PHEVs and a Smarter Grid
By EV World
Southern California Edison Chairman, President and CEO John Bryson begins his keynote address at EVS 23 in Anaheim, California by pointing out that SCE has been intimately involved in the development and deployment of electric-drive vehicles for some 20 years. Its electric vehicle fleet, consisting largely of now aging Toyota RAV4 EVs, has some 15 million miles on it. Its Pomona EV research facility is unique in the utility industry and only one of several that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy to evaluate all forms of electro-drive systems.
Of perhaps even greater import to the future of transportation is the three year-long cooperative venture launched last summer between Ford Motor Co. and SCE to take the testing of "plug-in hybrid prototypes out of the lab and into the neighborhood," as Bryson puts it, with the objective being to see if any potential synergies between the grid and PHEVs can help lower the cost barriers to the wider use of battery-dominate vehicles.
A short time after giving this speech, SCE's Electric Drive program manager, Ed Kjaer, took official delivery of the very first prototype plug-in hybrid from senior Ford Motor Company representatives. [EV World will have video of that event available shortly on the web site, along with a video interview with Nancy Gioia, Ford's director of sustainable mobility technologies and hybrid vehicle programs.]
Rather than "preaching to the choir" about global warming and electric drive vehicles, Bryson instead focuses his time on how electric-dominate vehicles can interact with the grid of the future. Like the auto industry, whose products are 98% dependent on carbon-based fuels, the electric utility industry faces similar looming regulatory constrains, especially in the emission of greenhouse gases. It is, in fact, the largest single industrial emitter of climate-altering GHGs.
The Chairman explains that larger holding company, Edison International, endorses a three-tier power generation policy that embraces:
- Advanced power generation
- Smart electric grid technology
- Grid-connected transportation
Under this category, Bryson sees future roles for more renewables, as well as "clean coal" and a "serious" review of a potential future for nuclear power generation, along with carbon capture and storage, as well as distributed generation.
He sees a future role for residential rooftop photovoltaics storing the Sun's excess energy in the advanced batteries of the customer's plug-in or battery electric vehicle, which they can then use to help power their homes when the sun isn't shining.
"This integration might make it possible for smaller PV systems to produce big benefits to homeowners."
He sees this as a very real "near term possibility." In the mid-term, he sees EVs and PHEVs as facilitating the larger use of wind-power, which has "poor peak coincidence", meaning when it's home and grid loads are high, the wind usually doesn't blow. Storing that wind-generated power in EV batteries would help solve that problem.
"Smart grid technology is required for the long-term vision of so-called vehicle-to-grid systems where millions of vehicles have the capacity to move stored energy back into the grid," he observes. "In essence, the vehicles become mini-power plants and with smart grid technology they can be integrated into the energy system as distributed generation.
"This is a long-term vision, but we think it is a highly plausible one."
Advanced Electric Meters
Another key component of the advanced, smart grid of the future is smart meter technology, among whose features include the ability to encourage energy efficiency and conservation. The heart of the smart meter is the capability of closely tracking and responding to peak load pricing. Edison is a leader in this technology and plans to have all 5 million of its customers homes and businesses fitted with its Edison Smart Meters by 2013.
Bryson sees these meters and advanced batteries -- either in stationary units or in their vehicles -- helping facilitate better energy usage. He sees this evolving into a new home energy system of the future.
This new system will have significant impact not only on the vehicles we drive, but on how we power our homes and businesses.
Be sure to listen to Mr. Bryson's complete 15-minute-plus address by using either of the two MP3 players above or by downloading the file to your computer for transfer to your favorite MP3 device.