Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2009 - Optimism in the face of adversity

You can probably guess from the lack of celebratory post, that we have not had the car driving yet. We are still working with the inverter manufacturer to get this resolved. The crux of the issue is the DSP board and the software that runs on it. I hope to have more information and positive news about this situation next week.

In the mean time we are still looking at the bigger picture of what this GS750V project is about. Pre Xmas I became aware of the SolarNetwork project being lead by John Gorman. This Open Source project aims to create a network of solar nodes, where each node measures locally generated power (from PV cells or similar) and local power consumed. All this information is collected together and used to predict future generation and consumption scenarios based on weather forecasts and the future build out of solar node infrastructure.

I believe this solar node network and its associated data will become a very powerful tool to plan future business models and business expansion with respect renewable energy generation.

The other exciting opportunity John and I have discussed, is the opportunity to expand the SolarNetwork infrastructure to support V2G (vehicle to grid) functionality. The idea being that if the owner of the EV plugs the car in for a top up, indicates that they want to minimise the cost of the charge (and the impact on the environment) and that they will not need the car for another 4 hours say. This then allows the V2G system to effectively sell power from the EV battery pack during peak demand and charge the pack when demand is less and power is cheaper. The V2G system manges this process to ensure the pack is fully charged upon the owners return. Of course the owner also has the option to tell the V2G system to just charge the pack as quickly as possible and keep it that way until they return if thats what they desire.

This may sound like a magical fairy tale, but from a software engineering point of view this fits into the category of a very doable medium scale project. The bigger challenge is with the physical infrastructure. This is where the beauty of attacking it with an Open Source project comes in. It will allow the basic concept to be developed to a working stage with one specific type of infrastructure (e.g a specific charger and/or inverter combination). The capability can then be expanded by adding additional functionality to the control algorithms and by adding support for other brands and models of infrastructure (i.e. other manufactures charges and inverters).

Greenstage has already ordered a solar node and hopes to be on the SolarNetwork in the next couple of months. If you would like a solar node, or to get involved with the development, please contact John and let him know how great his project is.

Why wait for the world to change? Lets just do what needs to be done!

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