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SwRI develops ERCOT-qualified vehicle-to-charging system

Iain Morris
January 20, 2014
Non-profit R&D organization Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) says it has developed a vehicle-to-grid aggregation system that is designed to suspend vehicle charging when the electric grid frequency falls outside the normal range.
The system has been qualified by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) (Taylor, TX, USA) and is aimed at managing charging activities for fleets of electric delivery trucks.

According to the SwRI’s (San Antonio, TX, USA) statement, the system suspends charging when the electric grid frequency drops too far below 60 Hertz – the normal operating frequency.

The technology should help ERCOT to coordinate power through various suppliers and maintain frequency levels and could be especially useful when it comes to integrating alternative energy supplies – such as wind energy – into energy infrastructure.

SwRI appears to have developed the system as part of a smart grid demonstration project being run by the Center for the Commercialization of Electric Technologies (CCET) and funded by CCET partners and the US Department of Energy.
It also says the development forms part of an ERCOT pilot program for Fast Response Regulation Services (FRRS) – the goal of which is to provide quick responses to grid frequency deviations.

“ERCOT qualification is an important step for this program,” said Sean Mitchem, a principal analyst in SwRI’s automation and data systems division. “Being qualified means that the fleet owner can bid energy services regularly into the ERCOT market and get paid for those services. The fleet owner is now able to take advantage of the normal vehicle downtime to generate additional revenue by making stored energy available to the grid.”

Gerardo Trevino, a research engineer with SwRI, says a major challenge of the project was to develop a real-time embedded system able to monitor and log frequency and power and react to events in less than a second.

The system that has been developed reacts in less than half a second, claims SwRI, and suspends charging until grid frequency recovers, at which point it resumes charging.

SwRI says it is unique because it operates autonomously and therefore saves valuable time normally lost in human intervention and communications.
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