Revving up the electric grid with the power of automotives


ISE Professor Antonio Conejo has long been an expert in optimizing energy systems. So, imagine when he glanced out his office window and saw a sea of untapped energy sitting idly by. 

Conejo soon entered into a partnership with Ford Motor Company to put the extra resources to good use. 

Ford experimental electric vehicle from 1914
Ford experimental electric car (1914)

Conejo’s proposal, “Unlocking Untapped Potential of Electric Vehicle Aggregators in the Electricity Market” will examine how to utilize batteries in electric vehicles to power the grid while the cars are parked. 

He saw the potential of the cars all connected to charging stations from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. – a number he estimates to soon be a few thousand at Ohio State. 

“You look at 1,000 small batteries as one big battery,” Conejo says. “You can use the big battery provided that the small batteries have enough charge to go home at the end of the day.” 

From the production point of view, he compares it to solar panels on houses which provide the electricity needed for the homeowner with excess power sold back to the utility. “You can use the batteries to make money,” he says. “Sometimes you’re a producer and sometimes you’re a consumer.” 

Conejo says the vehicles may be used as well to supply electricity to basic facilities, which could also impact the life of the infrastructure. “If we produced energy locally, then we don’t have to use the wires so much,” he explains. 

In his grant application, Conejo wrote, “The purpose of this research is to design, build and test a software tool to simulate and quantify the economic benefit that the electric aggregator brings to the power system that houses it. Using a holistic approach, we plan to develop models and software tools that are not currently available and that are relevant for the electric vehicle aggregator and its electric vehicle fleet.” 


Story by Nancy Richison

Category: Faculty