The Ring

Plug-in vehicle "smart grid" project receives federal funding

Fri, 2014-08-15 14:09

Two men standing at a vehicle charging station.
Dr. David Castle (left) and Dr. Curran Crawford at one of UVic's plug-in electric vehicle charging stations.

As part of Canada's ecoEnergy Innovation Initiative (ecoEII), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced on Aug. 8 $600,800 in funding for the University of Victoria's plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) smart grid project, led by Dr. Curran Crawford, associate professor in UVic’s Institute of Integrated Energy Systems.

The smart grid project aims to create a better understanding of how best to bring renewable but variable electricity sources such as wind, tidal, wave and solar into the BC Hydro grid. It will do this by examining the storage potential of electric vehicle car batteries and help determine the optimal strategies for plug-in electric vehicles to ensure maximum use of renewable energy sources.

To prepare for increased adoption of electric vehicles in the future, Simon Fraser University, one of UVic’s partner organizations, will collect consumer survey data to construct improved technical models of driver behaviours and charging preferences.

The University of British Columbia's School of Architecture will contribute interface designs and charging station models as well as associated business models.

UVic psychology students working with IESVic are providing a better understanding of how people actually think about PEVs.

British Columbia Institute of Technology is serving as a real world micro-example to test and calibrate some of Crawford’s models. Their campus PEV charging stations are using solar panels to add to the local grid.

PEVs already make use of relatively clean energy through BC Hydro’s network of personal and public charging stations located around the province. The smart grid project will create models to optimize how and when existing future renewable energies will come online.

Crawford says that the project presents a huge opportunity to improve the greenhouse gas (GHG) levels in BC by providing more clean energy options to consumers. Thirty-eight per cent of overall GHG emissions originate from transportation sources in BC, and of that, 16 per cent is associated with personal or small vehicle use.

John Duncan, Minister of State and MP for Vancouver Island North, was on campus to make the funding announcement on behalf of the Ministry of Natural Resources. He praised UVic’s plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) smart grid project calling it an innovative project that demonstrates Canada’s commitment to the production of cleaner energy. Through ecoEII, the Harper government is providing $268.2 million over five years (2011-16) to support research, development and demonstration projects that will generate economic opportunity and help protect the environment.

Read the federal government’s press release and listen below as Curran Crawford describes the key points of the smart grid project at the funding announcement.