DER, Infrastructure, Solar, Storage

Building on the Promise of Solar+EV Charging

A group of organizations led by the Great Plains Institute (GPI) will work together to assess the potential value of treating renewable energy generation and controlled electric vehicle (EV) charging as a single linked technology that benefits utilities and consumers.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) selected GPI to conduct research on new ways that solar energy can improve the U.S. power grid. GPI was one of nine teams selected to join the Solar Energy Innovation Network program.

“We selected teams that are experimenting with promising ideas to use solar power to improve the future of grid security and reliability in their communities,” said Kristen Ardani, who leads the Innovation Network at NREL.

GPI said that the solutions developed and demonstrated by the GPI team will be turned into pilot projects in Minnesota and serve as a blueprint for other states.

Related: Inside Renewable Energy: The Coming V2G Uptrend — Where’s the Value in Grid Friendly Electric Vehicles?

“The value of solar+EV technology differs depending on whether it’s residential use, workplace charging, or fleet charging,” Brian Ross, the GPI project manager, said in a statement. “Solar+EV opportunities also change for different types of utilities in terms of meeting electric load, improving grid utilization, and avoiding costly upgrades. To capture these benefits, we need to see if we can create market-driven development opportunities for solar developers, utilities, and property owners, and the Solar Energy Innovation Network project gives us that opportunity.”

GPI said it is evaluating a solar+EV pilot project at its headquarters in Minneapolis, where a 30-kW solar array is paired with three EV chargers in the parking lot. The GPI team is working with project partners to develop additional pilot projects that test larger scale deployment, and different types of charging patterns, such as at a residential setting, park and ride lots, or fleet charging.

In addition, GPI said the project will consider the same controlled charging technology for using excess wind energy.

Lead image credit: Sass Peress, Renewz Sustainable Solutions Inc., Derivative work: Mariordo CC BY-SA 3.0 | Wikimedia Commons