The Energy Department launched a new center to ensure that vehicles, charging stations, communications and networking systems work in unison with the electric grid. The Electric Vehicle-Smart Grid Interoperability Center, located at Argonne National Laboratory just outside of Chicago, will work to harmonize emerging EV and smart grid technologies.
The DOE says large-scale capital investment by companies for the deployment of EVs, chargers and the smart grid will depend on the ability of consumers to conveniently, safely and securely charge – anywhere, anytime. This will require close linkages between the automotive and utility industries as new demand for electricity brings the need for new investments in power generation and grid systems.
Leveraging Argonne’s EV and battery expertise, the new center will focus on three key areas:
- Establishing requirements and test procedures to assess EV-electric vehicle supply equipment compatibility;
- Developing and verifying connectivity technologies, communication protocols and standards;
- Identifying gaps where new standards or technologies are needed for solutions using proof-of-concept hardware/software systems.
The work at Argonne will also be complemented by the launch of a European Interoperability Center by the European Commission’s (EC) Joint Research Center at facilities in Ispra, Italy, and Petten, Netherlands, in 2014. Employing common test procedures, interoperability standards and test comparisons, the US government and EC will work together to ensure harmonized technologies and to prevent unnecessary regulatory divergence, helping foster the development of the transatlantic EV market.
Last week, Chrysler Group announced it had partnered with Detroit-based non-profit NextEnergy to evaluate electric-vehicle (EV) batteries to see if they can be viable storehouses of electricity to send surplus power to the grid. Four battery-powered EV minivans are connected to a charging module that, with NextEnergy’s technology, can simulate an electrical grid. Among the scenarios under study is reduced reliance on “spinning reserves” – the expensive practice of having huge generators at the ready to balance spikes in energy demand.