Electric car batteries can do more than power electric cars. They can send current to homes and buildings, or send it back to the grid when demand is high. Some experts even believe EV batteries might one day boost the prominence of renewables by storing the energy from wind and solar farms.
The idea of so-called “vehicle-to-grid” schemes inevitably stirs debate among engineers. But make no mistake: The concept has a huge following. Googling the term “vehicle-to-grid” yields an astounding 526 million hits. That’s one reason electric utilities, auto manufacturers, and university researchers are all studying the concept.
We collected photos and diagrams from ongoing vehicle-to-grid programs. From pure EVs to plug-in hybrids to wild-looking concept cars, we offer a peek at some of the vehicles that could one day power your home.
Click on the image of Willett Kempton to start the slideshow.
Willett Kempton of the University of Delaware has been a driving force behind the idea of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology. In 2013, Delaware teamed with NRG Energy to launch the world’s first revenue-generating V2G project. Here, Kempton is shown with a Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid that’s being used as part of a demonstration project by the university. (Source: Honda)
"What happens if the building is drawing from the cars and someone needs to go somewhere. The car battery will be depleted, and the driver will have to wait until it can be charged again."
Another question springs into my mind, what happens to the battery life? It depends on the value being extracted from the battery by the grid. The controllers designed to use in the EVs are intelligent, so that battery life can be utilized to its maximum potential. Will the grid also work intelligently or will it extract all the power it can and leave the driver stranded with a damaged battery.
I guess a better alternative is utilizing this money and making a static energy setup instead of a moving car.
Cap'n, this is nice in theory, but not really practical. The issue with plug in electrics today is range. One good aspect is that they can be charged off-peak. I guess that, in an emergency, the car battery could be used to supplement the grid. On the other hand, that electricity will not be available for transportation, the vehicle's primary purpose. If you have a car like the Volt, that might not be a problem, because there is a ICE to charge it. On the other hand, the Volt's battery is not that large. The vehicles with the large batteries, pure EVs, which would be most useful in this scenario, are the ones for which this is the biggest problem.
It is much cheaper to site batteries or fuel cells in houses, or at substations. My understanding is that many new homes in Japan are powered by fuel cells. This is much more reliable. Take slide 7. What happens if the building is drawing from the cars and someone needs to go somewhere. The car battery will be depleted, and the driver will have to wait until it can be charged again.
It is true that EVs can be useful in terms of renewables. The whole idea of being able to store energy from renewables is advanced if that energy can be used to charge vehicles. There should be a cost advantage for doing so.
Tesla Motors’ $35,000, 200-mile electric car may not revolutionize the auto industry by itself, but it could serve as a starting point for a long, steady climb to a day when half of the world’s vehicles will be plug-ins.
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