Startup Lands Seed Money to Commercialize Graphene-Based Ultracapacitors
New System for Managing Multiple Types of Power Units Could Reduce Cost of Hybrids and Plug-ins

City Of Newark, Delaware First US Electric Utility to Approve Use of V2G

The City of Newark, Delaware has become the first electric utility in the United States to approve the use of an electric vehicle to store and provide power for the local electric grid.

University of Delaware (UD) researchers led by Associate Professor Willett Kempton developed the Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) concept in collaboration with a consortium (MAGIC, Mid-Atlantic Grid Interactive Cars Consortium) of industry partners over the past decade to establish the communications protocol between the vehicle and the grid operator. (Earlier post.) Industry partners in the consortium include Delmarva Power and its parent company Pepco Holdings Inc; PJM, the regional grid operator; California-based electric vehicle manufacturer AC Propulsion; and others.

With the City of Newark’s approval, the UD team is now conducting V2G testing at two outlets within the City’s service territory.

Currently, there is no energy storage built into the electric grid system; electricity usage and electricity generation must be simultaneous. While V2G is expected to have several applications, according to a report by MAGIC published in November 2008, the most economic entry currently is the market for ancillary services (A/S). The highest value A/S is frequency regulation (in many ISOs, including PJM, this service is simply called “regulation”). In areas with deregulated electricity markets, regulation can have average values of $30-$45/MW per hour, with hourly rates fluctuating widely around that average.

A second market of interest is spinning reserves, or synchronous reserves, with values in the range of $10/MW per hour, but much less frequent dispatch.

The primary revenue in both of these markets is for capacity rather than energy, and both markets are well suited for batteries as a storage resource because they require quick response times yet low total energy demand. Additionally, V2G can provide distribution system support when there is a concentration of parked V2G cars, along overload elements in the distribution system.

—MAGIC 2008

As fluctuating, non-dispatchable renewable sources, such as solar and wind power, become a larger component of electric generation—and “when parked V2G-capable cars are connected and aggregated in large numbers“—V2G energy storage could help grid operators smooth power output fluctuations.

Wind tends to blow stronger at night when the electric load is low. If electric vehicles charged at night with wind power, the grid operator could use the energy in the batteries, when vehicles aren’t needed for driving and are plugged in, to help maintain grid reliability. The vehicle owner would then be paid for providing these energy services at a greater value than what they paid for the electricity.

—Willett Kempton

The City of Newark’s Electric Department initially rejected the car (an AC Propulsion eBox EV modified by adding controls and logic to make it respond to the PJM real-time signal for regulation) until testing was done by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to the same standards as photovoltaic systems for anti-islanding. Anti-islanding describes how equipment prevents back feed by isolating generation from the electric grid in the event of an outage, thereby protecting workers servicing the lines.

Solar PV systems and V2G vehicles are tested to the same standards and treated the same within the city’s approval process because electricity from the car’s batteries or from a solar panel is indistinguishable to the electric grid and presents the same potential safety risks to linemen.

—Sam Sneeringer, the City’s Assistant Electric Director

Willett Kempton and his team of researchers plan on having a fleet of six vehicles by the end of 2009, two at UD and four operated by the state of Delaware. The test fleet will be used to demonstrate multiple V2G vehicles working together and supplying energy as a single power plant.

The City of Newark, Delaware operates its own electric utility to provide electric services to approximately 11,000 commercial and residential customers within the city limits. It purchases power on the wholesale Power Market. Several outgoing distribution circuits at 12,470 or 4,160 volts distribute power throughout the city.



country mouse

vehicle to grid has never made much sense to me. I cannot get rid of the image in my head of people coming out of the office on a hot day and finding all of the cars depleted of energy and they are stuck at the office. In this scenario, you would almost need to have a hybrid system in order to generate enough energy to let you go where you need to go.

I've often thought it would make a lot more sense for utilities to put in a house to grid solution. Place a big bunch of batteries in a shed on the back of the house, charge them up in off-peak times and use them as part of peak load management. The homeowner, could as they have money, install photovoltaic panels to start creating a decentralized power source.

using house to grid, one could build a standardized component, technologically flexible decentralized power source for handling non-baseload power needs. it would not need to be all that expensive, one would only need the same battery pack as what one uses an electric car. The vantage of home to grid is that you can double or triple the size of that battery pack if you have the budget.

If power companies charged what it really cost them every hour for supplying electricity, this would drive the development of house to grid from an economic perspective. as the battery pack size increases, one can store up greater amounts of cheap electricity from overnight thereby further decreasing energy costs.

Kit P

Interesting report!

MAGIC = PFM (navy term for controls systems)

So let say you were willing to plug and unplug your car 4 times a day (which nobody will), and let say you were willing to spend more than $10,000 to haul batteries around (which nobody will), and let say the utility was willing to up grade your service for a few thousand (which they will not), and let say will pay the freight for your side of the generating system (which nobody will). And let say your employer will install charging stations (which they will not), and lets say all that happens how much money can you make?

“a vehicle able to provide 15 kW is much more valuable than a vehicle only able
to provide 2 kW”
On a per kW capacity:

Income per day = $1.2
Income per year = $ 438
Income per 10 years = $ 4380

V2G is DOA.


@country mouse:

I cannot get rid of the image in my head of people coming out of the office on a hot day and finding all of the cars depleted of energy and they are stuck at the office.

Perhaps this helps: your car is at all times in control of the battery's charge level. You instruct your car to keep a minimum level at all times, and the utility will not be able to drain your battery. Simple.

Never underestimate the power of some people to invent non-problems.


@Kit P:

So let say you were willing to plug and unplug your car 4 times a day (which beats filling it up once a week) and let say you were willing to spend more than $10,000 to haul batteries around (which saves you more than $10,000 in gas) and let say the utility was willing to up grade your service for a few thousand (which they will because the upgraded service will earn them more than that). And let say your employer will install charging stations (which they will to keep their employes happy)

V2G is DOAble

Kit P

Anne your correct but is suspect it is not because you bothered to read the report. Car that fly are doable. Cars that can be a boat are doable.

Just because you can do something does not mean you should or that anybody will.

Nat Pearre

country mouse:

The electrical market in which your V2G car will be participating is not the bulk energy market. Bulk energy is astonishingly low-value, and is a poor application for vehicles for exactly the reasons you outline. The market that this car would supply is, as stated above the "Frequency Regulation" market (a google search for that phrase will provide some explanations more thorough than the following).

The regulation market is not an energy market. The car is not selling electricity. What it is selling is the ability to absorb or discharge a small amount of power on a moment's notice. Like a lifeguard on duty (just the first analogy that popped into my head), you're not paid for the lives you save, you're paid just to be there, ready to act if called upon.

As demand fluctuates throughout the day, generators are turned on and off to balance the larger trends of daily peaks and night-time lows. But demand changes very fast, on timescales of seconds. By being able to increase or decrease the total load on the grid, the cars are helping grid managers to keep the 60Hz frequency stable. This service is much more valuable than simply selling electricity, which as I mentioned is astonishingly cheap.

The power contract is a function of your plug size. You get paid for being plugged in and available -whether or not you are called on to absorb or discharge extra energy.

Of course each car/driver will set limits on how much of the battery capacity is available to the grid manager, so you never find you don't have enough range to do your errands. This lower limit of battery state of charge would be a time-dependent function, and the car will learn how and when you drive, so as to maximize the amount of time you can provide regulation. You as the owner have an over-ride of course, and can opt to simply charge rather than participating in the regulation market.

The reason that this makes more sense than a basement full of batteries, is that the total cost for the batteries is the same, but in a car the car owner uses them for 2 hours a day (or so) and the utility uses them for 22 hours a day, so if the utility can pay less than 22/24ths of the cost, they're saving money.

Nat Pearre

Kit P.

You make some good points. There are certainly elements that need to be in place, but they're not as complex as you make it seem. Let me go through your items:

>>So let say you were willing to plug and unplug your car 4 times a day (which nobody will),

If you plug in when you get home at 6pm and unplug at 7am (once per day), that's 13 hours of your car making you money right there. Plugging in is no more effort than putting up a windshield sun-screen, or putting on a steering wheel club.

>> let say you were willing to spend more than $10,000 to haul batteries around.

The costs to the early adopters are high, but there is already a lot of interest, and as automotive battery manufacturing ramps up those costs will come down. They should eventually be similar to ICE cars, since EVs have few total parts and parts count is the primary driver of cost (and of reliability).

>> Lets say the utility was willing to up grade your service.

Your house already has 240Volt 150 Amp service (maybe 100 amp if you live in a very old neighborhood). No service upgrade is necessary. All you need is a 30 or 50 (or 80) Amp plug next to your driveway or in your garage. The plug you have for your electric stove, electric hot-water heater, or clothes dryer will do just fine. Getting that installed will cost a few hundred (unless you do it yourself).

>> Let say [the utility] will pay the freight for your side of the generating system.

I may be misunderstanding you here, but the generating system is already in your EV... the power electronics that power the (AC) electric motor do the generating.

>> And let say your employer will install charging stations.

No, they may not at first, but the value your idle car represents to the utility might eventually (once there are enough EVs) make it worth their while to help businesses put in EV plugs. Or maybe not.

>> How much money can you make?

To use easy numbers: Selling regulation at $40/MW per hour. You can supply 0.01 MW out of a 240V 40A plug, so you can earn $0.40 per hour you plug in.

If you ONLY plug in 12 hours (over night) all year:
12*.40*365 = $ 1750 / year.

If you also plug in and extra 12 hours on each of 52 weekends that number breaks $2000.

If your employer is an early adopter (or your work part time, or from home) and you get to plug in for a total of 20 hours/day
20*.40*365 = $ 2920 / year.

Kit P


The cost of voltage and frequency is also a “astonishingly low-value” commodity. The reason we have electric utilities is because they can provide a service cheaper than a customer can do it.

Nat Pearre

@ Kit P.

I'm just using the numbers provided by the Regional Transmission Authority.

Nat Pearre

.. Oops, that Regional Transmission Organization. PJM Interconnect.


I would love a plug-in vehicle. However, as smart as I think I am, I'm a Dolt, and I would surely foget to plug the blasted thing in. Therefore I would require an onboard generator. If you think that I am going to let the local utility use up all the cycles or leave me stranded your nvts nuts. I can walk around Best Buy or Lowe's while the thing charges up enough to get home, but forget me plunging it in anywhere but my house.


country mouse,
There is good reason for batteries in an electric transport - the lenghth of extension cord that would replace them.
One reason we don't go for battery powered sheds is that's the extra complication over a grid connect (if available) is not cost or hassle effective when the chances of the grid going down are a few hours per year. Of course if the application is critical (refrigeration, process, emergency or lifesaving), batteries and maybe an ICE generator or such will need be included.
These two applications incur no cost penalty.

Application 3 non critical grid connected shed with batteries makes no economic or practical sense.


Everyone will have an interest in employer recharge stations. It helps the employer get to work and back as fossil fuels becomemore problematic.
"Frequency and Voltage is an amazingly low cost commodity", - so was computing power. These days with innovation mass production competition and high market penetration is causing makers a headache it is so low value - things change..
There are some numbers quoted above that describe the cost of battery charging with V2G (or smart charge etc) as being discounted to throwout value.

Real cost - almost nothing.
Because it is can reinforce the grid affordably when that the utilities on their own, can't.
As this and other home based (Solar etc) becomes more common, It's value will fall and self regulate as per free market supply and demand.

This is a likely "new economy" area.
new knowledge, training, buisiness, opportunity, efficiency, economies summed up = Progress.

Kit P

“ was computing power. ...- things change”

The laws of physics have not changed much. Electric power is not the same as computing power. Advances in digital controls make some things possible but the question remains, why would you do it?

According to the report, batteries could be used to help grid control. With a billion or so batteries and a million controls systems, a or so million new meters, and million new sets of records to keep, and a million or so breakers that can feed power both ways and have to be tested periodically for safety.

This is not a very practical idea. I have a cell phone because it is a better idea and does not cost $20K. I do not haul big batteries around in a car because storing electrical is not a very good idea for transportation.


"The laws of physics have not changed much" since Maxwell wrote his five equation is 1865 and yet electronic has changed a lot.

BTW do you have a Degree in anything other than blowing smoke out your exhaust?


The variable is how much use the util would make of your battery. If it constantly cycles (even at short duration) total cycle life is depleted.

16kWh battery current cost @ $1000/kWh = $16k. Nominal lifetime cycles is 2k less 30% utility "frequency control" = 1400 cycles. Approx 4 years lifetime battery * $1750/year (util income) = $7k income. BUT you need a new battery for the next 4 years @ $12k-15k. Total vehicle operating loss = $5-7k.


You are entitled to your opinion as to the cost of battery cycling, without needing to check, I'm sure you re correct, but miss the point entirely.
You need to exercise some imagination.

Firstly the cycling rate should be programmed by the owner.
In a highly integrated system, the owner will always buy at the cheapest rate.
This is presumably the leading or surplus aspect - word? excursion? that is above the instantaneous need of the supply utility.

This value is constantly changing.

I'm referring to the very fluctuation that people seemingly against solar , wind etc complain will lead to uncontrollable grid fluctuations.
This is the *bit* those who see renewable as incompatible to the grid, that will destabilise the grid, that *bit*.

Is now a component of smart charging.

Who's to say that capacitors aren't capable of supporting the front end of V2G and be a useful component of every plug in?

It can also be integrated to domestic supply when appropriate management regime.
This fits with a variable pricing system at the household level (same generation smarts) and permits essential infrastructure to resist a grid destabilised by restricted supply / or excessive demand / outages / etc to the maximum possible extent.

It is resistant because when and I mean when as every grid has a design limit and breakdowns are a fact of life.

Under any of the above circumstance the spot price rises the non critical uses drop off while the critical infrastructure is sustained.
Of course a price signal is the easiest means of prioritising use and this is where some more creativity is called for. The elderly, hospitals, water reticulation and sewage may need a market adjustment.
In the longer term either energy saving improvements or offset investments in supply may allow a neutral cost effect. ( the water / sewage utility becomes a peaking suppler and may turn a profit)

Creative Ideas are in fact free to those with imagination. But disallowed in a restrictive one size world.

That to me describes a sustainable grid.

The other important point is the maximum efficiency achieved by utilising any surplus in a highest value application.

Like all good things, I would expect the cost could be higher to start with as the equipment cost (and the shift from $2 / barrel oil and $5 / ton coal) is realised. The cost later would be higher than presently valued as the demand will increase.
'Market realisation'
So dollar savings are only a part of the story. The real benefit is an expected increase in efficiency and corresponding reliability.

You would think those who see problems integrating renewables should be happy as the grid is strengthened not weakened.

Efficiency is given a value so cost are kept down.
New generators are enabled as is the electrified transport sector.

As far as reality is concerned, It is pretty obvious this is all going to happen one way or another.

I would encourage people to apply their creativity and have a say in their future.


You know there's a simple solution for people who are worried V2G will rob them of battery cycles. Profit: People who sign on to V2G instead of just plugging in to recharge are going to want to be paid for this service. This means the electricity the ultility takes out of your battery pack is going to be more costly to them than the electricity they put in. When they need extra power to service their customers they're going to use the least costly sources first and if the surcharge you add to them using your battery is high enough when they will only use it in a real emergency.


I find the troll's blathering to be amusing, since he obviously can't understand the numbers in the article.

Let's say you've got a car plugged in at 220 VAC, 30 A (6.6 kW).  You need it charged sometime between now and the next leg of the commute, but you don't care exactly when that charging gets done or if it's 95% instead of 100%, so the entire 6.6 kW is available.

0.0066 MW * $30/MW/hr = $0.198/hr

$0.198/hr * 20 hr/day = $3.96/day

If you drive 50 miles/day at 250 Wh/mi, you'll use 12.5 kWh/day.  If you buy that power at the high price of $0.15/kWh, you'll pay $1.88/day.  Regulation services will pay you more than your power costs; you'll get a check back every month.

The comments to this entry are closed.