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Electric cars earn revenue from power grid

May 2, 2013 — Daring to be first, the University of Delaware, through its project with NRG Energy Inc., has proven for the first time that all-electric vehicles can give and take power from an electric power grid and get paid for the service.

Located on UD’s STAR Campus, the 15 vehicles officially connected with the grid in February. Since then, they have operated as a mini power plant, giving and taking electricity on demand.

“It’s a certified, registered electric system resource that has all of the legal authority of a power plant,” said Willett Kempton, professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE), research director for the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration and inventor of the innovative grid integrated vehicle technology.

Kempton’s vision for grid integrated vehicles began in 1997 when he and a UD graduate student published a paper about the technology. After doing much of the initial development himself, Kempton realized that his dramatically different plan bridging three industries -- automotive, energy and electronics -- needed more than academic publications to be realized. It required a dedicated campaign that included gaining support from the state legislature, changing public policies and building strong partnerships.

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