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EPRI, 8 automakers and 15 utilities to create an open grid integration platform for plug-in electric vehicles

The Electric Power Research Institute, 8 automakers and 15 utilities are working to develop and to demonstrate an open platform that would integrate plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) with smart grid technologies enabling utilities to support PEV charging regardless of location. The open platform will simplify and streamline V2G (vehicle-to-grid) communications, enabling PEVs to provide grid services and increasing the overall value proposition of plug-in vehicles.

The goal of this program is to develop a cloud-based, central server that would receive grid requests from a utility—such as Demand Response—and then translate and standardize that request so it could be relayed to all appropriate plug-in vehicles in the designated area. Automakers would be expected to develop and deploy technologies compatible with these smart grid communications.

Automakers and V2G
The formal collaboration between the automakers, utilities and Electric Power Research Institute began in fall 2012. However, the concept and application of electric vehicle/grid integration has been studied extensively by numerous research groups and automakers for more than 10 years. Some examples of recent work by automakers on this include:
General Motors is developing OnStar-enabled Smart Grid solutions, and in 2012 announced it would open up its APIs to third-party developers. (Earlier post.) GM has been working with companies such as TimberRock Energy Solutions, Inc. to research, test and develop potential real-world solutions such as Demand Response. (Earlier post.)
Leveraging IBM’s cloud-based PEV Enablement platform, Honda demonstrated a PEV’s ability to receive and respond to charge instructions based on grid conditions and the vehicle’s battery state. (Earlier post.) Phase II of the project expanded the use of this network to schedule charge times based on the needs of the driver and preferred rate structures, including the use of renewable energy sources for charging.
In addition, in December 2013, Honda supplied an Accord Plug-In Hybrid with a bi-directional on-board charger to the University of Delaware’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus. In conjunction with the university and NRG Energy, Honda will investigate the potential of V2G technology to benefit the grid, vehicle owners and society. (Earlier post.)
In March 2014, Honda launched Honda Smart Home US at the University of California, Davis, which seeks to investigate the integration of the home with distributed renewable energy, the smart grid and the electric vehicle. (Earlier post.)
BMW announced its Smart Charging App for mobile devices in June 2014 following the launch of the BMW i3 electric vehicle. (Earlier post.) The BMW Smart Charging App makes it possible for BMW i customers to automatically identify the best rates and times for charging their electric vehicles at home.
Also working with BMW is IPKeys Technologies, a strategic partner in the Federal Government, Commercial and Energy sectors with expertise in the development, integration, and deployment of Demand-Response technology and a board member of the OpenADR Alliance.
Ford Motor Company is collaborating with a number of companies on MyEnergi Lifestyle showcases. (Earlier post.)

The platform will allow manufacturers to offer a customer-friendly interface through which PEV drivers can more easily participate in utility PEV programs, such as rates for off-peak or nighttime charging. The portal for the system would be a utility’s communications system and an electric vehicle’s telematics system.

Participating auto manufacturers are American Honda Motor Co.; BMW Group; Chrysler Group LLC; Ford Motor Company; General Motors Co.; Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Inc.; Mitsubishi Motors Corporation; and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.

Utilities and regional transmission organizations participating and supporting in the software and hardware development and demonstration include DTE Energy Company; Duke Energy; PJM Interconnection LLC; CenterPoint Energy, Inc.; Southern Company; Northeast Utilities; Southern California Edison; Pacific Gas & Electric Company; San Diego Gas & Electric; Commonwealth Edison; TVA; Manitoba Hydro; Austin Energy; Con Edison; and CPS Energy.

The platform enables integration across multiple communication pathways, such as automated metering infrastructure (AMI), home area networks, building energy management systems, and third party entities that aggregate energy management services for commercial and industrial power customers.

For the first phase of the program, EPRI and the participating companies will work to develop a standardized Demand Response solution. Demand Response is the signal a utility sends to an energy management company communicating the supply and demand needs to the electric grid. That company then communicates with designated plug-in vehicles in the area to manage their energy consumption in accordance with the grid’s needs.

Sumitomo Electric will develop the core platform technology on the first phase of the project.

This software platform aligns with the Vehicle Grid Integration (VGI) Roadmap Initiative of the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Independent System Operator, as well as conforming with standards set by IEEE, IEC/ISO, and SAE, and Open ADR Alliance, making it globally applicable.

A key aspect of the platform’s benefits will be giving customers flexibility and choices. It can help the PEV customer determine the value of using their parked vehicle as a grid resource, and help the industry develop a convenient, user-friendly customer interface. We see this as the foundation for future developments to integrate PEVs with the grid.

—Dan Bowermaster, EPRI manager of Electric Transportation

Additionally, it could increase service reliability to customers by helping to mitigate the impact of strain on the grid during peak periods and could contribute to curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Utilities might benefit by better managing their loads and avoiding upgrades to infrastructure—savings that can be passed onto utility customers.

As the electric grid evolves with smarter functionality, electric vehicles can serve as a distributed energy resource to support grid reliability, stability and efficiency. With more than 225,000 plug-in vehicles on US roads—and their numbers growing—they are likely to play a significant role in electricity demand side management.

Researchers anticipate that grid operators in the future may call on electric vehicles in sufficient numbers to contribute to grid reliability by balancing solar and wind generation, mitigating demand charges and providing ancillary services such as frequency regulation and voltage support.


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