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Clean Transport

Published on March 23rd, 2018 | by Nicolas Zart

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Where Are The Vehicle-To-Grid Cars?

March 23rd, 2018 by  


Do you ever feel like you’re watching some of the most interesting technological development, but at the same pace as glaciers melting? Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) certainly holds a special spot in this department. It has been touted as practical for over a decade now, but we still don’t really have it.

When Will We See V2G Capability In Cars?

This option on an electric car doesn’t seem like much to ask for when you’ve been hearing about the wonders of V2G for well over a decade. With the advent of modern electric vehicles (EV) and the fact that EVs become rolling energy storage solutions, shunting that energy wherever and whenever means big business. Despite the many merits of V2G, though, the only electric car that is V2G ready today is the Nissan LEAF (and that may just be in Japan except in unique test cases and pilot projects).

Rewind: What is V2G anyway? In case you are new to the industry and topic, V2G is the capacity an EV to not only take electricity from the grid but also to send electricity back to the grid. In theory, and depending on home space and the battery pack, you could power your home for a day or several days without an electric car. That would actually be if it had vehicle-to-home (V2H) capability, but that’s a story for another day.

V2G tech would be perfect for our already taxed and aged national grid. By load balancing the onslaught of EVs coming onto the market in the coming years, V2G offers the chance to integrate them smoothly and easily. With a smart system, they could even help to stabilize the grid and reduce the need for some grid infrastructure improvements.

V2G — Good Or Bad On EV Batteries?

US Air Force electric vehicle with V2G at Los Angeles AFB

Photo by U.S. Air Force photo by Sarah Corrice/RELEASED

Every so often, we hear of a V2G project, such as the UK’s new V2G study, but it seems this market will take a long time before becoming mainstream. To date, one of the haunting questions slowing down any V2G projects still remains the long-term condition of the batteries. Who pays for wear and tear? Who is ultimately responsible for the stress on the batteries of the owner’s EV? Making sure whoever is responsible and covers the cost of a battery replacement if needed is important for the technology to take off and the public to accept it.

More simply, energy companies need to understand how to compensate their clients for taking part in V2G programs. What compensation do they need in order to get interested?

According to Colin Mckerracher, head of advanced transport research at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), “Private customers are still hesitant, and many of the revenue numbers you see rely on tapping mostly into frequency regulation markets, which are high-value but can quickly become oversupplied.”

Oh, and by the way, the legalities of such electricity flows and electricity trading are still unclear.

V2G Is Good News For The Grid

One of the big winners in the V2G game certainly is the utility market. Energy providers stand yet again a chance to become today’s petroleum companies. Yet, they again seem a bit slow moving. When the public will see a coherent program from an energy utility showing the advantages of V2G and the amount they could pay consumers for this two-way street, then perhaps we’ll get cars from automakers that actually allow such use.

Until then, to learn more on V2G, we recommend the usual Wikipedia for a brush-up, a PDF  deep dive from the US Department of Energy (DoE), and our years of V2G coverage.

Related: Tesla CTO JB Straubel On Why EVs Selling Electricity To The Grid Is Not As Swell As It Sounds


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About the Author

Nicolas was born and raised around classic cars of the 1920s, but it wasn't until he drove an AC Propulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Eager to spread the news of that full torque, he was invited to write for various CleanTech outlets in 2007. Since then, his passion led to cover renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets both in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. He particularly enjoys communicating about the new e-mobility technology and what it means to us as a society. Today he focuses most of his writing effort on CleanTechnica, a global online outlet that covers the world of electric vehicles and renewable energy. His favorite tagline is: "There are more solutions than obstacles."



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