Electric vehicles are pretty green in their own right. After all, the cars create zero carbon emissions. But imagine a vehicle that not only runs on electricity, but actually gives power back to the grid. One University of Delaware professor converted a few of the college’s vehicles to do just that. Under the school’s vehicle-to-grid program (V2G), Toyota Scions owned by the university and the state of Delaware feed electricity back to the local grid.
The V2G program, led by Willett Kempton, began back in 1997. Over the years, it’s expanded its fleet to include seven vehicles, three owned by the university and four owned by the state. Kempton hopes that V2G programs can serve as a reliable source of energy as America converts to fluctuating energy sources like solar and wind power. And he could really be onto something: One electric vehicle produces more than 10 kilowatts of energy, the average draw of 10 households. Since cars are idle about 95 percent of the day, when not in use they could serve as the perfect power source.
To run on electricity and also feed back into the grid, the cars require a cable that connects from the car’s radiation grille to a socket in the university parking lot. The car’s battery and the grid can communicate with each other via an internet signal carried down the connector, so users can ensure both the car and the utility’s power needs are met. Eventually, Kempton hopes these hook-ups would be common sights at places like rest stops and parking lots. Drivers can recharge their batteries and once fully charged, the battery could give back to the grid.