AeroVironment has licensed a charging controller technology from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) that will allow widespread adoption of plug-in electric vehicles without negatively impacting the electrical grid.
The PNNL technology tells a vehicle’s battery charger when to start and stop charging based upon existing conditions on the electrical grid. AeroVironment will use a portion of the licensed technology in a new prototype version of its Level II charging systems.
The licensed PNNL technology can help stabilize the electrical grid by continuously monitoring the grid’s alternating current (AC) frequency and varying the vehicle charging rate in response.
Additionally, in the event of a rapid drop in grid frequency, the charging system stops charging, providing a grid “shock absorber.” Such rapid frequency drops, while small in overall magnitude, indicate that a fault condition has occurred somewhere on the grid and that there is an imbalance between load and electricity generation. By reducing load the system can be rebalanced.
Conventional power plants make continual power generation adjustments based on precisely measured grid frequency in order to maintain a nearly constant frequency of 60 cycles per second. As renewable generation sources such as wind and solar grow in overall share, the overall frequency-responsive generation capability provided by conventional power plants is gradually decreasing.
AeroVironment and PNNL’s frequency-responsive technology brings this same grid frequency support capability to plug-in electric vehicle charging stations.
AeroVironment and PNNL share the vision that with millions of plug-in vehicles charging at any given time, modulating the aggregate charging rate of plug-in electric vehicles can help control grid frequency and support the integration of variable renewable generation sources, such as wind and solar.
Prototypes of the new AeroVironment charging system are available immediately for beta testing. The prototypes include Bluetooth wireless connectivity for data streaming and local control functions.