Electric Vehicles Can Help Expand Wind Power

Fluctuations in wind strength can make it unpredictable. Current storage capabilities on the US grid are limited as well. But a partially charged EV sitting unused at home or work could sense wind power’s fluctuations in the grid, acting as a shock sorber for the grid, advancing or slowing the charging process based on conditions of the grid.

A report from the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) determined that 2.1 million electric light duty vehicles with a 33-mile electric range would be enough to provide the balancing requirements to integrate an additional 10 GW of wind technology in the Northwest.

The vehicles would need to be equipped with Grid Friendly technology, which can recognize grid conditions and vary the rate at which the battery is charged.

While there are relatively few EVs on American roads at present, sales are expected to pick up with the introduction of plug-in vehicles by car manufacturers. And although an increase in non-residential charging stations will be needed, PNNL says that not many are needed to meet the goal of an additional 10 GW. Only one out of every 10 charging stations would have to be available to the public to make the plan work.

The benefits could be considerable. In addition to providing storage capacity for a clean energy source, using Grid Friendly technology can also reduce the number of power plants needed to balance the fluctuations in electricity produced by wind farms.

As more EVs hit the road, opportunities for them to stabilize wind power fluctuation, or simply sell electricity back to the grid, will increase.

EVs Sell Electricity to the Grid

NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG), which operates a network of charging stations in Texas, is partnering with the University of Delaware to launch eV2g, a company that’s commercializing technology that will enable EV owners to sell electric storage services from the batteries of parked EVs to help stabilize the electricity grid.

"As more electric vehicles hit the road and charging stations-such as those provided by NRG’s eVgoSM network in Texas-continue to proliferate, EV-to-grid technology is the next logical step in the electrification of our transportation network," says Denise Wilson, President of NRG’s Alternative Energy Services.

"eV2g technology will for the first time offer a true two-way interface between EVs and the electric grid, resulting in cost savings to EV fleet operators and eventually other EV owners and consumers, and cleaner and more reliable electricity for everybody. It’s one more way EV owners can commit to a sustainable energy future and get paid for it at the same time."

The program will initially help EV fleet managers to get connected with eV2g, then individual EV owners in the future.

Once enrolled and plugged in, eV2g allows EVs to communicate with the grid and lets grid operators take power from connected EVs during peak usage periods. EV owners can schedule in advance any times their vehicles need more charging than usual, as for a unusually long trip, and the minimum level of charge they want to maintain at all times. eV2g collects payment from the grid operator and pays EV owners for making their vehicles available.

"The energy storage inherent in automobiles is staggering. If all the automobiles in the U.S. were electrified it would be enough to power the entire U.S. for half a day. The strategic partnership between NRG and UD provides the opportunity to tap this enormous potential thereby enhancing energy security, facilitating integration of renewables and lowering the cost of electricity," says David Weir, Director of University of Delaware’s (UD) Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships..