This month, the City of Newark, Delaware became the first electric utility in the US to use a car to store and provide power for the local electric grid.
The vehicle, which runs on electricity alone, is specifically designed to store energy and improve grid reliability. University of Delaware researchers helped develop the concept, called Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G). With the City of Newark's approval, the UD team is now conducting V2G testing at two outlets within the City's service territory.
Cities including San Francisco and Austin, TX have seriously considered the idea, but Newark (population: 30,000) is the first to officially put it into action.
University of Delaware Associate Professor of Marine Policy Willett Kempton explained how the technology benefits the grid operator. Currently, there is no energy storage built into the electric grid system, meaning that electricity usage and electricity generation must be simultaneous. As fluctuating renewable sources, such as solar and wind power, become a larger fraction of our electric generation, energy storage will help grid operators smooth power output fluctuations.
"Wind tends to blow stronger at night when the electric load is low," he said. "If electric vehicles charged at night with wind power, the grid operator could use the energy in the batteries, when vehicles aren't needed for driving and are plugged in, to help maintain grid reliability. The vehicle owner would then be paid for providing these energy services at a greater value than what they paid for the electricity."
Those savings add up to thousands per year.
Kempton plugs his car in at his Newark home, and while it sits, he says, it stores enough energy to power 7 to 8 homes on his block for approximately 30 minutes.
Kempton and his team plan to have a fleet of six vehicles by the end of 2009, two at UD and four operated by the state of Delaware. The test fleet will be used to d
|Contact: Andrea Boyle|
University of Delaware