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Batteries

Excuse Me, Can I Use Your Car To Stabilize & Power The Grid?

We’ve got some more findings to dive into based on the Interim Social Report from the Realizing Electric Vehicle-to-Grid Services (REVS) trial in Australia. Please see “The Unknown Unknowns of Vehicle-to-Grid Tech” for our first piece on this REVS project, which is being implemented at 11 Australian Capital Territory government sites across Canberra.

Just like the renewable energy revolution before it (compare the following with wind and solar farm development), this next step with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) integration has to build social license. Trust has to be built not just in the technology (hardware and software), but in the organizations and people behind it. This illuminating report explores these issues and some possible solutions.

It is important to anticipate future risks and benefits of a new technology in the design phase — in short, to turn unknown unknowns into known unknowns. I expect that much of the information that comes out in this research project will be able to inform future developments in this area and improve implementation.

This report emphasizes, rightly in my opinion, the importance of taking the people with you — whether it be a member of the implementing consortium, a government department, a fleet manager, or a private end user. If the people don’t trust it, it won’t happen. I would hate to see manufactured FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) leveled at V2G to slow the adoption of EVs generally.

It is too easy to focus entirely on the technology (and that has enough challenges of its own) and miss the human factor, to focus on the rational and forget the emotional.

Many fleet operators were concerned about disruption to their businesses and their drivers’ routines. They were positive, however, about how V2G would enable their organizations to achieve climate change targets. “While they believed the EV transition was inevitable, the future of V2G was uncertain. Industry participants emphasized the need for V2G business models to be consumer led.”

Other issues highlighted were the need for not just designated EV parking spaces, but reserved V2G parking spaces. Other users of communal parking spaces (e.g., hospital staff car parks) needed to be well educated about why they couldn’t park there. “It’s not fair!” might be a common reaction. 

Barriers to participation from private owners included: “distrust of V2G providers, distrust in software, concern over battery degradation, the need for flexibility, and a preference to have their battery present and connected to their house at all times. They expected to be compensated accordingly for doing the grid a favour, but were most interested in the vehicle to building (V2B) configuration, in effect having a home battery much larger than a stationary battery.”

What’s in it for me? My house (and needs) come first! Am I getting a fair deal? Reasonable questions from a public that has had to deal with diminishing feed-in tariffs and other actions designed to reduce the benefits of private rooftop solar. What about battery degradation? Will this add to my range anxiety? Will I be able to use my car whenever I want?

Just like any societal change, there is a great need for education, the right communication, and trustworthy information. 

“Until V2G is configured to a social context, the technology remains malleable.” And so it should.

 
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Written By

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

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