Managing the grid - maintaining a balance between supply and demand that keeps the system at its required frequency of 60 Hz - is a bit of a delicate dance.
The widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) could make the task even more challenging, but a Vancouver, Canada, company is pushing forward with technology that might actually take advantage of EVs to enhance grid stability.
Rapid Electric Vehicles (REV) announced delivery of four all-electric ancillary power vehicles (APVs) to the US Army Tank Automotive Research Center in Hawaii, where a micro-grid demonstration project will make use of the vehicles' "bidirectional charging capabilities."
It's this ability to both take energy from the grid and feed energy to it that excites grid managers.
Because if we're headed to a future with millions of electric vehicles in use, the managers want to use the enormous combined energy storage of EVs to help keep the grid humming smoothly during power-use surges or drops in supplies from solar, wind or other renewable sources.
After all, like most vehicles, EVs will spend most of their time not in use, but parked.
"REV is at the frontier of a major shift in the automotive industry. Distributed, rolling energy storage will be a game-changer," Jigar Shah, CEO of the Carbon War Room and founder of SunEdison, said in the REV press release.
In addition to the U.S. military and Honeywell Aerospace, which is in on the tank research center project, REV said it has deals to provuce 25 APVs for various cities, Burlington Hydro and a "major undisclosed power utility."
The company said it expects orders for more than 200 APVs in 2011 and is "preparing to scale production beyond 15,000 vehicles through 2014.
* Pete Danko, EarthTechling