Electric Vehicles to Power the Grid
Southern California Edison (SCE) is joining other utilities by introducing the opportunity for electric vehicles (EVs) to participate in demand response (DR). Just as a refresher, demand response is the reduction of electric use during peak times to stabilize the grid in order to prevent blackouts and brownouts. However, SCE does not plan on using EVs to reduce energy; it wants to use them to draw energy.
Luckily for SCE, many of its employees drive electric vehicles, which will be used to test different DR approaches. Right now the utility is using level 2 chargers in order to test pricing options. The most impressive innovation is SCE’s plan to manipulate the charging process to draw power during peak demand times, while also ensuring the car has a full battery when needed. EVs have electric loads about as great as a house, so being able to capture that energy can add a lot of grid support.
Testing will take place at various utility facilities with 80 chargers total. Each SCE employee participating will be given three mobile application options. The first option is to get a full charge at any price. The second is to allow charge curtailment during a demand response event. And the third option is to draw energy with a level 1 charge throughout the day. The employee tests will continue until the end of the year to determine pricing and to perfect the energy capture strategy.
Even though SCE is working on a new energy draw manipulation, this is not the first time utilities have used EVs in demand response. Last year Sumitomo Electric Industries, along with several utilities introduced a messaging system instructing EVs to suspend charging during peak hours, and resume charging afterwards. In addition to utilities involved in the program, many carmakers were also interested in taking part. Much progress has been made on the messaging technology, but there are no set dates for the release of this initiative.
As electric demand continues to increase, it’s vital that stabilization programs help mitigate strain on the grid. Involving electric vehicles in demand response is an effective way to use current resources to expand electric amounts without firing up expensive, and oftentimes dirty, back-up power plants. With DR apps, smart charging, and EVs, soon we’ll all be able to manage our grid with the push of a button.
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