V2Green tells us they have partnered with Texas utility Austin Energy to put two plug-in-prepped Priuses on the road with the startup’s hardware and software to wise up the cars’ grid charging. Called “vehicle-to-grid” or “smart charging” technology, V2Green’s Connectivity Modules use cellular networks to connect the vehicle with the grid, allowing for a two-way exchange of data and remote control over the rate of charge.
While the flow of electrons into a single car seems like a drop in the power grid bucket, the coordinated charging of lots of smart PHEVs could allow car owners to pay less to charge their cars during peak hours and let utilities make better use of their pipes.
V2Green’s field trial with Austin Energy might only have 2 vehicles and last 6 months, but it will help provide data for what kind of difference smart charging can make for a utility. And the technology holds enough potential that PG&E (PCG) teamed up with Tesla to look into it.
This is also the second utility to partner with V2Green to run a test program. XCel Energy is working to get six PHEV-converted Ford Escapes on the road. Originally scheduled to be rolling by the end of 2007, V2Green’s new CEO John Clark admits that the trial probably won’t start until early this spring. “The XCel vehicles are going to have the capability to push electricity back into the grid,” Clark added, explaining that the cars will function as storage units to help XCel even out their load, in theory.
While Clark was quiet about many of the developing partnerships the young startup is pursuing, he did say V2Green has been working with Hybrid Plus, a company that converts hybrids to PHEVs, as well as cleantech darling A123 Systems, a next-gen battery company.
The area of energy efficiency holds a huge amount of potential and vehicles are just one facet. “Vehicles are complex problems,” Clark posited. “They’re mobile, they’re not always on, and they’re connecting to multiple utilities. We think if we can solve those problems our technology will be applicable in other areas.” Other areas could include any number of demand management applications where with a little intelligent circuitry mindless-power sucking gizmos could start sophisticatedly sipping power.
The one-year-old startup now has nine employees, Clark says. They are now in the midst their Series A round of funding and already V2Green seems close to getting an actual product onto the road. “It’s the learning information phase,” as Clark describes the situation. “It’s gone from theory and now we’re going into small-scale reality.”