Utilities Drive Connected Cars Into the Smart Grid
As part of the Internet of Things (IoT), the connected car will dispatch emergency services and provide passengers with a slew of navigation and infotainment apps. And thanks to collaboration between utilities and automakers, electric cars could also become part of the smart grid to help both power providers and drivers optimize power consumption.
The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has teamed with eight automakers and 15 US utilities to work toward a unified connection between utility power grids and plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs).
"We wanted to look at more intelligent ways of charging vehicles -- matching energy needs to availability on the grid," says John Halliwell, principal project manager with EPRI.
The aim of the collaboration is to create an open platform that would allow utilities to connect to all PEVs, regardless of make, to communicate information like rates for off-peak or nighttime charging. The platform would also facilitate the integration of PEVs into automated metering infrastructure (AMI) and home area networks.
Having electric cars integrated into the smart grid can allow utilities to better manage power loads, says Haukur Asgeirsson, manager of power system technologies for DTE Energy Company (NYSE: DTE), one of the utilities involved in the initiative.
"If the electrical system is stressed and you want to reduce load, you can have a deal with customers that have PEVs and ask them to reduce charging," Asgeirsson says. "Each automotive company has their own telematics system. This will give us a central server that will allow utilities to communicate to all kinds of different vehicles for a demand response signal. It simplifies the process."
Watson Collins, manager of business development for Northeast Utilities, which is also involved in the project, says the resulting platform and server will give utilities a unified way to manage power consumption by electric vehicles on their systems.
"It enables a lot more flexibility. We can make sure we coordinate with the needs of the automakers and the customers who are charging their cars," he says. "We as utilities don't have to create our own solutions to communicate with each automaker."
Utilities involved include DTE, Duke Energy, PJM Interconnection, CenterPoint Energy, Southern Company, Northeast Utilities, Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric, Commonwealth Edison, TVA, Manitoba Hydro, Austin Energy, Con Edison, and CPS Energy.
Auto manufacturers involved are American Honda Motor Co., BMW Group, Chrysler Group, Ford Motor Company, General Motors , Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America.
Halliwell of EPRI says the first phase of the initiative is to start testing platforms using live data from utilities, with the goal of standardizing an approach that could be built into new PEVs.
— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, Light Reading