Range anxiety – how long before we look back and laugh about our earlier fears? Like any new technology, the battery industry for electric cars is fast improving with a variety of innovators promising more range, higher energy density and smaller, lighter batteries.
IBM has taken up the challenge to design a 500-mile range battery that is 1/10th the size and weight of current batteries, but with a twist. Instead of focusing on lithium-ion batteries, the company is taking an “air-breathing” battery concept from the 1970’s, and trying to make it a reality. Here’s how it works: when the electric car starts, this battery will take in oxygen from the air, which will then mix with lithium-ions to create a chemical reaction producing electricity and propel the vehicle. Once the battery is recharging, it releases the oxygen – as though it were exhaling – and the cycle begins again. IBM and its partners hope to have a working model by the end of 2013.
A team at Stanford University has taken a different approach, looking to improve upon the current lithium-ion battery by increasing the capacity and number of times the battery can be charged in its lifetime. They use silicon as a way to bind lithium-ions, as opposed to the current method using graphite. The team has already created a battery that continues to work at 85% capacity after 6,000 charges/discharges, which, when compared to current lithium batteries usually only last up to 1,000. The team believes that the use of silicon opens up the possibility of a lithium battery holding 10 times the current power density.
These are just two of many exciting advancements in battery technology, as the industry continues to announce contributions to this space. Duke Energy is bringing this new technology to the next level by testing many types of battery chemistries and evaluating the benefits of energy storage to the grid. These projects range from using energy storage at a large utility scale wind farm all the way down to the transformer level in a customer’s backyard. These tests will allow Duke Energy to determine not only the best location for energy storage on the grid, but also its application such as energy shifting, renewable smoothing, and frequency regulation.
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Today, Duke Energy has a fleet of more than 12,000 vehicles and mobile equipment. To do its part for shareholders, communities, and the environment, Duke’s Fleet Services is always exploring new technology vehicles to extend useful life, and reduce fuel consumption and pollutants. To stay up-to-date with and to support this new technology, Duke Energy recently attended and was a major sponsor of the 12th annual HTUF (High-efficiency Truck User Forum) national conference. This is a premier event for the advancement in commercialization of medium- and heavy-duty hybrid and high-efficiency trucks. HTUF has been a catalyst to speeding up product development in commercial transportation.
Duke Energy purchased three of its first hybrid bucket trucks by participating in one of the HTUF projects. Currently, we use 18 medium duty hybrid bucket trucks that use 30% less fuel, provide quiet operation at the job site, and substantially reduce diesel engine emissions. We also plan to continue our efforts to bring more PHEVs to our fleet as they fit our operational needs and make it more cost efficient. Being involved with HTUF and several vehicle manufacturers across the country, Duke Energy better understands how new technology vehicles fit our fleet’s needs and also helps shape products in the best interests of the commercial transportation market.
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Happy National Plug In Day!
Oh wait, you didn’t hear? This is the second annual celebration of the amazing technology of Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEV), and 50 cities nationwide are participating.
PEV drivers and enthusiasts will come together to share stories, brag about the longest they have gone without filling up on gas, and how much they love their PEV (or multiple PEVs). Some cities will hold PEV parades, presentations, educational booths and a possible chance for PEV fans to sit in the driver’s seat.
Come out and join the fun on September 23rd:
195 N. Rosalind Ave.
Orlando, FL 32801
(Event will occur at corner of E. Central Blvd & N. Eola Park)
7235 East 96th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46250
Durham, North Carolina
318 Blackwell St
Durham, NC 27701
Interested in other locations? Check your local area for the nearest event!
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With the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy, the combined company’s territory spans two areas that will soon be the largest political hotspots this year. Beginning August 27th, Tampa, Florida will host the Republican National Convention (RNC), while nearly six hundred miles away, Charlotte, North Carolina will host the Democratic National Convention (DNC) beginning September 3rd.
Although Duke Energy strongly supports individual employee participation in the political process (as long as such activities are done using employees’ own time and resources) Duke Energy is looking far beyond the politics of these two political conventions. The company sees supporting these events as just good business.
As a result of these conventions, each of these two communities expects to see an influx of 50,000 to 100,000 visitors. During these times, Duke Energy is doing its part to support the festivities by, not only hosting several receptions and marketing events, but by highlighting several of its programs and initiatives. One such program playing a role in both Charlotte and Tampa is the company’s Plug-in Electric Vehicle Program.
On Tuesday, August 28th, during the RNC in Tampa, Duke Energy will be hosting a reception for the delegates from both Carolinas aboard the S.S. American Victory Ship (one of four fully operational WWII ships in the country). Prominently displayed at this reception will be several of Duke Energy’s electric fleet vehicles as well as Duke Energy staff who will educate delegates on the activities of Duke Energy’s Plug-in Electric Vehicle program.
During the DNC in Charlotte, Duke Energy will present a “streetscape” where (on September 3rd) the public and (on September 4th, 5th and 6th) delegates will have the opportunity to see and feel a display of electric vehicles and charging stations and learn more about Duke Energy’s plug-in electric vehicle initiatives.
While patrons of these two events may be sporting their reds and blues in support of their affiliated political parties, Duke Energy will be sporting its green – green, environmentally-friendly plug-ins – in support of the communities it serves.
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Duke Energy isn’t timid when it comes to innovation. So it’s no surprise that a handful of employees direct their trailblazing towards transportation.
Consider Debbie Homce, a Human Performance Manager at McGuire Nuclear Station in Huntersville, NC. Although Debbie doesn’t see herself as a techie, she does consider herself a crusader for clean energy and the environment. Her degree in Nuclear Engineering supports this claim.
To support clean transportation, Debbie bought an all-electric Nissan LEAF. Although she uses the LEAF as her primary vehicle for local commutes – work, church, shopping, etc – she hopes that charging infrastructure eventually will allow her to drive her LEAF to visit family in the Midwest or Texas.
In Cincinnati, OH sits Rebecca Hackett, a Real Estate Analyst. Rebecca – who does consider herself an early adopter – waited 14 months to get her LEAF. In fact, she was only the second retail customer in Cincinnati to receive one! She ultimately decided on the LEAF over a Chevy Volt to eliminate more car maintenance… no oil changes, transmission fluid to flush nor exhaust maintenance required.
Co-workers have asked Rebecca about features designed to protect pedestrians. (To warn pedestrians of a nearing LEAF, Nissan designed its EV to beep at low speeds.) Another co-worker questioned the impact on Rebecca’s power bill. “I have not noticed any change in my bill. I trickle charge with a normal outlet in my garage at home during the overnight hours which takes as much electricity as running a TV all night.” This works just fine for her 12-mile commute.
Then there’s Whit Gallman, also an employee of McGuire Nuclear Station, who placed his order for a Ford Focus Electric from a dealer in New York in February 2012 and waited months for the model’s official launch. Finally, in May 2012, after a drive to Long Island and dozens of emails to Ford’s marketing group, he was the third retail customer in the country to receive his shiny new Focus Electric.
So far, our employees have purchased LEAFS, Ford Focus Electrics, Chevy Volts and plug-in Priuses – 4 of the 6 retail models currently offered. I don’t know how those numbers fare against other utilities, however where ever we fall, our homegrown trailblazers here at Duke Energy make us proud.
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When I was asked to lead the Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) effort at Duke Energy, I was excited but also nervous. I knew very little about cars in general. As far as I was concerned, when it came to what I drove, the bigger the better and as long as my car could fit my two kids, two dogs, and an occasional extra kid, I never gave it a second thought.
However, that all changed last spring when I took a Chevy Volt home for the first time. I was excited to be driving it and plugging it into an outlet in my house. I was nervous realizing that I was one of the first people driving a PEV and I certainly did not want to be THE first person to wreck one! I was proud to be part of something that could reshape so many things associated with transportation in the United States.
I was awakened to see how PEVs could truly become a movement as more of us get tired of watching the fighting and unrest unfold over oil, watching the environmental impacts of car emissions, and the lack of control we feel as gas prices continue to rise while paychecks stay flat.
Through our pilots, Duke Energy is learning technical ins and outs of charging stations, as well as when, where and for how long drivers charge their cars. These projects help us get a grasp of the cost and effort involved in installing public charging stations. Through our collaborations with other utilities, charging station manufacturers and automakers, the early work that we are doing is shaping the industry.
As I look ahead at what’s coming, I am encouraged by all of the new players joining the industry; I am fascinated by the advancement in battery technology and charging station design; I am optimistic because of all of our customers’ interest in electric vehicles; and, most of all, I am grateful that Duke Energy is committing the resources to not only prepare us for what on the PEV horizon, but to keep us on the forefront of this game changing movement.
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As Community Outreach Lead for the Electric Vehicles Program, I am involved in education initiatives throughout North Carolina. One area I’m focused on is first responder training. You might be saying to yourself, “First responder training, why are they working on that?”
With almost 1,000 Plug- in Electric Vehicles (PEVs) owned by North Carolinians traveling on our roads today, first responders can face new challenges when dealing with emergencies involving these cars, especially in extrication situations where the removal of a car around a person who has been in an accident. They need to understand how to quickly disable the vehicle, and how fire control and extrication strategies can differ from vehicles with traditional combustion engines.
We’ve collaborated with Advanced Energy and representatives from the North Carolina Community College system to develop hands-on training that will prepare first responders to protect themselves and the public in the event of an emergency involving a PEV. The hands-on component of this course is unique: we supply a Chevy Volt for the training, enabling students to see first-hand what they are being taught in the classroom. The plan is to offer the course at local community colleges, at no charge to the first responders.
We delivered our first course on May 30th at Davidson Community College in Thomasville, and it was taught by Rich Cregar, the Department Head of Advanced Transportation Technologies, at Wilson Community College.
“This PEV First Responder training is a significant new training program that will be useful to all emergency responder agencies in North Carolina,” says Chris English, Research and Program Development Supervisor for the North Carolina Office of the State Fire Marshal. “PEVs are growing in number and are here to stay. As first responders we have to be aware of how to handle this new technology.”
We’ll offer the same course this summer in the Triangle Region, at Durham Technical Community College, and in the greater Charlotte region, at Central Piedmont Community College. Once these three sessions are complete, we’ll continue to partner with the State Fire Marshall’s Office to develop long-term solutions so that all first responders have access to this important training in the future. We intend to share this information for other states in Duke Energy service territory to use as a model as in their community readiness efforts.
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Within the electric car industry, there is a little bit of a “chicken or the egg” philosophy. Which comes first, the vehicle or the charging infrastructure to support the vehicles? This is not an easy answer, but with projects like Indiana’s Project Plug-IN, Duke Energy is helping to understand which needs to come first, or even better, can they begin together?
This project is a big collaboration between different companies in Indiana to promote the advancement of electric vehicle technology and adoption of Plug-In Electric Vehicles:
- Energy Systems Network (a nonprofit organization)
- Indianapolis Power and Light (another utility in the area)
- MISO (a regional electricity transmission organization)
- Purdue (a university)
- and others
The project provides us the opportunity to install residential, work place and public charging station infrastructure. To date we have installed over 100 of them at homes, state parks, and even at a few Kohl’s locations!
I have been a part of several media events unveiling public charging stations. The atmosphere at these events is very “electric”. People are excited about the possibility of owning a plug-in electric vehicle and have the ability to charge while shopping or running errands around their city. This article in the Indiana Business journal describes the unveiling the City of Lafayette charging stations. The Indianapolis Star covered the unveiling of the Hamilton Town Center –Simon Property charging stations.
From what the team has heard to date, our residential PEV pilot participants love the experience of driving electric vehicles. Most are very passionate about the industry and provide us great feedback on the cars as well as the usability of the Level 2 charging station we provided them as part of the pilot. We also hear comments like, “I love driving right by the gas pumps; I don’t even keep track of the price of gas any longer.” We’re still looking for residential pilot participants in Indiana. If you’re interested, please visit our website for more information. If you aren’t in Indiana, we would still love to hear from you! Tell us what you would like to see more of in the comments section below.
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Now that the Charge|Carolinas pilot is underway and Duke Energy is beginning to understand the impact plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) have on our grid, we sat down with one of our first pilot participants. Ken Clifton not only teaches his students at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College about how to be more ‘green,’ but he also lives it. His first step to driving more ‘green’ started with the purchase of his Prius, but, with the launch of the Nissan Leaf, he decided it was time to go all-electric.
What made you decided to purchase an all-electric car?
There are many reasons why I decided to drive all-electric. One major motive was the poor air quality in my Rowan County, which tops at 10 on the worst in the nation. But it was also the added benefits of the smooth, quiet ride that my wife and I experienced when driving the Leaf at the Concord Mills’ Nissan Electric Drive tour, which confirmed we had both made the right decision to reserve a Nissan Leaf.
How did you hear about the Charge|Carolinas Pilot?
I learned about it through Duke Energy’s PEV e-newsletter. I was reading the July 2011 e-newsletter that featured Duke Energy’s Charge|Carolinas pilot and the beginning of enrollment. I had already reserved my Leaf, so I went online to www.duke-energy.com/plugin and signed up that day.
How was the process?
Very easy. After signing up, I received paperwork to fill out and began the charging station installation process.
How long did the installation take?
It took a few hours, but the electrician was very knowledgeable and quickly setup the charging station in my desired location.
So, what has it been like to drive an all-electric car every day?
Since bringing home my Nissan Leaf, I’ve not had to adjust my driving much due to my job being close. My wife, who also owns a Leaf, has had to make some adjustments and plan her commute because she drives further for work.
How much and how often do you charge up?
I usually only charge up to 80%, but my wife has to fill up to 100%. I have gotten into the habit of plugging in whenever I get home. The longest either of us has had to charge was four hours.
What is the furthest you’ve ever driven?
The most miles I have had to drive was 49, which is well within my vehicle’s driving range.
What would you recommend to others interested in purchasing a PEV?
I would recommend evaluating the distance they drive, to ensure the car meets their needs. Also, where you live can make a difference. Residents up north have colder winters and this can affect the range as well as use more energy to heat up the car. But, I definitely feel that everyone should look into buying one. Along with my electricity, I found out that my second charging station was made in Mebane, NC. It feels good to know I am buying American Made.
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No one, with perhaps the exception of skydivers, likes cords, do they? Phones – those pesky landlines, not the smart phone that accompanies us just about everywhere – stopped relying on cords long ago. Your computer mouse, printers, and networks are all going cordless. Even babies can’t wait to lose their umbilical cord – we’re ready to go wireless minutes after birth.
Electronic Vehicle drivers are ready to experience the same freedom, and technology is emerging that will help them free themselves of their vehicular tethers. This emerging technology has the potential to expedite the mainstream adoption of PEVs, with the expectation that PEVs with wireless charging systems could reach consumer markets within this decade.
Carolina-based Clemson and Duke Energy are both participants in the Apollo Program, an initiative of Evatran™, which has developed the Plugless Power™ wireless recharging technology. The system would offer greater convenience, allowing drivers to avoid the repetitive plug-in process. We’re testing an early version to help answer fundamental questions about use and performance. Will it charge an electric car (in this case, a Nissan Leaf) in the same time as a wired charging station? How does the installation compare when looking at wired versus wireless charging stations in terms of time and cost? How does going wireless affect the overall customer experience of owning a PEV? These answers will help Duke Energy better understand how this type of technology will impact our customers as more and more PEV’s become part of life at work and at home.
Does the promise of wireless charging stations increase your interest in owning an electric vehicle? Tell us why in the comment section below.
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Spring is here so I suppose it is that time again – time to get out there and get educated about sustainability and eco-friendly living by attending the Charlotte Clean and Green event. The Charlotte Clean and Green event is an annual… well, I guess I would call it a type of festival, with a focus on the environment. For the past several years, this free public event has been held during the spring in uptown Charlotte. Duke Energy, along with Wells Fargo, is a key sponsor of this community event. This year, Duke Energy is also one of nearly 30 exhibitors that plan to set up tents booths and tables to provide demonstrations, education and lots of freebees.
I attended this event last year, supporting the Duke Energy display where we provided our customers with free energy conserving compact fluorescent light bulbs and offered a little show-and-tell with our plug-in electric vehicles. Standing behind the table or running through the features of Duke Energy’s all-electric Tesla Roadster with interested passers-by, I saw scores of couples, families, children and individuals with gift bags, balloons, ice cream, information packs, painted faces and trees! (Yep, there were even small, ready-to-plant trees given away by our Carbon Offset program!)
This year, exhibitors will include
- Conservation agencies
- Eco-free/Cruelty-free boutiques
- Sustainable architectural firms
- Tree and plant specialists, green landscaping companies
- Organic cleaning companies, organic clothing companies, organic… well, anything companies
- Energy conservation companies, energy management companies, energy companies
- Heating and cooling vendors
Everyone I saw last year seemed to have a smile, a question or a painted face, but everyone looked to be having a good ol’ afternoon. If you haven’t had a chance to experience Charlotte Clean and Green, I would recommend that you at least come check it out. Oh, and bring a friend to buy you an eco-friendly ice cream cone to boot.
This year’s Charlotte Clean and Green event will be held on May 19th from 10am to 4pm in Uptown Charlotte’s Elizabeth Park. For more information, visit www.charlottecleanandgreen.com.
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Duke Energy is preparing for widespread Plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) adoption by collaborating with customers, car manufacturers, technology developers and others. Our goal is to keep energy prices affordable, and to ensure that the power grid remains safe and reliable, as more and more customers purchase electric cars. One thing we have done to help achieve these goals is the Charge|Carolinas pilot in North and South Carolina. Each of the 150 participants in the pilot received a 240-volt, Level 2 charging station and installation of that charging station up to $1,000. When the pilot ends, participants can keep the charging station for a small fee. Duke Energy will remotely access usage information from the charging stations to better understand collective charging habits and the impact on the power grid. This way we can better prepare for increased use in the future.
As Project Manager of the pilot I have had the pleasure of speaking with many of the participants. I certainly wasn’t prepared for the level of passion for these cars that some of our customers have shown. One customer, the first to join our Pilot, drove out of state to get his Volt just so that he could be a proud owner months before Volts were actually available in North or South Carolina. Another customer, who is clearly a technical genius and protector of the environment, has built a remarkable home energy management system complete with solar cells, to save power and manage his load.
For PEV owners who were unable to get into the pilot before we reached the 150 car quota, please stay tuned to find out more about Duke Energy’s electric vehicle program in the months to come.
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Chrysler has done it again! The American automaker is teaming up once more with Duke Energy to test a new line of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). You may remember last September when Chrysler and the Department of Energy collaborated with utilities across the nation, including Duke Energy, to test their PHEV Dodge Ram 1500s. This time, we’ve partnered up for another demonstration project that will test the Chrysler Town & Country plug-in hybrid minivans.
Duke Energy received eight minivans on April 18, 2012 to begin testing in real-world city and rural environments during the next two years. In addition to the gas engine, they’re powered by a liquid-cooled 12.1 kWh lithium-ion battery that provides a range of 700 miles. They’re expected to fully charge in less than three hours using a 220-volt, Level 2 charging station. As a result, the fuel economy is expected to land between 30 and 40 MPG. Not bad for a minivan!
By participating in the project, we help Chrysler test a technology that could help us fulfill our Clinton Global Initiative commitment to purchase a 100% Plug in Electric (PEV) fleet starting in 2020. We encourage the industry to keep developing clean transportation solutions not only for our customers, but also for our own vehicle fleet.
Look for the minivans out in the field, as some of our guys use them to travel from job site to job site!
For more on the project, check out this news release.
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Wouldn’t it be great if your car could talk to the nearby gas stations and you could top off your tank using the lowest cost option? In concept, this is very similar to what Toyota wants its electric vehicle models to have the ability to do.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recently developed a communication protocol to enable electric vehicles and charging stations to communicate with utilities. Using these new communication standards, Toyota is developing a vehicle telematics system to enable its electric vehicles to send and receive communication signals to and from Duke Energy, via the internet or through smart meters. Through an Indiana-based pilot called Project Plug-IN, Duke Energy and Energy System Network (ESN) have established an ideal test bed in which Toyota can test its new telematics system that will be available in future releases of the Plug-in Prius.
The really novel part about this demonstration between Duke Energy, ESN and Toyota is that this will be the first real world test of the new protocol in the homes of Duke Energy customers. This type of utility -to- vehicle communication could allow Duke Energy to send pricing signals to vehicles, allowing the vehicle to use driver preferences and energy costs to determine the ideal time to charge.
This new method of communication will not only help utilities better understand how electric vehicle charging could affect the grid, but also provide key input into Duke Energy’s forecast of long-term infrastructure needs. The benefit to customers could potentially be even greater by introducing new ways for them to engage their utility for future time-based rates or demand response programs. This technology can also help automakers develop better vehicles to suit customers’ needs as well as give customers more control over their vehicles’ energy consumption.
Yet another benefit to all of this work is the economic impact. Toyota Motor Corporation’s large presence in the state of Indiana has been primarily limited to manufacturing. However, through collaboration with Duke Energy and Project Plug-IN, a pilot program under which Duke Energy has deployed more than 100 intelligent electric vehicle charging stations, the automaker is now beginning to take on R&D activities in the state.
The project was officially announced in August and is expected to run through 2013.
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