Bi-directional electric vehicle charging stations that can both rapidly charge electric vehicles (EVs) and provide grid-support services back to the electric utility and grid operator are helping companies and households to maintain power during blackouts.
One of the largest installations is a plug-in electric fleet at the Los Angeles Air Force Base in California. Princeton Power Systems was chosen to be a key contributor to the groundbreaking project due to the proven reliability and flexibility of its UL-listed GTIB product family, and the company’s track record of successful military and commercial Microgrid projects, according to Princeton Power.
During normal usage the charging stations will rapidly charge the electric vehicles directly from the electric grid, enabling LAAFB personnel to utilize the electric vehicles as transportation within the base and the region. When called upon to support a vehicleto-grid request, the electric vehicle’s on-board battery can be discharged rapidly directly into the grid.
The company delivered and commissioned 13 CHAdeMOcompliant fast-charging stations based on the UL-Certified bi-directional multi-port converter; the GTIB-30. The new charging station products, named the CA-15 and CA-30, are capable of 15 kW and 30 kW charging rates respectively. Working directly with electric vehicle OEMs and third-party fleet-management software aggregators, Princeton Power Systems played a vital role in developing the LAAFB solution, enabling the vehicles to compete in the electrical utility ancillary service markets and provide energy services to the Department of Defense (DOD) facilities. The ancillary service revenues will partially offset the EV fleet lease expense, while also improving energy security on base.
“The Department of Defense and Princeton Power Systems share the view that electric vehicle fleets can have long-term cost, logistics, fuel diversity, and environmental benefits,” said Darren Hammell, Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder, Princeton Power Systems. “We absolutely couldn’t have done this without our federal, state and private partners,” added Miranda Ballentine, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and energy. “The shared investment and commitment by our partners illustrates that innovations such as this have value not only to the Air Force and Department of Defense, but to the nation as a whole.”
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Hammell whether he would describe V2G as THE technology to watch out for in 2015. Hammell: There will be a number of exciting and groundbreaking V2G projects in 2015, so in that sense yes – the innovative things that can be done with “energy storage on wheels” will capture the attention and imagination of technology enthusiasts, and many more people will become familiar with the term V2G in 2015. However, it will still be several years before we see widespread adoption of V2G, mostly because the first priority is getting more EVs on the road.
AI: How will V2G help in situations where natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes result in massive power outages? Hammell: From the experience of living through Hurricane Sandy, many people learned that the priorities for a homeowner in a massive power outage are typically heat, water, lighting, and charging electronic devices to stay in touch. Anybody with a car parked near their house figured out that in these situations, a car-adaptor for their cell phone was a great, though slightly inconvenient, way to charge a phone. Now imagine that in this situation your car could “plug-in” to your entire home, or at least the important electrical appliances like lights, water heater, refrigerator, internet modem, and all of your family’s phones and other devices. With V2G cars and charging stations that are available today, this is entirely possible.
AI: V2G is described as “middle-man technology” operating between grid and cars – how many car makers have shown interest in the technology? Hammell: Since the early days of electric cars, probably even back to the original “battery powered” cars in the 1800’s, car makers have understood the concept of V2G technology. However, in the modern era of EVs certain car makers have invested considerably more resources than others. As you might expect, the car makers that are most publically supportive of mass-market EVs are generally the ones that have been most heavily supporting V2G technology.
AI: What work has your company done with Tesla, BMW and Nissan? Hammell: Nissan and Princeton Power Systems have collaborated on several installations of V2G fleets over the past year, with more in the works. Nissan’s LEAF and Princeton Power’s CA fast-charging stations have been tested together and verified to operate in V2G scenarios, which has enabled the first replicable V2G projects in North America. While these installations are for fleet vehicles on federal government bases, the technology is entirely suited to commercial uses. Tesla and BMW are undoubtedly working on V2G technologies for North America, but so far Nissan has been publicly in the lead. It helps that the LEAF is the bestselling modern electric vehicle, which makes adoption of V2G in bigger numbers that much more realistic.
AI: How much of your work is with the US Department of Defense? Hammell: Princeton Power Systems initially developed some of our electronics technologies to power sensitive electronics in harsh environments for the US Navy and Army, but since then we commercialized these technologies for distributed generation, energy storage, microgrid, and vehicle charging applications. While our equipment still meets many of the military standards for high quality, reliability, sturdy construction, and power quality, nearly all of our customers and projects today are commercial and industrial. Even in cases where the end-user is the Department of Defense, such as at the LA Air Force Base, the equipment they are using is identical to what is used in commercial applications.
AI: Tell us a little about your recent work at the Los Angeles Air Force Base in California. Hammell: The LA Air Force Base is a ground-breaking project consisting of a large fleet of electric vehicles along with fast-charging stations. The vehicles and stations that Nissan and Princeton Power contributed to the project are V2G capable, and have been operating in this mode for several months now. Many parties across the Air Force and California regulators have shown considerable interest in the project, and we believe it represents the first of many projects to come that are similar in nature.
AI: What are some of the technologies/products Princeton Power Systems has developed for V2G? Hammell: The technologies that Princeton Power Systems provides for V2G are several models of fast-charging stations, compliant with UL to enable easy interconnection and permitting. These are the first commercially-available V2G stations compatible with commercial vehicles, and we have seen tremendous interest and demand from people and businesses that have been waiting for a product like this to arrive. A common need for vehicle fleet operators is a fleet management system that determines when and how to charge the vehicles, and when and how to “bid” for services in the electrical markets. We provide an Energy Management Operating System (EMOS) that enables this type of management. It is compatible with several of the services that are available.