Pitt | Swanson Engineering
The Good, Bad and Ugly of Vehicle-to-Grid Services
ECE Research Assistant Professor Brandon Grainger comments on ability of EVs to power the grid
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All eyes are on Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) as it tests the ability of EVs to help power homes during outages and provide demand response. Will vehicle-to-grid live up to its big promise? Industry insiders are both optimistic and cautious...

...Brandon Grainger, associate director, Electric Power Systems Laboratory at University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, says that large communities of EVs can be used to benefit the grid.

If enough generation is available from such a “community,” starting up the grid after a large outage could be easier, he says.

“One could coordinate specific electric vehicles to function as generation sources and those that can serve as a load. This thought may help to enhance system resiliency. This capability (acting as source or load) is dependent on the power flow that is exchanged between the car and the grid.” If the car receives electricity, it’s a load, but if it’s sending power to the grid or another vehicle, it’s a generation source, he explains.

“This can all be done with the intelligent, high power dense power electronic systems built into the cars themselves,” he says.

However, if car owners are expected to participate in such events, utilities need to provide incentives to compensate owners for the use of their vehicles and for discharging their batteries, he adds.

“Similar to the tax credits for installing PV generation on homes to generate widespread adoption, an incentive for battery replacement will need to be crafted,” he says.

If utility use leads to batteries being replaced more often, disposing of the batteries in an environmentally friendly fashion may be a challenge, he notes.

In taking advantage of EVs, utilities need to figure out how to determine whether the batteries are charged enough to help when there is an outage. Systems need to be developed to provide this service, he says.

Llisa Cohn, Microgrid Knowledge, 1/5/2018

Contact: Paul Kovach