A billion dollar idea?

It’s a lovely sunny day in the Spring of 2022.

You drive a full electric Ford with the new lithium silicon battery tech that holds about 1,000 miles of charge. Your car is very fast, almost silent, and it costs about $20 per month to charge at home… but you have solar so all your home charging is free.

You bought your Ford brand new, for $22,000.

Over breakfast you check your MoneyCharge app, it seems that there is a projected shortage of power in Clearwater Beach today! If you park there and give up 500 miles of charge you’ll get paid $16 and your parking for the day is free!

You drive over with some friends and the app directs you to an open upcharge / recharge parking spot near the Hilton. You grab your beach blanket and enjoy the day. When you get back to your car there is still 500 miles of charge left, which you can recharge back up to 1,000 miles when you get home.

$16 has already been electronically deposited in your account, bonus!

The MoneyCharge app communicates with the computer in your electric car, you can program it to give up X number of charge miles for X dollars based on your needed range. If your work commute is only 50 miles round trip you can plug your car in at work and sell 800 miles of range at a preset price.

The local electric grid would pull electricity at the lowest prices first, then step up the draw based on the power needs in that area.

A million electric cars each with a 1,000 mile range would become a massive mobile energy storage device for the power grid, your car could sit at work during the day getting charged by rooftop solar, then take that power home with you to power the local grid at night.

Power would flow back and forth, meeting the needs of the market on a minute by minute basis. There would be multiple sources to the grid; traditional gas and coal generation, nuclear, wind turbines, rooftop solar and battery storage from cars and homes.

A sophisticated energy management system using artificial intelligence could manage the ebb and flow if this energy in the most efficient way possible, saving money for the consumer as well as the electric utility.

This AI would track and anticipate patterns of usage over time, making energy management more predictable. Energy AI could also be tied into the weather forecasts, knowing how to anticipate cloudy weather and storms that could diminish the output on rooftop solar.

Of course, this will require the integration of the computer in your car, your home, the app on your phone and the computer powering the grid.

I have the SolarEdge app on my phone (right now in 2017) that shows me the power output, in real time, of all the installed solar Tampa Bay Solar has in operation right now.

Having mobile storage that can communicate with the power grid allows for lower prices all around, if the electric company can get power from a hundred thousand cars they don’t need to fire up the coal gen or natural gas turbine as often.

During high peak usage days (like when the Northeast saw 100 degree temps) this system would draw from rooftop solar and energy stored in electric cars, in addition to coal, natural gas and nuclear.

On hot summer days rooftop solar still produces until 5 or 6 o’clock in the evening, at least here in Florida. I can show you on my SolarEdge app!

There will also be energy storage in your home, probably a larger version of the battery in your car. The MoneyCharge app would track all the power stored in your vehicles as well as your home.

Depending on the size of your home battery you might have an entire week (or month) worth of charge. Even in a long term utility blackout your system would recharge with solar everyday, and if enough homes had electric cars and rooftop solar no one would lose power.

Even if a home did NOT have solar they might be willing to pay a premium to keep the power on, especially if it was only for 2 or 3 days.

Some communities in Florida lost power for a week after various hurricanes blew over and knocked down power lines. Hurricane Wilma did this back in 2005:

The old-timey power grid can get really messed up by a CAT 4 hurricane.  

By 2022 volunteers should be able to drive into storm damaged areas and donate 800 miles of charge while they help clean up the area. Organizations like FEMA and the Red Cross might also deploy huge batteries pulled by tractor trailers, along with rapidly deploying high efficiency solar arrays.

Other than the 1,000 mile battery all the technology is possible NOW to make this idea happen, most of this system involves software integration between electric cars, charging stations and the wider power grid.

We need more car chargers, more electric cars, and more rooftop solar… but that is only a matter of time.

Elon Musk probably has a team working on this idea right now.

Ben Alexander

June . 2017

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