Recently, we published a story about Volkswagen’s plan to make vehicle to grid technology generally available on its electric cars beginning next year. V2G allows bi-directional power flow between a car’s battery and the local grid and can put some money in the pocket of EV owners. Some of the comments to that story were from people concerned that V2G systems would lead to shorter battery life.
We’re about to find out. EV Connect is partnering with Indiana’s Battery Innovation Center and Energy Systems Network to create a large scale vehicle to grid system for school bus and heavy duty truck fleets. Using Rhombus 500 kW bi-directional superchargers used to replenish the batteries of electric buses, the project is intended to collect a wealth of data about overall battery life, the number of available cycles, and a deeper understanding of actual discharge rates. That information will go a long way toward answering questions about the impacts V2G systems will have on battery packs for commercial vehicles. The findings should also be applicable to private passenger car use as well.
“This project is designed to deliver previously unavailable data and lessons about a technology that will quickly move into the mainstream, and the partnership with an industry leader like EV Connect is critical to generating real-world data,” says Tim O’Hara, managing director of the Energy Systems Network. “Testing communications protocols, battery conditions, and uncovering the inevitable unknowns is vital for the many industry stakeholders involved in the future of V2G.”
“With the capabilities provided by EV Connect as part of our lab and onsite infrastructure, the BIC will be able to validate from the battery pack through to the fully installed systems in the vehicle,” adds Ben Wrightsman, CEO of the Battery Innovation Center. “With the existing connection to the local ISO grid at our facility and direct collaboration with our utility provider and generator, combined, we have one of the few first of its kind platforms for advancing V2G into reality.”
In addition to vehicle to grid applications, bi-directional vehicle charging will enable vehicle to vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-load (V2L) usage at campgrounds and construction sites, and vehicle-to-home (V2H) uses as well. But there is a lack of real world data about how bi-directional usage affects battery performance over time. The EV Connect project is intended to address that lack of hard data. It is expected to examine the challenges and opportunities of V2G technology and reveal opportunities for the grid and business models that use electric vehicle battery controls. The data collected will demonstrate whether monetizing the use of EV batteries as part of the distributed energy resources mix is economically viable.
“EV Connect is built on innovation within the electric transportation sector, so we are excited to launch this groundbreaking collaboration with the Battery Innovation Center,” says Ram Ambatipudi, co-founder of EV Connect. “By setting up an in-depth battery and V2G testing program, we can contribute to the body of science and research of V2G technology and understand how to secure communications with grid-edge assets that can best support V2G and DERMS as they start attaching to the electric grid.”
Vehicle to grid technology holds great promise. Ideally, at some point in the future, millions of electric cars, trucks, and buses will spend most of the time they are not being driven as adjuncts to the local electrical grid, drawing power as needed to keep their batteries charged and sending power back to the grid as part of a large virtual power plant that supports the distributed renewables model. But is that promise real or just an illusion? The EV Connect program will help answer that question.
Image credit: Lee Mortensen, Battery Innovation Center
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