Monday, July 16, 2007

Vehicle-to-Grid Support for BART

While working on my literature review, I came across the most intriguing technical publication. Eugene Nishinaga, Manager of Research & Development at BART, is proposing the use of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) to support the electric power demands of the BART system. For those not hip to the V2G concept, it's the idea of using a plug-in hybrid vehicle to charge your car's batteries AND using the car to send power back to the grid.

With that background in mind, here's the essence of Nishinaga's idea: BART buys bulk amounts of electricity in advance at a wholesale price. Sometimes BART has unused electricity and other times it doesn't have enough. In the latter case BART pays over three times as much for short-term demand power. Maybe this is why BART tickets are so expensive.

Nishinaga's solution is to send the unused electricity to charge V2G-capable vehicles in the BART parking lots and request backup power from these vehicles when demand exceeds supply. His calculations state consumers will achieve a $1,000 savings in gas and BART saves $260,000 per year. Those two factors combined effectively mean most V2G car owners ride BART for free. That's phenomenal, not to mention the environmental advantages! Maybe I should apply for a research position at BART after graduation.

If this ever becomes reality, Jovauna can stop complaining about the crowded BART parking lots and spend the extra dough on Starbucks.

Interested readers can refer to Nishinaga's presentation here.