UD, NRG team to tap vehicles for energy

Grid Integrated Vehicle

Rep. John Carney (center left), D-Del., joins the crowd Monday to view a prototype Grid Integrated Vehicle at the University of Delaware's new Science and Technology Campus in Newark. UD and NRG were announcing a new joint venture to study the concept of tapping electric vehicles' batteries for their stored power. / THE NEWS JOURNAL/FRED COMEGYS

 

The University of Delaware and energy supplier NRG have formed a new national company to tap and distribute electricity stored in fleets of electric vehicles.

Under the joint enterprise, called “eV2g,” the school will supply access to licenses and patented technologies and other expertise needed to develop safe and reliable “vehicle-to-grid” hookups, managed by a system that continuously evaluates grid needs and assembles or “aggregates” power from enough electric vehicle sources to supply those needs.

NRG, which already is involved in developing commercial charging station networks for electric vehicles, would invest in testing the idea, determine its prospects for commercial deployment and move ahead if feasible.

Architects of the eV2g venture say the approach will give owners of electric vehicle fleets and even individual car owners a secure way to sell surplus, stored energy back into the power grid without jeopardizing the availability of cars and trucks for regular use.

“The resource is very large,” Willett Kempton, a university professor who pioneered the

Willett Kempton

UD Professor Willett Kempton is all smiles Monday as the joint venture is announced. He pioneered the concept and patented a leading-edge vehicle-to-grid technology that will be the foundation of the study. / THE NEWS JOURNAL/FRED COMEGYS

concept, said Monday as the venture was announced. Kempton led efforts for years to test, prove and patent systems to assemble energy from individual cars into a single flow of electricity that can be fed instantly and smoothly into regional supplies.

“Thirty percent of the cars in the United States, with the kind of technology we see here, would have the same capacity as all electric generation in the United States,” Kempton said.

During a news conference in Newark at the university’s new Science and Technology Campus — until recently the site of a Chrysler auto assembly plant — officials said they hope to make a decision on commercialization in two to three years.

NRG already is the nation’s largest wholesale electricity generator, and has invested heavily in wind and solar energy as well as electric vehicle charging station development and other alternatives to fossil-fuel energy. The company also has partnered with General Electric and ConocoPhillips to finance new energy startup companies.

Announcement of the University of Delaware venture coincided with a report that Wilmington-based Autoport plans to begin converting conventionally fueled vans to electric power for commercial and fleet use, offering users an 80-mile range.

The company already has been working with the university on studies to prove the workability of the eV2g-type system. Local pilot tests have provided as much as 15 kilowatts of electricity to the PJM grid, on demand, from a handful of Autoport and university test vehicles. That amount is more than enough to supply 10 homes for a short period.

After the eV2g announcement, the university and NRG signed documents creating the limited liability company that will seek to commercialize the technology. Part of the agreement will provide the university with a substantial minority share of the new company.

“This agreement holds enormous promise for the university, for NRG, for this state and I would also say for the nation,” university President Patrick Harker said. “It’s really an invitation — an invitation to rethink electricity supply and demand.”

Efficient use of stored but unused electricity in the batteries of parked vehicles can help regional electricity systems manage sudden spikes in electricity demand or abrupt falloffs in supplies from other sources.

Announcement of the University of Delaware venture coincided with a report that Wilmington-based Autoport plans to begin converting conventionally fueled vans to electric power for commercial and fleet use, offering users an 80-mile range.

The company already has been working with the university on studies to prove the workability of the eV2g-type system. Local pilot tests have provided as much as 15 kilowatts of electricity to the PJM grid, on demand, from a handful of Autoport and university test vehicles. That amount is more than enough to supply 10 homes for a short period.

After the eV2g announcement, the university and NRG signed documents creating the limited liability company that will seek to commercialize the technology. Part of the agreement will provide the university with a substantial minority share of the new company.

“This agreement holds enormous promise for the university, for NRG, for this state and I would also say for the nation,” university President Patrick Harker said. “It’s really an invitation — an invitation to rethink electricity supply and demand.”

Efficient use of stored but unused electricity in the batteries of parked vehicles can help regional electricity systems manage sudden spikes in electricity demand or abrupt falloffs in supplies from other sources.

Contact Jeff Montgomery at 678-4277 or jmontgomery@delawareonline.com