In wake of demand for electric plug-in vehicles, car companies and utilities are looking forward to solve the coming challenges in the electric grid. Ford, along with seven other car manufacturers and fifteen U.S. utilities are looking at software solutions to address grid overload, and have laid out a realistic plan that will keep a balance in the electric infrastructure. So how exactly is Ford tackling this problem? The answer is in the cloud.
Computers today manage power consumption and regulate the way our electric grid works, and can sense when an overload is imminent. Ford’s software solution consists of a gird monitoring system that detects power consumption of a household, and shares its data with the utility company’s central computer. When a plug-in vehicle is connected to a grid nearing overload, a signal is sent from the electric company’s main computer to the car manufacturer’s one to request “stop charging.” Once Ford’s central computer allows a “stop charge” request, a message is sent back to the electric company to allow for the car to stop charging until the grid is back to normal capacity.
Although it sounds technically complicated, the system uses existing technologies and its backed by the Electric Power Research Institute.
The system will start off as an opt-in pilot, and participating customers will receive financial incentives as a way of rewarding them for helping manage the electric grid. Also, the system allows for customers to ignore the “stop charge” request, giving them flexibility to manage their own vehicle’s charging. The main purpose of the new system is to allow customers to be part of the solution and to avoid unwanted service interruptions when grids overload.
Officially, the collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute began in 2012 and is part of their integrated grid initiative. The integrated grid looks to reduce grid stress and to create a smart system that knows about which devices its powering and when they need more power.
As part of Ford’s Green Strategy, the company is committed to participate in collective efforts that better the environment and reward electric vehicle owners.
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