Blog Post

NRG Energy embraces vehicle-to-grid tech

Clean power giant NRG Energy (s NRG) announced on Monday that it will partner on a vehicle-to-grid project that was developed at the University of Delaware. The vehicle-to-grid project (or V2G) will use parked electric vehicles as grid batteries, in order to help stabilize the grid, and also potentially offer electric vehicle owners money to help cover plug-in cars’ extra costs.

The technology stems from the work of University of Delaware professor Willett Kempton, and has already been tested in a project with utility Pepco, (s pom) mid-Atlantic grid operator PJM and electric drivetrain maker AC Propulsion. Kempton created his own startup called Nuvve that holds the license to commercialize that technology outside the U.S., and hopes to have a Danish project up and running by this fall.

NRG’s project with Kempton’s tech and the University of Delaware will be called eV2g, and will be a complimentary project to NRG’s electric car charging network called eVgo. NRG kicked off its eVgo network in Dallas in the Spring, and that network will include 70 “Freedom Stations” in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and 50 in Houston, Texas by the end of 2012, as well as stations alongside the Interstate 45 corridor in 2012.

To be sure, this type of technology that uses software to create a two-way flow between an electric car battery, the utility and the consumer, is in the very early stages. Tapping into the plug-in battery presents a host of technical, regulatory and warranty-related challenges. There are also very few electric cars deployed in the U.S. right now that could even participate in such a program.

But NRG presents a large, potentially game-changing, partner to get V2G tech commercialized in the U.S. Kempton has told us in interviews that the average amount of power available from each vehicle battery will be about 10 kilowatts, and using the batteries for frequency regulation — adding or absorbing small increments of power into the grid — should only require two to four minutes of access at a time.