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Old 31st May 2011, 10:02   #1
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Default Electric cars can make money by *selling* power from their batteries

Economist magazine published this piece (Electric cars: Horsepower v cash cows | The Economist) recently on how electric cars can actually make money for their owners by effectively renting out their batteries to the power companies.

Interesting read with very interesting implications - the battery of a typical car may be able to provide 15kW for a few hours to the grid - that is enough to power more than a few homes, and for peak demand much more than that.
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Old 31st May 2011, 17:37   #2
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Default re: Electric cars can make money by *selling* power from their batteries

I have heard of some market research by a few interested parties (OEMs/tier-1s etc...) in this regard...
The system i hv heard of works something like this:
- the price per unit of electricity is kept variable depending on the instantanous demand. More like electricity would cost more during the evenings when there is peak demand and cheaper during late nights
- a HEV which 'buys power' (charges) from the grid when the price is low and 'sells to the grid' when the price is high.
- This way, you could have zero running cost HEV if you know when to buy and sell
- Market benefits due to reduced demand on the centralized power generators

Interesting concept! Although i am pretty skeptical about it!!
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Old 31st May 2011, 17:53   #3
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Default re: Electric cars can make money by *selling* power from their batteries

Interesting concept, although I too am skeptical about the whole idea.
Just a thought: if you connect you car to this contraption, [whatever they call it, that can make current flow in both direction] and instead of charging for say four hours it discharges the battery and at exactly that point of time you need the car, you won't be able to use it as it will be fully discharged! I wonder how they are going to work around this situation.
Clearly, the whole idea is in a very early stage. But I think people will have to go over a lot many hurdles before they can put such a system in place.
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Old 31st May 2011, 18:21   #4
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Default re: Electric cars can make money by *selling* power from their batteries

The system will work. There are already people using alternative energy sources who sell excess energy to the grid. You just need to know (program)when to charge and when to sell.
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Old 31st May 2011, 18:32   #5
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Default re: Electric cars can make money by *selling* power from their batteries

Quote:
Originally Posted by scuderiamania View Post
Interesting concept, although I too am skeptical about the whole idea.
Just a thought: if you connect you car to this contraption, [whatever they call it, that can make current flow in both direction] and instead of charging for say four hours it discharges the battery and at exactly that point of time you need the car, you won't be able to use it as it will be fully discharged! I wonder how they are going to work around this situation.
Clearly, the whole idea is in a very early stage. But I think people will have to go over a lot many hurdles before they can put such a system in place.

providing current in both direction is actually pretty straight forward - your household inverter already does almost all that is needed for this.


Also, their idea is not that the cars will provide the power for extended durations, but that very-fast turn-on units can be eliminated and slow-turn on (say an hour) power generation units are all you may need.

You are right about the part with "what happens when you need to go out" but I think there will be limits placed on how much each car can discharge, and also, this is not a problem for hybrids (pure electrics are a different matter)
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Old 31st May 2011, 21:54   #6
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Default re: Electric cars can make money by *selling* power from their batteries

^^ Note that i mention HEV in my post.
I think this system works best for a Plug-in Extended Range HEV such as Volt. The engine can provide the power required for charging or selling!
Is it a good time to sell or good time to charge? you can work out the economics yourself!!!

Bi-directional current flow is not a big deal! The inverter-rectifier combination is very common in many applications!

The reason i am skeptical is because of the extremely right-wing capitalist scheme of each individual onto oneself! Without sufficient regulation this could lead to huge problems!
Imagine, as mentioned by the article referred to in the first post, 6% of a country's grid is dependent on energy generated this way and imagine there is a sudden increase in fuel prices due to some political situation! All HEV owners would suddenly prefer to stop contributing to the grid and this can cause a sudden power shortage! No sane industrialized country would want that!
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Old 1st June 2011, 00:11   #7
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Default re: Electric cars can make money by *selling* power from their batteries

At a conceptual level this sounds very interesting. However at application level there are several variables, which would need to be thought through.

The first and foremost being the response of EV owners in varying market conditions. When I say market conditions I am referring to the inter-utility market pricing of electricity which is not a constant. I will attempt to state my concern in a simple non technical manner. The working life of a battery is measured in terms of the number of cycles of full discharges and charges it is designed for. Now if the price of stored electricity that is received by an EV owner from the utility is not adequate to compensate for the amount of battery life used up in supplying electricity to the utility, it is a losing proposition. The next question then is will the utilities adequately compensate such EV owners? They might they might not. Further is such a source of electricity dependable in an emergency scenario/situation?

While on this subject, allow me a slight digression, which may seem OT but is relevant to the context of this discussion. A company by the name of AltairNano based in the United States has worked on a battery chemistry using Lithium Titanate. They are developing large scale storage solutions more particularly for generators such as wind and solar where consumption and generation is not in synch. These solutions are for grid scale applications. So wind and solar sources are used to generate electricity. They are stored in storage devices/systems and demand is then managed better by using the online generating capacity in synch with the storage systems. Grid scale storage solutions of the kind being developed by AltairNano and others that maybe working in this field in synch with huge green generating facilities such as the massive offshore wind electric farms generating thousands of megawatts are the practical way to go.

HEVs/EVs' as a source of backstop for the utilities in case of demand spikes does not seem too dependable though it makes for a good idea for soliciting a research grant and/or press copy.





Last edited by RS_DEL : 1st June 2011 at 00:22.
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