Future electric cars may supply power to grid customers

October 3rd, 2008 - 1:10 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, October 3 (ANI): Scientists at the University of Michigan are probing the possibility of creating plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) that can earn their owners money by transferring electricity to power grids, besides using it for propulsion.
The researchers have received a grant of two million dollars from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the four-year project.
Cars sit most of the time. What if it could work for you while it sits there? If you could use a car for something more than just getting to work or going on a family vacation, it would be a whole different way to think about a vehicle, and a whole different way to think about the power grid, too, said Jeff Stein, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
The vehicle-to-grid (V2G) integration concept is aimed at achieving large-scale changes that are needed to improve the sustainability and resilience of the transportation and electric power infrastructures.
If the concept turns out to be successful, it will become possible for power grids to utilise car batteries for storing excess renewable energy from wind and the sun, and releasing the energy to customers when needed, such as during peak hours.
The researchers believe that the introduction of such a system can lead to sharp changes in energy costs, supply or demand.
They have revealed that a team of experts in mechanical and power systems engineering, economics, and industrial ecology examining every aspect of a PHEV, and how it interacts with the electrical grid.
They reckon that PHEVs may be on the market in 2010, and say that their success might lead to mass-production in the decades to come. He and his colleagues envision a world where the electric cars could double as mobile holding tanks for electricity, ready to serve in their down time.
If we had lots of PHEVs all plugged into the grid, then what seems like an insignificant amount of energy storage becomes a large energy storage, he said.
During the course of study, the researchers will develop models to understand how PHEVs can influence the reliability and stability of the electrical grid, and how well such a system can shift to a back up plan.
The models they create ultimately can be turned over to industry.
This project will provide policy makers, industry leaders and the public with critical information so that they can make well informed decisions. It is the new face of informed decision making, said Gary Was, director of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute which develops, coordinates and promotes multidisciplinary energy research and education at U-M. (ANI)

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