Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) offer the opportunity to shift transportation energy demands from petroleum to electricity, but broad adoption will require integration with other systems. While automotive experts work to reduce the cost of PEVs, fossil fueled cars and trucks continue to burn hundreds of billions of gallons of petroleum each year - not only to get from point A to point B, but also to keep passengers comfortable with air conditioning and heat.

At the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), three installations form a research laboratory known as the Vehicle Testing and Integration Facility (VTIF). At the VTIF, engineers are developing strategies to address two separate but equally crucial areas of research: meeting the demands of electric vehicle-grid integration and minimizing fuel consumption related to vehicle climate control. Part of NREL's Center for Transportation Technologies and Systems (CTTS), the VTIF is dedicated to renewable and energy efficient solutions. This facility showcases technology and systems designed to increase the viability of sustainably powered vehicles. NREL researchers instrument every class of on-road vehicle, conduct hardware and software validation for electric vehicle (EV) components and accessories, and develop analysis tools and technology for the Department of Energy, other government agencies and industry partners.

Research conducted at the VTIF examines the interaction of building energy systems, utility grids, renewable energy sources and PEVs, integrating energy management solutions, and maximizing potential greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction, while smoothing the transition and reducing costs for EV owners. NREL's collaboration with automakers, charging station manufacturers, utilities and fleet operators to assess technologies using VTIF resources is designed to enable PEV communication with the smart grid and create opportunities for vehicles to play an active role in building and grid management...(Read more...)