With V2G, hybrid-electric cars send stored power back to the grid for cash

Would you buy a plug-in electric hybrid car if it could make you money while it was parked?

Would you buy a plug-in electric hybrid car if it could make you money while it was parked?

In an all-new take on what "smart grid" could mean, University of Michigan researchers are exploring hybrid electrics that could store electricity from the wind or sun -- and even send it back to the grid and earn money.

"Cars sit most of the time," Michigan mechanical engineering professor Jeff Stein said in a statement. "What if it could work for you while it sits there? If you could use a car for something more than just getting to work or going on a family vacation, it would be a whole different way to think about a vehicle, and a whole different way to think about the power grid, too."

The National Science Foundation-funded team calls the concept "vehicle-to-grid integration," or V2G for short.

The challenge: identify ways that make our nation's power grid infrastructure more sustainable and resilient.

The researchers' suggestion: a world where electric cars function as distributed storage.

"We're exploring how an owner can charge it and utilize the battery in a way that is battery health conscience to extend the useful life of the battery," Stein said. "That's especially important if we also think about charging vehicles at off-peak hours, and it's also important if we're talking about this shared opportunity for electric storage. What's good for the battery isn't necessarily good for the grid."

The researchers are currently exploring hybrid-electric powertrains, grid systems and intelligent controllers for the V2G system. They are also studying the impact of such vehicles on the smart grid at large using computer models.

Stein presented the researchers' work at the symposium "Toward Green Mobility: Integrating Electric Drive Vehicles and Smart Grid Technology" today at the American Association for the Advancement of Society Annual Meeting in San Diego, Calif.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com