Smart Garage: Where Your Electric Car Links Up with the Smart Grid

Michael Giberson

A post by Andrew Demaria at Environmental Lovins descibes one vision for how electric cars could link up to the smart grid:

As I go about my evening’s business, preparing some food before heading out to meet friends at the bar, I am oblivious to what is happening in the garage.

The car has told the system that manages my house’s power usage the battery is a fifth depleted. The utility controlling the electric grid my house connects to says power right now will cost peak rate, a staggering 45 cents a kilowatt hour.

Since I had instructed the system to charge only when the rate was significantly less than that, the system waits. Additionally, since the car has access to my calendar, it knows I need less than 20 percent of the battery for the evening and to get me to work in the morning.

Now, things get interesting.

Given the utility is experiencing a peak load period, it asks my house if it can use the spare power in the car’s battery and send that electricity elsewhere in the grid. What’s more, it will pay me for that power. Since I like being paid, I have already programmed the system to accept such requests.

So, while I am snacking in the kitchen, I am actually being paid for the unused power remaining in my car battery, and yet have complete confidence there will be more than enough power left in the vehicle to get me to where I need to go.

Links in the source take you to more information about the “Smart Garage” program of the Rocky Mountain Institute.

A related remark from story on smart grid challenges in today’s WSJ says, “An updated electrical grid is also crucial to realizing a “green” car. Such a car will depend on an improved power network as much as today’s cars depend on the ubiquity of gas stations.”

One thought on “Smart Garage: Where Your Electric Car Links Up with the Smart Grid

  1. What’s exciting about Smart Garage is the synergies that become possible. Vehicles fueled by cheaper electricity. Wind power’s intermittancy problem softened by storing its output in vehicles. Buffering for the grid’s peak power needs.

    I talked to the CEO of an electrical contracting company which is just getting into the design-build for a LEED platinum project on the east coast. He’s tasked with evaluating wind power for use on the building, and one of the things he’s looking for is a battery storage solution. I asked him if he’d heard of vehicle-to-grid and smart garage (he hadn’t). It was fun to watch his eyes light up as grasped the potential of the vehicle as battery solution.

    Great blog, Knowledge Problem. Thanks for bringing interesting updates like smart garage and offshore wind updates.

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