Cities and utilities in New England are experimenting with bi-directional charging technology, pulling power from parked electric vehicle batteries during peak demand to stabilize the grid and boost reliability while delivering cost savings to customers.
The New Hampshire Electric Co-op plans to offer its members a “transactive energy rate,” informing them in advance when power demand and prices are high or low. That will give EV owners the option of using bi-directional charging stations to send power back to the grid during peak hours for a bill credit, and the opportunity to plug their EVs in for charging when prices are low, says Energy News Network.
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Participating members will benefit from lower energy bills, and at the same time the rate’s impact on moving load should increase overall system reliability—to the advantage of all 85,000 customers, said Brian Callnan the co-op’s vice president of power resources and access.
EVs are “key to stabilizing the grid” as the United States moves toward greater electrification, said University of Virginia engineering professor David Slutzky, who founded Fermata Energy—a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) services company that builds the bi-directional EV charging platforms the New Hampshire co-op is using. Fermata’s FE-15 bi-directional charger—compatible with Nissan Leaf vehicles—continuously monitors the electricity load of the connected building to strategically distribute energy in response to fluctuating grid demand, explains PV Magazine.
“The Nissan Leaf became bi-directional in 2013,” said Slutzky, and the “close to a couple hundred thousand out there” have “about as much storage under the hood as the entire stationary storage industry.”
The co-op is testing the transactional pricing model with two Nissan Leaf EVs owned by Plymouth University. The first 30 days of the pilot showed an annual return of $4,000 from the system, suggesting that the transactive model “has great potential as a way to subsidize and support the electrification of a vehicle fleet,” said Brian Eisenhauer, the university’s director of sustainability.
“We will be exploring converting more of our vehicles,” he added.
The city of Beverly, Massachusetts, is also testing the benefits of integrating EVs into its power grid—having used power returned from electric school bus batteries for more than 80 hours this summer. The town’s two electric buses reinforced the grid during some of the summer’s hottest days, says a release from Highland Electric Fleets, the company that provided the vehicles.
“Electric school buses are ideal assets for V2G applications,” said Sean Leach, Highland’s director of technology and platform management. “Nearly 500,000 school buses in North America spend most of their time parked,” he added.
Fossil-fuelled buses “provide no value when idle,” Leach said. “Electric buses, on the other hand, can be used effectively as mobile batteries when not transporting students to provide additional power that supports grid stability and resiliency.”
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