How is V2G Transforming the Future of the Electric Grid?

V2G with Ampcontrol’s charging optimization software

What is Vehicle-to-grid (V2G)?

Is V2G possible and available today?

What are the challenges of using V2G?

  • Poor Infrastructure: One of the main challenges when it comes to implementing V2G is not the technology itself, but the infrastructure it interacts with. In many cases, there is poor existing infrastructure and the current grid conditions make it difficult for vehicles to push energy back into the electric grid successfully.
  • Grid Congestion: The electric grid may be heavily used, causing congestion problems which lead to instability and a large amount of energy loss.
  • Grid Volatility: As energy is increasingly generated from renewable sources, although great for the environment, it can cause instability in the grid. For instance, solar and wind power can fluctuate depending on weather conditions. It is expected that by 2050, 62% of energy will be generated by renewables, which means greater grid volatility and unpredictable demand. V2G can actually help to alleviate this problem, as we’ll discuss in a moment.
  • Extreme Weather: Extreme weather such as heat spikes or cold snaps can cause a surge in electricity use to power air conditioners or electric heaters. Climate change is causing extreme fluctuation in temperatures which is leading to more grid congestion, which is a problem for V2G.‍

What are the main benefits of using V2G?

  • Grid Stability: In contrast to the grid volatility mentioned above, V2G can actually help to create more stability in the grid by helping power suppliers to react to grid constraints and sudden changes in energy supply or demand.
  • Renewable Energy Generation and Storage: V2G represents a storage opportunity for cheap renewable energy. Energy can be generated during the day or night and fed back into the grid during peak periods. This creates more grid stability by balancing supply and demand. For example, imagine a site that is constantly generating and saving solar energy during the day. At 1 pm there is a sudden spike in demand. The site receives a V2G signal and supplies solar energy into the grid. In this case, the site could also choose to use the available solar energy instead of other non-renewable sources for their operations, thereby utilizing carbon-zero energy.
  • Providing Backup Power: When demand peaks for electricity, fleet operators can access the power stored in the batteries of electric vehicles. For instance, a fleet of school buses is perfect for V2G backup energy as they are only used at specific times, usually from 6am to 9am and 3pm to 5pm. For the remainder of the time, the buses are dwelling at the depot and can push energy back into the grid and recharge when demand and energy prices have reduced.‍

Other types of V2G

  • V2B: Also known as Vehicle-to-Building, V2B involves a vehicle/charger sending energy directly to a building.
  • V2H: Also known as Vehicle-to-Home, V2H involves a bidirectional EV charger being used to supply power (electricity) from an EV Car’s battery to a house.
  • V2X: Also known as Vehicle-to-Everything, V2E is a communication system that allows vehicles to communicate with other vehicles and the infrastructure around them.‍

What are the benefits of V2G for charging station owners and drivers?

How can we implement V2G?

  1. V2G needs an electric vehicle that is capable of bi-directional charging. In other words, the electric vehicle must be able to both receive and send energy. Many of the big vehicle manufacturers are developing and implementing this technology today.
  2. V2G-enabled EV charging hardware needs to be in place. EV charger manufacturers need to implement the required protocol for V2G events: IEEE 2030.5. With a universal protocol, vehicles, chargers, and utility companies can communicate with each other seamlessly, enabling the sending and receiving of the information needed for a V2G event (energy demand, energy supply, grid imbalance, etc.)
  3. Electric vehicle chargers need to be able to automate these signals. This means it is in need of EV charging management service, in other words, smart charging technology. Smart Charging is a process that automates and optimizes decisions while an EV is charging. Optimized charging includes the following aims:
  • Reduce total peak demand at the charging location
  • Avoid high energy costs for both driver and charging point operator
  • Ensure on-time departures and a sufficient level of charge for each vehicle
  • Help to stabilize real-time energy markets and electric utility services.

The Future of V2G

  • More dynamic energy markets: Different energy pricing structures are already in use around the world. In the US, specifically in California, we can see utilities implement TOU rates as an incentive for companies to use less energy during peak demand periods of the day. But there are even more dynamic pricing structures, such as Spot Pricing, which is being used in Norway. Spot pricing helps to cope with the unreliable supply of renewable energy by shifting prices hourly depending on the available energy. Dynamic pricing can have a massive impact on overall energy costs. V2G would balance out this unstable pricing by supplying energy when demand is at its peak. This would balance prices, and reduce pricing spikes throughout the day.
  • High vehicle load: Vehicle load is much larger than typical household energy usage but fairly small compared to other conventional energy users, such as industrial manufacturing plants or large cooling houses. Experts agree that scaling electric vehicles only works with V1G (Smart Charging) and V2G. Without V1G and V2G, utilities and grid operators face considerable challenges to get charging station locations approved. The risk is that they create an energy market where energy generation is dependent on weather conditions and our vehicles are not smart enough to react to price signals or utility emergency requests.‍

Conclusion

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