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Electric car that helps pay the power bill





SonLight
Here is a news item about a prototype electric car, which is designed to share the electricity in it's battery with the power company:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/535841/

Quote:
When the car is in the V2G setting, the battery’s charge goes up or down depending on the needs of the grid operator, which sometimes must store surplus power and other times requires extra power to respond to surges in usage. The ability of the V2G car’s battery to act like a sponge provides a solution for utilities, which pay millions to generating stations that help balance the grid. Kempton estimates the value for utilities could be up to $4,000 a year for the service, part of which could be paid to drivers.


This is an intriguing idea. I hope to learn more about the details and the potential economics of this. As far as I know, battery capacity is the biggest problem with totally-electric cars. A car with fuel cells or a small gasoline engine can therefore have a much greater range. The idea of sharing the charge with the power company would only work if the capacity of the battery was maximized though.

If the car's owner got a substantial amount of the $4000 the article estimates, I suspect they would find it cheaper to buy their own batteries and leave them in the "garage" all the time. The only way I foresee this being widely adopted is if it is viewed as a public service. I hope it will be persued and the economic tradeoffs fully explored. Perhaps the power companies could "pay" for the storage capacity with credit points that merely give bragging rights, like BOINC, for example. If they then donated power to charity organizations according to the credits, everyone would get a feel-good public relations boost from experimenting with the idea.
ocalhoun
If large batteries can be cost-effectively used to balance the power grid, wouldn't the power company just install batteries in various places themselves?
SonLight
ocalhoun wrote:
If large batteries can be cost-effectively used to balance the power grid, wouldn't the power company just install batteries in various places themselves?


Yes, that's what I meant when I wrote, somewhat tongue-in-cheek,
Quote:
I suspect they [the power companies] would find it cheaper to buy their own batteries and leave them in the "garage" all the time
, It wnsn't too clear in my original post that I was referring to power companies, and I'm not very handy with smilies Embarassed ,

There is a real case to be made for the cars, since the batteries in them are needed to drive, and storage for the power companies might be done with no cost or inconvenience to the owner of the car, provided the batteries can be discharged as needed by the power company, and re-charged with cheaper power when the owner needs it!
ocalhoun
But what if you're about to leave on a long trip just after the power company decides they need to drain the battery?

"I left the car charging for fifteen hours to find it dead in the morning!?!"
SonLight
ocalhoun wrote:
But what if you're about to leave on a long trip just after the power company decides they need to drain the battery?

"I left the car charging for fifteen hours to find it dead in the morning!?!"


The power company would need to be responsible for insuring sufficient power was in the car before morning (or whatever time the customer specified). For example, suppose power was in demand, and therefore worth perhaps six cents per kwh to the power company, until 3 am. That would leave them four hours to find power and recharge the car if the customer specified he needed it by seven. Presumably the power company would pay a high enough fee for failing to recharge that it would be worthwhile for them to pay twelve cents per kwh to recharge the customer's car in the event they messed up. Since they could normally buy power at four cents per kwh late at night, they could afford to take chances having to lose money occasionally. I would hope they would never break their promise to recharge unless there was really a major emergency.

The article talked about a limit of perhaps 50% of the charge usable by the power company. That approach would work to keep everyone happy, but would not take full advantage of the batteries.
paul_indo
Overnight is usually low demand anyway as most people are sleeping, so the car should charge up fully.

Peak surges come when people wake up and cook breakfast, factories and shops start for the day, people get home and turn on TV, A.C. cook dinner etc.

After the initial surge in demand the supply will then stabilise at it's new level and can be easily adjusted for by the supplier.
It is the initial surge from low usage to high usage which creates the problems of instantly supplying it.
Also when demand drops suddenly the extra power must be controled.
This sounds like a good solution.
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