The electrification and decarbonization of our society is not just a mere idea anymore but a tangible reality that has seen significant strides in the past decade. Thanks to the dramatic fall in solar prices and the efforts of automakers like Elon Musk who have made electric vehicles more than just a fun idea, we are now closer than ever to achieving our goal. However, there is still the issue of effectively storing and using the excess solar energy produced when the sun goes down. The current grids are not designed to handle the increasing demand for renewable sources, and upgrading them will require considerable investments and overlapping technologies.
Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology offers a potential solution. V2G technology enables electric vehicles to not only receive energy from the grid but also store and send energy back to the grid when it’s not in use. This means that excess energy produced can be stored and used later, reducing reliance on the grid and avoiding the need for upgrades.
V2G technology has the potential to be a game-changer in the energy sector, especially for homeowners and businesses that generate excess energy through solar arrays. For instance, imagine a homeowner who works from home and charges their electric vehicle using the excess energy from their solar array. They could use that energy to run errands and still come back home with enough energy to power their home when the sun goes down. Similarly, businesses with large rooftop spaces, such as malls, warehouses, and box stores, can generate more energy than they need, which can be used to power their employees’ and visitors’ electric vehicles.
However, for V2G technology to be fully integrated, there are several issues that need to be addressed. According to Doug Houseman, a grid expert, V2G technology raises questions such as how to minimize harmonics, minimize flicker, detect and minimize heating, use minimal voltage increase to export power, maximize the value to the owner, interface with the premise energy management system (HEMS/BEMS), know when to island the premise and stop exporting to the world, and know when to stop exporting power and retain enough power to get to work.
Shiba Bhowmik, the CEO of Sinewatts, a company working on V2G technology, acknowledges these challenges but is optimistic about overcoming them. For successful V2G deployment, the additional cost of bidirectional hardware and system integration must be substantially lower than that of stationary storage. The front-end inverter will need to support all IEEE 1547-2018 smart inverter functionalities. Additionally, there are challenges with power export (backfeeding) and distribution network idiosyncrasies that require further innovation to integrate V2G-capable vehicles seamlessly into the existing grid.
Despite the challenges, the benefits of V2G technology cannot be ignored. It has the potential to transform the energy sector and make it more sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective. The widespread adoption of V2G technology would not only reduce the carbon footprint but also create opportunities for new business models and revenue streams. It is clear that with the right approach and investment, V2G technology could change our world for the better.