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NREL Demonstrates Vehicle to Grid Success with Ideal Power Converters

October 18, 2012 By Jessica Lyons Hardcastle

The US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has successfully demonstrated vehicle to grid (V2G) capabilities using Ideal Power Converters’ bi-directional battery converter, according to the company.

IPC says the demonstration proves both the product’s technical capability and its economic viability. NREL successfully integrated and used the new global fast charging standard SAE J1772 combo-connector interface between the IPC battery converter and EV, enabling power flow and communications in a single wired connection.

IPC’s battery converter provides bi-directional power between the EV battery and a 480Vac power grid. The battery converter is based on IPC’s patented indirect power converter topology and its Universal Power Converter Platform, which can address multiple markets with only embedded software modifications.

This same hardware platform is already commercially shipping in the company’s 30 kW 480Vac photovoltaic inverter, which NREL is currently installing on a solar parking structure at its Vehicle Testing and Integration Facility.

The energy-storage features of grid-interconnected EVs are expected to be used for local peak demand reduction and grid ancillary services, and will likely be adopted initially for fleet vehicles, IPC says. The U.S. Department of Defense has announced plans to adopt EVs in its non-tactical fleets with V2G capabilities. Ft. Carson Army Base will demonstrate V2G-capable electric vehicles integrated with a microgrid in 2013, according to IPC.

In addition to its grid-storage capabilities, IPC says its battery converter provides better charging efficiency — 96.5 percent forecasted — compared to conventional EV fast chargers, and lower installation costs because of its lightweight design. The IPC battery converter weighs less than 100 lbs. and can be wall-mounted inside or outside. It will begin shipping in 2013 following industry certifications.

The SAE J1772 combo-connector standard has been endorsed by the majority of global automotive manufacturers and is expected to be available within a year on a variety of electric vehicles. According to Autoblog, the first vehicle to get the SAE connector will be the Chevrolet Spark in 2013.

Earlier this year, Endesa, Spain’s largest utility, said it had developed a prototype V2G charger, according to an Environmental Leader report. The company projects that the technology could be a reality in 2020, and would allow electric vehicle users to sell surplus energy.



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