U.S. Army to Test Electric Vehicle-to-Micro Power Grid

System will include 2-megawatt photovoltaic (PV) array, diesel generator sets and electric vehicles to provide a self-contained, energy-sustainable capability during electrical grid disruptions.

Published: 19-Nov-2012

SAN ANTONIO -- Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is a member of a team that was recently awarded a $7 million contract from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to demonstrate integration of electric vehicles, generators and solar arrays to supply emergency power for Fort Carson, Colo.

The team, led by Kansas City, Mo.-based Burns and McDonnell Engineering Company, will build a microgrid out of existing electrical infrastructure at the Army post, integrating a 2-megawatt photovoltaic (PV) array, diesel generator sets and electric vehicles to provide a self-contained, energy-sustainable capability during electrical grid disruptions.

The program, called the Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security (SPIDERS), is intended to make military installations more energy efficient and secure.

“The goal for the SwRI portion of this 18-month effort is to demonstrate the ability of electric vehicles to serve as energy storage devices in support of a microgrid and provide grid ancillary services, such as peak shaving and demand response, during non-microgrid operation,” said Sean Mitchem, SwRI project manager and a principal analyst in SwRI’s Automation and Data Systems Division.

“Unique challenges of this project include using electric vehicles to absorb excess generated power from the base’s photovoltaic array and reduce the base’s energy bill by integrating vehicle energy storage into the energy management strategy, all the while continuing to serve as an active part of the base vehicle fleet,” said co-researcher Joe Redfield, a principal engineer in SwRI’s Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division.

“This project will be one of the first large-scale demonstrations of the new Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) standard-based DC fast-charge technology,” Redfield said. “As such, we expect to provide input to SAE for future fine-tuning of the standard.”

Project objectives for SwRI involve developing specialized software to aggregate and manage a fleet of electric vehicles as energy storage devices, as well as helping to develop interfaces between the vehicles and their charging equipment based on the newly emerging SAE J1772 DC Combo Connector II fast-charging technology standard.

The SwRI project also involves collaboration with staff from the Advanced Vehicle Technology Section within SwRI’s Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division, as part of the Energy Storage Technology Center, a multi-division center at SwRI focused on research, development and testing of batteries and other energy storage systems.

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