Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Feb 23

More Grid-Friendly Vehicles

Posted in Electric Cars | Energy Inventions | Transportation

Grid-friendly Vehicle How about a vehicle that not only draws energy from an electric grid but also gives it back when there is surplus or unused energy in the vehicle? This is exactly the kind of car being developed by Willett Kempton, a renewable-energy professor at the University of Delaware.


Now, you may wonder what sort of energy a vehicle can provide to an electric grid. Not much as a single vehicle, but think about thousands of vehicles pumping energy into the grid along a busy highway. With a few million such vehicles on the roads, the nation’s automobiles, as Kempton and a few others believe, are no longer just a transportation option, but a network of mini-storage devices for electricity. A single vehicle can provide electricity to a few nearby homes.

This is a great concept, especially when 95% of the time the vehicles are just standing and their batteries remain unused. While it’s not being driven, an electric-drive motor vehicle can be plugged into a nearby grid and that grid can receive energy from the vehicle. When the battery needs to be charged it can be quickly done by drawing energy from the grid. According to some claims this can provide a utility value of $4000 per year to a vehicle owner.

Edward Kjaer, director of electric transportation for the Southern California Edison utility, said in a recent speech at the Valley Forge, Pa., offices of PJM Interconnection, the region’s grid operator, “Energy storage is not only a nexus between these two titans – the energy and auto industries – it’s a game-changer.”

As an aside, a Palo-Alto start-up called “Better Place” has got a go-ahead to build a network of 250,000 charging ports, 200 battery-exchange stations and a control center dedicated to keep things running smoothly, in San Francisco. They plan to get the entire thing up and running by 2012. Very soon our vehicles will not only be consuming energy, but also producing it.

  • russ

    Without any more details about this concept it is something like a Madoff scheme. Cycling the battery, which is a weak area of electric autos, will possibly shorten it’s life.

    From the article – ‘According to some claims this can provide a utility value of $4000 per year to a vehicle owner! Where this 4,000 dollars per year comes from is a total mystery. Certainly not from power generated when the auto is operating – a black box maybe!

  • http://www.ravenmountainfarms.com Doug

    How about adding solar cells to the vehicle to assist in charging on the road and when stopped. Then plug into the grid for full charge when not in use, then when fully charged the solar panels can feed int the grid.

  • Justwatching

    This guy must think it is April the !st!

  • Jos Conil

    The concept is great. But it is better to unlock the grid by focusing on innovative, personalized public transport systems than trying to generate power from the gridlock.
    In any case the problems of crawling traffic, dust and noise pollution are not avoided by introducing green vehicles.
    Of course, green automobile technologies like these have to be encoraged, but it should go hand in hand with a public transport revolution.

  • Alan P. Hayes

    One of the major issues with renewable electricity sources is variable supply. The way that it is often put is that even with plenty of wind and solar you still need plenty of coal oil and nukes for those times when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun don’t shine. All of those projected car batteries can provide part of the necessary buffer while they would otherwise just be sitting unused in the back yard or the parking lot at work!


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