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New EV Charging Systems To Improve Electrical Grid Stability
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AeroVironment, Inc. and the United States Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) announced March 6 a commercial license agreement for a technology that supports widespread adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) by helping to stabilize the electrical grid.
Both parties involved said that the technology may result in lower-cost electricity for plug-in vehicle drivers due to the grid support functions provided during vehicle charging.
AeroVironment will use a portion of the licensed PNNL technology in a new prototype version of its industry-leading Level II charging systems.
“We are working to broaden the adoption of plug-in vehicles to help achieve America’s environmental, economic and energy security goals,” said Wahid Nawabi, AeroVironment senior vice president and general manager of its Efficient Energy Systems (EES) business segment. “While easily and reliably recharging PEVs, this grid-friendly charging system will also improve grid performance, turning PEVs and their chargers into a valuable solution to a broader challenge.”
Additionally, in the event of a rapid drop in grid frequency, the charging system stops charging, providing a grid “shock absorber.” Such rapid frequency drops, while small in overall magnitude, indicate that a fault condition has occurred somewhere on the grid and that there is an imbalance between load and electricity generation. By reducing load the system can be rebalanced.
Conventional power plants make continual power generation adjustments based on precisely measured grid frequency in order to maintain a nearly constant frequency of 60 cycles per second. As renewable generation sources such as wind and solar grow in overall share, the overall frequency-responsive generation capability provided by conventional power plants is gradually decreasing.
AeroVironment and PNNL said their frequency-responsive technology brings this same grid frequency support capability to PEV charging stations.
AeroVironment and PNNL share the vision that with millions of plug-in vehicles charging at any given time, modulating the aggregate charging rate of PEVs can help control grid frequency and support the integration of variable renewable generation sources, such as wind and solar.
“These technologies will result in a triple-win,” said Dr. Alec Brooks, chief technology officer of AeroVironment’s EES business segment. “First, reducing the cost of integrating variable renewable generation reduces electricity costs for all ratepayers. Second, plug-in cars can be powered by renewable generation that might not have been possible to add to the grid without the charging rate flexibility offered by vehicles and this technology. Third, the reduced cost of electricity to plug-in vehicle drivers will further improve on the cost advantage of driving on electricity as compared to gasoline.”
Prototypes of the new AeroVironment charging system are available immediately for beta testing. The prototypes include Bluetooth wireless connectivity for data streaming and local control functions.