Newark, Delaware – The City of Newark, Delaware has become the first electric utility in the U.S. to approve the use of an electric vehicle to store and provide power for the local electric grid.
Developed by researchers at the University of Delaware, the concept, called Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G), runs on electricity alone, and is specifically designed to store energy and improve grid reliability. The researchers worked with a consortium of industry partners over the past decade to establish the communications protocol between the vehicle and the grid operator. The university team is now conducting V2G testing at two outlets within the city’s service territory.
Currently, there is no energy storage built into the electric grid system, meaning that electricity usage and generation must be simultaneous. As fluctuating renewable sources such as solar or wind power become a larger fraction of electric generation, energy storage will help grid operators smooth power output fluctuations.
“Winds tend to blower stronger at night when the electric load is low,” said Willett Kempton, Associate Professor of Marine Policy. “If electric vehicles charged at night with wind power, the grid operator could use the energy in the batteries, when the 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.”
The City of Newark’s approval process for V2G electric vehicles is similar to the process used to certify solar photovoltaic systems on residential rooftops. In both cases, the city is responsible for ensuring that the energy source will not feed power back to the grid when the power lines are down, which is critical for the safety of line workers during a power outage.
Kempton and his team plan on having a fleet of six demonstration vehicles by the end of 2009, two at the university and two operated by the state of Delaware.