• Sep 19th 2006 at 8:16AM
  • 7

And you thought your car was cool because you can plug a DVD player into it. Hybrids Plus unveiled a Toyota Prius hybrid yesterday at Colorado State University that has been modified with plug-in technology. While current plug-in hybrids (PHEV, which are all after-market mods) can get amazing mileage numbers – Hybrid Plus' Prius gets 125 mpg – what's really cool about the Hybrids Plus plan is the possibility of Vehicle to Grid (V2G) technology.

V2G means that the car can draw power from the grid when needed and it can feed power to the grid when it has energy stored up. Hybrids Plus is working on V2G along with the Colorado Governor's Office of Energy Management and Conservation, A123Systems, the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Xcel Energy. Xcel Energy and NREL will soon conduct a study to assess the collective effects of thousands of PHEVs on the power grid.

[Source: State of Colorado]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      loikll -

      As it turns out, there are a number of aspects of this technology out there already.

      For example, my home air conditioner has a radio receiver on it that allows my electric utility to temporarily cycle the compressor off for short periods of time to help manage load during peak usage periods. Why would I give my utility the ability to do this? Simple: I get $10 off on my utility bill for 4 months each summer. So... I get $40 a year for something I don't even notice in normal use? This is a no-brainer.

      Of course, you're likely already familiar with home solar panel technologies that result in a two-way power meter: It can both 'buy' and 'sell' electrical power. Make more than you use? You turn a profit.

      All of these technologies - and more - would need to come together for V2G to make sense and work in real-life. But it we have the technology to charge teenagers $0.20 to send a text message, surely we can find a way to allow a portable energy source/sink (an electric car) to both use and contribute to the electrical power grid in a manner that makes sense for both - and offers advantages for both!

      If an electric car was going to sit in a parking lot all day anyway (fully charged for most of this time) - and the utility made it worth my while to allow the ability to incorporate the car's power source into the grid - in a way that didn't affect use of the car - why wouldn't I do it?

      Yes, this presumes battery technology gets to the point that the wear factor for a large number of charge/discharge cycles is negligible (something we're trying to do no matter what happens to V2G) and widely-available, covenient charging infrastructure.

      Of course, we've already proven that our current approach (large power plants interconnected by a grid that generally only offers load - with no additional sources to handle overload) has its limits. The same people who complain about brownouts will also fight new power plants - unless they're in someone else's back yard.

      The presumption that developing this technology would be wasteful requires we forget the billions already spent (and we continue to spend) on electrical and communications networks that can be used in new ways - as well as the network of piplines, fuel tankers and filling stations we're continuing to develop to support petroleum-based transportation.

      Trying to find a new, better way to solve problems, even while we continue to pour money into vintage technology, is hardly profoundly stupid.

      • 8 Months Ago
      Please stop using "mpg" figures when referencing plug-in hybrids! C'mon - "125 mpg" isn't terribly amazing if most of the energy comes from a coal-fired power plant.

      V2G has potential to be some very interesting technology, changing the way we view a power grid. Imagine a California-stylesummertime brownout if thousands of plugged-in cars could help support the grid during high-load peaks.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Lets make it simple

      V2G good for emergency power for your house alone if the power failed, keep your froze food frozen/heat on in winter.

      V2G crappy idea to feed the gird.

      Get enough solar roofs and you won't have brownouts.

      • 8 Months Ago
      V2G? Why? That sounds like the most utterly pointless idea anyone could come up with. I'm going to discharge my battery to the local network just to do a favor for the local monopoly utility? And thereby deprive myself of the fuel economy for which I bought the car?

      And if electricity is cheaper than gas (the whole point of PHEVs), then I'd be pretty stupid to spend my personal money converting expensive gasoline into cheap electricity for the benefit of the local utility, wouldn't I?

      And in any case there's no way for my contribution to be metered and me compensated, unless society is dumb enough to spend a trillion dollars building infrastructure to facilite this foolish thing that no one would do.

      How profoundly stupid. The worrying fact that this dead-end idea is getting any press copy at all suggests the tragic possibility that someone is actually spending money and resources on this idiot idea. God forbid.

      • 8 Months Ago
      I completely agree. Its actually pretty frustrating to see people supporting plug ins with claims like "100mpg+ performance"- thats not including any measurement of the coal consumption, and that would only be while the care could draw extensively from its batteries. When all the battery energy is gone, a plug in would get worse mileage than a regular prius (because the extra batteries and smoetimes larger electric motor add a lot of weight).

      I'm extremely skeptical about the whole plug-in hybrid thing. I think electric cars have a great future, and that new technologies for non-hybrids can greatly increase efficiency. I even think hybrids like the prius can do well. But a plug in hybrid is a different story- it needs essentially two complete powertrains. Unlike in the Prius design, a plug in needs to be able to go to highway speeds on just electric motor, necessitating a larger motor. It also needs enough batteries to power that motor, adding hundreds of pounds. Then it still has to have all the same ICE parts. The mechanical inefficiency of having to carry around two complete powertrains just seems like it should be too much to overcome.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Phil, I think you are missing the point that this V2G idea would ONLY be a pure cost to the consumer; it would be of absolutely benefit to them at all. Your air conditioner switch is fine -- it saves you money. The V2G would not save you money. It would only cost you money.

      (Your solar panel example is iffy -- I doubt that reselling its energy, plus energy savings from using solar power, would actually ever pay for the cost of the panels, doing a financially rigorous analysis, but hey at least that's possible under some scenarios.)

      But the V2G would clearly never be financially beneficial to the consumer. Again it calls for you to convert expensive gas to cheap electricity. It calls for you to undermine the fuel economy of your PHEV, which is the only reason you'd buy it in the first place.

      In disharging your battery so that the battery power is no longer available when you drive, you lose the ONLY economic advantage a plug-in hybrid offers. And if electricity WERE so expensive that selling it out of your car is profitable, then you lose big time by buying the plug-in in the first place. You can't win.

      If you're in love with the idea, here's a much better approach: leave a big battery (NOT attached to wheels) in your garage. Charge it up at night. Disharge it in the day. That would help the utilitity.

      Overall it would certainly not be economical, or else every utility in the world would already have massive fleets of batteries to balance their loads, and none of this would be an issue. But if a utility could trick YOU into paying the massive captital expenditure of buying the batteries so that it's off their books, I'm sure they'd love you for it.

      • 8 Months Ago
      Who are these idiot blogers that complain about the use of MPG for PHEVs it doesn’t mater to me where the power comes from but I do care about how much it costs me and that goes for most of the worlds population that can afford to ride in any car
      MPG is a standard that all Americans can relate to its much easer for us to understand than cents per mile it costs $0.75 to go 50 miles of the power grid actually we could say that is like getting equivalent to 400 MPG on a cost per mile basses
      So it’s very conservative to say I get 130 MPG
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