77. The Bridge to the Vehicle-to-Grid Future, Starting Now
1. Need to Jumpstart and Accelerate the Vehicle-to-Grid Revolution.
The Vehicle-to-Grid revolution in electric power grids will save the planet if it happens soon enough, by allowing renewable energy to be stored in thousands of Electric Vehicle batteries and then fed back into the system when the sun and wind can't help. We need it soon, but creating the integrated smart grid with countless EVs presents huge challenges.
2. Need for Power when There Is No Grid.
At the same time, we face a seemingly-unrelated problem of the need for backup power at government and corporate campuses when system grids fail in blackouts. And as a major hospital in New York found out during Sandy, sometimes the backup generators also fail.
3. Need for Clean Air, Not Diesel Generator Emissions.
The blackout power problem gets compounded by California's air quality problem and the use of polluting diesel generators to provide backup power, even for transient outages.
The integrated solution to all three problems is to create microgrids at government and corporate campuses that only operate during power blackouts, where electric vehicles integrated in that grid will supplement or sometimes substitute the power provided by diesel backup generators.
This microgrid EV backup power system will provide an immediate benefit from a small number of EVs rather than needing to wait for thousands of them and for broad, utility-wide revamping. It provides an immediate financial incentive for EV purchases and for developing small-scale and simplified aspects of smart grid systems that escape the complications of integrating into a wider network, because this microgrid system only functions when the broader system is down. The owner of a campus fleet will want to buy more EVs. Even more leveraging arises from the campus providing financial incentives to employees to buy EVs and let the microgrid take some stored power (only some power and not all of it) to run backup power.
The EV backup power system during outages creates trade-off options that maximize resiliency during blackouts. Currently, campuses have vehicles to provide mobility and (possibly) generators to provide backup power. The EV backup power system allows the owner to trade power stored for mobility and use it instead to power necessary electrical systems during blackouts. Fuel for generators will last longer, while less-crucial structures with no generators could have the option of EV backup power. Rule curves will determine what constitutes the best trade-off, but the possibility of the tradeoff will exist with this solution that doesn't currently exist.
The EV backup power system helps solve California's long-running air quality challenge, making it particularly attractive to air quality regulators. Currently, even transient outages require starting thousands of diesel generators throughout a region, possibly operating for only a few minutes. With EV backup, the initial rule curve could be that backup power during the first 15-30 minutes comes only from EVs, and only if the blackout continues would generators come online and follow a different rule curve between generator and EV power. In many cases, polluting backup generators would not be used. California Regional Air Quality Control Boards would have many reasons to promote this solution.
Why it should be recognized:
As a director of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, from my personal perspective I can see how our regional resiliency and sustainable use of energy resources can benefit from this solution. We have committed to carbon neutrality by 2020. We are even more committed to providing 24/7 services during emergencies. This solution aids both goals and represents something that almost every other government agency and many corporate campuses could do as well. Vehicle-to-Grid can be a tremendous societal solution, and this microgrid, immediate use of EV backup power can help make it happen.
We at the Water District recently decided on a major expense to upgrade our backup power generators. The EV backup power system could either reduce that expense or make the upgrade even more effective, and it can extend disaster resiliency to areas that lack generators. This solution has scaleable potential everywhere, but especially in California with our need for resiliency, our leadership on green energy and smart systems, and regulatory necessity to electrify transportation while making renewable power a larger and more dependable part of that system.
Let's make it happen!