San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) announced a pilot project integrating electric cars and energy storage systems with California's wholesale energy markets.

We don't know the details, but there will be a group of energy storage systems and electric vehicle fleets at five separate locations, available for California Independent System Operator's (CAISO). The first step for EVs is remote control of charging to avoid electricity peak demand.

There are over 13,000 plug-in electric cars in SDG&E's service territory and, since the number of EVs is growing, charging power will be an important factor one day.

"The project currently aggregates stationary storage systems together with the charging demand of EV fleets at five separate locations throughout San Diego County. The assets are remotely controlled using software that both balances the participant's charging needs, and identifies opportunities to provide demand response services at the grid level. Demand response is when customers don't charge EVs or consume energy at peak hours, which alleviates stress on the grid and helps make sure adequate resources are available for the entire region. The project achieves this by correlating charging activity with wholesale energy prices. By agreeing to not charge in certain high price hours, the aggregated resource is paid the marginal energy price in those hours, similar to a conventional generator. The pilot project will end in late 2015.

Besides being among the first to integrate electric vehicles into California's energy markets, the project is identifying both barriers and best practices for future, large scale integration and interaction of dispatchable distributed energy resources with wholesale markets, and creating tools to evaluate growth opportunities for those resources."

James P. Avery, SDG&E's senior vice president of power supply stated:

"This pilot project emphasizes SDG&E's focus on innovation in the electric vehicle and energy storage sectors. There is tremendous potential for dispatchable distributed energy resources to enhance reliability and achieve greater efficiencies. The key to unlocking that potential is to better understand how these resources provide value both at the customer site level and at the larger electric grid level. This project does just that."

"Creating a framework for small, aggregated resources to directly participate in energy markets is a natural evolution of SDG&E's earlier, pioneering efforts at the San Diego Zoo and Borrego Springs Microgrid. Those innovative projects demonstrated that aggregating diverse resources like solar, energy storage and EVs, created efficiencies and enhanced reliability."

Heather Sanders, the CAISO's Director of Regulatory Affairs for Distributed Energy Resources remarked:

"This pilot creates an important connection between actual grid conditions and customer response. By having electric vehicles directly participate as a grid resource in the wholesale market, vehicles respond to signals from the grid operator to reduce when electricity is scarce, and continue or resume charging when renewable generation is plentiful. This capability helps maximize the use of energy from renewables while keeping the grid reliable."

Interesting is that SDG&E is in close collaboration with its project partner, Shell Oil Products US (Shell).

Matthew Tipper, VP Alternative Energies, Shell commented:

"This is a key achievement in our Electric Vehicle R&D trial in San Diego and an important milestone for our partnership with SDG&E. The trial is one of a number of trials globally with selected fleet customers as they diversify their mix of vehicles. It is important for us to understand if electric mobility can be made commercially viable for Shell within our wider alternative energy portfolio."

Source: SDG&E via Green Car Congress

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