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OnStar and Google demonstrate concept service for managing charging Chevrolet Volts with renewable energy

Concept of the service and mobile app for renewable charging. Click to enlarge.

OnStar and Google are working together to demonstrate a new OnStar service for managing the charging of Chevrolet Volts with renewable energy, using the 17 Chevrolet Volts in Google’s “Gfleet” based at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

The technology is enabled as OnStar receives a signal from PJM Interconnection that shows the percentage of available renewable energy on the grid. Data from this forecast is downloaded to the OnStar cloud, or Advanced Telematics Operating Management System (ATOMS). OnStar uses this signal to simultaneously manage the charging of many Volts and to match the renewable energy availability. A mobile app could also be used to alert customers when renewable energy is available.

This demonstration shows that in the near future customers will have a real signal of demand for renewable energy. As customers configure their Volts to favor renewable energy for their charging cycle, this real demand signal will influence utilities to tap into renewable sources.

—Nick Pudar, OnStar vice president of planning and business development

Renewables in the US grid
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), US electricity generation in 2010 was 70% fossil fuels (coal 44.9%, natural gas 23.8%); 20% nuclear; and 10% renewable, of which 6.2% was conventional hydropower. Wind accounted for 2.3%.
EIA forecasts that the mix in 2035 will shift to include 39% coal; 27% natural gas; and 16% renewables. Non-hydro renewable sources will than double between 2010 and 2035, according to the EIA forecast.

Demonstrations are taking place this week at the 2012 DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition in San Antonio. OnStar will also be demonstrating the company’s Demand Response and Time-of-Use Rate solutions.

PJM data shows that peak time for renewable energy generation from wind is generally between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. With this in mind, it would be possible for customers to use OnStar’s Smart Grid solutions to further reduce their carbon footprint and save money by charging during these off-peak times.

If the renewable energy service goes into production, customers interested in using it would simply need to sign up. OnStar would then regulate their charging using the renewable energy signal.

The renewable energy technology is the latest addition to OnStar’s suite of Smart Grid solutions. OnStar has also developed intelligent energy management technology solutions including:

  • Demand response. This solution connects utilities to companies that have intelligent energy management products. These companies can use OnStar to manage energy use for Volt customers who opt in for the service. This future service allows the customer to save money on energy costs while enabling more efficient use of the electric grid.

  • Time-of-Use (TOU) rates. OnStar can receive dynamic TOU pricing from utilities and notify Volt owners of the rate plan offers via email. Owners will be able to use OnStar to load the rate plans directly into their vehicle and access them to schedule charging during lower-rate periods.

  • Charging data. OnStar also sends and receives EV data that helps utility providers without having to interface with the vehicle’s electric vehicle supply equipment. This includes location-based EV data that identifies charging locations and determines potential load scenarios.

Founded in 1927, PJM Interconnection ensures the reliability of the high-voltage electric power system serving 60 million people in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. PJM coordinates and directs the operation of the region’s transmission grid, which includes 62,000 miles of transmission lines; administers a competitive wholesale electricity market; and plans regional transmission expansion improvements to maintain grid reliability and relieve congestion.



They suggest charging from 10pm-6am - well isn;t that just dandy for the electricity supplier.

The question is what can you do to charge more "greenly".

It depends on the average daily mileage and battery capacity.
If you are maxing the car out every day, you have to charge at night, every night and that is that.

If you can charge every 2 or 3 days, then you have the option of either deferring a charge or bringing one foreward if there is a lot of wind.

In the USA, where they have 2.3% wind, this is all a bit academic.

In windier countries (say Ireland, Spain, Denmark) it makes more sense.

Ireland can get up to 50% of its energy at night from wind (on average more like 10%), so there is a lot of excess wind that could be mopped up if you could bring forward a charge.

The Spanish have even more ....


now, those guys need to connect with a system like this.



As long as somebody wants to pay for green electricity it will develop. Countries which have lot of wind power have paid a lot extra per kWh (double or even four times more). There is no demand in US for green electricity therefore there are low volumes. On other hand utilities best know most efficient way to generate "carbon free" electricity. The solar panels on your roof generate 10 times more expensive electricity than it could be produced on massive scale. Swedish invention of trading green electricity is very good solution for many many issues.


Before Enron gamed the system in California, there were people on a waiting list willing to pay more for green power. Since Enron ruined the power industry, most of that green power business went away in California.

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