Pecan Street Launches Texas’ First Grid-Connected Vehicle-to-Grid Research and Testing Center

Energy research organization Pecan Street Inc. launched Texas’ first grid-tied vehicle-to-grid (V2G) testing center at its lab in Austin, Texas, turning electric vehicles into a dispatchable load shaving tool for the municipally-owned electric utility, Austin Energy.

The V2G testing center is part of Austin SHINES, an Austin Energy project that is testing how energy storage at grid, commercial-, and residential applications-scale to help increase the penetration of solar energy to reduce peak demand, increase grid resiliency and achieve the City of Austin’s renewable energy and storage goals by 2027.

“As electric vehicle sales increase, more and more families have an energy storage system parked in their garage,” said Scott Hinson, chief technology officer at Pecan Street. “V2G technologies allow us to unlock the potential of EVs for cleaner transit and a cleaner grid.”

Deployed throughout a service area, V2G technology could allow utilities to knit together electric vehicles to act as a virtual, on-demand power plant. Paired with the increasing penetration of residential roof-top solar, EVs can become a viable source of clean, dispatchable power for utilities during peak demand periods.

“Energy storage plays a pivotal role in how utilities manage a more distributed grid,” said Debbie Kimberly, vice president of customer energy solutions and corporate communications at Austin Energy. “We look forward to seeing the results of Pecan Street’s vehicle-to-grid testing.”

Pecan Street estimates that each electric vehicle connected to this kind of dispatchable system could power a home for two to five hours or power up to five homes for about an hour each. Shaving peak power demand during the highest few hours of electric use has significant benefits on electric system costs, rates and emissions reductions.

“Electric vehicles can be more than emission-free transportation,” said Suzanne Russo, CEO of Pecan Street. “Home storage and EVs can become valuable grid assets that help meet clean energy and energy affordability goals if utilities can efficiently integrate them and incentivize consumers to participate in peak-shaving programs. Through our unique partnership with Austin Energy, Pecan Street is developing, testing and proving the hardware and software innovations that will allow V2G systems to go mainstream.”

This article was originally written for Pecan Street Inc.

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