Placing the EV in the Electricity Grid of the Future

Where will all the electricity for our electric cars come from? It’s a dominant question, given how fast car manufacturers are moving to electric mobility. With the energy transition on its way of transforming the global energy sector from fossil-based to zero-carbon, energy from coals is a thing from the past. Solar, wind and tide energy is known Variable Renewable Energy (VRE). Integrating VRE into the current energy grid is not an easy task, both due to the variable nature in the generation of energy by VRE as well as additional supply-side variability.

Sadly, Business Lease doesn’t have an influence on whether the sun is shining. We are therefore more interested in the supply-side variability, as electric cars will be one of the components with the highest energy demand. This poses a problem, as the charging of EVs will have an increasing influence on the stability of the electricity grid. To the contrary, the electronics and batteries of EVs can also be used to provide grid services. Systems in which EVs can both charge from the grid and return energy to the grid are being developed.

A promising system is called Vehicle-to-grid (V2G), which allows electric vehicles not only to be able to purchase energy from the electricity grid but also to supply energy to the electricity grid. Moreover, it will be possible to steer the supply of electricity to electric cars. V2G technology makes it possible for the battery of an electric vehicle to function (temporarily) as a buffer in the network and thus absorb peak loads in the network. This buffer capacity can be used on the one hand to send electricity to other vehicles that have to be recharged earlier; on the other hand, this buffer capacity can be used to store a surplus of energy if more energy is generated than is demanded and this is delivered back at a later time. As you might have noticed, V2G storage capabilities can also enable EVs to store and discharge electricity generated from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. This will strongly help the integration of VRE.

Batteries don’t have an infinite number of charging cycles. Using EV batteries for storage can impact the useful life of the battery. Batteries that are discharged and cycled two or more times per day have shown large decreases in capacity and greatly shortened life. However, there are promising studies which show that slower discharge rates show only a few percent of additional degradation. One study has suggested that using vehicles for grid storage could actually improve the longevity of the battery1.

In practice?
We can safely say that some development in both technology and regulation is needed to make this work. However, that isn’t stopping everyone. In the Lombok district in Utrecht for example, the company LomboXnet is creating a local V2G network. A problem they face is that not all electric cars are ready for V2G charging. Another company, NewMotion, developed the first bi-directional V2X charger (V2X meaning everything, not just grid). They also face the same difficulties as LomboXnet, not all cars are suitable. It has however not stopped them to run a pilot to test the product in practice.

It will be interesting to see developments in the coming years and what new products and services will be offered. What we do know is that we are in for a change, and Business Lease is welcoming this with open arms. We don’t just want to see the transition from ICE to EV happen, we want to be part of the transition! Have we gotten your attention? We are always interested in working together. Contact Luuk to find out if we can stimulate the transition together.

1 Uddin, Kotub; Jackson, Tim; Widanage, Widanalage D.; Chouchelamane, Gael; Jennings, Paul A.; Marco, James (August 2017). "On the possibility of extending the lifetime of lithium-ion batteries through optimal V2G facilitated by an integrated vehicle and smart-grid system". Energy. 133: 710–722.

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