While many have discussed the potential of EVs to act as energy storage devices in a smart grid of the future, the day when this idea can be implemented on a citywide scale is probably pretty far off. However, a smaller, self-contained “microgrid” offers the perfect opportunity to test the concept. Microgrids are one of many advanced energy technologies that the US military is actively researching, less out of concern for the environment than out of concern about the dangers of trucking fossil fuels to remote locations in war zones.
The US Army Corps of Engineers has awarded $7 million to a team that includes the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and Missouri-based Burns and McDonnell Engineering, to demonstrate the integration of electric vehicles, generators and solar arrays to supply emergency power for Fort Carson, Colorado. The team will build a microgrid out of existing electrical infrastructure at the Army post, integrating a 2-megawatt photovoltaic array, diesel generator sets and EVs 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 SwRI project manager Sean Mitchem.
“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.
SwRI will develop specialized software to manage a fleet of electric vehicles as energy storage devices, and develop interfaces between the vehicles and their charging equipment based on the new SAE J1772 DC Combo Connector standard.