University of Vermont Researchers Devise a Method to Prevent EVs From Crashing the Grid
In Vermont, a team of scientists consisting of Pooya Rezaei, Paul Hines and Jeff Frolik have created a solution that they believe will keep EVs from ever crashing the grid.
The scientists, from the University of Vermont, will present their full findings in an upcoming issue of IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, a journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
But for now, here’s the general idea:
Jeff Frolik – “The key to our approach is to break up the request for power from each car into multiple small chunks — into packets.”
Paul Hines – “The vehicle doesn’t care. And, most of the time, as long as people get charged by morning, they won’t care either. By charging cars in this way, it’s really easy to let everybody share the capacity that is available on the grid.”
“And the problem of peaks and valleys is becoming more pronounced as we get more intermittent power — wind and solar — in the system. There is a growing need to smooth out supply and demand.”
Pooya Rezaei – “Our solution is decentralized. The utility doesn’t know who is charging.”
In essence, the idea is that a smart meter communicates back and forth between the utility and the vehicle. The vehicle makes a demand to charge and then is allowed to do so for a few minutes. If energy demand in the area is low, then the vehicle continues to charge. If energy demand is high, the vehicle charges off and on for say 5 to 10 minutes at a time and then gets back in line to send another request to charge. The idea is that the vehicle will usually still be fully charged by the time it’s needed, but electricity sent to the vehicle is done so in a more controlled manner to prevent crashing the grid when there’s millions of EVs out there plugging in at the same time.
Then there’s this:
“We assumed that drivers can decide to choose between urgent and non-urgent charging modes. In the urgent mode the vehicle requests charge regardless of the price of electricity. In this case, the system gives this car the best odds of getting to the front of the line, almost guaranteeing that it will be charged as soon as possible — but at full market rates instead of the discount rate that would be used as an incentive for those opting-in to the new approach.”
Surely, there are other methods for distributing power to EVs, but as Hines says:
“Some of the other systems are way too complicated. In a big city, a utility doesn’t want to be managing millions of tiny auctions. Ours is a much simpler system that gets the job done without overloading the grid and gets people what they want the vast majority of the time.”
But will it work? The invention is in the patent-pending stage and there’s additional real-world usage that has to be conducted before we’ll ever see it in use, but will/could it work?