Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology is a relatively new innovation that has the potential to revolutionize the way we consume and generate electricity. While electric vehicles (EV) are being touted as a way to reduce emissions contributing to climate change in the transportation sector, they also offer up the potential for a game-changing distributed energy resource (DER) asset that can be rolled into virtual power plants (VPPs).
Today, utilities large and small are trying to figure out how to turn the timing of when EVs are being charged up into a source of flexibility, a term used for resources that are nimble and can fill in on a real-time basis when traditional supply is short. EVs can delay charging, for example, when prices are high and demand is peaking or can instead charge when prices are low due to decreased demand. Whether consumers charge EVs at night or during the day has a big impact on when system peaks will occur. and on how and when utilities turn on and off sources of electricity generation to respond.
The passage of California’s SB 233 out of the state Senate Appropriations Committee on May 18th offers a peek into the future – and what might be possible if the state’s EVs were “bidirectional.” (The bill was amended on that date to push back an EV bidirectional mandate from 2027 to 2030.)
This term – bidirectional – is related to V2G in that it refers to the ability of EVs to not place a load burden on utility power grids but instead offer up a compelling solution to meeting peak demands while lowering emissions, accelerating the transition to a zero carbon energy economy. In short, V2G is a system that allows EVs to be used as energy storage devices, enabling them to sell excess electricity back to the grid during peak demand hours when electricity is most expensive. V2G is now technically possible. Please see this recent webinar recording entitled Charge Ahead: Transform EVs from Grid Challenge to Solution for an educational discussion featuring the Clean Power Alliance, the largest community choice aggregation program in California.
This technology is gaining popularity as an effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stabilize the power grid. In this blog post, I will also explore the implications of recent news items on V2G across the globe – and what they mean for the future of sustainable energy and more specifically, the growth of VPPs.
Europe and Australia Are Leading the World on V2G Technology
One of the most exciting recent developments in the world of V2G technology is the partnership between Nissan and E.ON. According to an announcement by Nissan, the car company and E.ON are working together to expand their V2G charging network across Europe. The network is designed to allow Nissan EV owners to sell excess energy back to the grid during peak demand periods, helping to reduce energy costs for both the consumer and the grid operator. The Nissan Leaf was the world’s first bi-directional vehicle and has been used in a number of other pilot projects around the world.
Another recent development in V2G technology is the partnership between Volkswagen and the energy company EWE of Germany. According to an article in CleanTechnica, Volkswagen and EWE are working together to develop a V2G system that will help stabilize the power grid in Germany. The system will use the batteries of EVs to store excess renewable energy and feed it back into the grid during peak demand periods. This is a significant step forward in the integration of renewable energy into the power grid, as it will help to ensure that excess energy is not wasted. This V2G project will also demonstrate how power grids can remain stable even during periods of high demand.
A recent article in Electrek highlights Toyota’s plans to launch a V2G trial in Australia, a VPP hot spot. The trial will involve using Toyota’s electric vehicles as energy storage devices to sell excess energy back to the grid. This is an important step towards establishing a sustainable energy ecosystem in Australia, and it demonstrates the potential for V2G to play a key role in the country’s energy transition revolving around a dynamic market structure ideally situated for EVs to be integrated into VPPs.
Similarly, AutoGrid is working with a leader in flexible, connected and sustainable student transportation for school districts, Zum. Zum’s long-term goal is to grow its EV fleet to 10,000 electric school buses over the next four years across the US. AutoGrid Flex will be integrated into Zum’s transportation management platform to manage fleet charging and furthermore, monetize an estimated 1 gigawatt (GW) of flexible capacity in various markets, the equivalent out-put of a large nuclear reactor. That level of capacity truly showcases the potential power of V2G technology.
Electric School Buses are a Great Way to Start on V2G
Züm Services was initially concerned with electrifying transportation, specifically school buses, and that was their primary goal. But then they realized they could monetize demand side flexibility to further offset the total cost of ownership and operation of their assets.
School buses are a very interesting use case because they are abundant and can become a useful source of flexibility. They’re rarely used in the summer, and only a few hours a day during the school year, so they effectively act as large stationary batteries that can serve as a source of energy especially in the summer when flexibility is most needed.
When we combine this use case with a use case like Zūm, and we add vehicle to grid chargers, a bus depot, and battery storage in the idle buses themselves to the mix, we have an opportunity to not only to optimize energy use but also sell it back to the grid and create a source of revenue— a net-net benefit for the whole system. DERs can be optimized to create benefits throughout the entire energy value chain.
Zūm operates in Oakland which has struggled with economic diversity, and Zūm’s vehicle to grid model within Oakland’s school districts is a welcome boon for the community.
V2G is the Future of Mobility and Grid Interdependence
V2G technology is rapidly gaining momentum as a viable solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and stabilizing the power grid. Recent partnerships between major automakers and energy companies demonstrate the potential for V2G to play a key role in shaping the future of sustainable energy. As AutoGrid continues to grow its EV partnerships, we will continue to scale as a leading aggregator to make meaningful impact on our grid.
With the world transitioning towards renewable energy sources, V2G technology will become increasingly important in ensuring that excess energy is not wasted and ensures the stability of our power grids. Check out this E-Mobility brochure to learn more about all of the cool things AutoGrid is doing in the EV space.
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