You didn't think Google would end its involvement in the smart grid industry with PowerMeter, did you? The Internet giant announced yesterday that it's working on smart car charging software—the place where IT and ET (energy technology) meet, according to Google.org's Dan Reicher.
The software, which is still in the prototype stage, will tackle the future issue of millions of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) charging at the same time and straining the electrical grid. Google's software will use so-called vehicle dispatch algorithms to smooth the load on the grid, optimize use of on-the-grid solar and wind power, and generally make things easier for grid operators by helping to maintain a steady frequency on transmission wires. This steady frequency should reduce the need for utilities to increase or decrease electricity flow to keep pace with demand.
Vehicle-to-grid technology—a system where EV batteries feed captured electricity to the electrical grid when necessary—is still years away. Google's one-way grid-to-car system, in contrast, could hit the streets much sooner. Of course, Google isn't the only company working on smart charging software. The Chevy Volt will have a smart charging system when it's released next year, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory announced in April the development of its own smart charger controller.