy consumers could make the economic decisions about when to use which source of energy: the grid or the battery pack. I could really see this being a big deal encouraging businesses to invest in PHEV fleets.

2 cents


Greener, you just made a fairly extended argument against BEVs, although I'm not sure you realize that.

I'll simplify this - if and when there are a sufficiently large number of vehicles with a considerable amount of on-board electrical storage capability, V2G will be common as well.

V2G could be done right now. It's really no different from intertying renewables and having the utility cycle one's air conditioner during certain peak periods.

As for when people are going to charge, there will be variable pricing for electricity throughout the day, just like it is for many utilities now.

Case in point of you unintentionally dissing BEVs and PHEVs - "I have yet to see a parking lot equipped with outlets serving each space." First of all, there are such places - at least with some outlets for EVs. The fact that you haven't personally seen one doesn't mean they don't exist. Secondly, if BEVs and/or PHEVs get sufficient market penetration, outlets in parking lots will become common. As for the cost, are you really trying to say that it's expensive to set up some outlets? Compared to the cost of a parking structure? Especially in cities? Come on. If outlets are so expensive, why do you have dozens of them in your home?

@ Culprititus

Along with that idea, how about using the PHEV as an emergency source of power as well.

Right now, most grid-connected renewable systems (solar, wind) can't "island" - when the grid fails, or goes under/overvolt, the inverter disconnects completely.

But, there are grid-connect inverters that can island - let them dump their renewable energy into the vehicle's battery for use later that night - and offer the option to start the vehicle's onboard range extender for add'l power.

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