In recent years, both environmental concerns and energy shortages have gotten increased attention. Policy moves toward a net-zero future in jurisdictions around the globe necessitate an acceleration of the energy revolution in the automobile sector. EVs provide a number of advantages over conventional vehicles, including the ability to conserve energy, emit fewer pollutants and rely less on fossil fuels.
More than 800,000 EVs were sold in the United States in 2022, which was nearly 6% of all vehicles sold. The Biden administration has set ambitious goals of deploying 500,000 EV chargers, ensuring that 50% of new light-duty vehicle sales are electric by 2030 and increasing the percentage of new medium- and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles sold to 30% by 2030 and 100% by 2040. Large-scale disordered charging of electric vehicles has potential to bring a new round of challenges to the safe and stable operation of the power grid such as voltage drops, increased network losses and reduced life of transformers. But the EVs themselves have potential to provide a solution to this.
Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) is the overall term for different forms of bidirectional charging and discharging of the EV battery, including vehicle-to-grid (V2G), vehicle-to-building (V2B) and vehicle-to-load (V2L). These technologies have the potential to revolutionize the way we use and manage energy in transportation, homes and businesses. This means that when power supply is low and demand high, connected EVs can instead release power back into the electricity network or the site on which they are parked.
The amount of new added demand for electricity will, by itself, become a challenge for grids all around the world and, in particular, for grids that are constrained. The challenge is when consumers will charge their vehicles. In most grids, the peak hours are when people are arriving home from work, so if business fleets finish operations at 5 p.m. and immediately plug their EV fleet in to charge, that is going to be difficult for the grid operator. However, with challenge comes opportunity. Given that EVs are essentially a battery on wheels, they can be utilized as an energy storage system. Through analysis of energy consumption they can be charged when the electricity price has fallen to a given level and reduce users’ costs.
In addition, users can send electricity back to the grid at times of peak demand, creating a new revenue stream by providing flexibility services when the price is right.
Michael Kent is EV and storage manager at GridBeyond. Learn more in GridBeyond’s latest white paper, The Electrification Era - Scaling up Electric Vehicles.