Nov 06

Interview: V2Green CEO David Kaplan, Leading Vehicle-to-Grid Startup

 

david_kaplan.jpg

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.

COMMENTS: 33


  1. 1
    Estero

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (8:17 am)

    The issue of recharging EV batteries is bigger than me or my ability to comprehend. I just don’t want:

    1) “Big electric” or “big government” telling me when I can or cannot recharge my EV battery.

    2) “Big electric” telling me I cannot recharge my EV battery at home (because of the time of day or whatever) but it is OK to go to a nearby battery recharge center and pay inflated prices.

    3) To find myself in the position of emergency or change of plans and there is no charge in my EV battery.


  2. 2
    Tim

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (9:38 am)

    Electrical capacity is determined by peak power requirements. This peak is often several times that of the average operating load and it occurs during the afternoon hours when commuters are in their air conditioned offices.

    The sun shines during the day, but the wind blows at night. V2G will allow maximum use of both and significantly reduce the utilities need to build more nuclear and fossil power plants because the millions of V2G batteries will provide peak power and they will be refilled primarily at night thus filling in the valleys and leveling the grid. Of course, there are MANY smaller peaks and valleys during any 24-hr period and these will also be eased by V2G which will significantly reduce grid pressures, maintenance and upgrade costs.

    V2G means that thousands of power plants will not be needed, the existing grid will last longer and require less maintenance and renewable energy will be more efficient and cost effective.

    Why should the consumer accept it? EVERYBODY WINS!!!

    The utilities win because they can significantly reduce their costs and make more money for their investors.

    The consumers win because the utilities will need to gain heavy V2G consumer participation. They will give “most” of this savings to their V2G customer in the form of retail electricity cost reduction, rebates and incentives. Heck, they could probably even save enough money to afford to insure the batteries of their V2G customers for the life of the vehicles.

    The environment wins because there is now a way to store electricity which makes renewable electricity much more economically viable. More renewable means less fossil and less nuclear.

    How could anyone not like V2G is beyond me.


  3. 3
    Neutron Flux

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (10:08 am)

    This entire concept stinks! So we drain our batteries down during the day to feed the grid so we can drive home on our Range extender & pollute the environment & keep Chevron & Osama Bin Laden in business. How much juice is this PC going to eat up running in my car all day. Hope it can take 180 degrees because if I have to have one my winhdows will be up to fry it in the Cal. sun. Also he says 15 – 20 years down the road when there are enough cars on road. It does nto take 15-20 years to develope software, sounds like he wants to live on Government grants until then since there likely won’t be any big payoff then if ever. I can see the usefulness of remote charging & billing but V2G just don’t seem to be workable for the commuter who wants to drive home on juice the entire selling point of the car.


  4. 4
    Mark Bartosik

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (10:37 am)

    If you only charge up at home over night, then you won’t be be plugged in at mid day, and then your battery couldn’t be drained.

    It is a two way street. If you want utilities or your employer to provide charging points or discounted rates. Neither of them want you drawing more power during peak periods, utility does not want because they have load management problems, and employer does not want because they may be billed more for the peak usage.

    If you don’t want these facilities no problem just charge up at home.

    There is no way that you will be stopped from charging at home for a huge number of acceptance and technical reasons.

    As an added benefit any system capable of V2G is also likely capable of working as a standby generator. Now that’s something that I would really like.


  5. 5
    Neutron Flux

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (10:43 am)

    We are not buying electric cars because we want to support the grid. This is not a public service project! KISS method works best here. As I previously stated allow the user to set the time at which the charger starts charging. Driver plugs in when he parks & while he is eating dinner it kicks in and starts charging. Reading the published works if the power companies want to store power in batteries there are more efficient ways than in doing it at my batteries life cycle expense, spread out over millions of cars. Yes there will be some charging their cars during the day but a lot less if we keep big brother from sucking our batteries dead while we are at work. The extra money made by utilities with the new utilization of their power plants at night will provide the revenue stream to build more wind generation or geothermal wells or nuclear etc that is environmentally friendly. The worlds population is not getting smaller, regardless of how much you conserve you will need to build more plants to support more people & more power hungry technology. Conservation is all hot air, the only thing that will significantly reduce daytime grid demand is cost and SMART meters charging people 4X the normal rate during peak use hours one season of that and people will adjust quickly. Fluorescent bulbs just isn’t going to do it, people only listen to the greenback! Would you kill your battery prematurely to make a few dollars by putting extra cycles on it my money says the battery warranty will be based on cycles, you over use it & you will void your warranty. I will revist V2G in 20 years when I am buying my second Volt for now I think it is a non issue with the roll out of the Volt.


  6. 6
    Steven B

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (11:11 am)

    The sooner this becomes the policy of utilities, the better. V2G, if done correctly, is unambiguously good. The system will be programmed to minimize range-extender usage, even if that range-extender is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell using green hydrogen. If done correctly, then people will be able to tell their cars when they expect to have to drive again and how far. Using that basic information, the charging can begin and be run at the optimal rate. If charging is done by trick-charging, then that electricity can be free. The price increases until it reaches spot-market rates. But if the car reaches its designated charge, it can then off-load surplus power to the grid with a cost to the grid operator, which will be credited to the account of the consumer. The amount of time that the power is available will be credited (Kw-h) as well as the amount of power provided (Kwh). Peak power could also be provided when needed at a much higher premium going to the car owner, such as during summer days. The pricing would be set at whatever price it both costs (maybe twice the cost of the amount of gasoline equivalent) and whatever it competes with (it would be supplementing or replacing probably expensive natural gas power plants). On top of all of it, though, the power companies, instead of insuring the battery packs, could have an agreement which states that they will buy the battery packs when they’re worn out, and provide interest free financing for its replacement. The debt to the utility can be paid out of the coming months electricity bills/rebates.

    I understand that some people may find this idea too new or out there to be attractive, but it is actually a way to establish a passive revenue stream, and to use what is otherwise an uneconomical liability (a car) into working capital that does much more than depreciate. I like to call this the ‘changing economics of driving.’ And to get another idea of how this would work, the SETI program, as well as other research programs that require massive computing power, pull together fallow processing resources when the computer owners do not need them, some for profit, others for free, and then release the resource when the owner needs it. This is the same thing, put it is never free. Everybody wins. And with V2G, under some market conditions, both driving and electricity may be free or even revenue generators. And if nothing else, it provides you access to a generator for when the power does go out. I’m really excited about this, and am a true believer. But it does take time for businesses and governments to get things right. That’s why I believe we need to start now.

    And thank you very much Lyle, this is exactly what I wanted to hear.


  7. 7
    Mike756

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (11:14 am)

    Here are the problems/questions I have with V2G, that I have not seen addressed.

    1. What happens during rush hour?
    2. How do you ensure that your vehicle will be charged when you are ready to drive?
    3. Can the same objective (getting rid of the peaks) be accomplished by controlling the load throughout the day via pricing?
    4. What impact will the extra cycling have on the battery?


  8. 8
    Jimmy

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (11:51 am)

    All of this may be a mute point. If electric cars take off …the oil companies will want to protect their interests so they will invest heavily in hydrogen production facilities at gas stations. The hydrogen technology for cars (fuel cells) is currently available. The reason car companies will not be pushing fuel cells within the next 3 to 5 years is because there is no hydrogen infrastructure. My guess is by 2020 hydrogen cars will overtake electric cars. This is based upon a realistic view of what I have read. I personally believe we would be better off with electric cars.


  9. 9
    Steven B

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (12:04 pm)

    Considering the superior efficiency of battery-charging, I think that even if we do move towards hydrogen fuel cells, that the fuel cells will only be range-extenders for cars, like in the Shaghai Auto Show version of the Volt.

    And to answer the questions in #7:

    1) Pre-existing electrical infrastructure (which is more expensive than an operational V2G fleet) will still be in place to provide the necessary grid services.

    2) I think that the software in the car, accessible through a touch-screen or device connected through the MP3 jack will allow you to set charge parameters in the car.

    3) That is a viable alternative that is in use in some places at some times for grid management, it reduces service quality by imposing use restrictions on users. The same thing could probably be imposed by government to reduce the price of gasoline, but I doubt that people are willing to accept to controls on how they are able to drive.

    4) The extra battery cycling is not deep-discharging (which is what wears out batteries) under almost all circumstances. Instead it is shallow-discharging which batteries can do many, many times without a noticeable effect on the battery.


  10. 10
    Mark Bartosik

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (12:06 pm)

    Here are ways to ensure that you have plenty of charge and no extra cycles:

    My drive is about 22 to 25 miles daily.
    So I would not be able to reliably drive for two days without the range extender kicking in. Which I wish to avoid. Thus I would recharge each night.

    So I typically have 18 to 15 miles of spare range per day. If I was to let the utility make use of up to 10 miles range i.e. 2KWh, then I will not have any extra charge cycles to deal with.

    The questions that people are asking (like post 7 by Mike756) are just those types of things that I expect the software to address.

    In my case the software might allow me to configure to allow the utility to use up to 2KWh of energy from my battery.

    Potentially the software could automatically work this out based on prior habits.

    To answer Mike756 in post 7.

    1> No much load balancing would not be available at rush hour.

    2> Answered in this post.

    3> Yes, more utilities need to use smart pricing. This will also encourage solar power, since it generates at peak load times. Solar can sometimes pay for itself without rebates when smart pricing is used.

    4> None if you avoid the extra cycling like I describe in this post.

    Potentially you could put a price on a cycle. Let’s say a battery is good for 80% of charge capacity for 3000 cycles, and costs $7000. But the battery still has a value of $1500 for trade in. So that’s $1.83 per cycle. The software could permit the utility to drain enough KWh to cause an extra cycle but only when they are bidding enough for that energy. If you set that price via the software to $2.50, then you make a profit! You might be able to set a minimum price per cycle and per KWh that you are prepared to sell at. Neutron flux (posting here) will likely set this to $50, because he does not want to sell back.

    All these questions and answers and solutions are for the software company to work out. No one will force you to sell back to the utility.


  11. 11
    Jimmy

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (12:07 pm)

    Steven B. – 1st paragraph

    Good point.


  12. 12
    Talks

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (12:07 pm)

    Definitely no sensible customer would want to sell the electricity to Grid from the Car as it would reduce the Cycle life of the costly battery and the resale value of the car and also consumer may need to use costly gasoline if V2G drains the battery.

    The concept of charging the battery using V2G looks good and economical to both the grid and the consumer but not discharging.


  13. 13
    Estero

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (12:38 pm)

    Anyone here want to kill the Volt and other EV cars? Well, this is the way to do it!

    Consumers are simply not going to purchase cars and subject themselves to all this nonsense.


  14. 14
    Oracle

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (12:59 pm)

    V2G will never see any practical implementation. It is too complex for most people to understand. I think most of those who are arguing for this technology must work for utility companies, as they are the only ones to really benefit here.


  15. 15
    Steven B

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (1:13 pm)

    Actually Oracle, it is not that complex. If it were, we would never plug in to the grid. The grid is extremely complex, but all we need to know is that when we need electricity we put the two or three prong thing into the wall and electricity comes out. We get charged for it and pay at the end of the month. Extremely complex things can get dumbed down to the point where literally a three-year old understands his end of it. You can learn about the rest of it on your own if you want to, but you don’t need to.

    For V2G it goes like this: you sign a contract with the utility which states that they will pay you for staying plugged in. The details are variable. When there is a large amount of demand for electricity, you stay plugged in. You will be paid. You may need to use your range-extender at certain times because of demand. When that happens, you get more money. At rare times, the range-extender may operate when you’re not in your car to keep power going when it’s needed. You make a lot of money then. To keep things optimized, you tell the car how far you’ll have to go and when. That way, costs stay optimized for you. You’re money will be credited to your account with the electric company. If enough credits are available at the end of either the quarter or year, you get a rebate check, and you don’t owe anything to the utility. When the battery is kaput, you sell it to the electric company and they’ll finance its replacement, or the equal value to your next auto purchase.

    To get rid of all the details: you plug in, you make profit. You don’t need to know or understand more.


  16. 16
    Steven B

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (1:14 pm)

    Oh, and by the way, many utility companies are owned by the local government. If you have your utilities provided by such a company, then you too own part of the utility, and benefit when the company benefits. That’s my case here in South Central Texas, I don’t know what it’s like where the rest of you live.


  17. 17
    Oracle

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (1:44 pm)

    Steven B.:

    You’re lengthly explanation proves my point… This is too complicated and with no obvious benefit to the consumer. Surely the utility companies can produce electricity cheaper and more efficiently than a bunch of EV’s supplementing the grid.


  18. 18
    Mike756

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (1:47 pm)

    Mark, Steven

    After reading your comments I am more convinced about its viability. I think the message that the owner will have control of what happens is an important one.

    I think it might be helpful if the folks who are developing this had a demonstration unit that they actually connected to the grid and tested.

    Some other questions/concerns I thought of:
    1. Will the V2G use the same inverter that powers the motor?
    2. Will this capability add any cost?
    3. We don’t want this to delay the Volt.


  19. 19
    Estero

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (4:14 pm)

    It is a solution looking for a problem!


  20. 20
    Steven B

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (4:25 pm)

    For the answers to 18: 1) As I understand things, it can use the same inverter. 2) AC Propulsion has the hardware necessary for the technology (not mass-produced) available at a cost of $500. That price will definitely shrink if mass-produced. And 3) this would probably be a parallel development to the Volt and other EDVs. If GM and the other OEMs integrate this into product development, the cost of the technology will definitely shrink to a negligible difference compared to single-directional charging.

    And my response to Estero: this a solution to a real problem. Here in SC Texas, we’re looking at dramatically expanding coal power capacity (we all know what’s bad about coal) and have wind power as an alternative. V2G technology enables more wind power more cost effectively than expanding extremely expensive ancillary grid services. Furthermore, the Volt and all other plug-in EDVs will be significantly moer expensive than ICE-powered cars. V2G opens up a revenue stream that would counter our current depreciation, financing, and fuel costs that would make the Volt more effectively cost-competitive with gasoline alternatives.


  21. 21
    Mark Bartosik

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (5:52 pm)

    In answer to opst 18 (Mike756):

    1> As Steven B say, it CAN use the same inverter. However that inverter would need different software, and likely a switch on the output to disconnect it from the motor. I doubt that the first generation Volt will have this, because it risks increasing time to market.

    2> Added costs would be:
    a> User interface to configure. Probably just an extra menu on the Volt’s built in screen (I’m assuming a build in screen for navigation etc.). So an investment cost.

    b> Electronics on the inverter to have a switch to disconnect the motor. Could be in the order of $50 since it is high current. Although the switching would only occur at 0 amps (which happens 120 times a second at 60Hz).

    c> Electronics on the inverter to allow phase synchronization. The inverter will run at 60Hz, but must synchronize accurately with the grid phase and voltage. My guess about $50 (basically a fast digital volt meter, but that is a simplification).

    d> Additional UL testing and certification. Investment cost. It needs “anti islanding” certification, which stops it back feeding the grid if the grid goes down.

    e> Some form of modem to talk to the utility over the grid. I think $50 to $100 mass produced. Many digital utility power meters already have these built in, they use them for remote meter reading among other things. There are standards already defined.

    f> Software on the inverter (an investment cost).

    So I see the production cost being about $150 to $200 extra per unit. Think $250 to $300 retail. Enough to make it an option. The rest of the cost being an investment cost by GM and utilities.

    The cost of using a separate inverter for this would be more like $1000 plus install (basically like a solar inverter with an over grid modem). Sold separately it would not have the same volumes.

    ——
    To perform as a standby generator
    =================================

    The main additional issue for this is to manage the safety feature that would only allow this operate when the house has been safely disconnected from the grid by a transfer switch. Otherwise it would back feed the grid attempting to power your neighbors’ houses and zapping grid repair technicians. Most of the cost for this is in the transfer switch, with the inverter only needing to receive a start signal from the transfer switch (e.g. via the modem).


  22. 22
    Mark Bartosik

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (6:06 pm)

    thinking of not delaying the volt for this….

    Since what it needed in hardware terms is essentially known. It would be great if GM designed the inverter and any other hardware (like power socket) with an upgrade in mind.

    I’m expecting that the software would be naturally upgradeable.


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    kent beuchert

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (7:13 pm)

    Yeah, right, I’m going to use my cell phone to check on my car’s charge status
    in my garage 20 feet away. This is, without doubt, one of the least user friendly schemes I can imagine, with virtually no benefits to the consumer. I certainly have no desire to spend my time keeing the grid informed about my future plans for my plug-in, even if I had any idea of what they would be. And if thegrid wants to deteriorate my battery be using it for their purposes, instead of compensating the
    car owners, why not use the money to buy batteries instead, and eliminate all this expensive, clumbsy paraphernalia? Beter yet, why not outlaw power generators that are uncontrollable (non-dispatchable, like wind, solar photovoltaic) and quit trying to use plug-in battery packs to make up for their inadequacies. With nucelar and solar thermal and geothermal, we have moved way beyond primitive and expensive technologies like windmills and solar chips.


  24. 24
    Mark Bartosik

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (7:48 pm)

    1) It can be made simple to the consumer. That is for marketing people (not engineers like me). Using a cell phone is simple, but the options are complex, have you read your cell phone contract!

    2) It does not need to cost you any battery cycles. See my post 10, and Steve B’s post 9 (item 4). If my typical cycle depth changes slightly it won’t hardly make a difference because Volt will not let depth go below 30% charge.

    3) It is crazy for utilities to outlay huge capital cost for batteries that they under utilize. It is a waste of money and environmental resources, and would only increase the price of batteries. Bad for all. But it does make sense for them to ocassionally buy spare capacity from local generators (your car) especially in cases where the bottle neck is actually the distribution network not the lack of available energy.

    Imagine if they only took 4KWh per week from you. But were prepared to pay you $1 for these emergency 4Wh. They save because to have batteries available to them for 24x7x365 but only used for 1 hour a week is too wasteful. You save, because what they pay more than offsets the ware and tare on the battery (and you purchased each KWh at 5 cents off peak).


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    Mario M

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (9:13 pm)

    Back in the late 90s, when web pages were all written in html, the idea of SQL must have been like what V2G is today.

    Today, the average web user probably doesn’t know what html is or SQL but they still can use the web. I think if the marketing folk can explain this simply enough so that the average person can understand the benefits, it could work.

    If a wind farm generates more electricity than is needed at a certain time, it could be stored in the batteries of electric vehicles and then maybe, just maybe, not as much coal may need to burned.


  26. 26
    Dave G

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (10:28 pm)

    I think this whole V2G thing is a waste of time. The technology is cool, but in order to sell it you really need a clear benefit over other potential solutions.

    Let’s start by looking at what V2G is trying to do:

    1) Charge your car when electricity usage is not at peak levels.

    2) Allow your car battrey to be used by the utility to help supply peak demands.

    Charging off-peak is pretty simple. Use a timer. Costs $10. Timer starts at 11pm and stops at 6am. Easy. In reality, how much better would V2G work? Many utilities already offer night-time discounts.

    As for allowing your car battery to supply peak demands of the utility, I don’t think this will work – for 2 reasons:

    a) It would tend to wear out the battery.

    b) I don’t believe the car is capable of feeding current back through the same plug that charges it. In other words, the plug-in charging port works in 1 direction only – from the grid to the car.

    Some here have suggested that the inverter that drives the AC induction electric motor could be used to feed current in the reverse direction. This “inverter” is really just a motor controller. It does not produce a sinusoidal ouput. Rather, it applies DC pulses to the 3 stator coils at precise intervals. This is actually fairly similar to the DC brushless motor controller, except that the DC brushless has magnets instead of coils on the rotor, so the algorithms to control the DC pulses are quite different. See here for details:
    http://www.teslamotors.com/blog4/?p=45

    Also, the AC induction motor controller has no provision to sync up with the 60hz on the grid. Grid-Tie inverters are not trivial. See example here:
    http://www.affordable-solar.com/xantrex-gt-28-inverter.grid.intertie.htm

    So everything I’ve managed to learn about the design of this car says that the plug-in charging port can’t be used to supply power back to the grid.

    Lyle – could you please talk to GM and answer this question definitively: Does the Volt have the capability to supply current back to the grid through the plug-in charging port? Thanks.


  27. 27
    Mark Bartosik

     

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    Nov 6th, 2007 (11:26 pm)

    What if the utility offered a contract like:

    Free electricity for plug-in in return for you making it available for at least X hours in peak time, and they can use Y KWh from the battery. There are plenty of ways to market it in a simple form.

    There’s even a marketing bonus for GM — run it for free!

    However, very much doubt that the Volt will not offer V2G, grid tie, or standby capability. I also very much doubt that it will even be an upgrade option on the first generation. But I can hope!

    The best that I hope for is an option of 120/240v generator capability from an inverter, whether the motor inverter or an additional one is used. The wave form of the inverter is likely to be at least comparable with a traditional gas generator. Cummins Onan make domestic portable generators that use inverters.

    V2G will be I guess several years further down the line.

    I thought that 3 phase motors did prefer at least an approximated sine wave. I’ve got a variable frequency inverter for a 3 phase motor in my basement, and it is wired to a 240v 3 phase motor. The inverter (only 1.5KW cost $900). The output is not a great sine wave, it has plenty of harmonics on it, but it did not not look like pulsed DC (a square wave) either. I’ve looked at it using an oscilloscope. Usually you want to avoid harmonics and a square wave (pulsed DC) has lots of them. But some equipment tolerates it better than others.

    Yes grid tie inverters are expensive, xantrex.com or sma-america.com. The output from the grid tie inverter is perfectly clean.

    I think that I have probably failed to account for the closer tolerances that a grid tie inverter must have (needed for V2G) , bearing in mind the less than perfect wave form of my 3 phase motor controller, when compared with my grid tie inverters. This does add to the cost.

    My grid tie inverters at 3.8KW are around $2000, compared with 3 phase motor inverter rated at 2.2KW costing $900.

    So pro rating these two per KW, the grid tie is about a third more expensive.

    Whether the motor inverter could in theory for a few hundred dollars be grid tied (as V2G requires) I suspect depends on whether the motor will use a nice sine wave, or a square wave (pulsed DC), or somewhere in between.

    As I said I think this is academic for the first generation Volt. But if Lyle, is able to find out if there is even a possibility of a cost option 120/240 generator etc. that would be great.


  28. 28
    mykallb

     

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    Nov 7th, 2007 (12:22 am)

    I don’t really see the need. Sorry, but my take is someone trying hard to capitalize on a growing trend, that is not unlike any other that uses the grid….ie the advent of Air conditioning in the 50′s if you will.

    Fortunately, I don’t think they’ve got a chance. This is a VERY good example of unnecessary and over regulation if I ever saw one.

    M.


  29. 29
    Estero

     

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    Nov 7th, 2007 (10:53 am)

    Steve B #20 — Careful what you ask for; you might get it!

    mykallb #28 — Mega dittos!


  30. 30
    Steven B

     

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    Nov 7th, 2007 (2:55 pm)

    Just so you know, I see this from both a public policy and private enterprise perspective. There is a major need for a shift towards transport electrification, and the best form in my opinion is PHEVs and RxEVs. There is also a major need for clean energy, as well as significant demand for non-dispatchable energy resources. The ancillary services (grid management) industry is also a very huge business and the need for more regulation power and power storage is growing. The costs of non-renewable energy is also consistently growing, and if effectively managed, wind, solar, and wave power can provide a very large amount of power to the grid, if it can be effectively stored and managed. Austin Energy is leading the way in promoting V2G as a solution to these challenges. As I see it, this is a major opportunity.

    Seeing that the Volt is still not fully developed, V2G integration could be installed into the first generation Volt, and it is not unconceivable that the funding needed to get that done could be acquired by GM and the other automakers from the Federal and State governments here in the US, at the cost of taxpayers (who will paying towards a better energy future) and utilities (who will be beneficiaries of this technology). We consumers will ultimately be the prime beneficiaries of this technology which will permanently change how the grid works (shifting from fossil fuels and nuclear energy towards clean energy resources) and economics of driving (the simple depreciating liability that cars now exist as will change to a form of working capital). I’m pushing this technology because I believe that now, and not well after final designs on the Volt have been announced, is the time that this can be integrated both into the product and concept of the Volt and other E-flex, as well as plug-in 2-mode hybrid, GM vehicles.

    This is clearly a loser if we are required to pay for all the technology, hardware, and software ourselves, and we are not compensated for its use. But if the utilities pay for the technology (not the actual vehicle, but the V2G upgrades) as well as our services (in the same way that ISOs are already paid) then that will make the Volt a winning product for everyone because more people will be able to afford it, and it will generate revenue, rather than just consuming energy and depreciating.

    Maybe I’m just dreaming here, but these ideas are not my own, and the scholars who did the research and introduced the concept excited me. And the fact that Austin Energy, right up the road from me, is leading the way makes me hope it can become a reality. Plus I like the idea of having a backup generator that will not be useless when the lights are still on.


  31. 31
    Mike G.

     

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    Nov 7th, 2007 (3:04 pm)

    Sounds like you might make 15 dollars a year doing this.


  32. 32
    Mark Bartosik

     

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    Nov 7th, 2007 (3:20 pm)

    I really hope that Steven B is right (post #30).

    I am skeptical about the stake holders getting their act together in time for first generation of the Volt. Essentially agreeing on funding, pricing schemes and communication standards. My utility is just too slow moving (not even got time of use metering yet).

    At least GM could provide a backup generator capability option. PLEASE PLEASE GM if you are listening offer a 120/240v backup generator option.

    Given that California peak domestic electric charge is over $0.50 per KWh. If utility paid me that for 2KWh, on 100 days a year. There’s $100 per year.

    I see the biggest problem as being able to plugin during peak periods (car park at work). I doubt my employer wouldn be interested in installing sockets in the car park unless forced to.


  33. 33
    Chadhurbhujaya

     

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    May 21st, 2009 (8:20 am)

    Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again – taking you feeds also, Thanks.