The United States Army Corps of Engineers awarded a team including the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) a $7 million contract to demonstrate the use of electric vehicles with diesel generators and solar arrays for supplying emergency power. The demonstration project will take place at Fort Carson, Colorado.
The team is led by Burns and McDonnell Engineering Company, which is based in Kansas City, and will construct a microgrid out of existing electrical infrastructure at the Army post, integrating a 2-megawatt solar panel array, diesel generator sets (this just means diesel generators), and electric vehicles to provide a self-contained, energy sustainable capability during power supply interruptions.
This project is called the SPIDERS (Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security) program.
“The goal for the SwRI portion of this 18-month effort is to demonstrate the ability of electric vehicles to serve as energy storage devices in support of a microgrid and provide grid ancillary services, such as peak shaving and demand response, during non-microgrid operation,” said Sean Mitchem, SwRI project manager and a principal analyst in SwRI’s Automation and Data Systems Division.
“Unique challenges of this project include using electric vehicles to absorb excess generated power from the base’s photovoltaic array and reduce the base’s energy bill by integrating vehicle energy storage into the energy management strategy, all the while continuing to serve as an active part of the base vehicle fleet,” said co-researcher Joe Redfield, a principal engineer in SwRI’s Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division.
“This project will be one of the first large-scale demonstrations of the new Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) standard-based DC fast-charge technology,” Redfield said. “As such, we expect to provide input to SAE for future fine-tuning of the standard.”
The use of electric vehicles to store energy from the electricity grid and back it up when electricity demand spikes has been proposed in the past. This is because electric vehicles have very large energy storage systems (usually batteries).
A Nissan Leaf, for example is equipped with a 24 kWh battery pack. This means it can provide 1,000 watts of power for 24 hours.
Another reason for this program is national security. Generating electricity at the Army base, while minimizing petroleum imports from the Middle East, is an important national security need.
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