Vehicle-to-grid tech to connect only 100K cars by 2017

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One day, electric car batteries will be used as energy storage for the grid, providing ways for utilities to stabilize the grid and provide other services. But that day will be pretty far in the future. According to a report from Pike Research, only about 100,000 electric cars will have this so-called vehicle-to-grid, or V2G, capability by 2017.

Vehicle-to-grid tech involves using a network and software to manage the rate of the charge of the electric car’s battery. The idea is that utilities can use individual car batteries for things like demand response and grid frequency regulation. If enough batteries are connected to the grid, utilities could use them as an alternative to investing in new power generation assets, explains Pike Research.

But the market for this tech is far down the road. Pike Research analyst John Gartner says V2G technologies are in an early pilot phase, “with much work left to do before they will be ready for full commercialization.” One of the biggest hurdles for the rollout of V2G is that the adoption of electric cars could be slow. President Obama’s goal of putting 1 million electric cars on the roads by 2015 could be difficult to reach.

One of the most advanced pilot projects going on with V2G tech is via clean power giant NRG Energy and a vehicle-to-grid project that was developed at the University of Delaware. That project is 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 this past spring, and that network will include 70 “Freedom Stations” in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, 50 in Houston, Texas by the end of 2012, as well as stations alongside the Interstate 45 corridor in 2012.

The technology behind NRG’s V2G system stems from the work of University of Delaware professor Willett Kempton, and has already been tested in a project with utility Pepco, 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.

A Vancouver, British Columbia-based startup called Rapid Electric Vehicles (REV) is also moving ahead on this tech. REV CEO Jay Giraud told me last year that REV was in the process of deploying what could be the largest vehicle-to-grid project in the world with a Canadian utility. That utility (which is in a deregulated energy market) agreed to have REV convert part of its vehicle fleet from gas to all-electric. REV then owns and manages the fleet’s batteries, and REV provides the software and hardware to manage the battery charging. Giraud says this utility customer has a near-term target to incorporate 100 electric cars in its fleet, and one day could operate as many as 10,000 electric cars.

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