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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Smart Inverters

Grids built to deliver power one way at constant voltages and frequencies have trouble accommodating two-way, intermittent flow. Achieving high penetrations of distribution connected PV will require the utilization of increasingly advanced inverters

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1. Background

2. Acronyms/Definitions
3. Business Case
4. Benefits
5. Risks/Issues
6. Case Studies
7. Companies
8. Next Steps
9. Links

  • California Governor Brown has called for the implementation of 12,000 MW of “localized electricity generation”, namely DER, which can help the State reach its goal to acquire 33 percent of its energy from eligible renewable energy resources by 2020. However, high penetrations of these DER systems, located within distribution grids which were designed only for handling customer loads, could adversely affect utility operations.

  • Smart inverters could be a low-cost way to mitigate the voltage changes caused by the fluctuating solar generation, thus preventing potential power quality problems. Achieving high penetrations of distribution connected PV will require the utilization of increasingly advanced inverters

  • Voltage/VAR controls are a basic requirement for all electric distribution feeders to maintain acceptable voltage at all points along the feeder and to maintain a high power factor. In addition to increased PV on the grid, recent efforts by utilities to improve efficiency, reduce demand, and achieve better asset utilization, have indicated the importance of voltage/VAR control and optimization. Utilities continue to face system losses from increasing reactive load, such as air conditioners. By optimizing voltage/VAR control great efficiencies can be realized. EPRI estimates 55% of the 566,000 distribution feeders will include voltage/VAR control by 2030, at an average cost of $258,000/feeder. See my post Improved Volt/Var Control

SDG&E has about 1,000 distribution circuits.  Problems might start to pop up when penetration reaches 20% - 30%, forecast to be more than 20% of circuits by 2016  Source: CPUC Presentation Jun 13, 2013

2. Acronyms/Definitions
  1. AC Power – Produced by an Alternator (commonly referred to as a generator) that functions by rotating an energized magnetic field adjacent to a coil of wire. The energized field has a flux around it. When the magnetic field cuts across the coil of wire, electrons are induced to flow and AC electricity is produced. (Therefore the name, Induction Generator) Since AC power has a varying voltage, efficient power systems must therefore vary the current in synchrony with the voltage.
    • The polarity of the voltage across the wire coils reverses as the opposite poles of the rotating magnet pass by. When the direction of the AC voltage changes 60 times per second, it is called 60 Hertz (60 Hz) AC Power, the standard in North America
    • System operators can adjust the output of “real” and “reactive” power at short notice to meet changing conditions.
    • Numerically, the sine wave plot is:
      Angle Sine (angle) in degrees
      0 ............... 0.0000 -- zero
      45 ............... 0.7071
      90 ............... 1.0000 -- positive peak
      135 .............. 0.7071
      180 .............. 0.0000 -- zero
      225 .............. -0.7071
      270 .............. -1.0000 -- negative peak
      315 .............. -0.7071
      360 .............. 0.0000 -- zero
      The height of the plot (Y Axis) represents the voltage being produced. The peak of the plot does NOT measure the voltage output. Because the voltage varies through the entire cycle, and even goes negative for 1/2 the cycle, output voltage is actually a calculation of the RMS of the Phase Angle. The procedure consists of squaring all the positive and negative points on a waveform graph, averaging those squared values, then taking the square root of that average to obtain the final answer. A shorter equation is to take the sine of the voltage at 45 degrees. Sine 45 = 0.7071. Therefore, the RMS voltage is about 70% of the peak voltage plot.

  2. Active Power – see Real Power

  3. Amperage - Current is the rate of flow of electrons - A unit of measure for the rate of current flow. Symbol: I

  4. Apparent Power - The product of the current and voltage of the circuit. Due to energy stored in the load and returned to the source, or due to a non-linear load that distorts the wave shape of the current drawn from the source, the apparent power can be greater than the real power.

  5. Capacitor Banks- An array of capacitors connected into a circuit. Capacitors are used to control the voltage that is supplied to the customer by eliminating the voltage drop in the system caused by inductive reactive loads. Capacitors are considered to generate reactive power. This is the fundamental mechanism for controlling the power factor in electric power transmission; capacitors are inserted in a circuit to partially cancel reactive power of the load.
    • An automatic power factor correction unit is used to improve power factor. A power factor correction unit usually consists of a number of capacitors that are switched by means of contactors. These contactors are controlled by a regulator that measures power factor in an electrical network. To be able to measure power factor, the regulator uses a current transformer to measure the current in one phase.
    • Depending on the load and power factor of the network, the power factor controller will switch the necessary blocks of capacitors in steps to make sure the power factor stays above a selected value (usually demanded by the energy supplier), say 0.9.

  6. Capacitance - The ability of a body to hold an electrical charge.

  7. DNP3 - Distributed Network Protocol - A set of communications protocols used between components in process automation systems. It was developed for communications between various types of data acquisition and control equipment. It plays a crucial role in SCADA systems, where it is used by SCADA Master Stations (aka Control Centers), Remote Terminal Units (RTUs), and Intelligent Electronic Devices (IEDs)

    The IEEE adopted DNP3 as IEEE Std 1815-2010 on the Jul 23, 2010. In April of 2012, the IEEE approved Std 1815-2012 for publication. The 2012 version of the standard includes features for Secure Authentication Version 5.

  8. IEEE 1547 - Standards governing solar-grid connections in the United States. Under IEEE 1547 guidelines, the general practice for small PV inverters is that they will not attempt to directly regulate the voltage on the distribution system. IEEE 1547 requires that PV inverters disconnect any time the grid gets unstable for safety, to make sure solar power doesn't flow through a downed power line and shock a utility worker, for example.

    But that safety measure also prevents solar inverters from helping out in cases in which the instability isn’t caused by a downed line. Indeed, turning off lots of inverters all at once, can destabilize the grid even more.
    • 1547 prohibits DER systems from actively regulating the voltage at the Point of Common Coupling (the interconnection to the grid)),  limits the voltage “ride-through” range and limits the frequency “ride-through” range
    • 1547 is rapidly being “updated” to IEEE 1547a where these limitations are being revised to allow (but not mandate) more flexibility:  1547a may be published by the end of this year
    • 1547.1a (testing) also needs to be updated
    • UL 1741 safety requirements need to cover these new functions

  9. IEEE P1547.8 - Recommended Practice for Establishing Methods and Procedures that Provide Supplemental Support for Implementation Strategies for Expanded Use of IEEE Standard 1547

    Solar inverters in the United States are not allowed to perform certain functions, such as power ramping and volt/VAR control. It is hoped P1547.8 will allow inverter manufacturers to provide those smart grid features,

  10. Inverter - An electrical power converter that changes direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). Photovoltaic systems generate DC power. Inverters convert this DC power to AC power so these systems can interconnect with the grid.

    An inverter can produce square wave, modified sine wave, pulsed sine wave, or sine wave depending on circuit design. The two dominant commercialized waveform types of inverters as of 2007 are modified sine wave and sine wave. Modern inverters use software-driven electronics to flip and smooth the output into standard 60 Hz waves. Since inverters are software driven, their output can be modified to benefit the grid.

    Grid-interactive inverters must produce AC power that matches the voltage, frequency and phase of the power line it connects to. There are numerous technical requirements to the accuracy of this tracking.

  11. Islanding - A distributed (DG) generator continues to power a location even though electrical grid power from the electric utility is no longer present. Islanding can be dangerous to utility workers, who may not realize that a circuit is still powered, and it may prevent automatic re-connection of devices. For that reason, distributed generators must detect islanding and immediately stop producing power; this is referred to as anti-islanding.

  12. LVRT - Low Voltage Ride Through - A capability of electrical devices, especially wind generators, to be able to operate through periods of lower grid voltage. Similar requirements for critical loads such as computer systems and industrial processes are often handled through the use of an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to supply make-up power during these events.

    Many generator designs use electrical current flowing through windings to produce the magnetic field that the motor or generator operates on. Such devices may have a minimum working voltage, below which the device does not work correctly, or does so at greatly reduced efficiency. Some will cut themselves out of the circuit when these conditions apply.

    In a grid containing many distributed generators subject to low-voltage disconnect, it is possible to create a chain reaction that takes other generators offline as well. This can occur in the event of a voltage dip that causes one of the generators to disconnect from the grid. As voltage dips are often caused by too little generation for the load, removing generation can cause the voltage to drop further. This may bring the voltage low enough to cause another generator to trip out, lower it further, and causing a cascading failure.

    Modern large-scale wind turbines, typically 1 MW and larger, are normally required to include systems that allow them to operate through such an event, and thereby "ride through" the low voltage. Similar requirements are now becoming common on large solar power installations that likewise might cause instability in the event of a disconnect. Depending on the application the device may, during and after the dip, be required to:

    • Disconnect temporarily from the grid, but reconnect and continue operation after the dip
    • Stay operational and not disconnect from the grid
    • Stay connected and support the grid with reactive power

  13. Microinverter - an inverter integrated to each solar panel module. The output of each module can be paralleled to combine the capacity and interconnected to the grid.

    While more expensive than central inverters that use multiple modules connected in series, this arrangement provides easier installation, redundancy and more effective capture of energy when they're partially shaded.

    In 2009 panels were generally around $2.00 to $2.50/W, and inverters around 50 to 65 cents/W. By the end of 2012, panels were widely available in wholesale at 65 to 70 cents, and string inverters around 30 to 35 cents/W. In comparison, micro-inverters have proven relatively immune to these same sorts of price declines, moving from about 65 cents/W to 50 to 55 once cabling is factored in.

  14. OpenDSS - - A comprehensive electrical power system simulation tool created by EPRI primarly for electric utility power distribution systems. It supports nearly all frequency domain (sinusoidal steady‐state) analyses commonly performed on electric utility power distribution systems. In addition, it supports many new types of analyses that are designed to meet future needs related to smart grid, grid modernization, and renewable energy research. The OpenDSS tool has been used since 1997 in support of various research and consulting projects requiring distribution system analysis. Many of the features found in the program were originally intended to support the analysis of distributed generation interconnected to utility distribution systems and that continues to be a common use. Other features support analysis of such things as energy efficiency in power delivery and harmonic current flow. The OpenDSS is designed to be indefinitely expandable so that it can be easily modified to meet future needs.

  15. Phase Angle - In the context of periodic phenomena, such as a sine wave found in electricity, phase angle is synonymous with phase. The phase of an oscillation or wave is the fraction of a complete cycle corresponding to an offset in the displacement from a specified reference point at time t = 0.

  16. Phase Shift - Current (amps) lags behind the voltage. When volts and amps no longer cycle together, it takes more of them to get the same effective power, that is, to do the same amount of work.

  17. Power – The rate of flow of energy past a given point. It is measured in watts. Electric power (watts) is transmitted by the simultaneous product of electric voltage and current in a wire. If large amounts of current are present when there is less voltage, the wires, transformers and other power equipment are heated, but less power is transmitted by the equipment. Since equipment is designed to remain cool up to a certain amount of current, vars waste some of the power unnecessarily as excess heat.

  18. PF - Power Factor - The ratio between real power and apparent power in a circuit. The equation for Power Factor is: PF = kVA / kVAR
    • Where the waveforms are purely sinusoidal, the power factor is the cosine of the phase angle (φ) between the current and voltage sinusoid waveforms. Equipment data sheets and nameplates often will abbreviate power factor as "cosφ" for this reason.
    • Power factor equals 1 when the voltage and current are in phase, and is zero when the current leads or lags the voltage by 90 degrees. Power factors are usually stated as "leading" or "lagging" to show the sign of the phase angle, where leading indicates a negative sign.
    • For two systems transmitting the same amount of real power, the system with the lower power factor will have higher circulating currents due to energy that returns to the source from energy storage in the load. These higher currents in a practical system will produce higher losses and reduce overall transmission efficiency. A lower power factor circuit will have a higher apparent power and higher losses for the same amount of real power transfer.

  19. PFC - Power Factor Correction - Achieved by switching in or out banks of inductors or capacitors. For example the inductive effect of motor loads may be offset by locally connected capacitors. When reactive elements supply or absorb reactive power near the load, the apparent power is reduced. Power factor correction may be applied by an electrical power transmission utility to improve the stability and efficiency of the transmission network. Correction equipment may be installed by individual electrical customers to reduce the costs charged to them by their electricity supplier. A high power factor is generally desirable in a transmission system to reduce transmission losses and improve voltage regulation at the load.

  20. Ramp-Up - If a slow enough ramp up is specified, there may not be a need for random reconnect timing. Most inverters can be designed to have soft start ramp up capability relatively easily.

  21. Ramp down capability - May be employed to coordinate with existing voltage regulation equipment and minimize adverse voltage impact. But ramp down may require some local storage.

  22. Reactive Power - The portion of power flow which returns to the source in each cycle. Reactive power flows backwards and forwards in an alternating current. Reactive power, measured in volt-amperes reactive (VAR), is the energy supplied to create or be stored in electric or magnetic fields in and around electrical equipment.
    • Reactive Power is measured in 'kVAR' pronounced as 'kaye-VARs'
    • Reactive power is particularly important for equipment that relies on magnetic fields for the production of induced electric currents (e.g., motors, transformers, pumps and air conditioning). It also must supply the reactive losses on transmission facilities.
    • Reactive power can be transmitted only over relatively short distances, and thus must be supplied as needed from nearby generators. If reactive power cannot be supplied promptly and in sufficient quantity, voltages decay and, in extreme cases, a “voltage collapse” may result. The power grid needs enough reactive power to maintain reliable service.
    • Reactive power is provided by generators, synchronous condensers or electrostatic equipment such as capacitors and directly influences electric system voltage. Examples of reactive loads include capacitors and inductors.
    • If the load is purely reactive, then the voltage and current are 90 degrees out of phase and there is no net power flow. A practical load will have resistive, inductive, and capacitive parts, and so both real and reactive power will flow to the load.

  23. Real Power - (aka active power) The portion of power flow that, averaged over a complete cycle of the AC waveform, results in net transfer of energy in one direction. Real Power flows one way, from generator to load. It is the rate at which work is performed or that energy is transferred and is usually expressed in kilowatts (kW) or megawatts (MW).

  24. Ride Thru Capability -

  25. Rule 21- Electric Rule 21 is a tariff that describes the interconnection, operating and metering requirements for generation facilities to be connected to a utility’s distribution system, over which the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has jurisdiction. The Rule 21 tariff for each of California’s large investor owned utilities (IOUs) is available on each IOU’s website. The CPUC's open interconnection proceeding is R.11-09-011.

    Sep 13, 2012: Rule 21 Settlement Approved - In Decision 12-09-018 the Commission approved the full set of reforms to Rule 21 proposed via a multi-party settlement. The Commission anticipates that the significant reforms achieved in Rule 21 will advance the Commission's goals of ensuring a timely, non-discriminatory, cost-effective, and transparent interconnection process for distributed generation in California.

  26. Rule 21 Phase 2- Item #6 - The CEC initiated a joint effort with the CPUC to update Rule 21 to provide a consistent set of mandated and
    recommended DER functions
    – Initiated the “Smart Inverter” project in January 2013
    – Used experiences from the California utilities and the Europeans, as well as certain international standards
    – Discussed which DER functions should be mandated in bi-weekly meetings
    – Developed recommendations for a phased approach for Rule 21 mandates for DER functions

  27. Rule 21 Proceeding

  28. Var - Volt-Ampere Reactive power -  Measures h out-of-phase voltage and current  Unit used to measure reactive power in an AC electric power system. 1 var = 1 V•A. Vars measure unsynchronized "leading" or "lagging" currents. These currents are usually caused by the side effects of powering equipment that behaves like coils (e.g. motors) or capacitors (e.g. arc welders).

  29. VDE AR-N 4105 - German rules requiring its solar inverters to perform certain functions, such as power ramping and volt/VAR control, which lead to more stability that came into effect for medium-voltage connected solar in 2008 and for low-voltage solar as of January 2012.

  30. Voltage - Electromotive force - An electrical measurement of potential
    difference, electrical pressure, or electromotive force (EMF). Symbol: E

  31. VVO - Voltage and VAR Optimization - Improving on the traditional approach using uncoordinated local controls, VVO uses real-time information and online system modeling to provide optimized and coordinated control for unbalanced distribution networks with discrete controls.

3. Business Case
  • RPS target calls for increasing the amount of renewable electricity in California’s power mix to 33 percent by 2020.

  • To support this target, Governor Brown’s Clean Energy Jobs Plan called for adding 20,000 megawatts (MW) of new renewable capacity by 2020, including 8,000 MW of large-scale wind, solar, and geothermal resources and 12,000 MW of localized renewable generation close to consumer loads and transmission and distribution

  • Achieving high penetrations of distribution connected PV will require the utilization of increasingly advanced inverters.

  • Candidate Phase 1 Mandatory Autonomous DER Functions
    • Support anti-islanding to trip off under extended anomalous conditions
    • Provide ride-through of low/high voltage excursions beyond normal limits (L/HVRT)
    •  Provide ride-through of low/high frequency excursions beyond normal limits (L/HFRT)
    • Provide volt/var control by dynamic reactive power injection through autonomous responses to local voltage measurements (VV)
    • Counteract frequency excursions beyond normal limits by decreasing or increasing real power (FW)
    • Counteract voltage excursions beyond normal limits by providing dynamic current support
    •  Reconnect randomly within a preset time window after grid power is restored
    •  Limit maximum real power output at the PCC to a preset value
    •  Modify real power output autonomously in response to local voltage variations
    •  Provide reactive power by a fixed power factor
    • Set actual real power output at the PCC
    •  Schedule actual or maximum real power output at specific times

4. Benefits
  • Improve Existing Conditions - Smart Inverters could improve existing conditions:
    • Voltage drops on a power line as you move farther away from the substation. The end of a distribution power line can have very low voltage
      Voltage drops on a power line as you move farther away from the substation – The end of a distribution power line can have very low voltage

    • Lagging Voltage - Air conditioners and other motors cause lagging voltage. Increasing vars is wasted energy

  • Smart inverters can use their software-driven electronics to:
    • Ride-through wide ranges of voltage or frequency anomalies to improve resiliency and avoid unnecessary outages
    • Respond to emergency commands to improve reliability
    • Counteract excess vars by shifting the voltage-current phase
    • Counteract voltage spikes and sags to improve quality of service
    • Counteract frequency deviations to smooth frequency changes
    • Respond to demand response pricing signals to improve efficiency

    How much PV capacity a distribution feeder can handle depends on many factors.  Results of many simulations of PV penetration on one distribution feeder with  EPRI's Hosting Capacity Model.    In the Volt/var control scenarios, inverters react autonomously based on the interconnective voltage it sees.   Minimum hosting capacity was increased ~60%, maximum ~100%  Source:  EPRI CPUC Smart Inverter Presentation
  • Randomized Disconnect - Distributed generation resources are require them to disconnect at the first sign of trouble -- typically, when frequencies fall outside normal operating boundaries -- so they don’t feed dangerous and unexpected power back up downed or de-energized power lines.

    But that simple safety feature can actually backfire on the grid, by suddenly disconnecting whole neighborhoods of solar power during momentary grid power blips or faults, causing even more instability. In Germany, that problem was dealt with by randomizing the timing and specific frequency levels at which they tripped, as well as when they reconnected, to shift what would have been a concentrated impact to a more spread-out one.

  • Low Voltage Ride-Through - Prevents inverters from tripping during voltage drops caused by momentary grid disruptions.

5. Risks/Issues
  • Problems from High Penetration Problems of PV
    • Ride-through Problems -

    • Distribution Overvoltage - Too much solar power, and local grid voltage could rise, causing potential problems for motors, lights and other equipment.

    • Local secondary overvoltage - Too little solar power and voltage can sag. That may only flicker light bulbs at home, but it can lead to million-dollar work stoppages for customers like semiconductor manufacturers and server farms that need clean power at a near-to-constant voltage and frequency.

    • Variability and Excessive Cycling of Taps -

    • Plants Have Been Curtailed/Limited -

    • Unintentional Islands Have Formed -

  • Technological Uncertainty - It’s a bit hard to quantify the costs and benefits of making all new solar inverters smarter, versus taking other approaches based on adding new grid equipment, because for the most part, the problem of too much solar is a hypothetical one.

  • Manufacturing Cost - Smart Inverters could add about 10 percent to manufacturing costs to inverters, which make up roughly 5 percent to 10 percent of total solar system installation costs. However, adding a smart inverter at $150 per installation for each rooftop, for an inverter system with a typical cost of about $1,500 or more, is a smart investment.

  • Retrofit Cost - A 2011 study by German utilities and energy agencies estimated that retrofitting the country’s installed solar base will cost €175 million ($234 million), and adding administrative costs could ring that cost up to $300 million. That’s a price tag that could be avoided in the United States, if regulators and the industry can get ahead of it.

  • Reactive Power Costs - For example, a 150 kW solar facility with a 10 percent oversized inverter set at a 0.9 power factor can draw 15 kW of real power from the grid to convert to reactive power even when the solar facility is producing a full 150 kW of real power. While the costs of oversizing inverters are less than installing and maintaining capacitor banks, they are can still be significant for smaller generators. Therefore, generators should either be compensated for the costs of oversizing inverters or for the value of real power converted to reactive power, which can be easily accomplished by compensating based on KVA instead of KWh.

  • Maintenance - Inverters are only warranted for 10 years, so chances are at least two inverters are required over the course of a 25-30 year panel lifetime.

  • Compensation - If we want inverters to produce reactive instead of real power, capabilities for metering of ancilliary services must be developed.

  • Electro- Mechanical Voltage Control Equipment Can't Keep up with second to second changes

  • Communications -  How can utilities coordinate thousands or millions of DER systems,  located at customer sites and owned by non-utilities?
    • Most DER systems must operate autonomously most of the time.  Based on pre-established settings to meet utility requirements and taking into account the DER owner preferences
    •  Communications with utilities are required for::
      • Emergency situations
      • Market signals for demand response
      • Updating the DER settings used for autonomous operation

  • Field Experience with Smart Inverters is Lacking (And is Expensive)
    • What settings are optimal?
    • Whether or not one setting (for a given function) will benefit everywhere
    •  Response timing & control loop settings (typically not specified by standards) and associated stability among many devices 
    • How to manage smart inverter capabilities in coordination with other distribution controls
    • How will functions and multiple autonomous devices work together?
6. Case Studies
  • Germany

    The US is not entirely analogous to Germany. Most of the US is much hotter than Germany, which means that in summer, consumption and generation are much better matched than in Germany. In most German homes, in summer basically there is only the fridge running. In the US, hello non-stop air conditioning. In the US, oversupply of solar will come much later than 40GW solar for 82 Million inhabitants.

    European experience with high penetrations of DER has shown that the implementation of some DER functions can costeffectively improve the reliability and efficiency of the power grid.

    Waiting to implement these functions may lead to costly upgrades and replacements – which actually occurred in Germany
  • 3 phase, large capacity, large conductor primary voltage
    • •300-500 kVA service transformer
    •  Hundreds of customers per transformer
    • Large secondary network - 400 V, 3 phase much bigger than typical US Distribution network.
  • Obliged to provide an technically appropriate PCC for PV connection Obliged to provide an technically appropriate PCC for PV connection
    • 25% of cost on UDC
    • Control units 100 kWp and above
    • Still obligated to pay the FIT amount Still obligated to pay the FIT amount
    • Voltage tolerance +-10%
  • Voltage regulation issues on secondary network
  • Low load,, high PV output
  • Solution network upgrades
  • German Grid Code
    • Require PV systems to support the grid
    • Minimize network upgrade costs
  • California
    • Phase 1 -  Start with autonomous DER systems which provide volt/var management, low/high voltage ridethrough, responses to frequency anomalies, etc. Use interconnection agreements to ensure appropriate autonomous settings.
    • Phase 2 -   Expand to situational awareness with hierarchical communication networks, monitoring ggregated smaller DER and direct monitoring of larger DER. Issue broadcast requests (pricing signal and/or tariff-based) and/or direct commands
    • Phase 3-  Combine field and virtual modeling through power flow-based analysis, state estimation,  contingency analysis, and other analysis applications to assess economics and reliability.
    • Phase 4 -  Ultimately integrate DER management with distribution automation, load management, and demand response for optimal power system management.
  • PG & E - PG&E is seeing "some localized issues" with grid instability in neighborhoods where rooftop solar penetration has grown to around 5 percent, said Hal LaFlash, the utility's director of emerging clean technolog.

  • Current Rule 21 Installation Status
    2,407 PV inverters >30 kW, total of 514 MW
    85,264 inverters <= 30 kW, total of 443 MW Recommend to grandfather the existing units <= 30 kW due to the relatively low system impact and high retrofit costs. The existing units > 30 kW may need retrofitting to include the ride through capabilities and to avoid inadvertent tripping during major system disturbances.

  • SDG & E - has about 6,600 customers with solar rooftops. While that's growing by about 60 customers a month, it still only represents about 50 megawatts of generation, or about 1 percent of the utility's 5,000-megawatt total load. The utility can't monitor or control it, but there isn't enough of it to matter that much.

7. Companies/Organizations
  1. Advanced Energy - (NASDAQ: AEIS) Fort Collins, Colorado (Solar - San Jose, Calif)- AE(which recently acquired PV Powered) is working to address these challenges with partners Portland General Electric (PGE), Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL), and Northern Plains Power Technologies (NPPT) under the Solar Energy Grid Integration System (SEGIS) program

    Advanced Energy claims, "The SEGIS program advancements will help lay the foundation for an “intelligent” or smart inverter capable of integrating large-scale photovoltaic power generation into the smart grid with greater stability and protection,

  2. California Energy Commission - Rule 21 Phase 2 Inverter Settings Technical Working Group - For more information on these documents contact Rachel A. MacDonald
    Electricity Supply and Analysis Division
    California Energy Commission
    1516 Ninth Street
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    (916) 654-4862

  3. Enphase - Petaluma, California - Leader in microinverters

  4. Fronius - German Inverter Manufacturer

  5. Petra Solar - South Plainfield, NJ - Pole-mounted, solar panel-connected microinverter arrays Their microinverter provides reactive voltage injection capability, allowing the modules to balance the sometimes grid-destabilizing character of solar power.

    In July 2009, Petra Solar signed a $200 million agreement with New Jersey utility Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) to supply 200,000 utility pole-mounted units over three and a half years. Many of Petra’s pole-mounted systems utilize Suntech PV panels.

    Dr. Shihab Kuran, the CEO and founder of Petra is Jordanian as are some of the other senior staff at the firm, hence the name Petra. That connection to Jordan has also initiated Petra's next large project -- working with Jordan's utility to roll out more than 100 megawatts of solar on power poles and rooftops.

  6. Power One (Symbol was PWER) - Camarillo, California - Recently purchased by multinational power sector giant ABB, ranks as the second largest international inverter manufacturer.

    Purchased venture-backed Fat Spaniel Technologies in 2010.

  7. Satcon (OTCMKTS: SATCQ) - (Satcon, formerly a leader in the U.S. inverter space, filed for bankruptcy late in 2012 and was liquidated.)

  8. SMA - The inverter market's international leader, recently made a big investment in Zeversolar, a major Chinese supplier.

  9. SolarBridge - Austin, Texas

  10. SunSpec Alliance- A trade alliance of solar photovoltaic industry participants, together pursuing information standards for the renewable energy industry. SunSpec standards address operational aspects of PV power plants on the smart grid—including residential, commercial, and utility-scale systems—thus reducing cost, promoting technology innovation, and accelerating industry growth.

    SunSpec establishes open information standards that solar PV manufacturers use to achieve plug-and-play interoperability between solar PV power plant components and software applications. SunSpec publishes a series of specifications, each consisting of a data model and transport protocol map (Modbus®, SEP 2.0, XML ), for all components in the PV plant system hierarch

  11. Energy Recommence - Provide hardware and software for consumers to monitor their systems.
8. Next Steps
  1. Fill in Research Gaps
    • What settings are optimal

    • Whether or not one setting (for a given function) will benefit everywhere

    • Response timing & control loop settings (typically not specified by standards) and associated stability among many devices

    • How to manage smart inverter capabilities in coordination with other distribution controls

9. Links
  1. Smart Inverter Functionalities Workshop - CPUC (R.11-09-011) - June 21, 2013
    This workshop discussed the first phase of California's smart inverter implementation plan that recommends smart inverter capabilities that could be required to ensure the long-term safety, reliability, and efficiency of the power grid with high penetration distributed generation. Workshop discussions covered smart inverter functionality recommendations and a proposed testing and implementation plan for validating the recommended functions.

    Video Webcast

  2. CPUC Documents supporting Smart Inverters
    • 2012 Renewable Action Plan
    • 2012 California’s Transition to Local Renewable Energy: 12,000 Megawatts by 2020 (staff contribution).
    • 2011 Integrated Energy Policy Report, June 22, 2011-IEPR Workshop on Distribution connected DG
    • 2011 Energy Commission KEMA study of PV in Europe

  3. SunShot Initiative High Penetration Solar Portal - DOE EERE - High penetration solar research helps DOE understand, anticipate, and minimize grid operation impacts as more solar resources are added to the electric power system.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Carsharing and Ridesharing

Car owners invest huge amounts of time and money into an asset they barely use. Cars are driven only 8% of the time, while potential drivers walk past block after block of underutilized cars.

Navigate this Report
Back to Electric Vehicle Index
1. Background

2. Acronyms/Definitions
3. Business Case
4. Benefits
5. Risks/Issues
6. Success Factors
7. Case Studies
8. Companies/Organizations
9. Links

Sept 23, 2013 Update - Added to 2. Definitions:  TNC - Transportation Network Company a new category created by the California PUC. The CPUC  called the new industry New Online Enabled Transportation Systems or NOETS. in their R1212011 Procedings

  • Carsharing is a model of car rental where people rent cars for short periods of time, often by the hour. They are attractive to customers who make only occasional use of a vehicle, as well as others who would like occasional access to a vehicle of a different type than they use day-to-day. The organization renting the cars may be a commercial business or the users may be organized as a democratically controlled company, public agency, cooperative, ad hoc grouping. Today there are more than one thousand cities in the world where people can carshare.

  • Car sharing is to automobiles what time-sharing is to resort properties—a group of people that share a resource. Many people do not need a car at all times, and their household’s first or second vehicle may not be used much. Being able to use a car "part-time" may meet their mobility needs at a lower cost to themselves and society. Further, some may need access to a minivan or a pick-up truck at times. Car sharing is a mobility option that might be considered a means to own a fraction of many cars, something that is not possible for most people.

  • Advances in information technology make car sharing possible. The reservation and ―check in‖ process is fully automated, as bookings are made online or via a smartphone and vehicles are accessed using a smartcard. Any unpaid tolls or traffic tickets incurred by the user are generally added to that customer‘s credit card bill.

2. Acronyms/Definitions
  1. AB 1871 - California law allowing for personal vehicles to be used as part of car sharing programs across the state. The law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2011 will let people who are part of car sharing networks hire out their personal vehicles during the time they are not being used–90 percent of the day.

    The new 2010 law means that people who wish to use their personal vehicles in car sharing programs no longer need to buy livery insurance for taxi cabs. What it also means is that a the owner of a vehicle will not be held personally liable for damage, injury or death that occurs while someone else is driving their car.

  2. Car Clubs - UK name for carsharing.

  3. Carpooling (Also known as "ride-sharing") - The shared use of a car for a specific journey, in particular for commuting to work, often by people who each have a car but travel together to save costs. However, there is a slight terminological hitch in the UK where the term car sharing (two words in this usage) is used for what in the U.S. is called "ride sharing".

    Under California law, the definition of ridesharing does not permit transportation performed for profit. Recovery of actual costs incurred only applies to vanpool vehicles, which is defined by the Vehicle Code as seating more than 10 passengers, but less than 15 passengers, including the driver.

  4. Dynamic Ridesharing - (also known as Instant Ridesharing, Real-time Ridesharing, Ad-hoc Ridesharing, or Dynamic Carpooling) - A service which enables the formation of carpools on very short notice. Typical for this type of carpooling is arrangement of one-time trips instead of recurrent appointments for commuters, the usage of mobile phones for placing carpooling requests and offers through a data service, automatic and instant matching of rides through a network service, The network service compensates the driver by an integrated billing system.

    While there exist plenty of carpooling agencies for commuters, there is no large scale operation of an instant ridesharing service today. However, pilot projects have proven the technical feasibility of such service.

  5. Free-Floating Carsharing - Allows users to take and leave vehicles at any point within the city limits. Thus opposed to traditional car-sharing, there are no fixed stations and in particular one-way trips of any length are possible without a booking requirement.

  6. NOETS - New Online Enabled Transportation Systems - The original terms used by the California Public Utility Commission for Transportation Network Company in their R1212011 - Proceeding

  7. TNC - Transportation Network Company - In Sept 2013, the California Public Utilities Commission voted 5 to 0 to let ridesharing services -- such as Lyft Inc., Sidecar and Uber Technologies Inc. -- continue to operate, if they comply with basic safety and insurance requirements. California law recognizes and regulates three modes of passenger transportation for hire: taxi services, regulated by cities and/or counties; and charter party carrier services, and passenger stage companies, regulated by the Commission. The CPUC found that TNCs are charter party passenger carriers,

    Under the proposal, the CPUC would have jurisdiction over ride-sharing under a new category of businesses called transportation network companies. The agency would also issue licenses to the services. Regulators would require drivers to undergo criminal background checks, receive driver training, follow a zero-tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol and carry insurance policies with a minimum of $1 million in liability coverage. The decision is expected to preempt efforts by California cities to oversee or even ban ride-sharing under their authority to license taxi cab firms.

  8. P2P - Peer to Peer Carsharing - (sometimes called distributed, neighbor-to-neighbor and car sharing 2.0)  Enables car owners to make their personal vehicles available for hourly use when they do not need them. P2P carsharing takes advantage of the fact that the average vehicle is idle for long periods of a typical day. Although this innovative strategy can supplement the income of participating vehicle owners, it suffers from several notable drawbacks, such as inconsistent quality of the customer experience as well as legal issues relating to automotive insurance.

  9. Slugging (Also known as Casual Carpooling) - The practice of forming ad hoc, informal carpools for purposes of commuting, essentially a variation of ride-share commuting and hitchhiking. While the practice is most common and most publicized in the congested Washington, D.C. area, slugging is also used in San Francisco and other American cities.

  10. VMT - Vehicle Miles Traveled - The total number of miles driven by all vehicles within a given time period and geographic area. It is used by regional transportation and environmental agencies for planning purposes. VMT is influenced by factors such as population, age distribution, and the number of vehicles per household. However, the greatest factor by far is how land uses are arranged.

    A more tangible measure of car use may be per capita VMT, which is the number of miles driven per person per day. For example, residents of an auto-oriented neighborhood in Atlanta (the most sprawling city in America), drive an average of 39 miles per person each weekday, which is 30% more than those who live in the most walkable neighborhood. VMT has increased steadily during the post-war period. However, total U.S. VMT began to plateau in 2004 and dropped in 2007 (and again in 2008) for the first time since 1980, a recessionary year.

Sharing is one of the theses in Alex Steffen's talk about how cities help save the future. If we turn products into services that we have access to when we want them we can take advantage of tremendous surplus capacity. He uses the example of how an average home power drill in only used between six and twenty minutes in its whole lifetime. When we live in a denser community, the things we need are close by.  3. Business Case
  • Car sharing might be considered something like hourly car rental for preapproved customers with cars close to the customers’ homes. Reserving, using, and returning the cars is simple. Insurance, fuel, licensing, maintenance, and car payments are handled by the car share organization, and members pay only for what they use.

  • Vehicles are picked up and dropped-off at unattended locations called ―pods that are generally distributed throughout a service area rather than at a centralized location. Members typically pay annual or monthly fees on top of variable fees based on the number of hours, and sometimes the mileage, associated with each trip. Special ―day rates are available for those seeking to use vehicles for longer periods. The reservation and ―check in process is fully automated, as bookings are made online or via a smartphone and vehicles are accessed using a smartcard. Any unpaid tolls or traffic tickets incurred by the user are generally added to that customer‘s credit card bill.

  • As of January 1, 2011- based on data provided by Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) at the University of California, Berkeley. - 27 U.S. carsharing programs claimed 518,520 members sharing 7,776 vehicles; and 85,439 members shared 2,342 vehicles among 17 carsharing organizations in Canada.

  • Survey data collected by Shaheen, Cohen and Roberts suggest that, based on conditions in 2004, carsharing could eventually serve up to 12.5% of the U.S. population over the age of 21. Considering that the market share of carsharing organizations remains almost negligible (about 0.2% of the country‘s urbanized population are presently members) the risk that the business will face saturation anytime soon seems low.

4. Benefits
  • Reduced Congestion - Replacing private automobiles with shared ones directly reduces demand for parking spaces. The fact that only a certain number of cars can be in use at any one time may reduce traffic congestion at peak times. Even more important for congestion, the strong metering of costs provides a cost incentive to drive less. With owned automobiles many expenses are sunk costs and thus independent of how much the car is driven (such as original purchase, insurance, registration and some maintenance. Reductions in the number of vehicle miles traveled on streets and roads can reduce demand for additional publicly financed infrastructure.

    There is widespread agreement that the reduction in vehicle miles traveled reduces congestion, diminishes the need for costly infrastructure, and generates health-related benefits linked to increased walking and biking. Exactly how carsharing generates such benefits, and how significant these benefits might be, remain subject for research

  • Reduced Car Ownership - This effect is definitively documented in Greenhouse Gas Emission Impacts of Carsharing in North America, by Elliot Martin and Susan Shaheen. This Mineta Transportation Institute study targeted more than 100,000 members of carsharing organizations throughout Canada and the United States, including those of Zipcar. The results paint a compelling portrait of the effects of carsharing. The number of owned vehicles per household falls by nearly 50% when a family member begins carsharing. Only 12% of households that own a vehicle before using carsharing retain the same number of vehicles afterwards, while the remainder eliminate at least one vehicle. Among carsharing households, the average number of vehicles drops from .55 to .29 vehicles). The study also found that, for each carsharing vehicle added to the system, between 9 and 13 privately-owned vehicles are removed from the road. Such findings allowed the authors to conclude that carsharing on the whole has removed between 90,000 and 130,000 vehicles from the transportation system, either through the elimination of an owned vehicle or by joining carsharing in lieu of purchasing a new vehicle.

    According to the University of California Transportation Center, car sharing leads to the reduction of personal vehicles owned. The UCTC study surveyed 6,281 households that were part of car sharing networks, and found that households owned 2,968 vehicles before car sharing, or 0.47 vehicles per household. After car sharing, the group owned 1,507 vehicles, or 0.24 vehicles per household, a decent sized reduction.

  • Reduced GHG Emissions - Estimating the effect of carsharing on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) requires detailed before-and-after data about changing travel behavior, including the mileage traveled via various modes of transportation. The calculations also must consider the make and model of vehicles used.
    These benefits are partially due to a shift to more fuel-efficient vehicles. Martin and Shaheen estimate that private vehicles achieve an average of 23.3 mpg while those used by carsharing households achieve 32.8 mpg

  • Safety - Fewer cars = fewer crashes. When we each take our own cars to work, we contribute to traffic jams and slightly increase our risk for a collision or mechanical breakdown. Congestion is a leading cause of accidents, and can have a maddening domino effect. All it takes is a single car hitting a guardrail during rush hour. Traffic thickens and becomes more dangerous as the car is cleared and our natural rubbernecking tendency kicks in. Prime time for fender benders. Congestion also leads to road rage, which is another leading cause of avoidable accidents. Some of the most popular and effective carpools take place during commuting hours, and there’s no better time to take a car off the road.

  • Social Equity - Carsharing makes occasional use of a shared vehicle costs significantly less than car ownership making automobile use more accessible to low-income households.

  • Assigned Parking - Attractive in busy urban centers. Carsharing can reduce the social and private cost incurred when drivers cruise the streets searching for parking. Shoup colorfully illustrates this idea in his description of how, in the 15-block Westwood Village neighborhood in Los Angeles, motorists searching for parking generate enough vehicle miles per year to make two round trips to the moon (Shoup 2005, 353-354)

  • User Savings - Carsharing effectively unbundles the fixed cost of owning a car so that members pay a portion of the cost of ownership each time they travel rather than in large lump-sum amounts, such as through a monthly payment. For those driving less than the average number of miles a year, car sharing will be less expensive than owning a car. Members in a car sharing organization will tend to use transit, walking, or bicycling for a significant share of their transportation needs. Car sharing allows the added option of a car to these transportation choices. Studies place the annual savings between $2,057 per year (in the case of Lane‘s study in Philadelphia) and $7,200 per year (in the case of the claim made by Zipcar).

  • Increased Incentives to Economize - Unbundling the fixed and variable costs of operating a car can dramatically alter motorist behavior. Among conventional motorists lease payments, license fees, and insurance coverage do not change in accordance with vehicle mileage traveled. Once these costs are paid, vehicle owners naturally decide whether or not to drive primarily on the basis of the variable costs, such as gas, parking, and tolls. Research shows that carsharers tend to be more nimble in choosing modes based on the characteristics of each trip and more acutely aware of the true costs of driving (Lane 2005, 164-165; Katzev 2003, 81-82). Many naturally increase their use of trip-chaining by combining trips to multiple destinations (Millard-Ball et al. 2005, 4-25; Katzev 2003, 81-82).

  • Health Benefits - Resulting from a more active lifestyle that places greater emphasis on walking and biking. Studies by Price (2006), Millard-Ball (2005), and Scott (2003) found that an appreciable percentage of carsharing users walked, biked, and used public transit.

    These data do not measure the intensity of the increases or decreases in travel on these modes and thereby cannot be used to measure the changes in mileage. Nevertheless, they support the view that carsharing fosters an increase in active transportation while having little effect on use of public transit.
  • Lower development costs - In The High Cost of Free Parking, Donald Shoup demonstrates that the minimum parking requirements imposed by communities are often excessive and that they can inadvertently increase the costs of development. These associated costs are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices for purchasers, tenants and customers of residential and commercial spaces (Shoup 2005, 127-164). His research suggests that consumers can benefit from the reduced inefficiency made possible through elimination of poorly utilized parking places.

    When parking requirements are lowered, developers have the option of increasing the density of other aspects of their projects. Litman argues that such increases in density can, in turn, make other modes of transportation, such as bus service, more practical. One result could be a greater number of dwelling units per acre without added congestion.

5. Risks/Issues
  • Unfair Competition with Traditional Taxi Services - The highly regulated taxi industry is howling at the prospect of losing fares to new and typically cheaper competitors. "This is an existential threat," said Mark Gruberg of the United Taxi Cab Workers of San Francisco. "It's hard to see how the taxi industry with its rules and regulations and responsibilities can compete with a service that has none of those requirements."

    The San Francisco Cab Drivers Association (SFCDA) finds it disturbing that the CPUC is seeking to create a new class of for-hire transportation service (TNC - Transportation Network Company) which would not have the oversight of local regulatory bodies while unfairly competing with existing locally regulated taxi services. They say the CPUC's measure essentially deregulates California’s taxi industry for numerous reasons. The CPUC has only five safety enforcement investigators for all of California, clearly not enough to enforce the new rules they are proposing. They say any additional class of transportation provider, which offers the same on-call/on-demand passenger transportation service as taxicabs without the same regulatory standards, renders existing regulations meaningless. Without proper local regulatory oversight this can only lead to abuse by TNC drivers, companies and the opportunistic element leading to the decreased quality of passenger service for the disabled, elderly and disenfranchised who rely on taxis for transportation.

    The CPUC reasons that unlike taxi cabs, which may pick up passengers via street hails, PU Code § 5360.5 requires that charter party carriers operate on a prearranged basis. The CPUC found that TNCs operate on a prearranged basis. PU Code § 5360.5 does not define “prearranged,” and they were reluctant to impose a minimum time requirement as some other jurisdictions have done. Instead, they were guided by the plain meaning of “prearranged” as something arranged in advance.

  • Not Economic for Commuting - Car sharing is generally not cost-effective for commuting to a full-time job on a regular basis. Hourly fees accumulate whether or not the vehicle is in motion, making it expensive to pay for a vehicle as it sits idle at the workplace. Most carsharing advocates, operators and cooperating public agencies believe that those who do not drive daily or who drive less than 10,000 kilometers (about 6,200 miles) annually may find carsharing to be more cost-effective than car ownership. But variations of 50% on this figure are reported by operators and others depending on local context.

  • Transaction Costs -While mobile information technology is lowering the barrier, there are opportunity costs of time spent finding an available car, booking a reservation, and traveling to a pod.

  • Rental Excise Taxes - According a study from the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University in Chicago. In many markets, including Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Tampa, one-hour carsharing reservations are taxed at well over twice the prevailing rate of sales tax. In seven of the 25 largest cities in the study‘s sample of 82 cities with carsharing services, taxes on one-hour reservations exceed 30%. Nationally, the average tax is 17.93% for one-hour carsharing reservations and 14.08% for 24-hour reservations. By comparison, sales taxes in cities with carsharing services average just 8.06%.

    Even major car rental companies agree when the excise tax is calculated per transaction, there are inequities in hourly reservations. With the $5 per transaction fee in New Jersey, the $8 rental becomes $13. Several major cities, including Boston, Chicago, and Portland Oregon, have created definitions for neighborhood carsharing organizations that are used to provide waivers from certain taxes.

    While Carsharing is a form of automobile travel for which the social costs can be high, it tends to complement—rather than be a substitute for—lifestyles oriented toward public transit and active
    transportation. Consumers as a whole drive significantly less and use non-motorized transport (e.g., walking and biking) considerably more after joining a carsharing organization (CSO) without substantially reducing their use of public transit. The associated social and environmental benefits suggest that policies discouraging carsharing are detrimental to the public good.

    One the other hand, rental companies point out “Car sharing rentals are simply rentals of a shorter period of time.” What if car sharing was more aptly termed "hourly car rental" or "automated car rental?" Would legislators feel the same way about tax exemptions?

    Since its inception, the carsharing sector has attempted to demonstrate that its services
    are fundamentally different than those made available by traditional car-rental companies, highlighting some carsharing organizations' commitment to neighborhood improvement, entrepreneurial spirit, and civic-minded goals. Such definitions have loomed large in the battles over taxation in several cities. In 1999 Multnomah County, Oregon, an area encompassing most of metropolitan Portland, amended its municipal code to exempt carsharing from a 17% tax on motor vehicle rentals. A definition was created to determine eligibility while requiring ―commercial establishments‖ (rental car companies)to continue paying the tax.

  • Competition from Traditional Car-rental Companies - Enterprise, Hertz and Avis, for example, all offer hourly rentals in selected cities, including at some airports. They could soon exert significant downward pricing pressure. These services, however, are distinct from membership-based carsharing organizations on account of the fact that insurance is not automatically included and customers typically must to go to rental-car lots to pick up and drop off vehicles as well as completepaperwork before obtaining keys (although virtual car rental is becoming more prevalent), making them less-than-ideally suited for the brief neighborhood trips. Carsharing remains small compared to the neighborhood car-rental business, which when measured by the number of vehicles available is more than 20 times its size.

  • Profitability - The profitability of carsharing has yet to be demonstrated unequivocally in any sector of the industry. Zipcar has experienced a net loss every year since its inception in 2000 and warns potential investors that losses are likely to continue in the near term.

  • Low Population Density Areas - Successful carsharing development has tended to be associated mainly with densely populated areas such as city centers and more recently university and other campuses. There are some programs (mostly in Europe) for providing services in lower density and rural areas. Low-density areas are considered more difficult to serve with car sharing because of the lack of alternative modes of transportation and the potentially larger distance that users must travel to reach the cars.

  • Privacy - Previously, when you wanted to contact another user on Zimride, you would need to send them an email, and the conversation would take place from your email inbox. Now with the new messaging system you can contact other users without ever revealing your personal email address.
6. Success Factors
  1. Cool Factor - Broad attitudinal shifts appear to be reducing the perceived value and cultural significance of traveling by private automobile. Such shifts appear especially pronounced among millennials and other young people, a premise explored in a recent Zipcar study and our research at DePaul University. Both studies suggest that privately owned automobiles have lost much of their symbolic value among the young.

  2. GPS - Position tracking of users using GPS enabled devices to avoid the necessity to manually enter the current position when requesting/offering a ride. This also allows the use of fleet management systems for vehicle tracking and guiding, e.g. in case passenger pickup requires a short detour. Ideally, the navigation system integrates a ridesharing functionality.

  3. Mobile Communications

  4. RF Technology - Car2go customers have a member card. In order to unlock the vehicle, simply hold up your member card to the reader on the windshield. The reader will indicate the doors are unlocked so that you can quickly get in.

    After you have gotten into the car, you will need to enter your personal code (PIN) into the touch screen, and also assess the cleanliness of the vehicle and confirm that it is not damaged. Once you complete those questions, you will be prompted to access the ignition key. The ignition key is located to the right of the touchscreen. Remove it and insert into the ignition located next to the gearshift. Then, the car2go is started as you would a normal vehicle.

  5. Development Policies - In Philadelphia‘s Central Delaware Riverfront Overlay District, developers can substitute one carsharing stall for four required parking spaces for up to 40% of total required spaces devoted to residential and hotel uses (Philadelphia Code). For developments in Seattle requiring 20 parking spaces or more, each space set aside for a carsharing vehicle reduces the required minimum by three spaces, or 15%, whichever is less (Seattle Municipal Code).

7. Case Studies
  • Four years after the introduction of City CarShare in the San Francisco, Bay area in California, 29% of carshare members had gotten rid of one or more cars, and 4.8% of members’ trips and 5.4% of their vehicle miles traveled were in carshare vehicles. Matched-pair comparisons with a statistical control group suggest that, over time, members have reduced total vehicular travel. However, most declines occurred during the first 1 to 2 years of the program; 3 to 4 years after City CarShare’s inauguration, earlier declines had leveled off. Because many carshare vehicles are small and fuel-efficient but can carry several people, the trend in per capita gasoline consumption also is downward. Mindful of the cumulative costs of driving, carshare members appear to have become more judicious and selective when deciding whether to drive, take public transit, walk, bike, or even forgo a trip. Coupled with reduced personal car ownership, these factors have given rise to a resourceful form of automobility in the San Francisco Bay area.
8. Companies/Organizations As recently as 2009, Zipcar and three nonprofit operators (City CarShare in San Francisco Bay Area, I-GO in metropolitan Chicago, and PhillyCarShare in the Philadelphia area) cumulatively accounted for about 99% of total membership in carsharing organizations (Shaheen, Cohen and Chung 2009, 35)
  1. Buzzcar - France -  P2P Car Share launched March 2011.  Focused on France and was started by Robin Chase, the co-founder of car sharing 1.0 leader Zipcar.

  2. Car2go - Allows users to take and leave vehicles at any point within the city limits. You can start rentals anywhere inside the operating area wherever there's a car available, and end wherever there is qualified parking available. Normally, within the urban area, the nearest Austin car2go is never further away than a 5 minute walk. Only during periods of extreme utilization could the distance sometimes be somewhat greater. Started in Ulm, Germany and available in Vancouver, Canada and Austin, Texas.

  3. CityCarshare: San Francisco Bay Area, CA - A nonprofit organization in its 10th year with a social responsibility to emphasize the lowering of congestion, reduce of greenhouse gas emissions and to make mobility cheaper. It’s the longest-running car-sharing nonprofit in North America and it helps the Bay Area save about 20 million miles of travel on Bay Area roads each year. It encourages people to walk, bike or take the bus, but is available if you absolutely need a car.

  4. CityzenCar - France - P2P Car Share launched January 2011. Focused on France and uses automated locking by a network of approved installers, creating a network of founder/car owners.

  5. San Francisco - A new peer-to-peer car-sharing service currently available in . Getaround does not offer transportation services. Instead, the service allows renters and owners to transact rentals directly with each other.  Investors include $3.4M, CrunchFund, Redpoint Ventures, General Catalyst + angels.

    Getaround’s August 2012 $13.9 million Series A round was led by Menlo Ventures, with managing director Shervin Pishevar joining the company’s board. Other investors include new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, A-Grade Investments, and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, as well as Collaborative Fund, SOSventures’ Sean O’Sullivan, Correlation Ventures, HotelTonight CEO Sam Shank, Yammer CEO David Sacks, Saba Software CEO Bobby Yazdani, founder Matias de Tezanos, founder Dan Martell, and .CO CEO Juan Diego Calle.

  6. Hertz OnDemand - Previously known as Connect by Hertz - Focused primarily on major world cities and university campuses since its inception in 2008. Has a foothold on 44 college campuses in 26 states and commands a significant presence in metropolitan New York. Free Membership, no enrollment or annual fees

  7. IGo Carshare - Chicago Metro Area - In 2005 Chicago, Illinois amended its municipal code to eliminate the city‘s 8% Personal Property Lease Transaction Tax for carsharing reservations less than 24 hours in duration. (Carsharing reservations of 24 hours or more are still subject to the tax.) The city defined a carsharing organization as one that is membership-based, provides access through a self-service reservation system with no written agreement required at each reservation, utilizes an environmentally friendly fleet, and has the required insurance.

  8. Livop focuses on car sharing in France and uses key exchange.

  9. RelayRides, San Francisco - A P2P service, borrow cars from car owners in your neighborhood, by the hour or by the day. For those borrowing a car, rates start at just $5 per hour, or $55 for daylong reservations. There are no late fees--you just pay for the time you used the vehicle--and gas is included in the reservation (with every 20 miles being complimentary). RelayRides offers a $1,000,000 insurance policy plus 24/7 roadside assistance. The company says it costs, on average, $715 per month to be a car owner. Average per month spending for RelayRides users is only $100.

    Though car sharers can set any rate they want, they lose 35 percent immediately: 15 percent goes to the pockets of RelayRides and 20 percent goes to the company’s $1 million insurance policy. The sharer also loses out on gas money, though RelayRides says the average driver only travels 5.8 miles in an hour. RelayRides requires a device installed in the owner’s car. The device allows the car owner to unlock doors, immobilize the engine, find the car (via GPS) and track mileage. It also allows owners to disengage their car remotely if their car should become compromised--a critical security feature for this kind of service.

    In August 2011, Relayrides announced that it has increased its total Series A.2 funding to $10 million, with the help of Shasta Ventures and entrepreneur/environmentalist Lisa Gansky. Original backers in the Series A include Google Ventures and August Capital.

    Relay Rides no longer installs its own in-car connected systems in the vehicles in its network. The company’s original model was to have its staff install the connected devices in the vehicles, which took money and time. Now Relay Rides is relying on its partnership with GM, and Onstar, to supply the vehicle connectivity and control system.

    RelayRides also experimented with whether or not it should offer gas cards, and how to cover the cost of gas for very short trips. It’s not necessarily obvious how to set up a system like this, as the only precursor is traditional car sharing like Zipcar, where the company owns the cars and is responsible for their upkeep and gas bills.

  10. Rent2Buy is the car-sharing service started by Automoti founder Moti Kahana and e-commerce executive Todd Daum, formerly of Overture, Yahoo and TrueCar. Automoti, an online rent-to-buy service was later acquired by Hertz in 2009. Currently, Rent2Buy’s advisors include current and past executives from top rent-a-car companies, including National, Hertz, Budget and Alamo.

    Unlike HiGear, which had previously specialized in the temporary rentals of luxury vehicles by clients, Rent2Buy, as the name implies, also facilitates the purchase of the cars in its inventory. Car owners, both individuals and dealers, are able to generate rental income on vehicles while waiting to sell. Meanwhile, renters have the opportunity to get to know the cars they’re interested in purchasing by driving them for extended periods of time.

    With the acquisition of HiGear, Rent2Buy will be able to provide additional access to consumers and inventory in the San Francisco and Los Angeles markets. Daum tells us that Rent2Buy purchased both the HiGear sharing platform as well as the sharing inventory and customer database. The news follows the company’s decision to shut down operations last month, after a criminal ring targeted HiGear, resulting in multiple incidents of theft involving its members’ cars. The criminals stole four cars totaling $400,000 by using stolen identities to bypass HiGear’s background checks.

    Rent2Buy had been bound by a non-compete with Hertz since the sale of Automoti in 2009, and have only recently been able to re-focus on the rent-to-buy space.

  11. RentMyCar is the oldest site out there but basically only acts as a middleman. No insurance, no automated locking system, no community element.

  12. Spride Share -  another P2P provider serving the Bay Area, launched its piloting phase in October 2010 following the passage of a new state law permitting this method of carsharing. Spride is partnering with City Carshare, a traditional carsharing organization, to pool membership and vehicle networks.  Spride has an impressive advisory board, and the company was instrumental in getting insurance legislation passed in California.

  13. WeCar - St. Louis - Enterprise Rent-A-Car became the first to launch a domestic carsharing service when it established WeCar in early 2008. WeCar now serves 14 states and emphasizes partnerships with universities, corporations, and governments.

    In August 2011, Philly Carshare took the unprecedented step of selling itself to car rental giant Enterprise - ending a significant chapter in the early history of carsharing in North America. Exactly what it portends for the future is hard to say right now. Philly Carshare was reportedly under the gun to pay $2.7 million in car rental taxes it had not charged members for during the past several years. It was reportedly having trouble paying creditors, as well. Reports say that Enterprise is expected to retain the Philly Carshare name and employees. The press announcement also says it will operate the service independently of their car rental operations and makes no mention of the company's own WeCar carsharing brand. Here's the official press release(PDF).

  14. Wheelz has a plan to focus on college campuses and launched at Stanford.

  15. Zimride , Palo Alto, CA - Offers an application on Facebook Platform, inviting users on the same network to meet each other and share a car trip. Users can also visit the service on its website at and find trusted users through Facebook Connect. After entering their current location and their destination, Zimride will generate a list of potential matches arranged by how far out of the way each one wants to travel. Users can also post a destination they’d like to travel to some time down the line, and receive alerts through Email when a match pops up. The service is offered for free for up to 50 members per school or company network, but once it crosses that threshold Zimride seeks out the network owner and asks them to pay a subscription fee if it wants to continue allowing its students or employees to use the service.

    The company works with transporation departments and student governments at universities and large companies, and charges universities $9500 a year for the service (they can pay month-to-month). As of 2009, the company has managed to sign up 20 instutitions, including Stanford which has seen over 14,00 new users share 300 rides in three weeks. And aside from earning money as a carpooling company (which is impressive in itself), Zimride is also notable for being a Facebook application that generates revenue through something other than advertising.

  16. Zipcar, Cambridge, Mass - (NasdaqGS: ZIP ) - By far the largest for-profit provider and now offers its services in 11 major metropolitan areas and on over 230 college campuses. Zipcar issued its first publically traded stock in April 2011 and now serves more than thirty states as well as Canada and the United Kingdom. As of December 2010, the company offers a fleet of over 8,000 vehicles and has over 560,000 members which the company refers to as "Zipsters". Zipcar offers more than 30 makes and models of self-service vehicles by the hour or day. Zipcar has major operations in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, London, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Washington D.C. and Vancouver.

    In the fall of 2007, Zipcar merged with Seattle-based rival Flexcar to create a car-sharing company with national scope. In December 2009, Zipcar announced their participation in a round of financing with Avancar, the largest car sharing company in Spain, based in Barcelona. Under the terms of the agreement, Zipcar acquired a minority interest in Avancar, a Zipcar executive joined Avancar's board and Zipcar was given a year option to increase the company's ownership stake. In April 2010, Zipcar announced that it had acquired London-based car-sharing club Streetcar. This brought the number of Zipcar members to over 400,000.

9. Links
  1. North American Car Sharing: A ten year retrospective - Shaheen, Cohen, Chung, 2009 Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) at the University of California, Berkeley

  2. City CarShare: Longer-Term Travel Demand and Car Ownership Impacts. Cervero, Robert, Golub, Aaron, Nee, Brendan, (2007)Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board

  3. The World Carshare Consortium - An informal shared public interest knowledge building network serving carshare operators worldwide, potential start-ups, policy makers, local government partners, researchers, public interest groups, cooperating transporters, concerned citizens, and others interested both to learn more about carsharing and how it works , as well as latest developments in the field internationally.

  4. Car Sharing Research - Innovative Mobility Research - IMR designs research projects and conducts evaluations throughout California, the U.S., and internationally. It is based at the Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) at the University of California, Berkeley.

  5. - Includes a library of reports

  6. - Personal blog of Dave Brook, the founder of CarSharing Portland, the first commercial car-sharing service in the United States, started in March 1998.

  7. Car Sharing Association - CSA represents carsharing organizations (CSOs) interested in improving the credibility, quality of service and public knowledge of the carsharing industry.


  9. Car Sharing Guide - Easy Earth