OnStar, in collaboration with with TimberRock Energy Solutions, Inc. — a technology and energy services company — have announced today a project that uses aggregation software and solar charging canopies with integrated storage to manage the flow of solar power to benefit the electric grid. In doing so, it will be the first “real-world” use of OnStar’s Smart Grid solutions.
TimberRock will monitor the output of its solar charging stations, how much stored energy is available and when it can sell energy back to the grid to help meet peak demand. To help balance this system, TimberRock will then manage its fleet of four Chevrolet Volts to help regulate energy flow. This practice has been coined as Market-Based Regulation, and is similar to the Smart Grid project OnStar announced with General Electric.
“The future of electric vehicle charging will be a marriage of renewable energy and battery storage as we look to address the intermittency of renewable solar and wind power,” said Rob Threlkeld, General Motors’ manager of renewable energy. “This project supports GM’s goal of using all factors of the charging equation: electric vehicles, solar power, and battery storage.”
The ability to control the Volts’ charging using software is made possible by an OnStar solution called Demand Response, accessed through OnStar’s Smart Grid application programming interface, or API. For the program, OnStar has granted TimberRock access to its API so that it can start, stop and modulate the amount of charge going to a particular Volt in coordination with energy need, with TimberRock’s software determining when the EVs can be used to support the grid.
If all goes well, the integration could lead to consumers receiving financial benefits for allowing a company to manage the charging of their EVs, if they choose to participate. In addition to benefitting consumers and companies like TimberRock, solutions like Demand Response could also help utilities manage the electric grid load.