Summary

The Answer

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Executive Summary

The Electric Power Grid is a marvelous machine, but it:

  • Is subject to failure by overload
  • Is subject to damage by natural forces and mistake
  • Is subject to disruption by terrorists
  • Is limited at times of peak energy demand

What can be done by individuals?

  • If individuals had their own source of power independent of the grid, they would not lose power if the grid fails
  • If individuals could use this power source to provide power to the grid, in the aggregate they could help stabilize it by providing for peak power demands and local shortages.

Gasoline-Electric Hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius:

  • Are growing ever more popular with the increasing price of gasoline.  They will eventually be a large percentage of the "fleet."
  • Have large batteries that can provide instantaneous power when there is a power failure.
  • Have gasoline engines that can keep this battery charged as long as the gas tank is replenished.
  • Can be used with an appropriate interface to provide backup power for the grid on demand.
  • This same interface should be usable to provide a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) for one's house

Feasibility Test results for a 2005 Prius

  • Electrical testing using a "dummy load" indicates that one can draw about 5-6KW of electrical power at ~220VDC
  • This power can be taken safely and essentially continuously from the vehicle under normal conditions
  • Thus, if an appropriate system can be devised, the Prius can provide enough power to run a house

In addition to the Prius power source the rest of the system must be considered

  • How can power be transferred, preferably automatically, from the car to the house?
  • What is available to transform the DC power from the Prius to AC power for the house?
  • How can this power also be used to stabilize/augment the power grid?
  • What about safety issues such as carbon monoxide and electrical hazards?

By providing localized sources of electrical energy, the Prius and other hybrid vehicles can resolve a large portion of the "energy problem," both for individuals and for the country.

This web site describes a functional installation of a "PriUPS" system.  When a power failure occurs, the Prius is "plugged in" to the house, and supplies emergency power for as long as there is gas in the tank.  In addition, a number of portable systems are described in which the Prius can provide 3kW or more of 115/230VAC power at any location to which it can be driven. 

Site 2005/6

 

  Updated 09 July 2006