The majority of EV charging systems work unidirectionally. This means cars can only receive energy when plugged in. The Nuvve Corporation goes one better. A leader in vehicle-to-grid (V2G), also known as vehicle grid integration (VGI), it created a technology that allows cars to not only receive a charge from the grid but also give some back: a bi-directional system. Partnering with Honda, it intends to demonstrate why automakers should build vehicles that are VGI ready.
Through the INVENT project at the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) campus, Nuvve will direct what is the largest VGI project in California. Winner of the Energy Storage North America 2018 Award for Innovation in Mobility, it impressed the California Energy Commission enough to put up a $4 million grant.
INVENT will use 50 EVs, including Honda vehicles, to test out services such as demand charge management, frequency regulation and renewable energy capacity firming. What is capacity firming? New term for me, so thought I’d dig in a bit. When energy from solar or wind comes into the grid, it’s at different rates. With capacity firming, the energy storage system smoothes the output and controls the ramp rate (MW/min) to eliminate rapid voltage and power swings on the electrical grid. Think of using stormwater reservoirs for catching large amounts of water in heavy rain and storing it in the short term so normal drainage doesn’t get overwhelmed — in this case, the electricity is like the water.
GIVe and Take
To compare values, Nuuve will be using its software aggregation platform, GIVe, connecting it to different EVs using unidirectional and bidirectional charging.The GIVe platform is pretty exciting. It can charge up EV batteries and also allows them to discharge extra and unneeded energy back to the grid for use.
Here’s where it gets even more interesting. That extra energy stored in the grid can be sold back to energy markets, and part of the revenue generated could go back into consumers’ pockets. Through intelligent charging, the platform also calculates when rates are lowest. So, VGI outfitted cars can help the environment while lightening the load on your wallet too.
The bidirectional nature of the GIVe system can create a virtual power plant (VPP) from EV batteries when electric fleets such as buses are plugged in. Here’s where we get back round to UC San Diego’s vested interest in the project. The university can employ these microgrids for transportation around campus. In addition, the system would be applicable in remote areas where there isn’t a lot of electricity infrastructure set up.
Honda’s involvement with the project is a natural fit. It already has a firm public position for supporting sustainable mobility solutions. For example, it has the SmartCharge program, which incentivizes Honda EV customers to charge their vehicles when more renewable energy resources are online.
Honda has stated its goal with INVENT is to demonstrate the capability of plug-in vehicles to transfer electric power to and from the grid. More than that, it is shrewdly backing technology that will help consumers make the transition to electric – and when they do, a Honda car will be there waiting for them.
INVENT will continue through until the end of 2020. For more information, visit nuvve.com/projects/ucsd-invent/