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New activity in vehicle-to-grid field spells bad news for gas stakeholders.


Buh-Bye Gas: Enphase Launching Seamless Vehicle-To-Grid System

New activity in the vehicle-to-grid field spells bad news for gas stakeholders, except maybe for Shell.

Regardless of the latest dustup over gas powered home appliances, the case for full home electrification just keeps getting better, and the news for natural gas stakeholders keeps getting worse. In the latest development, the leading firm Enphase Energy plans to launch a new electric vehicle charger that provides EV owners with all the benefits of new vehicle-to-grid technology, at their fingertips.

What’s So Bad About Gas Stoves?

All things being equal, there is nothing bad about gas stoves. However, nothing is equal in the high tech age of renewable energy and connected devices.

The electric fly in the gas ointment is new “smart” technology that provides ratepayers with access to real time information about their electricity consumption and rates, providing new opportunities to reduce their utility bills.

Smart meters also enable consumers with rooftop solar and home energy storage units to share their excess kilowatts with the grid, providing additional opportunities for financial benefit. Electric vehicles add even more punch to the mix, due to their outsized batteries.

The virtual power plant trend is another element working in favor of 100% building electrification.

The picture is different for gas. Gas customers generally don’t get a break on their rates for avoiding peak use periods, and they definitely can’t store or sell unused gas back to the distribution network.

Like them or not, the simple fact is that gas stoves are out of step with the distributed energy resources and connectivity that define the grid of the future.

The Vehicle-To-Grid Game Changer

People who really want to cook with gas will find a way to do it, regardless of any new legislation. Stocking up on portable stoves and propane tanks at the local Dick’s Sporting Goods is one option.

If you can think of any others, drop us a note in the comment thread. Meanwhile, the building electrification movement is plowing full steam ahead, and vehicle-to grid technology is part of the mix.

Vehicle-to-grid is a simple idea. If you can charge up a rolling energy storage unit, otherwise known as an electric vehicle, you could also discharge it to other devices aside from the vehicle’s own power train. That includes power tools and other individual devices or a whole house full of appliances, or you can discharge the battery to the grid.

Vehicle-to-grid systems have been crossing the CleanTechnica radar for a while now, but mass market adoption has been slow to catch on. One challenge involves integrating a range of functions into one seamless, user-friendly package, including inputs from rooftop solar arrays as well as EV batteries.

Enphase is among the innovators hammering out a solution. Last week, the company dropped word that its new bidirectional EV charger has reached the latest milestone towards its anticipated launch in 2024.

“The new bidirectional EV charger, along with Enphase’s solar and battery storage system, can be controlled from the Enphase App, empowering homeowners to make, use, save, and sell their own power,” said Raghu Belur, who is the co-founder of Enphase Energy and the company’s chief products officer.

The new charger provides for vehicle-to-home discharge, which is handy in case of a power outage, in addition to vehicle-to-grid capability. A “green charging” feature also enables the EV battery to charge up directly from a rooftop solar array.

Um…Which EV Charger For Vehicle-To-Grid?

Of course, no article about EV chargers with vehicle-to-grid capability is complete without a mention of the North American Standard, which is refers to the standard EV charger plug — oh whoops, scratch that. “North American Standard” is just Tesla’s new name for its proprietary charger, which has not passed through the standard process for standardization in North America.

Instead, the global auto industry has coalesced around something called the Combined Charging Standard. CCS has passed through all the standardization hoops in the US and elsewhere, though China has its own charging standard and Japan is still committed to its CHAdeMO system.

Enphase and other EV charging stakeholders have also been strengthening their commitment to CCS.

“Enphase’s bidirectional EV charger is expected to work with most EVs that support standards such as CCS (Combined Charging System) and CHAdeMO (a Japanese charging standard),” Enphase emphasizes, without a mention of Tesla.

That doesn’t quite leave Tesla owners out in the cold. Tesla offers adapters that enable its drivers to use CCS stations, and Enphase already manufactures Tesla-compatible EV chargers. If main goal is seamlessness, though, it appears that Enphase is focusing its attention on charging systems that have been recognized by a broad spectrum of industry stakeholders.

A Vehicle-To-Grid Charger In Every Garage

Here in the US there is a vast, untapped reservoir of V2G potential just waiting to happen, and the Department of Energy is determined to unlock it.

Last spring the agency announced that Ford, GM, Lucid Motors, and Nissan were partners in its new V2X “Vehicle-to-Everything” program along with several national laboratories, local governments, utilities and other electrification stakeholders.

The partners are charged with overcoming challenges in the vehicle-to-grid field, in preparation for the influx of millions of EVs onto the roads.

“In addition to addressing the near-term challenges to [Vehicle-to-Grid Integration] to benefit all EV stakeholders, the Lab Consortium will conduct high risk, high reward research on the EV charging and grid integration technologies the U.S. will need in the future,” the Energy Department explained.

“A bidirectional EV fleet could serve as both a sustainable mobility option as well as an energy storage asset that sends power back to everything from critical loads and homes to the grid. A bidirectional fleet could also create new revenue opportunities for EV owners or fleets,” they added.

Last December, V2X gained Honda and several other new partners. Shell is also listed on the V2X rolls, which is of interest considering that Shell is, well, Shell.

On the other hand, Shell has been diversifying its portfolio, including acquisition of the virtual power plant firm Next Kraftwerke in 2021. Next’s contribution to the field is a remote system that can link thousands of individual units — including consumers, producers and storage facilities — into one power dispatch and trading aggregation.

David Wells, the VP of Shell Energy Europe explained the acquisition in a press release, noting that power market is “rapidly become more fragmented and distributed.”

“Much of this is driven by more and smaller generators as well as increasing ‘own generation’ by consumers,” he observed.

Follow me on Trainwreck Twitter @TinaMCasey.

Find me on LinkedIn: @TinaMCasey or Mastodon: @Casey or Post:  @tinamcasey

Image (screenshot): Bidirection EV charger with vehicle-to-grid capability courtesy of Enphase Energy.

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Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


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