|The PNNL technology tells a vehicle’s battery charger when to start and stop charging based upon existing conditions on the electrical grid. Source: PNNL. Click to enlarge.|
AeroVironment, Inc. has licensed smart charging controller technology developed at the US Department of Energy (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) for incorporation into its charging station equipment. (Earlier post.) The commercial license agreement is between AeroVironment and Battelle, which operates PNNL.
The Grid Friendly EV Charger Controller technology notifies the car’s battery charger when to start and stop charging based upon existing conditions on the electrical grid. By charging plug-ins when electricity is most readily available, the technology could translate into lower bills for vehicle owners and a more stable grid. AeroVironment will use a portion of the licensed technology in a new prototype version of its Level II charging systems.
AeroVironment’s new prototype EV charging station, incorporating the PNNL technology, will help stabilize the electrical grid by continuously monitoring the grid’s alternating current (AC) frequency and varying the vehicle charging rate in response.
If an unexpected event on the grid causes a rapid drop in the AC frequency, the charging system will stop charging, providing a grid “shock absorber.” Under normal conditions, this stabilizing technology will be particularly important as the power grid is expected to rely more and more on variable renewable resources such as wind and solar technologies.
An earlier PNNL study found America’s existing power grid could meet the needs of about 70% of all US light-duty vehicles if battery charging was managed to avoid new peaks in electricity demand.
If a million owners plug in their vehicles to recharge after work, it could cause a major strain on the grid. The Grid Friendly Controller could prevent those peaks in demand from plug-in vehicles and enable our existing grid to be used more evenly. And our studies have shown that those who use the technology could save $150 or more a year on their electricity bill, and they could potentially receive rebates for providing shock-absorbing services to the grid operator.—PNNL lead engineer Michael Kintner-Meyer
These technologies will result in a triple-win. First, reducing the cost of integrating variable renewable generation reduces the electricity costs for all ratepayers. Second, plug-in cars can be powered by renewable generation that might not have been possible to add to the grid without the charging rate flexibility offered by vehicles and this technology. Third, the reduced cost of electricity to plug-in vehicle drivers will further improve on the cost advantage of driving on electricity as compared to gasoline.—Alec Brooks, chief technology officer of AeroVironment’s EES business
Prototypes of the new AeroVironment charging system are available for beta testing. The prototypes include Bluetooth wireless connectivity for data streaming and local control functions.