V2Green is a new start-up company based in Seattle who’s main focus is building software and hardware for electric vehicles to communicate with the grid and utilities companies. I had to opportunity to interview V2Green’s CEO David Kaplan. The full interview follows the post, can be heard here, downloaded, or retrieved as a podcast from iTunes.
David has 30 years in computer business, and actually started SQL while working with Microsoft in the late 80’s. He is also working on V2Green with several technology expert co-founders. V2Green started one year ago after intensive research, with the motivation to start something in the cleantech/clean energy space that would have tremendous importance; in particular, a focus on the electrification of the automobile. They realized that these cars would have to communicate with the grid and there would have to be some communication technology between the two.
They wanted to build a system that allows utility companies to maximize the economic value of the power resources represented by these cars and their batteries. The technology would have to be robust enough to aggregate the resources across thousands of cars, and would also function considering these cars mobilities and intermittent connectivities governed by human behavior, i.e. personal transportation needs. The eventual system will have to balance the needs of both the consumer and the grid operator.
He talks about two concepts. First is “smart charging”; nearer term, and without impact on the batteries, the idea is to control timing and pattern of charging to keep it “grid-friendly”. For example, imagine a consumer who plugs in on a hot afternoon in California, but doesn’t have to drive again till 6 AM. The grid operator doesn’t want to be overwhelmed, and although the car could charge in 6 hours, the system will allow it to charge over 14 hours. This scenario could be fine-tuned across thousands of vehicles to optimize the grid’s functioning as well as providing the driver with his specific needs. The second concept is vehicle-to-grid (V2G), the long (15-20 year) term prospect, for when there are many electric cars.
He mentions V2Green plans on providing consumers web and cellphone-based interfaces for them to program in their car’s needs at any given time, and be able to see their car’s charging status the same way. Messages might be able to go to the car/grid immediately such as if the charging needs suddenly change, i.e. an emergent trip. Over time, the system can eventually learn and predict what individuals and populations behaviors will be.
The system has software (server) than runs in the utility company, and each car runs a client application. They also have hardware for the cars called the V2Green Connectivity Module (VCM) that communicates to the grid and controls charging and discharging of the vehicle instantaneously. The VCM can communicate over cell service, wire, or WiFi.
Who will pay for the service is yet undetermined, but one interesting idea is the utility companies might offer lower rates of charging specifically for electric auto use, so-called advantage charging tarrifs (ACT). V2Green foresees the ability to license their technology directly to OEMs including GM. They have in fact had some preliminary discussions with automakers including GM. V2Green’s technology would also be necessary for the individual to be able to sell back the electricity from their car to the grid.
He talked about a new field trial of V2Green equipment with Xcel technology, a power company in eight states, testing for 6 months 6 plug-in converted Ford Escape hybrids.
He is excited about the Project Better Place (see prior post) program and sees his technology as being synergistic with theirs, and expects some connection with their activities.
In closing he coins the term “grid aware”, the electric car shouldn’t just be a “dumb-load” perpetuating the grid problem, but rather should be turned into a smart asset for society and the energy economy.
If you have any misgivings about V2G in general, listening to this interview may help open your mind to the idea.
V2Green Website (LINK)
Xcel Energy Field Test Press Release: (LINK)
This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 6th, 2007 at 5:30 am and is filed under Charging, Grid, Original GM-Volt Interviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.