The growth of electric vehicles and the smart grid has lead to the creation of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology. Imagine using your electric vehicle to power your home during a storm-induced power outage. While your vehicle may not be able to power your entire house, there likely would be enough energy to charge your phone, power the lights, and keep your refrigerator on. How is this possible? Through the use of V2G technology.
What is V2G?
Vehicle-to-grid technology involves drawing unused power from the car into the smart grid. V2G, which is also known as vehicle-grid integration (VGI), can help the energy grid supply electricity during peak hours. It can also create an extra power source when weather-dependent renewable energy sources are not available. For example, a home that uses solar power cannot generate electricity at night, but an electric vehicle could provide a secondary source of power if needed.
This type of technology can help meet clean energy goals such as targeting zero-carbon emission by 2045. It can also provide an added benefit to consumers by potentially lowering the cost of electric vehicle ownership. An owner can sell back surplus power from their vehicle in order to offset other costs.
Real Life V2G
Fermata Energy in Danville, VA is experimenting with V2G technology through Nissan Leafs. The Nissan Leaf is one of the only electric car models capable of the bidirectional energy flow needed. While parked, it is able to make enough money to recover the charge of a DC fast charger.
“We partnered with a small little utility in the middle of a very conservative district in Virginia, and what that allowed us to do was iterate very quickly on stuff,” says John Wheeler of Fermata Energy. “The electrical inspector goes fishing with our electric installer…We’ve simplified our initial use case so basically we need one car, one building, one charger. Park a car, it sits there, and when the building load spikes you discharge the car…In some places you can have a free car very quickly.”
The Tohoku earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 left Japan with the need for energy. In order to alleviate the power shortage, Nissan used 66 Leafs to provide power until the grid was stabilized. Last month, Nissan also sent an additional group of Leafs to Tokyo following Typhoon Faxai.
In the United Kingdom, Element Energy projects utilize V2G in order to help save drivers an average of over $1,200. This savings is estimated to increase the use of electric vehicles by 250,000 each year.
Improving the Smart Grid
One of the biggest frontiers in electrical engineering today is the development and implementation of smart grid technology. Fueled by the global demand for greener technologies and alternative fuels, environmentally-friendly smart grid technology has the ability to stimulate stagnant economies as well as change the way power is delivered to electricity consumers around the world.
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Wenzel, Elsa. (12 November 2019). Vehicle-to-grid technology is revving up. Green Biz.
Valarino, Philip. (3 November 2019). V2G: charging towards a greener future. CSO Magazine.