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Grid 2.0: When your refrigerator will talk to your car...

25 February 2009
Grid 2.0: When your refrigerator will talk to your car...

By Molly Webb, Head of Smart Technologies, The Climate Group.

... will they have anything to say? It is unlikely that we'll ever think of our appliances as talkative, but basic sensors and communications on the energy system is likely to allow balancing of load from a host of distributed generation and storage units, such as solar panels and plug in electric vehicles.

This was the topic of yesterday's TCG webinar on 'Grid 2.0'. The speakers were:

  • Laura Schewel from the Rocky Mountain Institute, with an overview of their recent 'Smart Garage' charrette, where architects, engineers and designers discussed the barriers to achieving their 2025 vision for urban infrastructure.
  • Steven Hauser, VP Strategy at Gridpoint and formerly of Gridwise discussed the smart grid definition and vision, and the Gridpoint platform, which allows you to manage and control energy consumption through software dashboards.
  • Sven Thesen, Strategic Operations, Better Place, discussed their innovative approach and progress toward widespread vehicle electrification, and where and when to get a Better Place vehicle.

What's clear is that electric motors in vehicles are possible today - either battery operated or plug-in - and that they are more efficient than the internal combustion engine. New infrastructure needs to be developed that will integrate the demand from buildings with those from newly-electrified transport. There is also investment in smart grid and electric vehicles in the US which will mean they plan to race ahead along with European, Chinese and Indian players.

Laura gave us a rundown of what she thinks consumers and businesses can do to accelerate electrification of vehicles, and pointed to ways to get involved in the US - particularly through Project Get Ready:

  • Buy a plug-in in 2010/2011 (or get a conversion today).
  • Create employee discounts/education for buying plug-ins.
  • Buy plug-ins for your corporate fleet.
  • Install a charge-station at your office, network in with local pilot/demo programs.
  • Train staff to service the Smart Garage world (cars, IT and grid)
  • Developers/Builders: make 240v conduit to parking spaces a requirement for all new buildings. Size electrical system appropriately. Network with rooftop Solar.
  • Participate in your local Project Get Ready team.
  • Figure out a way to finance batteries so that initial costs are not so high.
  • Figure out a way to legally allow citizens to make down-payments on plug-ins in advance.
  • Provide software/hardware solutions to multi-point charging, Smart Charging, and billing (but look out for Gridpoint and Better Place)

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