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While it seems everyone is focused on Copenhagen starting next week, we thought it was a good time to shed some light on a real-life project underway to use renewable wind energy to power electric vehicles. On the small Danish island of Bornholm, a coalition of government, academia and industry are working on an innovative pilot program – the EDISON Project — that could provide some unique technical insights to help address the challenges of combining renewable energy with EVs.
Copenhagen utility DONG Energy is working with regional energy company of Oestkraft, the Technical University of Denmark, Siemens, Eurisco and the Danish Energy Association, and IBM to develop the system. To the extent allowed by consumer preferences, electric vehicles using the system will be charged when wind is generating excess power. Conversely, the vehicle charging will be slowed or delayed when the wind stops and energy production is diminished.
The goal is to use this small pilot of only about 15 electric vehicles to develop a model for deploying roughly 200,000 wind-powered EVs nationwide by 2020.
Denmark is already a leader in wind power – it produces more than 20 percent of the country’s electric power, with a goal to double it. And roughly half the wind turbines produced worldwide come from Danish manufacturers. The EDISON Project will create a model for letting eco-minded consumers charge their cars with renewable energy while allowing utilities to better absorb and manage wind-generated power.
And Bornholm provides a perfect environment for testing the wind power/electric vehicle project. As an island, its electric power grid is self-contained and isolated, making it easier to manage the project and measure the results.
Developing this project requires more than simply delivering a fleet of electric vehicles to the island and plugging them in. Public and personal charging stations must be installed and integrated into the local grid, and a variety of technologies must be integrated and evaluated.
The first step of the consortium is to develop smart technologies to be implemented on Bornholm. The island has 40,000 inhabitants and an energy infrastructure characterized by a large proportion of wind energy. Creating a test bed on the island will allow researchers to study how the energy system functions as the number of electric vehicles increases. The studies will be simulation-based and will not impact security of supply on the island.
Within the project, researchers from IBM Denmark and from IBM Research – Zurich will develop specialized analytics software to synchronize the charging of the electric vehicles with the availability of wind power in the grid. This includes tasks like governing when and where the EVs can recharge, based on available power and peak demand, and how to bill drivers when they use public recharging stations.
The technology must also address complexities such as balancing load on the grid, eventually allowing the electrical distribution system to use the EVs as supplementary power storage that can contribute electricity back to the grid as needed.
IBM has also contributed a Bladecenter server to the Technical University of Denmark that will be used for large-scale real-time simulations of the energy system and the impact of electric vehicles.
System design for the pilot project began this year, with the first test EVs slated for delivery before year-end. System test and evaluation will proceed in 2010, with a full rollout of EVs and charging stations on Borhholm scheduled for 2011.