With every major automotive manufacturer announcing an electric vehicle, hybrid, or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) to debut in the next 2-5 years, it’s clear that these vehicles are poised to compete in the mass market. But how did we get here? Where do we need to go to make this happen? Is the grid ready?
Roger Duncan, General Manager of Austin Energy, discusses these issues from the point of view of the person responsible for delivering electricity to these vehicles.
There are two major convergences to watch in the world of electricity. The first relates to the convergence of the auto industry and 'big grid' utility providers to service next generation electric vehicles powered by batteries and H2 fuel cells. The second deals with the convergence of software and energy flows. We expect major enterprise software providers to jump into 'smart grid' efforts in the years ahead. And IBM is leading the charge!
IBM's Smart Planet In early November IBM's CEO Sam Palmisano delivered a speech on Big Blue's vision of a Smart Planet based on intelligent infrastructure for flows of energy, transportation and information. Now the company is now starting to go public with its formal strategic partnerships.
IBM has announced a pilot project with Michigan-based utility Consumers Energy, 'to help plan, deploy and test an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and smart grid field pilot network.'
But the most singificant project to date is with utility giant American Electric Power (AEP). IBM will serve as the overall systems integrator for AEP's gridSMART(SM) suite of customer programs and systems that create change the nature of energy delivery systems.
IBM will help to expand gridSMART initiatives for new production, delivering and local storage systems that make utility grids more reslient and profitable.
Smart Grid: Software, Sensors & Storage After years of conceptual planning, 'Smart Grids' appear to be closer to reality. The ingrediants for disruption will be software and sensors to anticipate grid strains, and local storage to lower the cost of meeting peak demand.
The 'Big Grid' is based upon a mass distribution model from the 1930's and technology from even earlier. But industry and the Department of Energy are beginning to develop standards to transform the Big Grid into the Smart Grid so that it can handle renewable energy sources, electric vehicles, distributed energy generation, demand side managment, and information about it all. The sale of electric vehicle charging technology company V2Green to Smart Grid technology company GridPoint marks the beginning of a market where hi-tech geeks meet energy geeks.
Could there be a collision of paradigms between geeks who've grown up under Moore's law and those whose basic technology hasn't changed in 70 years?
Geeks look at the Big Grid and it reminds them of the old main frame computer days. They look at the auto industry and and see rust. So, they'll change it themselves. Through their RE<C program, Google is funding renewable energy companies with the goal of generating 1 gigawatt of energy at a price less than coal. Applied Materials has joined Google as high tech leaders that are covering their rooftops and parking garages with solar panels. Former Intel CEO Andy Grove challenges his old company to get into batteries for electric vehicles. Silicon Valley VC legends Vinod Khosla and John Doer fund cleantech companies.
Can these hi-tech leaders find success that scales in a business where there's no Moore's Law?