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Electric Appliances as Virtual Power Plants

by gmoke Wed Jan 5th, 2022 at 05:11:14 AM EST

"We're thinking we can turn water heaters, refrigerators, thermostats, electric vehicles and batteries into virtual power plants [VPPs]" to help balance the grid's increasing clean electricity, Jigar Shah, director of the DOE Loan Programs Office [LPO] said in a September 2021 interview (https:/www.canarymedia.com/articles/policy-regulation/jigar-shahs-big-idea-for-getting-rooftop-sola r-and-smart-appliances-to-low-income-americans).  The LPO are offering loan guarantees for companies that produce grid-responsive, energy-efficient appliances and equipment and low interest, long term loans for low-income buyers, a $4 billion per month market, for joining a distributed energy resources [DER] system to act as a modular, virtual power plant [VPP].

In a June DOE podcast (https:/www.energy.gov/podcasts/direct-current-energygov-podcast/lpos-new-look-conversation-jigar-sh ah) Shah said,
"Well, I think these distributed energy programs [DER] are the most straightforward way that we've thought about it [environmental justice]. And when you think about appliances, it's not just refrigerators, air conditioners and water heaters. It also includes solar plus storage, but it also includes electric cars. Right? So electric cars are DER-enabled appliances as well, right? So when you think about, when you look at the Texas polar vortex, there were some people who actually were able to power their whole house off their car. And so, you know, in fact, I'd say a car battery is probably the cheapest way to get a battery these days, because it's, you know, 90 kilowatt-hours for I think, $14,000 or $15,000 for a used Chevy Bolt.  So I think that there's a lot that we can do there. I also think that the scope and the scale that we're trying to get after is pretty large. And, you know, I think we need to find large pockets of opportunity, right? So when you think about appliances, appliances alone -- not counting electric vehicles -- is about a $10 billion a month -- a month -- business. Right? And roughly 40% of those purchases are made by low-moderate income households. Right, so that's $4 billion a month. So if we can shift $4 billion dollars a month of purchases, from, you know, like some form of payday lending to low-interest loans with long durations, that's going to save a tremendous amount of money for the average consumer. And if those appliances are plugged into distributed energy resources, all of our modeling shows that it's the only idea that we have that can actually reduce electricity rates. Not reduce the growth of electricity rates, but actually reduce electricity rates...."

"We can insert ourselves there and help people get 6...or 7 percent interest rates," Shah said. ​"But in exchange, they have to opt in their air-conditioning system into a distributed energy resources project and...get paid to provide grid flexibility..."
"California spilled about 1600 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy last year [2020], and they could have captured a lot of that if they had demand dexterity in the grid. So they could, you know, make people's houses a little bit cooler than they had set it for, and use some of that power then, and then not used it later in the afternoon when they would have turned it on, right? And so starting to time the loads in the homes with  when there's overproduction of electricity is something that does qualify for Loan Programs Office, and a lot of the residential solar players are in the best place to, you know, promote those services."

This is one way that using electric appliances as VPPs and DERs "can actually reduce electricity rates. Not reduce the growth of electricity rates, but actually reduce electricity rates...."

More electric appliances as power plants?
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. no 0%
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. neither yes nor no 0%
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it's, you know, 90 kilowatt-hours for I think, $14,000 or $15,000 for a used Chevy Bolt.
2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV MSRP
Chevrolet Bolt EV Depreciation ,Y1-Y10
by Cat on Thu Jan 6th, 2022 at 09:47:58 PM EST
A couple of things are needed for this to work. To use an EV as a power source, it has to support Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) or Vehicle-to-House (V2H). That requires features in both the car and in the interconnecting "charging" cable. In the US, the CCS connector standard doesn't support V2X and neither do the cars.

Another thing you need is a suitable electrical infrastructure in your house. Normally you expect the current to flow from the service connection towards the outlets, and the circuit breakers are sized to protect the downstream wiring from overheating. If you restrict the current suitably, the wiring will work ok, but now the circuit breakers are at the wrong end of the wire so you have a safety issue to handle.

Also you need an inverter somewhere in the picture to convert your DC battery output to AC. There may be enough components in the car to do the conversion, but it is not all that easy to synchronize two AC circuits. If you have a rooftop solar panel installation, that will have the inverter electronics in it, so "all you have to do" is connect stuff together.

And finally, for all of this to make economic sense, you need a rate structure (tariff) that attracts your EV's spare power into the grid. That is probably going to be a peak shaving tariff. Few residential contracts offer that, they have net metering for the solar panel system, but that is a different rate structure.

Personally, I think that the electricity supply should be provided by the utility or city, using utility-scale solar, wind, and battery configurations. That provides economy of scale, professional management of the infrastructure, emergency power, street lights, etc.

Also, that utility-scale system provides a way to recover the cost of operating the distribution grid (to houses) which otherwise is hard to justify. For example, if somebody has lots of solar panels and a big battery, they are not going to want to pay for their share of the power lines and other stuff in their neighborhood. But they are going to want to stay connected to it just in case there is a failure of their household system.

by asdf on Thu Jan 13th, 2022 at 03:28:52 AM EST

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