Vehicle To Grid Power  

Posted by Big Gav

Green Car Congress has a detailed look at one vital component in the "smart grid" future - "vehicle to grid" technology - using plug-in hybrid electric cars as energy storage devices that feed power back into the grid as well as taking from it. There is a good site devoted to V2G at the University of Delaware.

A series of speakers at the California Air Resources Board Zero Emissions Vehicle Symposium explored a potential accelerated adoption scenario for plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEV) that exploits the capabilities of vehicle-to-grid charging.

The premise is that the additional cost to consumers of full-function zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) or near zero-emission vehicles—whether full battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles or fuel-cell vehicles—can be partially offset by providing grid power support to utilities or major power consumers.

The dual use of ZEVs for clean transportation and grid power support with some form of shared capital cost or chargeback offset could thus encourage the earlier adoption of ZEVs.

The need is not trivial on either side of the equation. Utilities that are incorporating—voluntarily or by mandate—more renewable power will be looking for mechanisms to help them manage the variability of that power source. Several of the presentations took a back of the envelope approach to calculating the potential benefit of ZEVs in that role—and it appears potentially substantial.

Unintentionally underscoring the discussion, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law on the same day a bill (SB 107) that requires the state’s three major utilities to provide 20% of their electricity from renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal energy within four years.

Grid-connected vehicles can provide four types of benefits, argued Jasna Tomic from WestStart-CALSTART:

* Profitable Grid Management—Ancillary Services (A/S). Ancillary Services maintain grid reliability by balancing supply and demand. This is the role of the ISO.

Ancillary services include on-line generation synchronized to the grid to keep frequency and voltage steady, ready to be increased/decreased instantly (~ 2-3 min) via automatic generation control (AGC); and spinning reserves—additional generating capacity synchronized and ready to respond for ~10 min in case of failures.

* Emergency power supply. One vehicle with 20kW line connection could power 12 houses at average load of 1.5 kW/house. V2G offers very fast response, with a clean power source that can replace diesel generators.

* Storage and integration with renewables (e.g. wind power). Several new studies are highlighting (and were discussed in more detail at the ZEV symposium by one of the authors, Willet Kempton) the potential for PHEVs and BEVs to augment the use of wind resources, in some case doubling the effective power generation, or even enabling a 50% wind mix.

* Electric transit power support. V2G can power traction spikes for local rail, and use a variety of billing/charging schemes to encourage customers participation.

Sydney Peak Oil noticed an interesting interview with AWE Managing Director Bruce Phillips on the oil price and peak oil.
ALI MOORE: It all depends on price, as you say. We're seeing, now, oil at a six month low, but it wasn't too long ago that we were all worried about new highs. What's changed? Is it fundamentals or is it just sentiment?

BRUCE PHILLIPS: No, I think it's clearly just sentiment. The fundamentals have not changed. They didn't change when the oil price ran up. There is no real problem with lack of oil reserves in the world, it's a lack of production capacity that's a problem. Over the last five or 10 years we've had quite a dramatic increase in demand for oil, where it's risen from daily consumption of about 70 odd million barrels of oil a day to about 85 million barrels of oil a day. When you get an increase in consumption like that it takes up all the spare capacity. So now we don't have a lot of production spare capacity. If there are any geopolitical problems around the world that disrupts the supply by only a small margin, that translates to a very large oil price increase.

ALI MOORE: But it's all a factor of demand. If that's the case, if there is no spare capacity, why the drop off in prices?

BRUCE PHILLIPS: Well I think there has also been a bit of a hedge fund factor going into the oil price as well. The screen jocks in New York or London thrive on volatility. When they see a tightening of production capacity, or lack of supply due to those geopolitical events, they over exaggerate them and they make money on the way up with the oil price and they'll make money on the way down.

ALI MOORE: So $US60 a barrel; is that a downward trend that will continue? Are we testing $US50?

BRUCE PHILLIPS: If I knew the answer to that I wouldn't be sitting in the studio here with you here tonight.

ALI MOORE: You'd be a very rich man.

BRUCE PHILLIPS: Yes, indeed. But my own personal view is that I think prices can go down further from here in the short term and we will have volatility. But the long term trend is clearly up. There is no reason at all for the people who hold the reserves, and I'm referring to the OPEC nations here, to go out there and spend what would need to be hundreds of billions of dollars to increase production capacity just to bring the oil price down. It's not in their commercial interest to do so, so they will keep the market well supplied. But they won't keep it oversupplied, like what happened in the 80s.

ALI MOORE: So if we see lower in the shorter term, but the longer term trend upwards, how far upwards? If OPEC keeps the market supplied is talk of $US100 a barrel pie in the sky?

BRUCE PHILLIPS: I don't think it's pie in the sky at all. If there are any geopolitical problems around the world you could see a scenario where that would happen.

ALI MOORE: So what is a reasonable, realistic long term price?

BRUCE PHILLIPS: I think where it was. Between $US70 and $US80 a barrel was a long term realistic price, given that the global economies were absorbing the higher cost of oil up to that sort of level. After it reached $US78 a barrel, high 70s, you saw the global economy start to stutter about consuming oil at the current levels. So, you know, it's not in the interests, again, of those OPEC nations to see oil prices go to levels that are not sustainable by the major global economies.

ALI MOORE: How low could it go in the short term?

BRUCE PHILLIPS: What do you call the short term? If we're talking one year out, I could see it going to $US40 a barrel under certain scenarios. I don't think it will go much below that. Based on supply and demand fundamentals, we are still going to see the Chinese and Indian economies thrive. If oil prices go down, they will thrive even more than they would at $US70 or $US80 a barrel oil price.

ALI MOORE: If you say there is no problem with global reserves, where does that leave the quite well enunciated argument about peak oil? A furphy?

BRUCE PHILLIPS: Look, what I wanted you to understand was that there is no shortage of oil reserves, say, in the next 20 years. Long term we do have a problem, a real problem. We've had a declining success rate since about 1965. There has been an ever decreasing exploration success trend in the world since about 1985, so 20 years ago. Any years since that time, we have never found, in any one year, enough oil to replace what we've consumed in that particular year. So there is no doubt that the world is running out of oil, it's just a matter of how quickly it happens.

I linked up Michael Klare's latest article on the oil price earlier tonight without reading all the way to the end - the second half talks at length about peak oil.
Now that we've come this far, does the recent drop in gasoline prices and the seemingly sudden abundance of petroleum reveal a flaw in the argument for this as a peak-oil moment? Peak-oil theory, which had been getting ever more attention until the price at the pump began to fall, contends that the amount of oil in the world is finite; that once we've used up about half of the original global supply, production will attain a maximum or "peak" level, after which daily output will fall, no matter how much more is spent on exploration and enhanced extraction technology.

Most industry analysts now agree that global oil output will eventually reach a peak level, but there is considerable debate as to exactly when that moment will arise. Recently, a growing number of specialists -- many joined under the banner of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil -- are claiming that we have already consumed approximately half the world's original inheritance of 2 trillion barrels of conventional (i.e., liquid) petroleum, and so are at, or very near, the peak-oil moment and can expect an imminent contraction in supplies.

In the fall of 2005, as if in confirmation of this assessment, the CEO of Chevron, David O'Reilly, blanketed U.S. newspapers and magazines with an advertisement stating, "One thing is clear: the era of easy oil is over... Demand is soaring like never before... At the same time, many of the world's oil and gas fields are maturing. And new energy discoveries are mainly occurring in places where resources are difficult to extract, physically, economically, and even politically. When growing demand meets tighter supplies, the result is more competition for the same resources."

But this is not, of course, what we are now seeing. Petroleum supplies are more abundant than they were six months ago. There have even been some promising discoveries of new oil and gas fields in the Gulf of Mexico, while -- modestly adding to global stockpiles -- several foreign fields and pipelines have come on line in the last few months, including the $4 billion Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Turkey's Mediterranean coast, which will bring new supplies to world markets. Does this indicate that peak-oil theory is headed for the dustbin of history or, at least, that the peak moment is still safely in our future?

As it happens, nothing in the current situation should lead us to conclude that peak-oil theory is wrong. Far from it. As suggested by Chevron's O'Reilly, remaining energy supplies on the planet are mainly to be found "in places where resources are difficult to extract, physically, economically, and even politically." This is exactly what we are seeing today.

For example, the much-heralded new discovery in the Gulf of Mexico, Chevron's Jack No. 2 Well, lies beneath five miles of water and rock some 175 miles south of New Orleans in an area where, in recent years, hurricanes Ivan, Katrina, and Rita have attained their maximum strength and inflicted their greatest damage on offshore oil facilities. It is naive to assume that, however promising Jack No. 2 may seem in oil-industry publicity releases, it will not be exposed to Category 5 hurricanes in the years ahead, especially as global warming heats the Gulf and generates ever more potent storms. Obviously, Chevron would not be investing billions of dollars in costly technology to develop such a precarious energy resource if there were better opportunities on land or closer to shore -- but so many of those easy-to-get-at places have now been exhausted, leaving the company little choice in the matter.

Or take the equally ballyhooed BTC pipeline, which shipped its first oil in July, with top U.S. officials in attendance. This conduit stretches 1,040 miles from Baku in Azerbaijan to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, passing no less than six active or potential war zones along the way: the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan; Chechnya and Dagestan in Russia; the Muslim separatist enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia; and the Kurdish regions of Turkey. Is this where anyone in their right mind would build a pipeline? Not unless you were desperate for oil, and safer locations had already been used up.

In fact, virtually all of the other new fields being developed or considered by U.S. and foreign energy firms -- ANWR in Alaska, the jungles of Colombia, northern Siberia, Uganda, Chad, Sakhalin Island in Russia's Far East -- are located in areas that are hard to reach, environmentally sensitive, or just plain dangerous. Most of these fields will be developed, and they will yield additional supplies of oil, but the fact that we are being forced to rely on them suggests that the peak-oil moment has indeed arrived and that the general direction of the price of oil, despite period drops, will tend to be upwards as the cost of production in these out-of-the-way and dangerous places continues to climb.

Steve at Deconsumption has also been looking at the oil price - and he sees a financial markets angle to the price movement.
Scratch a financial conspiracy and you'll discover Goldman-Citibank underneath...
Running on Empty by Rob Kirby

"While I “welcome” cheaper gas just as much as the next guy, I also like to get my head around the reason[s] for precipitous price movements – particularly in prices of commodities that have such a profound influence in my life. After all, it’s often said that knowledge is empowering, isn’t it?

One person who did not “miss it” was Bill King – he of the King Report fame. Not only did Mr. King “not miss it,” he quickly understood the implications of the content of the article, namely that,
Goldman Sachs [on July 12] tweaked the composition of their “benchmark” Goldman Sachs Commodity Index [GSCI].

Prior to Goldman's revision of the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index in July, unleaded gas accounted for 8.45% (dollar weighting) of the GSCI. Now unleaded gas is only 2.30%.

So What’s Wrong With This?

As Bill King points out,
“Goldman's changes probably induced arbs, commercial hedgers, and other traders to sell September and October unleaded gasoline future contracts to avoid possible (settlement, delivery, etc.) problems.

September futures expired in August; October contracts expire September 29. So unleaded gasoline prices collapsed in August and September.”

I would like to “restate” what Mr. King said: What this means folks, is that hedge funds and institutional money that “TRACKS THE INDEX” were FORCED TO SELL 75% of their gasoline futures to conform with the reconstituted GSCI. And if anyone hasn’t noticed the timing of the price of the gasoline price collapse…just in time for November’s Mid Term Elections!

So don’t be fooled into believing that potential energy shortages have “magically been solved.” In all likelihood – much of the recent decline in the price of gasoline we have all “welcomed” has been the result of paper tricks being played on what amounts to a wealthy flock of sheep.

But in the meantime, filler up!

Oh, and by the way: 42% of Americans believe the fall in gas prices is just political maneuvering.

Google's efforts to not only "not be evil" but actively make the world a better place are continuing, with the company looking to improve the efficiency of one of the big power wasters - computer power supplies (or wall warts, as someone - probably Jamais Cascio - calls them).
Google is calling on the computer industry to create a simpler and more efficient power supply standard that it says will save billions of kilowatt-hours of energy annually.

In a white paper to be presented Tuesday on the opening day of the Intel Developer Forum here, two leading data center designers at Google will argue that the industry is mired in inefficiency for historical reasons, dating to the introduction of the first I.B.M. PC in 1981.

At that time, standard power supplies, which convert high-voltage alternating current to low-voltage direct current, were required to provide multiple output voltage, which is no longer necessary in today’s PC’s.

The Google plan calls for a shift from multivoltage power supplies to a single 12-volt standard. Although voltage conversion would still take place on the PC motherboard, the simpler design of the new power supply would make it easier to achieve higher overall efficiencies.

The Google proposal is similar in its intent to an existing effort by the electric utility industry to offer computer makers financial incentives for designing more efficient power supplies for personal computers. Existing PC power supplies vary widely in efficiency, from as high as 90 percent to as low as 20 percent.


The Google white paper argues that the opportunity for power savings is immense — by deploying the new power supplies in 100 million desktop PC’s running eight hours a day, it will be possible to save 40 billion kilowatt-hours over three years, or more than $5 billion at California’s energy rates.

Although Google does not plan to enter the personal computer market, the company is a large purchaser of microprocessors and has evolved a highly energy-efficient power supply system for its data centers.

It is not the first time Google has entered into an industry debate over efficiency. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, its co-founder, Larry Page, called on the industry to adopt a single power supply standard for portable devices.

“I’m going to just plead with all of you, let’s get the power supply problems fixed, or let’s get all these devices talking together,” he said during a keynote address.

According to EPRI Solutions, an energy research and consulting firm, over 2.5 billion AC/DC power supplies are used in the United States and 6 to 10 billion worldwide.

Currently, EPRI said, power supplies account for more than 2 percent of the nation’s electricity consumption and that more efficient design could cut use in half, saving nearly $3 billion in electricity costs.

One personal computer industry pioneer said he believed that the Google proposal might have important indirect benefits.

“I imagine a standard low-voltage distribution system inside buildings having alternate energy supplies like solar,” said Lee Felsenstein, the designer of the Osborne 1 and Sol personal computers. “Google’s proposal would make that a practicality.”

The Oil Drum has a detailed look at the natural gas market in North America.
This post will provide a graphical update on what has been a roller coaster ride in the natural gas market over the past 12 months, and a steep plummet of late. Natural gas prices have dropped by 50% in the last month, and over 70% from their highs earlier in the year. The warmest winter on record and not a single rig-damaging hurricane have combined to create record gas in storage, thereby reducing price demand for the marginal unit. Yet, production is flat with last year despite significant more drilling and rigs allocated to the commodity. The current situation is thus one of short term plenty and long term supply concern. If longer term predictions of reduced supply and accelerated well depletion are correct, we should be seeing some of the major producers reduce rig counts at these levels, or shut-in their production with intent to sell it higher in the future. This post examines the supply/demand equation for natural gas in the US, the NG futures strip, and the implications going forward of higher price volatility in this important commodity.

It seems Billmon is shutting up shop and moving to the arctic circle (thats what happens when you pay too much attention to James Lovelock) to corner the market in thawing tundra - the real estate of the future - enjoy your break Mr Billmon.
As I have occasionally noted before, I have a life -- complete with family responsibilities and a rather large mortgage, both funded by my soulless, meaningless corporate day job.

However, the last few months have been somewhat less than fully productive at the office, thanks to this blog and the potentially insignificant distractions discussed herein.

Now it's time to catch up (and also get ready for the big move up to the Arctic Circle). Which means posts are likely to be few and far between -- or just plain absent -- for the indefinite future.

So, if you're one of those people who've e-mailed to tell me that you check every day to see if I've posted something new, you should stop now. You'll only be disappointed.

And to close, here's a Bush joke from Past Peak (who also has an interesting post on Islamofascism and propaganda - not to mention the fanning of the flames by the erstwhile "defender of europe").
The Venezuelan President went to the U.N. and called Bush the devil. You could tell Bush was offended, because his tail stopped wagging. Bush said, "I would love to answer your ridiculous charge that I'm the devil, but I'm a little too busy this week trying to unite my party behind torturing people." — Bill Maher


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