I only briefly mentioned Pacific Gas and Electric Company in yesterday's post about the Google PHEV initiative. But aside from the work the company is doing on the 100+ plug-in hybrid, PG&E is also working with both Google and Intel on making computing itself a bit less resource-intensive. Through high tech energy efficiency incentives, the company hopes customers will move to newer, less-power hungry computers.
But about that PHEV. PG&E's work on the car comes in the form of building up the smart grid infrastructure (which they call Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology). We've discussed the smart grid before, but let's go through the idea a bit more today, just in case some of our newer readers aren't up to speed on this. It is pretty unlike the current infrastructure, that's for sure.

Follow me behind the break for more.
In PG&E's words: V2G technology allows for the bi-directional sharing of electricity between Electric Vehicles (EVs) or Plug-in Electric Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs) and the electric power grid. The technology turns each vehicle into a potential energy storage system, increasing power reliability and the amount of renewable energy available to the grid during peak power usage.

PHEVs include additional battery capacity, which increases the vehicle's ability to run completely on electricity and reduces reliance on fossil fuels, a significant contributor to climate change. In the future, V2G technology may enable these PHEVs to offset Google's peak energy usage with energy from the vehicle batteries stored the previous night, simultaneously providing environmental, economic and national security benefits.

As you can see, the great idea from the utility's perspective is that with V2G PG&E can make electricity 24-7 and have a place to keep what doesn't get used at 3 a.m. for when it's needed at 3 p.m. Over at the Google building, since they've got such a huge solar array (currently the largest at any corporate campus in the U.S.), the Google PHEVs could store some of that if there's any excess. That's the press release possibility, but because the release also says these solar panel can offset about 30 percent of the Google HQ's peak electricity consumption, I don't see that many extra electrons being available.

Also, as a reader said in comments yesterday, a smart grid system (widely implemented) could mean that all the electricity you use comes from burning the gas in your car. But, from the presentations I've heard about the smart grid, there is a lot of user control in the process, and you get to decide when your car feeds energy in and when it pulls energy out of the grid. This is programmable by time and/or price, and triggers when your settings have been reached. I assume you'd only set it to send energy to the house from the gas you burnt when it's cost-efficient to do so. Anyone have any numbers out there to calculate some potential pump and electricity prices to see when it'd be wise to do this vs. letting the utility power things?

Notice also, that hydrogen never comes up in V2G discussions.

So, please click on any of the following links for more on the smart grid. It's coming, and it'd be nice to know a little about the pros and cons before it gets here. The name implies that what we're dealing with now is a dumb grid. Let's see just how clever the smart grid is.


[Source: Pacific Gas and Electric Company]

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