SANTA MONICA, CA -- Electric vehicles are seen as the future of clean transportation, but they can also be used as energy storage devices, and that is the what the City of Santa Monica and UCLA have teamed up to test with the installation of an experimental Level 3 charger.
The charger offers the fastest vehicle recharge currently available on the market. The experimental part of the special charger is that it then connects the vehicle to the electrical grid as a battery storage device.
The test is hoping to show how EVs can be used as batteries to push electrons onto the grid in the event of short fluctuations in grid electricity, fluctuations likely due to limited solar output on cloudy days, and the like. A fast charger can fully charge an EV in less than half an hour, compared to typical Level 2 chargers, which usually take several hours (Level 1 charging requires the use of a standard plug).
"Saving energy and installing solar was the first generation of effort," said Dean Kubani, Chief Sustainability Officer and Assistant Director of Public Works. "The next generation is about managing energy onsite with interconnected assets like battery storage in buildings and EVs, on a minute-by-minute basis. The technology is coming, and fast, and we want to be ready."
Santa Monica's first public fast charger was installed last week in the Civic Center Parking Structure by UCLA's Smart Grid Energy Research Center (SMERC). The project, funded by a research grant from the California Energy Commission, will manage and monitor the flow of energy between the structure's rooftop solar system, onsite battery storage and City electric vehicles.
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