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Pioneering vehicle-to-grid technology

“As more electric vehicles hit the road and charging stations—such as those provided by NRG’s eVgoSM network in Texas—continue to proliferate, EV-to-grid technology is the next logical step in the electrification of our transportation network”

Now that battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are in showrooms, Tom Gage, who advanced plug-in vehicle technology with companions at AC Propulsion (ACP), is moving to the next stage of the e-transition.
View slideshow: How smart grid can work

“To commercialize electric vehicles,” Gage said, “we have to develop business models,” he said, continuing, “Before that, we have to execute and demonstrate the functionality and economics of vehicle grid integration and V2G.”
Electric car plug-in
Electric car plug-in
Photo credit:
AC Propulsion Inc
Video: AC Propulsion Inc

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) — the concept of using vehicle batteries as a source of energy storage and vehicle operating systems as a means of managing that storage — is the banner idea for a larger and more complex set of challenges involving plug-in vehicles and grid operations. Resolving those challenges will complete and streamline the interactions of plug-in vehicles and the power system. Gage’s new venture, EV Grid, will take up those challenges.

After having built electric drivetrains at ACP since 1992 and worked on everything from the EV1 to the Tesla, Gage left the company he co-founded last fall. ACP will “focus on drive system development and, specifically, on Chinese markets,” Gage said, while EV Grid will take up efforts on “battery work, vehicle integration, and fleet testing,” which, he said, are viable programs with “customers waiting for them.”

For EV Grid, “the big commercialization opportunity,” Gage explained, is “vehicle-grid integration,” because “everybody knows if ten people on the block go out and buy a LEAF and they all plug it in at 6 p.m. when they get home, they’re going to have a problem.” Many see this as a liability, Gage said, “but if you manage it properly, it becomes an asset.”

There are, Gage said, communications, control technologies, batteries and high power electronics in BEVs, and “you already have or will soon have high-power connections between the vehicle and the grid.” Using these tools effectively will enhance grid stability. “You want to be able to control them in a way that benefits the grid to the greatest extent,” Gage said, “and the vehicle owner to the greatest extent.”

Many say it is unrealistic to expect the grid to manage the amount of data required for V2G and not feasible to affordably deploy such systems.

But, Gage said, battery technology has advanced so rapidly that even those who doubt V2G “agree the potential for having storage on the grid is very real and very significant.”

“If ten people on the block go out and buy a LEAF and they all plug it in at 6 p.m. when they get home, they’re going to have a problem.”

There are three ways, Gage explained, to use batteries as grid storage. “One is a big warehouse or trailer truck full of batteries” that is “under the control of a utility or power provider.”


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