General Motor’s OnStar is working on a project with TimberRock Energy Solutions that uses aggregation software and solar charging canopies with integrated storage to manage the flow of solar power to benefit the electric grid. It will be the first “real-world” use of OnStar’s smart grid technology.
TimberRock will monitor the output of its solar charging stations, how much stored energy is available and when it can sell energy back to the grid to help meet peak demand. To help balance this system, TimberRock will then manage its fleet of four Chevrolet Volts to help regulate energy flow, a practice known as market-based regulation.
Rob Threlkeld, General Motors’ manager of renewable energy, says the future of EV charging will involve renewable energy and battery storage, which will help address the intermittency of renewable solar and wind power. Threlkeld says the project supports GM’s goal of “using all factors of the charging equation: electric vehicles, solar power, and battery storage.”
The ability to control the Volts’ charging using software algorithms is made possible by an OnStar technology called Demand Response, accessed through OnStar’s Smart Grid application programming interface. OnStar has given TimberRock access to Demand Response so it can start, stop and modulate the amount of charge going to a particular Volt in coordination with energy need. TimberRock’s software determines when the EVs can be used to support the grid.
Paul Pebbles, GM global manager, smart grid and EV services, says in the future companies could offer financial benefits to consumers for allowing a company to manage the charging of the EV.
In addition to benefiting consumers and companies like TimberRock, solutions like Demand Response could also help utilities manage the electric grid load, GM says.
Earlier this month, GM and Honda announced an agreement to co-develop fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen storage technologies, aiming to complete their work around 2020. They say they’ll also work together on refueling infrastructure.
Image Credit: General Motors