Raleigh, N.C.-based non-profit Advanced Energy, in partnership with Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) and Progress Energy, announced it will initiate a smart charging trial of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in North Carolina and Florida.
The trial, which will use twelve converted Toyota Priuses equipped with charging-management technology, will assess the potential of plug-in vehicles to positively impact electric grid operations, maximize use of clean energy and prove PHEVs are a viable alternative to today's carbon-emitting cars.
"This is the nation's first PHEV trial to involve multiple utilities," said Ewan Pritchard, hybrid program manager at Advanced Energy, the organization that will lead the design and implementation of the charging management scenarios to be explored. "Our collaboration will lay the foundation for the wide-scale adoption of plug-in vehicles to deliver cleaner, more cost-effective transportation and diminish our dependence on foreign oil."
Each of the Priuses involved in the trial will be equipped with a V2Green Connectivity Module (VCM) to establish two-way communication with the electric grid and make the vehicles grid-aware. V2Green server software will be used to manage the flow of electricity to the Priuses, successfully meeting the needs of both drivers and the grid. When renewable energy, such as wind or solar power is available, charging behavior can be altered to maximize the use of cleaner energy. In periods of peak demand, charging can be delayed or slowed to avoid grid congestion and the need to provide electricity from high cost sources.
Seattle-based V2Green is a recent acquisition of GridPoint, Inc.
"Developing the necessary infrastructure to enable widespread use of electric vehicles is part of our balanced strategy to address the challenge of global climate change, while meeting growing energy needs," said Bill Johnson, chairman, president and CEO of Progress Energy and co-chairman of the Edison Electric Institute CEO Taskforce on Electric Transportation.
The involvement of both Progress Energy and Duke Energy will allow the trial to explore the billing and operational requirements of supporting plug-in vehicle "roaming" between adjoining utility service areas. Many plug-in vehicle owners will charge their vehicles at home in one service area, then commute to work and connect to the grid in a different service area.
Advanced Energy will operate one of the grid-aware vehicles while Progress Energy will operate six, deploying four in North Carolina and two in Florida. Duke Energy will utilize four plug-in Priuses. The University of Florida's Program for Resource Efficient Communities, along with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences extension service, will also participate with one vehicle.
Similar to the hybrid vehicles available today, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles use both a gasoline engine and an electric motor. The primary difference lies in the PHEV's larger lithium ion battery that can be "plugged in" and charged at a household electrical outlet. The battery pack functions as a second fuel tank that can be cost-effectively filled with electricity.