EV Connect pilots first vehicle-to-grid project in Midwest

By Mike Brezonick16 March 2021

EV Connect, a California-based software-as-a-service company, announced its collaboration with the Indiana-based Battery Innovation Center (BIC) and Energy Systems Network (ESN) to deploy Indiana’s first large-scale Vehicle-to-Grid capable charging system to support school bus fleet, heavy-duty truck, and other customer segment applications.

V2G systems incorporate plug-in electric vehicles that communicate with the power grid to sell demand response services by either returning electricity to the grid or by regulating their charging rate. EV Connect said this extended test case aims to generate rich data on overall battery life, the number of available cycles and an understanding of discharge rates to assist companies in the EV ecosystem in determining how V2G will impact their products and systems.

“This project is designed to deliver previously unavailable data and lessons about a technology that will quickly move into the mainstream, and the partnership with an industry leader like EV Connect is critical to generating real-world data,” said Tim O’Hara, managing director, ESN. “Testing communications protocols, battery conditions, and uncovering the inevitable unknowns is vital for the many industry stakeholders involved in the future of V2G.”

EV Connect supplies electric vehicle charging management solution and 500 kW bidirectional bus-scale superchargers from Rhombus.

“With the capabilities provided by EV Connect as part of our lab and onsite infrastructure, the BIC will be able to validate from the battery pack through to the fully installed systems in the vehicle,” said Ben Wrightsman, president and CEO, BIC. “With the existing connection to the local ISO grid at our facility and direct collaboration with our utility provider and generator, combined, we have one of the few first of its kind platforms for advancing V2G into reality.”

Bi-directional vehicle charging technology has been validated and holds promise for wholesale energy markets as the prospects around V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle), V2L (vehicle-to-load, such as campsites and construction sites), V2H (vehicle-to-home), among others, grow. The technology, however, has not been widely deployed due to a lack of integration into wholesale energy markets, the lack of real-world data about battery performance over time, and support from EV manufacturers. This project is intended to illuminate the challenges and opportunities of V2G technology and showcase impacts on operating characteristics and opportunities for the grid and business models around electric vehicle battery control. The data collected in the program will guide Midwest utilities and the BIC in developing programs and policies for grid-interactive electric vehicle battery programs, from monetization to the integration of EV batteries as part of the Distributed Energy Resources (DER) mix.

“EV Connect is built on innovation within the electric transportation sector, so we are excited to launch this groundbreaking collaboration with the Battery Innovation Center,” said Ram Ambatipudi, co-founder and vice president of Business Development and Utility Engagement at EV Connect. “By setting up an in-depth battery and V2G testing program, we can contribute to the body of science and research of V2G technology and understand how to secure communications with grid-edge assets that can best support V2G and DERMS as they start attaching to the electric grid.”

Established in 2010, EV Connect serves customers across 41 states in the U.S. including Avista Utilities, Love’s Travel Stops, Verizon, Marriott, Hilton, Western Digital, ADP, New York Power Authority and various municipalities.

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