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Match supply to demand with distributed energy storage utilizing web-enabled electric vehicle battery charger - inverter devices



Our way of life is made possible by cheap, abundant energy. Here in the US, it is what makes our geographical dispersion across the countryside possible.  And in 2015, energy is still an unbelievable bargain. Just ask yourself: would you take a job to push a fully-loaded SUV fifteen miles down a highway for two and a half bucks? That’s all we pay for a gallon of gas.

But the focus on conservation that pervades contemporary thinking about energy is like a misguided enterprise that practices only cost-cutting and ignore revenue-enhancement. There are innumerable opportunities to increase our energy supply by intelligent management of our existing capacity. 

The key to accomplishing this lies in developing new technologies for energy storage. By introducing energy storage capacity into the system, existing energy generation – both green and traditional – can be matched efficiently to the daily and seasonal variation in demand.

Traditional fossil fuel, hydropower and nuclear plants can be designed to operate at maximum efficiency, optimized for total load over time instead of peak-power requirements. Wind and solar power that goes unused because it is generated when unneeded can be stored and forwarded when demand requires. Transmission grids can be protected from destructive surges by situating energy storage capacity locally, where it can be charged at a constant, even rate and then discharged to meet  peak demands.

The break-through technology that offers the fastest time-to-market is the web-enabled bi-directional electric vehicle charger-inverter. This device enables the use of EV batteries to provide load-leveling input to the grid when needed, as signaled by dynamic supply-demand algorithms. A rate model allowing arbitrage of consumed (stored) energy costs vs. supplied energy revenues permits installation and maintenance for EV owners at no end-user cost, while also funding implementations of this technology.

What actions do you propose?

This proposal is intended to enable the use of consumer EV batteries to reduce capacity needs and increase efficiency by mitigating peak loads with locally-provide distributed capacity. The key to doing so is charge-inverter devices that store energy in the EV battery when it is readily available, and then supply energy back into the grid when appropriate.

The principles behind this proposal are as simple as those which govern the design of any power supply. First, introduce capacitance in the output circuit, so that variance of the output voltage due to varying input current and load is reduced. The EV batteries provide that. Second, minimize the resistance between output and the load. Locating devices that connect the batteries to the grid closer to the loads on the grid accomplishes that.

There is a hardware component: the charge-inverters themselves, and the related infrastructure to ensure they operate safely when installed in both commercial and residential service.

There are also multiple service components including manufacturing, distribution, installation and maintenance of the devices, as well as servicing the centralized dynamic control of cycles of charging and inverting, based on localized spot market energy demand pricing (charge when demand/price is low, invert and supply when demand/price is high).

The program costs for analysis, design manufacturing, installation, maintenance and operations are offset by the revenue stream generated by arbitrage of consumed (stored) energy cost vs. supplied energy, making this an attractive proposal for shared public-private financing through tax incentives and private equity.

Implementation-specifics include:

  • Requirements gathering and analysis for developing, manufacturing, distributing and operating these web-enabled bi-directional electric vehicle charge-inverter devices;
  • Evaluation of existing regulatory environments impacting implementation of distributed energy storage and identify deltas to achieve economically optimum supply-demand matching;
  • Comprehensive program planning for implemention of a pilot program providing no-cost charge-inverters to EV owners in a selected market, with defined success criteria including demand leveling resulting in reduced retail price variance; incremental capacity avoidance; etc.;
  • Defined gated reviews for evaluatng program success evaluation before scaling up to full production/implementation


These are clearly only high-level and preliminary steps to achieving the goals of this program. Additional input from the MIT Alumni Community will help focus and clarify how this may be brought about.