Can Your Electric Vehicle Actually Power the Energy Grid?

Feb 11, 2016 12:16:00 PM by NuEnergen

EV_charging_station.jpgYou already knew that your electric vehicle had the power to get you from Point A to Point B while saving money (not to mention helping the environment!), but did you know that it could actually be used for the benefit of your utility provider? Right now, Southern California Edison (SCE) and other utilities are working on creating opportunities for EVs to play a role in demand response. That’s right -- SCE and similar providers want to use your EV to assist in the reduction of electricity usage during peak hours in order to improve grid stability.


Sounds crazy, right? Even crazier, SCE isn’t planning on making use of EVs as a means of reducing energy -- it wants to use them to draw energy. 


Before jumping in with both feet, though, SCE is testing the waters. Fortunately for the energy mogul, many SCE employees drive EVs already. These vehicles will be used to test out different demand response approaches. Currently, SCE is employing level 2 chargers in order to test various pricing options. The most ambitious and impressive innovation, though, is the utility’s plan to alter the charging process in such a way that power can be drawn during peak demand hours while simultaneously ensuring that the car has a full battery whenever it's needed. EVs have electric loads that are comparable to that of a house, so the ability to capture that kind of energy could add a great deal of grid support.


The testing is set to take place at multiple facilities with a total of 80 chargers. SCE employees who have elected to participate in the testing will be provided with three mobile app options. The first option would allow for a full charge at any price. Option number two is designed to allow charge curtailment in the case of a demand response event. The final option would draw energy with a level 1 charge during the day. These tests will be continuously conducted throughout the year as a means of determining pricing and perfecting the energy capture strategy.


While this all may seem new to you (and the fact that SCE is striving towards a new energy draw manipulation is newsworthy), you should understand that this isn’t the first occurrence of utilities making use of EVs in demand response. In fact, Sumitomo Electric Industries launched an initiative in 2015 to program EVs to suspend any charging during peak hours. This was regulated through a messaging system that would instruct the vehicles themselves to wait until the demand response had ended before resuming the charging process. Carmakers also took interest in this program, and much progress has been made in the messaging system.


With electric demand on the rise, stabilization programs like demand response will continue to evolve in such a way that grid strain can be mitigated. The involvement of EVs in demand response could be a highly effective means to utilize existing resources for expanding electric amounts without being required to fire up expensive, environmentally harmful, backup power plants. 


Learn more about demand response by partnering up with the professionals at NuEnergen, and be sure to check our blog regularly for energy updates.