The University of Delaware’s STAR campus is drawing attention to many new energy projects.  U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) was able to get some hands on experience with one of them.

During the outing, Sen. Coons test drove a Mini Cooper that was operated using battery power developed by a project between the university and NRG Energy.

The project, called eV2G is pioneered by UD professor Willett Kempton, and studies the concept of allowing battery operated rechargeable vehicles to also serve a source of providing power to the electrical grid.

“This is actually the first stage of what will be a fully mobile power plant,” said Coons. “When fully underway, this will be a demonstration of how electric vehicles can be both individual vehicles and power plant, that's been Willit's the vision for a long time. It’s a remarkable, creative and compelling vision and one that I think could really transform the American energy market which, for decades, has been one where power is either generated by big power plants for home use for electricity or is generated in vehicles that move us up and down the country to actually integrate them into one unitary system is a fundamental change in the energy future for the United States.”

Kempton explained that the university played a vital role in helping to develop successful communication that controls the charging rate as well as when to discharge power.

“We do that by a signal that comes from the regional grid operator PJM and we follow that signal and charge and discharge when they ask, that's a really valuable service to the electric system,” explained Kempton. “It’s called regulation and it keeps a balance between how much is needed and how much is being generated.”

He added that once they pass the certification and testing process in the next few weeks, PJM will actually start paying for the service.

Another benefit of the eV2g project is that many of the materials used in the charging stations and power electronics of the vehicles are made in the United States.

“This is American innovation at work and it’s exciting to see a University of Delaware professor beginning to deploy that technology not just here in Newark but hopefully someday soon, around the entire United States,” said Sen. Coons. “As Delaware's senator who serves on the Senate Energy Committee, I look forward to taking what I've seen here today and what I learned back to my colleagues in the senate and to urge them to join me in cosponsoring legislation that will help facilitate a more rapid development of this American invented energy Independence measure.”