Last week, GE (Fairfield, Conn., U.S.A.) and Nissan (Yokohama, Japan) signed a two-year research collaboration to speed up the development of smart charging infrastructure to fuel mass market adoption of electric cars.
Both companies have identified two key focus areas for the research efforts. The first relates to the integration of electric vehicles with homes and buildings. The second looks at electric vehicle charging dynamics and the future impact on the grid once millions of electric cars are on the road.
"As the U.S. and world move toward electric vehicles, the automotive sector is forming new industry connections that extend well beyond the traditional OEM space," says Mark Little, senior vice president and director, GE Global Research. "One of the biggest connections being made is with companies that generate and provide electricity."
The R&D agreement connects two industry sectors – automotive and electric- that will work together to increase adoption of electric cars, according to the companies.
Several projects around the two focus areas already are underway. In one project, researchers are studying how electric cars can be incorporated into the overall concept for a Smart Home. According to Nissan, its engineers are developing methods to connect the vehicle to the home, making it a more integrated part of the building's energy equipment. This project will look at how the addition of an electric car impacts the cost of electricity and changes overall home electricity loads, according to the company.
In another study, researchers will use aggregate usage data along with simulation and modeling experiments, to analyze the effect millions of electric cars could have on our electrical distribution system, says Nissan.
According to both companies, through these projects, researchers will be seeking answers to a number of questions including:
- How can smart energy management systems for homes and buildings be leveraged to support the management of EV charging?
- How can we take advantage of energy storage and renewable power, such as home solar arrays, to reliably manage and meet the power needs of electric cars?
- Are there innovative ways to directly link charging stations with renewable power sources?
According to Nissan, its researchers are also studying the use of two-way power flow between the vehicle and the home as a method to reduce the home's consumption from the grid during peak periods, or to utilize the vehicle for emergency backup power. GE researchers have programs under way to understand how these systems, in tandem with the utility, could be used to meet vehicle charging needs without over-stressing the grid.
GE's work will be conducted primarily at its global research operations in Niskayuna, N.Y., U.S.A. where the latest electric transportation research and smart grid technology will facilitate research programs between the two companies. Nissan Technical Center North America, located in Farmington Hills, Mich., U.S.A. will provider researchers with a place to integrate vehicle-to-home charging technology, with support from the Nissan Advanced Technology Center in Japan.