According to Frost & Sullivan’s September 2014 report on the Global EV Market they predict that by 2017, EV cars will make up 5-7% of the car sales market, a huge 2,203,000 vehicles. They also predict that 480,000 EV cars will be sold globally this year alone.
Without a doubt electric vehicle sales are on the rise and the UK Government are firmly behind this.
Research conducted by Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) shows that 90% of EV charging will take place at home with the peak time of plugging in being between 5 and 7pm. That’s also the time you’ll be switching your lights on, turning on the kettle then oven and your television, will charging a car too be a stretch too far?
The word on the road is V2G or vehicle-to-grid could be the answer.
What is V2G?
Okay, let’s start with some basics.
The main grid that serves the UK its daily electric needs has a base load (predictable, estimated 24/7 power loads), an intermediate load (works within the parameters of base and peak load) and a peak load (less predictable for a shorter amount of time).
The suggestion is that plugging in an electric car will push this peak load above the grid’s current capacity.
This is where vehicle-to-grid comes in.
Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) provides electricity back to grid from electric vehicles, similar to the way battery-to-grid operates.
A battery-powered or plug-in hybrid vehicle has a rechargeable battery unit. This unit could provide power back to the national grid for a few minutes at a time during its plug-in time at times of intermediate to peak load, as shown in the graph below. In effect, the vehicle serves as a distributed battery storage system to buffer the power.
By increasing the base load, it stabilises the grid system meaning you can still turn on the TV for your latest soap fix and make sure the car is at 100% battery for the morning commute. Transport Scotland iterate this idea of ensuring stabilisation of the grid stating, ‘smart and controlled recharging will also limit the requisite need for grid reinforcement and avoid overloading local networks at times of peak demand’.
Interestingly, research conducted on behalf of the European Commission showed that “even a complete electrification of the European fleet would only result in additional demand in the order of 10-15 per cent.”
Now that electric cars have revved up their game in the ‘cool’ department, vehicle-to-grid could provide a solution to the problem of charging so many vehicles at peak times.
But would you want your car battery feeding back to the main grid? It could run the risk of your vehicle not being fully charged when you come to use it. Or perhaps you agree to providing power to the grid but you’re one of only a small percentage of EV owners who do – is that really fair?
The Government’s stand point is yet unknown, but perhaps there might be financial incentives for EV owners who opt in for V2G. On the other hand, it might become mandatory for EV owners to use V2G to ensure stability of the grid.
V2G is a good idea, if practiced properly and fairly. As electric vehicles become more and more prominent, we absolutely have to do our bit to help. Creating and implementing a new infrastructure on the national grid to meet the demand of charging plug-in hybrids would be hugely costly and time consuming. V2G offers an immediate solution to a system that is already in place and working. To begin with a financial incentive would be great, it gives people time to adjust to the idea of giving power back to the grid from their car and understand the nature of V2G. As electric vehicles become the norm making V2G obligatory might be a better long term solution.
What are your thoughts on V2G?