Startup Wants Electric Cars to Earn Money for Owners
CREDIT: NRG Energy/eVgo
Most automobiles lose money for drivers as the miles and maintenance pile up over time, but a new startup wants electric car owners to transform their vehicles into green cash machines. Its technology would allow electric vehicles to sell battery storage services to the electric grid while plugged in at home or at an outside charging station.
The startup, called eV2g, would collect money from grid operators to pay electric vehicle owners for making their parked cars available. Grid operators could take power from connected cars to help meet customer demand during peak hours of energy usage, but drivers can specify details such as how much charge to maintain in their cars at all times.
"The energy storage inherent in automobiles is staggering," said David Weir, director of University of Delaware's office of economic innovation and partnerships. "If all the automobiles in the U.S. were electrified it would be enough to power the entire U.S. for half a day."
Such vehicle-to-grid technology was pioneered by Willett Kempton, an electrical and computer engineer at the University of Delaware. The university just announced its new startup, called eV2g, along with industry partner NRG Energy, Inc.
The harnessed batteries of electric vehicles could do more than help the electric grid deal with peak periods of greater energy demand from U.S. homes and businesses. They could also help the grid store more energy from alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power.
It's one more way EV owners can commit to a sustainable energy future and get paid for it at the same time," said Denise Wilson, President of NRG's Alternative Energy Services.
The startup plans to kick off its program by enrolling managers of large electric vehicle fleets , such as those owned by companies or U.S. government agencies. But it also wants to eventually enroll individual electric car owners.
NRG already owns a network of charging stations in Texas that could make use of the vehicle-to-grid technology. If a national network of charging stations eventually emerges, the growing numbers of electrics car may help the aging U.S. power grid weather the energy challenges ahead. As for electric ar drivers, they might consider this an added perk besides getting tax credits and not having to pay for gas.