If plug-in and full-electric vehicles are ever to hit the road in significant numbers, their downtime at the charging plug could create a challenging new load for utilities. V2Green has software that it says can orchestrate vehicle charging with the generating capacity of the electrical grid.
The Seattle-based company, founded in 2006 and just provided with seed funding, is developing an application that stays inside a vehicle and communicates with local utilities when it’s time to “fuel up”. The software could help direct cars to only charge when energy is cheap and readily available, a scheme that will work well with renewables like wind and solar power.
Although it’ll be a few years yet until there are many electric vehicles on the road, there are likely to be numerous challenges for V2Green in cornering the market, once it exists. While consumers might see some small cost savings, “the ultimate beneficiary of smart-charging is the utilities,” CEO John Clark admits.
Car makers and consumers will likely need incentives to encourage use of the software, like an up-front calculation of what it can save them, such as more efficient, but also more expensive CFL light bulbs have. And even with incentives, there could be some pitfalls to using the software, at least from the demanding viewpoint of consumers, who will want their car fully charged when they’re ready to drive — not when the grid is ready to supply energy.
But for the moment, V2Green is still developing, although Clark says it already has some income. The company is doing testing with Austin Energy in Texas and Seattle City Light locally, and is also eyeing other opportunities for smart-grid software.
V2Green took about $1 million from unnamed seed investors. The company is keeping the round open, and may begin looking for venture funding at the end of this year or early next.