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Storing Grid Power in EV Batteries Could Level Out Utility Peaks, Save Owners $560 Per Year

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An automobile fleet that included even 10% electric vehicles would be enough to shift the daily electricity generation peak in California from daytime to nighttime hours if utility Southern California Edison used the cars to store renewable energy while they’re parked and draw it down when it’s needed most, according to a study released last week.

The review of 5,000 SoCalEd customers’ hourly electricity use and commuting behaviour by Atlanta-based Jackson associates found that the average EV user would save US$560 per year if the utility used the batteries to level out grid demand.

“We were surprised both at the relatively small 10% EV market saturation required to completely clip the SCE residential peak and the large annual savings…even after paying for nighttime recharging,” said Jackson Associates President Jerry Jackson. The study points to the opportunity for power companies to shift from defensive “managed charging” strategies to “an offence strategy that draws on EV battery storage during peak hours with overnight recharging,” he added.

A separate report this month by the U.S. Smart Electric Power Alliance foresaw 20 million EVs on U.S. roads by 2030, up from 1.26 million today. It concluded that “utilities need to plan ahead to minimize grid impacts,” but flagged a “trillion-dollar EV opportunity for prepared and proactive utilities,” Utility Dive reports.

The SEPA report “recommends utilities identify opportunities to incorporate load management, including managed charging and rate design, and adopt open charging protocols to ‘help provide alignment around charging industry standards and load management to leverage EVs as a grid asset’,” the industry newsletter notes. “Utilities see potential in using EVs as grid assets, but also must consider technical concerns, manufacturer warranties, and range complexities.”

Duke Energy’s director of electrification strategy, Lang Reynolds, told Utility Dive that vehicle-to-grid integration “has gotten a lot of hype over the last few years, but in terms of providing value to the grid we still have some work to do to prove that out.”“In some instances, distribution system upgrades are necessary to accommodate charging, and city codes and laws must be navigated by customers,” explains reporter Robert Walton. “Utilities are increasingly stepping in, working with customers to better discern their electrification needs and the most effective ways to move forward.”

The post Storing Grid Power in EV Batteries Could Level Out Utility Peaks, Save Owners $560 Per Year appeared first on The Energy Mix.

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Discussions

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 2, 2020 7:23 pm GMT

Still waiting to hear whether Edison would send over an Uber to take my kid to the hospital, after they've drained my EV because the sun didn't shine one day. Not holding my breath.

The Energy  Mix's picture
The Energy Mix on Jan 3, 2020 10:21 pm GMT

That's a common misconception among people who aren't yet familiar with EVs. Your child would be fine to get to the hospital -- just as any of us would want them to be -- without fouling the air with Trump-augmented tailpipe emissions along the way.

Range anxiety is real, only because as long as anyone is anxious about it, they're entitled to the information they need to make their own assessment. When you look into it, you find out that many or most all-electric vehicles now have more than enough range to well exceed most users' daily driving distance. If there's a risk to the contrary and it just cant be addressed, they shouldn't buy a full EV until charging infrastructure catches up, which it's doing quickly. But for the most part, once you do your own household math, the issue evaporates for day-to-day use.

For longer distances -- so this would take in family car vacations, or job categories that involve using a car all day, every day -- it depends on the battery and the route. And the same rule applies. No one is suggesting that everyone pivot to EVs overnight, nor that the automakers or their supply chains could keep up if everyone wanted to. If someone has a mobility need that exceeds what an EV can do, congratulations! They've just saved themselves the time and trouble of researching a whole new form of mobility for a couple of years. But even for highway driving between cities, provinces, or states, don't rule it out without checking the route and using one of several convenient, online apps to map the available fast chargers.

We bought a lower-end EV two years ago. The charger is on our parking spot in our apartment garage. We practice the ABC of EV ownership -- Always Be Charging -- and we've never come remotely close to running out.

During the first summer with the car, we decided to drive about 1,000 kilometres each way to and from a city and province we hadn't visited for too long, and to test our strong suspicion that there were enough chargers and enough online information on those chargers to keep us going along the route. We found we stopped at roadside rest stops about as frequently and for roughly the same duration as we would have with an internal combustion vehicle, and the only hint of a problem was self-induced: on one stretch, we decided to skip a charger that was available, make a dash for the next one, and grab dinner while we waited for the car to charge.

We ended up pulling in with only 20 kilometres left in the battery. It was a mistake we wouldn't repeat -- but there was no harm done, and once again, the problem wasn't with the vehicle or the battery but with the way we chose to react to the information on our dashboard.

That's a long response to a one-off comment, but that's kind of my point. In either direction and on any of the disputes and points of polarization that have come up around climate and energy, it's easy to dismiss the "other" with a quick throwaway. (You'll have to confirm whether that was your intent...I make no assumptions.) But that's wrong when there's a practical, relatively easy solution available with a bit of thought and discussion. It's wrong on the bigger, tougher issues, too, unless we think we can solve them by putting up walls rather than keeping a tough but honest dialogue going until we're done.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 4, 2020 8:01 am GMT

That's a common misconception among people who aren't yet familiar with EVs.

Thanks, but that wouldn't apply to me. I built my first EV from a 1997 Ford Aspire, swapping out the IC engine for a battery system and electronics I designed myself. It had a top speed of 70mph and about 40 miles of range using lead-acid batteries - meager by today's standards, but impressive in 2007. I was a consultant for Nissan Motors on the 2011 Leaf, and have owned two Leafs since then.

For the most part I agree with your assessment of range anxiety -  not an issue with me much anymore, but more because of the simplicity of home charging each night than availability of public charging stations.

That wasn't the point of this article, however. Utilities want to use the stored energy in your car's battery during periods of maximum grid consumption -  to turn your car into a "grid asset" so they can avoid the expense or building grid storage themselves. That means EV owners can never be certain their cars will be charged when they need them most - another example of corporate America shifting a burden of running their business to their customers.

it's easy to dismiss the "other" with a quick throwaway. (You'll have to confirm whether that was your intent...I make no assumptions.) But that's wrong when there's a practical, relatively easy solution available with a bit of thought and discussion. It's wrong on the bigger, tougher issues, too, unless we think we can solve them by putting up walls rather than keeping a tough but honest dialogue going until we're done."

I only dismiss "the other" when it doesn't make sense. I know enough about physics and thermodynamics to recognize the charlatans and poseurs in energy who don't know WTF they're talking about, but keep talking anyway. Though I used to be more patient, it seems policymakers are now taking their nonsense seriously. In 2020, there's too much at stake.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 6, 2020 12:35 pm GMT

That means EV owners can never be certain their cars will be charged when they need them most

Any and all load-sharing programs I've come across give customers 100% override and opt out options. Customers can surely assess their upcoming day/week and decide that the 100% certainty of being charged completely by a certain time take precedence, so this isn't being forced upon anyone. 

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