The 2020 International Energy Agency’s Global EV Outlook projects that by 2030, the share of electricity going towards EV charging could rise to as high as 4–10% at peak demand. Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, part of smart energy management, will help stabilize that demand – if we make V2G easy, convenient, and profitable for drivers to use.
V2G returns the energy stored in EV batteries to the grid. In doing so, it promises to significantly advance the power system flexibility required to support charging the 250 million EVs projected to be on the road by 2030.
The thinking goes like this: Most vehicles are stationary 95 percent of the time. That means millions of electricity storage units – the batteries – are available to the electric grid to serve peak demand, with the vehicles recharging during non-peak hours. V2G technology makes this two-way energy exchange possible, but it’s only useful to utility companies if it happens on a massive scale.
That’s Not How Drivers Think
EV owners don’t view their cars as devices that store energy for someone else’s use. Rather, a car is personal transportation available for use at any time, even at a moment’s notice. That is the value behind the purchase of any vehicle, electric or internal combustion.
Convincing EV owners to give back to the grid will take more than a vision of making the world better. It will take a driver-first approach that makes it convenient and easy for EV owners to participate, sending energy to the grid only when the driver doesn’t need it. And it will take compensation that makes it worth their while to give up that 24/7/365 availability of personal transportation.
Making V2G Participation Simple and Seamless
The convenient and easy part will come from a smart energy management system that has the artificial intelligence and algorithms to learn from driver charging patterns and generate a driver profile, so it knows when that EV will be available to the grid and when it needs to be charged to what level. The system also has to make it easy for the driver to make exceptions, like using a mobile app to specify that the car needs to be fully charged at 8 am the next day to be ready for an unexpected trip.
The system needs to work at the home charging level, because that’s where most EVs will be stationary and available to the grid. Adequate compensation for drivers can both help persuade them to participate and make it worth their while. On the plus side, smart EV charging technology can also save money for the EV owner by ensuring that the car will only charge when rates are low (so they “buy low”) and contribute to the grid only at peak times when energy is more costly.
The State of V2G Today
V2G is slowly advancing from nascent to emerging technology, with two-way chargers available and pilots underway for both home, business, vehicle fleet users and local governments and utilities. But we’re still years away from operating at the scale needed to play a big part in the electricity supply solution. Here’s why:
- One barrier is lack of widespread adoption by EV manufacturers. Today, only a limited number of EV models in production are equipped with V2G technology.
- Other manufacturers are either working out the software for V2G or biding their time and waiting for the charging standards to settle out (currently there are two charging protocols, CHAdeMO and CCS, plus the ISO 15118 standard for communicating with vehicles).
- There are still many unknowns about V2G: what is the effect on the vehicle’s battery? Will it harm the vehicles sensitive electronics? Are there any insurance implications? Will it work with rapid charging?
- The business case is still evolving. In addition to the home user business case discussed in this blog, there are business cases to be hammered out for EV fleet operators as well as utilities and grid operators. It also remains to be seen who will drive the process: Utilities? Power aggregators? Service providers? Governments?
- For V2G to work, solutions need to encompass the entire value chain, from vehicle to parking lot to campus or smart city to the power network.
- Governments are also getting involved, which can complicate an already complex environment. Nonetheless, as regulators, governments need to create the infrastructure necessary for oversight and adoption.
Although many obstacles remain, we at Driivz believe in the power of V2G to extend the promise of electric vehicles, both environmentally and commercially. There is tremendous opportunity for the emobility service industry to move V2G from an idea to a solution that generates new revenues, reduces infrastructure investment, and creates a cleaner environment. It’s a technology worth our attention.