Trucks at Work

Standardizing the “Smart Grid”

Our stakeholders have keen interest in the Smart Grid because it's the infrastructure needed to recharge hybrid and electric vehicles [so] accelerating more meaningful standards will drive greater improvements in market access, cost reductions and technological innovation.” –Jack Pokrzywa, director of global ground vehicle standards, SAE International

One of the big hurdles that needs to be surmounted in the global effort to make electric vehicles (EVs) practical technology for cars and trucks alike deal with how to recharge them – in effect, how to ensure the electrical power supply network or “grid” is “smart” enough to deal with the extra demand that’ll be imposed by wider use of EVs.

That’s one reason why the standards association within the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE-SA) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) are forging a strategic in order to create what they call “a more efficient and collaborative standards-development environment” for the so-called “Smart Grid” of the future.

[Here’s a good overview of what the “Smart Grid” is all about.]

Both SAE International and IEEE-SA have already worked together to help generate standards for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) plus vehicle-to-grid (V2G) communications. In fact, some 24 SAE International ground vehicle electrification committees with over 780 members have developed 46 standards and are currently working on over 30 new standards in process.

[You can read up on what’s going on in the world of electric vehicles by clicking here to view the SAE’s dedicated “electrification portal.”]

Now the two groups want to find ways to develop and quickly roll out better standards to foster the development of "Smart Grids" for the U.S. and other nations. “That translates into faster realization of the revolution that the Smart Grid promises in terms of production, delivery and use of electricity for industry and consumers alike worldwide,” noted Judith Gorman, managing director of the IEEE-SA.

But it’s also fair to note that creating a “Smart Grid” won’t come cheap, though it should save a lot of money over time. That’s because the two-communication pathways required to make the grid “smart” are pretty expensive. Yet, by managing electrical demand more precisely – especially as EVs get worked into the mix – consumers and utilities alike should be able to save more money over time. That’s the theory at least.

The University of North Carolina, for one, is doing a lot of ”Smart Grid” research, and the video below really helps put these issues in perspective.

The long and the short of it is, without good standards governing how EVs get recharged via the electrical grid, their stay on the transportation stage could be cut short. We’ll see how this all works out.